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Amsterdam 1955

Amsterdam 5th Public Talk 26th May 1955

Perhaps you would kindly listen to rather a difficult problem with which I am sure most of us are concerned. It is a problem we are all confronted with, - the problem of change; and I feel one must go into it rather fully to understand it comprehensively. We see that there must be change. And we see that change implies various forms of exertion of will, effort. In it is also involved the question of what it is we are changing from and what it is we want to change to. It seems to me that one must go into it rather deeply and not merely be contented with a superficial answer. Because the thing that is involved in it is quite significant, and requires a certain form of attention, which I hope you will give.

For most of us it is very important to change; we feel it is necessary for us to change. We are dissatisfied as we are, - at least, most of the people are who are at all serious and thoughtful, - and we want to change, we see the necessity of change. But I do not think we see the whole significance of it, and I would like to discuss that matter with you. If I may suggest it, please listen, not with any definite conclusion, not expecting a definite answer, but so that by going into the matter together, we may understand the problem comprehensively.

Every form of effort that we make in order to bring about a change implies, does it not?, the following of a certain pattern, a certain idea-l, the exertion of will, a desire to be achieved. We change, either through circumstances, forced by environment, through necessity, or we discipline ourselves to change according to an ideal. Those are the forms of change that we are aware of, - either through circumstances, which compel us to modify, to adjust, to conform to a certain pattern, social, religious, or family, or, we discipline ourselves according to an ideal. In that discipline there is a conformity, the effort to conform to a certain pattern of thought, to achieve a certain ideal.

The change that is brought about through the exertion of will, - with this process we are most of us familiar. We all know of this change through compulsion, change through fear, change made necessary by suffering. It is a modification, a constant struggle in order to conform to a certain pattern which we have established for ourselves, or which society has given us. That is what we call `change; and in that we are caught. But, is it change? I think it important to understand this, to somewhat analyse it, to go into the anatomy of change, to understand what makes us want to change. Because all this implies, does it not?, either conscious or unconscious conformity, conscious or unconscious yielding to a certain pattern, through necessity, through expediency. And we are content to continue in modified change, which is merely an outward adjustment, putting on, as it were, a new coat of a different colour, but inwardly remaining static. So I would like to talk it over, to find out if that effort really brings about a real change in us.

Our problem is, how to bring about an inward revolution which does not necessitate mere conformity to a pattern, or an adjustment through fear, or making great effort, through the exertion of the will, to be something. That is our problem, isn't it? We all want to change, we see the necessity of it, unless we are totally blind and completely conservative, refusing to break the pattern of our existence. Surely most of us who are at all serious are concerned with this - how to bring about in ourselves and thereby in the world a radical to a change, a radical transformation. After all, we are not any different from the rest of the world. Our problem is the world problem. What we are, of that we make the world. So, if as individuals we can understand this question of effort and change, then perhaps we shall be able to understand if it is possible to bring about a radical change in which there is no exertion of will.

I hope the problem is clear. That is, we know that change is necessary. But into what must we change? And how is that change to be brought about? We know that the change which we generally think is necessary is always brought about through the exertion of will. I am `this', and I must change into something else. The `something else' is already thought out, it is projected, - it is an end to be desired, an ideal which must be fulfilled. Surely that is our way of thinking about change? - as a constant adjustment, either voluntarily, or through suffering, or through the exertion of will. That implies, does it not?, a constant effort, the reaction of a certain desire, of a certain conditioning. And so the change is merely a modified continuity of what has been.

Let us go into it. I am something, and I want to change. So I choose an ideal, and according to that ideal I try to transform myself, I exert my will, I discipline, I force myself; and there is a constant battle going on between what I am and what I should be. With that we are all familiar. And the ideal, what I think I should be, - is it not merely the opposite of what I am? Is it not merely the reaction of what I am? I am angry, and I project the ideal of peace, of love, and I try to conform myself to the ideal of love, to the ideal of peace; and so there is a constant struggle. But the ideal is not the real: it is my projection of what I would like to be, - it is the outcome of my pain, my suffering, my background. So the ideal has no significance at all; it is merely the result of my desire to be something which I am not. I am merely struggling to achieve something which I would like to be; so it is still within the pattern of self-enclosing action. That is so, is it not? I am `this', and I would like to be `that; but the struggle to be something different is still within the pattern of my desire.

So, is not all our talk about the necessity of change very superficial, unless we first uncover the deep process of our thinking? So long as I have a motive for change, is there a real change? My motive is, to change myself from anger into a state of peace. Because I find that a state of peace is much more suitable, much more convenient, more happy, therefore I struggle to achieve that. But it is still within the pattern of my own desire, and so there is no change at all, - I have only gathered a different word, `peace' instead of `anger', but essentially I am still the same. So, the problem is, is it not?, how to bring about a change at the centre, - and not to continue this constant adjustment to a pattern, to an idea, through fear, through compulsion, through environmental influence. Is it not possible to bring about a radical change at the very centre itself? If there is a change there, then naturally any form of adjustment becomes unnecessary. Compulsion, effort, a disciplining process according to an ideal, is then seen as totally unnecessary and false, - because all those imply a constant struggle, a constant battle between myself and what I should be.

Now, is it possible to bring about a change at the centre? - the centre being the self, the `me' that is always acquiring, always trying to conform, trying to adjust, but remaining essentially the same. I hope I am making the problem clear. Any conscious deliberate effort to change is merely the continuity, in a modified form, of what has been, is it not? I am greedy; and if I deliberately, consciously set about to change that quality into non-greed, is not that very effort to be non-greedy still the product of the self, the `me'? - and therefore there is no radical change at all. When I consciously make an effort to be non-greedy, then that conscious effort is the result of another form of greed, surely. Yet on that principle all our disciplines, all our attempts to change, are based. We are either consciously changing, or submitting to the pattern of society, or being pushed by society to conform, - all of which are various forms of deliberate effort on our part to be something or other. So, where there is conscious effort to change, obviously the change is merely the conformity to another pattern; it is still within the enclosing process of the self, and therefore it is not a change at all.

So can I see the truth of that, can I realize, understand, the full significance of the fact that any conscious effort on my part to be something other than what I am only produces still further suffering, sorrow and pain? Then follows the question: is it possible to bring about a change at the centre, without the conscious effort to change? Is it possible for me, without effort, without the exertion of will, to stop being greedy, acquisitive, envious, angry, what you will? If I change consciously, if my mind is occupied with greed and I try to change it into non-greed, obviously that is still a form of greed, - because my mind is concerned, occupied, with being something. So, is it possible for me to change at the centre this whole process of acquisitiveness, without any conscious action on the part of my mind to be non-acquisitive?

So, our problem is, being what I am, - acquisitive, - how is that to be transformed? I feel I understand very well that any exertion on my part to change is part of a self-conscious endeavour to be non-greedy, non-acquisitive, - which is still acquisitiveness. So what is to be done? How is the change at the centre to be brought about? If I understand the truth that all conscious effort is another form of acquisitiveness, if I really understand that, if I fully grasp the significance of it, then I will cease to make any conscious effort, will I not? Consciously I will stop exercising my will to change my acquisitiveness. That is the first thing. Because I see that any conscious effort, any action of will, is another form of acquisitiveness, therefore, understanding completely, there is the cessation of any deliberate practice to achieve the non-acquisitive state.

If I have understood that, what happens? If my mind is no longer struggling to change acquisitiveness, either through compulsion, through fear, through moral sanctions, through religious threats, through social laws and all the rest of it, then, what happens to my mind? How do I then look at greed? I hope you are following this, because it is very interesting to see how the mind works. When we think we are changing, trying to adjust, trying to conform, disciplining ourselves to an ideal; actually there is no change at all. That is a tremendous discovery; that is a great revelation. A mind occupied with non-acquisitiveness is an acquisitive mind. Before, it was occupied with being acquisitive, now it is occupied with non-acquisitiveness. It is still occupied; so, the very occupation is acquisitiveness.

Now, is it possible for the mind to be non-occupied? I hope you are following this, because, you see, all our minds are occupied, - occupied with something, occupied with God, with virtue, with what people say or don't be say, whether someone loves you or doesn't love you. Always the mind is occupied. It was occupied before with acquisitiveness, and now it is occupied with non-acquisitiveness; but it's still occupied. So, the problem is really, "Can the mind be unoccupied?" Because if it is not occupied, then it can tackle the problem or acquisitiveness, and not merely try to change it into non-acquisitiveness. Can the mind which has been occupied with acquisitiveness, can it, without turning to non-acquisitiveness, - which is another occupation of the mind, - put an end to all occupation? Surely it can, but only when it sees the truth that acquisitiveness and non-acquisitiveness are the same state of occupation. So long as the mind is occupied with something, obviously there cannot be a change. Whether it is occupied with God, with virtue, with dress, with love, with cruelty to animals, with the radio, - they're all the same. There is no higher occupation or lower occupation; all occupation is essentially the same. The mind, being occupied, escapes from itself; it escapes through greed, it escapes through non-greed. So can the mind, seeing all this complex process, put an end to its own occupation?'

I think that is the whole problem. Because, when the mind is not occupied, then it is fresh, it is clear, it is capable of meeting any problem anew. When it is not occupied, then, being fresh, it can tackle acquisitiveness with a totally different action. So our question, our inquiry, our exploration, then is, - can the mind be unoccupied? Please do not jump to conclusions. Do not say it must then be vague, blank, lost. We are inquiring, therefore there can be no conclusion, no definite statement, no supposition, no theory, no speculation. Can the mind be unoccupied? If you say "How am I to achieve a state of mind in which there is no occupation?", then that "how to achieve" becomes another occupation. Please see the simplicity of it, and therefore the truth of the whole matter.

It is very important for you to find out how you are listening to this, how you are listening to these statements. They are merely statements, which you should neither accept nor reject; they are simply facts. How are you listening to the fact? Do you condemn it? Do you say it is impossible? Do you say "I don't understand what you are talking about, it's too difficult, too abstract"? Or, are you listening to find out the truth of the matter? To see the truth without any distortion, without translating the fact into your own particular terminology or your own fancy, - just to see clearly, just to be fully conscious of what is being said, is sufficient, Then you will find that your mind-is no longer occupied, therefore it is fresh, and so capable of meeting the problem of change entirely, totally differently.

Whether change is brought about consciously or unconsciously it is still the same. Conscious change implies effort; and unconscious endeavour to bring about a change also implies an effort, a struggle. So long as there is a struggle, conflict, the change is merely enforced, and there is no understanding; and therefore it is no longer a change at all. So, is the mind capable of meeting the problem of change, - of acquisitiveness, for example, - without making an effort, just seeing the whole implication of acquisitiveness? Because you cannot see the whole content of acquisitiveness totally so long as there is any endeavour to change it. Real change can only take place when the mind comes to the problem afresh, not with all the jaded memories of a thousand yesterdays. Obviously you cannot have a fresh, eager mind if the mind is occupied. And the mind ceases to be occupied only when it sees the truth about its own occupation. You cannot see the truth if you are not giving your whole attention, if you are translating what is being said into something which will suit you, or translating it into your own terms. You must come to something new with a fresh mind, and a mind is not fresh when it is occupied, consciously or unconsciously.

This transformation really takes place when the mind understands the whole process of itself; therefore self-knowledge is essential, - not self-knowledge according to some psychologist or some book, but the self-knowledge that you discover from moment to moment. That self-knowledge is not to be gathered up and put into the mind as memory, because if you have gathered it, stored it up, any new experience will be translated according to that old memory. So self-knowledge is a state in which everything is observed, experienced, understood, and put away, - not put away in memory, but cast aside, so that the mind is all the time fresh, eager.

Question: The world in which we live is confused, and I too am confused. How am I to be free of this confusion?

Krishnamurti: It is one of the most difficult things to know for oneself, not merely superficially but actually, that one is confused. One will never admit that. We are always hoping there may be some clarity, some loophole through which there will come understanding; so we never admit to ourselves that we are actually confused. We never admit that we are acquisitive, that we are angry, that we are this or that; there are always excuses, always explanations. But to know really "I am confused", - that is one of the most important things to acknowledge to oneself. Are we not all confused? If you were very clear, if you knew what is true, you wouldn't be here; you wouldn't be chasing teachers, cal classes, going to churches, pursuing the priest, the confusion, and all the rest of it. To know for oneself that one is confused is really an extraordinarily difficult thing.

That is the first thing, - to know that one is confused. Now, what happens when one is confused? Any endeavour, - please follow this, - any endeavour to become non-confused is still confusion. (Murmur of amusement). Please, listen quietly, and you will see. When a confused mind makes an effort to be non-confused, that very effort is the outcome of confusion, is it not? Therefore whatever it does, whatever pursuit, whatever activity, whatever religion, whatever book it picks up, it is still in a state of confusion, therefore it cannot possibly understand. Its leaders, its priests, its religions, its relation, ships, must all be confused. That is what is happening in the world, is it not? You have chosen your political leaders, your religious leaders, out of your confusion.

If we understand that any action arising out of confusion is still confused, then, first we must stop all action, - which most of us are unwilling to do. The confused mind in action only creates more confusion. You may laugh, you may smile, but you really do not feel that you are confused and that therefore you must stop acting. Surely, that is the first thing. If I have lost myself in a wood, I don't go round chasing all over the place, I just stop still. If I am confused I don't pursue a guide, keep asking someone how to get out of confusion. Because any answer he gives, and I receive, will be translated according to my confusion, therefore it will be no answer at all. I think ,it is most difficult to realize that whenever one is confused, one must stop all activity, psychologically. I am not talking of outward activity, going to business and all the rest of it, - but inwardly, psychologically, one must see the necessity of putting an end to all search, to all pursuits, to all desire to change. It is only when the confused mind abstains from any movement, that out of that stopping comes clarity.

But it is very difficult for the mind, when it is confused, not to seek, not to ask, not to pray, not to escape, - just to remain in confusion, and inquire what it is, why one is confused. Only then will one find out how confusion arises. Confusion arises when I do not understand myself, when my thoughts are guided by the priests, by the politicians, by the newspapers, by every psychological book that one reads. Contradiction, - in myself and in the people I am trying to follow, - arises when there is imitation, when there is fear. So it is important, if we would clear up confusion, to understand the process of confusion within oneself. For that, there must be the stopping of all pursuits, psychologically. It is only then that the mind, through its own understanding of itself, brings about clarity, so that it is aware of the whole process of its own thoughts and motives. Such a mind becomes very clear, simple, direct.

Question: Will you please explain what you mean by awareness.

Krishnamurti: Just simple awareness! Awareness of your judgments, your prejudices, your likes and dislikes. When you see something, that seeing is the outcome of your comparison, condemnation, judgment, evaluation, is it not? When you read something you are judging, you are criticizing, you are condemning or approving. To be aware is to see, in the very moment, this whole process of judging, evaluating, the conclusions, the conformity, the acceptances, the denials.

Now, can one be aware without all that? At present all we know is a process of evaluating, and that evaluation is the outcome of our conditioning, of our background, of our religious, moral and educational influences. Such so-called awareness is the result of our memory, - memory as the `me', the Dutchman. the Hindu, the Buddhist. the Catholic, or whatever it may be. It is the `me', - my memories, my family, my property, my qualities, - which is looking judging, evaluating. With that we are quite familiar, if we are at all alert. Now, can there be awareness without all that, without the self? Is it possible just to look without condemnation, just to observe the movement of the mind, one's own mind, without judging, without evaluating, without saying "It is good", or "It is bad"?

The awareness which springs from the self, which is the awareness of evaluation and judgment, always creates duality, the conflict of the opposites, - that which is and that which should be. In that awareness there is judgment, there is fear, there is evaluation, condemnation, identification. That is but the awareness of the `me', of the self, of the `I' with all its traditions. memories, and all the rest of it. Such awareness always creates conflict between the observer and the observed, between what I am and what I should be. Now. is it possible to be aware without this process of condemnation, judgment, evaluation? Is it possible to look at myself, whatever my thoughts are, and not condemn, not judge, not evaluate? I do not know if you have ever tried it. It is quite arduous, - because all our training from childhood leads us to condemn or to approve. And in the process of condemnation and approval there is frustration, there is fear, there is a gnawing pain, anxiety, which is the very process of the `me', the self. So, knowing all that, can the mind, without effort, without trying not to condemn, - because the moment it says "I mustn't condemn" it is already caught in the process of condemnation, - can the mind be aware without judgment? Can it just watch, with dispassion, and so observe the very thoughts and feelings themselves in the mirror of relationship, - relationship with things, with people and with ideas? Such silent observation does not breed aloofness, an icy intellectualism, - on the contrary. If I would understand something, obviously there must be no condemnation, there must be no comparison, - surely, that is simple. But we think understanding comes through comparison; so, we multiply comparisons. Our education is comparative; and our whole moral, religious structure is to compare and condemn.

So, the awareness of which I am speaking is the awareness of the whole process of condemnation, and the ending of it. In that there is observation without any judgment, - which is extremely difficult; it implies the cessation, the ending, of all terming, naming. When I am aware that I am greedy, acquisitive, angry, passionate, or what you will, is it not possible just to observe`it, to be aware of it, without condemning? - which means, putting an end to the very naming of the feeling. For when I give a name, such as `greed', that very naming is the process of condemning. To us, neurologically, the very word `greed' is already a condemnation. To free the mind from all condemnation means putting an end to all naming. After all, the naming is the process of the thinker. It is the thinker separating himself from thought, - which is a totally artificial process, it is unreal. There is only thinking, there is no thinker; there is only a state of experiencing, not the entity who experiences.

So, this whole process of awareness, observation, is the process of meditation. It is, if I can put it differently, the willingness to invite thought. For most of us, thoughts come in without invitation, - one thought after another: there is no end to thinking; the mind is a slave to every kind of vagrant thought. If you realize that, then you will see that there can be an invitation to thought, - an inviting of thought and then a pursuing of every thought that arises. For most of us, thought comes uninvited; it comes any old way. To understand that process, and then to invite thought and pursue that thought through to the end, is the whole process which I have described as awareness; and in that there is no naming. Then you will see that the mind becomes extraordinarily quiet, - not through fatigue, not through discipline, not through any form of self-torture and control. Through awareness of its own activities the mind becomes astonishingly quiet, still, creative, - without the action of any discipline, or any enforcement.

Then, in that stillness of mind, comes that which is true, without invitation. You cannot invite truth, it is the unknown. And in that silence there is no experiencer. Therefore that which is experienced is not stored, is not remembered as `my experience of truth'. Then something which is timeless comes into being, - that which cannot be measured by the one who has not experienced, or who merely remembers a past experience. Truth is something which comes from moment to moment. It is not to be cultivated, not to be gathered, stored up and held in memory. It comes only when there is an awareness in which there is no experiencer.

May 26, 1955.


Amsterdam 1955

Amsterdam 5th Public Talk 26th May 1955

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