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Ojai 1955

Ojai 4th Public Talk 14th August 1955

One of the most difficult things to understand, it seems to me, is this problem of change. We see that there is progress in different forms, so-called evolution; but is there a fundamental change in progress? I do not know if this problem has struck you at all, or whether you have ever thought about it, but perhaps it will be worthwhile to go into the question this morning.

We see that there is progress in the obvious sense of that word; there are new inventions, better cars, better planes, better refrigerators, the superficial peace of a progressive society, and so on. But does that progress bring about a radical change in man, in you and me? It does superficially alter the conduct of our life, but can it ever fundamentally transform our thinking? And how is this fundamental transformation to be brought about? I think it is a problem worth considering. There is progress in self-improvement: I can be better tomorrow, more kind, more generous, less envious, less ambitious. But does self-improvement bring about a complete change in one's thinking? Or is there no change at all, but only progress? Progress implies time, does it not? I am this today, and I shall be something better tomorrow. That is, in self-improvement, or self-denial, or self-abnegation, there is progression, the gradualism of moving towards a better life, which means superficially adjusting to environment, conforming to an improved pattern, being conditioned in a nobler way, and so on. We see that process taking place all the time. And you must have wondered, as I have, whether progress does bring about a fundamental revolution.

To me, the important thing is not progress, but revolution. Please don't be horrified by that word `revolution', as most people are in a very progressive society like this. But it seems to me that unless we understand the extraordinary necessity of bringing about, not just a social amelioration, but a radical change in our outlook, mere progress is progress in sorrow; it may effect the pacification, the calming of sorrow, but not the cessation of sorrow, which is always latent. After all, progress in the sense of getting better over a period of time is really the process of the self, the `me', the ego. There is progress in self-improvement, obviously, which is the determined effort to be good, to be more this or less that, and so on. As there is improvement in refrigerators and airplanes, so also there is improvement in the self; but that improvement, that progress does not free the mind from sorrow.

So, if we want to understand the problem of sorrow and perhaps put an end to it, then we cannot possibly think in terms of progress; because a man who thinks in terms of progress, of time, saying that he will be happy tomorrow, is living in sorrow. And to understand this problem, one must go into the whole question of consciousness, must one not? Is this too difficult a subject? I'll go on and we'll see.

If I really want to understand sorrow and the ending of sorrow, I must find out, not only what are the implications of progress, but also what that entity is who wants to improve himself; and I must also know the motive with which he seeks to improve. All this is consciousness. There is the superficial consciousness of everyday activity: the job, the family, the constant adjustment to social environment, either happily, easily, or contradictorily, with a neurosis. And there is also the deeper level of consciousness which is the vast social inheritance of man through centuries: the will to exist, the will to alter, the will to become. If I would bring about a fundamental revolution in myself, surely I must understand this total progress of consciousness.

One can see that progress obviously does not bring about a revolution. I am not talking of social or economic revolution - that is very superficial, as I think most of us will agree. The overthrow of one economic or social system and the setting up of another does alter certain values, as in the Russian and other historical revolutions. But I am talking of a psychological revolution, which is the only revolution; and a man who is religious must be in that state of revolution, which I shall go into presently.

In grappling with this problem of progress and revolution, there must be an awareness, a comprehension of the total process of consciousness. Do you understand? Until I really comprehend what is consciousness, mere adjustment on the surface, though it may have sociological significance and perhaps bring about a better way of living, more food, less starvation in Asia, fewer wars, it can never solve the fundamental problem of sorrow. Without understanding, resolving and going beyond the urge that brings about sorrow, mere social adjustment is the continuance of that latent seed of sorrow. So I must understand what is consciousness, not according to any philosophy, psychology, or description, but by directly experiencing the actual state of my consciousness, the whole content of it.

Now, perhaps this morning you and I can experiment with this. I am going to describe what is consciousness; but while I am describing it, don't follow the description, but rather observe the process of your own thinking, and then you will know for yourself what consciousness is without reading any of the contradictory accounts of what the various experts have found. Do you understand? I am describing something. If you merely listen to the description, it will have very little meaning; but if through the description you are experiencing your own consciousness, your own process of thinking, then it will have tremendous importance now, not tomorrow, not some other day when you will have time to think about it, which is absolute nonsense because it is mere postponement. If through the description you can experience the actual state of your own consciousness as you are quietly sitting here, then you will find that the mind is capable of freeing itself from its vast inheritance of conditioning, all the accumulations and edicts of society, and is able to go beyond self-consciousness. So if you will experiment with this, it will be worthwhile.

We are trying to discover for ourselves what is consciousness, and whether it is possible for the mind to be free of sorrow - not to change the pattern of sorrow, not to decorate the prison of sorrow, but to be completely free from the seed, the root of sorrow. In inquiring into that, we shall see the difference between progress and the psychological revolution which is essential if there is to be freedom from sorrow. We are not trying to alter the content of our consciousness, we are not trying to do something about it; we are just looking at it. Surely, if we are at all observant, slightly aware of anything, we know the activities of the superficial consciousness. We can see that on the surface our mind is active, occupied in adjustment, in a job, in earning a livelihood, in expressing certain tendencies, gifts, talents, or acquiring certain technical knowledge; and most of us are satisfied to live on that surface.

Please do not merely follow what I am telling you, but watch yourself, your own way of thinking. I am describing what is superficially taking place in our daily life - distractions, escapes, occasional lapses into fear, adjustment to the wife, to the husband, to the family, to society, to tradition, and so on - , and with that superficiality most of us are satisfied.

Now, can we go below that and see the motive of this superficial adjustment? Again, if you are a little aware of this whole process, you know that this adjustment to opinion, to values, this acceptance of authority, and so on, is motivated by self-perpetuation, self-protection. If you can go still below that you will find there is this vast undercurrent of racial, national and group instincts, all the accumulations of human struggle, knowledge, endeavour, the dogmas and traditions of the Hindu, the Buddhist, or the Christian the residue of so-called education through centuries, all of which has conditioned the mind to a certain inherited pattern. And if you can go deeper still, there is the primal desire to be, to succeed, to become, which expresses itself on the surface in various forms of social activity and creates deep-rooted anxieties, fears. Put very succinctly, the whole of that is our consciousness. In other words, our thinking is based on this fundamental urge to be, to become, and on top of that lie the many layers of tradition, of culture, of education, and the superficial conditioning of a given society, all forcing us to conform to a pattern that enables us to survive. There are many details and subtleties, but in essence that is our consciousness.

Now, any progress within that consciousness is self-improvement; and self-improvement is progress in sorrow, not the cessation of sorrow. This is quite obvious if you look at it. And if the mind is concerned with being free of all sorrow, then what is the mind to do? I do not know if you have thought about this problem, but please think about it now.

We suffer, don't we? We suffer, not only from physical illness, disease, but also from loneliness, from the poverty of our being; we suffer because we are not loved. When we love somebody and there is no loving in return, there is sorrow. In every direction, to think is to be full of sorrow; therefore it seems better not to think, so we accept a belief and stagnate in that belief, which we call religion.

Now, if the mind sees that there is no ending of sorrow through self-improvement, through progress, which is fairly obvious, then what is the mind to do? Can the mind go beyond this consciousness, beyond these various urges and contradictory desires? And is going beyond a matter of time? Please follow this, not merely verbally but actually. If it is a matter of time, then you are back again in the other thing, which is progress. Do you see that? Within the framework of consciousness, any movement in any direction is self-improvement, and therefore the continuance of sorrow. Sorrow may be controlled, disciplined, subjugated, rationalized, super-refined, but the potential quality of sorrow is still there; and to be free from sorrow, there must be freedom from this potentiality, from this seed of the `I', the self, from the whole process of becoming. To go beyond, there must be the cessation of this process. But if you say, `How am I to go beyond?', then the `how' becomes the method, the practice, which is still progress, therefore is no going beyond, but only the refinement of consciousness in sorrow. I hope you are getting this.

The mind thinks in terms of progress, of improvement, of time; and is it possible for such a mind, seeing that so-called progress is progress in sorrow, to come to an end, not in time, not tomorrow, but immediately? Otherwise you are back again in the whole routine, in the old wheel of sorrow. If the problem is stated clearly, and clearly understood, then you will find the absolute answer. I am using that word `absolute' in its right sense. There is no other answer.

That is, our consciousness is all the time struggling to adjust, to modify, to change, to absorb, to reject, to evaluate, to condemn, to justify; but any such movement of consciousness is still within the pattern of sorrow. Any movement within that consciousness as dreams, or as an exertion of will, is the movement of the self; and any movement of the self, whether towards the highest or towards the most mundane, breeds sorrow. When the mind sees that, then what happens to such a mind? Do you understand the question? When the mind sees the truth of that, not merely verbally but totally, then is there a problem? Is there a problem when I am watching a rattler and know it to be poisonous? Similarly, if I can give my total attention to this process of suffering, then is not the mind beyond suffering?

Please follow this. Our minds are now occupied with sorrow and with the avoidance of sorrow, trying to overcome it, to diminish it, to modify it, to refine it, to run away from it in various ways. But if I see, not just superficially but right through, that this very occupation of the mind with sorrow is the movement of the self which creates sorrow, if I really see the truth of that, then has not the mind gone beyond this thing that we call self-consciousness?

To put it differently, our society is based on envy, on acquisitiveness, not only here in America, but also in Europe, in Asia, and we are the product of that society, which has existed for centuries, millennia. Now, please follow this. I realize that I am envious. I can refine it, I can control it, discipline it, find a substitute for it through charitable activities, social reform, and so on; but envy is always there, latent, ready to spring forward. So, how is the mind to be totally free from envy? Because envy inevitably brings conflict, envy is a state in which there is no creativity; and a man who wishes to find out what is creativity must obviously be free from all envy, from all comparison, from the urges to be, to become.

Envy is a feeling which we identify with a word. We identify the feeling by calling it a name, giving it the term `envy'. I shall go slowly, and please follow this, for it is the description of our consciousness. There is a certain state of feeling and I give it a name, I call it `envy'. That very word `envy' is condemnatory, it has social, moral and spiritual significances which are part of the tradition in which I have been educated; so by the very employment of that word, I have condemned the feeling, and this process of condemnation is self-improvement. In condemning envy I am progressing in the opposite direction, which is non-envy, but that movement is still from the centre which is envious.

So, can the mind put an end to naming? When there is a feeling of jealousy, of lust, or of ambition to be something, can the mind, which is educated in words, in condemnation, in giving it a name, stop that whole process of naming? Experiment with this and you will see how extraordinarily difficult it is not to name a feeling. The feeling and the naming are almost simultaneous. But if the naming does not take place, then is there the feeling? Does the feeling persist when there is no naming? Are you following all this, or is it too abstract? Don't agree or disagree with me, because this is not my life, it is your life.

This whole problem of naming a feeling, of giving it a term, is part of the problem of consciousness. Take a word like `love'. How immediately your mind rejoices in that word! It has such significance, such beauty, ease, and all the rest of it. And the word `hate' immediately has quite another significance, something to be avoided, to be got rid of, to be shunned, and so on. So words have an extraordinary psychological effect on the mind, whether we are conscious of it or not.

Now, can the mind be free from all that verbalizing? If it can - ,and it must, otherwise the mind cannot possibly go further - , then the problem arises, is there an experiencer apart from experience? If there is an experiencer apart from experience, then the mind is conditioned, because the experiencer is always either accumulating or rejecting experience, translating every experience in terms of his own likes and dislikes, in terms of his background, his conditioning; if he has a vision, he thinks it is Jesus, a Master, or God knows what else, some stupid nonsense. So as long as there is an experiencer there is progress in suffering, which is the process of self-consciousness.

Now, to go beyond, to transcend all that, requires tremendous attention. This total attention, in which there is no choice, no sense of becoming, of changing, altering, wholly frees the mind from the process of self-consciousness; there is then no experiencer who is accumulating, and it is only then that the mind can be truly said to be free from sorrow. It is accumulation that is the cause of sorrow. We do not die to everything from day to day, we do not die to the innumerable traditions, to the family, to our own experiences, to our own desire to hurt another. One has to die to all that from moment to moment, to that vast accumulative memory, and only then the mind is free from the self, which is the entity of accumulation. Perhaps in considering this question together we shall clarify what has already been said.

Question: What is the unconscious, and is it conditioned? If it is conditioned, then how is one to set about being free from that conditioning?

Krishnamurti: First of all, is not our consciousness, the waking consciousness, conditioned? Do you understand what that word `conditioned' means? You are educated in a certain way. Here in this country you are conditioned to be Americans, whatever that may mean, you are educated in the American way of life, and in Russia they are educated in the Russian way of life. In Italy the Catholics educate the children to think in a certain way, which is another form of conditioning, while in India, in Asia, in the Buddhist countries, they are conditioned in still other ways. Throughout the world there is this deliberate process of conditioning the mind through education, through social environment, through fear, through the job, through the family - you know, the innumerable ways of influencing the superficial mind, the waking consciousness.

Then there is the unconscious, that is, the layer of the mind below the superficial, and the questioner wants to know if that is conditioned. Isn't it conditioned, conditioned by all the racial thought, the hidden motives, desires, the instinctual responses of a particular culture? I am supposed to be a Hindu, born in India, educated abroad, and all the rest of it. Until I go into the unconscious and understand it, I am still a Hindu with all the Brahmanic, symbolic, cultural, religious, superstitious responses - it is all there, dormant, to be awakened at any moment, and it gives warning, intimation through dreams, through moments when the conscious mind is not fully occupied. So the unconscious is also conditioned.

It is quite obvious, then, if you go into it, that the whole of one's consciousness is conditioned. There is no part of you, no higher self which is not conditioned. Your very thinking is the outcome of memory, conscious or unconscious, therefore it is the result of conditioning. You think as a Communist, as a Socialist, as a Capitalist, as an American, as a Hindu, as a Catholic, as a Protestant, or what you will, because you are conditioned that way. You are conditioned to believe in God, if you are, and the Communist is not, he laughs at you and says, `You are conditioned; but he himself is conditioned, educated by his society, by the party to which he belongs, by its literature not to believe. So we are all conditioned, and we never ask, `Is it possible to be totally free from conditioning?' All we know is a process of refinement in conditioning, which is refinement in sorrow.

Now, if I see that, not merely verbally, but with total attention, then there is no conflict. Do you understand what I mean? When you attend to something with your whole being, that is, when you give your mind completely to understand something, there is no conflict. Conflict arises only when you are partly interested and partly looking at something else, and then you want to overcome that conflict, so you begin to concentrate, which is not attention. In attention there is no division, there is no distraction, therefore there is no effort, no conflict, and it is only through such attention that there can be self-knowledge, which is not accumulative.

Please follow this. Self-knowledge is not a thing to be accumulated, it is to be discovered from moment to moment; and to discover there cannot be accumulation, there cannot be a referent. If you accumulate self- knowledge, then all further understanding is dictated by that accumulation; therefore there is no understanding.

So the mind can go beyond all conditioning only in awareness in which there is total attention. In that total attention there is no modifier, no censor, no entity who says, `I must change', which means there is a complete cessation of the experiencer. There is no experiencer as the accumulator. Please, this is really important to understand. Because, after all, when we experience something lovely - a sunset, a single leaf dancing in a tree, moonlight on the water, a smile, a vision, or what you like - , the mind immediately wants to grasp it, to hold it, to worship it, which means the repetition of that experience; and where there is the urge to repeat there must be sorrow.

Is it possible, then, to be in a state of experiencing without the experiencer? Do you understand? Can the mind experience ugliness, beauty, or what you will, without that entity who says,`I have experienced'? Because that which is truth, that which is God, that which is the immeasurable, can never be experienced as long as there is an experiencer. The experiencer is the entity of recognition; and if I am capable of recognizing that which is truth, then I have already experienced it, I already know it, therefore it is not truth. That is the beauty of truth, it remains timelessly the unknown, and a mind that is the result of the known can never grasp it.

Question: You have said that all urges are in essence the same. Do you mean to say that the urge of the man who pursues God is no different from the urge of the man who pursues women or who loses himself in drink?

Krishnamurti: All urges are not similar, but they are all urges. You may have an urge towards God, and I may have an urge to get drunk; but we are both compelled, urged, you in one direction, I in another. Your direction is respectable, mine is not; on the contrary, I am antisocial. But the hermit, the monk, the so-called religious person whose mind is occupied with virtue, with God, is essentially the same as the man whose mind is occupied with business, with women, or with drink, because both are occupied. Do you understand? The one has sociological value, while the other, the man whose mind is occupied with drink, is socially unfit. So you are judging from the social point of view, are you not? The man who retires into a monastery and prays from morning till night, doing some gardening for a certain period of the day, whose mind is wholly occupied with God, with self-castigation, self-discipline, self-control, him you regard as a very holy person, a most extraordinary man. Whereas, the man who goes after business, who manipulates the stock exchange and is occupied all the time with making money, of him you say, `Well, he is just an ordinary man like the rest of us'. But they are both occupied. To me, what the mind is occupied with is not important. A man whose mind is occupied with God will never find God, because God is not something to be occupied with; it is the unknown, the immeasurable. You cannot occupy yourself with God. That is a cheap way of thinking of God.

What is significant is not with what the mind is occupied, but the fact of its occupation, whether it be with the kitchen, with the children, with amusement, with what kind of food you are going to have, or with virtue, with God. And must the mind be occupied? Do you follow? Can an occupied mind ever see anything new, anything except its own occupation? And what happens to the mind if it is not occupied? Do you understand? Is there a mind if there is no occupation? The scientist is occupied with his technical problems, with his mechanics, with his mathematics, as the housewife is occupied in the kitchen or with the baby. We are all so frightened of not being occupied, frightened of the social implications. If one were not occupied one might discover oneself as one is, so occupation becomes an escape from what one is.

So, must the mind be everlastingly occupied? And is it possible to have no occupation of the mind? Please, I am putting you a question to which there is no answer, because you have to find out; and when you do find out you will see the extraordinary thing happen.

It is very interesting to find out for yourself how your mind is occupied. The artist is occupied with his art, with his name, with his progress, with the mixing of colours, with fame, with notoriety; the man of knowledge is occupied with his knowledge; and a man who is pursuing self-knowledge is occupied with his self-knowledge, trying like a little ant to be aware of every thought, every movement. They are all the same. It is only the mind that is totally unoccupied, completely empty - it is only such a mind that can receive something new, in which there is no occupation. But that new thing cannot come into being as long as the mind is occupied.

Question: You say that an occupied mind cannot receive that which is truth or God. But how can I earn a livelihood unless I am occupied with my work? Are you yourself not occupied with these talks, which is your particular means of earning a livelihood?

Krishnamurti: God forbid that I should be occupied with my talks! I am not. And this is not my means of livelihood. If I were occupied, there would be no interval between thoughts, there would not be that silence which is essential to see something new. Then talking would become utter boredom. I don't want to be bored by my own talks, therefore I am not talking from memory. It is something totally different. It doesn't matter, we shall go into that some other time.

The questioner asks how he is to earn his livelihood if he is not occupied with his work. Do you occupy yourself with your work? Please listen to this. If you are occupied with your work, then you do not love your work. Do you understand the difference? If I love what I am doing, I am not occupied with it, my work is not apart from me. But we are trained in this country, and unfortunately it is becoming the habit throughout the world, to acquire skill in work which we don't love. There may be a few scientists, a few technical experts, a few engineers, who really love what they do in the total sense of the word, which I am going to explain presently. But most of us do not love what we are doing, and that is why we are occupied with our livelihood. I think there is a difference between the two, if you really go into it. How can I love what I am doing if I am all the time driven by ambition, trying through my work to achieve an aim, to become somebody, to have a success? An artist who is concerned with his name, with his greatness, with comparison, with fulfilling his ambition. has ceased to be an artist, he is merely a technician like everybody else. Which means, really, that to love something there must be a total cessation of all ambition, of all desire for the recognition of society, which is rotten anyhow. (Laughter). Sirs, please don't. And we are not trained for that, we are not educated for that; we have to fit into some groove which society or the family has given us. Because my forefathers have been doctors, lawyers or engineers, I must be a doctor, a lawyer or an engineer. And now there must be more and more engineers, because that is what society demands. So we have lost this love of the thing itself, if we ever had it, which I doubt. And when you love a thing, there is no occupation with it. The mind isn't conniving to achieve something, trying to be better than somebody else; all comparison, competition, all desire for success, for fulfilment, totally ceases. It is only the ambitious mind that is occupied.

Similarly, a mind that is occupied with God, with truth, can never find it, because that which the mind is occupied with it already knows. If you already know the immeasurable, what you know is the outcome of the past, therefore it is not the immeasurable. Reality cannot be measured, therefore there is no occupation with it; there is only a stillness of the mind, an emptiness in which there is no movement, and it is only then that the unknown can come into being.

August 14, 1955.


Ojai 1955

Ojai 4th Public Talk 14th August 1955

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