Banaras 2nd Public Talk 18th December 1955
I would like, if I may, to discuss with you the problem of search, and what it is to be serious. What do we mean when we say we are seeking? So-called religious people are supposed to be seeking truth, God. What does that word signify? Not the dictionary meaning, but what is the inward nature of seeking, the psychological process of it? I think it would be significant if we could go into this matter very deeply; and may I again remind those who are here that through the description or verbal explanation they should actually experience what is being discussed, otherwise it will have very little meaning. If you regard these talks merely as something to be taken down, just a new set of ideas to be added to your old set of ideas, they will have no value.
So, let us see if together we can go into this real problem of what it is to seek. Can anything new be found through search? Why do we seek, and what do we seek? What is the motive, the psychological process that makes us seek? On that depends what we find, surely. Why do I seek truth, happiness, peace, or something beyond all mentation? What is the impetus, the urge that compels one to seek? Without understanding that urge, mere search will have very little meaning, because what one is really seeking may be some kind of satisfaction, unrelated to reality. But if we can uncover the whole mechanism of this process of seeking, then perhaps we shall come to a point where there is no search at all, and it may be that that is the necessary state for anything new to take place.
As long as the mind is seeking there must be endeavour, effort, which is invariably based on the action of will, and however refined, will is the outcome of desire. Will may be the outcome of many integrated desires, or of a single desire, and that will expresses itself through action, does it not? When you say you are seeking truth, behind all the meditation, the devotion, the discipline entailed in that search, there is surely this action of will, which is desire; and in pursuing the fulfilment of desire, in trying to arrive at a peaceful state of mind, to find God, truth, or to have this extraordinary state of creativity, seriousness comes in.
One may seek, but if there is no seriousness one's search will be dissipated, sporadic, disconnected. Seriousness invariably goes with search, and it is apparently because you are serious that most of you are here. Sunday afternoon is a pleasant time to go boating, but instead you have gone to the trouble of coming here to listen, perhaps because you are serious. Being dissatisfied with traditional ideas and the accustomed point of view, you are seeking, and you hope by listening to find something new. If you were completely satisfied with what you have, you would not be here, so your presence at these talks indicates that you are dissatisfied; you are seeking something, and your search is obviously based on the desire to be satisfied at a deeper level. The satisfaction which you are seeking is nobler, more refined, but your search is still the pursuit of satisfaction.
That is, we want to find the total integration of our whole being, because we have read, or heard, or imagined, that that is the only state in which there is undisturbed happiness, lasting peace. So we become very serious, we read, search out philosophers, analysts, psychologists, yogis, in the hope of finding this integrated state; but the impetus, the drive is still the desire to fulfil, to find some kind of satisfaction, a state of mind which will never be disturbed.
Now, if we are really to inquire into this matter, our inquiry must surely be based on negative thinking, which is the supreme form of thinking. We cannot inquire if our minds are tethered to any positive directive or formula. If we accept or assume anything, then all inquiry is useless. We can inquire, search, only when there is negative thinking, not thinking along any positive line. Most of us are convinced that positive thinking is necessary in order to find out what is true. By positive thinking I mean accepting the experience of others, or of oneself, without understanding the conditioned mind which thinks. After all, all our thinking is at present based on the background, on tradition, on experience, on the knowledge which we have accumulated. I think that is fairly clear. Knowledge gives a positive direction to our thinking, and in pursuing this positive direction we hope to find that which is truth, God, or what you will; but what we actually find is based on experience and the process of recognition.
Surely, that which is new cannot be recognized. Recognition can only take place from memory, the accumulated experience which we call knowledge. If we recognize something, it is not new, and as long as our search is based on recognition, whatever we find has already been experienced, therefore it comes from the background of memory. I recognize you because I have met you before. Something totally new cannot be recognized. God, truth, or whatever it is that results from the total integration of one's whole consciousness, is not recognizable, it must be something totally new; and the very search for that state implies a process of recognition, does it not?
I don't think what I am talking about is as difficult as it sounds. It is really fairly simple. Most of us wish to find something, let us for the moment call it God or truth, whatever that may mean. How do we know what truth or God is? We know what it is either because we have read about it, or experienced it; and when that experience comes, we are able to recognize it as truth or God. The recognizing of it can only arise from the background of previous knowledge, which means that what is recognized is not new; therefore it is not truth, it is not God. It is what we think it is.
So, I am asking myself, and I hope you are asking yourself, what is this thing which we call search? I have explained what is implied in this whole problem of seeking. When we go from guru to guru, when we practise various disciplines, when we sacrifice, meditate, or train the mind in some way, the impetus behind all this effort is the urge to find something, and what is found must be recognizable, otherwise it cannot be found. So what the mind finds can only be the outcome of its own background, of its own conditioning; and if once the mind understands this fact, then search may not have this meaning at all, it may have a totally different significance. The mind may then stop seeking altogether - which does not mean that it accepts its conditioning, its travails, its miseries. After all, it is the mind itself that has created all the misery, and when the mind begins to understand its own process, then perhaps it is possible for that other state, whatever it be, to come into being without this everlasting effort to find.
Now, sirs, let us discuss this. Is this a problem to you, or am I imposing this problem on you? You must have observed how millions of people are seeking, each one following a particular guru or practising a particular system of meditation; or else they go from teacher to teacher, joining one society, dropping it, and going on to another, everlastingly seeking, seeking, seeking, which of course can also become a game. So perhaps you have asked yourself what it all means. You read the Upanishads, or the Gita, or listen to a talk in which certain explanations are given, certain states described, and they all say, `Do this, abandon that, and you will discover the eternal'. All of us are seeking in some degree, intensively or in a weak way, and I think it is important to find out what this search means. Can we very simply and directly ask ourselves, each one of us, whether we are seeking, and if we are seeking, what is the drive behind this search?
Krishnamurti: Are you sure this is your own experience and not somebody else's? If it is your own experience that your search is based on the urge of dissatisfaction, then what do you do, sir?
Questioner: We go from guru to guru till we find satisfaction. But even then we don't know what will happen in the future. Dissatisfaction is compelling us, it is the state in which we pass our lives.
Krishnamurti: And as you grow older you become more and more serious in this search; but you have never inquired if there is such a thing as satisfaction at all.
Questioner: Man is always thirsty and he wants to satisfy his thirst.
Krishnamurti: Sir, if you were always thirsty after drinking, would you not find out whether thirst can ever be quenched? And if satisfaction is only momentary, then why give this enormous significance to gurus, sacrifices, disciplines, sadhanas, and all the rest of it? Why break yourselves up into sects and create conflict with your neighbours and in society for the sake of a passing comfort? Why get caught in Hinduism or Christianity if it is merely a temporary relief? You may say, `I know all this gives only temporary relief, and I do not attach much significance to it'. But do you really go to your guru and say that you have just come for a temporary relief? Must you not inquire into this? And can there be inquiry if one's heart is obstinate? The obstinacy of the heart prevents inquiry, does it not?
Let us begin with that. If I am obstinate in my way of thinking, which is called being positive, if my mind is committed to some form of conclusion, opinion, or judgment, can I inquire at all? You say no. We all agree, but are not our minds caught in some conclusion, in some experience? Therefore inquiry is not only biased but impossible.
Sirs, can we really talk a little bit definitely about this, searching deeply in our own minds and thereby awakening self-knowledge? Can we find out if we are committed to some formula, to some conclusion or experience, to which the mind clings?
Questioner: There is always a hope of finding the ultimate satisfaction.
Krishnamurti: First let us see if our minds are committed to some experience, to some conclusion or belief which makes us obstinate, unyielding in the deep sense. I just want to begin with that, because how can there be inquiry as long as the mind is incapable of yielding? We have read the Gita, the Bible, the Upanishads, this or that book, which has given a bias to the mind, a certain conclusion to which the mind is tethered. Can such a mind inquire? Is not that the case with most of us, and must not our minds be free of all commitments as Hindus, Theosophists, Catholics, or whatever it be, before we can inquire? And why are we not free of all that? When we have commitments and then inquire, it is not inquiry, it is merely a repetition of opinions, judgments, conclusions. So, in talking this evening, can we drop these conclusions?
Surely, even the greatest scientists must drop all their knowledge before they can discover something new; and if you are serious, this dropping of knowledge, of belief, of experience, must actually take place. Most of us are somewhat serious in terms of our particular conclusions, but I don't consider that to be seriousness at all. It has no value. The serious man, surely, is he who is capable of dropping all his conclusions because he sees that only then is he in a position to inquire.
Questioner: We may say we have dropped our conclusions, but they come up again.
Krishnamurti: Do we know that our minds are anchored to a conclusion? Is the mind aware that it is held in a particular belief? Sir, let me put it very simply. My son dies and I am in sorrow, and I come across the belief in reincarnation. There is great hope and promise in that belief, so my mind holds on to it. Now, is such a mind capable of inquiring into the whole problem of death, and not just into the question of whether there is a hereafter? Can my mind drop that conclusion? And must not the mind drop it, if it is to find out what is true - drop it, not through any form of compulsion or reward, but because the very inquiry demands that it be dropped? If one doesn't drop it, one is not serious.
Sirs and ladies, Please don't feel frustrated by my questions, which seem so obvious. If my mind is tethered to the peg of belief, experience, or knowledge, it cannot go very far; and inquiry implies freedom from that peg, does it not? If I am really seeking, then this state of being tethered to a peg must end, there must be a breaking away, I must cut the rope. There is then never a question of how to cut the rope. When there is perception of the fact that inquiry is possible only when there is freedom from obstinacy, or from attachment to a belief, then that very perception liberates the mind.
Now, why does this not happen to each one of us?
Questioner: One feels safer with the rope.
Krishnamurti: That is so, is it not? You feel safer when the mind is conditioned, so there is no adventure, no daring, and the whole social structure is that way. I know all these answers; but why don't you drop your belief? If you don't, you are not serious. If you are really inquiring you do not say, `I am seeking along a particular line, and I must be tolerant of any line which is different', because that whole way of thinking comes to an end. Then there is not this division of `your path' and `my path', the mystic and the occult, and all the stupid explanations of the man who wants to exploit are brushed aside.
Questioner: Is search itself brushed aside? Search for what?
Krishnamurti: That is not our problem for the moment. I am saying that there is no inquiry when the mind is attached. Most of us say we are seeking, and to seek is really to inquire; and I am asking, can you inquire as long as your mind is attached to any conclusion? Obviously, when the question is put to you, you say, `Of course not'.
Questioner: Do you visualize the day when there will be no churches or temples of any kind? And as long as there are churches and temples, can people keep their minds un-tethered?
Krishnamurti: The people are always you and I. We are talking about ourselves, not the people.
Questioner: But can we keep our minds un-tethered as long as there are churches?
Krishnamurti: Why not, sir? May I say something? Forget the people, churches and temples. I am asking, is your mind bound? Is your mind obstinate, attached to some experience, to some form of knowledge or belief? If it is, then such a mind is incapable of inquiry. You may say, `I am seeking; but you are obviously not seeking, are you, sir? How can the mind have freedom of movement if it is held? We say we are seeking, but there is really no seeking at all. Seeking implies freedom from attachment to any formula, to any experience, to any form of knowledge, for only then is the mind capable of moving extensively. This is a fact, is it not? If I want to go to Benaras, I can't be tied, held in a room; I must leave the room and go. Similarly, your mind is now held, and you say you are seeking; but I say you cannot seek or inquire as long as your mind is held - which is a fact which you all acknowledge. Then why does not the mind break away? If it does not, how can you and I inquire together? And that is our difficulty, is it not, sirs?
Questioner: As long as the churches and temples are there, it is difficult to break away.
Krishnamurti: Sir, who has created the churches and temples? Men like you and me.
Questioner: They were unlike me, unlike us.
Krishnamurti: You and I may not have created an outward temple, but we have our inward temples.
Questioner: That is a very high conception. It is not possible for every ordinary human being to seek the inward self.
Krishnamurti: We are not meeting each other, I am afraid. It is not a question of seeking the inward self. I am saying that there is no seeking at all when there is attachment to any formula, to any experience, to knowledge in any form. That is so obvious. If you think in terms of Catholicism, Protestantism, Buddhism or Hinduism, your mind is obviously incapable of inquiry. When you see a fact of this kind, why is it so difficult for the mind to drop its attachment and begin to inquire? You are sitting here listening, trying to find out, trying to inquire, and I say you cannot inquire if there is any form of attachment, that is, if the mind is in bondage to any conclusion, to any formula, to any kind of knowledge or experience. You agree that this is perfectly true, and yet you don't say, `I am going to drop all attachment' - which really indicates that you are not serious, does it not? You may talk of being serious, but I say that word has no value, no meaning, as long as your mind is tethered. You may get up at 4 o'clock and meditate, control your words, your gestures, do all the disciplinary things, thinking that you are very serious; but I say these are mere superficial observances. A serious mind is one which, being aware of its bondage, drops it, and begins to inquire.
Questioner: What is the means of breaking one's attachment to a conclusion?
Krishnamurti: Sir, is there a means? If there is, then you are attached to the means. (Laughter). I know, you laugh it away, but that is not merely a clever statement. Sirs, is not freedom implicit in inquiry? And that is why freedom is at the beginning, not at the end. When you say, `I must go through all this discipline in order to be free', it is like saying, `I will know sobriety through drunkenness'. Surely, there can be inquiry only when there is freedom. So freedom must be at the beginning and as long as it is not, though what you do may be socially and conventionally satisfying, it has no meaning. It has a certain value for people who are after a sense of security, but it has not the value of discovery. Though these people get up early and go through all the rigors of discipline, I say they are not serious. Seriousness lies in being aware that the mind is tethered to an experience, or a belief, and breaking away from it - which is what you don't want to do. So is it not important for you to inquire into this? Otherwise you will come here day after day, year after year, and listen merely to words, which will have very little meaning.
Questioner: You say freedom precedes inquiry, but we wish to inquire into freedom.
Krishnamurti: Sir, how can you inquire if your mind is held? This is just ordinary reason, common sense. If your guru says, `This is the way', and you are held by that, how can you look beyond it? You go to the guru in order to inquire - and you get caught in his words, you are mesmerized by his personality, you become involved in all the things which he stands for. Your original impetus is to inquire, but that impetus is based on your desire for some kind of hope, satisfaction, and all the rest of it. So I say, to inquire there must first be freedom. You don't have to search for freedom. I am reversing your whole process of thinking, which is obviously false, even though the sacred books say otherwise.
Questioner: What will come after the inquiry?
Krishnamurti: That is merely an intellectual question, if I may say so. Don't you see? You want to know what will happen `after', which is theoretical. The mind likes to spin words, to speculate. I say you will find out. It is like a prisoner saying, `What will it be like after I leave the prison?' To find out he must leave the prison.
Questioner: Sir, we who are sitting in this hall are people of various cults, creeds and beliefs, and we are listening to what you are saying, even though we do not really understand it. What you are saying is new to most of us, we have never heard it before, and while it sounds very nice to the ear, we cannot comprehend it. What is it that makes people sit quietly for an hour and listen earnestly to something which they cannot grapple with? Is this not in itself a form of inquiry, which means that the mind is not really tethered to a conclusion? If the mind were tethered to a conclusion, there would not be this wanting to find a different way of life, and these people would not come here, or they would just close their ears; yet they come and listen very intently. Does this not indicate a certain freedom to inquire?
Krishnamurti: What is making you listen, sirs? What is making you listen to someone who says things which are entirely contrary to all that you believe and hold? Is it his personality, his reputation, the ballyhoo, the noise that is made around him? Is that what makes you listen? If it is, then your listening has very little meaning. So, what is it that is making you listen? Perhaps it is the fact that you are confronted with something which happens to be true, and in spite of your being tethered, you cannot help listening; yet you will go back to the conditioned state. Is that what is making you listen? Or are you really listening? Do you follow? Are you really listening, or is it that you have got into the habit of sitting quietly when somebody is talking, because you like being lectured to?
These are not vain questions. I am really trying to find out why it is that, when something true is said, there is no immediate response. That is the real question I am asking. You say, or I say, there can be no inquiry without freedom, which is obviously true; it is a fact, regardless of who says it. Now, why does not that fact produce an immediate, trenchant action? Or has that fact a mysterious operation of its own which cannot be immediately expressed? Someone has stated the fact that, for inquiry, there must be freedom, freedom from being tethered, and you listen to that fact. However partially you listen, that fact has taken root in the mind because it has vitality; the seed is going to blossom, not within a certain period, but it is going to blossom, and that may be why it is important to listen to facts, whether you are listening willingly, consciously, or are only half listening. But after all, that is the way of propaganda. They keep on repeating, `Buy such-and-such a soap', and eventually you buy it. Is that what is happening here? If you hear a certain fact being constantly repeated, and you presently act according to that fact, such action is entirely different from the action of the fact itself.
Sirs, we shall have to stop. I won't ask you to think it over, because merely thinking it over has no meaning; but if you would really inquire into this whole problem of seeking and what it is to be serious, then the mind must find out how to inquire, and what inquiry is. Any assumption, any conclusion, any attachment to knowledge or experience, is an impediment to inquiry. As long as the mind is tethered to some conclusion, inquiry is an immense struggle, a process of effort, striving, breaking through; but if the mind sees the truth that there can be inquiry only when there is freedom, then inquiry has quite a different meaning altogether. If one realizes this, one is never a slave to any guru, to any formula, to any belief. Then you and I can pool our inquiry, and out of that we can co-operate, act, live. But as long as one's mind is tethered, there is `your way' and `my way', `your opinion' and `my opinion', `your path' and `my path', and all the many divisions and subdivisions which come between man and man.
Banaras 2nd Public Talk 18th December 1955
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