Bombay 3rd Public Talk 11th March 1956
One of our great difficulties in communicating with each other is to understand the content, the intention of the words we employ, is it not? The depth of our words depends, surely, on the way we think, feel, and act. If we speak the word superficially, or if the word is merely an abstraction, it has very little significance; whereas, if the word is not merely an abstraction, but has a referent which we both understand, a referent which we have established together with balance, with sanity, with clarity, then there is a possibility of communicating with each other, and a meeting of this kind will be useful. But the difficulty generally is that you have a certain referent, while I have quite another; or I may be speaking merely abstractly, and have no referent at all; therefore communication, a deep exchange of thought between us, becomes almost impossible. So it seems to me very important, in a meeting of this kind, to communicate on the same level, at the same time; and such communication can take place only when we both understand the full content of the words we use. Understanding, surely, is instantaneous; it is not tomorrow, or after you have heard the talk.
To understand each other, I think it is necessary that we should not be caught in words; because, a word like `God', for example, may have a particular meaning for you, while for me it may represent a totally different formulation, or no formulation at all. So it is almost impossible to communicate with each other unless both of us have the intention of understanding and going beyond mere words. The word `freedom' generally implies being free from something, does it not? It ordinarily means being free from greed, from envy, from nationalism, from anger, from this or that. Whereas, freedom may have quite another meaning, which is a sense of being free, not from anything, but the realization of the fact of being free; and I think it is very important to understand this meaning.
Most of us are not familiar with the feeling of being free, and it seems to me that we have to become familiar with it, we have to get acquainted with that feeling; because throughout the world, tyranny is spreading. Whether under the guise of fascism, communism, socialism, or what you will, society is being more and more organized to fit a blueprint, a five-year plan, or a ten-year plan, which means that there must be an executive body vested with the authority to carry it out; and thereby tyranny begins. And yet society has to be organized. So the problem of what is freedom, is very complex, and I think it is really quite important to go into it.
Without freedom, there is obviously no possibility of exploring and finding out what is truth. But how difficult it is for the mind to be free, to actually experience that state, and not just think it is free! To explore and to discover, the mind must have this quality of freedom, which is not the negative state of being free from something. I think there is a difference between the two. When I am merely free from something, that state of freedom is negation, it is a vacuum; but the realization of the fact of freedom, not from something, is a positive state. So I think we must understand the content of this word `freedom'.
From childhood we are not educated to be free, but we are conditioned, shaped to the pattern of society. Because we are afraid that freedom will make the child go wrong, spill over, we in our turn establish various rules and regulations, do's and don'ts, thinking that these will guide the child in the right direction, lead him towards bliss, God, truth, or whatever it may be called. From the very beginning we assert that the mind must be conditioned, moulded; so we have never inquired into this problem of freedom. If we had, our values, our action, our whole outlook on life, would be entirely different.
The question is, then, can the mind, which is the result of innumerable influences, of the books it has read, of the social, cultural, and religious environment in which it has been brought up, of the memory which has shaped it and made it what it is - can such a mind free itself, not abstractly, or as an ideal, but actually free itself from the past? And what is the continuity of the past? Do you understand the problem?
At present the mind is obviously a storehouse of memory - memory being accumulation, association, recognition, and response. It is very interesting to observe that there are now machines which can do all this much quicker than the human mind, which shows that it is a purely mechanical process; and a mind caught in that process, whatever its activity, must also be mechanical. So, can the mind, realizing all this, be in a state of freedom, though it may employ the machine?
I do not know if I am explaining this issue clearly, but I think it is significant; because it seems to me that our existence as individuals - if we are individuals at all, which perhaps we are not - is mechanical, routine, and that as individuals we are not creative. I do not mean creativity in the narrow sense of mere production; I am talking of creativity in a totally different sense, which we shall go into presently.
Now, what gives the mind this sense of continuity in which there is not a moment of freedom, but merely a constant modification, a mechanical process of adding or subtracting? Surely, creativity is possible only when the mind is not occupied with the machinery of memory. I think this is very clear if you will follow it, though verbally it may be difficult. If you observe your own mind in operation, you will see that it is continually responding from the background of memory; and such a mind cannot know the state of freedom, in which alone there is creativity. To me, this is the supreme problem; because it is only at the instant of being free that the mind is capable of discovering something totally new, unpremeditated, uncontaminated, by the past.
So, what gives the mind this mechanical continuity, and why is the mind afraid to let it go? And what creates time - not chronological time, but time as this feeling of moving from yesterday, through today, to tomorrow? Surely, as long as the mind is seeking the `more', there must be this sense of continuity. Being dissatisfied with myself as I am, I want to change; and to change I say I must have time. Changing is always in terms of the `more; and the moment I demand the `more', there must be continuity. The demand for the `more' is envy, and our social structure is based on envy. There is envy, not only in our worldly relationships, but also in our desire to be more spiritual. As long as the mind thinks in terms of the `more', either inwardly or outwardly, there must be envy; and freedom from envy is not a denial of or an abstraction from envy, but the total absence of envy without struggling to be non-envious.
Can we go into this a little? You know what envy is, do you not? I think most of us are quite familiar with that feeling, and perhaps we have noticed that our whole society is based on it. There is a constant struggle to be something more, not only in the hierarchical social structure, but also inwardly. I see a car, and I want to possess it; I see a saint, and I want to become like him. This constant struggle to have or to become something, indicates an extraordinary dissatisfaction with what we are; but if we would understand what we are, we cannot compare it with what we would like to be. The understanding of what is does not come about through comparing what is with what should be.
I do not know if you have ever tackled this problem of envy. In our jobs, in our daily life and work, envy is rampant; it shows in the respect we pay to the man who knows more to the man who has power, position prestige and in the constant struggle for the `more' within ourselves. We all know this feeling of envy, and as long as it exists there must be frustration and sorrow.
Now, can the mind be totally free from envy? I think this is a very important question; because if the mind can never be totally free from envy, we shall perpetuate a society based on acquisitiveness, on ambition and all the rest of the horrors, and there will be ceaseless conflict between us, the meaningless struggle to become something at all levels of our existence. So, can the mind be free from envy? If I struggle to be free from envy, through discipline, through practising a method, surely I give continuity to envy in a different form. There is still the desire to be something, and I have merely changed the object of that desire. I now want to be what I call non-envious; but the want is still the same, the demand for the `more' is still there. So being aware of this fact, can the mind be free from envy? If you will go slowly with me, step by step, I think you will see it.
When am I conscious of envy? Does not envy come into being through comparison? Surely, I am envious because you have, and I have not. The very process of comparison is envy. I am a petty little being, and you are a big saint, and I want to be like you. So where there is comparison, there is envy, and if you observe you will see that we are brought up on this; our education, our culture, our whole manner of thinking, is based on comparison and the worship of capacity. And do we understand anything through comparison? Through comparison we may extend knowledge; but knowledge, surely, is not understanding.
So the word `envy' implies ambition, greed, the desire to be something, not only socially, but psychologically. And can the mind be entirely free from this demand for the `more'? Why do we demand the `more'? And does that demand lead to progress? When we demand a refrigerator, a better car, and so on, it brings about progress at one level, obviously. But when we demand more power, more fulfilment, greater virtue, when psychologically we want to achieve a result, that inner demand destroys the benefits of technical progress, and brings misery to man. As long as we psychologically demand the `more', our society will be acquisitive, and there must be conflict and violence. This does not mean that we should do away with physical comforts, the mechanical aids produced by technology; but it is the psychological urge to use these things for self-expansion, which is the demand for the `more', that is destroying us.
So, can the mind free itself from envy? It can free itself from envy only when comparison ceases, that is, when the mind is directly confronted by the fact that it is envious. Do you understand, sirs? To be directly confronted by the fact that I am envious, is not the same as the realization of that fact which comes through comparison. I hope you are listening, not merely to my verbal expression, the description of what I am trying to convey, but listening in the sense that you are actually experiencing what I am saying - which is to observe the activity of your own mind and come to the point where you are aware, directly conscious, of the fact that you are envious.
Now, when do you know that you are envious? Do you know you are envious only when comparison exists, and when you employ the word `envy'? Do you not know that you are envious when you see something which you want, and there is the demand for the `more: more pleasure, more prestige, more money, more virtue, and so on? Or do you know that you are envious without the process of demanding the `more'? That is, can the mind look at the fact that it is envious without this demand? Can the mind free itself from the word `envy'?
After all, the mind is made up of words, amongst other things. Now, can the mind be free of the word `envy'? Experiment with this and you will see that words like `God', `truth', `hate', `envy', have a profound effect on the mind. And can the mind be both neurologically and psychologically free of these words? If it is not free of them, it is incapable of facing the fact of envy. When the mind can look directly at the fact which it calls `envy', then the fact itself acts much more swiftly than the mind's endeavour to do something about the fact. As long as the mind is thinking of getting rid of envy through the ideal of non-envy, and so on, it is distracted, it is not facing the fact; and the very word `envy' is a distraction from the fact. The process of recognition is through the word; and the moment I recognize the feeling through the word, I give continuity to that feeling. Surely, a man who is concerned with the total freedom from envy must go into all this; he has to see that our whole cultural background is based on envy, on acquisitiveness, spiritually as well as mundanely. That is, most of us want to be something, in this life or the next. We want more knowledge, greater power, a higher position, more virtue; so the continuity of the mind as the `me' is through the demand for the `more', which is envy. Envy is also the process of dependence.
Now, seeing the extraordinarily complex ways of envy, can the mind totally free itself from envy? If it does not, it cannot be free to explore, to discover, to understand. It can be free of envy only when it is directly aware of the fact that it is envious; and it cannot be directly aware of that fact as long as it condemns or compares. This is really quite simple. If you want to understand your son, you must study him, must you not? Studying your son implies watching him, and not comparing him with his elder brother, or anybody else; it means looking at him directly, and not thinking of him comparatively. The moment you think comparatively, you are destroying him, because the image of the other then becomes more important than your son.
So, can the mind watch in itself this unrolling of envy, but without condemnation or comparison? Can it be cognizant of the fact that it is envious, and not act upon that fact? The action of the mind upon the fact is also envy, because the mind then wants to change the fact into something else. Unless the mind is totally free from envy, we shall always be in bondage, there will always be suffering, and whatever the mind's activity, it will only create more mischief. The mind that is concerned with total freedom from envy has to be aware of the fact, and not act upon the fact. Then you will see how swiftly the fact itself brings a result, an action, which is not the action of a mind distracted from the fact; and only then can the mind be still. No amount of control, or self-hypnosis, can ever make the mind really quiet; and it is essential for the mind to be quiet, unoccupied with itself, for only then is there a possibility of discovering or experiencing something new. Any experience which has continuity is based on envy, on the demand for the `more; so the mind must die to everything it has learnt, acquired, experienced. Then you will find that the mind is silent, and this silence has its own movement, uncontaminated by the past; therefore it is possible for something totally new to take place.
In considering these questions together, again I think it is important to realize that there is no answer; and this realization is in itself an extraordinary experience. But to realize that there is no answer is very difficult for most of us because the mind is seeking a result. When the mind is seeking a result, it will find what it seeks; but that very result creates problems.
Question: When I listen to you, it appears to create and intensify my perplexity. Eight days ago I was without a problem, and now I am swamped by confusion. What is the reason for this?
Krishnamurti: It may be very simple. Perhaps you have been asleep, and now you are beginning to think. Coming and sitting here casually, perhaps you have been pushed, cornered, stimulated, therefore you are confused; but if you are merely stimulated, when you leave here you will fall back into the same old condition. Stimulation makes the mind dull, it does not awaken the mind; it may awaken it for a minute or a second, but the mind will fall back into its habitual dullness. Depending on these meetings as a means of stimulation is like taking a drink: in the end it will make the mind dull. If you depend on a person to stimulate you to think, you become his disciple, his follower, his slave, with all the nonsense of it; and so you are bound to lie dull. Whereas, if you realize that you have problems - they may be dormant for the moment, but they are there - and begin directly to confront them, then you won't have to be stimulated by me, or by anyone else. Then you won't have to seek out the problems, for you will see them in yourself, and in everything about you as you go down the street: tears, disease, poverty, death.
So the question is, how to tackle, how to approach the problem. If you approach any problem with the intention of finding an answer, then the answer will create more problems - which is so obvious. What is important is to go into the problem, and begin to understand it; and you can do that only when you don't condemn, resist, or push it away. The mind cannot solve a problem as long as it is condemning, justifying, or comparing. The difficulty is not in the problem, but in the mind that approaches the problem with an attitude of condemnation, justification, or comparison. So first you have to understand how your mind is conditioned by society, by the innumerable influences that exist about you. You call yourself a Hindu, a Christian, a Moslem, or what you will, which means that your mind is conditioned; and it is the conditioned mind that creates the problem. When a conditioned mind seeks an answer to a problem, it is going around in circles, its search has no meaning; and your mind is conditioned, because you are envious, because you compare, judge, evaluate, because you are tethered to beliefs, dogmas. That conditioning is what creates the problem.
Question: Now can I be active politically without being contaminated by such action?
Krishnamurti: Sir, what do we mean by political action? What is politics? Surely, it is one segment, one part of a vast complex, is it not? Life consists of many parts, political, social, religious; and if you pursue one part, which you call political action, irrespective of the whole - that is, without considering the totality of life - , then, whatever you do, your action will be contaminating. I think that is so obvious. Only the mind that is seeking, groping, that does not think in compartments, either political, social, or religious, can understand the totality of life. A man who is thinking as a Maharashtrian, or a Gujarathi, cannot perceive the significance of that totality, he does not see that this earth is ours. He can only think in terms of Poona or Bombay, which is so silly; and his separative thinking must eventually lead to mischief and murder, as it has already done. The mind is always setting itself apart as an Indian, a Hindu, a Moslem, a communist, a Christian, this or that, and holding on to its separation, its provincialism, thereby creating ever increasing misery. Whereas, the man who does not feel himself to be an Indian, a Christian, or a Hindu, but only a human being, and who thinks in terms of the totality of life - it is such a man whose action will not be contaminating. But this is very difficult for most of us, because we are always thinking in segments, and we hope by putting these segments together to make the whole. That can never happen. One must have a feeling for the totality of life, and then one can work differently.
Unfortunately, the politically-minded want to cling to their politics, and introduce religion into it; but that is an impossibility, because religion is something entirely different. Religion is not dogma, it is not ritual, it is not knowledge of the Gita, of the Bible, or of any other book. Religion is an experience, on the instant, of that state of mind which is without the continuity of time. It is a single second of being free from time; and that state cannot act politically, or in terms of social reform. But when a man has that feeling which is without the continuity of time, his action, whatever it be, will have quite a different meaning. Through the part, you cannot come to the whole, and you don't realize this. To truth there is no path, neither Hindu, Christian, Buddhist, nor Moslem. Truth has no path, it must be discovered from moment to moment; and you can discover it only when the mind is free, unburdened with the continuity of experiences.
Question: We listen to all that you say to the point of surfeit. Can there be such a thing as listening too much to you? Don't we become dull by excess of stimulation?
Krishnamurti: Is there such a thing as too much listening? What do we mean by listening? If I listen in order to store up, and from that stored-up knowledge to act, then listening can become too much, because it is merely a stimulation to further action. That is what most of us do. We listen in order to learn, to acquire; we retain in the mind what we have learnt, and from there proceed to act. As long as listening is a process of accumulation, naturally there can be too much, a surfeit; but if I am listening without any sense of acquisition, without storing up, then listening has quite a different significance. Listening is learning; but if I am storing up what I learn, then learning becomes impossible. What I learn is then contaminated by what I have stored up, therefore it is no longer learning. It is in the process of accumulation that listening becomes wearisome, excessive, and like any other stimulant, it soon makes the mind dull; you know that what is going to be said, has already been said, and you are at the end of the sentence before I finish it. That is not listening. Listening is an art; it is to hear the totality of a thing, not just the words; and of such listening there can never be too much.
Question: Is God a reality to you? If so, tell us about God.
Krishnamurti: It is the indolent mind that asks this question, is it not? It is like a man sitting comfortably in the valley and wanting a description of what lies beyond the mountains. That is what we are all doing. The words we read in the so-called sacred books satisfy the mind. The descriptions of the experiences of others gratify us, and we think we have understood; but we never bestir ourselves, we never move out of the valley, climb the steep hills, and find out for ourselves. That is why it is very important to start anew, to put aside all the books, all the guides, all the teachers, and take the journey by oneself. God, the unknown, is a thing to be discovered, not to be told about or speculated upon. What is speculated upon is the outcome of the known; and a mind that is crippled, burdened, occupied with the known, can never find the unknown. You may practise virtue, sit meditating by the hour, but you will never know the unknown, because the unknown comes into being only through self-knowledge. The mind must free itself from the sense of its own continuity, which is the known - and then you will never ask if God is a reality. The man who says he knows what God is, does not know. It is only the mind that frees itself from the experience it had a second ago, that can know the unknown. God or truth has no abiding place, and that is the beauty of it; it cannot be made into a shelter for the petty little mind. It is a living, dynamic thing, like the moving waters of a river. It is only a mind that is not tethered to any organized religion, to any dogma or belief, that is not burdened with the known - it is only such a mind that can discover if there is, or there is not God. To state that there is, or there is not, cripples all discovery. But because the mind itself is impermanent, it wants to be assured that there is something permanent, so it says there must be the eternal, the everlasting. Out of its own quality of time, it projects a thing which it calls the timeless, and then speculates about it; but only the mind that frees itself from time can know the unknown.
Bombay 3rd Public Talk 11th March 1956
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