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Bombay 1956

Bombay 6th Public Talk 21st March 1956

It seems to me that one of the most difficult things in our life is to understand the whole implication of living, and what it is all about. With its pleasure and sorrow, its varieties of experience, its strife and strain, this enormous process that we call living becomes extremely complex, and perhaps very few of us understand it completely. In this vast process, there are many problems, some impersonal, outside of us, and others that are intimately related to the individual, which we almost never consider. Why do we perform any action, and what is its significance, what are its implications? Is there such a thing as the absolute, the immeasurable, and is there any relation between that immensity and our everyday living? We keep all these things in watertight compartments, and then try to find a relationship between them. Unfortunately, we are educated, not to understand the whole significance of life, but only to have a job, to perform some immediate action, to earn a livelihood; and so the mind is incapable of thinking deeply on any issue.

Now, I do not think that the problem of immediate action, the problem of what to do, whether in this or in any other country, can be divorced from the inquiry into whether there is such a thing as the absolute, the immeasurable, something beyond the field of the mind; because, without this inquiry, I feel that mere action, however satisfactory and necessary, will only lead to further misery. If we would understand each other, I think this point must be made very clear. Our fundamental problem is not what to do, but rather how to awaken the creativity of the individual; that is, how not to get so involved in the immediate action, that the immense significance of this creative release is denied or put aside.

After all, why is it that we are listening? Surely, not to be told what to do, but rather, if we are at all serious and thoughtful, to find out together - not as pupil and teacher, but together - how the mind gets caught in all the various influences to which it is subjected, and so becomes incapable of deep inquiry. Without deep inquiry, without search, one may bring about immediate results which produce temporary alleviation; but this may be the cause of further misery, further strife.

So I think it is very important for each one of us to find out for himself what it is that he ultimately wants, and whether there is such a thing as the immeasurable, in the understanding of which his present activity will have quite a different significance. To me, most definitely, the immediate activity has significance only in the understanding of that immensity, call it God, truth, reality, or what you will; and to be concerned with immediate change or reformation, divorced from the other, has no meaning at all.

For most of us, life is chiefly a process of earning a livelihood, with its constant economic and social pressures, and the complex demands of individual relationships. We are caught in this process, and we are trying to do something within its field - trying to be noble, non-violent, and all the rest of it. We seem to be incapable of inquiring into this whole issue, of searching out its significance at a deeper level. So, why is one not capable of deep inquiry? I think that is a legitimate question for all of us to ask ourselves. Why is it that we are apparently incapable of penetrating into the deeper issues of life? Why is it that we do not even ask fundamental questions? Is it that we are blocked by so-called education, by society, by our relationships, by our own miseries and conflicts? What actually blocks or hinders this inquiry? And are we blocked, or are we just incapable of real inquiry?

We are trying to find out if there can be a creative release of the individual, so that the mind is capable of constant inquiry, of penetrating to extraordinary depths, not theoretically, abstractly, but actually. Is this capacity to probe, to penetrate deeply, blocked by our own thinking? Or does it not exist in us at all?

We know when we are blocked, we know what that word signifies. When I want to do something, I am consciously blocked, prevented, hindered by society, by some relationship, or by a particular act; or there is an unconscious hindrance. This conscious or unconscious blockage may be the factor which is preventing the mind from penetrating to great depths. Is there a blockage because our education is so superficial that we cannot inquire profoundly? Is it because our so-called intellectual training is so limited or specialized that our minds cannot penetrate deeply, or ask really fundamental questions?

Our education at present is merely the cultivation of memory, it is the repetition of phrases, words, the learning of techniques; it is as superficial as lighting a lamp. With a mind so educated, we try to inquire; and we feel blocked, incapable of asking a really serious question and going into it alone. Now, is there a blockage, or is it that we have not the capacity to inquire? I think there is a difference between the two. It may be that I block my own inquiry through various fears, frustrations, and all the rest of it; or I may simply not have the capacity to inquire persistently, to dig very deeply and discover something extraordinarily significant which will give light to my daily activities.

What do we mean by the capacity to inquire? Can a mind which has been trained, educated to think only superficially, penetrate to great depths? Obviously not. After all, the man who has read the Gita, the Koran, or what you will, and knows all the ready-made answers; the man who has compared the various teachers, and learnt a cunning way of approaching every problem, has acquired knowledge which is very superficial. He repeats what others have written, and this repetition, which is traditional, makes the mind very shallow. If one talks with a man who is erudite, who has read all the Shastras, who is familiar with the teachings of Buddha and Shankara, who has great knowledge as well as the power of expression, and who has therefore become a leading authority - if one talks with such a man, one sees that his mind is very shallow. Such a man has never put a fundamental question to himself, and found the truth of it on his own; he is always quoting some authority. We also are trained to be like that, therefore the mind is very shallow, limited, petty; and with such a mind we try to inquire. But I say a shallow mind cannot penetrate very deeply, or ask questions that have profound significance. So what is one to do? I think this is your problem, if you really think about it.

Let us put it differently. We see great confusion around us, not only among the experts, the authorities, but also among ourselves, and in our own thinking. There are many political, sociological, and so-called religious organizations, and most of us join one or other of these, throwing ourselves into its work because we think it has the final answer. So we come to depend on organizations, or on leaders who give us an assurance; they know, therefore we follow, we imitate, we belong to these various groups. All this indicates, does it not?, a mind that is not solitary, alone, a mind that is incapable of thinking out a problem completely for itself, because it is dependent. The moment the mind becomes dependent, it is made incapable of inquiry; like a child who is dependent on its mother, such a mind is not free to inquire.

So, through dependence on organizations and authority, through so-called education, culture, through our own constant ambition, our desire for power, position and prestige, the mind is made incapable of deep penetration. If you actually observe your own mind - I am repeating this most respectfully - you will see how incapable it is of real penetration into what may be called truth, or God. Probably your mind has never asked what life is all about; and when it does ask, it has an answer according to Buddha, Christ, Shankara, the Upanishads, or what you will, so it is satisfied. Only the mind that is alone, that is really free, can penetrate to great depths without seeking some stupid result. But our minds are not like that; and until they are, our life has very little meaning, it can only produce more war, more despair, more chaos - which is being shown in the world at the present time. So, is it possible for you and me, who have no capacity for it, to penetrate deeply? And without that capacity, has it any significance for us to inquire into that which may be the final answer to all our problems? Surely, you must have asked yourself this question. If not, I am asking it now. After all, if you have no capacity to inquire, what is the good of following somebody? By that very following you are made more dependent, and therefore less capable of inquiry. To be capable of inquiring profoundly, you need a mind which is completely alone - alone in the sense that it is not being pushed in any direction, not being driven by the anxiety of immediate action, immediate reformation, immediate demand. So what is one to do?

You see, the difficulty with most of us is that we want tangible evidence that we have arrived; we want to be assured of a result, we want to be told that we have changed, that we are good, or that we are effective social entities. To me, all these things are unimportant, because I see that the capacity to inquire, to discover what is truth, cannot be cultivated. All that the mind can do is to be aware that it is incapable of inquiry, and not keep on imitating, copying. Sirs, it is like leaving the window open; then the fresh air comes in as it will, if there is fresh air. Similarly, all that one can do is to leave the window of the mind open - not ask how to leave it open, but actually leave it open. I hope you see the difference between the two. To ask, "How am I to leave the window of the mind open, so that reality can come into being?", only makes you incapable of leaving it open. When you want to know the `how', the method, you are a follower of the method, and to the method you become a slave. Any method can only produce its own result, which is not the opening of the mind; the moment you really understand this, the mind is open. Then you will see that your inquiry no longer has a particular object; and because the mind is open, free of any system, it is capable of receiving something immeasurable. That immeasurable thing is not to be talked about, it has no meaning if it is merely read about and repeated. It must be experienced; and that very experience brings about an action in the world, without which this existence has no significance at all, except that it produces more misery.

After all, what is it we all want? Life, with its constant change, its strife, its varieties of experience, is very fleeting; and the mind says, "Is this all?" When it asks that question, it generally turns to a book, or to a person, and thereby gets caught in authority, because the mind is very easily satisfied with words. But when the mind is not satisfied with words, with explanations, but proceeds to delve, to inquire freely, easily, without any pressure, then there comes into being that extraordinary something - the name does not matter - which will solve all the complexities of our life.

Sirs, what is a problem? Does not the problem exist only when the mind has given soil for it to take root? If there is no soil for the problem to take root, then you can deal with the problem. The mind at present has so many rooted problems that it is nothing but a seed bed of problems. So the question is, not how to solve any particular problem, but whether it is possible for the mind not to give soil to problems. The moment the mind gives soil to a problem, the problem takes root and spreads. Now, listen to this and understand it. Do not ask how not to give soil to problems, but see that a problem exists only when there is soil in the mind for the problem to take root. Just to see and to understand that fact is sufficient to dissolve the problem.

Question: From what you said last Sunday, I gather that you think we do not love our children. Do you not know, sir, that the love of our children is one of the greatest and most deep-rooted of human affections? Surely you realize how helpless we are individually to do anything about war and peace.

Krishnamurti: If we loved our children, there would be no wars, for our education would be entirely different, and we would create a totally different kind of society; but since there are wars and our society is in perpetual conflict within itself, with each man against another, it indicates that we do not love our children. That is what I said last Sunday, and I think it is a fact. You say that your love for your children is deep-rooted and great; but the fact is that you are at each other's throats. There is ambition, and when man is ambitious, there is no love in his heart; when he encourages his son to climb the ladder of success and reach the top, obviously he is encouraging him to be ruthless. Surely, all this indicates that there is no love, does it not?

After all, as a parent, you are also a teacher, because your child lives with you; you train him, he follows you, he builds himself in your image. There is the teacher at school, but you are the teacher at home, and you train the child in the "do's" and "don'ts", compelling him to imitate, to copy, to follow in your footsteps and become somebody in society. All you are concerned with is the child's security, which is your own; you want him to be respectable, to earn a livelihood, to adjust himself to the demands of the existing social order. You call that love; and is it love? What does it mean to love a child? Surely, it does not mean encouraging him to become your little image, shaped by society, by so-called culture; it means, rather, helping him to grow freely. He has acquired certain tendencies, inherited certain values from you, and so he cannot be free at the beginning; but to love him is to help him from the beginning to free himself constantly, so that he becomes a real individual, not merely an imitative machine.

If you love your child you will educate him not to conform to society, but to create his own society, which may be entirely different from the present one; you will help him to have, not a traditional mind, but a mind that is capable of inquiring into the significance of all the cultural, social, religious, and national influences by which he is surrounded, and not be caught in any of them, so that his mind is free to find out what is true. Surely, that is right education. Then the child will grow into a free human being, self-sufficient and capable of creating his own world, a totally different kind of society; having confidence, the capacity to work out his own destiny, he will not want your property, your money, your position, your name. But now it is the reverse; you expect your son to carry on your property, your wealth, your name, and that is what you call love.

What can the individual do about all this? Surely, it is only the individual who can alter the world, the individual who feels very strongly that a new kind of education, a new way of living must be brought about. It begins with the individual, with those of you who really feel the importance of these things. You may not prevent an immediate war, but you can prevent future wars if you see for yourself, and help your children to see, the stupidity of wars, of class divisions, of social conflict. But unfortunately, most of us are not aware of the implications of all this, which means that the coming generation is an imitation of ourselves in a modified form, and so there is no new world. It is only when we love our children in the true sense of the word that we shall bring about the right kind of education and thereby put an end to war.

Question: What is beauty? Krishnamurti: In exploring this question, are we looking for an explanation, the dictionary meaning of that word? Or are we trying to feel out the full significance of beauty? If we are merely looking for a definition then we shall not be sensitive to that which we call beauty. Surely, the mind must be very simple to appreciate what is beautiful. Please follow this a little bit. I am thinking aloud, exploring as I go along. The mind must be sensitive, not only to that which it thinks is beautiful but also to that which is ugly; it must be sensitive to the dirty villages, to hovels, as well as to palaces and beautiful trees. If the mind is sensitive only to what is beautiful, then it is not sensitive at all. To be sensitive, it must be open to both the ugly and the beautiful. That is obviously so. To pursue beauty, and deny that which is not beautiful, makes the mind insensitive. To feel that which is ugly (which may not be ugly), and that which is beautiful (which may not be beautiful), there must be sensitivity - sensitivity to poverty, to the dirty man sitting in the bus, to the beggar, to the sky, to the stars, to the shy, young moon.

Now, how is this sensitivity to come into being? It can come into being only when there is abandonment - not calculated abandonment, but the abandonment that comes when there is no self-fulfilment. You see there can be no abandonment without austerity. But it is not the disciplined austerity of the ascetic, because the ascetic is seeking power, and therefore he is incapable of abandonment. There can be abandonment only when there is love; and love can come into being only when the `me' is not dominant. So the mind must be very simple, innocent - not made innocent. Innocency is not a state to be brought about through discipline, through control, through any form of compulsion or suppression. The mind is fresh, innocent, only when it is not cluttered up with the memories of many centuries; and this implies, surely, an extraordinary sensitivity, not merely to one part of life which is called beauty, but also to tears, to suffering, to laughter, to the hovels of the poor, and to the open skies - that is, to the totality of life.

Question: You are helping us to understand the workings of our own minds, and to see how unintelligently we are living; but in an industrial society, is it possible to practise what you say?

Krishnamurti: Sir, what I say cannot be practised, because there is nothing to practise. The moment you practise something, your mind is caught in that practice, therefore it is made dull, stupid. Practice creates habit, and whether good or bad, it is still habit; and a mind that is merely the instrument of habit, is not sensitive, it is incapable of penetration, inquiry, deep search. Yet your whole tradition and education is to practise, practise, practise, which means that you are concerned, not with helping the mind to be sensitive, profound, supple, but with learning a few tricks so that you will not be disturbed. If anyone offers a method which will enable you not to be disturbed, that method you practise, and in practising it you are putting the mind to sleep. Surely, the mind that is alert, watchful, inquiring, does not need any practice.

And what is it that we are talking about? We are saying that unless you understand yourself, any society, industrial or otherwise, is going to destroy you - and you are being destroyed, crushed, made uncreative. Unless you understand the whole content of your being, the motives, the urges, the ways of your thought, unless you know the total substance and depth of your mind, you will gradually become just another machine - which is what is actually happening. Slowly, inescapably, you are being made into machines - machines which are creating problems.

So, what matters is to understand yourself, the ways of your own mind - but not through introspection or analysis, whether by an analyst or by yourself, nor through reading books about the mind. The ways of the mind are to be understood in our relationships from day to day, which means seeing what we actually are without distortion, as we see our faces in the mirror. But we destroy the understanding of what we are the moment we compare or condemn, reject or accept. It is by just seeing what is that the mind makes itself free; and only in freedom is there the coming into being of that which may be called God, truth, or what you will.

Sirs, as one begins to understand oneself, that very beginning is the moment of freedom; and that is why it is very important not to have a guru, or make any book into an authority - because it is you who create authority, power, position. What is important is to understand yourself. You may say, "Well, that has been said before, many teachers have said it; but the fact is that we do not know ourselves. When you begin to discover the truth about yourself, there is something totally new, and this quality of newness can come into being only through self-discovery from moment to moment. There is no continuity in discovery; all that you have discovered must be lost in order to find the new again. If the mind really does this, then you will see that there comes an extraordinary quality - the quality of a mind that is completely alone, uninfluenced, a mind that has no motive; and it is only such a mind that can receive something which has never been known before. There must be freedom from the known for the unknown to be; and this whole process is meditation. It is only the meditative mind that can discover something beyond itself.


Bombay 1956

Bombay 6th Public Talk 21st March 1956

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