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Bombay 1956

Bombay 8th Public Talk 28th March 1956

This is the end of the present series of meetings, and I wonder what most of us have made of these talks and discussions. What have we understood, how far have we penetrated into our problems and comprehended them? Have we merely listened to find an answer, a solution to our problems, a practical way of dealing with everyday suffering and the trials of existence? Or have we broken through to a wider and deeper awareness of ourselves, so that independently and freely we can resolve the problems which inevitably arise in our life? I think it is very important, after having listened to these talks and discussions, to discover for oneself what one has understood, and how that understanding operates in one's daily activities. Obviously, mere listening divorced from action has very little meaning; and I feel it would be utterly useless and vain to attend these meetings without having something come of it - not something that is put together, a conclusion logically arrived at, or a plan systematically thought out for future activity, but rather the breaking down of the mind's narrow walls of conditioning which make it incapable of seeing the totality of things. Whether those walls have been broken down in listening to these talks is the only significant question, not how much one has learnt from whatever has been said. What matters is to discover for ourselves our own conditioning and to break it down spontaneously, easily, almost unconsciously; because it is not the deliberate thought, with its particular action, but rather the spontaneous and almost unconscious falling away of this conditioning, that is going to free the mind.

So, considering the present state of society, the utter confusion we are in - with wars, inequality, various forms of degradation. and the constant battle within and without - , it seems to me very important for those of us who have taken these talks seriously to find out if we have brought about a radical change in ourselves; because, after all, it is only the individual, not circumstances, that can bring about a radical change. When we merely yield to the change of circumstances, the mind resolves its problems on a very superficial level, therefore it becomes petty and incapable of seeing the whole. I think it is the comprehension of the whole, of the total, the limitless, or even a slight opening in the conditioned mind, that is going to resolve our problems, and not the process of dissecting and analyzing our problems one by one. A tree is made up, not only of the trunk, the branches, the leaves, the blossoms, and the fruit, but also of the roots hidden deep in the earth; and without understanding all that, without having a feeling for the totality of it, you can never experience the fullness, the beauty of the tree.

Now, it seems to me that what most of us are doing is very unfortunate. By trying to understand our daily struggles and miseries separately, that is, through the gradual accumulation of knowledge, we think we shall understand the totality of life. But putting many parts together does not make the whole. By putting together leaves, branches, a trunk, and some roots, you will not have a tree; and yet that is what we are doing. We are approaching the problems of life separately, not as a unitary process; and the whole cannot be comprehended through analytical, cumulative knowledge. Knowledge has its place; but knowledge becomes a hindrance, a complete barrier to the discovery of the truth in its totality, in its beauty, for which the mind must be extraordinarily simple.

Most of you are concerned with what to do, you want to know what practical results you have gained by listening to these talks. I am sure many of you have asked yourselves that question, and others have put it to me. I sincerely hope that you have gained nothing practical; because the mind seeks what is practical, what can be used, or carried out, only when it is concerned with the little activities of its own momentum. "How can I practise what I have heard? In what way can I use it?" - all such questions seem to me so superficial, and it is the small mind that puts them, not the mind that sees the totality, the immensity of life, with all its many problems. When one really sees the immensity, the extraordinary depth and width of life, that very perception produces action which is not of the petty mind. What the small, conditioned mind does is to produce activity in its own dimension, and so there is more and more confusion.

Why is it that we think in parts, that is, in terms of a particular segment of society? Have you ever asked yourself this question? Is it not because our minds are conditioned by the literature we read, the education we get, the cultural and religious influences we are exposed to from childhood? All these factors condition the mind, and it is this conditioning that makes us think in parts. We think of ourselves as Hindus or Christians, Americans or Russians, as belonging to the Asiatic or the Western world. Here in India we divide ourselves still further; we are Malabaris, Madrasis, or Gujarathis, we belong to this caste or that caste, we read this book or that book.

Sir, would you mind not taking photographs now? I do not know what you think these meetings are for. It is too bad that you have to be reminded what kind of gathering this is. When you take photographs, watch people coming in, look to see where your friends are sitting, converse with each other - all this indicates such disrespect, not to me, but to your neighbour and to yourself. When you cannot diligently and purposefully pursue a thought to the end, it shows to what extraordinary superficiality you have reduced yourself. If you will just listen, I feel very strongly that in that very listening you will break down your conditioning; the act of listening is all that is needed. The afterthought, the thought which you accumulate and take away with you to think over, is not going to liberate you. What will break down the wall is giving your full attention now; and you cannot give your full attention if your mind is wandering, if you are distracted. When you are listening to a song which you love, to your favourite music, there is no effort, you just listen and let the music have its own action on you. Similarly, if you will listen now with that kind of attention, with that ease, you will find that the very act of listening does something which has much greater significance than any deliberate effort on your part to hear, to rationalize, and to carry out what is said.

I was asking why it is that all of us are thinking in parts, in little segments, when all over the world human beings are struggling with more or less the same problems, having the same anxieties, the same fears and transient joys. Why do we not take this extraordinary life on our earth as a whole, as something which you and I have to understand, not as Indians or Englishmen, Chinese or Germans, communists or capitalists, but as human beings? Is it not because we think in these little segments that we are forever quarrelling, fighting, destroying each other? And this partial thinking, this divided comprehension, takes place because, through education, through social influences, through so-called religious instruction, through books and the interpretation thereof, our minds are conditioned. Only the mind that is unconditioned can be free; and you cannot uncondition the mind by deliberately setting about it. You have to understand the whole process of conditioning, and why the mind is conditioned. Every act, every thought, every movement of the mind, is limited; and with that limited mind we are trying to comprehend something which has the depth and width of all existence.

So, the question is not what to do, or whether one has learnt anything practical by attending these meetings. It is not merely by trying to find an answer, a solution to the problem, but rather by listening, by discussing, by deep inquiry, by putting serious and fundamental questions, that the mind's conditioning is broken down. But the conditioning must break down of its own accord, the mind cannot do anything about it. Being conditioned, the mind cannot act upon its own conditioning. A narrow mind trying to be broad will still be narrow. A petty mind may conceive of God, truth, but its conception can only be a projection of its own pettiness. When once the mind realizes this, it no longer formulates what God is, or struggles to be free. It leaves all that entirely alone, because it is now only concerned with inquiring into the whole process of conditioning; and if you are at all serious, you will find that this very inquiry opens the door so that your conditioning is revealed and destroyed. You don't destroy your conditioning; but the very perception of the fact that you are conditioned, brings a vitality which destroys your conditioning. I do not think we see this. The very fact that I am greedy, and know it, has its own vitality to destroy greed.

So if we can really inquire into and comprehend why the mind thinks in parts, then I feel we shall have discovered a very important fact about ourselves; and it is out of this questioning that individuality comes into being. At present we are not free individuals, we are conditioned by society and are merely the playthings of environment; but if the mind can inquire into and thereby free itself from that conditioning, then there emerges the free individual who does not follow, who has no authority, no leader; and with this uninfluenced state of mind, there comes the creativity which is not of time.

So, if I may suggest, don't inquire to find out what you can learn. If you are merely listening in order to learn, then you create a teacher whom you follow. Surely, what matters is to be very clear that your mind is limited, conditioned, which is an obvious fact, and that whatever solution the petty mind may find, it is still petty. The very realization of this fact - that you are conditioned, and that your values, your opinions, your learning, your judgments, are petty, dull, empty - is the beginning of humility. It is not the mind that has cultivated humility, but the mind that is simple, humble, that is ever in a state of not-knowing - it is only such a mind that can find the unknowable. The mind that is pursuing virtue, respectability, that is seeking a system or a practical philosophy to live by in this world, will never find the unknowable. But the mind that understands its own conditioning, and so becomes simple, humble; the mind that is not accumulating, that is uncertain, always in a state of not-knowing, and is therefore a living, moving, dynamic thing - it is such a mind that can experience the unknowable, or allow the unknowable to be.

Question: It often seems to me that you give the gloomy rather than the happy side of life. Do you deliberately do this?

Krishnamurti: Sir, our life is both gloomy and cheerful, dark and light. It would be terrible and destructive if life were nothing but light, good cheer, happiness, or nothing but darkness; but life is not like that, is it? Life has extraordinary variety. But unfortunately, you want to cling to the light, to the pleasurable, to the beautiful, and put all the rest away; and you call gloomy any man who says, "Look, there is also the other side, and if you really understand it, I think there will come into being an entirely different state". You see, we have divided life as happiness and unhappiness, so we are all the time battling between these two. We know that life sometimes has delight, but for most of us, life is sorrow. For those who have money, position, authority, respectability, life may be gay; but that makes the mind very superficial, as is shown in modern civilization. Whereas, if each one of us understands the whole significance of sorrow and joy as a total process, not as opposites in conflict with each other, then perhaps we shall find that life is neither sorrow nor joy, but something entirely different which is not of this dualistic quality; and if we have never tasted or experienced that state, it is only because we are caught in this ceaseless struggle between the opposites.

That state beyond the opposites is not a formula, a mere conception, and it must be directly experienced; but you see, it cannot be directly experienced as long as the mind is seeking happiness. Happiness is a by-product; like virtue, it is of secondary importance. The man who is pursuing happiness will never be happy, for happiness comes upon us suddenly, obscurely, unexpectedly. Have you not noticed that the moment you know you are happy, you have lost happiness? When you say, "I am joyous", it is over, finished. Happiness, like love, is something of which the mind can never be conscious. The moment the mind is conscious that it loves, there is no longer love. It is very strange, and very interesting, that a mind which is deliberately trying to experience something, loses the whole perfume of life. This is not a poetical saying to be brushed aside, but rather a fact to be realized. The mind must not seek anything, because what it seeks it will experience; and what it then experiences is not the truth, for in its very search it has projected what it wants. That projection is out of the past, it has already been tasted; therefore the projection, and the attainment of that projection, are not happiness, but a delusion, a process of self-hypnosis. Once you realize this, if you are at all serious and deeply interested, you will find that your mind is always empty, ever experiencing and never gathering.

But our minds are full, are they not? They are full of acquired virtue; they are constantly occupied with pursuing the ideal, seeking God, truth, this or that; therefore there is always a conditioned response. So what matters is to understand that, in its very search, the mind creates its own hindrance; because what it finds will be the projection of its own desire. When the mind deeply realizes this, all seeking comes to an end; the mind is very quiet, alert, and then there comes into being a different state altogether. When you begin to understand sorrow, to observe how it arises; when you go into it, cherish it, and do not merely resist it, then you will find that the mind is not caught in sorrow, or in its opposite, because such a mind is empty in the deep sense of that word. Most minds are empty in the superficial sense that they are perpetually occupied with problems. I do not mean that kind of emptiness. I am talking of the emptiness which has extraordinary depth and width; and a mind that is everlastingly occupied with problems and immediate solutions, cannot be empty in that deep sense of the word.

Question: What is psychosomatic disease, and can you suggest ways to cure it?

Krishnamurti: I do not think it is possible to find ways to cure psychosomatic disease; and perhaps the very search for a way to cure the mind, is producing the disease. To find a way, or to practise a method, implies inhibiting, controlling, suppressing thought, which is not to understand the mind. It is fairly obvious that the mind does create disease in the physical organism. If you eat when you are angry, your tummy is upset; if you violently hate somebody, you have a physical disorder; if you restrict your mind to a particular belief, you become mentally or psychically neurotic, and it reacts upon the body. This is all part of the psychosomatic process. Of course, not all diseases are psychosomatic; but fear, anxiety, and other disturbances of the psyche, do produce physical diseases. So, is it possible for the mind to be made healthy? Many of us are concerned with keeping the body healthy through right diet, and so on, which is essential; but very few are concerned with keeping the mind healthy, young, alert, vital, so that it does not deteriorate.

Now, if the mind is not to deteriorate, it must obviously never follow, it must be independent, free. But our education does not help us to be free; on the contrary, it helps us to fit into this deteriorating society, therefore the mind itself deteriorates. We are encouraged from childhood to be fearful, competitive, to think always about ourselves and our own security. Naturally, such a mind must be in everlasting conflict, and that conflict does produce physical effects. What is important, then, is to discover and understand for ourselves, through our own vigilant watchfulness, the whole process of conflict, and not depend on any psychologist or guru. To follow a guru is to destroy your mind. You follow him because you want what you think he has; therefore you have set going a process of deterioration. The effort to be somebody, mundanely or spiritually, is another form of deterioration, because such effort always brings anxiety; it produces fear, frustration, making the mind unhealthy, which in turn affects the body. I think this is fairly simple. But to look to another for the cure of the mind, is part of the process of deterioration.

Question: You have suggested that through awareness alone transformation is possible. What do you mean by awareness?

Krishnamurti: Sir, this is a very complex question; but I shall try to describe what it is to be aware, if you will kindly listen and patiently follow it step by step, right through to the end. To listen is not just to follow what I am describing, but actually to experience what is being described, which means watching the operation of your own mind as I describe it. If you merely follow what is being described, then you are not aware, observant, watchful of your own mind. Merely to follow a description is like reading a guide-book while the scenery goes by unobserved; but if you watch your own mind while listening, then the description will have significance, and you will find out for yourself what it means to be aware.

What do we mean by awareness? Let us begin at the simplest level. You are aware of the noise that is going on, you are aware of the cars, the birds, the trees, the electric lights, the people sitting around you, the still sky, the breathless air. Of all that you are aware, are you not? Now, when you hear a noise, or a song, or see a cart being pushed, and so on, what is heard, or observed, is translated, judged by the mind; that is what you are doing, is it not? Please follow this slowly. Each experience, each response, is interpreted according to your background, according to your memory. If there were a noise which you were hearing for the first time, you would not know what it was; but you have heard the noise a dozen times before, so your mind immediately translates it, which is the process of what we call thinking. Your reaction to a particular noise is the thought of a cart being pushed, which is one form of awareness. You are aware of colour, you are aware of different faces, different attitudes, expressions, prejudices, and so on. And if you are at all alert, you are also aware of how you respond to these things, not only superficially, but deeply. You have certain values, ideals, motives, urges, on different levels of your being; and to be conscious of all that is part of awareness. You judge what is good and what is bad, what is right and what is wrong; you condemn, evaluate, according to your background, that is, according to your education and the culture in which you have been brought up. To see all this is part of awareness, is it not?

Now, let us go a little further. What happens when you are aware that you are greedy, violent, or envious? Let us take envy, and stick to that one thing. Are you aware that you are envious? Please go with me step by step, and bear in mind that you are not following a formula. If you make it into a formula, you will have lost the significance of the whole thing. I am unfolding the process of awareness; but if you merely learn by heart what has been described, you will be exactly where you are now. Whereas, if you begin to see your conditioning, which is to be aware of the operation of your own mind as I go on explaining, then you will come to the point where an actual transformation is possible.

So you are aware, not only of outward things and your interpretation of them, but you have also begun to be aware of your envy. Now, what happens when you are aware of envy in yourself? You condemn it, don't you? You say that it is wrong, that you must not be envious, that you must be loving, which is the ideal. The fact is that you are envious, while the ideal is what you should be. In pursuing the ideal, you have created a duality; so there is a constant conflict, and in that conflict you are caught.

Are you aware, as I am describing this process, that there is only one thing, which is the fact that you are envious? The other, the ideal, is nonsense, it is not an actuality. And it is very difficult for the mind to be free of the ideal, to be free of the opposite; because traditionally, through centuries of a particular culture, we have been taught to accept the hero, the example, the ideal of the perfect man, and to struggle towards it. That is what we have been trained to do. We want to change envy into non-envy, but we have never found out how to change it; and so we are caught in everlasting strife.

Now, when the mind is aware that it is envious, that very word `envious' is condemnatory. Are you following, sirs? The very naming of that feeling is condemnatory; but the mind cannot think except in words. That is, a feeling arises with which a certain word is identified, so the feeling is never independent of the word. The moment there is a feeling like envy, there is naming, so you are always approaching a new feeling with an old idea, an accumulated tradition. The feeling is always new, and it is always translated in terms of the old.

Now, can the mind not name a feeling like envy, but come to it afresh, anew? The very naming of that feeling is to make it old, to capture it and put it into the old framework. And can the mind not name a feeling - that is, not translate it by calling it a name, and thereby either condemning or accepting it - , but merely observe the feeling as a fact?

Sir, experiment with yourself and you will see how difficult it is for the mind not to verbalize, not to give a name to a fact. That is, when one has a certain feeling, can that feeling be left unnamed, and be looked at purely as a fact? If you can have a feeling and really pursue it to the end without naming it, then you will find that something very strange happens to you. At present the mind approaches a fact with an opinion, with evaluation, with judgment, with denial or acceptance. That is what you are doing. There is a feeling, which is a fact, and the mind approaches that fact with a term, with an opinion, with judgment, with a condemnatory attitude, which are dead things. Do you understand? They are dead things, they have no value, they are only memory operating on the fact. The mind approaches the fact with a dead memory, therefore the fact cannot operate on the mind. But if the mind merely observes the fact without evaluation, without judgment, condemnation, acceptance or identification, then you will find that the fact itself has an extraordinary vitality because it is new. What is new can dispel the old; therefore there is no struggle not to be envious: there is the total cessation of envy. It is the fact that has vigour, vitality, not your judgments and opinions about the fact; and to think the thing right through, from the beginning to the end, is the whole process of awareness.

Question: Why is there such fear of death?

Krishnamurti: Again, if I may suggest it, let us think the problem right through to the end, and not stop halfway, or wander off at a tangent. We know that the body deteriorates and dies; the heart beats only so many times in so many years, and the whole physical organism, being in constant use, must inevitably wear out and come to an end. We are not afraid of that, it is a common, everyday event, and we often see the body being carried away to be burnt. But then we say, "Is that all? With the ending of the body, will the things I have gathered, my learning, my love, my virtue, also end? And if all that does end, then what is the good of living?" So we begin to inquire, we want to know whether there is annihilation or continuity after death.

This is not a problem merely for the superstitious or the so-called educated; it is a problem for each one of us, and we must find out for ourselves the truth of the matter, neither accepting nor rejecting, neither believing nor being sceptical. The man who is afraid of death, and therefore clings to belief in reincarnation, in this or that, will never find out the truth of the matter; but a mind that really wants to know, and is trying to find out what is true, is in quite a different state; and that is what we are doing here.

Now, what is it that continues? Do you understand, sirs? How do you know you have continued from yesterday, and that, if all goes well and there is no accident, you will continue through today to tomorrow? You know that only through memory, do you not? Let us keep it very simple, and not philosophize or introduce a lot of words. So I know I exist only because of memory. The mere statement that I exist has no meaning; but I know I exist because today I remember having existed yesterday, and I hope to exist tomorrow. So the thread of continuity is memory - the memory which has been accumulating for centuries, which has gone through a great many experiences, distortions, frustrations, sorrows, joys, the endless struggle of ambition. We want all that to continue; and because we do not know what is going to happen to it when the body dies, fear comes into being. That is one fact. And why do we divide death from living? It may be altogether wrong to divide them. It may be that living is dying - and perhaps that is the beauty of living. But living is something which most of us have not fully grasped or understood, nor have we understood what death is; so we are afraid of living, and we are afraid of death.

Now, what do we mean by living? Living is not merely going to the office, or passing examinations, or having children, or the everlasting struggle for bread and butter; that is only part of it. Living also implies seeing the trees, the sunlight on the river, a bird on the wing, the moon through the clouds; it is to be aware of smiles and tears, of turmoils and anxieties; it is to know love, to be gentle, compassionate, and to perceive the extraordinary depth and width of existence. Do we know all that? Or do we know only a little part of it, the part which is made up of my struggle, my job, my family, my virtue, my religion, my caste, my country? All we know is the `me', with its self-centred activities, and that is what we call life.

So we do not know what living is. We have divided living from dying, which shows that we have not understood the whole depth and width of life, in which death may be included. I think death is not something apart from life. It is only when we die every day to all the things we have gathered - to our knowledge, our experiences, to all our virtues - that we can live. We do not live because we are continuing from yesterday, through today, to tomorrow. Surely, only that which comes to an end has a beginning; but we never come to an end. Again, this is not just poetical saying, so don't brush it aside. We have no beginning because we are not dying; we never know a timeless moment, and so we are concerned about death. For most of us, living is a process of struggle and tears; and what we are frightened of is not the unknown, which we call death, but of losing all that we have known. And what do we know? Not very much. This is not cynical, but factual. What do we actually know? Hardly anything. Our names, our little bank accounts, our jobs, our families, what other people have said in the Gita, the Bible, or the Upanishads, the various preoccupations of a superficial life - these things we know; but we do not know the depths of our own being. So we are covering the unknown with the known, and we are afraid to let go of, to renounce, the known. But to renounce in order to find God, is not renunciation; it is merely another form of seeking a reward. A man who renounces the world in order to find God, will never find God, because he is still out to get something. There is total renunciation only when there is no asking for anything, no laying up for tomorrow, which is to die to everything of yesterday. Then you will find that death is not something to be afraid of and run away from, nor does it demand belief in the beyond. It is the known that captures and holds us, not the unknown; and the mind is full of the known. It is only when the mind is free from the known, that the unknown can be. Death and life are one; and death is to be experienced, not at the last moment through disease and corruption, or accident, but while we are living, and the mind is vigorous.

You see, sirs, timelessness is a state of mind; and as long as we are thinking in terms of time, there is death and the fear of death. Timelessness is not to be glibly talked about, but to be directly experienced; and there can be no experiencing of timelessness as long as there is a continuity of all the things that one has gathered. So the mind must be free from all its accumulations, and only then is there the coming into being of the unknown. What we are afraid of is letting go of the known; but a mind that is not dead to the known, free from the known, can never experience the extraordinary state of timelessness.

March 28, 1956


Bombay 1956

Bombay 8th Public Talk 28th March 1956

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