Brussels, Belgium 2nd Public Talk 17th June 1956
It seems to me that one of the most difficult thing to do is to communicate rightly. If I want to say something I must use certain words, and words naturally tend to have a somewhat different meaning or significance for each one of us who listens. Merely to sit together in silence has its own benefit; but really to communicate we must verbalize, and it is very difficult to communicate properly what one means to convey so that the other understands the full intent of it, especially when dealing with subjects which are rather complex, as we are doing now. We require a certain ease of communication, so that all of us understand what it is we are talking about.
I want to deal with something which I feel is rather important: whether it is possible, living in this world, to free oneself from all conditioning, so that one becomes truly individual and hence is able to find out what it means to be creative. Surely, that which may be called reality, God, truth, or what you will, is a state of constant renewal, a state of creativeness; and this creativeness cannot be realized, cannot be experienced or known without true individuality; and to come to that true individuality there must be freedom from conditioning.
Our minds are conditioned by the society in which we live, by the books which we have read, by religion, by moral and social values, by our own fears, ambitions, envy, and so on; all these things go to create a conditioning of the mind. I think this is very obvious. And is it possible to free the mind from this conditioning - not to find a better or more noble conditioning, but to totally free the mind from all conditioning? Until we do that, surely, we are not individuals; we are merely the result of the collective - which again is very obvious, though we may not have thought about it. When we examine ourselves a little closely, it is apparent that most of our thinking, most of the values, the experiences, the knowledge, the beliefs that we have, are the result of our education, of innumerable influences; the climate we live in, the food we eat, the literature and newspapers we read, the whole environmental background - all this conditions the mind. We can see that our thinking is always according to a pattern, and that the pattern is well-established. The more highly organized a society, the more efficient and ruthless it is, the more thoroughly the pattern is cultivated and drilled into the mind. And is it possible to be free of that conditioning, so that the mind does not think according to a pattern, but goes beyond all thought? - which does not mean a vague mysticism, a dreamy state; on the contrary, it is a very precise state.
So, can the mind free itself from its conditioning? I know there are those who say it is impossible, because human beings are entirely the result of environmental influences. One man, being brought up as a Christian, believes in the dogmas of Christianity, while another who is brought up as a Communist believes in none of those things - which again shows how the mind is influenced and set going in a pattern, in a groove, in which it continues to function.
Looking at all this, what is our response? Whether we are Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, or what you will, it must have occurred to us, if we are at all serious, that each one is shaped, conditioned by a particular pattern - not only the pattern imposed by society, by the culture, the economic influences, the religion in which one is brought up, but also by a pattern imposed from within. And we must have asked ourselves whether it is possible for the mind which habitually thinks in a certain groove, to break out of it. Surely, it is only a free mind that can discover anything new. A man who merely believes or disbelieves in God, is still caught in the pattern of a particular environment; through fear, through compulsion, through every form of influence, he is still part of the collective. So, is the mind thus bound capable of freeing itself?
The capacity to be free surely does not depend on another. I see that my mind is the result of innumerable experiences, that its responses are determined by an already conditioned state; and if I am interested to find out whether my mind can free itself, not partially but totally, at the unconscious as well as at the conscious level, then I do not have to ask another; I can watch myself. I may free myself from the idea of `my country', from stupid nationalism, from the beliefs in which I have been brought up; but in the very process of freeing myself, I may fall into another set of patterns. Instead of being a Hindu I may become a Christian, a Buddhist, a Communist, or what you will - which is still a pattern. So, is it possible to break away from one pattern without falling into another? If one is very alert and observant of the habit-forming process of the mind, it is possible superficially to free the mind from the formation of habits. But the problem is not so simple, because there is the whole unconscious, which is also conditioned, and its conditioning is much more difficult to see. After all, through talk, through reasoning, through various forms of observation, I can free my mind from the superficial conditioning of being a Hindu or a Catholic - and this is obviously necessary. If I am to seek out what is real, I must first have a mind which is unconditioned. A conditioned mind can project its own ideas, and then experience those ideas. The Christian who is very devout and heavily conditioned can experience a vision of Christ; but he is experiencing his own projection from the background in which he has been brought up, and such experience has no validity at all. But if we can go beyond all the superficial responses of the mind, then perhaps we can penetrate much more deeply into the unconscious, which is ceaselessly projecting its conditioning.
So, is it possible consciously to go into the unconscious and discover its various forms of conditioning? I do not know if you have thought about this at all. You may have opinions about it, you may assert that it is possible or impossible; but I do not think a student who is really inquiring into the whole question will ever make assertions of that kind. He must be in a state of inquiry. And he cannot inquire with regard to someone else, he can only inquire into his own mind.
Inquiry, it seems to me, must be without a motive, without a compulsion in any direction. If I have a motive for my inquiry, that motive dictates what I shall find. So real inquiry does not exist so long as there is a motive. And most of us have a motive of some kind, have we not? We want to be happy, we want to be inwardly rich, we want to find God, we want to achieve this or that. And can the mind strip itself of all motive and be in a state of inquiry? I think this is really a fundamental question; because it is only when we are free of motive that we shall be able to inquire into the totality of the unconscious.
After all, the unconscious is the repository of many motives of which we are unaware - fears, anxieties, and the racial residue. To inquire into all that, the conscious mind, at least, must be free of motive. And to cleanse even the conscious mind of motive demands a great deal of watchfulness, observation of oneself. It means being aware of the whole process of thinking, finding out how thought springs into the mind, and whether it can ever be free; or whether thought is merely the reaction of a particular background through memory, and therefore is never free. One may be able to reason very intelligently, very cleverly; but that reasoning has the background of a particular conditioning.
So, if the conscious mind is to inquire into the unconscious, where all the motives, the urges, the compulsions of centuries are stored, then the conscious mind must surely begin by being free of motives and patterns. And it is only in that inquiry, it seems to me, that we begin to dissolve the collective influences of which we are now made up. We are not individuals now; though we may have a distinctive name, a personal bank account, and all the rest of it, that does not constitute individuality. But what does bring about the true individual is this state of mind in which there is freedom from conditioning. Only then is it possible to find out whether there is a reality beyond the limitations of thought, beyond the inventions and theories of the mind.
Until we come to this state, what we believe or do not believe about God, or truth, has very little significance. Our beliefs and disbeliefs will merely be the repetitive, imitative ideas and thoughts which we have learned from some book, or from another person, or which we have projected out of our own desire for comfort. The truly religious man is not the one who clings to certain beliefs and dogmas, or who strictly practises morality, but rather the man who begins to understand the whole process of his own thinking, the unconscious as well as the conscious. Such a man is an individual, for his mind is no longer repetitive; although there is the memory of the things it has known, they do not interfere. Such a mind becomes extraordinarily quiet, without any movement of desire, without any projection or motive. In that state there is the creativity of reality.
But this is not a thing that you can hear about and repeat, like a boy learning and repeating his lessons. To do that has no meaning at all. One has to go into oneself very deeply, pushing aside all the trivial fears, the envies, the ambitions, the desire to be secure, to be attached, to be dependent, which for most of us is very important - pushing all that stupid nonsense aside, not just temporarily, but actually being free of it. Only then is it possible to find out if there is a reality or not, if there is God if there is something which is beyond time. Until we find that out for ourselves - not through somebody else, not through saviours or teachers, but directly experience it for ourselves - , life is a very superficial thing. We may have immense riches, great influence, and be able to travel all over the world; we may have vast knowledge and be very clever in our talk; but without that direct experience, life becomes very trivial, and underneath there is always misery, struggle, pain. Then we are everlastingly trying to give life a meaning, we are forever asking what is the purpose of life; so we invent a purpose - a cynical purpose of despair, or a purpose of delight.
But if we are capable of this constant inquiry, which is really a form of meditation, then we are bound to come to the point when we realize that all our thinking is conditioned, and that our beliefs and dogmas have no value at all. And when we see that they have no value, they drop away without our struggling against them. The totality of our conditioning can be broken - not bit by bit, which takes time, but immediately, by directly perceiving the truth of the matter. It is the truth that liberates, not time, or your intention to be free. That is why the mind must be extraordinarily open, receptive. For truth is not to be pursued and caught; it must come.
So it is important to inquire into this whole question of conditioning, and not merely accept another's assertion as to whether the mind can be free or not. One has to inquire and free oneself. Then I think we shall find something beyond all words, about which there can be no possible communication. The man who has realized, experienced that thing for himself, is a truly religious man, for he is no longer influenced by society - society being this structure of ambition, of acquisition, of envy, the self-centred activity of the collective.
Question: Is there such a thing as real happiness? Can anyone ever find it, or is our pursuit of it an illusion?
Krishnamurti: I think if we pursue happiness, life becomes very shallow. After all, happiness is a thing that comes to you, it is a by-product; when you go after happiness, it eludes you, does it not? If you are conscious that you are happy, you are no longer happy. When you know that you are joyous, surely at that very moment you have ceased to be joyous. I do not know if you have noticed this. It is like the man who is conscious of his humility; surely such a man is not humble.
So happiness, I think, is something that cannot be pursued, any more than you can pursue peace. If you pursue peace, your mind becomes stagnant. For peace is a living state; and to understand what peace is requires a great deal of intelligence and hard work - not merely sitting down and wishing for peace. Similarly, happiness requires immense understanding, insight and hard work - as much hard work as you give to earning a livelihood, and far more. But if you are merely seeking happiness, then you might just as well take a drug.
To pursue happiness, it seems to me, is to pursue an illusion. In that pursuit is involved a very complex process. There is the pursuer, and the thing which he pursues. When there is a pursuer wanting something, there is always conflict; and so long as there is conflict, there is no understanding, but only a series of miseries and an endless struggle to overcome them in order to reach happiness. This is the conflict of duality, of the thinker and his thought. Only when the mind is no longer pursuing its own gratification, its own fulfillment, no longer trying to reach happiness, which is a self-centred activity - only then is there the cessation of all conflict. This state may be called happiness - but that is irrelevant.
So it is important to go into this problem of effort and conflict. I wonder if we understand anything through effort? And if we do not make an effort, what will happen? We have been brought up, educated, to make an effort; and if we do not make an effort, we think something is wrong, we fear that we shall stagnate, degenerate. But if we are at all observant of ourselves, I think we must have found that understanding comes at those moments when the mind is very quiet, and not during the period of struggle. And the mind is in a state of perpetual struggle so long as it wants to be happy, secure, or is seeking some kind of permanency.
Where there is conflict, there must be tension, misery; but to live without conflict is an immense problem. One cannot just brush it aside, saying "I'm going to live without conflict" - that has no meaning. Nor can one meditate, do all kinds of mystical things, in order to have no conflict - which is very childish. One has to understand the psychological process of this movement which we call conflict; and we cannot possibly understand it so long as there is the motive to achieve something. So long as I want to be something - happy, good, virtuous - , so long as I want to find God, or what you will, there must be conflict, and with it, misery and pain.
One has to understand totally the whole process of achieving, end-gaining, and not merely say "If I do not make an effort I will degenerate, I will lose my job", which is a very superficial response. To understand deeply the psychological problem, the inward nature of effort, requires a great deal of self-perception. That is why it is very important to know oneself. In the very process of self-knowledge, perhaps there will be happiness on the side - which is very unimportant.
Question: You seem to deny yoga. Do you think it has no value at all?
Krishnamurti: Yoga is a particular system invented by the Hindus, by which to find, to be, to become. We think that through some such system we shall be able to achieve peace of mind. We think that by right breathing, by having the right kind of yoga, by practising meditation, controls, discipline, we shall arrive at that state of mind in which it is possible to find out what God is, or if there is God. Many people think these systems will lead to that. But I think the whole idea of any method or system leading to God - though it may produce a particular result which is apparently practical in this world - , is utterly illusory. Because, truth or God has no path, no system by which you can approach it; and I think this is fairly obvious to anyone who is not already committed to a pattern or a method. After all, merely doing a particular exercise, thinking along a fixed line, struggling to control all one's thoughts - none-of this makes the mind really alert, pliable, intelligent, perceptive.
What is required is not to set the mind in a particular pattern, however fascinating, but to free the mind so that it is able to discover. How can the mind discover what is true if it is caught in a system? There are new kinds of drugs which give all the things that yoga promises. You can take these drugs and become very happy, have a mind that is very quiet, intensely aware of things, of people, of nature. But surely those are all tricks. They do not help the mind to discover what is true. By taking a drink, or one of these pills, or by doing yoga, you can have a certain temporary alleviation, satisfaction, peace; but you will have to keep on taking your drug.
Please, those of you who practise yoga, do not merely brush this aside, saving that I am prejudiced. This is a very important question: whether you can, through any trick, by taking a pill or practising some method of making the mind quiet, bring about that state of deep comprehension of what is true. I say it cannot be done. Yoga, drugs, drink, all the various stimulants, produce their own results; but they cannot possibly make the mind into that astonishing instrument of inquiry, of search and discovery.
You see, we all want methods, systems, pills, to make us immediately happy; it is the immediacy we are after. But if we are at all alert to the whole issue, we shall see that merely to go on asserting that yoga is useful, indicates a very shallow mind. The problem is not whether yoga is right or wrong, but whether the mind can be freed from creating a habit and living in that habit. A mind that seeks peace and establishes itself in the routine of peace, is not a peaceful mind; it has merely disciplined itself, compelled itself to conform to a pattern, and such a mind is not a living mind, it is not innocent, fresh. Only the mind that is innocent, fresh, free to discover, is creative.
Question: How is it possible to live in this world without any kind of security?
Krishnamurti: I do not think it is possible to live in this world without security. If you did not know where you were going to get your next meal, where you were going to sleep tonight, and so on, it would become impossible; you would not be able to think; you could not call it living. Governments and society are gradually bringing about that physical security - the Welfare State, and all the rest of it.
But surely that is not the real problem. The problem is that we want to be secure inwardly, psychologically we want to be secure. Therefore we invent such things as nationalism, God, this and that, in which we seek psychological security - and thereby bring about physical insecurity. After all, so long as I insist that I am a Hindu and find delight in being an Indian - making an ideal of it, or what you will, and depending on that for my inward security - , I create a division between man and man, the division of nationalities, frontiers, class differences, which will invariably bring about insecurity, psychologically as well as physically.
So, is it possible for the mind not to seek security at all? Is it possible to be psychologically free of this demand to be secure, this demand for permanency? At present we are all seeking permanency in some form or other - permanency in relationship, permanency after death, permanency in our ideas, a continuity of belief - , all of which indicates an inward insufficiency which makes us want psychological security. So, is it possible for the mind to be free from this urge to be secure? After all, if you observe, we are always seeking permanency in our relationships, are we not? We want permanency in our relationship with society, with a particular person, or with one or two. And if that is once established, then we want permanency in another direction - we want to become something, we want to be well-known, famous. If it is not that, then we want permanency after death, or permanent peace, a permanent state of happiness; or we want to be permanently good.
I think this is the whole problem - to understand and free the mind of this constant urge to seek a permanent state. For does not this demand for permanency lead to mediocrity? Surely it is only the mind that is uncertain, that has no continuity in the known - it is only such a mind that is capable of discovery, capable of renewing itself; not the mind that is merely moving from the known to the known. After all, that is what we are doing, is it not? What we want is the continuity of the known - the known experience, the known pleasure. And so long as the mind is seeking that state of permanency, we are bound to create division between man and man.
The problem is, then, can the mind live without seeking permanency at all? Is there a mind, if there is no permanency? After all, the mind is the result of time, of the innumerable experiences it has had, and it cannot brush all that aside. The very words it is using are the result of memory, the known. But need those memories, the known, interfere and make the mind incapable of inquiring? The mind is capable of inquiring, of discovering, only when there is uncertainty, when there is freedom from the known.
All this is not a mere matter of acceptance or rejection. You have to experiment with this - that is, if you are at all seriously interested. You have to go deeply into yourself inquire most profoundly, so that the mind becomes capable of renewing itself, of remaining innocent in spite of the innumerable experiences and accidents of life. For only the innocent mind, the fresh mind, is open to receive that which is eternal.
June 17, 1956
Brussels, Belgium 2nd Public Talk 17th June 1956
Texts and talks of Jiddu Krishnamurti. Krishnamurti quotes. Books about
J Krishnamurti. Philosophy.