New Delhi 1956
New Delhi 3rd Public Talk 21st October 1956
For most of us, if we have thought about these things at all, the idea of change must be rather confusing; because we see that the so-called revolutions, though they have produced certain outward and perhaps beneficial effects, have ultimately been deeply detrimental to man. After all, a fundamental change must be more than just a shift from one limited field of thinking to another. As things are in the world, one can see that there must be some kind of radical change, not only at the economic and social levels, but deep within each one of us; and for those who are at all serious about these matters, the problem must be how to bring about that change. A change that is brought about through any form of compulsion is obviously no change at all. If I am compelled or influenced to change, it is not really a change, because I am merely conforming to a pattern, either externally imposed upon me or established by myself. Nor does change consist in adapting oneself to an environment, which is merely to adjust oneself to a pattern which one thinks will be beneficial or a better way of life.
Now, if one sees that adjustment, conformity, or any form of change brought about by compulsion or influence, is no change at all, then how is a change to be brought about? A fundamental change is obviously essential, not only in this country but throughout the world; and how can such a change, which is not the result of compulsion, conformity or adjustment, be set going?
Most of us think that adjustment, conformity, or being compelled to act in a certain direction, is a process of change, and we have never questioned whether it is really a revolutionary change. I don't think it is; because if you observe yourself when you are conforming, adjusting, being influenced or compelled, you will see that you are merely fitting into a pattern of thinking, whether ancient or modern, and that the core of your being has not changed at all.
So the problem is, how can one radically change at the core of one's being? I don't know if you have given much thought to it, because most of us are willing to be forced to conform to a pattern; we think it is sufficient to bring about a modified change in the world, and with that we are satisfied. But if you go into the matter sufficiently deeply, then you must ask yourself how it is possible for the totality of one's being, the whole of one's consciousness to be changed, how a complete revolution in thinking and in valuation is to be brought about. Because it is obviously only such a revolutionary change, deep, inward, at the heart of oneself, that can ultimately release the creativeness of reality and bring about a totally different kind of world. Without this fundamental inward change, mere outward adjustment, acquiring a little more knowledge, establishing a few more reforms, and all that, is really very superficial. It is like putting on a new coat, but underneath the old condition continues to exist. So, if you are at all interested in the matter, how is one to change completely?
May I suggest that you should listen to what I am explaining without judging, without saying it is impossible. Please do not translate what is being said in terms of your own information, or listen to it with a defensive attitude, comparing it with what you have been told or with what you have read in the sacred books - which are no more sacred than any other books. To listen is quite an arduous task, and most of us never listen to anything but the voice of our own thinking, so there is really no communication at all. To listen with judgment, comparing what we hear with what we already know or have read, is a form of distraction. But if we can listen without comparison, with effortless attention, then I think that that very listening is an act of meditation which does bring about a deep transformation. Try observing yourself sometimes to see if you ever really listen to anything, to what your friends say, to what your wife or husband says, to what your boss says, and you will find that your mind is not there at all. You pretend to listen, but you are only half listening; either you are frightened, or bored, or you just don't want to listen, so there is no direct communication. As I said, listening in itself does bring about an extraordinary miracle. The very act of listening produces an immense understanding without any effort on your part; and since you are here and I am talking, I would suggest, if I may, that you listen to find out what it is I am trying to convey. I think that a fundamental change, not a revival, but a religious revolution must come into being, because without it our problems will multiply; though we may have more refrigerators and all the rest of it, we shall become increasingly superficial and have yet greater miseries. And to bring about this deep transformation at the core, surely we have to inquire into the whole problem of what is consciousness, and under stand the anatomy of change. Most of us try to change through effort, do we not? That is, we see ourselves as being cruel, for example, and we say, "I must change", so we make an effort to change, we try to force ourselves through discipline not to be cruel. Now, let us examine the urge which makes us want to change, for without understanding that, without understanding the total process of consciousness which says, "I must change", there can be no fundamental change, though there may be superficial adjustments.
Please do not listen to all this against a background of what you have read about consciousness in the Gita or any other book, because what we are trying to do is not to communicate ideas, but to directly experience what we are listening to. Unless we experience what we hear, these talks will have no value at all; they will merely be another set of ideas, a process of mentation, which however exciting, will have very little significance. Whereas, if you and I are actually experiencing what is being said as you are sitting there and I am talking, if through the verbal description each one of us is watching the operation of his own mind, then I think these talks will be really worth while. So we are trying to find out how to change, not just superficially, but at the very centre of our being, which means that we have to inquire into the question of what is consciousness. When I ask myself, "What is consciousness?", there is the questioner apart from the question, is there not? There is the entity who has asked the question and is waiting for an answer; and that process is the beginning of consciousness, is it not? The questioner says, "I must know how consciousness works", and then begins to inquire; and both the inquiry and the answer depend on how he asks the question.
To put it differently, I want to know what consciousness is, and it is not a vain or merely curious question. I ask myself what is consciousness because I see that I must fundamentally change, the totality of my being must undergo a complete transformation. Now, does this revolutionary change come about through a series of efforts on the part of the one who says, "I must change"? Must he develop the quality of will and change according to that will? Do you understand?
I am asking myself, and I hope you are asking yourself too, what is this consciousness, the `me', that says, "I must change"? And what is the momentum, the action, the force of the inquirer who is trying to change? That whole process is within the field of consciousness, within the field of thinking, is it not? Are you following this? It is not complex, it is very simple.
When I wish to change, I already have the pattern or the idea towards which I must change. That is true, is it not? Now, is that really change, or is it merely a movement from the known to another known? Do you understand? Because I am cruel I say I must be kind. The process of trying to be kind is a movement towards something which is already known; and is that change at all? Is there a change if I move towards something which I know? Surely, there is a change only when the mind moves towards the unknown. When it pursues that which it has already experienced, its movement is merely a continuation of the known in a modified form, therefore it is no change at all. Suppose, being violent, I have the ideal of non-violence. The ideal is already known. I have imagined what it is not to be violent, so the ideal is born out of my actual state of violence, and when I change towards that ideal, I am moving within the field of the known; therefore it is not a change at all. That is the whole process of consciousness, is it not? Sirs, don't agree with me, because you have to think it out, feel it out.
I make an effort to change in conformity with what I call the ideal, which is the opposite of what I have experienced as violence; therefore I have created a conflict between what is and what should be, and I think this conflict is necessary to bring about a change. All this is the process of consciousness, is it not? Whether it is conscious or unconscious, it is still consciousness. If you see this very clearly for yourself, you will discover something extraordinary.
So I am asking myself, is there a change when there is an effort to change? When I try to change, is there a change, or merely conformity to a pattern which has been established by me or by some external agent? That is, any form of change based on tradition or authority is no change at all, because one is merely conforming to an idea, and all ideas are of the known, they are the result of the background which projects them. So any change through effort towards that which you call the ideal, which is the known, is no change at all. When you are pursuing the ideal of non-violence, for example, you are still violent because you want to achieve a state through compulsion, conformity to a pattern, which is another form of violence.
Consciousness is this movement from the known to the known, a movement of compulsion, of effort. When the Communist says, "I have the right pattern for existence", that pattern is the result of what he has known. He creates a Utopia according to his knowledge and interpretation of history, and if he is a big man he pushes it through, while we little people conform. That is what has happened in one form or another throughout the world. The Shankaras, the leaders, the teachers have ideas, we read and conform, and we think we are changing. There may be a superficial adjustment, but there is no change at all in the sense in which I am speaking, which is the total transformation of our being so that our way of thinking is entirely new.
What is new cannot be brought about through effort, through moving from the known to the known, which is the pursuit of the ideal. And yet that is what you are doing in your daily life, is it not? You realize you are ambitious or cruel, or envious, and you say, "I must change", so you proceed to conform to the pattern of an ideal which you or others have established, and you think that is an enormous change. But if you really go into it, penetrate into the whole psychological process of thinking, you will see that as long as the mind is thinking in terms of a duality such as violence and non-violence, as lone as it is making an effort to conform to the opposite of what it is - which is merely the projection of the known and therefore a continuation of the same thing in a modified form - , there can be no fundamental change.
What is important, then, is to realize, to actually see or experience the falseness of your effort to change. The gurus, the mahatmas, the masters, and all the religious books tell you to make an effort, to control, to discipline yourself, and to realize that this effort is really false means that you must be capable of looking at it without the authority of any leader, political or religious, including myself. To experience the truth or the falseness of what you see, you cannot interpret it according to somebody else, it does not matter who it is. If you go into this matter and see very clearly for yourself that there can be no change as long as there is conformity, that is, as long as you are forcing yourself to fit into a pattern established by you or by somebody else - if you really see the truth or the falseness of that, then you will find that your mind has stripped itself of all authority; and is not that the very beginning of a fundamental revolution?
It seems to me that there must be, especially at this time, people who are really serious about these things - by which I do not mean the people who are seriously dedicated to the Gita, to Communism, or to some other pattern, because such people are merely conformists. I am talking of people who seriously and earnestly want to find out how to bring about in themselves a revolution which is total. So we come to the question, can the mind free itself from the known? - for only then is there a fundamental change.
Please, sirs, this requires a great deal of insight, inquiry. Don't agree with me, but go into it, meditate, tear your mind apart to find out the truth or the falseness of all this. Does knowledge, which is the known, bring about change? I must have knowledge to build a bridge; but must my mind know towards what it is changing? Surely, if I know what the state of the mind will be when it is changed, it is no longer change. Such knowledge is a detriment to change because it becomes a means of satisfaction, and as long as there is a centre seeking satisfaction, reward, or security, there is no change at all. And all our efforts are based on that centre of reward, punishment, success, gain, are they not? That is all most of us are concerned with, and if it will help us get what we want, we will change; but such change is no change at all. So the mind that wishes to be fundamentally, deeply in a state of change, in a state of revolution, must be free from the known. Then the mind becomes astonishingly still, and only such a mind will experience the radical transformation which is so necessary.
Question: You often use the term `understanding' in connection with the dissolution of problems. What exactly do you mean by understanding?
Krishnamurti: If I want to understand a child, what must I do? I must watch him, must I not? I must watch him when he sleeps, when he plays, when he cries, when he is mischievous, and not condemn him or compare him with his elder brother. I must not have a pattern of what he should be. Is that not so? In the same way, if I have a problem, I must watch it, and I cannot watch it if I want a particular solution of that problem, or if I condemn or fear it. Fear, comparison, judgment, condemnation, prevent me from understanding the problem. That is, if I condemn, judge, compare, or identify myself with the problem, I don't understand the problem. But if I don't do any of these things, then does the problem exist? Do you understand? The problem exists as long as I am separate from the problem, does it not? I wonder if you are getting this?
Look, take the problem of violence, envy, greed, or what you will. If I am violent and say, "I must not be violent", I have already condemned my violence. That very word `violence' contains condemnation. Is that not so? If I want to understand the whole process of violence, I must not judge it, I must not compare it with what I should be, and there must be no fear. When I remove fear, when there is no condemnation, no comparison, then is there violence and all the problems connected with it?
Do you understand, sirs? You are s waiting for me to answer. Please don't. Experiment with yourself, don't wait for me to answer, because I have nothing to answer. You see, what we consider to be positive thinking is a process of being told what to do; and is that thinking? Or is there only one form of thinking, the highest, which is to push, to probe, to inquire and never to accept? And you cannot inquire if you are caught in a so-called positive form of thinking. I wonder if you are following this, sirs?
We are trying to find out what it means to understand a problem, and we are examining the word `understanding'. I see that I cannot understand the problem of envy, for example, if I condemn, judge, identify, compare, and all the rest of it; and I am asking myself, when the mind ceases to do these things, does the problem exist? The problem exists as long as I am comparing, judging, evaluating, accepting or denying it, struggling against it. But the moment there is no comparison in the profound sense of the word, the moment I cease comparing myself with my guru, my ideal, or with the man above me in my job, does not the problem of envy disappear? So, to understand a problem and dissolve it totally there must be no form of condemnation, judgment, comparison, which only increase and do not resolve the problem.
Question: You said the other day that one has to see the totality of a problem to comprehend it. What is it that enables one to see the problem in its entirety?
Krishnamurti: I shall go into this question, but let us approach it differently. What do we mean by attention? Is there attention when I am forcing my mind to attend? When I say to myself, "I must pay attention, I must control my mind and push aside all other thoughts", would you call that attention? Surely that is not attention. What happens when the mind forces itself to pay attention? It creates a resistance to prevent other thoughts from seeping in; it is concerned with resistance, with pushing away, therefore it is incapable of attention. That is true, is it not? When you struggle to pay attention to something, other thoughts come in and you have to keep pushing them away; your whole energy goes into that battle. So there is no attention as long as effort is made to pay attention. Similarly, there is no attention when you are examining a problem with the hope of resolving it, or with the hope of getting a reward out of it. Is that not so? Are you getting tired?
Audience: No, sir.
Krishnamurti: But I see people yawning. Sirs, all this may be somewhat new to you, and listening is bound to be a very tiring process for you if your mind is struggling to follow. Don't struggle to follow, just listen, play with it, and you will understand much more than when you struggle.
So there is obviously no attention when the mind forces itself to attend. Nor is there attention when the mind is seeking a reward, when it is avoiding, escaping, wanting, because in that state your mind is distracted. To understand something totally you must give your complete attention to it. But you will soon find out how extraordinarily difficult that is, because your mind is used to being distracted, so you say, "By Jove, it is good to pay attention, but how am I to do it?" That is, you are back again with the desire to get something, so you will never pay complete attention. You must see for yourself the importance of being completely attentive, not just to what I am saying, but to everything in life. When you see a tree or a bird, for example, to pay complete attention is not to say, "That is an oak", or, "That is a parrot", and walk by. In giving it a name you have already ceased to pay attention. To look at the moon with complete attention is to look at it without saying, "That is the moon, it will be full moon the day-after-tomorrow", and so on, chattering all the time to yourself or to somebody else. But we never look at anything in that way. Whereas, if you are wholly aware, totally attentive when you look at something, then you will find that a complete transformation takes place, and that total attention is the good. There is no other; and you cannot get total attention by practice. By practice you get concentration, that is, you build up walls of resistance, and within those walls of resistance is the concentrator; but that is not attention, it is exclusion.
To understand the totality of a thing, there must be the absence of the `me', the `me' being preoccupation with `my wife', `my children', `my property', `my job', with who is ahead of me and whether I can get ahead of him. The `me' includes the Atman. Don't divide the Atman from the `me', because the `me', which is the process of thinking, has invented the Atman, and if there is no thinking there is no Atman. Try it and you will find that when all thought completely ceases - when it is not induced to cease, but really ceases - there is a state of being which is not the Atman invented by the mind.
So the questioner wants to know what it is that enables one to see the problem in its entirety. Can one see the problem in its entirety? Most of us have never even asked ourselves that question, have we, sirs? All that we are concerned with is how to solve the problem, and the quicker it is solved, at whatever level, the more satisfied we are. We have never put to ourselves the question, "Can I look at the problem entirely, totally?" The moment you seriously ask yourself that question you will find that you are doing it, you are looking at the problem in its totality, because then you are not concerned with interpretation, evaluation, and all the rest of the nonsense. You are completely watching the problem without naming it. To watch a thing in its entirety you cannot name it, because the very naming process is a distraction. And what has happened to a mind that is free from naming, evaluating, comparing? Such a mind is capable of total awareness - not a continued total awareness, which is silly, because the moment anything continues it has no life in it, it is already dead. Only the mind that is capable of seeing a problem in its totality, understands the problem, and is therefore free of the problem. Such a mind is in a state of extraordinary movement; but I cannot tell you of that movement, you have to find it for yourself. And a lazy mind, a mind that is ridden by authority, by tradition, by fear, can never find it.
October 11, 1956
New Delhi 1956
New Delhi 3rd Public Talk 21st October 1956
Texts and talks of Jiddu Krishnamurti. Krishnamurti quotes. Books about
J Krishnamurti. Philosophy.