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Bombay 1957

Bombay 1st Public Talk 6th February 1957

There is a great deal of difference between learning and being taught, and it seems to me that it is very important to understand the distinction between the two. To learn there must be great humility, for learning is a very arduous process, and the mind is disinclined to learn. Most of us are merely taught, and the man who is merely taught is incapable of learning. In learning, which is a constant process, there is not the division of the teacher and the taught, the guru and the disciple; there is only learning.

There is no learning when the mind is waiting to be taught and merely accumulates knowledge as memory. In the process of being taught, which requires no effort and is only the cultivation of memory, there is the teacher and the disciple, the one who knows and the one who does not know; and that distinction is maintained throughout life. I think it would be wise if we both understood from the very beginning the falseness of that distinction, and established between us the true relationship in which there is neither the teacher nor the taught, but only learning; and to learn we need great humility. A man who says, "I know", actually does not know. He knows only that which is past, that which is dead. But for the man who is learning every day, and not merely accumulating knowledge, there is neither the teacher nor the taught; there is only the understanding of reality from moment to moment.

So, you and I should understand that we are taking a journey together, a journey on which to look, to listen and to learn; for if we understand that, we shall be able to learn from everything around us, and not just from a particular book, teacher or religion. The whole process of living is religion, as we shall discover for ourselves if we really begin to understand what it means to learn. But it is very difficult for most of us to comprehend this, because most of us want to be taught, for then we have no responsibility, no struggle: you know and I do not know, you teach me and I merely accept. In being taught there is a sense of security, there is no investigation, no inquiry, no search; and it would be a mistake if you listened to these talks with the attitude that you are being taught by me, or that I am going to reveal something miraculous or extraordinary. But if both of us with real humility begin to understand the whole process of living, then in that very understanding there is the miracle of change.

After all, that is what we must be concerned with, is it not? We must be concerned with this one question: how to bring about a radical change within ourselves that will affect not only our social relationships, but also our thought, our emotions, our creative expression and our daily living. If a radical change does not take place within the individual, surely any reform from the outside will merely force him to adjust to the new pattern, and is therefore no change at all. A change brought about through compulsion, through influence, through sociological pressure, through various forms of legislation, is not a real change, but merely a modified continuity of what has been. Change within the field of time is no change - time being the process of thought, of compulsion, of imitation, of gradual adjustment.

Now, is there a fundamental change which is not brought about by any pressure, by any conformity to an ideological pattern? Is there a change which is totally from within and not the result of any pressure from outside? We do change superficially through various forms of compulsion, through reward and punishment, through external pressure, through being influenced by the books we read, and so on; but it seems to me that such change takes place only on the surface, which is no real change at all. Yet that is what most of us are doing with our life. The conscious mind adjusts to a new social, economic, or legislative pattern, but that does not transform the individual fundamentally. So, if we are at all serious, the question must inevitably arise: is it possible for the individual to change radically so that he approaches life, not partially, fragmentarily, but as a whole entity, a total human being?

Most of us react to reward and punishment, to some form of compulsion, and that is what we call action in our daily life. If you observe you will see that your action, religiously and in other ways, is partial, fragmentary, it is not the total action of your whole being. And it seems to me imperative, in the present crisis of the world, that each one of us should find out for himself if it is possible to act, not in mere conformity to patterns, whether ideological, governmental, or self-imposed, but as a total human being, with all one's body, mind and heart. Is it possible to act in such a complete manner? Fundamentally, I think that is the only problem that confronts man.

We see what is happening in the world; we see the tyranny, the appalling cruelty that is going on, the various miseries that we all go through, the compulsions, the uniformity of thinking as a nationalist, a socialist, an imperialist, or whatever it be. In this process there is no total action on the part of the individual, no action in which his mind and heart are one, his whole being completely integrated. And it seems to me, if we are at all serious and thoughtful, that it must be our chief concern to bring about this total action on the part of the individual; because as long as our action is merely fragmentary, either of the mind alone, or of the feelings alone, or merely of the senses, such action must be contradictory and will invariably create confusion.

Now, is there a desire, a longing, a wish, a will, that can act as a total being? Or is desire always contradictory? And is it possible for the mind to understand the totality of itself, the conscious as well as the unconscious, and act, not partially or fragmentarily, but as an integrated human being without self-contradiction? To me such action is the only righteous action, because all other forms of action must create conflict both within and without.

So, how is this change to be brought about? How is the mind to act as a total entity, undivided within itself? I do not know if you have ever thought about this problem at all. If you have, you probably think that the mind's contradictory desires can be harmonized, and that this harmony comes through effort, through ideological pursuits and various forms of discipline. But is it possible to harmonize contradictory desires, as most of us are trying to do? I am violent, and I want to be nonviolent; I want to be an artist in the true sense of the word, and yet the whole tendency of my mind is that of ambition, of greed and envy, which prevents this creative effort. So there is always a contradiction going on within ourselves. These conflicting desires do produce certain activities, but they also are contradictory in themselves, as we can see every day of our life. And is it possible for the mind to come to that understanding of the totality of itself in which action is no longer a matter of imitation, of compulsion, of fear, or the desire for reward?

You see, it is incredibly difficult to communicate in words something which we all feel: that there must be an action which is not put together by the mind, an action which is not the result of fragmentary thinking, an action which is the response of our whole being. We feel this, but we do not know how to get at it. We may turn to religion, hoping to find an action which will not be contradictory, which will be complete; but religion for most of us is rather vague and superficial, it is a matter of belief and has no validity in our daily life. We pay lip service to what we call religion, but it is without fundamental significance and merely becomes another factor of contradiction in our life. We think we ought to love, but we do not. We want to seek God, and at the same time we are caught up in worldly pursuits, so we are torn between the two. Yet it seems to me that the real understanding of what religion is, is the only solution to all our problems. What matters, surely, is that each one of us should directly experience reality; and in the very process of experiencing reality, there is an action of reality. It is not a question of experiencing truth and then acting, but rather there is an action of truth in the very process of experiencing and understanding truth. Then it is the truth that acts, not the person who understands the truth.

That is why it is very important to understand what it means to learn. Can I learn anything if I start from a conclusion, if I already have a definition of what God is, what truth is, or what religion is? To start thinking from a conclusion, surely, is not to think at all; it prevents the mind from going further. To start thinking from a conclusion is vanity, which means there is no humility. When there is humility the mind says, "I do not know; therefore it is willing to learn, to inquire, to suffer, to find out. But most of us do not want to do that; we want to be told, because in being told there is a sense of safety, security, and that is all we seek. We want to be made secure, comfortable, and such a mind is obviously incapable of learning.

Truth cannot be taught, you have to discover it for yourself; and you cannot possibly discover it if you start with the assumption that there is truth or no truth, that there is God or no God. You can find out whether there is truth or not only if you begin to learn, if you begin to search, if you begin to inquire; and there is no inquiry when you start with a conclusion, with an assumption.

If you watch your own mind you will see how extraordinarily difficult it is to be free of conclusions. After all, what you know is a series of conclusions made up of what you have been taught, what you have learnt from books, or what you have found in your own reactions, and you start to think, to build the house of thought on that foundation. But surely a mind that wants to find out what truth or God is must start without any assumption, without any conclusion, so that it is free to inquire. And if you observe your own mind you will see that it is not free. It is full of conclusions, burdened with the knowledge of many thousands of yesterdays; it thinks in terms of what the Gita says, or what the Bible or the Koran says, or what some teacher has said, and it begins by assuming that to be the truth; and if it already knows what truth is, obviously it need not seek truth. I think it is very important to see the significance of this.

The people of this country are under pressure from the West. The dynamic scientific revolt that is going on in Europe and America is influencing your thinking here and changing the ways of your life, but only superficially. You are merely conforming to a new pattern, a new way of living; so you are going to have extraordinary contradictions within yourselves, great suffering, till you understand individually how to think out all the problems anew.

To think anew, each one of us must start as though he knew nothing; he must begin to inquire, and that requires great humility. But humility is not to be cultivated, because the moment you cultivate it, it is no longer humility; it is a form of arrogance. Whereas, if you begin to learn about yourself, to be aware of your contradictions, to observe your own thoughts and feelings without condemnation or approval - which is to start without any assumption - , then you will find that through self-knowledge there comes an action which is not fragmentary, which is total. Such a man is the truly religious human being not he who goes to the temple and quotes the Gita. The religious man is one who is on a journey of self-discovery. You cannot know yourself if you start with the assumption that you are this or that; and it is extraordinarily difficult to be free of assumptions, because tradition through centuries has imprinted certain ideas on the mind. An old tradition may be broken and wiped away, and a new tradition, a new set of ideas implanted; but action from any assumption, either old or new, must create a contradiction in our life, and such a contradiction invariably produces sorrow both within and without.

To see all this, surely you must ask yourself if there is a way of living which is the action of your whole being. At present you do not know what your whole being is, because you are broken up, divided, and your action is fragmentary; but when you realize that you are broken up, that your action is divided, fragmentary, when you are fully aware of this conflict, then you will discover for yourself that beyond it there is love, a state of mind which is whole, not fragmentary, a state of mind which is not put together by desire, which is not the result of discipline, of conformity, pressure. This discovery is the real source of action independent of your fragmentary wants and purposes, and that is why it is very important to understand yourself, to know your own contradictory nature without trying to force what you are to fit the pattern of a certain ideal or ideology. And I assure you, there is a great joy in knowing yourself, in seeing all that you are, both the ugly and the beautiful, the insensitivity as well as the extreme sensitivity of the mind. Out of that full awareness there comes a mind which knows total action and it is only such a mind that can create a new relationship, a new world.

At each of these meetings there will be questions and answers - or rather, there will be questions, but I am afraid there will be no answers. Life has no answer. Life is to be lived, it is not a thing to be concluded. Most of us seek an answer, a conclusion, something which the mind can cling to; and when it is found, it sets the pattern for the rest of our life. We put a question in order to find an answer; but there is no answer, and if we can really understand that, then questions become extraordinarily significant, full of meaning, because then the mind is concerned with the problem itself and not with the answer, which means that we have to give our complete attention to the problem.

At present you approach your problem, whatever it be, with the desire to find an answer, a solution, or you try to make the problem conform to what you think is the right answer; so your problem remains and multiplies. Whereas, if you see that an answer offers no way out of the problem, but only increases it, then your desire to find an answer will drop away and you will give your whole mind to the problem - and that is the beauty, the challenge of a problem. When you suffer inwardly, not physically but psychologically, your immediate reaction is to seek an answer: you want to know why you suffer, and you say it is karma, or you accept some other explanation, which only smothers the problem. The problem of suffering is still there. What is important is to begin to inquire into the problem itself, which means that you cannot cling to any hypothesis, to any conclusion, to any hope. Then sorrow has an extraordinary meaning, the problem has vitality. So, if I may, I am going to discuss the question with you. We are going to take a journey into the problem together, and if you don't pay attention to the problem, you will not understand what I am talking about. But if you really begin to inquire into the problem, then you will find that you have an extraordinary vitality to pursue it to the end. Most of us have no vitality except that of routine - going to the office, living according to established habits, repeating a particular set of words, and so on, all of which has a certain vitality. But I am talking of a different kind of vitality, that tremendous energy which arises when you are confronted with a problem that demands your whole attention.

I do not know if you have ever given your whole attention to something. I doubt it, because complete attention is an astonishing thing. To give complete attention to a flower, to a bird, to a tree, to a child, to somebody's face, means that there must be no naming of the thing. When you look at a flower and say, "It is a rose, how beautiful it is", your attention has already wandered. To give your complete attention to something, there can be no verbalization, no communication, no describing it to another; you must be completely with it.

In the same way, if you can give complete attention to a problem, whatever it may be, you will find that there is not only the resolution of that particular problem, but that you have the capacity to deal with every problem, and therefore there is no fear. It is fear that dissipates energy and destroys complete attention.

So, if we can together go into these questions with complete attention, then we shall find that they have extraordinary significance; but if you merely rely on my description and do not observe your own reactions to what is being said, you will have no vitality to discover the truth of the problem. So please follow the problem for yourself. Do not wait for me to take the journey and then come back and tell you what that journey should mean to you, but let us take the journey together.

Question: All religions teach the need of curbing the senses. Are the senses a hindrance to the discovery of truth?

Krishnamurti: Let us find out the truth of the matter and not rely on what the various teachers and books have said, or on what your local guru has implanted in your mind.

We know the extraordinary sensitivity of the senses - the sense of touch, of hearing, of seeing, tasting and smelling. To see a flower completely, to be aware of its colour, of its delicate perfume and beauty, you have to have senses. It is when you see a beautiful man or woman, or a fine car, that the trouble begins, for then desire comes in. Let us go slowly.

You see a beautiful car. There is perception or seeing, sensation, contact and finally desire. That is how desire comes into being. Then desire says, "It would be marvellous to own that car, I must have it", so you spend your life and energy in getting money to buy the car. But religion says, "It is very bad, it is evil to be worldly. Your senses will lead you astray, so you must subjugate, control them. Don't look at a woman, or don't look at a man; discipline yourself, sublimate your desire". So you begin to curb your senses, which is the cultivation of insensitivity. Or seeing around you the ugliness, the dirt, all the squalor and misery, you shut it out and say, "That is evil; I must find God, truth". On the one hand you are suppressing, making the senses insensitive, and on the other you are trying to become sensitive to God; so your whole being is becoming insensitive. Do you understand, sirs? If you suppress desire in any form your mind is obviously made insensitive, though you may be seeking God. So the problem is to understand desire and not to be a slave to it, which means being totally sensitive with your body, with your mind and heart: sensitive to beauty and to ugliness, to the sky, to the flowers, to birds on the wing, to the sunset on the water, to the faces around you, to hypocrisy, and to the falseness of your own illusions. To be sensitive to all that is what matters, and not merely to cultivate sensitivity towards truth and beauty while denying everything else. The very denial of everything else brings about insensitivity.

If you consider it you will see that to suppress the senses, to make them insensitive to that which is tempestuous, contradictory, conflicting, sorrowful, as all the swamis, yogis and religions insist, is to deny the whole depth and beauty and glory of existence. To understand the truth you must have complete sensitivity. Do you understand, sirs? Reality demands your whole being; you must come to it with your body, mind and heart, as a total human being, not with a mind paralysed and made insensitive through discipline. Then you will find that you need not be frightened of the senses, because you will know how to deal with them and they will not lead you astray. You will understand the senses, love them, see their whole significance, and then you will no longer torture yourself with suppression, control. Don't you see that, sirs?

Love is not divine love, or married love, or brotherly love - you know all the labels. Love is just love, without giving it a meaning of your own. When you love a flower with your whole being which is not just to say "How beautiful" and walk by; or when you love a human being completely, with all your mind, heart and body, then you will find there is no desire in it, and therefore no conflict, no contradiction. It is desire that creates contradiction, misery, the conflict between what is and what should be, the ideal. The man who has suppressed his senses and made himself insensitive does not know what love is; therefore, though he meditate for the next ten thousand years, he will not find God. It is only when your whole being is made sensitive to everything - to the depth of your feelings, to all the extraordinary intricacies of your mind - and not just to what you call God, that desire ceases to be contradictory. Then there is an altogether different process taking place, which is not the process of desire. Love is its own eternity, and it has its own action.

Question: When you talk of freedom from the past, do you mean that an individual's past with all its experiences, memories, sorrows and joys, can be wiped away totally? Can the mind then have an existence without the past?

Krishnamurti: This is really a very complex question and I hope you will pay attention to it. To pay attention is not merely to hear my words or my description, but as you are sitting and listening, actually to be aware of your own mind - the mind that is thinking, struggling, reacting, that is looking over there and over here. Just watch that mind, and you will find the answer for yourself.

Now, can the mind wipe away the past, the thousand yesterdays? That is what is involved in this question. The yesterdays of pleasure and pain, of recognition or fame, the things you have learnt, and the things that you hope to do tomorrow, the qualities that you have gathered through many years and which are consciously as well as unconsciously urging you to think in a certain direction - all that is the past, with its extraordinary vitality. The past is not only the content of the conscious mind, which has learnt the technique of modern living and acquired a specialized capacity by which to earn a livelihood; the past is also made up of the things that lie hidden in the unconscious, the motives of which you are not aware, the impressions of what the centuries have told you and of what your ancestors have left behind. All that is the past.

Now the question is, can the mind free itself from all this, disentangle itself from the total content of the past? Don't translate it into karma. I am purposely not using that word, because you have certain reactions to it which would cause you easily to step by and so miss the significance of this question.

The mind is the conscious as well as the unconscious. The conscious has the capacity to adjust itself to the present environment. The unconscious, on the other hand, is the residue of many yesterdays; it is conservative, heavy to move, it does not want to conform to the modern, to the immediate. All that is the past. And the questioner asks: Can the mind free itself from the past?

What is the mind? Surely, the mind is made up, put together by the past, that is, by time. Please listen to this and you will see how simple it is. The mind is the result of time, time being memory, knowledge, the experience of many yesterdays. All that is the past; and why do you want to be free of it? Why does your mind say, "I must be free of the past"? Do you understand, sirs? Are you making this into an artificial problem for yourself because I have said that the mind must be free of the past? Or do you say, "Life is something new to be lived, to be completely fathomed every minute, and I cannot do that if I meet life with my prejudices, with my nationalism, with my gods, with my dogmas and beliefs, that is, if I come to it with my past"? Surely there is a difference, is there not? Does the problem arise because of me, or because you want to understand life for yourself?

So, is it possible for the mind to free itself from the past? Is it possible for the mind to have no causation of any kind, no motive, no thought which is the result of the past? Please, sirs, listen to this with the same intensity that you would feel in seeking a new job if you had lost your present one. Is it possible for the mind to be without a causation, without a motive, without the past? You don't know the answer. Some say "yes" and others say "no", but leave those people aside. They have no direct experience, it is merely an assumption. You will have to find out for yourself.

Now, how are you going to find out? Do you understand the problem? The problem is this. Your mind is the result of time, of tradition, of memory, it is the result of what it has been taught as a Hindu, a Christian, or what you will; and is it possible for such a mind to be without this background, without this immense pressure of the past? If the mind is not capable of being without the dead weight of the past, it can never be free. You may talk about freedom, you may talk about God, but it has no meaning at all till the mind can free itself from the past.

So you have to find out for yourself what thinking is. Do you understand? If you do not know what thinking is, you will not know what the past is. Surely, all your thinking is the result of the past. You think as a Hindu, as a Christian, as a Communist, as this or that, because you have been trained to think in those terms. So the problem is, can the mind see and free itself from all thinking which is based on the past? Can it be completely still, without any movement of thought?

Now, don't close your eyes and go into a trance, thinking you are meditating, for you will only be hypnotizing yourself. Just see that all thinking is based on a cause, it is the reaction of a particular background, and put this question to yourself: can the mind exist without thinking, or is it the very nature of the mind to think? Do you understand, sirs? You have to find out. It is no use my telling you. You have to find out for yourself whether it is possible for the mind to be without thought. And you can find that out only if you understand the whole process of thinking, which means that you must know what thinking is.

Very simply, what we call thinking is the reaction of memory. Memory is the cause and thinking is the effect. And is it possible for a mind which is always thinking, thinking, thinking, going round and round in circles, worrying, wanting, suppressing itself, being envious, greedy, and all that - is it possible for such a mind to bring that whole pattern to an end? That is, can the experiencer cease to experience? Again, you will find out only if you begin to inquire seriously into the whole process of thinking, of memory; and if you pay attention to your memories, to the operation of your own mind, it is really extraordinarily simple. Then, in spite of all the books, in spite of all the people who say it is possible or impossible, you will find out for yourself that the mind can be totally free from the past - which does not mean that you don't recognize the past, or that you forget your address. That would be silly, it would be a state of amnesia. But you will find that it is possible for the mind to be totally empty; and you will also find that a mind which is totally empty is the really creative mind, not the mind which is cluttered up with memory, because being empty, it is always capable of receiving that which is truth. It is like a cup, which is useful only when it is empty. A mind that is full of memory, that is burdened with associations, knowledge, can never understand what truth is.

So you must begin to understand the whole process of the past, and you can do that only by pursuing it, by being aware of it every day in whatever you are doing. Then you will find that there is a state of mind totally dissociated from the past, and in that totality of dissociation from the past you will know that which is eternal.

February 6, 1957


Bombay 1957

Bombay 1st Public Talk 6th February 1957

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