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Bombay 1957

Bombay 3rd Public Talk 17th February 1957

When religion becomes universal it ceases to be religion. When religion is a matter of belief, of conversion, of belonging to a group which subscribes to certain ideas, then the seed of religion has gone out of it. For religion is something that must be understood by each individual in the process of living, in the activities of our daily life, and it has therefore nothing to do with educating the mind to function in a particular pattern of thought.

So it seems to me very important to understand the function of the individual in a society which is merely the mechanism of a collection of ideas, and where what we call morality is a matter of staying within a particular pattern of behaviour. But righteousness is not the following of a pattern; it is the action of a mind which understands its own relationship with another. If I am moral merely in the social sense, such morality, though it is socially convenient, has nothing whatsoever to do with religion. Surely, to find out what truth is, what reality or God is, the mind must be free from social morality, because social morality leads to respectability, to conformity; and the mind that merely conforms to an ethical or moral pattern obviously can never find out what is true.

Virtue is really the ordering of the mind; and our problem is how to bring about virtue without the cultivation of virtue, is it not? If I cultivate virtue, it ceases to be virtue; and yet without virtue there is no order. Virtue is really a disciplining of the mind without an end in view; it is like putting a room in order. Virtue is not an end in itself; it merely makes the mind clear, free, uncontaminated by society.

So the problem is, is it not, how can one's mind, one's whole being, be virtuous immediately, and not go through the process of becoming virtuous? Because the struggle to become virtuous only strengthens narrowness, the self-centred activity of the mind. I think that is fairly clear: that when I try to become virtuous, I am really emphasizing the activity of my own egotism, and therefore it is no longer virtue. Virtue frees the mind, and the mind is not free as long as there is no virtue. But the so-called virtue on which most of us base our behaviour is merely a social convenience; and society, being rooted in acquisitiveness, in competition, egotism, envy, cannot possibly understand the virtue of being and not becoming.

If we do not understand what it is to be virtuous, the mind will never be free to inquire, to find out what reality is. Virtue is essential as conduct, as behaviour; but behaviour which is based on compulsion, on conformity, fear, is no longer the action of a virtuous mind. So we must find out what it is to be virtuous, without the cultivation of virtue. I think the two things lead in entirely different directions. A man who cultivates virtue is all the time thinking about himself; he is everlastingly concerned about his own progress, his personal improvement, which is still the activity of the `me', the self, the ego; and this activity obviously has nothing whatever to do with virtue, which is a state of being and not becoming.

Now, how can a mind whose whole social and moral conditioning has been to cultivate virtue by using time as a means of becoming virtuous - how can such a mind free itself of that sense of becoming, and be in a state of virtue? I do not know if you have ever thought of the problem in this way. To understand it, I think we have to find out what it means to discipline the mind.

Most of us use discipline to achieve a result. Being angry, I say I must not be angry, so I discipline myself, control, suppress, dominate my anger, which means that I conform to an ideological pattern. That is what we are used to: a constant struggle to adjust what we are to what we think we should be. In order to become what we should be, we go through certain practices, we discipline ourselves day after day, month after month, year in and year out, hoping to arrive at a stage which we think is right. So in discipline there is involved, not only suppression, but also conformity, narrowing the mind down to a particular pattern. Please understand, sirs, that I am not condemning discipline. We are examining the whole process involved in conduct that is based on discipline.

If I can understand the present process of discipline, which is the process that most of us know, and see the falseness or the truth of it, then I shall have a totally different feeling of discipline, a discipline which has no relation to fear, and such a feeling of true discipline is essential. But the discipline that we practise is based on fear and conformity, on the struggle to become something through substitution, identification, or sublimation. All these things are involved in the practice of discipline by a mind which is in confusion, and obviously such discipline, being based on fear, has no relationship to reality. If I discipline myself because my neighbour, or society, or the priest, or some sacred book has told me it is the right thing to do, then such discipline is obviously immature, infantile, it has no meaning at all, and any conduct based on that pattern only leads to respectability, which has nothing whatsoever to do with reality.

Now, if I understand that mere conformity to a pattern through fear is not discipline, then what is discipline? The mind must function without disorder, it must be free of confusion; and virtue is obviously the ordering of the mind so that it can fly straight and not crooked, without the distortion of its own ambitions, envies and desires. But to fly straight there must bc a discipline which is not related to the discipline of conformity, sublimation, or suppression, that is, a discipline in which no struggle is involved, no effort to become something. And how is such a discipline to come about without volition, without the action of will? - because after all, will is the apex of desire. Is it possible for the mind to be disciplined without the coming into being of the entity who desires to discipline it? Do you follow?

I think this is an important issue, and may I suggest that one should listen to it, not with antagonism because one's mind habitually functions in the old discipline and therefore rejects the other, but rather to find out what the other discipline is. The ordinary discipline, though it may look noble, is essentially based on fear; and our inquiry is to find out if there is a discipline which is not based on fear, which is not a result of the action of will.

We can see that the action of will does produce a result. If I desire something very ardently, if I patiently pursue it, I will get it. But that is the functioning of will, and will is essentially a process of resistance; and a mind whose discipline is merely a process of resistance cannot possibly understand the other.

So, how is the individual mind, yours and mine, to come to the state of discipline without disciplining itself? After all, virtue - which is being virtuous, not becoming virtuous - is a state of discipline not based on self-centred activity. And how is the mind to free itself from the self-centred activity which it now calls discipline? Such discipline can produce certain results, which may be noble or ignoble; but self-centred activity in any form, with its will, with its fears, can never be virtuous. And is it possible for my mind to be free of all self-centred activity without disciplining itself? That is the real issue in conduct, in behaviour. When I use the words `my mind', it is merely a way of speaking; it is not my mind, it is the mind.

Now, this mind, as far as I can see, functions only in self-centred activity; whether it meditates on God, or pursues sexual gratification, or practises the ideal of non-violence, or plunges into social reform, its activity is essentially self-centred, that is, within the area of time, within the field of its own thought. And is it possible for the mind to free itself from that self-centred activity without compulsion, without the discipline which is conformity to a pattern?

Why does one put this question? Most of us discipline ourselves in the ordinary sense. Being envious, we say that we must not be envious, we must be strict with ourselves. We have not understood, but we say, "If I can progress through discipline, I will eventually understand". We do not look at the significance of such a discipline, we never question this process of discipline itself.

Now, by questioning, by inquiring into it, you will see that such discipline has no value at all, except socially, and it cannot possibly lead to reality. Reality is to be understood only when there is complete abandonment, and you cannot abandon yourself as long as there is any form of self-centred activity. You cannot be austere when austerity is cultivated, for then the mind is seeking a result. There is a different kind of austerity which has nothing whatever to do with giving up one thing in order to arrive at something else, and it can never be known as long as the mind forces, controls, suppresses itself. The austerity of suppression does bring a sense of power, of domination over oneself, and in that there is a great pleasure, a great vitality, but it does not lead in the direction of reality. On the contrary, it is merely a perpetuation of self-centred activity away from the world. It is like having all the treasures of the world in a different direction. So, is it possible for the mind to be austere as long as there is the entity who is seeking to be austere?

Sirs, this is not something metaphysical, mystical, or vague. If you really pursue it, think it out, if you really look in the direction I am pointing, you will discover for yourself that out of this inquiry a discipline comes which has nothing whatsoever to do with the self-centred activity of seeking a result. The discipline you are used to is utterly false; it may have value in the social sense, but it has no relationship to the inquiry after reality. Yet there must be virtue in order to find reality; so what is one to do?

Now, when my mind seeks, not out of the desire for a result, but out of the sheer necessity of seeking because it sees the falseness of what it has been doing, then that very process of inquiry is discipline which has nothing whatsoever to do with self-achievement. I am inquiring; and to inquire, the mind must be completely uncontaminated, free of all pressures. A mind that is tethered to worry, to ambition, to greed, to envy, to passion, is obviously incapable of inquiry. Truth has to be found, not believed in, and to find it the mind must be free. The moment I see the truth of that, my mind is freeing itself from the false, and therefore there is true discipline; there is no entity who disciplines, but the very perception of what is false makes the mind understand the nature of true discipline.

So virtue is essential to the understanding of reality, and virtue is not respectability. Being virtuous, and not trying to become virtuous, demands enormous inquiry, clear thinking, and you cannot possibly think clearly if there is any form of fear. Therefore there must be the understanding of fear without asking how to overcome fear; there must be the understanding of violence without trying to become non-violent. Then you will find that there is a discipline which is unrelated to the discipline of social morality, a discipline which is essential, because it makes the mind capable of pursuing with extraordinary rapidity the swift movement of truth. If you would watch a bird in flight you must give your whole attention to it, and that very attention is discipline. The reality of the books, of the priests, of society, is no reality at all; it is mere propaganda, and therefore not true. If you want to understand what is reality, if you want to find out what is truth, your mind must be capable of astonishing clarity, of silence and swiftness; and the mind is not clear, it is not silent, it is not swift as long as it is tethered to any form of discipline as expressed in the morality of society. When you understand all this you will find there is a discipline, an austerity which is not the result of self-centred activity; and it is this discipline which is essential if the mind is to follow the swift movement of truth.

You see, the difficulty for most of us is that we have had a pleasurable experience, and we discipline ourselves because we want the pleasurable experience to continue. I have had a moment of clarity, of joy, of extraordinary perception of something beyond the measure of words, and it has left an imprint on my mind; and because I want more of it, I control myself, I practise virtue, and so on. That is a form of envy, is it not? Envy breeds discipline, but that is not freedom.

Now, a mind that seeks reality finds in that very search a process of discipline in which there is no experiencing on the part of the experiencer. For the experiencer not to have experience demands tremendous clarity, an astonishing steadiness of thought, of understanding; and out of this understanding of the totality of the mind, which is self-knowledge, there comes a discipline, a conduct, a behaviour which brings about the austerity that is essential to abandonment. Only through the abandonment which is the outcome of austerity is there beauty. Only the mind that abandons itself completely is really austere, and it is such a mind that is capable of understanding that which is truth, that which is reality.

Question: Thought is the seed which contains within it the beginning and the ending, the totality of time. This seed quickens and germinates in the darkness of the mind. What action is possible to burn away this seed?

Krishnamurti: There is only one action, which is the action of silence. But first of all, I hope you have understood the question. The questioner says that the seed of thought, which is the totality of time, matures in the dark womb of the mind, and he asks how this seed of thought, this result of time, this product of the past, is to be completely burnt out - but not through a process, not through a method or a system, which implies time, and therefore we are back again in the darkness where the germination and continuity of thought is taking place. So the question is: how is thought, which is the totality of time, to end?

Now, before I begin to find out, I must inquire into what thinking is, must I not? And in asking that question, I have given myself a challenge to which there is a response according to my memory. When I say, "What is thinking?", the mechanism of memory is set going - the memory of my experiences, of my knowledge, of what I have learnt or been told about thinking. So my mind is delving into memory to find an answer to the question, which is the challenge. This delving into memory for an answer, and the verbal communication of it to you, is what we call thinking, which is the process of time.

I hope I am making myself clear, because it is really very important to understand this. It is only when you understand the process of your own thinking that you will find out what it is to have a mind that is totally still. For the mind to be still there must be complete energy, energy which is not dissipated, which is total, in which there is the vitality of your whole being. To have that total energy which brings silence to the mind, one must inquire into what is thinking; and we see that thinking is the response of memory, which is fairly simple. If I ask you where you live, you reply quickly, because that is something you are familiar with. If I ask you a more complicated question, you hesitate, there is a gap between my question and your answer; in that gap the mind is thinking looking into memory. If I ask you a still more complicated question, the gap is longer. The mind is searching, groping after the answer; and if it does not find the answer it says, "I do not know". But when it says, "I do not know", it is in a state of wanting to know, and therefore it is still caught up in the process of thinking.

We see, then, what thinking is. The question that sets the mind in motion may be simple or very complex, but it is always the mechanism of memory which responds, whether that memory be of something which is in the extremely recent past, in the past of yesterday, or in the past of a century ago. So the whole process of thinking is the response of memory. It is this process of thinking which says, "I must discipline myself, I must free myself from fear, from greed, from envy, I must find God", it is this process of thinking which has a belief in God, or which says, "There is no God; but it is still within the field of time, because thinking itself is the totality of time.

Now, for a man who would find reality, or who would seek the understanding that will uncover reality, thinking must cease - thinking in the sense of the totality of time. And how is thinking to cease? - but not through any form of practice, discipline, control, suppression, which is all within the field of thought, and therefore within the area of time. The mind which says, "I must inquire into something which is not of time" - that very mind, which is the process of thinking, of time, must come to an end. Is it not so?

I hope you are not merely listening to my words, because words are ashes, they have no meaning except on the verbal level; but if you are capable of pursuing the significance of that which lies beyond the words, then you will understand the extraordinary beauty and depth of a mind that frees itself from the process of time. In time there is no depth, in time there is no virtue, in time there is only the germinating and maturing of thought - thought which is always conditioned, thought which can never be free. There is no such thing as `free' thought, that is sheer nonsense. Thinking is only thinking, and when you see what the significance of thinking is, you will never talk about `free' thought.

So our question is: is it possible for thought, which is the result of the past, the totality of time, to cease immediately? I say it is possible only when the mind is completely still. If you ask, "How is the mind to be completely still?", the `how' is the demand for a method, so you are again caught in time. But there is a `how' which is not of time, because it is not the demand for a method. Do you follow what I am saying, sirs? You can ask "how" meaning "Teach me the method that will in time put an end to thinking", and such a `how' is merely the continuation of thinking by which you hope to come to a state where there is no thinking - which is an obvious impossibility. But if you see the falseness of that process, then the `how' has a different significance altogether.

Please pay attention to this, for if you understand it you will know immediately for yourself what it is to have a still mind; nobody will have to teach you, and you will not want a guru. The `how' which implies a method involves time, and therefore the continuation of thought which is conditioned, in which there is no freedom. That `how' has no validity when you are inquiring into what is truth, because to inquire into what is truth there must be freedom - freedom from thought.

Now, the moment you see that the `how' which demands a method is merely the continuation of time, what happens to your mind? I hope you are watching your own mind, and are not just listening to my words. What happens to your mind when you see that the `how' which demands a method is not the way to free the mind? You are left with a `how' which is inquiry, are you not? And to inquire you must start with complete silence, because you know nothing. Do you understand?

A mind that is inquiring has no accumulation, its inquiry is not additive, it has no gatherings of knowledge. Do you understand, sirs? If I am inquiring into what love is, I cannot say that love is spiritual, divine, or the outcome of karma, and all that, which is merely a process of thinking. I will never find out what love is through thinking because thought is conditioned, thought is the result of time. Thought projects ideas about love, but what it projects is not love. To inquire into what love is, the mind must be free of information, of ideas, of thought. When I see the truth of that, my mind becomes completely still; I do not have to ask how to make it still. What is important is right inquiry, which is to inquire so that the mind is free from the knowledge accumulated through experience by the experiencer.

Thought, which is the totality of time, germinates in the dark recesses of the mind, for the mind is the result of time, of many thousands of yesterdays. The mere continuance of thought, however noble, however erudite, however dignified, is still within the field of time, and such a mind is incapable of finding out what is beyond the measure of itself.

What matters, then, is for the mind which is the result of time to begin to inquire into itself, and not speculate about the state of a mind which is free from time. It is only when the mind begins to inquire into itself that it is aware of its own processes and the significance of its thinking. You can be totally and immediately aware of all the dark corners of the mind where thought is functioning only when you realize that thought can never lead the mind to freedom. If you really understand this, then you will find that the mind becomes completely still, not only the conscious mind, but also the unconscious, with all its racial inheritance, its motives, dogmas, and hidden fears. But there is that total stillness of the mind only when there is the tremendous energy of self-knowledge. It is self-knowledge that brings this energy, not your abstinence from sex, from alcohol, from this or that - which is again a form of self-centred activity. This total energy is essential, and the intensity, the fullness, the vitality of it can come only when there is self-knowledge.

But self-knowledge is not cumulative; it is the discovery of what you are from moment to moment, and total energy exists only when there is this intensity of self-knowledge. Then the mind is completely still, and in that stillness there is great beauty of which you do not know; in that stillness there is an astonishing movement which destroys the germination of the mind. That silence has its own activity, its own operation on society, and it will produce an action irrespective of the particular social pattern. But the mind that is merely caught up in social reform, in bringing about equality through legislation, and all the rest of it, will never know this other action which operates on the totality. That is why it is very important to understand yourself. Out of that understanding, which is total self-knowledge, there is real abandonment, and only then is there this extraordinary sense of silence.

I do not know if you have ever sat quietly in the early morning, when the mind is not active, and watched the still sky, the brilliant stars, the trees, the birds. Try it sometime, not to meditate - for then it is the self-centred activity of the meditator - , but just for the fun of it. Then you will find there is a silence which has no relationship to knowledge. It is not the end of noise, or the opposite of noise. It is a silence which is really the creativity of all things, the beginning of all things. But you will never find it if you do not have this total knowledge of yourself. The understanding of yourself is the beginning of freedom.

February 17, 1957


Bombay 1957

Bombay 3rd Public Talk 17th February 1957

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