Banaras 3rd Public Talk 31st January 1960
I would like, if I may this morning, to talk about what to do in life, which is what some people philosophically call action. We have divided action from life, have we not? And I wonder if action can be divided from life? There is what we call social action, political action, reformatory action, the action of education, the action of a business man, the action of a swami, a yogi, a philosopher, and so on. There are these various forms of action, and the question of what to do, as if the thing that has to be done were apart from life. It is like digging a hole on the bank of the river, barricading oneself in that hole, and then saying, "How shall I flow with the river?" First we divide action from life, and then we try to find a way of bridging the gap between them. If you have observed, is this not what we are doing most of our lives? We have a pattern of action, whether it be the socialistic, religious, philosophic, educational or commercial, and most of us are satisfied with that particular pattern of action.
Take the reformer, for example. He has a certain pattern of action with which he is satisfied, for he thinks it will transform the world; so he works, pushes, sacrificing everything for the sake of that pattern, and he never breaks away from it.
That is the difficulty with most of us, is it not? We don't seem to be able to appreciate the whole of life. Do you know what I mean by that word `appreciate'? To appreciate is to be sensitive to, to be aware or take cognizance of the whole of life; and if we can be aware, cognizant of the whole of life, then I think we can discuss more profitably what is action. Action is not separate from life, but stems or is born from this very sensitivity which is a deep appreciation of life as a whole. I do not know if I am making myself clear.
Let us suppose that you are an educational expert. You think you know all about education. You have put up a few buildings, and you function in a very limited educational field. You don't regard the whole of life, which includes politics, religion, social reform, philosophy, sorrow, joy, love, anger, the appreciation of something beautiful; you leave all that alone. You concern yourself only with the narrow field which you call education, and you don't want anybody to touch it, to break it up, because it has given you a sense of security; you have a position, a certain prestige, and you don't want it disturbed. But like the river, life is flowing on all the time; it is battering at what you call education, and it won't leave you alone. So there is a conflict between the living, the moving, the dynamic, and that which is static. The static is that which you have carved out of your own thought, and which has become established as your professorial or bureaucratic status, or the status of the practical man, as he is called.
Then there are those who regard religio-social reform as of primary importance; and if you examine it objectively, clearly, without any personal bias, you will see that here too the mind establishes a pattern of activity, a way of life with a great many defences and taboos. It says, "I must do this and not that, I must get up at a certain hour, live in a certain way, work for the whole of mankind", and so on and so on. Do you understand? Just as there is supposed to be an American way of life, or an English way of life, so the religio-social reformer says, "This is the way of life for me". Life itself is so immense, so vast, so incredibly complicated and beautiful; yet he ignores all that. He may verbalize, philosophize about it, indulge in explanations, but he does not want anything to interfere with the pattern which he has established for himself. Yet that extraordinary thing called life comes and batters him, so there is a contradiction within and without, and sooner or later he is in misery. He does not know why, but he is miserable, frustrated, burdened with a constant sense of apprehension.
Or take the so-called religious man. He says, "I have nothing to do with the world, I am seeking God", and he becomes a monk, or assumes the robe of renunciation. He observes certain ascetic practices; he remains a bachelor and denies, sacrifices, suppresses, desiccates, dehydrates himself. He too has set a pattern, a way of life for himself. In the extraordinary movement of life there is love, there is joy, there is the whole complex relationship of sex, there is the fellowship of man, there is music, there are sorrows, despairs, hopes and fears. But he denies life; he has cut himself off from the movement of life in a kind of graven cathedral of ideas. He is a Christian, a Buddhist, a Hindu, or what you will.
This process goes on all the time with most of us. If you have examined your own thinking, if you are aware of yourself at all, you will have noticed how you carve for yourself a niche, a shelter, a haven of ideas, of beliefs, of relationship, and then you don't want to be disturbed. Is this not the manner of our lives? There is this intense urge to take shelter in something - in nationalism, in a particular religion or philosophy, in a way of life - , and we deny the extraordinary movement of life in which there is beauty, sensitivity, freedom, in which there is no beginning and no ending. It is a movement that has no form, in which there is no Christ, no Buddha, no X, Y, or Z. It is life itself, and it is battering at us all the time, pounding at the walls of our isolated existence.
So there is a contradiction in our lives, a self-contradiction of which we are consciously or unconsciously aware. There is a deep, inward sense of frustration; and from this contradiction, from this frustration, from this schizophrenic cleavage in our existence, we act. The battle is outward as well as inward. You are a socialist, and I am a so-called religious man; or you are an educational expert, and I concern myself only with business; or you are a politician, and I am the poor voter whom you can trick into almost anything; or you are an extraordinarily intellectual person, and I am stupid; or you are the saint, and I am the sinner. You try to convince or convert me, but I don't want to be disturbed, so I say, "Leave me alone; or, if it suits me because I see that I can get some advantage out of it spiritually, physically or politically, I say, "You are perfectly right, I will follow you."
So, from this contradiction within and without, our activity is born. I do not know if you have noticed people who are extraordinarily active, who are always doing something, always reforming, preaching, moralizing, telling others what they should do. If you have talked to such people, if you have observed them, lived with them, you will know in what a state of contradiction, in what inward misery they are. They don't know what it means to love; and I don't think you know. If you love, that is enough; you don't have to do anything else. If you love, do what you will, it is always good. Love is the only source of action in which there is no contradiction.
I know all this sounds pleasant, it is a nice thing to listen to on a lovely morning; but you don't know what that love is. You cannot know that love if you hold on to your particular pattern of existence and say, "I will carry this with me" To find the other, you have to shatter the pattern.
Sirs, I wonder if you have ever given any thought to the question of what is false and what is true? Any person can say without much thought, "This is false, that is true". But to inquire into, to be sensitive to and appreciate what is false and what is true, is extraordinarily difficult; because, to find out what is true, one has to see the false and for ever put it away, and not merely follow the pattern of what others have said to be true.
Please, sirs, do listen to me.
To find out what is true and not follow another who tells you what is true, or arbitrarily assert what is false and what is true, you must see that which is intrinsically false and put it away. In other words, one finds out what is true, surely, only through negation. Say, for instance, you realize that you cannot have a quiet mind as long as there is greed; so you are concerned, not with quietness of the mind, but with greed. You investigate to see if greed can be put away completely - or avarice, or envy. There is a constant purgation of the mind, a constant process of negation.
Sirs, if I want to understand the whole of this extraordinary thing called life, which must be the totality of all religions; if I want to be sensitive to it, appreciate it, and I see that nationalism, provincialism, or any limited attitude, is most destructive to that understanding, what happens? Surely, I realize that I must put away nationalism, that I must cease to be a Hindu, or a Moslem, or a Christian. I must cease to have this insular, nationalistic attitude, and be free of the authority of organized religions, dogmas, beliefs. So, through negation, the mind begins to perceive what is true. But most of us find it very difficult to understand through negation, because we think it will lead us nowhere, give us nothing. We say it will create a state of vacuum - as though our minds were not in a state of vacuum now!
To understand this immensity, the timeless quality of life, surely you must approach it through negation. It is because you are committed to a particular course of action, to a certain pattern of existence, that you find it difficult to free yourself from all that and face a new way, a new approach. After all, death is the ultimate negation. It is only when one dies now, while living, which means the constant breaking up of all the habit-patterns, the various attitudes, conclusions, ideas, beliefs that one has - it is only then that one can find out what life is. But most of us say"` I cannot break up the pattern, it is impossible, therefore I must learn a way of breaking it; I must practise a certain system, a method of breaking it up; so we become slaves to the new pattern which we establish through practice. We have not broken the pattern, but have only substituted a new pattern for the old.
Sirs, you nod your heads, you say this is so true, logical, clear - and you go right on with the pattern, old or new. It seems to me that the real problem is the sluggishness of the mind. Any fairly intelligent mind can see that inwardly we want security, a haven, a refuge where we shall not be disturbed, and that this urge to be secure creates a pattern of life which becomes a habit. But to break up that pattern requires a great deal of energy, thought, inquiry, and the mind refuses, because it says, "If I break up my pattern of life, what will become of me,? What will this school be if the old pattern is broken? It will be chaos" - as if it were not chaos now!
You see, we are always living in a state of contradiction, from which we act, and therefore we create still more contradiction, more misery. We have made living a process of action versus being. The man who is very clever, who convinces others through his gift of the gab or his way of life, who puts on a loin cloth and outwardly becomes a saint, may inwardly be acting from a state of contradiction; he may be a most disastrously torn entity, but because he has the outward paraphernalia of a saintly life, we all follow him blindly. Whereas, if we really go into and understand this problem of contradiction within and without, then I think we shall come upon an action which is not away from life. It is part of our daily existence. Such action does not spring from idea, but from being. It is the comprehension of the whole of life.
I wonder if you are ever in the position of asking yourself, "What am I going to do?" If you do put that question to yourself, do you not always respond according to a pattern of thought which you have already established? You never allow yourself to ask, "What shall I do?" - and stop there. You always say, "This must be done, that must not be done". It is only the intelligent mind, the awakened mind, the mind that sees the significance of this whole process - surely, it is only such a mind that asks, "What shall I do, what course of action shall I take?", without a ready-made answer. Having through negation come to that point, such a mind begins to comprehend, to be sensitive to the whole problem of existence.
I wonder, sirs, if we can discuss all this? It is very difficult to discuss in the sense of exposing oneself. We may intellectually, verbally exchange a few ideas. But it is quite another matter to really expose ourselves, to be aware of the fact that we have committed ourselves to something" to a particular course of action, to see the limitations of that pattern, and to find out by discussing, thinking it out together, how to break it up. Such a discussion would be highly worth while, and I hope we can do it.
Questioner: Every human being must sometime or other have expressed an action which has not broken the unitize feeling for life. Out of deep feeling a man acts, without any sense that his action springs from a separate centre. But even in such a case, where there is the spontaneous, original feeling of action which enriches life, the very momentum of that action seems to create a separate centre:
Krishnamurti: A gentleman suggests that it may not be possible to act with one's whole being, without having that action again bring about a separate centre from which other actions take place. Do you understand the problem? That is, have you ever known an action which involved your whole being, intellectual, physical, emotional - an action in which there was no motive, no thought of reward or fear of punishment? In such an action, you just do something as though for the first time, without any calculation, without thinking, "Is this right? Is this wrong?" Have you ever known such an action, such a state? We do occasionally experience it, do we not? And then what happens? After having acted in that state, we realize what an extraordinary experience it was - action with a sense of complete freedom, in which there was no resultant burden of repentance or self-glorification. It was a total action, without residue. But then we say, "I must make that experience real, lasting, I must perpetuate that state, I must always act in that way". So we have again established a centre, a platform, a memory which we want to continue. There was a moment when we acted without calculation, with all our being - not even with all our being, but out of the fullness of something. That experience has left a mark on the mind as memory. We pursue this memory, thereby establishing another series of actions according to a pattern of thought; so there is a contradiction between that which was done spontaneously, totally, and the patterned or habitual action, which is always partial. And we never realize the contradiction, but say, "At least through memory I shall get back to the other".
Questioner: Because otherwise our life is empty. But this very effort to get back to the other state only makes the centre stronger.
Krishnamurti: Most of us have very rarely experienced that total action, if at all. What we know is partial action, which is so satisfying, so safe; and, as we don't really know anything else, we hold on to it. Now, is it possible - please follow this next question - is it possible for you and me to break up the partial? Do you understand?
Questioner: Is it possible not to have the memory of total action? Can you give us some clue to that?
Krishnamurti: Is it ever possible not to have memory? Questioner: We have never had that experience.
Krishnamurti: To deny all memory is an impossibility, is it not, sir? Can you forget, remove from your consciousness the memory of where you live? Such a thing would be absurd, would it not? But if where you live is all-important to you, then the memory of it shadows your whole existence.
Look, sir: let us suppose I have had an experience of total action - action without thought, without the calculation of a cunning, purposeful mind. It has left a memory. I cannot forget that experience; the mind cannot say it did. not happen. I know very well it happened. Now, how did it happen? It did not happen through any calculation, through any practice or determined effort. It just took place. Now, can I see the fact that it just took place, and also see that any cunning thought, any future purpose as a means to get it back, is the very denial of it?
I will explain again.
Let us say I am walking along the bank of this river, and the sunset is over the city. It is rather a beautiful sight and it leaves an imprint on the mind, so the next evening I go again to the river, hoping to capture that same feeling; but it does not happen, that experience does not take place. Why? Because I have gone the second time with the desire to experience it. The first time there was no desire; I was just walking, watching the sunset, seeing the swallows skim along the water's edge, and suddenly there was that extraordinary feeling. But the next evening I went with the special intent of capturing that feeling; it was a calculated act, while the other was not.
So, our problem is, can the mind be in a state of non-calculation? The experience has taken place, one cannot deny it; and is it possible not to pursue the memory of it in order to prolong that experience, in order to increase it? That is the question. Having had the experience, with its memory, is it possible to look at that memory and not let it take root in the mind?
Questioner: That is my question, which has not been answered. Is it possible not to cling to the memory of that experience?
Krishnamurti: The memory of it has afforded me a great deal of pleasure, so I give it importance. I don't just say it is part of life, and move on. Unpleasant memories we put away very quickly, or they are washed away psychologically, because for various reasons we don't want to retain them. But we cling to pleasant memories. Why? Because they delight us, they give us a sense of well-being, and all the rest of it. So the mind has allowed itself to give soil for the pleasant memories to take root. It does not say, "Pleasant memories are the same as unpleasant memories, let me not cling to either of them". You may say that you don't want to cling to pleasant memories, but you really do; so you see how the mind plays tricks on itself.
Also, sir, please look at the strange fact that we always want an answer. Do you think there is an answer to anything in Life? To mechanical things there is an answer. If a motor goes wrong and I don't know how to put it right, I call a mechanic who does. But is life like that? Is there an answer to any problem life has created? Or is there only the problem - which I have to understand, and not ask how to answer it?
Here is a fact: the mind clings to pleasant memories and takes shelter in them. And I must understand, surely, why the mind holds on to the particular experience which it calls pleasure; I must see the complex machinery of this desire to hold on to the pleasant and let go of those things which are not pleasant; I must perceive the extraordinary subtlety of the mind which says, "I will let go of this and hold on to that". What is important is this perception, not what to do. Questioner: Will this not also become a practice?
Krishnamurti: When you are studying something living, it is not a practice. You can practise a mechanical skill in handling something static. But if you want to understand a child, can that become a practice? The child is living, moving, changing, mischievous, and to understand him, your mind must be as alive and as quick as he is. You see, sir, one of our problems is why the mind becomes so mechanical. I know that this question of practice arises everywhere. Should we not practise this or that in order to realize God? - as though God, life, truth, that extraordinary something, were static! You think that if you do certain things day after day, year in and year out, you will ultimately get the other. But is the other, whatever you may call it, so cheap as that?
Questioner: You said something about our difficulty being a certain intrinsic sluggishness which prevents us from keeping pace with the flow of life. I wish you would go into that sluggishness a little bit.
Krishnamurti: The fact is that the mind is sluggish. How are we to awaken it? How is the mind to shed its sluggishness? That is the question. Now, is there a method? Please follow this carefully. Is there a method to throw off sluggishness? Let us keep it very simple. If I say I must not be sluggish, and I force myself to get up every morning at six o'clock, and all the rest of it, will my mind be less sluggish? Will it, sir? Actually, you think it will; otherwise you would throw aside your various practices, would you not? Now, can a sluggish mind be awakened through any practice? Or does practice merely further its sluggishness? The mind in itself is generally not sluggish; it has become sluggish through something. Take a child's mind, a young mind. It is not sluggish, is it?
Questioner: But we are grownup people, with established habits.
Krishnamurti: The young mind is active, curious, inquiring, it is never satisfied; it is always moving, moving, it has no frontiers. Now, why have we grown-up people become sluggish? Why, sir? Surely one of the major causes of this sluggishness is the fact that we have established a pattern of existence for ourselves; we want to be secure, do we not? Put it in different ways: economically, socially, religiously, in the family - in everything we want to be secure. Do you think a young mind wants to be secure? Later on it will make itself secure, and therefore become sluggish. So one of the major factors in our sluggishness, it seems to me, is this fact that the mind wants to be secure; and where there is a desire to be secure, there must be fear, anxiety, apprehension. Look at it, follow the chain of cause and effect. The mind desires to be secure, and thereby breeds fear. Having bred fear, it wants to escape from fear, so various forms of escape are established: belief, dogma, practices of different kinds, turning on the radio, gossiping, going to the temple, and a hundred other things. All these escapes are the causes of our indolence, of our sluggishness of mind. But once the mind sees the futility, the falseness of the urge to be secure in any way, then it is always active.
Questioner: What is the state of mind of a child of three, who has no memory?
Krishnamurti: Sir, is there such a thing as a mind without memory? Even modern electronic computers have memories, and they remember, like the human brain, by association, and so on. Our minds function mechanically, and if we are satisfied with that, there is no problem; but the moment you begin to question whether it is possible for the mind to be free from the mechanical or habitual way of working, then this whole problem arises. Most of us are satisfied with the pleasantly mechanical operation of the mind; but if you say, "That is not good enough, I want to break up this mechanical habit", then you enter a field where there is no authority, and you have constantly to inquire, push, drive.
Questioner: Is it possible for a man whose consciousness is full of experiences, to analyze himself?
Krishnamurti: What is involved in this question? What does it mean to analyze, to look into, to explore the complicated machinery of one's own mind? In that process there is the censor and the object which he examines, is there not? Please follow this a little, if you are not too tired. In analysis there is always the observer and the observed, the analyzer and the analyzed. Now, who is the analyzer, and what does he analyze? Has not that which is analyzed produced the analyzer? That is, sir, to put it differently, there is the thinker and the thought. The thinker says, "I am going to analyze thought; but before he begins to analyze thought, should he not consider who is the thinker? Has not thought produced the thinker? Therefore he is part of thought. Right, sir? The thinker is part of thought, he is not separate from thought; therefore, as long as there is the thinker, the censor, the entity who evaluates, condemns, identifies, and so on, analysis will always produce a contradiction, will it not? Are you interested in going into this?
As long as there is a thinker apart from thought, all analysis can only produce further contradiction. So the problem is: is it possible to observe thought without the thinker? Can the mind look at something without bringing into existence the looker, the censor, the observer, the experiencer? Can I look at a flower without the observer who says, "That is a daisy, I don't like it", or "That is a yellow marigold, I like it"? Now, when the mind is capable of looking without the censor, then there is no need for analysis, because in that state of observation there is a total comprehension. You see, sir, where there is a censor and that which he observes, there is a conflict; where there is a thinker apart from thought, there is a contradiction, but when the mind can free itself from this dualistic, contradictory process, then there comes a state of perception in which there is total comprehension.
So the problem is: can I look at myself without conflict? Can I see things in myself as they actually are, without the watcher who says, "How ugly I am", or "How good I am"? Can I just observe myself without introducing the censor?
Questioner: Why do we want security?
Krishnamurti: Why does the mind want security? The whole social structure is based on the demand for security, is it not? Religiously, and in the everyday life that we know, the mind dreads the sense of negation, the feeling of complete isolation, which is fear. This is the beginning of the complex desire to be secure. One feels much safer if one has a secure relationship, doesn't one? When I feel perfectly safe in my job, I can go on mechanically, and I do not want to be disturbed. If my gods, my traditions, my beliefs give me safety, again I do not want to be disturbed - all of which means that one's mind is very sluggish. Realizing this, we say, "What shall I do, what practice shall I undertake in order to break up my sluggishness?" And so we enter the whole field of stupidity and illusion.
January 31, 1960
Banaras 3rd Public Talk 31st January 1960
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