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Banaras 1960

Banaras 4th Public Talk 7th February 1960

I think it is important to see the implications of agreement and disagreement, and also of conviction. All three imply a certain form of influence, do they not? Most of us can be persuaded by reason, by explanation, either to agree or to disagree with something, and there can be awakened in us a sense of conviction. But it seems to me that neither conviction nor disagreement can ever bring about understanding; and it is understanding alone that radically changes the nature of one's commitments and one's way of life.

So I think we ought to be very clear that here we are not concerned with persuading each other to adopt any particular form of thought, way of action, or pattern of belief. We are concerned primarily with understanding. This means that you and I must be very clear that in these talks there is no propaganda, that I am not out to convince you of anything, and that therefore there can be no question of agreement or disagreement. A mind that agrees now can also disagree later on, just as a mind that disagrees now will later on probably agree; and such a mind is not capable of understanding. Understanding is not born of agreement or disagreement, or of conviction; it is something entirely different. Understanding is the state of mind, surely, when there is complete attention, that is, when the mind sees totally, perceives comprehensively the whole problem; and in that state of mind there is neither agreement nor disagreement.

I think we ought to understand this fact very clearly, because the lives of most of us are guided, shaped by agreement, disagreement, or conviction. Today you are completely convinced of something, and ten years later you are equally convinced of something quite the reverse. You agree now, and later disagree. Surely, this process of conviction, agreement and disagreement breeds a state of contradiction; and a mind in a state of contradiction does not understand anything at all. Most of us live contradictory lives because our beliefs, our thoughts, our activities are based on the pattern of conviction, agreement and disagreement. But, as I said a little while ago, we are not here to persuade each other to think in any particular way or to adopt a certain course of action; therefore we ought to be able to listen to each other without the desire to resist or to shape our lives according to what is being said. As I am not trying to break down your pattern of living, or shake you loose from your beliefs and dogmas, or change the course of your action, our relationship is entirely different. We are trying to understand each other, and therefore there is no barrier, no resistance, and hence a sense of intimate communion. At least, that is what I feel there should be in these talks: a sense of intimate communion with each other about the ways of the mind, and about the heart that is conditioned by the ways of the mind.

So, listening itself becomes very important, and not agreement or disagreement, or saying, "I must be convinced before I can act". To me, that is alI sheer nonsense, because it reflects very shallow thinking. In our relationship of listening, we are trying to understand, and that is much more difficult, much more arduous, it requires far greater attention than mere agreement or disagreement. With that clearly in mind, let us look at custom, which is called morality, and at goodness, which is called virtue.

Goodness is not the result of a culture, whereas custom or morality is. Morality which has become a custom is a cultivated habit in which the mind is pursuing a particular pattern of thought or experience, either self-imposed or imposed by society; and such a course of moral rectitude has nothing to do with goodness. The mind cannot flower in custom, in habit, however long it may continue in that pattern; it can only decay. Custom is a withering process, and goodness is the only state in which the mind can flower and know the meaning of compassion. The mind may cultivate morality, discipline itself in rectitude, but such a mind is not compassionate. It is a bourgeois, respectable mind, a mind that is the result of adjustment to society, which demands a certain pattern of thought and activity.

In a habit of thought, in a pattern of belief, there is no joy, no flourishing of the mind; whereas, if you will consider goodness, you will see that in goodness there is a never-ending sense of being without contradiction. I think it is very important to understand this, because, most unfortunately, our lives are guided by custom and habit; therefore our lives are very narrow and shallow, however much we may decorate them with a pattern of glory or speculative delight. The mind which is a slave to a particular conditioning, to a pattern of routine or custom, is surely not a good mind. However difficult, however disciplinary, however respectable a custom may be, it is still only a pattern which the mind is following. But most of us are greatly concerned with respectability and recognition. We want to be recognized as respectable, because in that respectability we feel secure, both economically and inwardly. We like to fit into the pattern which custom has established as being right. If you go into it very deeply, you will see that custom is the door to safety, security; for when the mind has passed through that door, it can never go wrong in the sense of not being recognized as respectable.

I do hope that you are not merely listening to the words, or being mesmerized by them, but are self-critically aware, and that what is being said is therefore self-applicable. As I said at the beginning, we are intimately communing with each other about the complexities, the intricacies, the subtleties of our own minds; and to fathom the mind one needs, not a defensive attitude, but a certain relaxed attention.

So, most of us are committed to a certain course of action, to a certain pattern of thought and behaviour which is recognized as respectable; and the morality which comes out of that desire to be secure, to be recognized as the right kind of man, has surely nothing whatsoever to do with goodness. Custom is national, sectarian, limited, whereas goodness has no nationality, it is not recognizable to a respectable mind. And that brings us to a very important point, which is: why does the mind have this compulsion, this urge to belong to something? Why does the mind wish to commit itself to a course of action, a way of life, a pattern of belief? Why? I wonder if you have thought about it? Why does the mind wish to commit itself to something, belong to something?

You know, many intellectual people, writers and so-called thinkers, have committed themselves to various organizations or activities. They become Communists, and because that movement is not satisfying, or is found to be destructive, they drop that and join something else. The desire to commit the mind to something exists not only among the highbrow intellectual people, but also in each one of us. You belong to a club, to a group, to such-and-such a society, to a particular religion or social activity; why? If you say, "I don't belong to anything, but I like to be with the members of this party or group", that is merely a way of avoiding the issue. We want to find out, surely, why there is in us this intense compulsion to belong to something - to a school of thought, to a particular philosophy, to this or that church or party. If we can understand why human beings at all levels have this craving to belong to something, then I think we shall be able to break down totally this constant formation of groups and sects, of conflicting nationalities and political parties, which is so destructive. Do please pay a little attention to this. I know most of you belong to something or other, and I can imagine the sort of things you belong to. You form part of a group opposed to `other groups, and each group seeks new members - you know that whole game, the racket of proselytizing and propaganda. But if you and I can find out - genuinely, with intelligence, with awareness - why the human mind has this extraordinary urge to belong to something, to commit itself to something, then we shall cease to be Hindus, Moslems, Christians, Communists, and all these absurd divisions will be swept away. Then we shall be human beings with the dignity of freedom, individuals who do not belong to a thing, and who therefore have a human relationship which is not based on the exclusiveness of family or community, of nation, race, or organized religion.

Why is it that we have this urge to commit ourselves to something? One cause of this urge, surely, is that we see confusion, misery, degradation, and we want to do something about it; and there are people who are already doing something about it. The Communists, the Socialists, the various political parties and religious groups - they all claim to be doing something to save the poor, to bring food, clothing and shelter to the needy. They talk about the welfare of the people, and they are very convincing. Many of them sacrifice, practise austerities, work from morning till night at something or other; and seeing them we say, "What extraordinary people they are". Because we want to help, we join them - and so we have committed ourselves. Just follow the sequence of it. After having committed ourselves to a party or a movement, we look at everything through that particular window, in terms of that particular course of action, and we don't want to be disturbed. Previously we were disturbed; but now, having committed ourselves, we are in a state of comparative tranquillity, and we don't want to be disturbed again. But there are other parties and movements, all claiming the same thing, each with a clever leader who manifests an extraordinary, recognizable rectitude.

So the desire, the urge to do something, makes us commit ourselves to a particular course of action. We don't look to see whether that course of action includes the totality of man. Do you understand? I will explain what I mean. Any particular course of action is exclusive, and is therefore concerned only with a part of man. It is not concerned with the whole man - with his mind, his human quality, his goodness, and all that. It is a partial, not a total concern.

And we commit ourselves, not only to a particular course of action, but also to a particular belief or way of life. The man who becomes a sannyasi, a monk, a saint, has taken a vow to be celibate, to live in poverty, to offer prayers, to bc this and not to be that; he has committed himself to that pattern. Why? Because it is a marvellous escape, a way of resolving all his problems by avoiding the constant lapping of life on the banks of his mind. He does not understand this movement of life, he does not know what it is all about, but at least his self-discipline and his belief give him a sense of safety, security, and there is always Jesus, or Buddha, or God at the end of it; so the man who is committed to such a course is perfectly happy. He says, "What is there to doubt? It' is all quite clear. Come and join us, and you too will know all about it". He has become respectable, because it is recognized that he is doing the right things.

All this I have not said cynically or harshly. I am just pointing out, not criticizing, and you are just looking.

We also commit ourselves in order to gain personal and satisfactory ends, do we not? Committing myself to a society, or to a particular course of action, gives me a sense of permanency, a sense of security. Please, sirs, watch yourselves, do not just listen to what I am saying. You all belong to these various things, and you never say, "Why do I belong, why do I commit myself to anything?" And I think that it is very important to understand why we commit ourselves to something; because many people have committed themselves to one thing after another, and at the end of their life they are completely disillusioned, miserable, frustrated, unhappy. Belonging, committing oneself to something, is the cultivation of that rectitude which is based on custom, and which has nothing whatsoever to do with goodness. It is a subtle form of hypocrisy. I don't have to commit myself to an ideal. I am what I am. Being envious, why should I introduce a contradictory factor, which I call the ideal? My concern is to understand envy, go into it, see all its implications; and through that understanding of envy, goodness comes. Goodness is not a pattern of action - for God's sake, do see that the two have nothing to do with each other whatsoever. A man who has no love in his heart may follow a pattern of gentleness; but such a mind is corrupt, it is a disintegrating mind. That is why it is very important to understand this process of belonging to something, of committing, dedicating oneself to something.

You see, behind all this belonging to something there is the intense desire to be secure; and strangely, that sense of security depends on social recognition. If I join a recognized political party, or belong to a recognized religious order, or take up a recognized course of activity, in that recognition I feel safe, both economically and inwardly, and it also gives me certain personal advantages. So one begins to see very clearly that a mind which is committed to something - to Jesus, to Buddha, to any particular way of life according to which it is disciplining itself - can never know goodness. It can never know what love is; and love, after all, is the only solvent for all our problems. A mind that does not know what love is, that is not aware of the quality of that feeling, may pursue any course of action, however respectable, however right, but it will lead only to further misery and destruction for others and for itself.

So one sees that custom, or the cultivation of habit as virtue, has inherent in it a destructive, disintegrating element. And if one sees this process clearly, if one understands it and does not cut it off volitionally, it drops away as a withered leaf drops from the tree; and in that dropping away there is a new budding of goodness, a new sense of unfoldment, and therefore a way of life which is entirely different from the other. That, it seems to me, is the only religious life - not all the things which you practise, which is not the religious life at all; it is just a matter of convenience, a ceremonial robe which you put on. It is not the mind that is ridden by custom, by habit, or committed to a course of action, but it is the good mind which can receive what is not measurable. The good mind does not want anything. In itself it is a movement, it is a state of bliss in which there is no demand. It is only when the mind ceases to demand, ceases to ask, to search - it is only then that reality comes into being.

I have talked for forty minutes, and now perhaps we can discuss a little. But what do we mean by a discussion? It is not a schoolboy or college debate in which you put forward one set of ideas, and I another, and we wrangle about it to see who comes out victorious. If that is all you are interested in, then you are victorious already; you have already won. But if we want to understand the problems of life, then we must not be in a debating mood, we must not discuss in an argumentative or contentious spirit. Life is a problem to most of us, and words will not solve it, explanations will not heal our wounds. We have to understand it; and to understand requires a great deal of love, gentleness, hesitancy, humility, not argumentation as to who is right and who is wrong. Questioner: What is the difference between the spirit and the body?

Krishnamurti: Is there such a division? I don't know why we ask such questions, first of all. Generally we have been told this or that, and we want to find out what is true. Now, to find out, to discover, to uncover the truth of anything, demands a mind which does not want a conclusion, and which does not start from a conclusion, either negative or positive, but says, "I don't know. Let us inquire". When such a mind asks a question, its meaning is quite different from that of the mind which says, "Tell me, I want to know the answer". Life being immense, vast, immeasurable, how can you hold it in your fist and say, "I have found the answer"?

So, with our minds in that state of inquiry, let us ask: is there a division between the mind and the body? Is the spirit or the soul different from the mind? Or is it all one, a unitary process which man breaks up into several parts for his own convenience, saying, "This is spirit, this is matter, this is the body, this is the soul", and then tries to unify them again? And when he can't unify them, he talks about the Atman, and escapes through that idea. Surely, each one of us is a total human being. Though the body is separate from the mind, man is a total entity; and to perceive, to understand this totality, to feel it, to relish it, to see the beauty of it, is much more important than to say there is a soul apart from the ugly little mind, and garland the soul with your words.

What is your question, sir?

Questioner: You said there is a pattern of life based on agreement and disagreement, and that a mind which conforms to this pattern is not a good mind. It is only a good mind that is capable of understanding, and a good mind never conforms to a pattern. But is there anybody, in any mode of existence, who does not conform to a pattern? You also conform to a pattern, sir,in saying "This is a good mind, and that is a bad mind".

Krishnamurti: Sir, I am afraid you did not listen to the talk. I was just pointing out a fact - which does no,t mean that I condemn or approve of it. It is so. I did not say, "This is a good mind, and that is a bad mind". It was never in my mind to create this division between the two.

Questioner: But, sir, you did.

Krishnamurti: You win, sir.

Questioner: I have a question. So long am I am egoistic, my life must be spent in pursuing one thing after another. Can I think myself out of it?

Krishnamurti: Sir, you can think yourself out of anything. To think yourself out of something is to create illusion, but that illusion may seem extraordinarily real. Living here in Benaras, with all the filth, the poverty, the ugliness, the brutality, the starvation, the callousness, I can live in Z tower of isolation and say these things do not exist. I have thought myself out of something; but that is obviously not facing the fact.

The fact is that most of us are extraordinarily self-centred, only we don't want to admit it. It is this centre that has committed itself to a course of action which looks generous, noble, religious, and all the rest of it; but the centre is still there. This centre, with its self-interested activities, has to be understood; and to understand is not to condemn it, but to see it as clearly as one sees one's face in a mirror. One has to pursue it right through, in both the conscious and the unconscious; one has to uncover it, see all its ways, however subtle; and in the understanding of it, there is a withering away of that thing which is the centre. Questioner: How is one to understand the unconscious mind?

Krishnamurti: That is rather a difficult problem, and the question is put by a young student. As we all know, there is the conscious mind and the unconscious mind. The river is not only the shining, sparkling surface which we see, but also the dark, hidden, living waters below. In the same way, consciousness is the hidden as well as the surface mind. And just as the river, with its surface and its hidden depths, is a total thing, so also is consciousness, only we have divided it for convenience into the conscious and the unconscious mind. In actual fact, there is no such division; there are no gates which shut you off from the unconscious while you function on the conscious level.

The conscious mind is superficially adjusting, reflecting, learning, acquiring information, is it not? You are learning modern physics. You are adjusting on the surface to a certain course of action which is foreign to the ancient culture in which you were born. That is very necessary, because you have to earn a livelihood, adjust yourself to the modern world, and all the rest of it. But there is also the deeper part of consciousness, the hidden or unconscious mind, which is the racial inheritance, the residue of all the past, of custom, of tradition, of what your ancestors have been, or what you have repeatedly been told. So there is a contradiction between the thing below, the residue of the past, and that which on top is adjusting itself to the modern world. Do you follow?

Below the surface you are a Hindu, a Moslem, or what you will; on top you are studying to be an engineer, or a scientist. The thing below is much stronger than the thing on top, which has barely scratched the surface. Unless we understand the totality of this movement, which is made up of the surface as well as the residue of the past which is below the surface, life becomes a state of contradiction.

Now, how is one to understand that which is below the surface? That is your point. In other words, how is the conscious mind to understand something with which it is not familiar? The conscious mind starts by analyzing, dissecting; and with this positive approach, can you observe that which is essentially negative? Do you understand? I will go into it, but not much, because it would take too long.

Let us suppose you are grown-up and married, with children of your own. Your conscious mind is occupied all day long with going to the office, with your money, with your customs, your gossip; it is eternally chattering. But when you go to sleep at night, the conscious mind becomes somewhat quiet. Then the unconscious gives you a hint in the form of a symbol, and when you wake up in the morning you say, "I have had a marvellous dream". The unconscious mind is trying to convey something through a hint, a symbol, a dream, which it wants the conscious mind to understand. Because it is not capable of understanding, the conscious mind has to interpret that dream; so you have the further complication of the interpreter, who may interpret it wrongly, and again there is a conflict.

Now, to understand the total movement of the mind, of the unconscious as well as the conscious, one must be aware of every thought, of every feeling during the day. It is neither difficult nor easy. It requires a mind that says, "I really want to understand this whole process". Then you are watchful, attentive, awake to everything that is going on all day, aware of every movement, every hint, every flutter of the mind and the heart. And when your mind is thus attentive - not concentrated, but attentive - then, when you do go to sleep, the unconscious as well as the conscious mind is quiet, it is no longer giving you hints. The whole mind is quiet, not just because it is tired, but it is quiet in a different way altogether. And in that real quietness, in that deep stillness, there is a new flowering, a new state of being.

Questioner: How can we be revolutionary when we are not?

Krishnamurti: You know, the young mind, the innocent mind is always revolutionary - revolutionary in the sense of never accepting, always inquiring, exploring, seeking, wanting to know. Such a mind has no frontiers, no boundaries. But through so-called education and respectability, through adjustment to society, through its own ambitions, vanities, and all the rest of it, the young mind becomes an old mind, a sterile mind which functions only within the field of habits, customs and commitments.

Now, most people think that being revolutionary is a matter of committing oneself to a so-called revolutionary organization or activity. They become Socialists, or Communists, or Trotskyites, or Stalinites; they belong to this or that movement of the ultra-left, to various forms of tyranny, and they call that being revolutionary. But when one observes, one sees that that is no revolution at all. It is merely a new commitment, the substitution of one pattern for another. If I cease to be a Hindu and become a Christian, and I say there has been a tremendous revolution in my life, it is sheer nonsense. I have merely left one cage and entered another. A revolutionary mind has no cage, no pattern. It is a mind that is truly religious because it has no authority, and therefore it is a really good mind - not opposed to the bad mind, as that gentleman suggested. You see, revolution means a real change, a mutation or transmutation of the centre.

February 7, 1960


Banaras 1960

Banaras 4th Public Talk 7th February 1960

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