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Madras 1961

Madras 5th Public Talk 6th December 1961

The other day when we met here, we were talking about integrity, the capacity to live totally, wholly. And it seems to me that it is very important to understand that factor, because most of us worship the intellect. For us knowledge has become extraordinarily important; and theorizing factor, the building up of words, has assumed immense importance, and not the way or the know-how to act totally, as a whole being - not as a divided, contradictory entity. And it seems to me, when we worship the intellect as we do, we are inviting not only deterioration but also an immense gap between the intellect - which is the capacity to think, to reason - and life which is total, complete, which is whole. The capacity to live wholly, totally is the ending of deterioration. I mean by `deterioration' not only the physical but also the emotional, the intellectual sensitivity of the human being which gradually withers away. The deteriorating factor is much stronger than the capacity to live totally.

I would like this evening, if I may, to discuss, or talk about this factor of deterioration; not only of the brain - the capacity to think, the capacity to feel - but also of the capacity to live as a whole human being, without contradiction, without tension, without fear. To understand the whole problem of fear which, it seems to me, is really the major factor of withering away, we have to understand the whole process of thinking; and without going into the process of thinking rather deeply, merely to discuss fear seems to be a waste of time. But before we go into the whole process of thinking, should we not also enquire why human beings have given such extraordinary importance to thought, to the intellect, to knowledge?

Now, there are two ways of questioning - the questioning that comes out of a reaction, and the questioning which is not out of a reaction at all. I could question something because I am uncomfortable, I am anxious, fearful; and out of that fear, out of that anxiety, out of that guilt, I question existence, realities, society. I question because my questioning has come from a reaction; and such questioning finds an answer, but it will be limited, incomplete - for all reactions are incomplete. This is what most of us do: we question out of a background, out of a reaction.

Now, there is a different questioning which, it seems to me, is more significant of greater depth, which is: to question not out of a reaction, but understanding the reaction and putting aside the reaction, and then enquiring. I could question the value of the present society however right it may be, I could question its morality, the whole set-up. That questioning arises because I do not find a place in it or I see no value in it or I have certain ideals which I want to pursue and therefore I react to the present society; and such reaction will find an answer according to my conditioned thinking. That is fairly clear, simple, I think. But the other questioning is much more difficult, much greater, much more significant: that is to be aware of the environment, of the social structure, its morality, its religious, political, economic values; being aware of all this and not reacting to it, and therefore not choosing a particular course of action but questioning without reaction.

If we can do that, it is quite an arduous task, because we live on reactions, and those reactions we call positive actions - " I don't like this", so I do something; this doing is a positive action, and it creates other problems. But if I can look at the fact and question the fact without reaction, then the fact gives me energy which will help me to go further into the fact. What we are talking about is not an intellectual feat, to me the intellect is only a very small part of the total existence, the total life. So, living only with the intellect is like cultivating a corner of a vast field and living on the products of that corner. Whereas to live totally is to cultivate and live on the whole of the field - to have the intellect with all its reason, to have the emotional sensitivity, to be able to be externally sensitive to everything, to thought, to beauty, to what one says, to all the doubts and innocuous feelings, to all the height and the narrowness of thought and to the limitations of all thought. To live totally is to be totally aware and, out of that awareness, not to react but to question. That questioning then becomes entirely different, because the answer is not according to what we want, not according to our reaction, but according to the fact of 'which is' - which is to allow the fact to flower. So, we are not discussing fear or any of the other things that we talk about, intellectually, verbally. The word is never the thing. To question the fact, the thing, one has to realize how strongly, how deeply - consciously and unconsciously - one is enclosed in words. Words have become the thing. When we are talking about fear, and when we are going very deeply, if we do not understand the whole mechanism of the word, the symbol, the word becomes important; we take the words for the experience. To live in experience is extremely arduous; therefore, the words satisfy and it is easier to confine our activity, our being, our feeling, our thinking in terms of words. If you have watched yourself, you must have found out that thinking is merely verbal. A great deal of our thinking is verbalization, playing with words; every thought expressed or felt out is in terms of words, in symbols.

If you remove the word, is there thinking? I do not know if you have thought it out, gone into that question. What happens to the brain which is not thinking in terms of words? If the brain becomes aware that it is a slave to words, and realizes its limitations and puts away the significance of the symbols, then what happens to thinking when thought will not create a problem, because then you are living with the fact, from moment to moment, but not with the idea about the fact. So if we could really grapple with the word and see its limitations and therefore put it aside, it will have no significance except merely as a means of communication. The usage of words creates a lot of misunderstanding. I may use a certain word like `love', and you will translate it in so many different ways - what should be, what should not be, what is sacred, what is divine and all the rest of it; which are all divisions. To me, it is not at all a division; it is being, it is a quality of existence, of life. To you the word means one thing, and to me the word means an entirely different thing. So communication becomes almost impossible because you are always interpreting words according to what you know, what you have been told or what you have experienced. So one has not only to use the word to communicate but also to see how extraordinarily difficult the word becomes in usage, how it leads to misunderstanding - which means, one has to be extraordinarily aware to see the danger of the word and of getting used to the word.

Now let me define it a little bit, if I may, and go into this question of awareness, because all this is in relation to what we are going to talk about, which is fear. Without understanding all this, we will not understand fear. I am not talking away from the thing that we want to discuss or talk about this evening, but the talk is directly related to it. So please do follow it.

To be aware of something is quite an extraordinarily complex process. I am aware of you and you are aware of me - you see me and I see you. You see me in certain terms, in certain words, with a certain knowledge; you do not know me, you know my reputation, you know what I think. I do not know you at all, actually. But if I want to know you, I cannot have any preconceived idea about you - which means no judgment, no evaluation but merely the fact that you are there and I am looking at you. This is extraordinarily difficult because I may or may not have an opinion. To look at something without an opinion, without choice is, really, awareness.

This is not complicated, nor something mysterious. Being so aware, you begin to understand the immensity, the extraordinary vision of the things of life, of every thought, every feeling. Now, to be aware of these trees - most of us never look at the trees, never know what they look like, we are not acquainted even botanically with them - is to be sensitive enough to see the beauty of the tree, or the beauty of the sunset. Please follow all this. This is not something extraneous, but is relevant to what we are going to say.

So awareness, to us, has merely become a habit - going to office, getting into the bus, talking to the wife, quarrelling and so on. We fall into a habit and the mechanism of habit is never to be disturbed. We never want to feel something other than what we are used to, because to feel something deeply, vitally, is very disturbing. So, in order to avoid this disturbance, pain, suffering, we gradually build a wall of resistance and within that wall we live, and so gradually grow dull, bored, insufficient. Now we have to be aware of this factor, that we are dull because we have got innumerable traditions, ideas, opinions, judgments, and it is all this that makes us petty, dull, stupid. We have to be aware of that and not say "I will keep this and I will not keep that". We have to be aware without any choice, totally, of influence, of habit, of tradition, of the conditioning of the mind as a Hindu, a Christian etc. To be totally aware of all this is to be totally sensitive. So, awareness is not merely of the external facts - the filthy road, the stupid society, the rotten, corrupt religion which has no meaning at all, the repetition of the Gita, the authority of the books. You have to be aware of all these facts and also be aware that you never look at a tree, you never have any communion with nature which has extraordinary beauty. To be aware of all things outwardly and then of your reaction to those outer things - which is the inward movement of the outer and which is not something separate - , to be aware of the facts outside and the inward reactions to them and the experiences of those reactions, is to be aware totally.

And to be totally aware requires a very alert mind, a brain that is very sensitive not made stupid by fifty years of office. Being a specialist in a particular profession for fifty years does something to your brain; do what you will, it destroys your capacity. The moment you stop working, you wither away, you die. If you are alive all the time, sensitive, observing, alert, aware of the dirty road, of the office boss and his ugly ways and his domination, of the whole of this civilization, every minute, then going to the office is not a destructive thing.

For most of us, the word has become extraordinarily significant. Take the word `God'. It is really quite extraordinary what immense impact that word has on you! If the same word is used in Russia, in the communist world, they laugh at it. Now, to find out if there is or if there is not such a thing as God, the word must go with all the experience that word has given to human beings. All the images, the symbols, the ideas of all the teachers - all must go, to find out if there is or if there is not God. That requires immense energy, vitality, drive; and you can only have that drive, that energy, if you deny the false which is the word. The word `God' has no meaning at all, because you have been conditioned by that word

So one begins to realize to what depth, not only consciously but unconsciously, deep down in the very remote corners of our being, the word has become extraordinarily significant. We are slaves to words - such as the wife, the husband, the son, the family, the nation. Now, we have to be aware of these words without choosing, without saying, "I will keep this word, but I will not keep that word because it does not satisfy me". When you are aware of what the word implies, of all the implications of that word, then that word loses its significance; then you are no longer a slave to that word. You must come to that state, to find out; and as most people live on words, you are thrown out; and that is what you do not like, to stand constantly alone. So you are relying on words and so again you play with society. You have to see the whole implication of the word; then, being aware of it. You are out of it altogether, you are dealing with facts and not with words. Knowledge has become very important to us, and the electronic brains are taking over our knowledge. You can give them orders verbally now. They have all the knowledge that human beings have or are going to have. So the machines are taking over and, presently, knowledge will have no meaning. So, being aware of the word, without being entrapped in the word, you have to tear down all that you have learnt, all that you have heard all tradition; tear down everything, destroy everything in order to find out - that is, to question without reaction. Then you may find out if there is or if there is not. And what you find out cannot be experienced by another.

So we see that we are slaves to words, that we are not sensitive but merely repetitive, imitative, because in imitation and repetition there is security, psychological as well as physiological. It gives a great deal of security to live in a prison of words, to belong to a nation, to a group, to your family. Behind the word `group', behind the word `nation', there is a great feeling of security, a sense of living safely. So, after saying all this, let us talk about `what is fear?'

Each one of us is afraid. We have different kinds of fear or we have multiple fears, many many fears - fear of death, fear of public opinion, fear of society, fear of loosing the job, fear of not being loved, fear of not fulfilling and a dozen other things. You know what you are afraid of - of your wife, of your husband, afraid of your neighbour, afraid of not arriving just in time before the door closes, and all the other kinds of fear.

Take your fear and go through it. I will verbally go into it, but you must go through it; otherwise, it has no meaning. You take your particular form of fear and then, by listening to the speaker, you will discover how to face that fear and totally dissolve fear - not one particular form of fear but all fear. I say it is possible.

Don't accept my word because I am not an authority or a guru. But you can find out for yourself that there is a state of the mind or the brain, whatever you like to call it, where there is complete freedom from fear and therefore no illusion. But to understand fear, you must understand thought because thought creates fear. Thought is time. Without thought, there is no fear. Without time, there is no fear. Because we have time and because we have thought, there is fear. If we are faced with something factual, there is no fear. If you are going to die the next instant, then you accept it, there is no fear. But if I say that you are going to die the day after tomorrow, then you have forty-eight hours to worry about it, to get sick about it. So time is fear; thought is fear. And the ending of thought, the ending of time is the ending of fear. I don't know if you are following all this.

So, unless one understands the machinery of thought, fear will go on. Do whatever you like, go to any temple, seek any escape, go to woman, cinema, read the Gita backwards and forwards - you cannot possibly end fear. To end fear, you have to understand the machinery of thinking and also the question of time.

What is thinking? Surely thinking is a response to a challenge, isn't it? And there is a challenge all the time, pushing in upon you. There is not a moment when a challenge is not there; and so there is always this reaction, which we call thinking, to that challenge. I say to you, "What is thinking?" The moment you are asked, you try to find out an answer. The trying to find an answer, the period, the time-lag between the question and the answer is the machinery of thought, which is the momentum or movement of that reaction. So thinking is entirely mechanical; and it can be very reasonable or unreasonable, unbalanced, irrational, stupid, or very very clever, instructive and so on. So, as you observe your own thinking, you will see that all thought is the response of memory. Please, Sirs, do pay attention to this. This has to be understood very deeply. All experience is the accumulation of knowledge and therefore memory. Therefore thinking becomes merely the reaction; it is limited, conditioned and therefore mechanical. Every thought shapes the mind, every thought conditions the mind, the outlook, the response, the reaction; and so one has to understand thought - not the thought of somebody else but the thought with which you are familiar, which is operating in you when you are going to the office, when you talk to your wife, when you are listening here, when a question is asked, when you see something ugly or beautiful. Everything, every response is the product of memory which is recognition, which is based on experience. Unless you understand this mechanism, there is no ending of thought and therefore no ending of fear. You can say "I will defy fear, I will escape from fear" and do all kinds of tricks in order to avoid fear - which most of us do - , but it is always there. But if you want to go into it very deeply and eradicate fear totally - I say it is possible - , you have to understand this mechanism which is called thinking and see if it can come to an end.

You know there is fear out of self-protection in a sense: for instance, you see a snake and the body reacts immediately. That is the normal sensitive reaction. I am not talking of such fear. That is a natural self-protective response. But to find out where the self-protective response is psychological and not physical, and to be aware that the psychological fears control our action, our ideas, our activity, our thought requires very sharp, clear , objective thinking; nothing can be taken for granted. One sees very clearly, not only consciously, but deep down in the unconscious, that there are various forms of fear with which you are totally unfamiliar - racial fears, fears of tradition, fear that you may not go to heaven about which you have been told from your childhood. If you are a Catholic or a Protestant, there is hell awaiting you, it is there; you may deny it, you may say, "I have gone out of the Church", but deep down there is fear, and you have to bring it out into your consciousness. And you can only do it by enquiring into the whole process of thinking and therefore being aware of every thought, every minute of the day and therefore never dreaming at night. As you are conscious, aware, alert all the day, every minute of the day, watching, looking, examining, questioning, the unconscious gives out all its hints to the conscious and therefore there is no need to dream; when you sleep, it is quite a different sleep. We will not go into it for the moment. Please do not say, "I will wait for that".

So, it is very important to understand thought. Thought creates fear - fear of what people may say, fear of death, fear of disease. You fall ill, feel the pain, you think of the past and you do not want pain any more. So fear has come into being through thought of the thing known. You know you have to die you are bound to die; and so you think about it and there is the awakening of fear about death. That creates time, psychological time - not the time by the watch, but the psychological time of yesterday, today and tomorrow.

So, to be aware of all this - that thought creates fear - and the understanding of thought most profoundly lead to the ending of thought and therefore there is looking at life only with facts and not through the screen of words, ideas, tradition. This means really that the mind has no problem. After all, the problem exists only because we have not understood the fact - whatever be the fact, human fact or scientific fact. Fear becomes a problem - I am afraid of losing my job, I am afraid of public opinion and a dozen other things Fear ceases when you face the fact. And you can only face the fact if you have no opinion about it, if you do not deny, if you do not translate according to your background. An intelligent person must do all this, because fear destroys, fear corrupts, fear creates illusion; all the gods that have been created are out of fear. When you have actually done all this, the mind is no longer frightened and therefore no longer guilty and therefore there is no longing, no hope, no despair; and therefore the mind is living with the fact only and there is no problem. This can be done, but it requires extraordinary alertness to be aware of every movement of thought and feeling.

This must be the foundation for meditation. This is the basis for meditation, for further enquiry. But the mind, which is frightened, which has not gone into it very deeply, cannot do this. You have to tear down every wall, every security, every idea, every word; then only you won't be creating illusions - most of your gods are illusions, they are not realities. So this is the foundation. A mind, a brain that has understood the verbal dangers, that has been made sensitive through awareness, a brain that has no problem - that mind, that brain becomes extraordinarily quiet, though very sensitive; and it is only then that a different mutation can take place, the mutation of a new mind that is young fresh, innocent. It is only such a mind that can travel very far. It is only such a mind that can find out if there is or if there is not the immeasurable. But a mind that is narrow, petty, thinking about gods, fearful, has no meaning at all. That is why we need to have a tremendous, deep revolution, a psychological revolution, a mutation that comes about when you face the fact - not the change that comes about through thought. And so there is the ending of thought and therefore there is the ending of time, and thereby there is a timeless state.

December 6, 1961


Madras 1961

Madras 5th Public Talk 6th December 1961

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