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Varanasi 1962

Varanasi 3rd Public Talk 5th January 1962

I would like to talk about something this evening which I think would be worthwhile. I would like to talk about conflict and if it is at all possible to live in this world without conflict. But before I go into that, I would suggest that you look at it, that you listen to what is being said quite objectively, quite dispassionately - not whether it is not possible or it is possible, but merely look at it as one would look at the mechanical process of an engine; not be on the defensive, not deny, nor agree, but merely look as you would look at a marvellous machine which you have never seen before. To look at it you must be fairly attentive, you must give your attention, you must be interested in the machine; and then you can undo it and see if it is workable at all, whether it has any value for each one of us in life or not.

I would like to talk about conflict and the possibility of actually living, in life, without conflict. Most of our lives, from the moment we are born to the moment we die, is a series of conflicts, endless battles within and without. Our minds and our hearts are battlefields, and we are always trying to better ourselves, to achieve a result, to find the right activity, to effect various social reforms, ardently wishing, in ourselves, to bring about a change. This constant, violent, unobtrusive, deep down battle is going on within each one of us. We are either conscious or unconscious of it. If we are conscious of every conflict, in the sense we are directly in relationship with it, we try either to escape from it, or to suppress it, or to find a way of conquering it. All this implies, surely, a constant battle - a weary, unending process. And if we are unconscious of this conflict that is going on within ourselves and outwardly, we either become totally dead, insensitive, or various forms of psychosomatic diseases take place; and in our relationships, in our activities, in everything we do, this unconscious battle has its effect. That is our life - acquiring, losing, trying to be something and never succeeding, always hoping for deep final fulfilment, and always frustrated; and with it comes the sorrow and the aching jealousy of others who are fulfilling, and knowing that there is also frustration. And so we are always caught in this misery of an everlasting battle with ourselves and with society. That is a fact.

We can either deny it, or be blind to it, or reject it, or say, `What can be done about it?' We can find out various causes of conflict, of the battle. Will the discovery of the cause free the mind from the battle, from the conflict? That is, if I discover why I am jealous, will I be free of jealousy? When I discover why I am in conflict and find the right explanation, will conflict come to an end? The mere discovery of the cause does not, if you observe very carefully, end the conflict of anything. Explanations have no value for a man who is very hungry. Words do not fill his stomach. But apparently, for most of us, explanations do strangely satisfy - the explanation of why we struggle, why it is inevitable to struggle, why we are brought up on it. We can also see the reasons - self aggrandizement, self-pity, ambition and various hidden causes which are fairly obvious when one examines them - , we know them. And yet our life is a battle, and we have accepted it as a way of life.

Now I would like to question that way. I mean by questioning not as a reaction against it; the questioning is not born out of the reaction against conflict. I see there is a consciousness of conflict, I see most human beings are caught in it, and I want to find out why it is like that - nor merely be satisfied with explanations or merely find the cause of the struggle - and to question deeply whether it is possible to live without conflict. That would be the real enquiry, because you can see that a mind that is in conflict all the time, endlessly, soon wears itself out, it becomes dull.

We think that conflict sharpens the mind; it does make the mind more cunning, it makes it more underhanded. But the mind in conflict is continually wearing itself out like any instrument that is being constantly used and is creating friction - that machine, that instrument is bound to wear out very soon.

So is there a way of living without conflict, actually - not theoretically, not verbally, not as prescribed in some sacred book, but actually? Is there a way? Probably most of us have never put that question to ourselves, because we have accepted conflict as inevitable, like death. When we do put that question to ourselves, we must find out at what level we put that question. Is it merely an intellectual questioning out of curiosity, or is it a questioning which opens the door to a new perception, to a new perfume? I do believe that, in so questioning that it is not a reaction, we will find, in the very act of questioning, a life without conflict coming into being. Which is, there is no way to lead a life without conflict, there is no method, there is no system, no practice. If you do have a method, a system, a way, then questioning has stopped, you have accepted a system leading to that; and in the very practising of that system, you are in conflict; and therefore, you are continually in conflict hoping out of conflict to arrive at that state where there is no conflict - which is an utter impossibility. I do not know if I am making myself clear on that issue. We will discuss this after I have finished what I have to say this evening.

For me, the very act of seeing the total emptiness of conflict, the total falsity of conflict, the very perception is the ending of conflict. But to see the complete intricacy, the complete factual reality of conflict, the whole anatomy of conflict, you must have a very sharp mind - it is not like being a B.Sc - , you must have a very acute mind, a heightened sensitivity; otherwise you cannot see anything - let alone a most complex issue. You cannot see anything if you are not very alert; you cannot see the river, the fishermen, the lights on the river, and the beauty of that green bank and the trees beyond, if you are not intensely alive; you just look at it and pass by.

So, to see something totally, there must be an intensity. That intensity is not mere concentration, but an intensity which comes when there is energy; and that energy can only come when there is no conflict. So, the act of seeing something totally, the act of seeing a fact totally, liberates energy; and that energy is the way of living without conflict.

I see very clearly that conflict in any form inwardly and outwardly, at any level, conscious or unconscious, is destructive; it makes the mind dull, stupid, heavy. A mind in conflict is in an uncreative state. I see the whole of it, not verbally but actually, as I see a snake, as I see you sitting there. I see that conflict in every form is the most deteriorating factor in life - the conflict involved in trying to become something, in trying to reach God, in trying to become a super-executive and so on. I see the whole pattern of it. The fact is far more important than my explanation of the fact, than to discover the cause of the fact. The fact is far more important than to escape from the fact - to go to gods and temples, to take tranquilizers, or to do various forms of futile meditation to dull the mind. So the fact and the seeing of the fact demand a total attention in which there is no escape. You cannot escape when you are attending to something.

Conflict breeds antagonism. I can give you the explanation because most of us want explanations, we are playing with explanations; explanations have no validity. Conflict makes the mind dull, cunning; conflict wears down the mind: conflict introduces various forms of psychosomatic diseases. Psychosomatic diseases are diseases produced by the inward state of conflict, of misery, of suffering, of pain inwardly, which brings about physiological disorders, bodily ills and so on. I see conflict outwardly between people, between nations. I see conflict in all relationships in the family, between friends, between the big man and the small man, between the rich man and the poor man. I also see what conflict does actually, not theoretically but factually. So, I am aware totally of conflict, inwardly and outwardly, consciously and unconsciously, expressed in all relationships; I see the effect of conflict on the mind, on so-called affection; when I am alert, aware, observing, I see the whole map of it, the whole anatomy of it - I do not take time over it, I do not read all the books but see what is actually taking place.

To see totally you need energy, obviously. Now observing the fact releases the energy, and that very act of seeing is the way of living without conflict. It is not a miracle or trick. From that I see every form of conflict is death. So, seeing totally every thought and every feeling that produces conflict is the very ending of that thought and the very ending of that feeling, without conflict, without suppression, without control, without discipline. So, I say definitely there is a way of living in this world without conflict. It is not reserved for those people who have inherited money, who live a luxurious life - it is all too silly; that is not the way of life in which there is no conflict. I am talking of a way of life, of which one is aware and sees the whole implication of conflict, not theoretically or verbally, but actually, factually. The wars that are going on in the world, the divisions of people into classes and castes, into religions, into nations, all the absurd divisions man has built around himself - the very act of seeing all that opens the door to a life without conflict.

But what is important is not how to find a way of life without conflict but seeing totally the complete implication of conflict. The seeing is not intellectual, emotional, sentimental, or verbal. Seeing it totally - that is the real issue. To see totally that I am stupid, dull, without finding explanations, justification and all the rest of it - as when I say I am afraid and I try to become clever - , in that very perception, there is the breath of the new.

Question: Observation is very taxing it takes away energy.

Krishnamurti: The gentleman says that with all of us observation is taxing, is trying, and that it takes away energy. Why is it taxing? Why do we find looking at a fact tiresome, wasting energy, demanding a great deal of energy? Let us discuss it. Do not accept a thing that I am talking about; I have no authority. It is a marvellous thing if you go into it. Why do we find it difficult, taxing and wearying. First of all, I think, we resist something new. Somebody comes and says there is a different way of living; and you do not listen, you do not try to find out, you immediately resist. Your resistance takes away your energy. Then you are afraid of the consequences of seeing, which may alter the course of your life - it may or may not; but you think it will. There is fear; there is also the uncertainty of what might happen: you have established your life in a certain way, in a certain direction, in a certain groove; and if you look at the fact very observantly, you might have to alter the whole process. Therefore you resist. Resistance, fear and the disinclination to see something new obviously take away your energy, and therefore prevent you from looking at the fact. Take a very simple thing. We are violent - each one of us is violent in some way or other, to some degree or other. We know what it means. Do not ask me to analyse the meaning of the word. Now we never face the fact that we are violent; but we say, `I am violent. What shall I do about it? How shall I get rid of it? Will an ideal help? Will pursuing a guru, will reading a book, help?' - everything to take us away from the fact that we are violent. Do listen to this. You have to be completely aware that you are violent - which means you are no longer condemning it, you are no longer justifying it, you are no longer trying to introduce a new factor which is the ideal which becomes the contradiction of the fact. You have to be alive to that fact only and nothing else. That is rather a difficult and arduous thing to do - to look at something nakedly without any word. Do try it sometime.

Question: When I try to look at a problem, I am distracted. What am I to do?

Krishnamurti: If I understand the gentleman rightly, he says: he has a problem and when he tries to look at the problem, other things, other ideas, other beliefs, impinge on the mind and so distract it; what is he to do?

What do we mean by a problem? We mean, don't we?, something which is not resolved. Please follow. The very word problem - the word in itself, not the fact - has the connotation of conflict. When I say I have a problem, I have ceased to look at the fact, but I have introduced the word which is making it into a problem. The word is not the thing. So, in trying to understand a problem, I have already started condemning it. So, I am a slave to the word and not to the fact. But when I am aware of the fact, nothing will distract me. That is why one has to understand what deep significance words have in our lives - like the word `problem', like the word `God', like the word `Communist', like the word `Gita'. What amazing importance these words have for us! How symbols have become important - symbols, not the facts!

Now, there is a problem - that thing which we call a problem. Now, how do I regard that fact? I say, `must find an answer, I must resolve it; it is annoying, it is disturbing, I do not like it'. So, my concern is to resolve it, and I approach the fact with the feeling, with the idea that it must be resolved. So, what am I doing? I am coming to the fact with an opinion - which is, I want that fact to be something other than what it is. But whereas when I realize the falseness of words in all that, when I see that, the fact only remains. Then the fact begins to translate itself; I do not have to do a thing about the fact; the fact itself does something. I do not know if you have tried all these things.

We said that when one is aware of the fact, there is no distraction. Let us keep to that for the moment. Is there anything as distraction? When I want to concentrate on something then everything is distraction. You see this? I want to concentrate on that picture, and somebody comes along; and I say that is a distraction. My thought wanders off, and I say that is distraction. I question whether there is anything as distraction. Distraction arises only when there is the conflict which is involved in concentration. Therefore, concentration is a resistance which necessitates the building up of a wall against every form of distraction, every form of thought which wishes to wander off. So, concentration is the problem, not distraction. Therefore, I begin to question not distraction, but concentration. By questioning we find that concentration is resistance, is narrowing down, compelling, imitating, forcing - which all create conflict. So, concentration is not the way to look at anything.

So, if concentration is not the way, then what is the way in which there is no contradiction and therefore no distraction? I do not know if you are following this. There is attention. To, attend, to be attentive is always an active present and therefore there is no distraction - to be attentive who goes in, to be attentive to what is being said, to be attentive to somebody, to what is actually taking place, to somebody scratching himself, to be attentive to all this. When you are so attentive, then awareness is a way of looking without concentration.

Question: Does not attention imply concentration? Krishnamurti: The gentleman wants to know if attention does not imply concentration, or does not attention include concentration?

You see you are asking me as though I was an expert and you are going to learn from me. I refuse to be put in that position. I say, `Learn from yourself, not from me. I am not your guru. I am not your teacher or leader'. I won't be put into that position. It is a most vulgar position which has no meaning at all. It does not alter your life.

If you say to yourself, if you are asking yourself, not me, and if you say, `I do not quite understand what you mean by attention; I have followed you, and I see that life demands concentration', why do you say that? Or do you mean that in attention there is also concentration? Do not put me in the position of the oracle and thereby become weakened in your own investigation.

Now, let me explain what I mean by attention. To be attentive means you are listening, you are seeing, you are feeling, you are thinking; words have their limitation, and therefore your thinking has gone beyond the word; and therefore, there is no thought but mere observation with an intensity which includes and does not exclude. All concentration is an exclusive process.

Now, we begin to understand what it is to be attentive. I have to do a certain piece of work: I have to write, I have to keep account and so on. Can I do that work in a state of attention, or do I have to put aside attention and merely become concentrated? I say, `Be attentive, and you will do the work rightly without effort. The moment you introduce concentration, effort comes in'. I do not know if you have ever learnt. You cannot learn if you are concentrated. Concentration is resistance. It is like the schoolteacher saying to the boy, `Look at the book, do not look out of the window'. The boy is not learning, he is mugging up, he is memorizing; and therefore he passes examinations and remains stupid for the rest of his life. But learning is a state of awareness: he can look out of the window, see the birds, see everything alive, moving, and yet read the book and learn. Therefore, you can learn only when your mind is at ease, when you are happy, when you are playing.

Question: How can a mind which is in a state of conflict be aware?

Krishnamurti: The gentleman says: how can a mind which is in a state of conflict be aware? I shall put it differently. Is not awareness involved in the framework of conflict?

That is why I talked at the beginning about conflict. To understand conflict, you need total awareness - that is, you have to be aware consciously, unconsciously; you have to be aware with your body, with your mind, with your heart; you have to be aware totally. In that state of awareness, is there any conflict? It is only when we are not totally aware, attentive, that conflict arises. I took that example of violence. When I am aware totally of violence, there is no conflict - how to get rid of it? and so on - , the mind ceases to be violent.

But the difficulty with most of us is to be so totally aware. First, we like violence; there is some fun in violence, in talking brutally about somebody, in making a brutal gesture, when you are an important leader, somebody big - which is the result of violence, obviously; and you like that position. So, deep down, you like it. Be aware that you like it, that you want it, that you pursue it, that you think it is right to go on with it; but do not pretend that you are seeking non-violence and all the rest of it. So, in awareness, when you are observing a fact totally, there is no conflict; conflict is not within its framework. Question: We are not interested in mathematics. How are we to pay attention to it?

Krishnamurti: Why are you not interested in mathematics or in geography or in the innumerable things that life has? Why? Either you are being taught wrongly, or you do not like the teacher and his methods of teaching. There are innumerable reasons why we do not like something. Instead of tackling why we do not like it, we say we must learn mathematics. This is a question that for the moment should not be brought in by students. We will discuss this when we meet another time. You see, there is such a thing as finding something that you love to do all your life - love to do, but not to do what will bring you reward. To love something that you want to do in your life - you are not educated for that. You are educated to do anything but to love what you are doing. When we love what we are doing, then everything is included in it, mathematics too.

You have heard about conflict and the way of living without conflict. How do you regard it? How have you listened to it? Are you going to go out of this room and make yourself into a battlefield? Will the very act of listening - which is really a miracle if you know how to listen - strip you of all conflict? Will that wipe away the whole of conflict? Otherwise, what is the point of attending these meetings? We are not dealing with words or intellectual theories; we are dealing with life, with the totality of life. Take, for instance, conflict. conflict is ambition - the ambition of the saint, the ambition of the politician, the ambition of the teacher who wants more. You know what ambition means - the drive, the struggle to be, to become, and the enormous implication of conflict in it. Has that dropped away? Of course not. Then, if I may ask, what is the point of listening? It only helps to add another problem to you: that you can live without conflict and yet you are in conflict; and how are you to arrive at that way of living in which there is no conflict? That is, another problem is added to the already innumerable problems. Do think it out. I hope I have not paralysed you from asking questions.

We have not, first of all, understood the whole structure of conflict. In understanding conflict and not resisting it, in seeing its depth, its width and its height and its various nuances, the very seeing gives an awareness. Sir, there is a way of looking at a flower botanically and a way of looking at a flower non-botanically. When you look at the flower botanically, you are not seeing it in the sense of seeing totally. You see it botanically, when you see the structure, the colour, the perfume, the species, the petals, the pollen; but you do not see the totality of the flower. Now, to see the totality of the flower, you have to cease to be a botanist; though you may be a botanist, you cease to be a botanist, and you look. And that is where you find it difficult. We cannot put aside the knowledge which we have acquired, and look; and therefore we maintain a conflict.

Is it possible to look without the word, without the symbol? Please try it some time - to look at a flower, to look at your son, to look at your wife, to look at the politicians, the leaders, the sannyasis, the saints and all the rest of them; look at them - not whether you like them or do not like them, not whether you think they are right or wrong, not what their political inclinations are. That is all your personal opinion which is based on your past experience which is conditioned by the culture in which you have been brought up, and therefore it has no validity. But when you want to see, that very drive to see puts all that aside. Therefore that drive itself is the way of life in which there is no conflict. Question: Instead of having a well-defined conflict, there is a sense of restlessness. What is one to do?

Krishnamurti: Why is one restless? I have seen these gentlemen in front of me waggling their knees, twitching their fingers, doing something all the time - that is a part of restlessness. They are not aware of it. Why do they do this? Why do they not sit quietly? Why? First of all, it may be they are sitting uncomfortably, or it has become a habit and therefore they are unconscious of it, or it may be an indication that they have had a quarrel with their wives or husbands whatever it is.

So, restlessness is an indication, is it not? of some deep-rooted cause which has not been discovered. You can deal with a definite conflict. Why do we not deal with restlessness? It may be that you are really lonely, deep down you are miserable, deep down you have not found the way of life, deep down you are frustrated, you do not love - there may be several reasons for restlessness which is the outward expression of this deep inward inquietude. The problem is also how to investigate, how to unravel, how to open up the thing that is making you restless.

Question: What is the purpose of life?

Krishnamurti: That is the favourite jargon of every so-called seeker - what is the purpose of life? A person who puts that question is not living. He wants a purpose to live by. Therefore, for him living is not sufficient; it does not have its own beauty, its own depth; and he wants to impose on it a purpose invented or given to him - a purpose, an end. Does a happy man want a purpose? He is happy. A man who is intensely alive, living - does he want a purpose?

So, when we say I have not found a purpose, that may be a cause of restlessness. But you question not the validity of seeking a purpose, but how to get rid of restlessness. Why is one restless? It may be that you have no purpose, it may be that you are lonely. Do not deny it, go into it. I mean by `lonely' a sense of self-isolation, having no relationship deep down. Though you may have innumerable relationships - husband, wife, children and all the rest - , deep down you have no contact - which is generally a sense of the self-isolating process of loneliness. Or it may be that you have not found your own way of living. It may be that one is married to a wrong person. It may be several things. I have not mentioned all - it may take too long to enumerate. Instead of trying to find out how to stop restlessness, how to get rid of restlessness, I say, `Do not bother about restlessness, but find out, go into yourself deeply'.

You know, gossip is one of the favourite forms of restlessness - to talk about somebody else. Why do we do it? You know it does not need an explanation. To stop gossip, one has to go deeply within oneself - which most of us are not willing to do.

So, have you answered the question to yourself? You have listened for an hour and ten minutes. We have discussed sufficiently and fairly deeply about conflict. Has it meant anything to you? Can you completely drop conflict? Or are you beginning to see that it can be dropped, and will you pursue that all the days of your lives? Or will you just treat this as one of the things that you have heard, and let it go by? Please answer it to yourself.

To be really serious means to pursue a thing to the very end of it. Pursuing to the very end the whole implication of conflict, looking at it in different ways, day after day, never allowing it to go by, watching it, neither denying it, nor accepting it, but watching it flower, then, you begin to be a light to yourself. You do not have to read a single book, you do not need a single guru. And this brings its own illumination. But you have to set it going, you have to start; like getting hold of the tail of a comet, you have to get hold of it first and go with it.

January 5, 1962


Varanasi 1962

Varanasi 3rd Public Talk 5th January 1962

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