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New Delhi 1963

New Delhi 4th Public Talk 3rd November 1963

I would like, this evening, to talk about thought, time and sorrow. But before I go into that, I would like to point out how important it is to listen, because most of us hardly ever listen to anything. To listen properly without projecting your own particular prejudices, idiosyncrasies and all that you have learnt, is very difficult - to listen with intense curiosity as though you are for the first time learning, for the first time enquiring, and as though the whole field is open to you; and to go step by step into it without any conclusion, without any memory, enquiring, moving, running, seeing, finding out. Such an act of listening needs attention - not the attention of concentration, not the attention that you give when you are seeking profit or when you want something - and you listen without wanting, without seeking, but merely enquiring. And to enquire really deeply, you need freedom, and the act of listening is freedom. Once one understands this extraordinary act of listening or seeing immediately, comprehending something instantly, then you will see that action is totally different from the action that is derived with an idea or from an idea.

For most of us action is divided. There is a gap between idea and action. We have the formula, the pattern, the concept, the prototype; and according to that we act or approximate our action to that idea. That is our conditioning, that is the way we live - that is, the whole series of our actions is based on that. First we conceive, formulate, create a prototype, the ideal, the thing that should be; and then according to that we live, we act. And thereby our problem is: how to bridge the gap between the action and the idea, how to bring the two together? And in that, there is conflict; in that, there is duration of time, because we need time to complete the action according to the idea.

So, what I want to say this evening is that the mind that gives root to a problem ceases to act, because action is always in the living present, in the active present. When the problem becomes something to be solved eventually, then the idea becomes important, not the action.

Please, this is very important to understand because of what I am going to say presently. I have not prepared the talk. I am thinking aloud, and you have also to think within yourself aloud, think of your own processes, be aware of them so that we can go together.

For me there is no action if it is preceded by an idea. If action is conditioned by an idea, by a formula, by a concept, action then is not important; but the idea is important, and therefore, there is a conflict between action and idea. Is it possible to act immediately without idea - which is after all what we call love? Is it possible to see the truth of something immediately, instantly, and act instantly on that which is seen - not consider the consequences, the effect, the causes, but act instantaneously on that which has been seen as true? Do think about this.

Therefore, what is important is to see immediately the truth of something or the falseness of something. And you cannot see the truth or the falseness of something if you have an idea about it. Love is not an idea, love is instant action. When you bring an idea, when you have ideas about love - what it should be, what it should not be - then it ceases to be love; it is merely a process of thought. So, this must be very clear before we proceed into what I am going to say: that it is possible to act without idea; which does not mean that action will be irrational, or that action will be postponed, or that action will be conditioned. That is, as long as ideas have supreme importance - for most of us they have - , then action becomes irrelevant. Then we find that how to put those ideas into action becomes extraordinarily difficult.

So, the question is: how to see the truth immediately? By `truth' I mean the truth of everyday living, everyday talk; the truth or the falseness of what you think, what you feel; to discover the truth of your motives, your daily activities revealing your feeling instantly - the truth that is behind them. I am talking of that truth, not of the ultimate, because you cannot go to that extraordinary cause, the really immeasurable, without understanding the everyday truth of life - which is everyday activity, everyday thought. So, you have to perceive the truth instantly, and not have ideas about what is truth; and seeing the truth instantly is to act immediately. If you see a snake you act immediately, there is not the idea first and then action; there is a danger, and your whole response to that danger is immediate; there is no interval of time which is idea. The response is instantaneous and that instantaneous response is real action.

As I said, I am going to talk this evening about thought, time and the ending of sorrow. Before we can go into the question of the ending of sorrow - which is what most of us want - we must understand sorrow. We are all steeped in sorrow of some kind or other - not only the personal sorrow, but also the sorrow of man, the wars that bring sorrow, the immense stupidity of man who postpones and does not face facts, the sorrow of frustration, the sorrow of ambition, the conflict between good and evil, the desire to fulfil, with which comes the extraordinary shadow of sorrow. There is sorrow of every kind - the little sorrow and the immense concealed sorrow of centuries. We want to end it. At least those of us who are serious, want to find out whether it is possible to end sorrow instantly - not the method, because that involves time. Now, to answer that question really, deeply and fundamentally, you have to enquire into what is thought, because if there was no time for thought, there would be no sorrow. If you didn't think about something, if you didn't think about the death of someone whom you love and therefore didn't give thought the quality of time - the continuation of thought - , there would be no sorrow. I do not know if you have thought about this. For most of us, to think is to be in sorrow. Is it possible to end sorrow, to end thought? I am going to go into that.

So, first we have to enquire into what is thinking. Please, if I may suggest, watch yourselves how you respond to this question: what is thinking? Probably, most of us have not asked that question at all. If you do ask that question, what is your response? Please do ask that question and find out what your response is, not tomorrow but actually as you are listening; please find out for yourself what is thinking. I ask you the question: what is thinking? Now, what is going on in your mind? Your memory is responding, trying to find an answer according to what you have learnt or what you have experienced, what books you have read, what somebody has said about it. So your mind, in accepting that challenge, that question, is searching. And during the interval between the question and the answer is time, and in that time what you consider is thought is merely looking for a response through the memory of what you have learnt, what you have seen, what you have heard.

So, thought is the response of memory and nothing else. If you had no memory, you could not think. So, the response is of memory which is experience, which is knowledge, which is the accumulated, inherited, endless experience of man. According to the condition of your memory - whether you are a Christian, whether you are a Sikh, a Buddhist, this, or that - you respond; and that response, you think, is extraordinarily important. You do not see how you are conditioned, how your brain has been washed according to a certain pattern - Catholic, Communist, Hindu and so on, whether it is modern or ancient, whether it is the everyday conditioning, or whether it is the extraordinary conditioning of centuries - and how according to that you reply. The search for the answer, in order to find the answer to a question which you have been asked, is what you call thinking. This is really looking into memory; and then, having found an answer, you reply. That is the first stage.

If the question is very familiar, you answer immediately; there is no time needed to think, or rather to look into memory. I ask your name, and your immediate response comes because you are very familiar with it. If you are asked a much more complicated question, the time interval is much greater. During that time interval you look, you listen, you wait, you ask. You may take a second or ten days or a year, but that is the process that goes on. Then the third stage is when you ask a question which has no answer - a real, fundamental, ultimate question. Then your mind says, "I do not know". There, your mind, your thought is no longer seeking an answer from somebody, because nobody has answered that question, nobody can answer that question - no saint, no teacher, no guru, no saviour, nobody can answer that question. And you say, "I do not know". It is very important to understand the state of the mind that says, "I do not know" - which is not a denial. It does not know. If I ask you, "What is God?", "What is truth?", and if you are really, deeply honest, you would say, "I do not know". If you are dishonest, you will begin to describe.

So, it is very important to understand the mind that says, "I do not know". Such a mind is not waiting for an answer, it is not expecting, it is not seeking, because it does not know where to seek. It has no memory. It does not look into all the records to find out the answer, because there is no record. You can repeat what somebody else has said, but that is not answering the ultimate question which demands an answer.

So, this is what happens to most of us - the first two, not the third. The familiar question is answered immediately, but the more complex question takes time, the time interval being much longer or shorter. During that time you are looking, watching, hoping, waiting, expecting. With those two we are very familiar, but with the third we are not. And we cannot be familiar with the third because we have never enquired within ourselves to find out for ourselves, most seriously, what is truth, what is God, what is this whole process of monstrous living, injustice, brutality, inhumanity to man; because we just live on the surface and are easily satisfied with our pleasures and evade our pains. So for a man to find out, really and for himself, what is truth - not the truth according to some saint or to some leader of a sect - his mind must be completely unknowing, which means, free from the known.

So, we see what thought is. Thought is the response of memory which, if you observe, is functioning on the same lines as the electronic brain. An electronic brain has information fed into it, and it functions through association, banks of memories and responses which it has learnt; if you put a question to it, it answers it instantly. Our brains function on the same lines. So, that is thinking. We can go much more deeply into it, but that is enough.

We think that time is necessary for action, to resolve a problem. By a problem I mean a human problem. I am not talking of a mathematical or technological problem; but I am talking of a human problem: sorrow, anger, brutality, violence, greed, envy the appalling misery, the boredom in which we live, the repetition of something day after day - whether it is pleasurable, sexual, or going to the office - and the boredom of it. I am talking of the human, living problem. To resolve, completely to understand a human problem, the mind must not give root to that problem - which is time. Suppose you are jealous, envious, in a large way or in a petty way. You battle with jealousy, envy, day after day, or you accept it. You say that it is a part of existence, that it is a part of our daily civilized life to battle with each other for a position, for this and for that. You are used to it and you accept it. And in accepting it, in getting used to it, you have given soil to the problem because it goes on and on, day after day.

Now the question is: how to end a problem immediately so that the mind is fresh, alert, for the next problem? Because life is a problem. Life is constantly challenging you, never for a moment is it quiet. It is demanding, questioning, asking, pushing; and you must respond adequately, completely. And you cannot adequately respond, respond fully, if you have problems which are eating into your mind and your heart. So, not to give continuity to a problem, you must solve it immediately; that is, you must not think in terms of time, in terms of tomorrow, that you will eventually solve it.

So you have to ask yourself one fundamental question: is it possible to end every problem as it arises, instantly? That is, is it possible to see the truth of every problem immediately ? The very perception of what is true is action and therefore the resolution of that problem.

By `time' I mean psychological time. - not the time by the watch: today, tomorrow, this hour or the next hour. I am not talking of chronological time; I am talking of psychological time. The mind seeks an answer through time, because we are used to the idea of gradualness - "I will achieve eventually", "I will be made perfect eventually", "I will reach God, if there is God, eventually". So we give psychologically a continuity to a problem, and gradualness creeps in when we have not really perceived what is true.

Now, what gives continuity to thought? I have put that question: what gives continuity to thought? You do not know the answer. So your memory is searching. You are searching in your memory for an answer. Now, if you do not do either, you will say, "I do not know". If you are really honest, you will say, "I do not know, I have not thought about this". If you really do not know, then you will see the truth of what I am going to say, immediately.

There is continuity to thought only when you think about something constantly. If you think about something which gives you pleasure, from time to time, you have established a continuity. If you do not like something and you think about it, you have also given to it continuity. It is as simple as that. That is, if you have something that gives you great pleasure - sex or what you will - and when you think about it, when you think of your gods, your jobs, your pleasures, your pains, you have given a duration to all that. Not to think about pain is comparatively easy, but not to think about pleasure is much more difficult.

So you begin to see the nature of psychological time that the mind is caught in. It has established a duration, a continuity, by thinking about something - the something which gives pleasure or pain; a thing which it wants to avoid consciously, but which unconsciously, deep down, it is thinking about, looking at, watching. It is not only outwardly, consciously, that you give continuity to thought but also unconsciously there is a duration to thought. If I was to die tomorrow and I had time to think about it, I would be tremendously upset about it. I would be frightened; I would want to believe in this and believe in that and do all kinds of things through my fear, because my mind is worried, anxious and fearful. Therefore, it has given it a duration, and during that duration there is born fear. If there was no duration but only action immediately - that is, if I am to die instantly, now, as I am speaking - , then there is no fear; an act has taken place, a complete act in which there is no element of fear at all. That is what I mean when I talk of psychological time brought about when thought gives duration, a continuity, by thinking about it.

There is sorrow in the world. Man has been struggling with this question for centuries upon centuries, and he has never been able to find a way out. He has found many ways of escaping from it, avoiding it - taking drugs, drink, running away through various religious and social entertainments, but he has never solved it. He has never said, "This is the end of this extraordinary thing called sorrow".

And we are going to go into that now. Is it possible to end sorrow instantly ? By `sorrow' I mean not fragmentary sorrow but the total sorrow of man, the total sorrow in which the human being is caught, both the conscious as well as the unconscious sorrow. You know what sorrow is? The fact, not the word, not the symbol that awakens the picture which gives you sorrow. You understand what I am saying? Not the word, not the picture that awakens sorrow but the actual fact of sorrow. The symbol, the picture, the idea, the word, the experience, the memory - all that gives you sorrow, but that sorrow is not the living sorrow, the thing that is so tremendously vital. There is the sorrow that comes when someone whom you love dies. There is the sorrow of love not finding a response. There is the sorrow of frustration. There is this unresolved brutality and violence of war; the ugliness of man to man; the sorrow that is going on in this world, in this country, in this town; the sorrow of ambition wanting to climb the ladder of success, seeking power, oppressing others democratically or tyrannically; the sorrow of a husband who is dominated by his wife or of the wife dominated by the man; the sorrow of postponement, the ignorance; the collective sorrow of centuries, of all the sufferings that man has been through, of which one is rarely conscious, because one is so occupied with one's own little sorrows; the sorrow of man - nor the Indian or the European or the American or the Russian - but man, the man in conflict, conflict between good and evil, the conflict of violence.

There is immense sorrow. Personal sorrow, if you observe, has a good deal of self-pity in it and therefore it is no longer sorrow, because it is tinged, it is hedged about, by personal hope. In this personal sorrow there is self-pity - an ugly thing. Watch your own sorrow and you will see. If you have sorrow, you will see that most of it is self-pity - the sense of loneliness, of being left alone, having no companion, nobody to talk to, who will really understand you. There are innumerable kinds of sorrow, and the greatest sorrow of all is the sorrow of not being able to see the truth immediately.

To see the truth immediately, there should be no self-pity, no fear, no knowledge of what other people said, whoever they be. Then you are face to face with a fact and you don't bring to that fact opinions, conclusions, concepts, your own personal or collective experience. You are faced with something real: a fact is always real. So there is this sorrow. The more you think about it the more there is sorrow - not only personal sorrow but the collective sorrow of man. You cannot avoid thinking about it, because you are caught in it. My wife leaves me, if I have a wife; someone whom I like is dead; I cannot succeed; I am not so clever as you are; the brutality of modern life; the total indifference; the lack of care; the utter lack of compassion, love - to be faced with all that not theoretically but actually, awakens sorrow. To face every day, as you walk down the streets, the ugliness, the total indifference of man to man - to face that fact is an extraordinary awakening of sorrow.

Now, is it possible to end sorrow without becoming indifferent, callous, not caring, and to find that extraordinary beauty of love? To find that out you have to begin by enquiring into thought and not giving continuity to that thought. You have to watch every pleasure and not give it continuity; to watch every pain, psychological hurt, flattery, to watch it and not to give it continuity; so that you will find that though you think instantly and respond instantly, there is no continuity and therefore you are able to face the fact that you are full of self-pity, that you are lonely, and that you are faced with the fact of ambition and frustration.

So you deal with facts. My son is dead - I am not talking of death, we will talk about it at another time. I am talking about the fact: my son is dead. What takes place? Immediately I am in sorrow. There is a shock, a sudden realization that he is gone, in whom I had invested my immortality, my fulfilment, my hope, the name and so on - the shock of being left alone. When I come out of that shock, I feel tremendously in sorrow, there is grief. Then I try to find an answer to it - a temple, a priest, a book, a drink, an avoidance or acceptance, rationalizing that sorrow or trying to find a lovely beautiful theology about it; I believe in reincarnation, Karma and all the rest of it; all words, words, words. So I never face the fact. The fact is that my son is dead. Why should there be self-pity? It is a fact I loved him; I loved him because he was my son. I had invested in him. I have no companion and so on. Thought is in operation. You follow? Thought is giving continuity to the picture of the son whom I had. And thought, by giving it a duration, is continuing in sorrow.

So can I face the fact? When I face the fact, there is no thinking; there is only observing - observing the whole content of my thinking, of my feeling, of my hope; being aware of that fact and my relation to that fact, without any twist, without dodging, without escaping. You will see, if you have gone through this, that by facing the fact every day about every thing - all the time facing facts, not opinions, not ideas, not judgments - you will observe your own reactions, you will know what you are thinking, what you are feeling consciously as well as unconsciously. You become totally aware of yourself, of all your foibles, of your secret hopes, fears, longings, motives - both conscious as well as unconscious. Then you will see that sorrow which has a motive, is no longer sorrow, and that it is self-pity. When you realize the truth of that, the ending of your personal sorrow comes. In that ending there is also the ending of self-pity, loneliness, the hopes, the fears and all the other things that are involved.

But there is a greater sorrow still, the sorrow of war. How man has suffered through war! There is the brutality of the ambitious people, the pseudoreligious politician everlastingly quoting the Gita or something or other, and dominating, crushing people democratically and tyrannically. There is the sorrow of man who has invented time and therefore postponement - eventually coming to the truth - that is the greater sorrow. It is necessary to understand it, to resolve it and yet not be indifferent, to have real love for people - which is to care; and you cannot care if you are nationalistic, if you belong to any religion or have any belief.

So the ending of sorrow is the beginning of self-knowledge, and without the ending of sorrow there is no ending of thought. The ending of thought is necessary, because then real meditation begins. Thought cannot be ended by control, by suppression, by concentration, by any exclusive process. Thought must be understood, gone into, searched out, and not be given duration through pleasure or through pain. When thought ends - and thought can only end through self-knowledge - then real meditation begins. Real meditation is not the meditation that you all practise, if you do at all, because what you practise is too immature, too juvenile. We will go into that if there is time - `time'in the sense of chronological time.

What is important is to face the fact and not give time to the fact. You have to observe the fact of your anger, your brutality, your indifference, your ambition, your greed, to face that and resolve it immediately; and you can resolve it immediately only when you understand this whole problem of thinking. After all, thought is not very important. What is important is immediate action. Look at all the people in the world who are starving, who have no education, who live in misery, who are ill-fed! The pseudoreligious politicians are not concerned with feeding the poor; they are concerned with who is going to feed the poor, which party, which group - the Americans or the Russians. They are not seriously concerned with the feeding of the people. So they take sides and in the meantime the poor man dies.

We live like that; our lives are like that, because we have divided ourselves into classes, into groups, into nationalities, into various compartments. In that there is tremendous sorrow for a man who observes all these. And you have to solve that sorrow also, to end it, so that the mind becomes innocent. It is only the innocent mind that has lived a thousand experiences and yet is free - it is only that innocent mind that can see the ultimate, the extraordinary thing called the nameless.

November 3, 1963


New Delhi 1963

New Delhi 4th Public Talk 3rd November 1963

Texts and talks of Jiddu Krishnamurti. Krishnamurti quotes. Books about
J Krishnamurti. Philosophy.

Art of War

ancient Chinese treatise by Sun Tzu

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48 Laws of Power

a different universe by Robert Greene?

free summary online