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Bombay 1964

Bombay 3rd Public Talk 16th February 1964

This evening we are going to paint a verbal picture. The words are not important. You have to hear the words and not be caught by the superficial meaning of those words; it is like looking at a painting. Generally we want to know who the painter is, and begin to compare him with other painters; or we bring in our own knowledge about painting, and begin to interpret, tear to pieces, the construction, the depth, the light, the colour; and we think we understand the painting. So, this evening, we must be rather cautious, not to be caught in words or by words. Because most of our minds are slaves to words; we are slaves also in practically every way. Especially words play an extraordinarily important part in our life; words are loaded with significance, with meaning. And we do not listen, we are incapable of listening, because the words awaken various symbols, various ideas, fears, hopes, anguishes.

What is important is really to listen with a free mind, a mind that is not merely rejecting or accepting words but has a depth of feeling, a quality that sees what is true and what is false immediately, not based upon knowledge. Because knowledge never gives you the perception of what is true. What gives free insight is total freedom. And we are going to talk about that this evening.

The word `freedom' is heavily loaded, politically, religiously, socially and in every way. That word is really an extraordinary word with a tremendous significance and depth; we have loaded it, like `love', with all kinds of meaning. There is political freedom, social freedom, freedom of opportunity to work; there is freedom from religious dogmas, beliefs; freedom from immediate responsibilities, problems, anxiety, fears. Freedom from so many things the mind wants. And we have built a verbal structure which gives us the appearance of freedom, but we do not know what it means to be really free, to feel it, not to argue about it, not to define it, not to say, "What do you mean by freedom?". We do not know the quality of it, the feel of it, the demand for it - not at any particular level but totally.

Without total freedom, every perception, every objective regard, is twisted. It is only the man who is totally free that can look and understand immediately. Freedom implies really, doesn't it?, the total emptying of the mind. Completely to empty the whole content of the mind - that is real freedom. Freedom is not mere revolt from circumstances, which again breeds other circumstances, other environmental influences, which enslave the mind. We are talking about a freedom that comes naturally, easily, unasked for, when the mind is capable of functioning at its highest level.

Most of our brains are lazy. Our brains have thickened, have been made dull through education, through specialization, through conflict, through every form of psychological inward struggle as well as outward compulsions. Our brains function only when there is an immediate demand, when there is an immediate crisis. But otherwise we live in a state of hypnotic, monotonous life, functioning lazily with our jobs and tasks; so our brains are not sharp, alert, awake, sensitive, functioning at their highest capacity.

If the brain does not function at its highest capacity, it is not capable of being free. Because a dull, shallow, limited, narrow, petty mind merely reacts to its environment, and through that reaction it becomes a slave to that environment. And from this arises the whole problem of extricating oneself from the environment, and not being a slave to every form of influence, direction, urge. So what is important is the quality of feeling to be utterly free.

There are two kinds of freedom: one is the freedom from something, which is a reaction; and the other is not a reaction, it is 'being free'. The freedom from something is a response, depending on our choice, on our character, on our temperament, on various forms of conditioning. Like a boy who is in revolt against society - he wants to be free. Or like a husband who wants to be free from his wife, or a wife from the husband; or free from anger, jealousy, envy, despair. Those are all reactions, responses to given circumstances, which prevent you from functioning freely, easily.

We want personal liberty. And that liberty is denied in a society where the mores, the customs, the habits, the traditions are tremendously important; then there is a revolt. Or there is a revolt against tyranny. So there are various forms of revolt, responses to immediate demands. Really that is not freedom at all, because every reaction breeds further reactions, which create further environment through which the mind becomes a slave again, so there is a constant repetition of revolt, being caught by circumstances, revolt against those circumstances and so on, endlessly.

We are talking of a freedom which is not a reaction. The mind that is free, is not a slave to anything, to any circumstances, to any particular routine; though it is specialized to do a certain functional job, it is not a slave to that, it is not held in that groove; though it lives in society, it is not of society. And a mind that is emptying itself of all the accumulations, of every day reactions, all the time - it is only such a mind that is free.

We live by action. Action is imperative, it is necessary. There is the action born of idea and there is the action born of freedom. We are going to go into something that needs the quickness of your brain, not your agreement or your disagreement. The house is on fire, the world is on fire, burning, destroying itself; and there must be action. And that action does not depend on your ideas about the fire, on the size of the bucket or what you will do. You act to put out that fire. To put out that fire, you cannot have ideas about that fire: who set the house on fire, what is the nature of the fire, so on and on, speculating about the fire. There must be immediate action. This means the mind must undergo a complete mutation.

Man has lived for a million and seven hundred and fifty thousand years, nearly two million years, biologically has accumulated so many experiences, so much knowledge, and has lived through so many civilizations, so many pressures and strains. You are that man, whether you know it or not. Whether you acknowledge it or not, you are the man, you are the result of two million years. Either you continue evolving slowly through pain, suffering, anxiety, all kinds of conflicts, endlessly, or you step out of that current altogether, at any time, like stepping off a boat on to the bank of the river - you can do that at any time. And it is only the free mind that can do it.

Action - that is to do, to be - if it is born of an idea, is not liberating, is not freeing the mind. And most of our actions are born from a formula, from a concept; and so they are not liberating, they are not freeing the mind. Please, if I may suggest, don't merely listen to the words; observe your own minds in operation. Watch yourself and see what your actions are, and what they are based on. You are not agreeing or disagreeing with the speaker. The speaker is merely indicating what is actually taking place, actually what is. If you do not observe what is in yourself, but merely are listening to the speech, then you will go away with ashes, with emptiness; you will have nothing; you will have wasted an hour, a precious hour of an evening.

You have to watch yourself, watch the operation of your own mind. And that is extremely strenuous, because you are not used to watching the activity of a thought. You have to watch the operation of your mind; not guide it, not shape it, not tell it what it should think or what it should not think, but merely observe the reactions of the brain as it listens to the words, as it listens to the crows, as it sees the trees, the evening light, the breeze among the leaves, the shape of a branch, the darkness of a trunk against the evening sky; you have just to watch it. When you so observe it, there is a quickening of the brain. But when you direct that observation - what it should do and what it should not do - , then you are reacting and making the brain dull and heavy.

To understand what is freedom and action, you must understand the whole process of your own thinking; that is, you must know yourself. And that is one of the most difficult tasks that you can possibly undertake. Because to know oneself implies a mind that is capable of looking at itself without the previous knowledge which it has acquired. If you look at yourself with the knowledge that you have got, then you are merely projecting or translating what you see according to the past, and therefore not looking at yourself. So to look at yourself demands a freshness of mind, each minute. That is where the arduousness comes in. Please understand this. Because if you do not understand what is being said now, then when I go into the problem of freedom, you will not be able to take it up and go into it.

We are talking about the whole human being, the psyche, the inward activity, the quality of the brain as well as the mind. The brain is part of the mind and the mind is part of the psyche; the entirety is the mind. So one has to understand the whole functioning of oneself.

There is self-knowledge and there is self-knowing. Knowledge is merely an additive process. That is, you can add to it through experience, through further examination, through further exploration; and what you discover, you add to whatever you already know. Every experience is translated according to what you already know, experience being the challenge and the response to that challenge. Because we are having, every minute of our waking or sleeping consciousness, this challenge. When we respond to it adequately, totally, completely, the response does not create conflict and therefore keeps the brain astonishingly active at its highest pitch. But when we respond to the challenge according to our conditioning, to our knowledge, to our previous experiences, that response creates conflict between the challenge and the response.

If we observe ourselves, we shall find that most of us respond according to our knowledge, according to our experience, according to our conditioning either as a Hindu, or a Buddhist, or a Christian, or a Communist, or a technician, or a family man. Such a man has acquired lots of experience; and having accumulated, he reacts. And with that knowledge he looks at himself. Then he says, "This is good", "This is bad", "This I must keep", "This I must reject". When he does that, he is not looking at himself; he is merely projecting his knowledge upon what he sees, and translating what he sees, or interpreting what he sees, in terms of his experience, of his knowledge, of his conditioning.

Please observe this in yourself. The mind that responds to a challenge, with previous knowledge, is not a mind that is learning; it is merely adding to what it already knows. A mind that learns, or is in a state of learning, is always in a state of knowing, observing. I think these two things must be very clear to each one. Because learning is something entirely different from acquiring knowledge. Learning - to learn - demands that your brain functions at its highest level. But you cannot learn if you merely come to it with an additive mind, with a mind which says, "I am going to add to what already I know".

A mind that is demanding experience and has accumulated experience is never in a state of learning. It is very important to understand this. Because this thing called `the me', the self. is always in a state of mutation, always changing, moving; it is never static. Every thought, every feeling, which you already know, when you observe it with knowledge, you have reduced to a static state. I will explain it a little more.

You know we have so many feelings. You look at the beauty of a sunset and you may have immediately a certain response. I do not know if you have ever looked at a sunset. I doubt it. I doubt if you have ever watched a tree. The limb of a tree, the beauty of the light, the freshness of the leaves, the movement of a leaf in the breeze - have you ever watched it? In this country beauty has gone. You have destroyed the feeling for beauty, because your saints have said you must not look at beauty. Because for you beauty is identified with desire, with lust for a woman or for a man, you are being told for thousands of years that you must be desireless. And with the attempt to be desireless, you have destroyed the feeling for beauty, the sense of loveliness, seeing something that is perfectly lovely.

Please watch yourself. See how insensitive your mind has become. When you have a feeling of pleasure, pain, of a spontaneous joy of something, the moment you feel it, there is an immediate response to it by naming it, you name it instantly. Please follow this, observe it in yourself. Because all this if you don't follow, when I talk about freedom, it will mean nothing to you. I am talking about a mind that does not name. When you have a feeling, you name it instantly, you give it a name. The very process of naming it is the state of non-observation. And you name it in order to fix it as an experience in your memory; and then, the next day, that memory which has become mechanical, wants it repeated. Therefore when you look at the sunset the next day, it is no longer the thing that you looked at spontaneously, the first day. So the naming process of any feeling, in any observation, prevents you from looking.

Have you ever looked at a flower? There are two ways of looking at a flower: either botanically or non-botanically. When you look at a flower botanically, you know the species, the colour, the kind, what it is; when that interpretation comes in-between, you are observing it botanically; when that comes in, you can't see the flower. Please observe this. When you say, "That is a rose. How lovely!", you have already ceased to look at it. Because you have identified that rose with what you have already called a rose, that identification with the past prevents you from looking at the actual rose in front of you.

Similarly, when you look at yourself, when you identify a particular feeling, a particular state, a particular experience, by naming it, you have identified yourself with that feeling through a name which is out of memory, from the past, and therefore you are incapable of looking, observing listening, seeing that feeling. So this identification, this naming, this symbol which has become so astonishingly important in your life prevents you from looking, feeling deeper completely.

Take a man whom you call a sannyasi. He is a symbol of the renunciation of the world. The symbol, the outward garb, you respect. For you the outward garb is of extraordinary significance; it does not matter what he is inside. He is being tortured by his hopes, by his sexual demands, by his complex memories, his desire to be like somebody else; this constant, imitating process is going on in him, and therefore struggle, conflict, subjugation, control, suppression. You are not interested in that; what you are interested in is the symbol. In the same way, the name, the word has become a symbol, which prevents us from looking deeper.

So one has to be extremely alert, when one watches oneself. Because without knowing yourself, you can't live; you are a dead entity. You are talking, you are reading a book and repeating the book endlessly - the Gita, the Upanishads or any other silly book. You follow? I said any other silly book; because the moment you repeat, you have ceased to understand, you have dissociated it from your actual daily living. What matters is not the book, but your daily living, daily feelings, daily anxieties, miseries, the way you think. So you have to know that. Because, without knowing that, you have no foundation, you have no basis for any thought, for any reason; then you are merely functioning mechanically or neurotically.

And to know yourself is the most arduous task that you can set to yourself. You can go to the moon, you can do everything in life; but if you don't know yourself, you will be empty, dull, stupid; though you may function as a Prime Minister or a first class engineer or a marvellous technician, you are merely functioning mechanically. So feel the importance, the seriousness of knowing yourself. Not what people have said about yourself, whether you are the supreme self or the little self - wipe away all the things that people have said, and observe your own minds and your own hearts, and from there function.

To know oneself, knowing, is the active present; and what you have learnt, knowledge, is the past. The past cannot dictate to the active present. When it does, you create more conflict. But you cannot reject the past either; it is there, in the conscious as well as in the unconscious. And you have to have knowledge. It will be absurd for a scientist to wipe away all the things that he has learnt, accumulated, through centuries; it will be absurd for an artist to wipe away his knowledge of how to, mix colours and all that. But not to let the past interfere with the active present - that is what we have to understand.

One has to look with eyes, with a feeling, with a mind, with a brain that is intensely active. And the brain ceases to be intensely active, the moment you name something, give it a symbol. A man who is studying himself who is observing himself, is not interpreting, is not comparing; he is merely observing. That is why I said, when you observe a flower, just observe it. Listen to those crows cawing away, before they go to sleep; just listen to it, without resistance, without any urge to listen to the speaker and to resist the noise of those crows; just listen to everything. Then out of that listening you can pay attention to what you want to listen. But if you resist the noise of the crows, then you are in conflict. Therefore you have no energy to listen.

So, please observe yourself. That observation is absolutely necessary, because if you don't know yourself, you become a hypocrite. All the politicians, all the gurus, all the interpreters, have made you a hypocrite, because you don't know what you think, what you are, actually. It is only when you know yourself that you can, from there, function as a total human being, not in fragments. So to know yourself is to observe yourself. And to observe yourself there must be freedom, and that freedom is not a reaction. You have to observe, to listen to those crows freely. If you listen to those crows freely, you are also listening freely to the speaker but if you resist the crows, you won't listen to the speaker. Do please see the importance of this: in observation, in looking at yourself, every form of resistance such as naming which is the operation of the past upon the present, destroys, prevents your observation.

So through observation you are learning, constantly learning. And to learn you need a heightened sensitivity, a brain that functions completely at its highest level. When the brain functions at its highest level, there is no time to name the thing that you are observing; then there is immediate action - that is what we are coming to.

For most of us action is derived from an idea, a formula, a concept, an ideal. There is the ideal, and according to that you approximate the action and try to conform to that idea. Look at what has happened in this country with which you are probably very familiar. You have preached and practised and shouted abroad, non-violence. That has been your slogan for twenty or thirty years, or whatever it is. And suddenly there is an incident and you have all become violent. Now violence is the fashion. You have forgotten all that has been said about non-violence. Now you have the army, conscription, every student going into the army - you know the whole business. And you accept it equally as easily as you accepted non-violence. You don't say, "Stop, let us look at it and let us find out". You have accepted non-violence easily because it suited you; now you are accepting violence as easily, because it suits you. So your ideal of non-violence has no meaning at all.

And all our ideals, however sublime, however lovely, however beautiful, have no meaning. Because they create conflict between what is and what should be. What is important is what is, and not what should be. Please do understand this very simple fact, psychological fact: what is important is what is. You are angry, you are violent, you are cruel, you are hateful, you dislike, and you protect your security at any cost - that is the fact; not your non-violence, Ahimsa, which is sheer nonsense. When you observe what is, without the ideal - which is a distraction from what is, an avoidance of what is - , then you either say, "Well, I accept what is and live with it, be miserable with it", or you have a direct action upon it, or it has a direct action upon you. So, what is important is to be capable of observing actually what is - whether you are angry, lustful, wanting this and that. You know what human beings are inwardly. To observe it without naming it, without saying, "I am angry, I must not be angry", but just to observe it; to know what it means, the depth, the extraordinary feeling that lies behind all the subtleties, the secrets - if you so observe, then you will see that out of that observation there is freedom, and out of that freedom there is action immediately.

Because action means action in the present, not tomorrow. Action means the active present. And the active present can only act in the present, when there is not all this immense burden of fear, of guilt, of anxiety. Therefore it is very important to understand the whole psyche, the whole consciousness of yourself. As I was pointing out earlier this evening, if one observes, one will find that the mind, not only the brain but the totality of the mind, is emptying itself.

You know what is space? You know what space is? There is space between you and me - the distance. There is space between you and the tree, there is space between you and the crow and that noise. There is the space between you and the stars - the space, the distance, in which time is involved. Now, when you observe yourself, there must be space between yourself and that which you observe. And generally we do not have that space; we have crowded it with our ideas, with our opinions, with our judgments. So there must be space. And the mind must have space within itself. It is only in the space within the mind that there can be a mutation, that a new thing can be born. Surely, that space in the mind is when the mind is innocent.

The innocent mind has space like a child within the mother's womb. But a mind that is crowded, that is heavy with its own despairs, fears, joys, pleasures - such a mind is never empty; and therefore there is nothing new for it, nothing new can come. It is only in that emptiness that a new thing, a new mutation can take place. This emptiness, this space, is freedom. And for the space to come about, you have to understand this whole structure of yourself, the conscious as well as the unconscious.

Most of us live at the conscious level, very superficially. Because most of us are occupied with our jobs, with our family, with our immediate necessities. We live on the surface. Society, education, the world - they all demand that you live on top. Below that top there is the great depth of your traditions, of your hopes, of your fears, of your gods; all the murky existence of your being is there - and you have to understand that too. So, for a mind that wishes to understand the unconscious, the conscious part has to be quiet for some time, or all the time; and then only all the unconscious begins to tell its story. To understand the unconscious, either you go through the process of analysing and so on, indefinitely, or you cut through it. And you cut through it, when you see the whole activity of yourself, without naming it, immediately.

And therefore freedom is not a reaction. Freedom is a state of being. Freedom is a feeling. You have to liberate yourself, free yourself, even in little things - you dominating your wife. or your wife dominating you, or your ambitions, your greeds, your envy. When you cut through all that, not taking time and discussing about it, then you will see that, without analysis, without introspective moods and demands, to observe - to see things as they are without self-pity, without the desire to change; just to observe - is to have that space.

And the moment there is that space untouched by society, then in that state there is a mutation, a mutation takes place. And you need a mutation in this world, because that mutation is the birth of the individual. And it is only the individual that can do something in this world, to bring about a complete revolution, a complete change, a complete transformation. What we need in this world at the present time, is an individual who is born out of this emptiness.

Have you listened to a drum played often? The man who plays on it, can produce any sound; and that sound is clear, sharp, bright, penetrating, only when that drum is empty. If that drum was full, there would be no clear, precise, lovely tone.

In the same way when the mind has space, there is this extraordinary quality of emptiness; then in that state it acts; and that action is the outcome of total mutation. It is only that mind that can understand that which is beyond itself.

February 16, 1964


Bombay 1964

Bombay 3rd Public Talk 16th February 1964

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