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Paris 1965

Paris 3rd Public Talk 23rd May 1965

Perhaps at the end of the talk we can really talk things over, not argumentatively, but as two friends discussing to find out for themselves how to live in a monstrous world that is so brutal, a world which we have created ourselves, a world in which we are caught socially, economically, and in every form of relationship. We are caught in this society, which we have put together through centuries; and to talk it over together in a friendly manner requires clarity, not only on the part of the questioner, but also on the part of the speaker. We must both be very simple, and that is one of our great difficulties. We are intellectual, clever, cunning, verbally secretive; we don't mean what we say, we take poses. But if we can put all that aside and talk things over, then perhaps we shall be able to find a way - not as an escape - out of this dreadful confusion and misery that exist within and without.

What I would like to talk about this morning is quite simple though the very simplicity is made complicated when we use words; and unfortunately one has to use words, because that is the only means of communication you and I have. And communication through words is not necessarily communion. There is a difference between communication and communion. One can communicate through a telephone, through books, through words, through a gesture. But communion is something entirely different. Communion can take place only when you and I are at the same intensity, at the same level, at the same time, when we both feel these things strongly, vitally, at the same depth and at the same moment. Then there is communion, and then words become so utterly useless, empty. But that communion cannot take place if we do not verbally understand each other. So, words being necessary, and knowing the difficulty in the usage of words, which are quite complex things, one has to be aware of words; one mustn't be caught in words, or intellectually spin a lot of theories. Because we are not talking out of cleverness about something that can be theoretically approached. You can't approach life theoretically, intellectually, emotionally. You can only approach it totally, that is, with all your being, intellectually, emotionally, physically. You can't just take one fragment of it and then try to solve the problem through that one segment. Life is much too vast, too immense to be approached through a theory, through a hypothesis, through a pattern. One must come to it like a flood that comes down the mountains. Then one understands the extraordinary quality of living.

This quality of living is obviously action. You can't live without action. All our relationship is action, it is a movement. But out of our sorrow, our personal pleasures, our likes and hatreds, and all the petty incidents of our life, we want to make in this vast stream a particular little groove, a static little shelter, and live there, and then try to understand the whole process of living.

So one has to understand relationship, because that is life. We can't exist without relationship of some kind. You can't withdraw into isolation, build a wall around yourself, as most people do, because that act of living in a sheltered, secure, isolated state of resistance only breeds more confusion, more problems, more misery. Life is, if one observes, a movement in action, a movement in relationship, and that is our whole problem: how to live in this world, where relationship is the very basis of all existence; how to live in this world so that relationship doesn't become monotonous, dull, something that is ugly, repetitive.

Our minds do conform to the pattern of pleasure - and life is not mere pleasure, obviously. But we want pleasure. That is the only thing we are really seeking deeply, inwardly, secretly. We try to get pleasure out of almost anything; and pleasure, if one observes, not only isolates and confuses the mind, but it also creates values which are not true, not actual. So pleasure brings illusion. A mind that is seeking pleasure, as most of us are, not only isolates itself, but must invariably be in a state of contradiction in all its relationships, whether it is the relationship with ideas, with people, or with property; it must always be in conflict. So that is one of the things one has to understand: that our search in life is fundamentally the demand, the urge, the seeking of pleasure.

Now, this is very difficult to understand, because why shouldn't one have pleasure? You see a beautiful sunset, a lovely tree, a river that has a wide, curving movement, or a beautiful face, and to look at it gives great pleasure, delight. What is wrong with that? It seems to me the confusion and the misery begin when that face, that river, that cloud, that mountain, becomes a memory, and this memory then demands a greater continuity of pleasure; we want such things repeated. We all know this. I have had a certain pleasure, or you have had a certain delight in something, and we want it repeated. Whether it be sexual, artistic, intellectual, or something not quite of this character, we want it repeated - and I think that is where pleasure begins to darken the mind and create values which are false, not actual.

What matters is to understand pleasure, not try to get rid of it - that is too stupid. Nobody can get rid of pleasure. But to understand the nature and the structure of pleasure, is essential; because if life is only pleasure, and if that is what one wants, then with pleasure go the misery, the confusion, the illusions, the false values which we create, and therefore there is no clarity. It is a simple fact, psychologically as well as biologically, that we are seeking pleasure, and we want all relationship to be based on it; and hence, when relationship is not pleasurable, there is a contradiction, and then the conflict, the misery, the confusion and the agony begin.

I am not saying anything extraordinary, I am just pointing out a fact. And having been trained, having been so heavily conditioned in this pursuit of pleasure, can the mind see the limitation of pleasure, understand it, not just verbally or intellectually, but see the nature of it, the inward significance of pleasure - and in that very act of seeing, put itself in a different dimension altogether?

That is, we are communicating with each other now; and not only are we communicating, but we are also trying to find out for ourselves, as we go along, whether this is what is actually taking place in our lives. Does one understand the pleasure of self-fulfilment, the pleasure of being somebody, of being recognized in the world as an author, as a painter, as a great man? Does one understand the pleasure of domination, the pleasure of money, the pleasure of taking the vow of poverty, the pleasure that one experiences in so many things ? And does one see that when pleasure is not fulfilled, then begin the frustration, the bitterness, the cynicism? So one has to be aware of all this, not only physically but psychologically; and then one begins to ask: what place has desire with regard to pleasure?

You know, there has to be freedom from illusion, that is, freedom from the power of the mind to create values which are not actual, values which have no reality with regard to life, to actual living. The mind has an extraordinary power to create illusion through beliefs, through escapes, through dogmas. It projects every kind of pattern, goal, ideal, through which it hopes to fulfil, and this identification with something it has projected, it calls becoming the greater. Now, unless we are totally free from this power of illusion, and the breeding of illusion, we can never find out what is real, what is true, or whether there is God, something much more than this dreadful, superficial existence.

After all, most intellectual and fairly intelligent people want to discover something beyond the monotonous, exhausting routine of their own daily life. Because there is this tremendous longing, one goes to churches, where one is given false coin; one reads, one escapes through literature, through ideas, through various forms of Eastern and Western theology. But to find out for oneself what is true - not as an illusion, not as an escape, but actually to know it as one knows what it feels like to be hungry - one must have immense freedom. This freedom is not some extraordinary state, but it is freedom from creating any form of illusion through the movement of pleasure. If there is a movement of pleasure - whether it be the pleasure of having sexual relationship, or the pleasure of seeing a sunset, or the pleasure derived from going to Mass, or the pleasure that one experiences in the search for something beyond the mind - it does inevitably breed an illusion which gives you satisfaction, and which you want to hold on to; and then the whole trouble begins.

So it seems to me extraordinarily important to understand the nature and the significance of pleasure. The world outwardly is becoming more and more prosperous, more and more efficiently organized; the computer and automation are going to take over and give man almost complete leisure from work. It is not going to happen tomorrow, it may not happen for twenty years, but that is what is coming. Man is going to have a great deal of leisure - and leisure means pleasure for most people. Hence, though outwardly we may have everything we want, inwardly we shall be in turmoil, and to escape from it we shall have still other forms of pleasure. So it is very important, if one would understand this whole process of living and not escape from it into some phantasy, myth, or some absurd dream, that one be brutally - brutally in the sense of vitally - aware of this structure of pleasure. Pleasure also means desire. You know, throughout Asia and Europe those who seek what they call God, the monks, the so-called religious people, have been advised by their traditions to put away desire, and they say that one must be without desire. You have probably read all about it - and I think it is totally wrong, because it means to cut, to suppress, to operate on desire. You can't put away desire that way. You can never put away desire - but one can understand the inwardness of it, its limitations. I do not mean by the word `understand' mere intellectual understanding. One can never understand anything intellectually; do what it will, the cunning intellect can never grasp the quality of love, for example. The intellect can talk about it, write volumes about it, but the intellect cannot possibly feel it, or sense the quality, the perfume, the nature of love. And the intellect is all we have. We have so cunningly, so cleverly developed the intellect that when we use the words, `I understand ' we mean that we understand intellectually - which is sheer nonsense. Nobody can understand anything merely intellectually. Either one understands,or doesn't understand. You can understand only when you give your whole being - body, mind, heart, everything that you have - to understand, including the intellect. But when the intellect is separate and says, "I understand", it doesn't. That is sheer nonsense.

So, to understand desire, which is pleasure, one has to go into it, feel it out, learn all that one can about it, and not say, "This is right desire, that is wrong desire; this is good desire and that is bad desire". There is neither good nor bad, neither noble nor ignoble desire. There is only desire, and to understand it is to feel your way into it in a non-verbal sense, without cunningly trying to avoid it, or not to have it, or to go beyond it - because you can't. One has to understand desire - and I have explained what I mean by `understand'. One has to go into the structure of desire, not according to your fancy or my fancy, but actually understand what it irrefutably and irremediably is. And when that is very clear, then one will know the limitations of desire, and therefore understanding its whole structure, one is out of it - the mind is no longer caught in desire, or in the process of pleasure.

So we are going to examine together the very structure of desire, and not think in terms of your opinion or my opinion, or quote what some biologist, or some psychologist, or some religious quack has said about desire. We are going to find out what desire actually is - and it seems to me to be so extraordinarily simple. I see something, and I want it. I see a beautiful tree in your garden, lovely, full, rich, and I would like to have that tree in my garden - that's all. In seeing something there is the reaction, the sensation of pleasure, and out of that sensation there is desire. It is as simple as that, if you watch it in yourself. You don't have to read any book to find out this very simple fact. There is the perception of a beautiful house, or a nice flat, clean and empty, with but few things; you enter it and say, "I wish I could live here". First there is visual perception, or seeing, then the reaction, the sensation of pleasure, and out of that, desire. This is the whole process of desire. It becomes more complicated, naturally; it becomes much more subtle. But if you understand the beginnings of it, the roots of it, then you don't have to climb every branch, examine every blossom, tear every leaf from that tree. You know the quality of desire, how it happens, and when you know that, then you need never suppress desire, because you understand all its implications.

But for most of us desire means self-indulgence, self-expression: I desire that, and I must have it. Whether it is a beautiful person, or a house, or an idea, I must have it. Why? Why does the `must' come into being? Why does desire say, "I must have that" - which brings about the agony, the drive, the urge, the demands of a compulsive existence? It is fairly simple, fairly clear, why there is this insistence on self-expression, which is a form of desire. In self-expression, in being somebody, there is great delight, because you are recognized. People say, "By Jove, do you know who he is?" - and all the rest of that nonsense. You may say that it isn't just desire, it isn't just pleasure, because there is something behind desire which is much stronger still. But you cannot come to that without understanding pleasure and desire. The active process of desire and pleasure is what we call action. I want something and I work, work, work to get it. I want to be famous as a writer, as a painter, and I do everything I can think of to become famous. Generally I fall by the wayside and never get recognized by the world, so I am frustrated, I go through agony; and then I become cynical, or I take on the pretence of humility, and all the rest of that nonsense begins.

Now, why is there this tremendous demand for fulfilment? I hope you are going along with me, and not merely listening verbally; because if you are merely listening verbally, then our communication, or our relationship of communion, has come to an end. As I said at the beginning, we are taking a journey together into your life, not mine.

So we are asking ourselves, why is there this insistence on desire being fulfilled? If you want a coat, a suit, a shirt, a tie, a pair of shoes, you get it - that is one thing. But behind this persistent drive to fulfil oneself, surely, there is the sense of complete inadequacy, loneliness. I can't live by myself, I can't be alone, because in myself I am insufficient. You know more than I do, you are more beautiful, more intellectual, more clever, you are more this and more that, and I want to be all those things and more. Why? I do not know whether you have ever asked yourself this question. If you have, and if for you it is not just a clever theoretical question, then you will find the answer. But you can find the answer only when your mind is not projecting an answer.

Are you following me? Am I making myself clear?

I want to know why one craves many things, or one thing. One wants to be happy, to find God, to be rich, to be famous, to be complete, or to be liberated, whatever that may mean - you know all the things, a craving for which one builds up. One wants to have a perfect marriage, a perfect relationship with God, and so on. Why? First of all, it indicates how shallow the mind is, doesn't it? And doesn't it also indicate our own sense of loneliness, emptiness?

You know, there are two kinds of emptiness. There is the emptiness in which the mind looks at itself and says, "I am empty; and there is real emptiness. There is the emptiness I want to fill, because I don't like that emptiness, that loneliness, that isolation, that sense of being completely cut off from everything. Each one of us must have had that feeling, either superficially, casually, or very intensely; and becoming aware of that feeling, one obviously escapes from it, one tries to cover it up with knowledge, or by means of relationship, the demand for a perfect union between man and woman, and all the rest of it. This is actually what takes place, isn't it? I am not inventing anything. If one has observed oneself, gone into oneself a little bit - not tremendously, that comes much later - one knows this to be a fact. So one begins to find out that where there is this sense of inexhaustible loneliness, this emptiness created by the mind's looking upon itself as being empty, there is also an urge, a tremendous drive to fulfil, to get something with which to cover it up.

So, consciously or unconsciously, one is aware of this state of - I don't like to use the word `emptiness,' because emptiness is a beautiful word. A thing like a cup, or a room, is useful when it is empty; but if the cup is full, or the room is crowded with furniture, then it is useless. Most of us, being empty, fill ourselves with all kinds of noise, with pleasure and every form of escape. There is a sense of emptiness, and we have the urge to fill that emptiness with the objects of desire, with pleasure and the continuity of pleasure, which in turn creates false values and hence conflict in all our relationships. I want pleasure in my relationship with my wife or husband, and when that wife or husband turns to another, I am jealous, I hate. I take pleasure in my nationality, in the position I have attained in the country with which I have identified myself; and when that country `defends' itself, as it is called - which is to attack another; there is no defence apart from attack, it is all the same - and the butchery begins, I am inevitably caught in it.

So we all know this emptiness, and the escape from it through pleasure, the fulfilment of desire, and so on.

Now, why is there this emptiness? I hope you are non-verbally pursuing it with me. Why is there this emptiness? Is it inevitable, or is the mind creating it? When we use the word `emptiness', it is comparative, is it not? I see that you are rich - not just physically, that is nothing at all; any man who works a little bit hard, and who is clever and cunning, can be fairly well off. But you are rich in other ways: you have knowledge, you know what it means to feel, to live richly inwardly, and I am nothing, I am stupid, ugly. So comparison is the beginning of this emptiness. I know we say that if there is no comparison, there is no progress. Progress in what? Not all technological progress is due to one man, it's the result of effort by a whole group. The splitting of the atom, the perfection of the car - such things are not brought about by one person, but by a whole group of people. But we as individuals compare and say,

"You are somebody, I am not, and I want to be". So one begins to see that comparison invariably breeds the feeling of emptiness; and this is one of the most intricate and subtle things to understand, because we are brought up from childhood and taught in our schools to compare, compare, compare. You are beautiful, I am not. You get higher marks and I get lower marks. So we are conditioned that way from childhood.

So the mind's comparing itself with some other mind is the beginning of this sense of emptiness. Please look at it, don't push it aside. It is so simple.

And must we compare? Must I compare myself with you, who are so this or so that? And is there progress, evolution through comparison? Inwardly, obviously there is not. If I compare my painting with your painting, I have ceased to be a painter. If I love, and compare my love with your love, it is not love. This is what is happening all the time. But if you can live without comparison - which is one of the most subtle things to understand, and the most marvellous - then you will find that the mind is no longer creating this emptiness; it is then not comparing itself with another and thereby making itself either small or great. And one can live that way, without any sense of comparison with anybody. Then one begins to understand this whole process of the mind's looking at itself through comparison and thereby reducing itself to something small; and being small, it wants to become great; and being great, it wants to be greater. Hence it breeds within itself this feeling of insufficiency, this sense of emptiness, loneliness, and so all the misery and the travail begin.

Then you will see, not tomorrow, but now - if we are still in communion with each other - the significance of action. Our life is action: going to the market, cooking, breeding children, thinking going for a drive, looking at a tree, going to the office. All life is tremendous action. If you sit quietly in a forest in spring-time, you see that everything is burstingly alive. You know, most of us never die, and therefore we never produce. The trees bring forth new leaves, and when the leaves die they are marvellous to look at. But we live on in the past, we never die, and therefore we never renew; our action is always imitative, conforming, following the pattern of pleasure, and hence there is agony. That is the only action we know, and from that we try to escape - the action born of idea. What we call pleasure is an idea. There is pleasure, actual pleasure, and that is one thing. But to breed out of pleasure an idea of pleasure, and then act from that idea - that is quite a different thing. Action is entirely different from idea, and so there is a contradiction between idea and action.

This is very simple, if we are still in communion with each other.

If you are no longer comparing, if you are no longer driven by the desire for pleasure - which is very subtle, it is not so easy to understand; you have to apply your whole being to understand it - then you will find that action is never conforming to a pattern, it is new all the time, it is not born of an idea. Thus you will discover a way of living in this world and being free from the psychological structure of society - and one must have this freedom from the psychological structure of society, with its greed, ambition, ruthlessness, brutality, and all the rest of it. Then one can go far, for then begins real meditation. What has been called meditation up to now is all too childish.

When the mind is no longer seeking pleasure, and no longer caught in the contradiction between idea and action, then it is active; not `I was active', or `I shall be active', but active. There is only the verb `to act', not in the past tense or the future tense, but in the active present. But that is possible only when one has understood the nature of greed, envy, ambition, competition, jealousy. And to understand all that, is not a matter of time; because if you use time to understand it, you only create further disorder.

So one must lay the foundation - and this is the foundation - of real meditation by finding out how to live in this world without escaping from it. This means having your relationships, your sex, your work, your miseries, your conflicts, and living with them, understanding them. Without understanding the nature of pleasure, of loneliness, of emptiness, without understanding the insistence of desire on various forms of fulfilment, of becoming, and all the rest of it, one can never go beyond the limitations which the mind makes for itself. That is why the search for God of a man who is greedy, violent, is nonsense. His God will be of his own making: a petty little God, a petty little Saviour.

When one begins to understand all this, not as a theory, but in actual life, in living, then one can go into the nature of meditation. But I am afraid we shall have to leave that until the next time we meet, because it is nearly twelve and there will be no time for discussion. So we will stop here, if you don't mind.

Questioner: One comes to understanding slowly, little by little.

Krishnamurti: Do you? I know that is the obvious statement everybody makes: that we come to understanding by slow degrees. We say and we live by that; but is that a fact? Though you may say it, and a hundred million people may say it, that doesn't mean it is true. One must find out. Does time bring understanding? You see, if I may respectfully point it out, you are not inquiring you are just agreeing or disagreeing. Does time bring understanding - a duration, a period, a length of time? I may learn a language in four months. Learning a new technique, a new craft, a new way of doing things, takes time. But is understanding a matter of time? Do we come to understanding through experience? What is experience? And do we learn anything through experience? We have had two bloody ,dreadful wars. Have we learnt anything - except perhaps new techniques, like how to build better airplanes? Have we learnt not to kill each other, physically, mentally, verbally, nationally, comparatively? Obviously not.

Now, take a simple thing like nationalism. Why are we nationalists. We are discussing this in relation to understanding. I identify myself with my country, which is greater than myself, because from that identification I derive a certain satisfaction. You do the same as a Frenchman, somebody else does it as a German or an American, with all the rest of that silly nonsense, and we are ready to go to battle - over what? Over our identification with an idea. We say that because you and I are human beings, with our passions, with our hatreds, with our agonies, with our nationalism, really to become a united Europe, a united world - to become united human beings - will take time. What does that mean? It means that we don't want to give up our particular little idiosyncrasies, our identifications - which we could give up tomorrow, immediately. When you see something to be a poison, you give it up instantly. But we like to be called a Frenchman, or an Englishman, and all the rest of it, and therefore we cling to our nation until circumstances gradually force us to become united. So we say, "By Jove, it will take time to get united".

In the same way, we say that time is necessary to come to understanding. Is it? We say it is, because we never give attention to anything. We give attention to something only when there is a tremendous crisis. And the world is in a state of crisis all the time, not just when you want it to be. As you sit in this hall there is a crisis, there is misery, there is starvation in the world; not in Paris, perhaps, not in France; but go in an airplane eight hours away and you will know all about starvation, misery, disease, ugliness. Yet you sit quietly back in your comfortable chair and say it will take time to understand! The crisis is there, but we don't want to face it. For God's sake, do see that understanding doesn't take time! Time, as we saw the other day when we talked about it, only creates more disorder. It is very simple, and I don't want to go into it again.

Understanding comes when you give your mind and your heart and your body to something; and when you don't, you won't have understanding. Either you do it voluntarily, easily, happily, or you are compelled; and when you are compelled, you resist, and therefore you say, "Well, it will take time".

You know, most of us are jealous, envious, and we like it. We like it because it involves possession, domination, comparison, the feeling that we own, that we are somebody, and all the rest of it. When you see what is actually involved in the whole comparative structure, either you like it and go, on with it, or you don't. And if you don't, you understand it immediately. Because you understand it, you don't go that way.

Questioner: Who is it that understands?

Krishnamurti: Who is the entity that understands? Is there an entity when there is understanding? We say, "I understand", but that is only a form of communication. I say to you "I understand what you are talking about; but at the actual moment of understanding, is there an entity who says, "I understand"? At the moment when there is joy which has no cause, and which is completely different from pleasure - at that moment, is there an entity who says, "I am joyous"? And when you do say, "I am joyous", then joy ceases. I do not know if you have noticed this. The moment you say, "I am happy", are you happy then? It is the same when you are completely attentive. Do try it for yourself, and you will see. Look at a flower, or a tree, or a cloud, or what you will. Look at it non-verbally, that is, without naming it, without saying it is good, bad, beautiful, this or that. Look at it non-verbally and therefore attentively - attentively in the sense of completely, with your whole mind, with everything. There is then a state of attention in which there is no effort; and in that state of attention, is there an entity who is attentive? The entity who is attentive, and who is aware that he is attentive, is born of memory, which is inattention; and it is only in that state of inattention that there is an entity who observes.

If you ever go into a wood, and I hope you do, look at a tree quietly. Just look at it. By looking I do not mean looking with your mind only - the mind thinks much more than the eye - but look at the whole tree with your whole being, so that you are in communion with the tree. This is not some mysterious or mystical phenomenon. You know, there is something tremendously mysterious in life which is not created by the ugly, stupid little mind. Sit down and look at that tree, or at that flower; look at it attentively, without concentration. Concentration limits, concentration is exclusive. A businessman or a merchant concentrates when he is bargaining to get something. When you want this or that, you concentrate, and thereby limit the mind; the mind fixes itself on a certain point - but that is not what I mean by attention. When you look at a flower or a tree, look at it attentively, easily, and you will find that there is no entity as the observer, as the experiencer, as the thinker, because then the observer is the observed.

May 23, 1965


Paris 1965

Paris 3rd Public Talk 23rd May 1965

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