London 4th Public Talk 7th May 1966
Most of our lives are rather drab, uninteresting, monotonous and mechanical. That being so, we are always seeking something more mysterious, something that will give perfume, a significance, a meaning to our lives. We take up new religions, new Sanskrit phrases or Tibetan words; we join schools of meditation or go to concerts, read a lot of books and fill ourselves with a great deal of information about which we can chatter endlessly. If that doesn't satisfy us, we turn to these modern drugs, which expand the mind, give hallucinations and various forms of vision which apparently have a tremendous meaning.
This is happening all over the world, taking drugs, LSD and so on, that give one great sensitivity and precipitate one into various states of visions and hallucinations. It seems to me it is really more important to find out for oneself as a human being, and therefore related to the whole of mankind, if there is something more than what thought puts together. Thought can create a most mysterious, fascinating and unimaginable world. Thought can do this very well, very easily, and one can escape into it most beautifully, imagining that one is living in a world of spiritual whatever it is. But it would be worthwhile to find out if there is anything beyond the structure of mystery, of something hidden, which thought has so carefully built through the ages.
I do not know if you have ever looked into the question of meditation or tried it. One of the most important things in life is not how to meditate or what kind of visions one will have if one meditates, but rather to find out what happens actually, not theoretically or speculatively, when thought comes to an end. Thought is based on the expanding demand of greater pleasure. Can the mind easily, without effort, understand the nature of thinking and therefore of pleasure, and discover or come upon something which may be the real source of all existence? If I may, I would like to talk over this thing with you and perhaps we could go into it rather seriously.
" Humility" is rather an ugly word. It has been greatly misused. But I think the word really has great depth to it, because one can only have humility when there is nothing of the past, and the mind is in a state of constantly learning without accumulating. It is only such a mind, it seems to me, that is actually in a state of humility. Then it can learn. Humility is not a thing to be cultivated any more than love. It is only the vain person, the man of pride and conceit, who cultivates the cloak or humility. But if one is to learn, there must be this sense of humility, a mind that doesn't know, that isn't always acquiring, climbing, reaching, attaining. Humility can only exist when the past, which is thought with all its structure, comes to an end. The mind must be highly sensitive, active, vigorous. Only those qualities can make the mind clear.
This morning let us try to learn something about meditation, not the word, not what you already know, what you have already read and what you may have already practised, because no method, no system, no practice is really meditation. In the East they have many schools, many ways of meditation, many teachers who teach you meditation in a few days or in a week or in a month, and they help you to practise how to be aware, how to become sensitive, how to sit, how to breathe and do all kinds of things in order to quiet the mind, so that you may have extraordinary visions. Nonsense! Let us explore together this morning. It is really not exploration. What is necessary, it seems to me, is a mind that is capable of listening and not doing anything, because the moment you do something, the moment you say, "I must", "I must not", "I must pursue", "I must seek", "I must find" "I must attain", thought begins to operate and thought can do absolutely nothing except technologically.
In a certain area of one's existence thought is essential; there it must function with clarity, with reason, with sanity, with vigour, with precision. But in the other field, when thought tries to enter and discover if there is something; thought brings about confusion, brings about various forms of self-deception, illusions, visions, hypocritical states. Not that there is a division between these two fields, the field in which the validity of thinking has its place and the other dimension in which thought has no place at all. These two are not separate, but to find out the nature of thinking and perhaps to end thought, you must go into the question of pleasure. Please, we're doing it together. You're not just listening to me, to the speaker, and trying to understand what he's talking about. He's talking about nothing very serious, because the word is not the thing. The idea is not the reality. The word, the symbol, is not the actual and you must understand the nature of pleasure, otherwise thought plays tricks upon you, creates deceptions, brings about projected visions which have no reality at all.
If we would understand what real meditation is, we must understand pleasure, and it's extremely subtle. All of us have this urge for deeper, wider, stronger pleasures. The sensory pleasures are obvious. It is not necessary to go into them; everyone knows about them. But there are deeper pleasures, pleasures to which thought has given a continuity, a vitality, a drive; and if one observes, most of our moral values, virtues are essentially the work of thought and therefore are pleasure. The people who talk about seeking God are really seeking the continuation of everlasting pleasure, which they call whatever it is. That's what most of us want, deep abiding pleasure which can never die, which can never be corrupted, which has its own vitality. The mind, thought, is always pursuing it, consciously or unconsciously. We want a little more, something other than drinking and sex. We take drugs because our life is so drab, so meaningless, such a stupid affair, with its monotony, loneliness and boredom. We seek pleasure in different forms, as part of our nature. Like the animal, we are always avoiding danger and seeking pleasure.
If I may make a suggestion, as we are talking about this, please be aware of your own values thoughts life, existence, so that you yourself will discover the importance or unimportance of pleasure. If you do not understand this basic thing, entering into a field which is completely denuded of all pleasure, and therefore a field of extraordinary bliss, cannot possibly be understood. I am not trying to persuade you, to convert you to another system, another thought, another idea. You must understand pleasure, not only the sensory pleasures which are obvious, but also the pleasures which thought creates, sustains and to which it gives nourishment, the nourishment that comes through memory of something which has happened and has given pleasure. Thought goes back over and over and over again to a happy incident, a pleasurable sensation, a thing remembered that has given great delight. Thought reverts to it and builds a structure of expanding and strengthening pleasure. From that background, conscious or unconscious, thought then operates, judges, evaluates, looks and acts.
Thought is the outcome of desire. There are sensory desires, such as the desire for food, but the moment thought says, " That tastes very nice; I must have more of it", the strengthening of desire has begun. Our whole life is made up of desire, the pleasure that is derived from putting that desire into action, and the sustaining of pleasure by thinking about the action which has, given pleasure. If we do not understand this but talk about meditation, posture, breathing, drugs and practice, it seems to me it is infantile, immature.
We must be aware of the nature of pleasure and what gives it strength and vitality, which again is thought. It's really very, very simple if one understands it. We see a woman, a car, a child, a house, a picture, or we listen to music. Seeing, feeling, censoring that picture, that building, that woman, thought thinks about it and gives to that pleasure strength and continuity. When we understand this, we see at the same time that where there is pursuit of pleasure, there is always the shadow of pain, the avoidance, the resistance. Thought creates resistance around itself, so that it will have no pain at all. Thought lives in this artificial pleasure because of something that it has had or wants to have. If thought says, " I understand this very well, and I must act to get beyond it", the beyond becomes another form of pleasure created by thought. Thought has built a psychological structure of pleasure. Seeing the nature of it, seeing that there is pain in it, thought says, " I must do something else. I must act differently. I must behave differently. I mustn't think about pleasure. I must resist pleasure. I must do this and that". The very action which thought creates about pleasure is still pleasure. Thought cannot do anything about it.
If I may make a suggestion, just listen. I'm not trying to hypnotize you. `That would be too obvious and too simple. just listen, because if you are capable of listening and seeing the truth of what is being said, then thought will not act. If you are in that state of listening, the fact, the truth will act. If a seed is planted in the earth and has vitality, it will grow. In the same way, the act of listening is like the soil. The act of listening is only possible when there is attention, and attention does not exist if there is interpretation, evaluation, condemnation or judgment of that to which you are listening. If you listen completely, attentively, without any observer who is the thinker, then that very act of listening will put away what is false and you will listen only to what is true.
The act of listening is the field. In that field every kind of seed is sown and only the seed that has vitality, energy, strength will come up, will flourish. That's what we are doing now. We're actually listening, neither accepting nor disagreeing nor judging. We're actually listening so completely that the very act of listening destroys what is false and lets the seed of truth take root. If we listen to the whole structure of pleasure on which our thought, our lives, our beings are based, and do anything about it, which we are all wanting to do, which we think is the most positive act, that brings about greater confusion, greater conflict and therefore more sorrow, more pain, but if we listen in the completely negative state, which is the most positive state, then the seed which has life will grow without our doing anything about it.
If thought does anything about pleasure, about desire, this is still the act of desire and the act of pleasure. Thought cannot do a thing about it, which doesn't mean that thought has not its place, its validity, but we are talking of an action that is not a pleasure and therefore an action in which there is no contradiction, no conflict and no pain.
If there is this act of listening, an understanding of the nature of pleasure and of pain, and a realization by thought that any movement it makes in any direction, above or below, is still the search for pleasure, then thought naturally comes to an end. Unless thought comes to an end, not artificially, not through compulsion, discipline, practice, all of which are still the result of thought, thought itself can never discover anything new. Thought is the outcome of the past, the outcome of innumerable experiences of pleasure and pain. Thought as the thinker seeking something new can only recognize that which it has known, and therefore it is not new. The brain has grown through millions of years to its present state, all its cells conditioned to react to pleasure and pain. Thought cannot make the brain still because the brain is the result of time and thought also is a result of time. No matter how hard thought tries, it is impossible for it to make the brain cells quiet.
The question then is, can the brain that has been so conditioned, so deeply held in this principle of pain and pleasure, can that brain be quiet; can that brain actually be sensitive, alert, active, but be quiet? Thought can only react in terms of pleasure and pain. Unless that brain is completely still, not asleep, not vague, not resisting, but completely quiet, thought must operate. Through centuries upon centuries we have developed the animal instincts, the cortex, the brain, which are essentially the response of the past. Any reaction of that past, that background, is thinking, in terms of pleasure and pain. Therefore when thought says, " I am seeking God", what it is seeking is pleasure. All this idea of seeking, seeking, seeking is so absurd. Truth cannot be found by searching. Searching means thought, enquiry, taking a petty, little, bourgeois mind into vast fields of something which it doesn't know.
When we listen, thinking actually stops, which doesn't mean that the mind goes to sleep. On the contrary, it has listened actively, intensely, vigorously, without the thinker, and is so tremendously active that naturally there is no seeking. It can only be so energetic, so vigorous, when it is silent. Can this brain and the mind, can the totality of this consciousness be completely still? If it is not, thought is in operation and thought is always seeking its own pleasure and therefore always inviting sorrow and pain. A mind that is pursuing pleasure and therefore inviting sorrow obviously cannot find what is real. It can invent, it can speculate, it can theorize, as theologians are doing all over the world, but that has no validity at all. Understanding humility, perceiving the structure of pleasure, which is desire, recognizing the psychological structure in which man is caught, which is society, and discovering whether the brain cells can be quiet and yet active - all this is meditation.
Meditation isn't something apart from daily existence. One can't be ambitious, ruthless, vulgar, crude, awful, insensitive, acquisitive, and at the same time talk about God, truth, love, meditation. That would be hypocritical nonsense. Obviously one has to be free from the psychological structure of which society is a part, of which we are a part. If the mind is not free from this psychological conditioning, which includes religions, economic states, class differences, and all the despair and agony of the competitive world, one cannot meditate. One can play around. Meditation, in the sense in which we are using the word, is a most dangerous thing. Meditation that one practises is a most tame thing. Learning to concentrate about some idea is not meditation at all, but to be aware of the total process of existence, without choice, to be completely attentive to this, makes the mind tremendously active and revolutionary, not a domesticated animal, conforming to the pattern of society, whatever society it is, whether it is communist or capitalist.
When the mind is really very quiet, naturally, effortlessly, then the observer, the thinker ceases to be. Then relationship between man and man becomes entirely different. The relationship then is not a memory which has been collected, an image meeting another image, another memory; it is actual relationship. If we go into it then, if we have gone so far, moved deeply in that direction, we will find out what beauty is, because we don't now know. We only know beauty in comparison, in something that has been put together by man, a beautiful building, a beautiful face, beautiful music or this or that. True beauty implies something which is not the result of thought, and without that sense of beauty there is naturally no love. We can go on indefinitely with this because there are no frontiers of consciousness there. All consciousness is limited for us now. We are conditioned as Englishmen, Catholics, Protestants, Anglicans, Buddhists, Hindus, Moslems, communists, socialists or whatever our background may be. All consciousness is limited and any action of consciousness trying to go beyond itself is merely further expanding the consciousness within, pushing the borders a little further, but there is still a limitation. Probably the people who take drugs unconsciously know all this and try to go beyond, but they cannot.
Meditation is something extraordinary, if it goes on, not at odd moments, but timelessly, if you are aware when you get into the bus, or the car, or when you are talking to someone, aware of what you are doing, feeling, thinking, aware of how thought operates according to pleasure and pain, not condemning any activity of thought but just listening to the noise of thought. Out of that you really have an extraordinary mind that is tremendously alive. Being quiet, being silent, a new thing can take place. The newness is not recognizable. This sublime thing, whatever name you give it doesn't matter, is not something that is put together by thought, and therefore it is the whole of creation.
Questioner: Could you say something about the highly sensitive mind which is in danger of becoming self-centred and highly nervous? That has been my experience.
Krishnamurti: Isn't there a danger, the questioner asks, in the mind when the whole human organism becomes highly sensitive; isn't there a danger of nervous tension? Why should we have tension at all? Doesn't tension exist only when there is resistance? There are noises going on here; a dog is barking, the buses are going by, and there is a child crying. When you resist, tension is built up. This actually takes place. If you don't build any resistance but let the noise go through, listen to it quietly, without resistance, not saying that it's good or bad, not saying, " I wish that dog wouldn't make that noise; that bus is terrible", but just listening, then, since there is no resistance, there is no strain, no effort. I think one of the problems of modern life is living in boxed-up houses called flats, where there is no space, no beauty, but constant strain. If you are vulnerable to it all - I'm using the word " vulnerable" in the sense of to receive, to let everything come - then I don't see how you can have nervous breakdowns or nervous tension.
Questioner: There is something in me that is frightened to do or follow or think of or be aware of what you are saying, I'm frightened.
Krishnamurti: That's it. I think that's fairly clear, isn't it? What is being said is quite revolutionary.It's very dangerous to do it because you may have to alter the whole structure of your life. Intellectually you say, " Yes, I understand every word you're saying". Unconsciously you know the danger of it; so you get nervous, apprehensive, frightened, because you want to lead a very secure, comfortable, easygoing life, to live in a secluded, safe isolation. What is being talked about might destroy all that. It will! You will no longer be a Christian, or an Englishman or an Indian or this or that. You'll belong to no group, no sect. You'll have to be tremendously alone, alone not in the sense of isolation.
Anything that is alone is always beautiful. A lonely tree on a field is a most beautiful thing to look at. We are frightened to be alone, and before we are alone we are frightened of being lonely. We are lonely human beings. All our activities lead to this loneliness, which is isolation. Though we may be married, have children, have jobs, belong to groups and sects, deeply inwardly there is this isolation going on, this fear of loneliness, of being lonely, of not being related. We run to various forms of amusement, including the mass, the church, worship, anything to get away from that loneliness. We can't understand it without understanding the self-centred activity of our lives which breeds this loneliness; but when we have understood it, gone through it, gone beyond it, then we come to that sense of being completely alone, uncontaminated, untouched by society. If we're not alone, we can't go any further.
Questioner: Would you say that the struggle for power is always corrupting?
Krishnamurti: Politically, religiously, the separation between sovereign states on the one hand and on the other the individual's search for power, position, prestige - all that is obviously corrupting. The man in power has reached that position through corruption, and from that position he may preach goodness, love, sanctity and all the rest of that nonsense. The saints do it; the politicians do it; the godly people do it. They all want power. As was said at the beginning of this talk, humility is something that can't come through thought. It comes into being when there is death to the past, when we're always entering life, every day, without the past.
Questioner: How can we exercise discipline without creating conflict?
Krishnamurti: The word discipline means to learn. Learning is the active present. To learn in itself is discipline. It is not necessary to practise a discipline. You are listening to what is being said. If you are attentive, if you are listening actively in the present, that very act of listening creates tremendous discipline. You don't have to discipline yourself. This disciplining which we all do like soldiers is a terrible thing because then in that discipline is involved conformity, imitation, adjustment, fear, obedience to a pattern and therefore it becomes mechanical, like a soldier. You have seen them drilling. It doesn't take much brains for that. To obey, to follow any pattern destroys, inevitably creates conflict. But if you want to understand this whole structure of discipline, to understand it is discipline in itself. You don't have to exercise discipline. For most of us discipline means resistance; and therefore effort, conflict and all the rest of it follow. But if you are aware, if you are aware while getting into the bus, aware of what is taking place in the bus, watching, that very act of being aware in itself is discipline. It means being awake.
Questioner: It's very difficult to listen to thoughts which suggest unpleasant or frightening things, without thinking about them and arguing about them.
Krishnamurti: It's difficult to listen to one's own thoughts, but how do you find out if you don't listen?
Questioner: Sir, what you are really telling us is to cultivate a private state of mind. I stress the word private. But the point is that you do have to live in the material world. Surely the active world can destroy our private state of mind.
Krishnamurti: Sir, I am not talking of the private mind at all. Our minds are the result of the totality of the human mind. We are the result of the society in which we live. This society has been created by each one of us. So the many is the me and the me is the many. There is no division between me and the many. I am the result of all that. However, I think we should differentiate between the individual and the human being. The individual is the localized entity, the Englishman, the Indian, the American and so on, localized, conditioned by the locality, the culture, the climate, the food, the clothes. The human being is conditioned on a much larger scale. He belongs to the whole world. Our sufferings, anxieties and fears are the same as in India, as those of an Indian who goes through terrible states, just like everyone else all over the world. If we understand that, then the private cultivation of one's own mind also disappears. We are concerned with the total structure of the human mind, not our minds, our little backyards. That's nothing. Our little backyards are as filthy as any other backyard, or as clean as any other little backyard.
Questioner: How can we remember to be awake?
Krishnamurti: Let me finish answering the previous question. My action then is not outside the world, but in the world, all the time I'm here. What I'm doing as a human being, going to the office, living with my family, I'm aware of, not as a private individual, but as a human being. When I'm aware of that as a human being, surely I'm affecting the whole of the human mind. It is because we function as localized entities that we are destroying ourselves. Sir, at the present time India is going through a terrible period of starvation and hardships. The question is not an Indian question; it is a human question. The politicians won't see that. They want to keep their localities intact, with their sovereign states, their power, their position, their prestige. They won't solve the problem that way. It is a human problem; it is a world problem. We have to deal with it as a whole world, not Indians or communists or Americans or Englishmen giving food or not giving food. Action as a human being is entirely different from the action of a localized entity. The localized entity creates more power, creates misery, as does the human being who is still caught in the human or the animalistic struggle. Only the human being who has understood this whole structure, its anxieties and its agonies can bring about a totally different kind of action.
Questioner: Sir, isn't action necessary in opposition to what we call the power principle? Only action can improve this.
Krishnamurti: It would be stupid to be against action, but I must find out what is meant by action. What does it mean to act, to do? This is a very complex question. To act means action in the present, but that action in the present is not possible if it is based on an idea. If I act as a Hindu or as a Christian, my action is based on something which thought has built in order to protect itself. It is conditioned action. Such action is destructive, whether it is in the office or in the home. Action which is always in the present and therefore free of the past comes only when I'm learning, as I'm learning. Therefore action is an act of learning. It is not a matter of having learned and then acting. There's a vast difference between the two.
Questioner: Most of us can learn a state of mind which is very different from that which is usual in the world today, but the people who have reached positions of power and authority are still in the grip of the past. What can those of us do who can't act but can only think correctly? What can we do?
Krishnamurti: We can't do anything; about the men in power. They have achieved that and we know how they have got there. What can we do? We can't do anything. You say we can talk about peace, against the vested interests of sovereign governments, of armies, of the airplane manufacturers, the whole structure, but what can we do; not buy stamps, not pay taxes? If we don't they will put us in prison, and we can't send letters. Will that solve the problem? Obviously not. But for a human being to be free from nationality and the poison of all that is a much greater action. The other produces wars, economic wars, brutality and misery, the whole of man's existence. But a human mind, realizing all that, frees itself from nationality, sex, groups, ceases to identify itself with this or that class and is no longer a localized individual, and therefore no longer a human being conditioned by human struggles and miseries. The action which comes out of it is the only beneficial action.
Questioner: You think it is important that we should be aware of our existence while getting on and off a bus and things like that, but how can we remember to be aware?
Krishnamurti: How can we remember all the time to be aware? I'm afraid we can't. That's why we should not try to remember. Heavens, if I try to remember to be aware then I'm practising awareness! Then awareness is something to be attained, something that will gradually become mechanical and therefore lose its vitality, its freshness. If I am aware at one moment, I'm completely aware, and the next moment I may not be aware; I may be unaware. All right. I will be unaware. If I'm attentive, I am at that moment completely attentive. The next moment I may be inattentive. Then I know I am inattentive. But in that state of inattention I do not breed action, which will bring about misery. My concern is not how to be attentive all the time, which is again another form of pleasure and greed and all the rest of the ugliness. My concern is just to be attentive. When you have to be, you are attentive. Sir, it's like this. A drum is empty always, and when the skin is rightly taut it gives right noise, right sound. Attention is like that.
May 7, 1966
London 4th Public Talk 7th May 1966
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