Saanen 6th Public Talk 21st July 1966
I think this morning we should consider the question of action. We should go into it rather deeply and see if we can find and learn an action which is not contradictory, a life in which there is no conflict of the opposites, no contradiction. Most of us live a private and a public life. A public life is broken up into fragments; we live in public with different masks, different attitudes, different poses. We have so many masks; we put them on very easily and take them off only in the privacy of our own minds and hearts. In private life, if one is at all serious or if one is aware, there are also various masks. With friends we put on one mask, in the intimacy of the family we have another mask, and if we are ever alone, we have a totally different mask. Each mask is in contradiction to the others, both the public and the private. Most of us are not even aware of these masks. We just drift, adjusting ourselves to various influences and pressures, acting and reacting according to what these masks dictate. We live a life of contradiction and conflict until we die. None of these states seems to be permanent; each one has its own life, its own activity; and we become aware of them only when there is a great conflict, a crisis. Then we try to find out what to do, how to act and strangely, each phase, each mask dictates its own discipline, its own activity, its own way of life.
If we are at all serious, we become aware of that, and we try to integrate all these different contradictions. The more we try to bring these together into some kind of unity, the greater the conflict, the greater the contradiction. I think most of us know this; most of us know the various pretensions, the vanities, the assumptions that we each have, both public and private. If we take away these masks, what is left? If we are serious and earnest about the matter, we should find out not only what these pretences are, with their vanities, their hypocrisies, their contradictions, their activities, each in opposition to the others. We should also find out for ourselves if we can strip all these away and see what is.
When there is no pretence, when there is no mask, when there is no assumption of what should be and what should not be, when we have put away all influences, social, political, economic, climate, food and all the others, then we should find out not only what is left, but if we can live with what is left. If we lead a non-contradictory life, a life in which there is no effort, and therefore no contradiction whatsoever at any level, then only is there freedom. It is only in that freedom that there is peace and a flowering of something totally new, a new joy, an ecstasy, a bliss that is not of desire and pleasure.
We only take off the masks when we are absolutely alone in the deep privacy of our minds and hearts, but if we could, this morning, uncover for ourselves the pretences, the masks that we put on when we meet strangers and when we meet intimate friends, perhaps we would find out for ourselves what real action is. Perhaps we would also find out whether it is possible to live in this world, go to the office, run a house, be related to a husband or a wife, carry on all our social activities, and at the same time live a life which is whole, total, so complete that there is not a breath of contradiction or conflict. In the learning of that there is great beauty. In that beauty there is great joy, but to understand it we not only have to go, into this question of desire, which is pleasure, but also we must forget totally this fashionable and commonplace assertion of the unconscious.
It has become the fashion to talk a great deal about the unconscious, to go into it, interpret the various motives, pressures, hidden demands and hints. In setting aside what is called the unconscious, we should also be totally free of all dreams, except the physical dreams that take place when we have overeaten, or something of that kind. We have a great deal of work to do together this morning if we would go into this question of a life, of an action, in which there is no contradiction whatsoever. If we can find that out, if we can learn about it, then we go beyond pleasure, beyond desire, and come upon something which is joyous, which is great bliss. We cannot come upon it without understanding these contrary states of our existence, with all their various subtle forms, masks, pretensions. This morning, if we may, we are going to go together, explore and learn. It is not a matter of being told what we should discover, what we should not discover, what the masks are, what the pretensions are, but of becoming aware of it. If we discover for ourselves, that very discovery releases great energy for further discovery.
Let's begin. At first we are going to learn together. We are going to learn by exposing ourselves to ourselves, because this is not a mass meeting or gathering, with some one who is analysing the whole thing, and you just listening. I don't feel at all like that; it is too ugly, too silly. If we are neurotic, unbalanced, perhaps it might be useful to go into a little analysis, and perhaps most of us are a little unbalanced, but the discovery of the cause and the analysis do not bring about a freedom from the fact. In discovering the fact, and giving full attention to the fact of what discovery is, there is no analysis, there is no time interval to examine, to discover what the cause is. When we give total, complete attention, and find for ourselves or learn for ourselves what is, we undergo a tremendous revolution, and that's what we are going to do together this morning. In attention there is no thought; there is no time; there is no observer and the observed. If we give complete attention to something, it doesn't matter what or where it is - in the kitchen, when we are listening to something, when we are reading, or when we are looking at the beauty of a sky in the evening - if we give complete attention, with our hearts, with our minds, with our nerves, with our ears, with everything that we have, then in that we will see that there is no observer; there is no observed; there is no time interval in which to examine. In that attention there is nothing; even the fact disappears.
That's what we are going to learn, not only to uncover the various masks, the pretensions, the defences, that we have so carefully and cunningly developed, but to see and learn whether it is at all possible, living in this world - which is an ugly, confusing, miserable world of destruction and brutality - whether it is possible to live without a mask, without resistance, and therefore act totally, without contradiction. I hope it is clear that the unconscious, as it is called, has no meaning whatsoever. There is only an awareness as you enter this tent, an awareness of all the colours, the faces, the people, an awareness in which there is no choice. If we are just aware, as we are when we look at a flower, or when we listen to the noise of that airplane overhead, if we just listen to it totally, neither resisting it nor getting irritated with it, just listening completely, there is no unconscious. It becomes such a trivial affair.
We have laid the ground for the examination of the mask, of the pretence. Can I, can you be aware without condemning, judging, justifying; just be aware of our masks, of our pretensions? Unless we really are aware of this, to go further into it becomes impossible. As we uncover these various masks and pretensions we will come to a point where we are absolutely nothing. That is frightening, because most of us don't know what it means. We only know it verbally. We have looked at it from a distance, with a little apprehension, or we are fed up with our lives, with our relationships, and we want to isolate ourselves, put away everything and be alone, which is only a reaction. If we actually, factually are aware of each mask, or if we see instantly the whole fabrication of making masks, we are free of them instantly. There are two things involved. Either we uncover each mask, each pretension bit by bit, day after day, or we uncover the whole process of it instantly. If we uncover little by little, gradually, that obviously takes time. A gradual process involves time and in that interval between the little bit that we uncover today and what we uncover tomorrow, a new mask has come into being.
It is very difficult for most of us to see that there is no such thing as gradual understanding, gradual seeing, gradually acquiring deep meaning. We are conditioned to accept a gradual evolutionary process. Most of us are nationalists, English, German, French, Italian, Indian, Chinese, and we say that we will gradually become internationalists, European or American. After becoming international we will become supernational, and then ultimately there will be unity of man - when we are all dead, when we have all murdered each other, when every country with its politicians has wrecked the world. We say that ultimately there will be some unity, but it never takes place.
If you see the nature of nationalism, the whole content of it, not merely the verbal, not just the flag-waving, or the pacifist, but the whole process of it, if you comprehend it totally, it is finished. You no longer belong to any country, any group, any race; but to do that you must give attention. That means that you must no longer be lazy, indolent, and be caught in this gradual stuff. Either you see the whole process the whole fabrication of this mask-making, of these pretensions, immediately, or you don't see it at all. Don't say, " I will gradually understand it; like peeling an onion, I will gradually undo peel after peel, take off skin after skin". Don't say to yourself that you will do it gradually. Either you see it instantly or you don't. If you don't, leave it alone. Don't say, " I must see it; I must force myself to see it; I want a different kind of life". You won't get it. It doesn't happen that way. It is like a person who is rich but pretends that he is poor. It is a mask; he takes comfort in the mask. If you are rich, don't pretend. Then it is finished. What is important is not to have conflict.
You have to find out or learn for yourself whether you see the whole structure, the machinery of pretension, whether you see it totally, immediately, or whether you don't. If you don't, find out why you don't. Perhaps you are frightened. Perhaps you say, " I don't know where it is all going to lead me to. I have built so many resistances, so many defences behind which I take shelter, and you are asking me to break through all that. Where will it lead me to? Guarantee me that I will find something which is far beyond all this". Then you are willing to break through, if you have any faith at all left, and most of us fortunately have no faith in anything.
Discover for yourself and learn for yourself why you live behind masks, pretensions. That is not very difficult to discover. It is because you want to be thought, oh, so many things that you are not. You want it to be thought that you are a great man, a great writer, a great this or that. You don't want to have what you are discovered. There is the fear of losing something that you already have in your hand, in your heart. Please, don't just merely listen casually to what is being said, because that has no value whatsoever. You can come to these meetings year after year, and casually in a holiday mood consider what is said. When you go back home to your various places you will begin again this whole life of confusion, misery and conflict. But if you listen, and to listen implies learning, then you are riding on a river which is fathomless, which has tremendous weight behind it, which is moving, carrying you along. If you so listen, then find out why you have these pretensions, and don't spend a single second on examining the cause of it, analysing it, dissecting it, fighting it, postponing it. When you analyse it and search for the cause, you are merely avoiding. You know very well why you have these masks, these pretensions, these defences. You don't have to be told by anyone. You know it. What is important is to be aware of this resistance, these defences, these pretensions.
When you are aware, break them. If you don't want to break them, remain behind them; remain as you are. Don't introduce another problem, because all of us have so many problems as it is, which these masks, these defences have created. If you say that it is inevitable, that it is natural, that you can't help it, that it is the way of life, then remain with it. Don't introduce another problem, that you must break the masks, break down the defences. Don't make that into a problem. If you don't make it into a problem, an issue, then you can come up on it in an easy, friendly spirit. It is only when you care to understand it that it begins to break down. If you say, " I must understand it; I must break through", you will never do it. If you have broken down these pretentious masks, defences, then you never ask the question, " What is there". Then there is an action which is never contradictory, an action which is always fresh, always new.
What we know of action is repetition. It is like a man going to an office for forty years till he retires and dies, and the widow has the money. His activity is repetition, doing the same thing over and over again, perhaps a little more cleverly than the other fellow and therefore he gets a little more money, but it is the same pattern repeated day after day. This repetition of activity gives us great comfort. We are secure in it. There is never a doubt about it; there is never a questioning of it. It is like being carried along on a wave of something which society has established, as in a war. In a war everyone is terribly united together; we have no responsibility; everything is told us, and we just carry on. For us action generally means repetition and therefore there is nothing new; there is nothing fresh; there is nothing that will give us new energy. But when there are no defences, no pretensions, no masks then there is a totally different kind of action, an action which is not based on previously accumulated experience and knowledge, which is necessary at a certain level of skill. There is a mind which is always fresh, young and innocent. Innocency has no mask, no defence. It is totally vulnerable, and out of that innocency and vulnerability there is an action which is really an extraordinary thing, in which there is no sorrow, no pain, no pleasure, but an extraordinary sense of joy.
Before you begin to ask questions, before we begin to go into details, live with what has been said for a few minutes, a few seconds. Don't jump immediately and say, " I want to ask a question". What we have talked about is quite a serious affair and it requires tremendous enquiry, consideration. It is really a meditation, not the silly thing called meditation. If I may suggest it most respectfully, don't immediately say, " I want to ask you something". Remain with it. Let it simmer inside you. Also, when you leave the tent, don't immediately start chattering about whatever you do chatter about.
It is like planting a seed in the earth. We plant it very carefully. We dig a hole, enrich the soil and plant it. We must give it water, rain and sunshine, but if we are all the time pulling it out to see if it is growing, we kill it. That is what we are always doing. We hear something - which may be true or false, that is not the point - but we hear something and then we react to it immediately, brush it aside or accept it, deny it or do something about it. We don't take care to see that the thing is given an opportunity to flower.
This does not mean that we are preventing you from asking questions. To ask a question is very important, but what is still more important is to ask the right question, and to ask the right question we need tremendous penetration into that question. We should ask questions about everything, about nationality, kings, queens, about the ways of government, about religions, about everything of human concern. It is necessary to have a great deal of scepticism. It is necessary never to say "Yes" but always to say " No" and enquire. Most of us are " Yes"sayers, because we have been so trained from childhood. The father, the mother, the priest, the government, everything around us is so conditioned, is so much influencing us that we just accept everything. Therefore we rarely ask, and when we do ask, we ask the most silly questions.
To ask a very serious question, and a right question, is very important because when you ask the right question you get a right answer.
Questioner: How can I be innocent and vulnerable and live in the world?
Krishnamurti: I am afraid the question has been wrongly put, if I may say so. How can you live in this world and yet be innocent? First, be innocent, and then you will live in this world, not the other way round. Be vulnerable, be tremendously vulnerable. You do not even understand what it means to be innocent! If you are innocent, you can live in this world, in another world, in any world. But if you are not innocent you try to compromise with this world and then all hell is let loose. But learn about this sense of innocency. Don't try to get it. It is not the word. It is that state when you have no pretensions, no masks, no conflict. Be in that state and then you can live in this world. Then you can go to the office; you can do anything. If you know what love is, you can do what you will. There is no conflict, no sin, no pain. When the questioner says, " How can I come upon this innocency, this vulnerability, this sense of having no defence, no pretensions, no masks?", that is the right question, not how to live it. Then you will live in this world, totally differently.
Questioner: How can I, who have been tortured, my brain, my mind twisted, beaten, conditioned, almost broken, how can I learn, come upon this state in which there is no defence?
Krishnamurti: I have explained it, but explanation is not the real thing. You can listen to a dozen explanations but the real thing is not the word. The word is never the thing; the symbol is never the reality. The questioner says, " I, who live in this world, have to make money, live a married life, or not, with all its complications. How can I break through these pretensions?". I do not think that you can. You can't do a thing. If you do, it is still self-centred activity. If you say, " I must get that; I must break through", it is still the me that has first defended itself and now seeks a different form of defence. But if you realize the fact, the actual state, that you live a life of pretence - I mean, by " pretence" the private life and the public life, a secret life, deep down, covering it up - when you realize that, you do not have to do a thing; then it itself will act. You do it, sir, and you will see.
Questioner: To be aware is to suffer.
Krishnamurti: I am aware of the microphone; I am aware of the people here, with their dresses of different. colours; I am aware of the trees, the mountains and the river. I am also aware of myself. It is only when I begin to condemn myself, saying, " This is right", and " This is wrong", that in becoming so-called aware, which is not aware, I begin to suffer. I suffer because I do not like what I am. I want to break through it, to change it. Then there is conflict; there is pain. But if you are aware as I am aware of this microphone, without any choice, if you just watch it, look at it, in that there is no suffering. It is only when you like it or don't like it that you introduce the whole problem of conflict.
Questioner: You said something I did not understand.
Questioner: You said, "If you can't see and be free of mask-making on the very, instant, find out why you can't". You also, said that the desire to find out is a self-centred activity and therefore one will never break through the making of the mask. I am confused on that point.
Krishnamurti: Why do we make masks? We know why - for defence, fear, uncertainty, not knowing what is going to happen, clinging to the known and being frightened of the unknown.. The desire to be secure is the making of the mask, publicly and privately. When you say, " I must break through it", then it is a self-centred activity which will only create another mask. I see that any activity from a centre, any activity with a motive, is self-centred activity and therefore the desire to break through the mask is only the creation of another mask. I see that clearly. What do I do? I say, " I cannot do anything about it, because whatever I do only breeds another form of pretension, another mask, another defence". The very seeing of that stops all activity from the centre. I stop all activity. There is a complete negation of all activity. That I can understand immediately. That does not take time. I have understood instantly, that any action on my part breeds further mischief. Therefore there is no action, there is complete negation; there is no defence. It is the positive action of the egocentric movement which creates the defence, which creates the mask. When the mind has understood that process and there is an immediate stopping of it, then the total activity of the egocentric process comes to an end. Then there is a state of complete negation. That negation becomes the positive, which is the state of innocency, vulnerability. I haven't done anything! It is not that I have become innocent; that is too silly.
Questioner: Why are we concerned with what the right question is and what the wrong question is? Is not the right question in itself the right answer?
Krishnamurti: I have only qualified the question as " silly" or the " wrong" question, but that is what we are all doing. We are saying, " How can we stop wars?". I feel that is a wrong question. As long as human beings remain as they are there will always be wars. The right question is, " How can the human being change totally, immediately?". That, it seems to me, is the right question, and in that very question is the answer. If we put it with all the passion, intensity that is involved, that itself brings the answer.
Questioner: The new man you speak of would be unable to remain a new man and be a political leader or run any of the businesses as they are. This man would have such an influence that it would turn upside down the whole political organization.
Krishnamurti: The only political question is, as we said the other day, the unity of man. No politician at the present time is interested. We cannot look to politics to produce the unity of man, nor can we look to the religious people; they are not interested in this. If you and I, as human beings, are not concerned with nationalism, with separate religions, and all the rest of it, then you and I, perhaps, can bring about a totally different state of mind.
July 21, 1966
Saanen 6th Public Talk 21st July 1966
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