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New York 1966

New York 6th Public Talk 7th October 1966

This evening we will go into something that may be rather abstruse. In explaining things we must bear in mind that the explanation is not the fact. We are easily persuaded by explanations to believe or not to believe, to accept or to deny, but we must neither accept nor disregard the explanations. When we are talking over together certain psychological facts, we must remember that the word and the explanations become barriers, that they hinder rather than help us to discover for ourselves. We are going together into something that needs a great deal of attention, a sensitivity of careful observation. It seems to me that erudition and being familiar with various philosophies and ideals do not in any way resolve our immense psychological complexities and problems. To understand these problems, one must have a serious intention to examine very closely, not what is being said so much as what actually is taking place when one is listening. As has been said, listening is one of the most difficult things to do: to actually listen, with neither pleasure nor displeasure, not bringing in one's idiosyncrasies, knowledge and petty little demands, which actually prevent listening. When one goes to a concert - and I don't know why one goes - one listens with pleasure. One says, "I have heard that music before; I like to hear it again; there are memories, certain pleasurable experiences that one has had; and these memories prevent the actual fact of listening to a note, or to the silence between two notes. The silence is far more important than the note; but the silence becomes filled with the noise of memory, and therefore one ceases to listen altogether.

To actually listen one needs attention, but not a forced, cultivated, drilled attention. Attention, and therefore listening can only come when there is freedom, not when there is a motive. Motive always projects its own demands, and therefore there is no attention.t Attention is not interest, either. If one us interested, then that attention becomes concentration, and concentration, if one observes, is always exclusive, limited. With a limited concentration, one seems to hide every thought and every feeling in order to listen, which prevents the actual act of listening. When one really listens, an actual transformation takes place. If one ever observes oneself, one will see that one never actually listens. It is only when one is forced, cornered, bullied into listening that one listens with a resistance, or with pleasurable anticipation.

As we are going to examine together several issues, we must examine them without the interest which always has a motive behind it. We can examine only a fact; the fact of what is actually taking place. To examine there must be observation, to look and therefore to listen. If we listen, which is an act of total observation, all the interference of thought ceases. Then that very observation is the catalyst. This is important to understand, because most of us are so conditioned that we accept what we are told. We want something positive, a directive, a method, a formula, a system; and if we see the whole significance of a system, of a formula, whose pursuit only brings about a mechanical activity, then we can discard this so-called positive method. As we are so heavily conditioned, through propaganda, and also by our own fear and uncertainty, we easily accept. We want to be told what to do, how to think and what to think about. We are not going to do that at all tonight, because this mechanical thinking leads to immaturity, not to freedom at all. Following someone who gives a positive direction has been required for centuries upon centuries by the churches, by every kind of sect, religion, guru, and all the rest of that business. That's too crude, too obvious; and when we see that whole structure and its destructive nature, we discard it totally.

As we are not thinking in terms of formulas, direction, we have to be sensitive and put aside this mechanical approach to life, to action. Perhaps this evening we can look without a positive demand, and can observe or listen, not merely to the speaker, but also to our own intimations, to our own movement of thought and feeling, neither accepting nor rejecting, neither being depressed nor being elated by what we see. Without knowing, without observing the total movement of our own selves inwardly, every movement of thought, feeling, word, gesture and what lies behind the word, behind the thought - this whole structure of the psyche - we have no actual foundation to anything. What we have is merely acceptance of what has been, or what will be, the inevitable. But when we begin to learn about the whole structure, the meaning of ourselves, then we have the foundation deeply laid; then we can move, or not move.

Self-knowing is very important: Knowing for yourselves, not what you have been told about yourselves. You have to relearn about yourselves. Learning is not a movement of what has been accumulated as knowledge. Learning can only be in the active present all the time, and not what you have learned through experience, through your previous activity, through memory. If you are merely accumulating, there is no actual fact of learning, no seeing something for yourselves and moving from there. Unless you do this, action then becomes merely an idea; you divide action and idea, and hence the conflict, the approximation of action to the idea.

If this is somewhat clear, not verbally, not as an idea, but as an actual fact, then we can proceed; then we can take the journey together And we have to take the journey; because we are going to delve into something very, very deep and urgent. Most of us do see the utter futility of the meaningless existence that we lead. The intellectuals throughout the world invent a philosophy: how to live, what to think, what kind of world it should be, and so on. That's their amusement. So do the theologians; and of course, inevitably, the priests. But our life, the actual fact, our daily existence is monotonous, utterly meaningless. Not that we don't have memories, pleasures and amusements - but that's a very small part of our existence. Deep down, if we can strip off that particular layer, there is this enormous discontent with our lives, with our shoddy little existence; and it breeds despair. Being in despair, we seek; we say there must be something; we want some hope, something by which we can live. So we give, intellectually or emotionally, a significance to our life - which prevents us from actually looking, observing, listening to the whole content of our entity. Being discontented, in despair, we turn to various philosophies, various methods of meditation. We begin to seek; we try this; we try that; we take this special drug, LSD, or another drug, and keep on experimenting, hoping that we will some day discover the key to all this. That's what we are all doing. We want truly religious experiences, something supernatural, something mysterious, because our own lives are so empty, so dull, so meaningless, so utterly petty. We seek because we are discontented; and we don't know where to look, because no one believes in any of the things that anyone says any more. The religions have all gone up in smoke; that is not even worth discussing.

Being discontented, eaten up with this absurd triviality of existence which has no meaning whatsoever - except that technologically we must earn a livelihood and have some money; beyond that it has no meaning - there is discontent, a desperate loneliness; and we seek. There is this emptiness, this loneliness, this despair; and, to fill that, we are seeking. Probably you are listening this evening, seeking something to fill that void of nothingness. This search is a terrible thing, because it will lead nowhere. You have knocked at many doors in your despair, loneliness and misery: Eastern philosophies, Zen, this new person to whom you are listening, who is sitting in front of you and talking. You listen to all of them, and you knock at every door. Actually, what takes place is that when you are seeking you find what you want. So the first thing, it seems to me, is to realize that there must be no seeking at all. That's a hard pill to swallow, because most of you have been accustomed, conditioned to seek, psychologically, inwardly. You say, "If I can't seek, if I see there is no meaning in seeking, then what am I to do? I'm lost!". Seeking becomes another escape from the actual fact of what you are.

It is rather crucial that you should understand this. Because any movement of seeking gives the idea that you're actually moving, acting; but-actually what takes place is that you're not moving at all. What is taking place when you are seeking is a mental process which you hope will satisfy. Seeking is a static state; it is not an active state. The actual state is this terrible loneliness, emptiness, this incessant demand to be happy, to find a permanent reality. Seeking is by a mind that is frightened of itself, of what it is. A man who is alive, in the deep sense of that word, completely fearless, is a light to himself; he has no need to seek.

In the midst of this loneliness, this sense of an utterly meaningless existence, can one find out - not through philosophies, not through psychoanalysts, nor through any organized religion - actually for oneself, beyond any shadow of a doubt, if life has a significance at all? And what is that significance, if there is one? Man, historically, has been seeking this thing called God. It is not the fashion nowadays to talk about that entity; He's not worth talking about even, because no one is interested. It has been the monopoly of the organized religions, and the organized religions have gone up in smoke, or in incense. It has no meaning at all any more. Yet man is seeking, wanting to find out, and without finding that out, life has no significance, do what one will - invent every kind of philosophy, or take the very, very latest drug to give a certain stimulation so that one will have a certain experience because in another corner of the field one has become slightly, extraordinarily sensitive.

If one relies on stimulation of any kind, including the speaker here, that stimulation inevitably leads to dull minds. One has to find out. One has to examine, and through that very examination, discover a certain reality. If one projects from one's conditioning, from one's fear or from one's hopes, then one is back again to the same old circle.

First, we must realize the utter shallowness of our lives; not because someone tells us, but the actual fact of what is: the meaninglessness of going to an office for the next forty years; or if we have already been doing it for forty years, struggling, struggling, struggling, and at the end, dying; or filling the odd moments when we are not occupied with earning money with some philosophy, with some idea; or if we have money, going to certain places and learning meditation and how to be aware. It all becomes so utterly meaningless and childish. But we have to find out; we have to discover if there is a real significance, not invented by the mind. That's very easy. To find out if there is a significance, there must be an end to seeking, and then we face what actually is within ourselves.

Because of our despair and anguish, we have invented a network of escapes, beliefs, dogmas; or we just live for the time being, and die, rationalizing our whole existence. The mind must be free of belief to examine. To examine there must be freedom, obviously; otherwise we can't examine. To look, to listen, there must be extraordinary freedom from all our conditioning, all our demands, so that we can look at our own demands, at our own fears. It is extraordinarily arduous to have no movement of seeking or achievement, because we want to succeed; we want a quick answer to everything. We take a drug and we think we have answered the whole of existence because we have certain experiences. Those experiences are the shadow of the real, so why play along those lines?

To see all this structure, and not escape either through a conclusion, through a word or through the movement of seeking an answer demands astonishing attention; and this attention is not to be gained by practising attention - that becomes mechanical. One realizes for oneself the utter futility of what one is doing, which must be done at a certain level. One realizes that the marvellous escapes which man has invented to run away from himself and so prevent him from looking at himself - concerts, paintings and so on - are not the whole substance of life. All consciousness is always limited, however much one may expand it through drugs, through the practice of certain disciplines, hoping to expand consciousness. There is always the observer; the observer is the centre; and where there is a centre, the expansion is always limited.

As we were saying the other day, an object creates space around itself. I have space round me physically, because the object is here. This hall, with these four walls, creates this space; and there is space outside the wall. We only know space from the centre. When we look at the stars of an evening, a beautiful sunset, we know the space because there is the observer; and that space is always limited. We can expand it through various tricks of memory, drugs of various forms, but it is always limited, and therefore there is no freedom. But there is space in which there is complete. freedom, when there is no observer, when there is no centre.

As we were explaining the other day, the experiencer is the experienced, or the experience. The observer, the thinker, the experiencer is always creating space around himself; and that's the only space he knows. Within that he is doing everything to escape from that prison which the observer has created. But the observer, the experiencer is the experienced, the observed, and therefore his experiences which he is seeking, wanting, longing for, hoping for, are always within the limitation of that space which the observer creates. We can see this for ourselves very simply when we observe ourselves, when we observe a building, a flower by the wayside, or when we have an experience or want an experience; there is always the observer. But the observer is the observed; the two are not separate. It's very important to understand this. Then the observer doesn't create or demand any experience; there is no centre from which to observe, to experience, to gather memory from which to move.

When one says one is afraid, there is the observer who says, "I'm afraid", and he wants to do something about that fear. That's irrelevant. But is the fear different from the observer? The observer is the observed. The observer, the centre, by his thought, by his memories of pleasure and pain, has bred this fear, which he has put outside of himself. He looks at it and says, "I must get rid of it". There is conflict between the observer, the centre which says, "I must be different. I'm angry, and I must get rid of anger", and the observed. There is a separation between the observer and the observed, and hence conflict. A mind in conflict, at any level, even physically in conflict, brings about a certain dullness, weariness. It loses sharpness. It is no longer active in its sensitivity. It is wearing itself out through conflict, and that's all one knows, both outwardly and inwardly. Outwardly this conflict manifests itself as war, as success, as competition; and inwardly we are doing the same; we are in that state; we want to achieve, we want to become this or that. There is this everlasting struggle, this conflict, and the mind deteriorates. But when the mind realizes, understands the nature of the observer and the observed, conflict comes to an end; and the cessation of conflict is essential, because then the mind becomes completely peaceful. Then we can find out what the significance of existence is; not before, not when we are ambitious, greedy, envious, acquisitive, seeking more and more and more experience. All that immature stuff ceases when the observer realizes that what he observes is the observer; the seeker is the sought. If one sees that, then there is a totally different kind of action - not this restless, meaningless activity. The mind has examined, has understood the whole meaning of seeking, and also it is rid of fear. Therefore there is complete quietness, stillness, silence of the mind - which hasn't come into being through drill, through mesmerism, through self-hypnosis. It comes because we have understood all this. Then meditation becomes a tremendous activity. An agitated mind, a mind that has problems, a mind that is everlastingly, restlessly seeking, searching, asking, questioning, being critical and not critical, accepting, and all the things that it goes through, comes to an end when the observer, who is creating this movement, realizes that the experiencer is the experienced, is the experience.

This whole process is a kind of meditation, not a self-hypnosis, because there is no demand, no desire, no seeking, no saying, "I want this; I don't want that". Then only can one come upon that thing which man has sought for centuries upon centuries, which has nothing to do with belief, with organized belief or religion, with all that immature nonsense. To come upon it, there must be, naturally, love. Love is not desire, nor is it pleasure. One has to understand it, not become puritanical about not having desire or pleasure, which merely means suppressing. To understand this unfortunate word "love", one must also understand the nature of dying; because life is dying. One cannot understand the full depth of life if there is no dying to the past, and the past is memory, which is the observed. Without understanding this, life has no meaning. One can have more cars, more bathrooms, more prosperity and more wars; but life has no meaning. One can invent a meaning for it, but actually it has no meaning. To come to that significance, to that immense reality - and there is such a thing as that, not because the speaker says so, but there is, apart from every assertion or non-assertion - to come to it there must be freedom from the animal, the animal which is aggressive, violent, killing, and all the rest of the things one is. Without that, do what one will, go to all the analysts, to all the temples, to all the new philosophies, one's life will still be empty and meaningless.

Questioner: The Lord Buddha, I think, did it without killing the animal in him.

Krishnamurti: Sir, one must really be rather careful in this. It is no good quoting authorities. One really does not know what the Buddha said or did, or Christ, and so on. Discard all authority and find out for oneself. I did not say to "kill" the animal in one. Man has tried that. Every monk in the world has done that, either that or indulgence. But one must understand the whole structure of the animal in one, not intellectually, not sentimentally, not verbally but actually, come directly into contact with it: the petty little jealousies, anxieties and hopes.

To understand it, to look at it, you need care; and to care, you must have affection for it. You can't care for a child if you have no affection. It may be ugly; it may be silly; it may be whatever it is; but you have to look at it; and to look you have to care - which doesn't mean you destroy something in you, or suppress it, or control it, or run away from it. That's one of your conditionings, that you suppress, or indulge. You must understand the nature of pleasure, which is desire; understand it, not suppress it, not sublimate it, not run away from it; and to understand it, you must look at it with care.

Questioner: If I, the observer, look upon a tree as the thing observed, are the tree and I one and the same thing? Krishnamurti: You have heard that the observed is the observed. You have heard it; you haven't listened to it. There is a vast difference between hearing and listening. You haven't learned about it; you have heard it, and it has become an idea. Immediately that's what takes place: an idea, and that idea is trying to say, "Is the tree me? I, the observer, look at the tree, and the tree is me". But the tree's not you, obviously.

Have you ever looked at a tree, at a cloud, at the beauty of the sunset - looked at it - and there is no observer at all? Ordinarily when you look at it, what actually takes place? Your memories come pouring in. "Ah, that marvellous sunset I saw the other day in California; that light on the mountain!". Or you are absorbed by the sunset and for the moment you are silent; and in that silence you remember and say, "By jove, I'd like to repeat that", like sexual pleasure. That's what you do: it becomes a repetition, because you think about it, you want that pleasure repeated, and in that you are caught. But to really look at a tree, its movement, or the folds of a mountain, thought as memory must come to an end. Though you have mechanical knowledge, that knowledge prevents you from looking at that tree. When you do look at the tree without the observer, the tree is not you, and you are not the tree; there is no space between the observer and the observed. Then you don't say, "Am I the tree", or "I shall attempt to identify myself with the tree". All that becomes meaningless.

Questioner: Does this separation between the observer and the observed exist in the mind of a baby or a small child?

Krishnamurti: I'm afraid we can't go back to childhood. Actually we are discussing what takes place with grown-up people, with you - what takes place when you look. You always have a space between you and your wife or your husband; between you and your neighbour. In this space all conflict exists, all separation exists; not only between the black skin and the white skin, the brown skin and the yellow skin; but also there are the images you have built through memory, through fear, through flattery, through insult, and therefore there is a separation. Separation is an indication of a lack of love. A lumberman, looking at a tree, looks at it with a different eye from that of a scientist. The sentimentalist looks at it differently; so does the artist. But you never actually look, because you look through space which is created by observer; there is quite a different relationship if there is no observer, when the observer realizes that the thing he observes is the observer.

When you know that you love, when you know it as an observer, as an entity loving something - a tree, a woman, a man, a child - is that love? We have divided love into divine and mundane, sexual and non-sexual, something sublime and something absurd. We live in fragments. Our fragmentary existence is the curse of our life. Life is a total movement, not a fragmentary movement in conflict with another fragment. To understand this total movement, the maker of fragments must come to an end. Questioner: When you see a thing the way you say, is it not attention?

Krishnamurti: The questioner asks, "What is total attention?". Why do you ask? Not that you shouldn't ask; but why do you ask? Can't you find out for yourself what total attention is?

Let's begin with a very simple thing: to be aware. What does it mean? I'm aware of the size of this hall, the lights in it, the shape of it, the height of it, and I'm aware also of the colours worn by the people sitting here, their faces, how they look, how they smile, with their glasses, and so on and so on. I'm aware. Then I begin to say, "I like", "I don't like", "This is nice", "This is not nice". I'm aware with choice. I say, "This is a nice hall, or a not nice hall; that's a nice colour, or a not nice colour". Choice begins, and where there is choice, there is confusion. That's a fact that is going on all the time, not only outwardly but also inwardly. Can I look, be aware, without choice, without choice of any kind? Of course I have to choose between this coat and that coat, or something else, physically; but inwardly, why should I have a choice? Can I look at anything, be aware of anything, without choice?

When you put that question, no one can answer it. You have to do it! And if you do it, you will find out that there is an awareness without choice. When there is that awareness with choice, go into it deeper; then you will begin to discover what concentration is. Concentration is a form of resistance, exclusion, either with a motive of pleasure, profit or fear. If you go into it still deeper, you will see that there is attention in which there is no effort at all, because there is no motive which makes you attend. When you are totally attentive, which means with your nerves, with your body, with your ears, with your heart, with your brain, with your mind, completely attentive, in which there is no success, no motive, nothing, completely attentive, you will find that there is no observer at all. To be so attentive is its own discipline, not the discipline of compulsion, imitation, fear, adjustment to a pattern.

Questioner: I've experienced these states of choiceless awareness, and I have longed to get back to them, but I wonder very much if they are really meaningful.

Krishnamurti: Choiceless awareness has a meaning, and you can examine only in that state - examine what the politician says, what the priest says, what propaganda says, what your wife or your husband says, or what your own memory, your promptings, your intimation, your dreams, everything says. It has tremendous meaning if you're aware choicelessly; because then your thinking becomes highly clear. You are no longer persuaded or influenced by your own motives, or the motives of society. Then you can look and not distort what you're looking at. You do this when you're really in a crisis. When you're shocked, your whole attention is there; you're watching. Of course, if the shock is too great, you are paralysed. That's different. The questioner says further that he has had this experience of choiceless awareness, and he wants to go back to it.

Questioner: I know choiceless awareness is meaningful, but I wonder if the whole life process is meaningful.

Krishnamurti: Sir, I have explained all this evening that the whole life has a meaning, significance, when that thing that man has been seeking is found. Otherwise it has no meaning. That thing cannot be found if the mind is confused, is at war with itself. And the questioner would like to go back to that state of choiceless awareness. If you are aware of this demand to go back, or to gain again that state of choiceless awareness, then you are not in a choiceless state of attention. The moment you say, "I want something repeated", what you want repeated is something that you have had, that is a memory, that is not actual. The pleasure of that experience remains and you want that pleasure repeated. The repetition of any pleasure becomes mechanical, and choiceless awareness is not at all mechanical. On the contrary, it is attention from moment to moment. When there is no attention, there is inattention; and in inattention all our misery comes.

Questioner: What effect does a revolution in the mind of a single person have on the whole human race?

Krishnamurti: As we explained before, the individual is the local entity, the American, the Russian, the Indian - the local, conditioned, modern entity. The human being is much older. You are asking, if there is a mutation in the human mind, whether it will affect the whole consciousness, not only of the individual, but of man.

There are several things involved in this question: first, how to change society. You see that society must be changed, but how? And is it possible? Realizing the vested interests of the politicians, of the army, of the priests, of the business men, is it possible? You are society, psychologically. You have created this society; you are part of it. The psychological structure of society is what you have psychologically created. It is not something different from you. You have conflict; your life, your daily existence is a battlefield; and the battlefield in Vietnam is the extension of your daily life. You say, "I want to change all that". Can it be changed, or should you be concerned with the total human being, the human being who is ten thousand or two million or whatever years old? If there can be mutation there, then everything will come right. Merely changing a local entity, the individual, is not going to affect it a very great deal. Cultivating your backyard isn't going to do very much. But when you are concerned with the total man, then in that mutation of the psyche, perhaps the mutation will affect society.

Questioner: Is it not true that in modern society one must have accumulated knowledge, technological knowledge, and this brings about inattention?

Krishnamurti: No, sir. I have very carefully explained that you must have technological knowledge. You must have knowledge of where you're going tonight, where your home is, what your name is.

Questioner: You have said that we must have this basic technological knowledge, but that we must also have complete attention.

Krishnamurti: You must have knowledge; and also you must be free from the known, otherwise you're merely continuing in the known. You may take a drug, hoping to go beyond the known, but you can't. Those are all cheap tricks. Questioner: Why are the sunset and the tree easier to observe as an observer identified with the object?

Krishnamurti: That's very simple. The tree and the sunset do not interfere with your life. (Laughter.) I can look at the tree, but I can't look at my wife or husband, my neighbour. (Laughter.) I know it's quite funny, but do look at it sometime; look at yourself, at your wife or husband, at your neighbour. Look. Do not identify yourself with what you see, but look, and you will see a great miracle there. Then you are looking at life totally anew; you are looking at the tree, at the person for the first time as though you had never looked at anything before. Questioner: I understand that to observe oneself brings clarity. When the body dies, is the clarity lost also?

Krishnamurti: Death is a most complex thing. You can't answer a question like this in two minutes, and then go to the next subject. It's like understanding life. Life is an immense thing, with all the pain, the despair, the anxiety, the pleasure, the joy. It is a tremendous thing, and to understand living, you must care for living; you must listen to the whole movement of living. When you understand this thing, this enormous movement of life, then this movement is part of dying.

Questioner: Doesn't the child have more choiceless awareness than the adult, and less prejudice?

Krishnamurti: It depends on the child. (Laughter.) And it depends on the adult.

Questioner: I am speaking of the condition of childhood. I'm not speaking of any particular child.

Krishnamurti: The child is conditioned by the parents, by society, by the culture in which he lives, by the school he goes to, and by the children around him. He is conditioned; and this conditioning increases as he grows older. The walls thicken by his own ambition, by his own greed. He becomes more and more non-observant, non-curious, non-aware. This is what takes place in modern education. Technologically the child is trained, and practically the whole of life is neglected.

Questioner: Are you saying that when one has technological knowledge, in that moment one cannot possibly be aware?

Krishnamurti: Quite the contrary, sir! Of course it is possible to be choicelessly aware when you are being trained technologically. The more non-mechanistic you become, even technologically, the more active you are, the more you produce. If you give a workman the same layout day after day, he gets bored with it, and produces less. If you give him the same work and help him to learn about it, he'll produce more. That's what they are all doing in factories. That's one of the gadgets, the tricks they are playing. I divide technological knowledge and awareness only because the inevitable question arises: what shall we do if we destroy all this? To prevent that, I divided it, and also went into it and said that the thing cannot be divided. Life cannot be divided into fragments.

Questioner: Sir, so many millions of people are caught up in confusion and in a materialistic type of life that it seems to me almost hopeless to think that there will ever be enough people with enough clarity to do any good.

Krishnamurti: Why are you so concerned about the multitude? Are you one of the "do-gooders", and not really concerned about yourself and your relationship with the world?

We have produced this world by our thought, by our feelings. The total human being, which is each one of us must change, must bring about the mutation we talked about. Leave the others alone. We have done enough propaganda; and propaganda is never the truth; it's a lie. When there is love we will know for ourselves what relationship is between man and man. Without that we want to bring about a change in society; we want to change man; we want to do good; we want to put up the various flags. When we love, then there is no problem; then, do what we will, there is no harm.

October 7, 1966


New York 1966

New York 6th Public Talk 7th October 1966

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

Art of War

ancient Chinese treatise by Sun Tzu

free to read online

48 Laws of Power

a different universe by Robert Greene?

free summary online