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Amsterdam, talks in Europe 1967

Talks in Europe 1967 2nd Public Talk Amsterdam 21st May 1967

WE WILL CONTINUE with what we were talking about yesterday. Understanding is an act of instantaneous perception: immediate comprehension and therefore immediate action. It is not that one first understands and then acts, but it is, rather, that when there is total comprehension, which is understanding, there is total action, which is immediate. When we give complete attention to something which we want to understand, and we do this when there is a great crisis in our lives, then there is an instant comprehension, an instant understanding, an instant decision, and therefore action. When the crisis is very great then the understanding and action are simultaneous. It is not that one understands first and then acts later, but the action, which is the doing, is synonymous with understanding.

Now how does this understanding take place? What is the nature, the structure of this understanding? When do we actually understand? You know what the dictionary meaning is: to comprehend, to investigate, to use one's mind. But when we observe in ourselves the state of understanding, that is, when you say `I have understood', is it an intellectual comprehension, or an emotional reaction, or is it nothing to do with the emotions or the intellect? When things are very serious in our lives, a deep crisis which demands immediate action, then how does action come about in which there is no friction at all? Action in which there is no afterthought, no thinking it over and coming to a decision, but action which is immediate - how does it come about? One must have noticed in one's life this peculiar phenomenon of understanding. Understanding does not come merely through a conclusion, nor through a series of introspective, intellectual examinations, nor through ideation, through ideas.

Please, this is important to understand because what we are going into presently, what we are going to discuss, is fear and all the things implied in relation to that. So unless we understand this word, its structure and its nature, and also what is action, which is involved in this understanding, we cannot enquire, as we are going to, into fear - which most of us have in varying degrees. It seems to me, then, that it is very important to understand the nature of understanding.

Life is action; our very living is a movement in action. There is no living without action. Living is relationship, not only with a particular individual, but also with the whole social structure, outwardly and inwardly, which includes the psychological structure. This whole movement of living, which is relationship, is a movement in action. There is no state of mind in which there is not action, even when one totally isolates oneself from the world. Living is a process of relationship, a movement in action. So life is action, and to separate life and action as an idea, and act from that idea, brings about friction. Please, it is important, if I may say so, to understand this. It is not very difficult, only one has to give it attention. So we are enquiring, first, what is the state of mind that really understands. Even in the most complex technological problems, what is involved in this technological comprehension when the mind says `I have understood it'? There, you have accumulated a great deal of information, knowledge, and relatively, so far as that knowledge goes, you say you have understood the technological problem. But a technological problem is entirely different from a human problem and we are here discussing human problems and not how to put a motor together or how to work computers. Though a great part of us is the mechanical, we are trying to understand the phenomenon of `understanding'. So, how does this understanding come about?

When there is a crisis - and life is a crisis if one is tremendously alert, watchful, sensitive - then you see that every moment is a crisis. A crisis is not something which happens only occasionally; it is happening all the time - the crisis being the challenge which needs immediate response. When there is a crisis, what takes place? One responds according to one's background, according to one's conditioning, tendencies, inclinations. Please just observe it in yourselves as the speaker is going along; do not merely listen to the words, but observe through the words your own minds, your own actual life, your daily living. So, when there is a challenge, a crisis, generally one responds according to one's temperament, conditioning, inclination - which are all contained in the word `memory', one's background. And the background translates the challenge in terms of its own conditioning. Is that not so? If one is a nationalist one responds according to that conditioning, whereas the challenge demands a totally un-nationalistic action. Therefore there is a response which is not equal to the challenge and therefore there is conflict. This is a very ordinary psychological problem. It is what actually takes place. And in that state when the response to the challenge is not adequate, is not complete, then in that state there is no understanding. So, when one says `What is this understanding, and how does this understanding come about?' - then one means the understanding which is not separate, not divided from action. When you are confronted with great danger - real, imminent, immediate danger - there is a complete response. There is no thinking, nor acting according to a formula. There is immediate action. The understanding of the danger and the immediate action are simultaneous.

So, we are equating as to what is the state of the mind which understands? We said it is not that understanding takes place when one acts according to a formula, according to an idea; because when there is action which is derived from an idea there is an interval of time and that action is then made to conform to the formula, the pattern, the idea. Therefore there is a division and therefore there is a conflict. So, when does this understanding which is immediate action take place? We have said that it is not intellectual, it is not an emotional response, nor any response from the background, so what is the state of the mind which says `I understand' and therefore acts immediately?

Unless one understands this, what we are going to discuss presently will have very little meaning - because we are going to go into the question of fear. We are going into fear, which is not only at the conscious level but also at the very deep-rooted layers of the total consciousness. Surely, understanding takes place only when the mind is completely quiet. It takes place when there is no effort, when there is no interference of ideas, when there is no response of the background. Then you can say `I have understood it!' - and there is immediate action. You can see this in your own life. If you want to understand your child - and I hope you do - then you observe that child without any sense of consideration, without any sense of comparison with the brother, the other children. You watch him at play, when he is crying, when he is being naughty; you are merely watching - in which there is no valuation whatsoever. Therefore the mind is extremely quiet, quiet in the very action of watching. This really means that the mind, being silent, is in a state of great affection. I do not know if you have observed that love does not chatter. Love is not pleasure, nor desire. Love is silent; it has nothing to do with the interference of ideation. So, understanding is only possible when the mind is completely quiet - not blank, not in a state of abstraction nor in a state of identification, but a silence that is completely active. It is only then that you can say. `I have understood' and it is only then that there is complete action. Hence, there is no conflict involved.

If this is somewhat clear, not merely verbally but actually, then we can begin to enquire whether it is at all possible to be completely free of fear - not only at the conscious level but at the deeper layers of consciousness also - what is called `the unconscious'. Now, I wonder if there is such a state as the unconscious at all? Is there `unconsciousness'? I know it is the fashion of the Freudian and the Jungian analysts to say that they have established the unconscious as being the deeper layers of the conscious mind We are now questioning whether there is such a state at all. I know most of you will say there is, but in examining one has to question everything, never accepting anything. After all, we are dealing with a very complex problem - with the human being who has lived a million years and more in pain, in torture, in misery, in violence, in sorrow. We are dealing with a human being who is enquiring into the possibilities of a total revolution; and such a human being has to enquire, has to find the right answers, which means one has to be very serious.

First, one has to understand what is action, and what is an action which is derived from an idea. Most of us have an idea first, a formula, a pattern and from that we act. For instance the actual fact is that we are violent by nature. Our heritage is from the animal and there is in us a great deal of violence. That is the fact. The non-fact is the idea that we should be non-violent. It is a non-fact and hence what takes place? We are always trying to be non-violent when we are really violent. So our action is always derived from what should be and not from what is. You must know of this peculiar ideology of non-violence, which is being used politically in America with regard to the White and Negro problem, and this idea of non-violence has existed for many centuries. The idea is the ideal of not being violent, the what should be. All ideologies, however noble sounding, are idiotic because they have no validity. What has validity is what is. The what is is that we are all human beings throughout the world and whatever our particular culture is, we are violent. When you have an ideal of non-violence, which is only an idea, if you are acting according to that ideology then you are evading the central issue, which is violence. You can understand violence only when you give your total comprehension to violence - not when your mind is divided by the ideal of non-violence. Please follow this. Understanding is only possible when all ideologies have totally come to an end. Then you can face the fact that you are violent, because then you can give your total attention to it. Attention is not then divided into what is and what should be. So ideologist are mischief makers because they are dealing with un-realities. You know, religions have done this, organized religions. They have said that you must love your neighbour. Throughout the world they have said this; it is not just a Christian doctrine. But society is so constructed that you destroy your neighbour. The fact is that you are destroying the neighbour by your greed, your envy, your acquisitiveness, by your desire for position, power and prestige. Instead of tackling that central problem of violence, we escape into ideations.

In our life ideas predominate, ideas being organized thoughts, which are conclusions, symbols, images. All these predominate; and according to those ideas we act hence there is, as I have pointed out, a division between action and idea. I wonder why we should have ideas at all about action? If you understand something immediately you do not need any idea, do you? So ideas, ideologies prevent you from giving your total attention to the problem, and therefore there is no understanding. So, is there an action without the idea, the formula first and then the action? We are asking if there is an action without the idea, and there is when life is in a crisis; then every movement of everyday action, then every activity of our life is immediate. So one finds out that there is an action which is not dependent on ideas at all. Bearing that in mind, then one can begin to enquire into this question of fear, at the conscious as well as at the unconscious level.

As we said yesterday, fear is always in relation to something; it does not exist by itself. It is not an isolated phenomenon; in life there is no isolated phenomenon at all, everything is interrelated. Fear we know at the conscious level. We know the fear of losing the job, not having enough food to eat, not fulfilling, not achieving, not becoming a success, and so on. The outward fear we can fairly intelligently spot without too much analysis. And perhaps we can deal with these outward phenomena of fear fairly intelligently - if the mind is not totally self-centred in its activities. But we are going to enquire into fear at the deeper levels of consciousness - because there it has its roots; there we find the fear of death, the fear of not being, the fear of not having love, the fear of not fulfilling, the many, many fears that human beings have. And before we begin to enquire into the unconscious, which we have so easily accepted, we are questioning whether there is an unconscious at all. What is consciousness? I hope this is not all too serious, is it? If it is, I am sorry, because one has to be serious. Only to the serious life is, not to the fanciful, not to the man who is seeking amusement, not to the man who lives in books. It is only the earnest that know what life is; and one has to be serious. The world demands it, not only the world outwardly but the world inwardly, it demands that man be serious - not according to a particular pattern of belief, or in a particular technological way, but serious totally. Only to such a man is there life - the depth and the fullness and the beauty of it. So, we are asking: what is the unconscious, and is there such a thing as the unconscious?

What is consciousness? When are you conscious? We are enquiring into this question of consciousness not according to any philosopher, not according to any analyst or psychologist, We are enquiring simply as a human being, as we are. I want to know and you want to know what is this extraordinary thing called consciousness. How does it come into being? Are there divisions in it and is there a deeper level which is called `the unconscious'? So, what is consciousness, and when are you aware that you are conscious? When do you say `I am conscious, I am aware, I am attentive'? You become conscious only, do you not, when there is either pain or pleasure. When the pain is intense you are fully conscious - pain being effort, conflict, the drive of ambition, the drive of sex, violence and all the rest of it. Then you are conscious. Otherwise most of the time we are half asleep. We are drugged by religions, we are drugged by society, by literature, by propaganda, by the radio, and all the rest of it. Most of us are half-asleep and we only wake up when there is a tremendous crisis - as pain, when there is danger or a great demand for pleasure. Do please observe this in yourself and please do not accept what the speaker is saying. We are communicating with each other; we are taking the journey into ourselves, and therefore there is no guide; we are walking together. There we discover that we act only from these two principles and only when either of these two principles is in full demand do we become at all conscious. Otherwise we are more or less asleep. In this sleepy condition there are several activities going on; we are not actually asleep. So, we become conscious only when these two principles are in full movement. So, what matters for us are these two things, pleasure, and the avoidance of pain, which is danger and so on. The avoidance of danger is fear. What we want, fundamentally, is the continuance of pleasure - whether it is going to church, whether it is worshipping God, reading books, or having sex or whatever it is, that is the drive, pleasure, and fear comes in when that pleasure is denied, which is the avoidance of pain, the avoidance of sudden danger. Please observe this in yourself and you will see it. We are not describing something extraordinary. This principle of pleasure and pain operates right through us because, as human beings we are the result of the past. You are the result of the past two thousand years of Christianity - with all the ideologies, with all the propaganda which the Church has given you for two thousand years. They have told you that you are this or that, a dozen things. You are the result of two thousand years of a particular propaganda - all the racial accumulated inheritance. That is the background. As in India they are the result of ten thousand years or more of their own propaganda. So in this consciousness there is the residue of ten thousand years of propaganda, tradition, racial inheritance, memories, motives, pursuits - hidden as well as obvious. The whole of that is consciousness - and that is what we are. We are the total content of man. Whether we live in the Far East, or here, or in America, we are the total content of man's endeavour, man's existence. Therefore there is no collective apart from the individual. Do go into this and you will see the extraordinary thing that will take place. We are the collective and we are the individual; there is no division. And the one who gives emphasis to the collective or emphasis to the individual is unbalanced. So, in this total consciousness, in which the principle of pleasure is always functioning, in that there is fear, and in that total consciousness there has been a division as the conscious and the unconscious. The unconscious, as far as most of us are concerned, plays a part in our daily life; our motives, how we have been brought up, whether we have been spanked as a child. Now, is there actually a division? Is there a division between the conscious and the unconscious or is it not that there is a total movement all the time operating; a total movement, not a divided movement - right? When do you see something totally?

Obviously, when there is no division. When the mind is divided in itself as the intellect, the emotions, the physical and the neurological responses and so on, you do not see totally. You see totally only when the mind is not divided in itself. You see the total man, humanity, the human being when you are not divided, when you are not national, not a Christian, not a Hindu. You see man throughout the world struggling in misery, sorrow, pain, though he worships his own silly gods invented by his memories and fears. And when do you see the totality of man, which is yourself? Please follow this. When do you see yourself totally? When there is not the observer and the observed. That is, when there is no centre as the `me', the observer, with all its background, with its conditioning, which divides; then only do you see the total content of man, the total content of yourself. So when there is no division as the conscious and the unconscious, when there is no division as the West and the East, of various cultures, when these things do not divide, then there is a total comprehension of man, which is of yourself. It is only then that you can look at yourself.

I do not know if you have ever tried - as we were hinting yesterday - to look at a tree. Holland is full of lovely trees, lovely meadows, and there is a marvellous light because here the sky is very low to the earth and the light is entirely different. And if you have ever noticed it, if you have ever observed it, when you look at a tree do you really look at or at the image which you have of that tree? When you look at your wife or your husband, do you look at him or her through the image?

Obviously you do; because that is all we have. All we have is the images which have been put together by fear, by demands, by memories of pain and pleasure; and through these images we look at each other. And it is only these images which have relationship, not you and I; we do not have relationship. It is only the images - we try to establish relationship between the images, and therefore all relationship becomes painful. Do follow this up and you will see how extraordinarily simple it all becomes. See whether you can live without any images, without an image about the tree, or the cloud, or the image about your wife or your husband. When the images die then you are really in direct relationship, and that relationship is quite a different fact from the relationship of images. In that relationship which is without the image there is no conflict. So, it is only possible to see the totality of this consciousness when one can observe this whole process - not from a centre, as an observer, as a Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, American - but actually look at it without any division. Then you will find that there is no such thing as the unconscious at all. Then you will see it as a total movement - and that is a marvellous understanding.

So, we were saying that in this consciousness there is pleasure and pain; and the avoidance of pain and the pursuit of pleasure at different levels, with different demands, brings about not only sorrow but also fear. A mind that is all the time seeking pleasure in different forms - bodily, sensually, sexually, the pleasure of fulfilment, the pleasure of being a success, the pleasure of finding something secure and holding on to it, such a mind, which pursues pleasure, must inevitably invite its opposite, which is pain. The two go together, they cannot be separated. They are only separate when we do not see the totality of pleasure. This process goes on in our life, the pursuit of pleasure under all circumstances - the pleasure to be completely secure: that is what we are seeking in all relationships. This demand to be secure, to be safe in relationship, inevitably brings pain, because there is no such thing as psychological security. We have said that there must be the security of food and shelter, but psychologically there is no security. You know that is an extraordinary thing to understand. It does not mean that life is insecure; but psychologically we are seeking security and therefore inviting insecurity. We realize there is insecurity and when it becomes more and more intense we end up in psychotic states, in asylums. But when one realizes that where there is pleasure there is the shadow of pain, and when you see the thing totally - as we said when you see the tree totally without the image - then you will find that psychological fear comes to an end.

But you cannot see it totally when you are making an effort. We are brought up from childhood to make an effort, to struggle, to beat ourselves and others; to struggle, struggle, struggle until we die - in school, in college, in life, at the office, at home, in the family. There is everlasting struggle, and we accept struggle, conflict and confusion as the way of life. A mind that is in conflict is not a religious mind at all. When the priests throughout the world retire behind the monastery walls, thinking they have avoided conflict with the world, their avoidance is not the ending of conflict. They are merely following blindly or so-called intelligently the pattern set, and they dare not step out of that pattern because of insecurity. Their security lies in following the pattern and therefore they are totally insecure. The mind is everlastingly seeking security and therefore is afraid of insecurity, and the seeking of security is the breeding of fear.

So, can the mind live without any sense of security? That does not mean to become hopeless, despairing, cynical, bitter and all the rest of it. The mind can be free totally of all sense of security when it sees that security breeds insecurity and fear. And you can only see it, see the totality of anything, when the observer is the observed. Therefore fear ceases only when the observer is the thing which he observes as fear; and in that state there is no conflict at all. Such a mind, which is not tortured, not in conflict, that observes the totality of existence without any division, only such a mind is a religious mind and it is only such a mind which can see what is truth - not the tortured mind, which is disciplined, forced, struggling, beaten, cynical, bitter, or which does socially good works. Without such a religious mind there can be no peace in the world. Can we now ask questions? As we were saying yesterday, to ask a question is very important but it is far more important to ask the right question. It is only the right question that receives the right answer, and when you do put the right question you already have the answer, you don't have to ask. (Laughter). No don't smile, it is not a clever remark; it is the fact. But we never ask fundamental, right questions because we do not know how to ask. Or, if we do know, we are too frightened because by the very asking we may discover what is true, and truth may be the most deadly, dangerous thing. So we never ask, but are always waiting for someone else to answer.

Question: If you love your own child, your attention to your child is fairly complete, but if you are a teacher you cannot give attention to all the children.

Krishnamurti: You can watch your own child, the questioner says, with great affection, but if you are a teacher you cannot do that. So the problem is, how to watch when you want to be a good teacher, isn't it? Now, what is a teacher? In a school you know more than the child and you are imparting, giving him information. You want him to learn, you want him to acquire knowledge, you want him to know the ways of the world, not only technologically, outwardly, but also you want to help him to understand his inward structure. You are teaching him, so you are the instructor, the leader, the teacher helping him. And you say that in that state it is not possible to love. Is that right?

Questioner: Not altogether. The trouble is that you are limited in your activities because of the parents.

Krishnamurti: When you are a teacher you are limited in your activities because of the parents, because of society. You may love your child, and you may be a good teacher and love many children, but you say your helping the child is conditioned by the society and by the parents. So, what is one to do? You cannot scrap the parents! That is obvious. (Laughter). And you cannot break down the society. I wish you could, but you can't. So what is one to do? Which means, what? That you not only have to educate the parents but also educate the educator. Right? You have to educate the parents and you have to educate the teacher himself. It is not just a one-sided affair. Again it is the total phenomenon of the society in which we are living. The parents throughout the world are only concerned that the child shall make a good living, a good marriage, be secure, fit into the established order, that he must not revolt. That is what is happening in Russia - the child, the student must not criticize, he must accept the social structure of Communism. And the same thing happens here in a slightly different way. Every parent wants his child to have a safe job, a good home, and goodbye. In that state there is no affection at all. Love is something totally different. If the parents loved there would be no wars. (Do you mean to say that the Americans love their children who are being shot to pieces in Vietnam, and the Vietnamese being shot to pieces also? Do you think if they had loved this would have arisen, this phenomenon?) We educate our children wrongly, which means that we are only concerned with giving them a technological efficiency. We are not concerned with their inward structure and their inward being, because we do not want a revolution, inwardly, because that means that our whole social structure may be destroyed. And we do not want any kind of disturbance. Nobody wants to be disturbed. The Communists when they get into power do not want disturbance, nor the particular Democratic Party when it gets into power, they do not want any disturbance either. As human beings we do not want to be disturbed, and so we create a society in which we hope there will be no dis- turbance. But life is a movement in which there is disturbance as well as peace. When you understand the totality of this movement there is neither the so-called peace between two wars, nor is there the fear of disturbance - there is quite a different movement altogether. And that movement cannot be understood, even by the most educated teacher, if he himself is not part of that total movement of life.

Question: When you get up in a state of fear and you bring yourself into that state of quiet mind which you talk about, that silence, can you then put your finger on the source of that fear?

Krishnamurti: When you find yourself in a state of fear can you find out from where that fear arises. Is that it?

Questioner: First you have to get into complete silence...

Krishnamurti: Madam, I did not say that you must first get into a state of silence. That becomes another ideology. I explained very carefully the state of a mind that understands. You understand only when the mind is very quiet. That is all. And then you ask if, when you are quiet, will you then be able to trace the source of fear. Do you see what you have asked? First you think you have that state...

Questioner: I hope to get it.

Krishnamurti: If you hope, you will never get it. It occurs, and you cannot go after it. You are asking if, when it happens, you will then be able to trace the source of fear. Then you will have no need to trace the source of fear at all. Then there is no fear at all. I carefully explained it, the speaker went into it in detail - that a mind that is occupied with its own ideologies, which thinks that it should be silent and which struggles to bring about that silence, quietness, will never know silence. If it happens to be silent, then there is no fear, then you do not have to trace fear, then you will meet it. You see you are speculating. You know, when a man is hungry the mere description of food will not satisfy him. He wants food. What most of us are doing is imagining we want food and then describing the food. We are not really hungry to find out, hungry to face this whole phenomenon, demanding to understand: not accepting, not obeying. Unfortunately most of us are satisfied by mere definitions, by ideologies, and therefore we leave the hall with empty hands.

Questioner: You said ideals prevent action. Can you go over that again?

Krishnamurti: I said ideals stop action, prevent action. That is, when I am violent, if I have an ideology of non-violence I am pursuing non-violence as an ideal, but sowing the seeds of violence. But if I have no ideology at all, then I am confronted with the fact of violence. Then I will deal with it directly, not through an idea. And so long as we have an idea of how to deal with violence, then the idea becomes an escape from the fact and therefore we are postponing action. That is what we are all doing. But if each of us wanted peace in the world, we would have it. We don't. We are Dutch, French, English, German, with our separate sovereign governments, with our separate religions, with our separate feelings, thoughts, and we are all the time creating war, psychologically. We don't want peace, which means to live every day peacefully, without competition, without comparison, without condemnation. Then we would lead a life that is peaceful and therefore there would be peace in the world. But we don't want peace. We want only peace for our pursuits, which means the peace which brings about destruction.

21 May 1967


Amsterdam, talks in Europe 1967

Talks in Europe 1967 2nd Public Talk Amsterdam 21st May 1967

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