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Talks with American Students. Claremont College, California

Talks with American Students, Chapter 7 2nd Talk at Claremont College California 10th November, 1968

The last time we met we were discussing this question of violence; how it has pervaded all our lives from childhood until we die. This violence, this aggression, this brutality exists right throughout the world not only in the individual, where it manifests as hatred and in twisted forms of loyalty, but also outwardly in our acceptance of war as a way of life. Violence arises from rights of property, sexual rights and other forms of ideological beliefs. One is quite familiar with all this; one sees it very clearly.

All the religions have said: don't kill, be kind, be compassionate, and so on, but organized religions have no meaning whatsoever; they never had. So we are confronted with this issue - the problem of violence. And one must ask whether it is at all possible for a human being, not only in his personal relationship, but in his relationship to society to be completely free of this violence. This is not a rhetorical question, nor an intellectual enquiry but an actual problem that faces each one of us both psychologically, inwardly (inside the skin, as it were) and also outwardly, in the home and at the office. In every form of activity there is this aggressive spirit with its engendering hatred and animosity. And we were asking whether it is at all possible, not only at the conscious level but also at the deeper levels of the mind, to eradicate this violence completely, so that we can live at peace with one another and go beyond the national divisions, the religious separation with its dogmas, beliefs, theories and ideologies.

Now let us approach this problem another way. One of our main difficulties, it seems to me, is that although we have plenty of energy, apparently we lack the drive, the vitality, and enthusiasm to bring about this change within ourselves. After all, knowing ourselves - not according to some specialist - is the most important thing; that is the basis of all action, and if we do not know ourselves, study ourselves, learn about ourselves, and go deeply into that meditative spirit within ourselves, then there is no foundation, then all action becomes fragmentary, contradictory and out of this state of contradiction there arises conflict, and it is this conflict which burdens each one of us. Everything we do, everything we think, everything we touch breeds conflict and struggle which in various forms does waste energy that is absolutely vital for this inward psychological revolution. This implies that we shall be completely free from conflict within ourselves; but it does not mean merely to be content, to vegetate or lead a cow-like existence; on the contrary, when energy is not used for mischievous purposes, as it is now, that energy is the transforming element in knowing ourselves. Although the ancient Greeks, the Hindus, and the Buddhists have all said: `know thyself', very few people have ever bothered to go into it and find out. To learn about oneself no authority is necessary, whether it be of the Church, of a Saviour or Master, or of some specialist; all that one has to do - if one is really serious and earnest - is to observe, not only critically but with a mind that is free to learn. (A baby cries) Who shall have the voice?

You know, in India where we speak in the open, there are about three or four thousand people who bring their children with them; there are also students, beggars and every form of humanity; most of them do not understand English, but it is considered worthwhile, worthy of merit, to attend a religious meeting, so there is a great deal of noise, and the crows and the other birds join in. Everybody shares in this kind of reunion, not only the birds and children, but also those who have little knowledge of anything, and do not understand very much, but all the same it is good to attend such a gathering. Here where English is spoken and understood, it is worthwhile and significant that children as well as the aged, and those in middle life, should come together to talk over seriously and intimately the problems that confront each one of us.

Unfortunately we are not sufficiently serious, we are prejudiced and have reached certain conclusions which prevent us from examining ourselves. Our experience acts as a barrier, as does our knowledge, so if we could listen with a quality of mind that is both earnest and enquiring, then in this communication we shall not merely be listening to a lot of words or gathering a new set of ideas, but rather we shall be penetrating deeply within ourselves and learning about ourselves.

Surely the intention of these meetings is to go deeply into ourselves and discover ourselves, not to be told what to do and what to think (which is too immature, too childish), not to create another authority, another guru and all that absurd business. Self-discovery is not asking `Who am I?' but actually observing yourself as you would look at your face in a mirror, observing your actions, your gestures and the words you use, observing the way you look at a tree, at a bird or a passing cloud, at your wife, your husband or a neighbour. So through observation one begins to discover what one is, because one is never static; there is nothing permanent within, although the theologians and the other `godly' people assert that there is a constant entity, which again is a theory, an idea. If we could then enquire, joyfully and freely, whether the mind - this human mind which has lived for millions of years and has been so heavily conditioned by a thousand experiences, which has embraced and accepted so many ideas, and ideologies - whether such a mind can go into itself and find out whether or not it can be completely and totally free from violence. Now let us approach this problem differently! As long as there is fear, there must be violence, aggression, hatred and anger. Most human beings are afraid, not only outwardly but also inwardly, although the outer and the inner are not separate, they are really one movement; so if we understand the inner - its design, its nature and the whole structure of fear - then perhaps we shall be able to bring about a different society, a different culture, because the present society is corrupt and its morality is immoral.

So we have to find out, not ideologically, not intellectually as a kind of game, but actually discover for ourselves whether or not it is possible to be free from this fear. There are various forms of fear, too numerous to go into - the fear of darkness, the fear of losing one's job or one's livelihood, the fear of being found out when you have done something of which you are ashamed, the wife's fear of the husband, the husband's fear of the wife, the parent's fear of the children, the fear of not being loved, the fears of old age, of loneliness and death; so many forms of fear. So unless we understand fear, the central issue of fear, we shall live in darkness and, therefore, we shall never be free from this brutality, aggression, envy and competition.

What is fear? What is the actual state of fear itself, not the various forms of fear? What causes fear? Please, as we said previously, the speaker is not an analyst, he is not carrying out an analysis en masse. We are not concerned with analysis at all, because as you will see presently analysis is a waste of time. Analysis postulates an analyser and a thing to be analysed whereas the analyser himself is the analysed; he cannot possibly separate himself from the thing he wishes to analyse, so when he observes this phenomenon he sees what a dreadful waste of time analysis is. You may - if you are rich and it takes your fancy - indulge in it as a kind of game to amuse yourself, but if you really want to go beyond the nature and structure of fear, eradicate it altogether, you must come to it, not through any analytical process or intellectual design, but directly. If you would understand something, especially a living thing, you must observe it with a living mind, not with dead knowledge, not with something that you have already learnt or that you already know.

So that's what we are going to do and i'm listening, you are not listening to the speaker at all, because he is of no importance whatsoever. He is like the telephone - it is not important! What is important is what the telephone is saying. It is necessary then to observe yourself, to observe your own mind through the words of the speaker, using him as a mirror. And when you observe yourself as a human being, so heavily conditioned by the past, so inextricably caught in sorrow and travail, then out of that observation there comes an understanding which produces a totally different kind of action, and we are going to explore that action together, discuss it, talk it over, not as teacher and pupil or guru and disciple, but rather as two friends trying to solve the immense problems of everyday life. If you don't lay a sane, healthy, decent and righteous foundation, you cannot go very far, you cannot possibly meditate or find out what is truth.

To lay the right foundation, so that we become a light to ourselves, we must understand fear. What is fear (not how to overcome fear)? I do not know if you have noticed that anything that has to be overcome must be overcome again and again. If you have ever conquered anything - it doesn't matter what it is, some outward or inward enemy - you have to reconquer it over and over again. We are not trying to overcome fear, nor are we trying to suppress it or give it a different quality, but instead we are trying to understand it, trying to find out what fear actually is and how it comes into being. So what is this fear, the fear of what has been, the fear of yesterday, the fear of tomorrow, the fear of not being and not becoming; that is, fear in time. If you are faced with a challenge, an enormous crisis in your life - and there is no yesterday and no tomorrow - you act instantly, don't you? It is the thinking about what happened yesterday or what will happen tomorrow that breeds fear, but when your action is immediate, you cannot think about what is happening now, at this instant; thought cannot enter into the active present. It is only when the action is over and done with, that you can think of what might have been, of the past or of the future. So thought is the cause of fear, thinking about the past and the future, thinking about yesterday and tomorrow - I had pain yesterday and tomorrow perhaps it will return or tomorrow I may lose my job, so I am afraid. Please, observe your own mind and heart! Go into it yourself and you will see how extraordinarily simple it becomes! If you don't do it, then it is very complex, then it has no meaning whatsoever.

Therefore thought breeds the fear - the thought that perhaps I am no good and I may not succeed - the thought of being unloved and my utter loneliness - the thought of being found out in some shameful act I have committed - the thought of losing something which is very precious and dear to me. So in its wake thought brings regret and despair. As well as being the source of fear, thought is also the source of pleasure. The thought of something which has given you enjoyment nourishes that pleasure, gives substance to it. When you see the sunset of an evening or the early morning light on the hills and you take in all its beauty and loveliness, or in the surrounding stillness you hear the sound of a quail, when this happens, at the actual moment of perception, there is no thought, only a total awareness of everything around you. But when you start to think about it, go back to it in thought, and say to yourself, I must have more of this pleasure, re-capture the beauty of it, then the thinking about it gives further enjoyment. So thought breeds pleasure as well as fear; this is an obvious psychological fact which intellectually we accept, but that acceptance has no value, because pleasure contains within it the seed of fear; so pleasure is fear, Please watch this very carefully! We are not saying you must deny yourself pleasure. All the religions throughout the world have condemned pleasure, sexual or otherwise - we are not saying that! A religious man does not deny or suppress but rather he is learning, observing.

So thinking about what has happened or what might happen brings fear, as with the fear of death for instance - postponed or put away into the distant future - but it is there. And thinking about some shortcoming in one's past which others might use to their advantage, or thinking about the pleasure of sex and keeping the image alive. This thinking about something does breed either fear or pleasure.

The question then arises: is it possible to live our everyday life without the interference of thought? It is not such a crazy question as it sounds and it is a very important question, because man throughout the ages has worshipped thought and the intellect in all the `clever' books with their theories, in all the theological works with their concepts about God, showing us the right way to live. These experts and specialists are like people who are tethered to a post; they are restricted from going any further because of their conditioning, so whatever they think, they are limited. And because they are the result of ten thousand years of propaganda, their gods, their dogmas and rituals have no meaning whatsoever. Man has worshipped thought, put it on a pedestal. Look at all the books that have been written!

Now what is thought and what significance has it? I know there are people who have said `Kill the mind!' You can't kill it! You can't just drop thought as though it were some garment you are wearing. You have to understand this extraordinary process of thinking, your own thinking, not by studying books or being lectured to about thought. When you think at all, what is the origin of thinking? When is thought necessary and when is it not? When is it an impediment and when is it a help? So, you must find out all these things for yourself, not be guided by the speaker or some other authority.

You know, the world is becoming more and more authoritarian, not only religiously and politically but psychologically. There must, of course, be a certain kind of authority in technological knowledge, but to wield authority in religious and psychological matters is an abomination; then man is never free and never can be free, and freedom is an absolute necessity. How can a mind that is afraid ever be free? How can a mind that is clouded by perpetual thinking and incessant chattering ever be free to look, to enquire, to live and to know that ecstasy which is not of pleasure. So what is thought and can thought come to an end at a certain level and yet function at other levels rationally, sanely, objectively, non-emotionally and impersonally? That is, knowledge about the universe, about everything is necessary - knowledge, but one also observes that thought breeds fear as well as pleasure, so one asks oneself, can this thought come to an end. Once again you have to find this out for yourselves, so that you are no longer secondhand human beings - as you are now - but you are discovering it for yourselves. So what is thought? Surely this is very simple; thought is the response of memory. Someone asks you a familiar question and you reply immediately; and if the question is a little more complex then you take time before answering. During the interval between the question and the answer memory is in operation and from that memory you reply; so thinking is the response of memory and memory is the storehouse of thousands of experiences, both conscious as well as unconscious. That is, the unconscious is the vast storehouse as memory of the race, of the tradition, whether it be Christian, Hindu or Buddhist, and therein is hidden the accumulation of many centuries, while the conscious mind is the storehouse of knowledge you have acquired. And through this whole structure of memory you are conditioned and from that conditioning you respond; if you are conditioned as a Republican, a Democrat or a Communist then from that background, from that memory you respond. If you are brought up as a Christian and have been indoctrinated by the propaganda of the church with its dogmas and rituals, then you respond according to that memory, that conditioning; or if you are a Hindu, then you respond from the background of your gods and your puja, the rites of the temple and so on.

Please follow this! It may appear to be complicated but it is only verbally complex. So thought is the response of the brain cells which have accumulated knowledge as experience and since thought breeds fear, it has divided itself and separated the thinker from the thought. The thinker says `I am afraid'. The thinker, the `I' is separate from the thing of which he is afraid, the fear itself, so there is duality, a division - the thinker and the thought, the observer and the observed, the experiencer and the experienced. This duality or division, this separation is the cause of effort, the source from which all effort springs. Apart from obvious duality as man and woman, black and white, there is an inward psychological duality as the observer and the observed, the one who experiences and the thing experienced. In this division, in which time and space are involved, is the whole process of conflict; you can observe it in yourself. You are violent, that is a fact and you also have the ideological concept of non-violence, so there is duality. Now the observer says `I must become non-violent' and the attempt to become non-violent is conflict, which is a waste of energy; whereas it the observer is totally aware of that violence - without the ideological concept of nonviolence - then he is able to deal with it immediately.

One must observe therefore this dualistic process at work within oneself - this division of the I and the not-I, the observer and the observed, and thought has brought about this division. It is thought which says, I am dissatisfied with what is and I shall only be satisfied with what should be; it is thought which has enjoyed some experience as pleasure and says I must have more of it. So in each one of us there is this dualistic, contradictory process and this process is a waste of energy. Therefore one asks oneself - and I hope you are asking - why is there this division? Why is there this constant effort between what is and what should be? And is it possible to eradicate totally the what should be, the ideal, which is the future, as well as the what has been, the past, from which the future is built? Is there an observer at all except as thought dividing itself into the observer and the observed? You can either look at this and discard it or look at it and go into it very deeply, because as long as there is an observer, there must be division, hence conflict. And the observer is always the past, never new; the thing observed may be new, but the observer always translates it in terms of the old, the past, so thought can never be new and therefore never free. Thought is always the old, so when you worship thought, you are worshipping something which is dead; thought is like the children of barren women. And we who are supposed to be great thinkers actually live on the past and therefore we are dead human beings.

Thought then has created pleasure and also fear, which breeds violence, so the problem is: there is fear and there is violence, and by considering them merely in terms of words, or by description, does not bring them to an end. I see very clearly how thought has bred this fear - I am afraid I may lose something which is very precious to me, that is the thought which has produced this fear. If thought suppresses itself, says `I won't think about it' the fear is still there. Please follow this slowly! If I attempt to escape from it, accept or deny it, I am still afraid, it is still there. So what is the next question? There is fear and thought cannot be suppressed; that would be an extreme form of neurosis.

What takes place when the observer is the observed? Do you understand the question? The observer is the result of the past, of thought; and the thing observed, which is fear, is also the result of thought, so the observer and the observed are both the product of thought. Now whatever thought does with regard to this state of fear - whether it accepts or suppresses it, whether it interferes and tries to sublimate it, whatever it does is to continue fear in a different form. So thought, observing this whole process, learning intimately about itself (not being told by another), seeing for itself the nature and structure of fear, which is itself, thought then realizes that whatever it does with regard to fear is still to give nourishment to fear. So then what happens, what comes out of this understanding?

I hope you are following all this. I have observed fear - which is thought - as I have observed pleasure. Now the observer is the observed, although thought has separated the observer and the thing observed. I see that very clearly; there is an understanding of it, not as an intellectual concept but as an actual reality, so what takes place? The understanding is not intellectual therefore it is the highest form of intelligence and to be intelligent, in this way, means to be highly sensitive, aware of the nature and the whole structure of fear. If I suppress fear or run away from it, then there is no sensitive perception of fear and all its implications, therefore I must learn about fear and not run away; and I can only learn about something when I am in direct contact with it, and I can only be in contact with it so intimately when I can look freely. This freedom is the highest form of sensitivity, not only physically but in the mind also; the brain itself becomes highly sensitive. This understanding is intelligence and it is this intelligence which is going to operate and as long as there is this intelligence, there is no fear; fear only comes when this intelligence is absent. This must be understood at a very deep level not just verbally, because as we said previously the word is not the thing and the description is never the described. You can describe food to a hungry man but the words and the description do not appease his hunger. This intelligence is the highest form of sensitivity, not only at the physical level (this implies a great deal which unfortunately we haven't time to go into), but also at the deeper psychological level, and it is this intelligence which is the foundation of virtue.

Nowadays, I am afraid, most people spit on that word `virtue' as they do on `humility' and `kindliness' - they have lost all their meaning. But without virtue there is no order; we are not talking of political order or economic order, but of something quite different; the order of which we are speaking is virtue, not the so-called virtue or morality of the church and society, because they are based on authority. The morality of the church and organized religions is immoral because it compromises with society; to these oganizations virtue is an ideal, but you cannot cultivate humility. So order is virtue and this order can only come into being when we understand the whole negative process of disorder which is in ourselves, which is this contradiction, this division which has been brought about by the process of thought. Unless we understand this state of order and virtue very clearly and lay its foundation deeply within ourselves, there is no possibility of going into the question of meditation, and of finding out what love is and what truth is.

And now if you have time and the inclination, perhaps you would like to ask questions and talk things over together.

Questioner: Could you discuss this verbalization which takes place within oneself when one wishes to look at something very clearly?

Krishnamurti: I wonder if we have ever observed within ourselves what slaves we are to words, to verbalization? Why? We are incapable of looking at anything - a cloud, a bird, those marvellous hills over there, our wife or our husband - without this process of verbalization. Why? Why is it that we cannot look at anything without the image? To understand this is quite a complex problem. Why do we look at everything through an image which is the word? Why do I look at my wife or my husband, or at my friend, with an image? My wife has done a great many things - she has possessed me, nagged me, bullied me or annoyed me, insulted me and discarded me. And through time, through many days I have put all this together; it has become a memory and through that memory, of all these hurts, I look at her. If I may point out, the speaker unfortunately has a certain reputation and through that image you look at him and therefore you are not looking at the speaker at all; you are looking through the image you have about the speaker, the image being the word, the idea, the tradition. So can you look at something without the image? Can you look at someone without the image? Can you look, without the image, at your wife or your husband, at the man across the valley, at the man who has insulted you or flattered you?

It is only possible to look without the image when you have understood the nature of experience. What is experience? (Pause) I hope you are all doing this with me and not just listening to a lot of words! You must understand what experience is, because it is this accumulated experience which is all the time building images - so what is experience? The word `experience' means to go right through something, but we never do! Let us take it at the simplest level! You insult me and the experience remains, leaves an imprint on my mind, becomes part of my memory, so you are my enemy; I don't like you. And the same thing happens if you flatter me, then you are my friend; the memory of the flattery remains as does the insult. Please follow this very carefully! Can I, at the moment of the flattery or the insult, go through it completely, so that the experience leaves no mark on the mind at all? This means that when you insult me, I listen to it and look at it, totally, completely, objectively and without emotion, as I look at this microphone, which means giving total attention to it with my whole mind and heart, to find out if what you say is true and if it isn't, then what is the point of holding on to it. This is not a theory; the mind is never free if there is any form of conceptual thinking or image-building. And I do the same if you flatter me, say what a marvellous speaker I am. I listen with my whole mind and heart while you are speaking, not afterwards, to find out why you are saying It and what value it has, whether or not I am a marvellous speaker, then I have both finished with insult and flattery. However it is not as simple as that, because we enjoy living in a world of images, images of like and dislike; we live with those images and our minds are forever chattering, forever verbalizing, so we never look at our wife, our husband or the mountain with a free mind, and it is only the innocent mind that can look.

Questioner: How can we get rid of this division in ourselves?

Krishnamurti: First of all, if I may suggest, don't get rid of anything! Getting rid of something is to escape from it. You have to look at it, go into it! Now this division of like and dislike, love and hate, mine and not mine exists within oneself - why?

We come now to a very important point, which is, do you understand or discover anything through analysis? Let us look at it! There is this problem of division, contradiction within ourselves and I want to understand it, go into it to find out if it is possible for the mind to be completely non-fragmentary, Now can I find out through analysis? Will this division come to an end through analysis? Surely analysis implies an analyser and the thing to be analysed, therefore the analyser is different from the analysed and in that there is division; so can this fragmentation within ourselves come to an end through analysis, which is of course thought, or does it come about through having direct perception?

You can only have direct perception when there is no condemnation of this division, when there is no evaluation, saying I must be in this state in which there is no division at ali, I must achieve this harmony; you can't achieve harmony as long as this division between you and harmony exists as an idea, because that division, which is brought about by thought, breeds further division.

Since ancient times they have said there is God and there is man - this everlasting division. Later on they said God is not over there, he's here, in you; and again there was this division between you and the God within you. The God who previously was in a stone, in a tree, in a statue, who was venerated as the Saviour, as the Master was now in you; you are the God. Then the God within you says do this, don't do that, be harmonious, be kind, love your neighbour, but you can,t because there is a division between you and the God within you.

So thought is the entity that divides and through thought, that is through analysis, you hope to come upon that state in which there is no division at all; you can't do it, it can only come about when the mind itself sees and understands this whole process, and is then completely quiet. That word `understanding' is very important; a description doesn't bring understanding, neither does finding out the cause of something. So what brings understanding? What is understanding? Have you ever noticed when your mind is quietly listening - not arguing, judging, criticizing, evaluating, comparing but just listening, then in that state the mind is silent and then only understanding comes. There is this division within ourselves, this everlasting contradiction and we must simply be aware of it, and not try to do anything about it, because whatever we do causes this division. So complete negation is complete action.

10th November 1968


Talks with American Students. Claremont College, California

Talks with American Students, Chapter 7 2nd Talk at Claremont College California 10th November, 1968

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