Ojai 4th Public Talk 27th May 1984
This is the last talk, or conversation between two friends. We have been talking during the last three talks about various aspects of life. We said how important it is to have the capacity to doubt, to question everything that is taking place in the world, not only externally but also inwardly - all our thoughts, our feelings, if one aware of one's own illusions, to question all those. Because scepticism without cynicism has a great beneficial effect. Our brains have been programmed for two thousand years according to the Christian world, and the Hindus, and the Buddhists, three to five thousands years. They have been programmed like a computer - Catholics, Americans, Russians, believers, non-believers, specialists, psychoanalysts, psychiatrists and so on, scientists, doctors. We have been programmed, and of that there is no doubt, because this programming has resulted in our being conditioned. And unless we question, doubt, have a great deal of sane scepticism, the brain can never be free. And freedom, and to be free are two different things. If we may go into all that.
We are going to talk about various things this morning - freedom, desire, and the importance of thought, and what is religion upon which most civilizations are based, most cultures are born out of this religious aspect of life. And also we are going to talk over together the very complex problem of what is meditation. All this we are going to talk over together this morning. And also, if one may remind you again, if it is not too repetitive, that this is not in any way entertainment, not something you attend for a weekend and forget all about it afterwards. But rather it is concerned with our daily life which has become so disturbed, chaotic, uncertain, confused.
And this conditioning, this being programmed - one must understand the nature of it and see whether it is possible at all to be free of it, otherwise there can be no creation, it will all be invention. Invention is totally different from creation. A technical invention is the product of thought. Invention along any lines, poetic, religious, technological and so on, that's fairly comparatively easy; but to find out, as most religions have tried to find out, what is creation, and to understand the nature of it, and the depth of it, and the beauty of it, one must understand and be free from being programmed.
So what is it to be free? Freedom is from something - freedom from our own misery, from our own troubles and problems, free to have an economic society that is providing for all human beings, a society that is not too corrupt and so on. Freedom from our own bondage, from our own peculiar tendencies, opinions and judgements in which most of us are entangled. Opinion, judgement, conclusion, is so strong with each one of us, and that prevents perception, seeing clearing what is going on in the world both externally, outwardly, and much more so inwardly, the whole psychological complexity of one's own life.
So what is it to be free - not freedom from something which then becomes a reaction? Freedom from capitalism has lead to totalitarianism, with all its misery and brutality. And freedom from our own particular fears is still in the area of a reaction - 'Oh if one had freedom from some peculiar urge' - or tendency - 'one could be so great' and so on. Whereas to be free is something entirely different. The word 'free' comes from - though etymologically it is not very clearly established - free, to be free, implies in that word love, amongst other meanings. Because we do not really comprehend in our own life what it is to love. And if love is the opposite of hate, if love is the opposite of jealousy, or if love is the opposite of attachment, every opposite has its roots in its own opposite. Are we understanding this? If one is greedy, as most of us are, and the urge not to be greedy, that contradiction is born out of one's own greed. You understand? Is this somewhat clear?
Look, we are having a conversation together. The speaker is not important. The speaker really means it, there is no personal worship in all this nonsense, all that kind of stuff is stupid. But what he said is very, very important, to be evaluated with scepticism, not accepting a thing that he says. He is not a professional expert, but together, as two friends, examining our whole life, one's own life, which is very complex, which demands attention, care, perception, observation, and as two friends talking over their life, so this is not a lecture, or a sermon. A lecture, the meaning of that word is to inform, to instruct; we are not instructing or informing, as though one knows all about life and the other fellow doesn't know about it. But rather together, and it is important to understand what it means to work, to think, together. Because very few of us think together about anything. You have got so many opinions, so many judgements, and so on, we never think together. We have opinions about thought, agreement, or disagreement, you are not right, I am right, and so on, but the capacity, the demand that thinking together about everything requires a freedom, a sense of affection, care, attention. Otherwise we cannot possibly think together. Then you become a follower, a listener to be informed, to be instructed, to obey. We are back again in the old pattern. Whereas if we could think together, what it is to be free, not what you think is to be free, or the speaker, but together find out. In that togetherness, if I may use that word, there is no you and the speaker. There is only the feeling that we are together examining, looking, sceptically, sanely into the whole question of one's own and the existence of everything around us.
The word free, to be free, has many meanings, but mostly free means to be a friend, to love. And love is not something that thought can evolve, put together, or can be cultivated. You can cultivate a garden, you can cultivate anything, to plough, to cultivate, to grow. But love is not something that thought can cultivate. So it is very, very important to understand altogether very deeply the nature of thought, thinking. If we really could understand that fundamentally then we shall be able to resolve most of our problems. Because we have dozens of problems - of relationship, economic problems, social problems, problems of every kind, human beings are burdened with them.
So not only to understand the nature of freedom from something, and to be free, completely free, not from something. And is that possible at all when thought is operating all the time? You understand my question? So it is important, isn't it, to understand not only verbally, or through explanations the whole movement of thought, because we live by thought, every action is based on thought, in every area, in every sector, in every field of our life both outwardly and inwardly thought is operating. We have given thought tremendous importance. And until we unravel the whole structure and nature, the movement of thought, merely trying to be free, which is to cultivate freedom, becomes impossible.
So we are concerned together, as two friends, what is freedom, and what is it to be totally free? And can there be this sense of wholeness in which there is freedom, free? So we are going to go into it.
As long as we are programmed - Catholic, Protestant, and the many thousand divisions of Protestantism, or Hinduism and the Islamic world, and the Buddhist world, we have been programmed - and as long as we are being programmed, our whole brain has been programmed for thousands of years, there can be no sense of total freedom. Is this clear? Are we together in this? So is it possible to be free? Or must we everlastingly be condemned to be programmed like a computer? Our brain functions, not that the speaker is a professional brain specialist, but he has observed many, many, in the course of sixty, seventy years, how people's brains work, observing them. And also observing one's own brain in operation. It has become so mechanical, repetitive, its very accumulation of knowledge is limiting it. I wonder if you understand this? When one has a great deal of knowledge about various disciplines like science, being an expert in surgery, medicine, telecommunication and so on, our brain actually becomes very small, it can expand along a particular line, but that expansion still is limited. I hope you are getting all this. Now is it possible to be totally free from all this? Otherwise we will never know what it is to be creative, something totally unthought of, totally new. "There is nothing new on the earth", but if we accept that slogan, then we will never find out what it is to be creative.
So to understand this programming, and why we accept it, one must go, not only as we went yesterday morning, into the whole desire to be secure. We went into that very carefully yesterday morning, we won't go in it again. But also we went into the nature of thought many, many times but most of us really haven't seen the depth of it, the quality of thought, how limited thought is, though it has done the most extraordinary things, in the technological world, and also in the psychological world. But whatever it has done it is still very limited because, as we pointed out yesterday, there is always the 'more', not only in the technological world but also inwardly, the 'more', the 'better'. The 'more', the 'better' is measurement, and where there is measurement there is limitation. This has been one of the problems of religious people. We have gone into this, that is, the Greeks, the ancient Greeks, were concerned with measurement, otherwise we wouldn't have this extraordinary technology in the western world, because the western world has its roots in the ancient Greeks. And in India, the ancient people said, measurement in any form is illusion. You cannot possibly measure the immeasurable. So there are two contradictory statements: technologically you must have measurement, and psychologically also we have accepted there is measurement as the 'more', the 'better', the 'becoming'. Whereas the ancient Hindus said, every from of measurement is limitation. And they said that and forgot all about it. But probably they never - the speaker does not know the full extent of their saying because he doesn't read books - measurement implies thought. Thought is based on knowledge, experience and memory, and knowledge is always limited now and in the future. So thought is always limited. It can imagine the immeasurable, it can invent all the gods on the earth, all the rituals, all that business, which is extraordinarily unreal.
So thought can never be free, or thought can never bring about a sense of being totally free. Right? I wonder if you understand this. Because thought itself is limited, and therefore whatever it does will still be limited. And thought is driven by desire - isn't it? Right? So we have to enquire into the nature and the structure of desire. The word 'desire' means longing for, in expression, which is wanting something more. The meaning of that word is that, longing for, not having, wanting. Right? So we are going together to understand what is desire.
I do not know if you have observed, not only yourself but all the people around you, the priests, the hierarchy of priests, the popes through history, and all the monks of the world, and all the human beings in the world, being dissatisfied with what they are they want something more, longing for something more. Aren't you all longing for something more? Aren't we all driven by desire - to be successful, to have money, to have position, famous, you know all that business. We are full of desires. And what is the relationship between desire and thought? Right? Please ask this question, as two friends talking together, the speaker is saying to the friend, look at it, he is asking, what is the relationship between the two, desire and thought. Why thought in the religious areas has insisted on suppression of desire. You understand? The monks throughout the world have said, you must have no desire, suppress it. Or identify that desire with something you call god, your saviour, you know, symbols. Right? So desire has an extraordinary importance in our life. And we are not trying to suppress it, or transcend it, or identify that desire with something nobler, symbolic, significant, all that stuff, we can wipe out all that.
So we are now trying to understand the nature of desire. You might have heard the speaker explain it before, but forget what he has said before. We are now afresh, anew, examining this thing. And to examine one must be not only free from personal worship, but also there must be freedom from the fear of not being without desire. You understand? There must be a sense of perception in which there is no distortion, no motive, but to observe very closely the whole movement of desire. Can we go on with that?
We are sitting under a tree, under several trees, and there is the blue sky through the leaves and the distant mountains, hills, the dappled light on all of us, and to see all this clearly and to see the beauty of all that, and what is the relationship of beauty to desire? You understand my question? So we must also enquire what is beauty? All right?
What is beauty? We are asking, what is beauty? A beautiful poem, a beautiful picture, a beautiful tree in a solitary field, the beauty of a wave, the quiet beauty of a blue sea, and the beauty of great mountains, the immensity, their dignity, their immovability, and the line against the blue sky, snow packed. And all the museums in the world with their ancient sculptures, modern paintings, and the classic statuary, most of have seen all these, and we say when we look at them, how extraordinarily beautiful they are. If you have seen the Parthenon in Greece for the first time you almost go on your knees to the beauty of the structure. And when you see a beautiful man, or a woman, or a child specially, and you are breathless for a moment with all the beauty of this world. And does beauty lie in the perceiver? You understand my question? Is beauty a matter of instruction, being well informed about all the paintings in the world, who painted it, from modern Picasso to the ancient (?) and so on, to be well informed, to talk about it, you know, play with it, is all that beauty?
So what is beauty? When do you perceive beauty? In the face, in the mountain, in a tree, or the slip of a moon when the first moon appears, just a sliver, and the quietness of a still evening, when do you perceive all this? And the word beauty seems to suffice for most of us, just to say, "How beautiful it is", and go on the next thing. You see marvellous paintings of Leonardo da Vinci, or Michelangelo and so on, and then go off and have tea. Right? This is what we generally do. We never really go into the question of what is beauty. And when do you perceive this sense of immensity and the truth of beauty? When you see a great mountain, with the deep valleys and the snow against the blue sky, aren't you for a second, by the dignity and the majesty of the mountain, for a second you have forgotten all your problems, you have forgotten all your misery, confusion, sorrows, and all the rest of it, and that great immensity of a snowcapped peak drives you away, drives your self away. Right? Haven't you noticed all this?
So beauty can only exist when the self is not. You understand? When the mind, when the brain is not chattering, caught in a net of words, when it is really utterly quiet, when there is total absence of the 'me', the self, the ego, the persona, then you really see the extraordinary sense of beauty of the world, of the tree and the sky. And what is the relationship of that sense of extraordinary beauty to desire? We want to capture that beauty, we want to hold it, to live with it, to have this sense of utter... to be totally free of all the turmoil, the noise and the vulgarity of the world.
So we must enquire rationally, clearly and sanely, what is desire? Desire has built a great many things in life - great architecture, and also created wars and destruction and so on. So we must really understand this tremendous urge that human beings have, of which we are slaves. When you sit under these trees and look at the beauty of the light, although it is somewhat hot unfortunately, you have a great sense of sensation, don't you - your senses are awake if you are alert, your senses respond to all this. So the sensation of these trees, the light, the hills, the quietness, awakens sensation. When you see the Pacific as you go along the highway, can you look at all that water with all your senses? Have you ever done it, with all your senses fully alive, alert? Then in that total sensation with all your senses, not partially, one operating more than the other, but the whole organism, the nerves, the whole entity of a human, when you give such tremendous attention with your sensation, have you noticed there is no self at all, there is no me at all? We will come to that presently.
So we live with sensations. It is fairly obvious. These sensations are taken over by thought and given a shape, or an image. Right? To make it very simple: you see something beautiful in a shop, you go inside, touch it, contact with it, feel the quality of the silk, or the material, there is sensation. Right? Then thought comes along and says, "How marvellous if I had it, how nice it would look on me". Right? When thought creates the image out of the sensation desire is born. Right, have you got it? When thought builds, or makes out of that sensation an image which is having that beautiful shirt, or that robe, or that car, or that house, or the refrigerator, whatever you want, then at that moment desire is born. This is so clear and obvious if one perceives every second the whole movement of it, which requires great attention, not to miss a thing.
So the question is: giving shape to that sensation by thought, as an image, as a picture, a pleasure, at that second desire is born. Now the question is: can there be a wide interval between sensation and thought creating an image of that sensation? You understand? An interval? That requires tremendous attention, and where there is attention there is discipline. You understand? Oh come on, sirs, somebody. Are you all asleep, or what? This is important because as we live in conflict perpetually, to understand conflict is to see the fact and the conclusion of the fact. You understand? The fact, and what we make of that fact. What we make of that fact is an abstraction called idea, or ideal, and between the fact and the ideal there is always conflict. Right? Move sir. And if we see where there is sensation, which is natural, which is healthy, clear, unless one is totally paralysed, and thought giving shape to that sensation, the image it represents, if these two can be kept apart for a while, to keep them apart requires great attention. Right? And so there is never a suppression of desire but watchfulness of desire. I wonder if you understand this. Because if you suppress it, it then becomes a conflict. If you say, "I will transcend desire", that becomes also a means of conflict. Whereas if there is great attention and watchfulness, how thought shapes sensation, then that attention, that watchfulness has its own intelligence, and when it is necessary you go into the shop and buy it, and get on with it, but not make conflict about it. You understand? If you understand some of it at least, because this is really important to understand all this, whether man can live without conflict on this beautiful earth. We live with conflict all the days of our life, from the most ancient of times until now, it is our heritage, to live with conflict, not only externally as war and so on, but also much more inwardly, conflict with each other, conflict in our relationship with each other, intimate and so on, whether this conflict can ever end so that the brain is totally free. And that is why it is important to understand the nature of desire; and the nature of this sense of immense beauty of life, of this earth.
Then we should also go into the question of what is love. Don't let's become sentimental about it, or romantic, but when we say, "I love you", what do we mean by that? When a man, or a woman says to the man, or the man says to the woman, or friends say to each other, 'I love you', what does that mean? There is the love of a book, love of a poem, love of sports, love of sex, I love to be famous. We use this word so easily. But we have never apparently gone into the full meaning of it, what is it to love? Love apparently has become another means of conflict, one loves one's wife and there is conflict, quarrels, jealousy, antagonism, divorce, and all the pain of that relationship, and the pleasure of it too. So we should go into this question very carefully because that may the solution of all our problems, it may be the one thing when we understand, whether it is in the brain, or outside the brain, whether love is contained in the brain as thought, anxiety, pain, depression, fear, loneliness, the whole content of our consciousness. Is love part of that consciousness? You understand? Oh come on sirs.
K: Or it is outside, totally outside consciousness, outside the brain. Probably we have never asked these questions even. One hopes you will not mind asking these questions.
So what is love as we know it? Love brings a great deal of conflict in our life, a great deal of pleasure, a great deal of anxiety, fear, jealousy, envy. Don't you know all this? So is desire love? Is pleasure love? Is love in the realm, or in the field of thought? And apparently for most of us it is in that field - conflict, pain, anxiety, and thought. And to understand what love is - not understand, you know, have the depth of it, the greatness of it, the flame of it, the beauty of it - how can there be jealousy, how can there be ambition, aggression, violence? And can one be free completely of all these things? Please do ask this question. Where there is love, then do what you will, it will be right action, but never bring conflict in one's life.
So it is important to see that jealousy, antagonism, conflict, and all the pain of relationship has no place in love, where there is love. And can one be free of all that, not tomorrow, now? You understand my question? Because as we pointed out yesterday, time which is the past, the present and the future, all time is contained in the now. We went into it carefully yesterday. And if we say, "I will cultivate love", or "I will try and get rid of my jealousy" and so on, then when you are trying to be free, trying, then you will never be free. Right? I wonder if you understand this? When you say, "I will do my best", which is so silly. Which means that one has really not fully perceived the truth that all time, the past, the present and the future are in the now, now, in the present actually. Because if you don't do something now it will be continued tomorrow, the future is in the now. You understand this? Oh come on!
So can one put aside completely all the causes of conflict, which is the self, the 'me', so that there is this sense of flame, the greatness of beauty, of love?
And also we should discuss, if time allows, we should talk over together, what is religion? All the organized religions of the world with their rituals and their fancy dresses and so on, with their symbols, with their myths and crosses over everything, is all that religion? The root meaning of that word etymologically is not clear, it has been said, religion is a binding, a bondage between man and god and so on. So when you examine, and to examine there must be scepticism, the questioning of one's faith, one's belief, otherwise you can't possibly examine, find out the truth about religion. Most of us live in illusions about religions. We never see that thought has been responsible for all the rituals, their dresses and their gods, and their ceremonies, their incense, the whole works are put together by thought.
So what is religion? And the thing is important to find out because man has always from the beginning of time, has always enquired into this: is there something more than the mere physical world with all its turmoil, with all its complexities, struggle, pain and so on, is there something far beyond all this? You are asking that question. And somebody comes along and says, "I know about it, I will tell you all about it" - that's how it began from the ancient Sumerians, from the ancient Egyptians, and the ancient Hindus, they said, we will tell you. They became the priests, the original people who wrote, read and so on. They became the interpreters of that to man, and it became a good profession, like any other profession. And that has continued from time immemorial.
Now to find out what is the religious mind, what is the truth of religion, one must be free from all authority, of all belief, faith, not belong to a thing. Right? There must be a sense of total being free.
Then one can enquire, or observe, or perceive what is truth - not the truth or the reality. Let's differentiate the two - gosh, a lot of things to explain, aren't there? I don't know why one has to explain all this. I am afraid you are all too learned, you have too much knowledge, have read too many books, listened to professors and all the rest of it. What is reality? Reality is that you are sitting there, and the speaker is up here. The reality is the trees, the reality is the nature, the birds, the ocean, the whales, the beauty of those enormous creatures in the deep depth of the sea. Reality is what is both externally and inwardly. Nature is a reality, and also reality is inwardly the illusion that you have created and hold on to that, the symbol, the picture, the idealized picture, however illusory you hold on to that, that is a reality. Right? So reality and truth are two different things. Truth is not a matter of conjecture, of speculation, of idealization. It is not the invention of thought. And to find that truth - not to find - for that truth to exist it has been said you must meditate to find that eternal thing which is beyond all measure and beyond all thought, beyond all words, you must meditate. And they said too, in order to meditate you must follow a system, a method, and we will tell you what the method and the system is. Right? The gurus have played upon this theme endlessly, coining money. Right?
So we are going to enquire not how to meditate, which seems to silly to ask, but what is meditation. Why is it necessary to meditate at all? Meditation, the meaning of that word, is to ponder over, think over. But also it has a deeper meaning, measure, to meditate also means to measure. Now meditation is being free completely from measurement - measurement being comparison: I am this, I will be that - to compare. To live a daily life without a shadow of comparison. Have you ever done it? To live like that, never having an example, never a goal, never an end, never having the future, which is comparison - I am this, I will be that - to live without becoming, which is comparison. When you go to a museum you compare, you compare between two materials, one cloth is better than the other cloth, you compare one car with another car. That's natural, that's necessary. But to have this sense of inward comparison all the time, to be completely free of that. That is part of meditation. So the brain then is free from all sense of comparison, except where it is necessary, physically, art, shirt, clothes and so on. Is this possible? Can one live that way, never comparing? See what happens if you don't compare. There is the end of conflict also. Right?
So meditation is not a practice, not a system, not repeating a mantra - you know that word? You know the meaning of that word? No. But you repeat it. This is a most marvellous country! The meaning of that word, mantra, means ponder over not becoming. And also it means end all self-centred activity. The root meaning of that word in Sanskrit - ponder, consider not becoming, the whole question of becoming. And also it means put away altogether all self-centred activity. And if you are given some words, and you repeat it, you are playing just a game. It is not worth it. And the speaker is not telling you not to do it. If you want to do it you will do it, if it pleases you, but it has no meaning, your repetition, Ave Maria by the dozen, or your particular mantra.
So meditation means to be free from fear, from all sense of conflict which we have been talking about, and also much more seriously the ending of thought. Whether thought, which is time, has a stop. You understand? And so because if there isn't a sense of being totally free the brain then becomes limited, and all its activity will be limited, and the limitless, the timeless can never exist.
So we are asking: can thought, which is of time, which is time itself, can that stop? Probably you have never asked this question. Not you stop it by will - that's silly, you cannot stop by will thought. Will is the essence of desire, and desire we explained earlier. So is there thought coming of its own accord to an end? Thought must be used naturally when you drive a car, when you go from here to your house, when you cook, when you wash dishes, and so on, thought must be there. What is the necessity of thought in the psychological world at all? If thought is really understood, all its activities, its beginnings, its origin. Its origin is experience, knowledge, memory stored in the brain, and the reaction to that memory is thought. All this process is limited because knowledge in the future or now is limited. When you see, perceive actually the limitation of thought, not the imagination of it, not the idea of ending, but actually see for yourself that thought, whatever it does, both in the technological world and in the psychological world, will always be limited. When you see the absolute fact of that, and the necessity of thought in a certain area, when you give your total attention to that, then you will find out for yourself thought can end. If you say, "What then?", then you are lost. Then if you say, "What is there if thought ends, is there something more?" - you follow how our brain works. That is, I will see if thought can end if you give me something in return. Right? If thought can end you will find out, there will be something totally different. And this is meditation. Not control, not control thought, because the controller is part of thought. Right? So the controller is playing a game. So there is always the controller trying to control thought. But the controller who is also thought is the controlled. There is no division between the controller and the controlled right through life, if one can understand this profoundly you will eliminate altogether conflict. Therefore the brain, which has been conditioned, narrowed down, has lost its tremendous vitality, its great immense capacity. If one has acted that way, as you get older and older it becomes much more active, not that you get senile. Do you understand all this?
So meditation is to be totally free from all bondage, from all measurement, from all conflict. So the brain becomes quiet, utterly still. And that silence, stillness, has its own beauty, its own truth, its absolute sense of immeasurable thing. So meditation is not a reward, it is not something that you get illumined by practising, which is all so childish. So truth is something which is not to be measured, and it has no path to it. And that is beauty, that's love.
Ojai 4th Public Talk 27th May 1984
Texts and talks of Jiddu Krishnamurti. Krishnamurti quotes. Books about
J Krishnamurti. Philosophy.