Washington DC 1985, unedited versions
Washington D.c. 1st Public Talk 20th April 1985
This is not a lecture on any particular subject according to certain disciplines, scientific or philosophical. Lectures are meant to inform on a particular subject or instruct. But we are not going to do that. This is not a lecture. Nor is it a form of entertainment. Especially in this country, where one is greatly accustomed to being entertained; amused; awaken one's sensations. Rather [in] these talks, today and tomorrow morning, we are going to talk over together in conversation about the whole of our existence from the moment we are born until we die.
In that period of time, whether it be 50 years or 90 years or hundred years, we go through all kinds of problems and difficulties. You have problems, economic, social, religious; problems of personal relationship, problems of individual fulfilment; wanting to find one's roots in some place or other. And we have innumerable psychological wounds, fears, pleasures, sensations. And also there is a great deal of fear in all human beings; great deal of anxiety, uncertainty, and a pursuit of pleasure. And also all human beings on this beautiful earth suffer a great deal of pain, loneliness. We are going to talk about all that together. And what place has religion in modern life? And also we are going to talk over together the question of death; what is a religious mind; and what is meditation; and if there is anything that is beyond all thought, there is anything sacred in life, or everything is matter and therefore we lead a materialistic life. We are going to talk over together all these problems this afternoon and tomorrow morning.
So, as we said, this is not a lecture. This is a conversation between you and the speaker. A conversation in which there is no implication of conversion, doing propaganda or introducing new theories, ideas and exotic nonsense. We are going to, if you will kindly, talk over together our problems as two friends, though we don't know each other, we are going to talk, discuss, have a conversation. Which is more important than being lectured at or being told what to do, what to believe, or have certain faith, and so on. On the contrary, we are going to observe dispassionately, impersonally, not anchored to any particular problem or theory, but we are going to look together what mankind has done to the world and what we have done to each other.
So this is not entertainment, a romantic, sentimental journey. Not only is [it] intellectually important, which is part of our being, but also we must look at all these problems, the thousand issues that mankind has, not from any point of view, not from the particular belief or faith, but rather explore together, investigate together. The speaker is not trying to do any kind of propaganda - that would be too terrible. Or to convert any person to a particular ideation. Or to a particular belief. So we are going to take a very long, complex journey together. It's your responsibility, as well as that of the speaker, that we walk together, investigate together; look at the world we have created.
The society in which we live is put together by man, whether it be economic, social, the rich and the poor, and so on. The society in which we live. Each one contributed to it. And if you are willing, and apparently you must be willing because you are here and I am here, to take this long complex journey - because life is very complex. And we like to look at complexity and get more and more complex. But we never look at anything simply. With our brains, with our heart, with our whole being. So let us take the journey together. The speaker may be voicing, putting into words what is happening: objectively, clearly, and totally dispassionately.
Mankind has lived on this earth perhaps for a million or 50,000 years. We have lived on this earth for many, many millennia. And during those periods of long time mankind has suffered pleasure, loneliness, despair, uncertainty, confusion, multiple choices, therefore multiple complexities; and there have been wars. Not only physical bloody wars but also psychological wars. And mankind has asked if there can be peace on earth - pacem in terris - the Latin of peace on earth. And apparently this has not been possible. There are about 40 wars going on at the present time. Both ideological, theoretical, economic, social. And during the historical times, perhaps about 5,000 to 6,000 years, there have been wars practically every year. And also we are preparing for wars now. One ideology, that of the Communists, the tyrannical, the brutal world of Russia, and the democratic, so-called democratic world of the West. Two ideologies at war. What kind of implements we should use, control of armament and all the rest of it. War seems to be the common lot of mankind. And also one observes all over the world piling up of armaments; the tiny little nation or tribe to the highly sophisticated affluent society like yours. And how can we have peace on earth? Is that at all possible?
And also we have said, there is no peace on earth, only in heaven. This is repeated different ways, both in East, in India, and here. Christians have killed more than anybody else on earth. So we are observing, not taking sides, these are facts, actualities. And there are these religions: Christianity, Islamic world, the Fundamentalists. And Hinduism and Buddhism. And the various sects within organized Christianity, and also in India and Asia; they believe in the Buddha - in Buddhism there is no god; in Hinduism somebody calculated there are about 300,000 gods. That's rather fun, you can choose whichever god you like. And in Christianity and Islam there is only one god, based on two books, the Bible and the Koran. So religions have divided man. As nationalism, which is a form of glorified tribalism, has divided man. Nationalism, patriotism, religious ardour, the fundamentalists both in India, here and in Europe, going back, reviving their religious tradition.
I wonder if you have ever looked at the word 'reviving'. You can only revive something that's dead or dying. Nothing living, you can't revive a living thing. And in this country they are reviving religion. Also they are doing the same thing in different parts of the world. And there is division between nationalities, religion, economic, and so on.
And man has always been in conflict, as everyone in this world goes through all kinds of misery, all kinds of sorrow: pain, desperate loneliness. And we long to escape from all this. But we are going to look together, observe this extraordinary phenomena: what man has made after these thousands of years, he still remains a barbarian: cruel, vulgar, full of anxiety and hatred. And violence is increasing in the world. And so one asks, can there be peace on this earth? Because without peace, inwardly, psychologically first, the brain cannot flower. Human beings cannot live completely holistically.
So why are we, after this long evolution - during that period we have gathered immense experience, knowledge, great deal of information - why are we as human beings perpetually in conflict? That's the real question. Because when there is no conflict there is naturally peace. And man - that includes the woman, please, when I use the word 'man' I am not shutting out the woman. Don't get excited about it. (Laughter) Nor, if one may point out, don't get angry, irritated, with what we are investigating together. It's your responsibility to inquire, not merely intellectually, verbally, but with your heart, with your brain, with all your being. And find out why we are what we are. We have tried various religions, various economic systems, social differences; and yet we live in conflict. Can this conflict in each one of us end? Completely, not partially, not occasionally. It's a very serious question. It demands a serious answer. Not it's possible or not possible, but to inquire into it very deeply, why human beings, including you, the speaker perhaps, live in perpetual conflict, problems, divisions. Why we have divided the world into nationalities, religious groups, social behaviour and all the rest of it. Can we seriously this afternoon inquire whether it's possible to end conflict. First psychologically, inwardly, because if there is [a] certain quality of freedom inwardly, then we shall produce a society in which there will be no conflict. So it's our responsibility as human beings, as so-called individualities, that we seriously put our brains, our energy, our passion into discover[ing] for ourselves, not according to any philosopher, not according to some psychiatrist and so on, but to inquire, observe, find out for oneself whether this conflict between two human beings, whether they be intimate or not, whether it could end.
What is conflict? Why have we lived with conflict? Why have we problems? What is a problem? Please inquire with the speaker [into] this question. What is a problem? The etymological meaning of that word means 'something thrown at you'. A problem is a challenge, something you have to answer.
But if you begin to inquire into the whole nature of a problem, whether it's most intimate or a world problem - as we said, the meaning of that word etymologically means something propelled, something thrown at you.
I wonder if we have noticed from this question of problems, when you are a child, you are sent to school. There you have the problem of writing; problem of mathematics, problem of history, science, chemistry, and all the rest of it. So from childhood we are trained to have problems. Please have patience. Look at it carefully. So our brain is conditioned, trained, educated to have problems. Observe it for yourself. And don't please merely listen to the speaker. We are together investigating, looking into the problems that you have. So from childhood we are trained, educated, conditioned to have problems: and when new problems arise, which they inevitably do, our brain, being full of problems, tries to solve another problem and thereby increase more problems; which is what is happening in the world. The politicians all over the world are increasing, problem after problem. And they have found no answer. So is it possible - please listen if you will - is it possible to have a brain that is free from problems so that you can solve problems. Not a cluttered brain full of problems. Is that possible?
And also - if you say it is not possible or it is possible, you have stopped investigating. What is important in this inquiry is that one must have a great deal of doubt; scepticism. Never accepting anything at its face value or according to your pleasure or gratification. Love is much too serious.
So we should inquire not only into the nature of conflict, problems, but also - perhaps this may be much more important - go all over the world, wherever you will, every human being on this earth, every human being whether he live in Russia, China, Asia, India, Europe or here, goes through all kinds of sorrow. Thousands and millions have shed tears and occasional laughter. Every human being on this earth has had great loneliness, despair, anxiety, confused, uncertain - like you. Every human being, black, white, purple or whatever colour you like. And psychologically this is a fact, actuality; not invented by the speaker. This is (inaudible; you can see it on every face on this earth. And so psychologically you are the rest of mankind. You may be tall, short, black or white, or what colour you may be, but psychologically you are mankind.
Please understand this - not intellectually or ideologically or a hypothesis, but it is an actuality, burning reality, that you psychologically are the rest of mankind. Therefore psychologically you are not individuals. Though religions, [except] perhaps parts of Hinduism and Buddhism, have entertained, encouraged the sense of individual growth, saving individual souls and all that business, but in actuality, in your consciousness, your consciousness is not yours. It's the rest of mankind's. Because we all go through the same mill, the same endless conflict and so on. When one realizes this, not emotionally, not as an intellectual concept but as something actual, real, true, then you will not kill another human being. You will never kill another, either verbally or intellectually, ideologically or physically, because then you are killing yourself. But individuality has been encouraged all over the world. Each one is struggling for himself: his success, his fulfilment, his achievement, pursuing his desires and creating havoc in the world.
Please understand this very carefully. We are not saying that each individual is important: on the contrary. If you are concerned with global peace, not just your own little peace in the backyard - nations have become the backyard. [If] You are really concerned, as most serious people must be concerned, that you are the rest of humanity - that's a great responsibility. So we must go back and find out for ourselves why human beings have reduced the world to what it is now. What is the cause of all this? Why have we made such a mess of everything we touch, both in our personal relationship, between man and woman, between each other; why there is conflict between gods: your god and the other's god; so we must inquire together whether it is possible to end conflict. Otherwise we'll never have peace in this world.
Long before Christianity they talked about peace on earth. Long before Christianity, in Hinduism, they worshipped trees, stones, animals, nature, lightning, the fire; there was never any sense of god before, because they considered the earth as the mother to be worshipped, to be conserved, preserved, spared, not destroyed as we are doing now.
So let's inquire together - please, I mean together, not I inquire and you casually agreeing or disagreeing. Could we this afternoon put aside all this idea of agreeing or disagreeing. Will you do that? So that we can both of us look at things as they are, not what you think they are; not your idea or concept of what is, but just look at it. Look at it non-verbally even, if that's possible. That's much more difficult. (Sigh)
First of all, this is the actual world we live in. You cannot possibly escape from it through monasteries, through religious experiences (and one must doubt all one's experiences). Man has done everything on earth possible to run away from the actuality of daily living, with all its complexities. Why do we have conflict in relationship, between man and woman: sexual, sensory division. And in this peculiar relationship man is pursuing his own ambition, his own greed, his own desires, his own fulfilment, and the woman too is doing the same. I don't know if you have noticed all this for yourself. So there are two ambitious, driving - being driven by desire and so on, two parallel lines never meeting except perhaps sexually. So how can there be a relationship between two people when each one is pursuing his own desires, ambitions, needs (?).
In this relationship, because there is this division, there is no love. Please, hold to your seats. That word 'love' is polluted, spat upon, degraded; it has become merely sensuous, pleasurable. Love is not pleasure. Love is not something put together by thought, it's not something dependent on sensation; we'll talk about that a little later. So how can there be right, true relationship between two people when each one considers his own importance. Self-interest is the beginning of corruption, destruction, whether it be in a politician, or the religious man, and so on; self-interest dominates the world and therefore there is conflict.
Where there is duality, separation, as the Greek and the Muslim, or the Jew and the Arab, as the Christian who believes in some saviour and the Hindu who doesn't believe in all this, there is this division: national division, religious division, individual divisions, where there is division there must be conflict. That's a law. So we live our daily life in a little circumscribed self, a limited self. Not by the higher self, delimited (?; self is always limited; and that's the cause of conflict. That's the central core of our struggle, pain, anxiety, and all the rest of it.
If one becomes aware of it, as most people must naturally, not because you're told to or because you read some philosophical book or psychology, but it's an actual fact. Each one is concerned with himself. He lives in a separate world all to himself. And therefore there is division between you and another, between you and your religion, between you and your god, between you and your ideologies. So is it possible to understand - not intellectually but deeply, that you are the rest of mankind. Whatever you do, good or bad, affects the rest of mankind, because you are mankind.
Your consciousness is not yours. Your consciousness is made up of its content. Without the content there is no consciousness. Your consciousness like the rest of humanity is made up of beliefs, fears, faith, gods, personal ambitions and all the rest of fears and all that; your whole consciousness is made up of all this, put together by thought. One hopes that you have taken the journey together. Together we are walking the same road, not that you are listening to a series of ideas. We are not pursuing ideas or ideologies, but facing actuality. Because in actuality and going beyond that actuality is the truth. And when you discover, when there is truth it's the most dangerous thing. Truth is very dangerous because it brings a revolution in oneself.
WOMAN: Excuse me - would it be possible to turn up the volume?
K: Please - sorry, sorry - forgive me, forgive the speaker if he doesn't answer questions. Because then we get too distracted.
You know, it's good to ask questions. And whom are you asking the question, to whom? Are you asking the question to the speaker? That means you are waiting for an answer from the speaker. Then you depend on the speaker. Then you establish gurus. Have you ever gone into the question why we ask questions? Not that you should not, but we are inquiring. Suppose you ask the speaker a question and he answers it: either you accept it or deny it. If it is satisfactory to you according to your conditioning or your background, then you say, "Yes, I agree with you entirely." Or if you don't agree, you say, "What nonsense." But if you begin to inquire into the question itself, is the answer separate from the question? Or does the answer lie in the question itself? The perfume of a flower is the flower. The very flower is the essence of that perfume. But we depend on others so much to be helped, to be encouraged, to solve our problems; therefore out of our confusion we create authority, the gurus, the priests. So please, it's good to ask questions. I don't know if you have gone into this. You know, we have lost the art of investigation, discussion: not taking sides but looking at it. It very complex, maybe not the right occasion to go into this.
You also should inquire why from childhood we are hurt psychologically, wounded. Most of us psychologically are wounded, and from that wound either one is conscious of it or not, or many of our problems arise. The wound as a child by a scolding, by saying something ugly, brutal, violent, we are wounded. When you say "we are wounded" who is it that is wounded? Is it the image that you have built about yourself that's wounded; the psyche? Please, the speaker has not read any of the psychology books or philosophy or religious books, he's just investigating with you. The psyche, with is the 'me' - and the me is the image I have built about myself, there is nothing spiritual about it (that's another ugly word, spiritual) - that image gets hurt and we carry that image right through our life. If one image is not pleasant, we put together another image which is pleasant, encourage it - worthwhile, significant, giving intellectual meaning to our life. This is the world (?) we have (?) brought about in the image that one has built about oneself.
Is it possible to live on this earth not having a single image, about anybody, including god, if there is such an entity, no image about your wife and your children and your husband, and so on. Not to have a single image. Then it is possible never to be hurt.
And also, as our time is limited, because we are only - this half-talk in the afternoon and tomorrow morning - we ought to inquire carefully whether it is possible to be free of fear. This is really an important question to ask. Not that I am asking for you, but you are asking this of yourself. Whether it is possible, living in a modern society with all the brutality, with all the tremendous violence that is on the increase, is there freedom from fear? Which is entirely different from analysis. Just to observe without any distortion: to observe this hall, for example, how many tiers there are (five of them, four of them), to observe your neighbour's dress, face, how he talks, just to observe, not to criticize; not evaluate, judge, but to observe a tree; to observe the moon and the swift-running waters. When you so observe then you ask yourself, what is - I'll come back to fear presently - what is beauty?
They talk a great deal about beauty in the magazines: how you must be beautiful, your face, your hair, your complexion and all the rest of it. So what is beauty? Is beauty in the picture, in the painting, in the strange modern structure? Is beauty in a poem? Is beauty in merely the physical face and body? Have you ever asked this question? If you are an artist or a poet or a literary person, you may describe something very beautiful, paint something that's lovely, a poem that really stirs your very being. So what is beauty? Because freedom means - etymologically the word 'freedom', in that word 'freedom' there is love. The word 'freedom', in that word there is the etymological meaning also which is love. What is the relationship between love and beauty? When we talk about love, perhaps later on, what is beauty? Is it in the eye of the beholder?
Have you ever noticed, give a nice toy, a complicated toy, to a child - he's being naughty, shouting, playing, and when you give him a toy he gets completely absorbed in that and all his playfulness stops, naughtiness, if I can use that word, because he is absorbed. Is being absorbed in a poem, in a face, in a picture, being absorbed in it or attracted by it, is that absorption beauty? When you look at a marvellous mountain with a snowcap, eternal snows, the line against the blue sky, for a second the immensity of that mountain drives away the self, the 'me', with all my problems, all my anxiety; that majesty of the great rocks and the beautiful, lovely valleys and the rivers; at that moment, that second, the self is not. So the mountain has driven away the self, like the toy, with [it] the child is quiet. So that mountain, that river, the depth of the blue valleys, dispels for a second all your problems, all your vanities and anxieties. Then you say, "How beautiful that is." So is there beauty without being absorbed by something outside? That is, is there beauty, or beauty is where the self is not. You understand this?
Don't go to sleep, please. (Laughter) You might have had a good lunch, I hope you did, but this is not the place to go to sleep. It's your problem, your life, not the speaker's life, it's your life: your vanities, your despairs, your sorrows we are talking about. So keep awake for another quarter of an hour, twenty minutes, thirty minutes, if you are interested.
So beauty is when the self is not. And that is requires great meditation, great inquiry, a tremendous sense of discipline. The word 'discipline' means the one disciple who is learning from the master. Learning, not disciplining, conforming, imitating; adjusting, learning. Learning brings its own tremendous discipline. And that inward sense of austerity, discipline is necessary. So we must inquire together into what is fear. What is the time, sir? May we go on? You aren't tired?
What is fear? Again, humanity has put up with fear. Has never been able to solve fear. Never. There are various forms of fear; you may have your own particular form of fear: fear of death, fear of gods, fear of your wife, fear of your husband, fear of the politicians, god knows how many fears humanity has, the devil, and so on. What is fear? Not the mere experience of fear in its multiple forms, but actually, the reality, the actuality of fear. How is it brought about? Why has man, woman, why has humanity and each one accepted fear as a way of life? As you accept violence as the way of life; violence in the television, violence of war, violence of your daily life. Why do we accept violence? The ultimate violence is to go into organized killing, which is called war.
Is not fear related to violence? So in inquiring into fear, the actual truth of fear, not the idea of fear - you understand the difference? The idea of fear is different from the actuality of fear; right? Right. So what is fear? How has it come about?
What is the relationship of fear to time, to thought? Fear - one may be frightened of tomorrow, or many tomorrows; fear of death, the ultimate fear; fear of what has happened before, in the past; fear of what is actually going on now. So we must inquire together - please, the speaker keeps on repeating, together; otherwise it's no fun talking to myself. Is fear brought about by time? Someone has done something in the past, hurt you, and the past is time. The future is time. The present is time. So we are asking, is time a central factor of fear? Fear has many many branches, many leaves, but it's no good trimming the branches; we are asking, what is the root of fear? Not the multiple forms of fear, because fear is fear. Out of fear you have invented gods, saviours. If you have absolutely no fear psychologically, then there is tremendous relief, a great sense of freedom. You have dropped all the burdens of life. So we must inquire very seriously, closely, hesitantly, into this question: is time a factor? Obviously. Have a good job now, I may lose it tomorrow, I'm frightened. And I may be married, I am frightened. When there is fear there is jealousy, anxiety, hatred, violence. So time is a factor of fear. Please listen to the end of it, don't say, how am I to stop time, that's not the problem. That's a rather absurd question to ask.
Time is a factor and thought is a factor: thinking about what has happened, what might happen; thinking. Is thinking a factor in fear? Has thinking brought about fear? As one sees time has brought fear, right? Time. Not only time by the clock, but psychological time, the inward time: I am going to be; I am not good, but I will be. I will get rid of my violence, which is again the future. Or, I have been violent, but I won't be. All that implies time.
We ought to inquire, what is time? Are you prepared for this? Do you want to go into all this? Really? I'm rather surprised. (Laughter) Because you've all been instructed, you've all been informed, you've been told what to do by the psychologists, by the priests, by your leaders; always seeking help and finding new ways of being helped. So one has become a slave to others. We are never free to inquire, to stand psychologically completely by oneself.
So we are going now to inquire into time. What is time? Apart from the clock, apart from the sunrise and the sunset, the beauty of the sunrise, the beauty of the sunset, apart from the light and the dark, what is time? Please, if one really understands this, the nature of time inwardly, you will find for yourself an extraordinary sense of having no time at all. We'll come to that.
Time is the past, right? Time is the future, and time is the present. The whole cycle is time. The past - your background, what you have thought, what you have lived through, your experiences, your conditioning, as Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, all the rest of it - or you put aside all that nonsense and say, I'm going to live this way, which is the past. So the past is the present, right? Without the past you wouldn't be here: your background, your conditioning, your brain being programmed as a Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, and all the rest of it. We have been programmed for two thousand years. And the Hindus for three to five thousand years. Like a computer, they repeat, repeat, repeat. So the past is the present; what you are now is the result of the past. And tomorrow, or a thousand tomorrows, is the future. So the future is what you are now. Right? You have understood? I mustn't ask you that because that's (inaudible), it's up to you.
So the future is now. In the now all time is contained. This is a fact too, actuality, not a theory. What you are is the result of the past and what you will be tomorrow is what you are now. If I am violent now tomorrow I'll be violent.
So tomorrow is in the now, in the present, unless I radically, fundamentally bring about a mutation. Otherwise I'll be what I have been. That is, we have had a long evolution, evolving, evolving, evolving. And we have evolved to what we are now. And if you carry on that game you will be violent, you will be barbarous next day. So as all time is contained in the now - which is a fact, actuality - can there be total mutation now in all our behaviour and our way of living, thinking, feeling? Not being an American, Hindu, Buddhist, none of that. Because if you don't radically, psychologically bring about a mutation then you will be exactly what you have been in the past. So is it possible to bring about this psychological mutation at all?
You know, when you have been going north all your life, following a particular direction or not having a direction, just wobbling all over the place, as most people do - if you are going north and somebody comes along and tells you most seriously, and you listen to him seriously, not only here with hearing of the ear but also hearing deeply, when you hear [him] say, the way you are pursuing, north, leads you nowhere, there is nothing at the end of it; but go east or west or south. And you listen and you say, I will do it. When the moment you say, you have taken a new turn, there is a mutation. The speaker is making it very simple. But it's a very complex problem, which is: to realize deeply that one has been going on this way for centuries upon centuries and it has not changed that at all. We are still violent, brutal, and all the rest of it. If one really actually perceives that, not intellectually or verbally but deeply, then you turn in another direction. At that second there is the mutation in the very brain cells themselves.
Because the speaker has discussed these matters with some neurologists. Of course they don't agree completely, but they go partially, a way. It's always a game, you understand. We treat life as a game: partially right, and partially wrong; partially correct and you may be right and you may be wrong. But we never ask ourselves, what is the way of living, the art of living, which is the greatest art, greater than any art in the world, the art of living. And - quelle heure -
K: Have I talked an hour?
MAN: A little more than an hour.
K: Can you put up with this?
AUDIENCE: (Laughter) Yes.
K: We'll finish this question. After that we'll meet again tomorrow. If you are willing, I'm not inviting you, it's up to you. (Laughter)
We said time is important because we live by time, but we don't live time as a whole, which is the present. In the present all time is contained: the future and the past. If I'm violent today, I'll be violent tomorrow. And can I end that violence today completely, not partially. It can. We'll go into it. And also, is fear brought about by thought?
Of course it is. Don't accept the speaker's word for it, look at it. I am this, I am frightened of tomorrow, what might happen. I am secure today, and there might be war, there might be this, there might catastrophe, I am frightened. So time and thought are the root of fear.
So what is thinking? You understand my question? If time and thought are the root of fear - which they are [in] actuality - what is thinking? Why do we live, act, do everything, on the basis of thought? The marvellous cathedrals of Europe, the beauty, the structure, the architecture: it has been put together by thought. All religions and their paraphernalia, their dress, all the medieval robes, are put together by thought. All the rituals are connived, arranged, by thought. And in our relationship with each other, man and woman, the relationship is based on thought. When you drive a car, it's based on thought. Recognition, all that, is thought. So one has to inquire, if you are not too tired - and we'll stop at the end after this - what is thinking? Probably nobody has asked this question. Very few people do. We have been asking this question for sixty years. What is thought? Because if you can find out what is the origin, the beginning, why thought has become so extraordinarily important in our life, there may be in that very inquiry a mutation taking place. So we are asking what is thought, what is thinking? Don't wait for me to answer it. Look at it, observe it.
Thinking is the word; word is important, the sound of the word, the quality of the word; the depth, the beauty of a word. Especially the sound. I won't go into the question of sound and silence, we'll talk about it perhaps tomorrow. Thinking is part of memory, isn't it? Investigate it with the speaker, please, don't sit there comfortably, or uncomfortably. Thinking is part of memory, isn't it? If you had no memory at all, would you be able to think? You wouldn't. Our brain is the instrument of memory: memory of things that have happened, experience, and so on, the whole background of memory. Memory arises from knowledge, from experience, right? So experience, knowledge, memory, and the response of memory is thought. This whole process of experiencing, recollecting, holding, which becomes our knowledge. Experience is always limited, naturally. Because - it's a complicated question, because - oh, gosh, everything is complicated. (Laughter)
Is experience different from the experiencer? Give your brains to this, find out. If there is no experiencer, is there an experience? Of course not. So the experience and the experiencer are the same. Like the observer and the observed, the thinker is not separate from his thoughts. The thinker is the thought.
So experience is limited, as you can observe in the scientific world or any other field. They are adding more and more and more every day to their knowledge through experience, through experiment on animals and all that horror that is going on. And that knowledge is limited because they are adding to it. So memory is limited. And from that memory thought is limited. So thought being limited must invariably bring about conflict. Just see the pattern of it. Not accept what the speaker is saying, that's absurd. He's not an authority, he's not a guru, thank god. But if we can observe this fact together, that thought and time are the root of fear.
Time and thought are the same, they are not two separate movements. When you see this fact, this actuality, that time and thought are the root of fear, time thought - just to observe it in yourself, not move away from the reality of it, from the truth of it, that fear is caused by this, time and thought; to hold it, remain with it, not run away from it, not rationalize, it is so. And then it's like holding a precious jewel in your hand. You see all the beauty of that jewel. Then you will see for yourself that fear psychologically completely ends. And when there is no fear you are free. And when there is that total freedom you don't have gods, rituals, you are a free man. We'll continue tomorrow if you don't mind. (Applause)
I don't know why you clap. (Laughter) Perhaps you are clapping for yourself. (Laughter and applause) You are not encouraging the speaker or discouraging him. He doesn't want a thing from you. When you yourself become both the teacher and the disciple - disciple being a man who is learning, learning, learning, not accumulating knowledge - then you are [an] extraordinary human being.
Washington DC 1985, unedited versions
Washington D.c. 1st Public Talk 20th April 1985
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J Krishnamurti. Philosophy.