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Network of Thought


The Network of Thought Chapter 5 5th Public Talk Saanen 21st July 1981

We have to consider together whether the brain, which is now only operating partially, has the capacity to function wholly, completely. Now we are only using a part of it, which one can observe for oneself. One can see that specialization, which may be necessary, brings about the functioning of only a part of the brain. If one is a scientist, specializing in that subject, naturally only one part of the brain is functioning; if one is a mathematician it is the same. In the modern world one has to specialize, and we are asking whether, even so, it is possible to allow the brain to operate wholly, completely.

And another question we are asking is: what is going to happen to humanity, to all of us, when the computer out-thinks man in accuracy and rapidity - as the computer experts are saying it will? With the development of the robot, man will only have, perhaps, two hours of work a day. This may be going to happen within the foreseeable future. Then what will man do? Is he going to be absorbed in the field of entertainment? That is already taking place: sports are becoming more important; there is the watching of television; and there are the varieties of religious entertainment. Or is he going to turn inwardly, which is not an entertainment but something which demands great capacity of observation, examination and non-personal perception? These are the two possibilities. The basic content of our human consciousness is the pursuit of pleasure and the avoidance of fear. Is humanity increasingly going to follow entertainment? One hopes these Gatherings are not a form of entertainment.

Now, can the brain be totally free so as to function wholly? - because any specialization, any following of a certain path, a certain groove or pattern, inevitably implies that the brain is functioning partially and therefore with limited energy. We live in a society of specialization - engineers, physicists, surgeons, carpenters and the specializations of particular beliefs, dogmas and rituals. Certain specializations are necessary, such as that of the surgeon or carpenter, but in spite of that can the brain function completely, wholly, and therefore have tremendous energy? This is, I think, a very serious question into which we have to enquire together.

If one observes one's own activity one finds that the brain functions very partially, fragmentarily, with the result that one's energy becomes less and less as one grows older. Biologically, physically, when one is young one is full of vitality; but as one is educated, and then follows a livelihood that needs specialization, the activity of the brain becomes narrowed down, limited and its energy becomes less and less.

Though the brain may have to have a certain form of specialization - not necessarily religious specialization because that is superstition - as a surgeon for example, can it also operate wholly? It can only operate wholly, with all the tremendous vitality of a million years behind it, when it is completely free. Specialization, which is now necessary for a livelihood may not be necessary if the computer takes over. It will not take over surgery, obviously. It will not take over the feeling of beauty, as when looking at the evening stars, but it may take over other functions altogether.

Can the human brain be totally free, without any form of attachment - attachment to certain beliefs, experiences and so on? If the brain cannot be totally free it will deteriorate. When the brain is occupied with problems, with specialization, with a livelihood, it is in limited activity. But when the computer takes over, this activity will become less and less and therefore it will gradually deteriorate. This is not something in the future, it is actually happening now if one observes one's own mental activity.

Can your consciousness, with its basic content of fear, the pursuit of pleasure with all the implications of grief, pain and sorrow, being hurt inwardly and so on, become totally free? We may have other forms of consciousness, group consciousness, racial consciousness, national consciousness, the consciousness of the Catholic group, the Hindu group and so on but basically the content of our consciousness is fear, the pursuit of pleasure, with the resultant pain, sorrow and ultimately death. These comprise the central content of our consciousness. We are together observing the whole phenomenon of human existence, which is our existence. We are mankind, because our consciousness, whether as a Christian living in the Western world, or as a Muslim in the Middle East, or a Buddhist in the Asiatic world, is basically fear, the pursuit of pleasure and the never ending burden of pain, hurts, sorrow. One's consciousness is not personal to oneself. This is very difficult to accept because we have been so conditioned, so educated, that we resist the actual fact that we are not individuals at all, we are the whole of mankind. This is not a romantic idea, it is not a philosophical concept, it is absolutely not an ideal; examined closely, it is a fact. So we have to find out whether the brain can be free from the content of its consciousness. Sirs, why do you listen to the speaker? Is it that in listening to the speaker you are listening to yourself? Is that what is taking place? The speaker is only pointing something out, acting as a mirror in which you see yourself, see the actuality of your own consciousness; it is not the description which the speaker is pointing out, which becomes merely an idea if you do no more than follow it. But if through the description, you yourself actually perceive your own state of mind, your own consciousness, then listening to the speaker has a certain importance. And if at the end of these talks you say to yourself: `I have not changed; why? It is your fault. You have spoken for fifty years perhaps, and I have not changed', is it the fault of the speaker? Or you say: `I have not been able to apply it; naturally it is the fault of the speaker`. Then you become cynical and do all kinds of absurd things. So please bear in mind that you are listening not so much to the speaker as looking at your own consciousness through the description in words - which is the consciousness of all humanity. The Western world may believe in certain religious symbols and certain rituals; the Eastern world does likewise, but behind it all there is the same fear, the same pursuit of pleasure, the same burden of greed, pain, of being hurt and wanting to achieve - all of which is common to the whole of humanity.

So, in listening we are learning about ourselves, not just following the description. We are actually learning to look at ourselves and therefore bringing about a total freedom in which the whole of the brain can operate. After all, meditation, love and compassion are the operation of the whole of the brain. When there is the operation of the whole there is integral order. When there is integral, inward order, there is total freedom. It is only then that there can be something which is timelessly sacred. That is not a reward; that is not something to be achieved; that which is eternally timeless, sacred, comes about only when the brain is totally free to function in wholeness.

The content of our consciousness is put together by all the activities of thought; can that content ever be freed so that there is a totally different dimension altogether? So let us observe the whole movement of pleasure. There is not only biological, including sexual, pleasure, there is also pleasure in possessions, pleasure in having money, pleasure in achieving something that you have been working towards; there is pleasure in power, political or religious, in power over a person; there is pleasure in the acquisition of knowledge, and in the expression of that knowledge as a professor, as a writer, as a poet; there is the gratification that comes about through leading a very strict, moral and ascetic life, the pleasure of achieving something inwardly which is not common to ordinary man. This has been the pattern of our existence for millions of years. The brain has been conditioned to it and therefore has become limited. Anything that is conditioned must be limited and therefore the brain, when it is pursuing the many forms of pleasure, must inevitably become small, limited, narrow. And probably, unconsciously realizing this, one seeks different forms of entertainment, a release through sex, through different kinds of fulfilment. Please observe it in yourself, in your own activity in daily life. If you observe, you will see that one,s brain is occupied all day with something or other, chattering, talking endlessly, going on like a machine that never stops. And in this way the brain is gradually wearing itself out - and it is going to become inactive if the computer takes its place.

So, why are human beings caught in this perpetual pursuit of pleasure - why? Is it because they are so utterly lonely? Are they escaping from that sense of isolation? Is it that they have been, from childhood, conditioned to this? Is it because thought creates the image of Pleasure and then pursues it? Is thought the source of pleasure? For example, one has had some kind of pleasure, eating very tasty food, or sexual pleasure, or the pleasure of being flattered and the brain registers that pleasure. The incidents which have brought about pleasure have been recorded in the brain, and the remembrance of these incidents of yesterday, or last week, is the movement of thought. Thought is the movement of pleasure; the brain has registered incidents, pleasurable and exciting, worth remembering, and thought projects them into the future and pursues them. So the question then is: why does thought carry on the memory of an incident that is over and finished? Is not that part of our occupation? A man who wants money, power, position, is perpetually occupied with it. Perhaps, the brain is similarly occupied with the remembrance of something of a week ago which gave great pleasure, being held in the brain, which thOught projects as future pleasure and pursues. The repetition of pleasure is the movement of thought and therefore limited; therefore the brain can never function wholly, it can only function partially.

Now the next question that arises is: if this is the pattern of thought, how can thought be stopPed, or rather, how can the brain stop registering the incident of yesterday which gave delight? That is the obvious question, but why does one put it? Why? Is it because one wants to escape from the movement of pleasure, and that that very escape is yet another form of pleasure? Whereas if you see the fact that the incident which gave great delight, pleasure, excitement, is over, that it is no longer a living thing, hut something which happened a week ago - it was a living thing then but it is not so now - can you not finish with it, end it, not carry it over? It is not how to end it or now to stop it. It is just to see factually how the brain, how thought, is operating. If one is aware of that, then thought itself will come to an end. The registering of pleasure is ended, finished.

Fear is the common state of all mankind, whether you live in a small house or in a palace, whether you have no work or plenty of work, whether you have tremendous knowledge about everything on earth or are ignorant, or whether you are a priest or the highest representative of god, or whatever, there is still this deep rooted fear which is common to all mankind. That is a common ground on which all humanity stands. There is no question about it. It is an absolute, irrevocable fact, it cannot be contradicted. As long as the brain is caught in this pattern of fear its operation is limited and therefore can never function wholly. So it is necessary, if humanity is to survive completely as human beings and not as machines, to find out for oneself whether it is possible to be totally free from fear.

We are concerned with fear itself, not with the expressions of fear. What is fear? When there is fear, is there at that very moment a recognition as fear? Is that fear describable at the moment the reaction is taking place? Or does the description come after? `After' is time. Suppose one is afraid: either one is afraid of something, afraid of something chat one has done in the past which one does not want another to know, or something has happened in the past which again awakens fear, or is there a fear by itself without an object? At the second when there is fear does one call it fear? Or does that happen only afterwards? Surely it is after it has happened. Which means that previous incidents of fear which have been held in the brain are remembered immediately after the reaction takes place; the memory says `That is fear'. At the immediacy of the reaction one does not call it fear. It is only after it has happened that one names it as fear. The naming of it as fear is from the remembrance of other incidents that have arisen which have been named fear. One remembers those fears of the past and the new reaction arises which one immediately identifies with the word fear. That is simple enough. So there is always the memory operating on the present.

So; is fear time? - the fear of something which happened a week ago, which has caused that feeling which we have named as fear and the future implication that it must not happen again; yet it might happen again, therefore one is afraid of it. So one asks oneself: is it time that is the root of fear?

So what is time? Time by the watch is very simple. The sun rises at a certain time and sets at a certain time - yesterday, today and tomorrow. That is a natural sequence of time. There is also psychological, inward time. The incident which happened last week, which has given pleasure, or which awakened the sense of fear, is remembered and projected into the future - I may lose my position, I may lose my money, I may lose my wife - time. So is fear part of psychological time? It looks like it. And what is psychological time? Not only does physical time need space, but psychological time needs space also - yesterday, last week, modified today, tomorrow. There is space and time. That is simple. So, is fear the movement of time? And is not the movement of time, psychologically, the movement of thought? So thought is time and time is fear - obviously. One has had pain sitting with the dentist. It is stored, remembered, projected; one hopes not to have that pain again - thought is moving. So fear is a movement of thought in space and time. If one sees that, not as an idea, but as an actuality (which means one has to give to that fear complete attention at the moment it arises) then it is not registered. Do this and you will find out for yourself. When you give complete attention to an insult, there is no insult. Or if somebody comes along and says, `What a marvellous person you are' and you pay attention it is like water off a duck's back. The movement of fear is thought in time and space. That is a fact. It is not something described by the speaker. If you have observed it for yourself, then it is an absolute fact, you cannot escape from it. You cannot escaPe from a fact, it is always there. You may try to avoid it, you may try to suppress it, try every kind of escape, but it is always there. If you give complete attention to the fact that fear is the movement of thought, then fear is not, psychologically. The content of our consciousness is the movement of thought in time and space. Whether that thought is very limited, or wide and extensive, it is still a movement in time and space.

Thought has created many different forms of power in ourselves, psychologically, but they are all limited. When there is freedom from limitation there is an astonishing sense of power, not mechanical power but a tremendous sense of energy. It has nothing to do with thought and therefore that power, that energy cannot be misused. But if thought says, `I will use it', then that power, that energy, is dissipated.

Another factor which exists in our consciousness is sorrow, grief, pain and the wounds and hurts that remain in most human beings from childhood. That psychological hurt, the pain of it, is remembered, it is held on to; grief arises from it; sorrow is involved in it. There is the global sorrow of mankind which has faced thousands and thousands of wars, for which millions of people have cried. The war machine is still with us, directed by politicians, reinforced by our nationalism, by our feeling that we are separate from the rest, `we' and `they', `you' and `me'. It is a global sorrow which the politicians are building, building, building. We are ready for another war and when we prepare for something there must be some kind of explosion somewhere - it may not be in the Middle East, it may happen here. As long as we are preparing for something we are going to get it - it is like preparing food. But we are so stupid that all this goes on - including terrorism.

We are asking whether this whole pattern of being hurt, knowing loneliness and pain, resisting, withdrawing, isolating ourselves, which causes further pain, can come to an end; whether the grief, the sorrow of losing some precious belief that we have held, or the disillusionment that comes when we lose somebody we have followed, for whom we have struggled, surrendered ourselves, can also come to an end? Is it possible ever to be free of all this? It is possible if we apply ourselves, not just endlessly talk about it. As it is we realize that we are hurt psychologically from childhood, we see all the consequences of that hurt, which we resist, from which we withdraw, not wanting to be hurt any more. We encourage isolation and therefore build a wall round ourselves. In our relationships we are doing the same thing.

The consequences of being hurt from childhood are pain, resistance, withdrawal, isolation, deeper and deeper fear. And as the speaker has said, there is the global sorrow of mankind; human beings have been tortured through wars, tortured under dictatorships, totalitarianism, tortured in different parts of the world. And there is the sorrow of my brother, son, wife, running away, or dying; the sorrow of separation, the sorrow that comes about when one is deeply interested in something and the other is not. In all this sorrow there is no compassion, there is no love. The ending of sorrow brings love - not pleasure, not desire, but love. Where there is love there is compassion with which comes intelligence, which has nothing whatever to do with the `intelligence' of thought.

We have to look very closely at ourselves as humanity, at why we have borne all these things all our lives, at why we have never ended this condition. Is it part indolence, part habit? We generally say: `It is part of our habit, part of our conditioning. What am I to do about it? How am I to uncondition myself? I cannot find the answer; I will go to the guru next door' - or further away, or the priest, or this or that. We never say: `Let us look at ourselves closely and see if we can break through it, like any other habit.' The habit of smoking can be broken, or that of drugs and alcohol. But we say: `What does it matter. I am getting old anyhow, the body is destroying itself, so what does little more pleasure matter?' So do we carry on. We do not feel utterly responsible for all the things we do. We either blame it on the environment, on society, on our parents, on past hereditary; we find some excuse but never apply ourselves. If we really have the urge, the immediate urge, to find out why we are hurt, it can be done. We are hurt because we have built an image about ourselves. That is a fact. When one says, `I am hurt', it is the image that one has about oneself that is hurt. Somebody comes along and puts his heavy boot on that image and one gets hurt. One gets hurt through comparison: `I am this but somebody else is better'. As long as one has an image about oneself one is going to get hurt. That is a fact and if one does not pay attention to that fact, but retains an image of oneself of any kind somebody is going to put a pin into it and one is going to get hurt. If one has an image about oneself as addressing large audiences and being famous, having gained a reputation which one wants to maintain, then someone is going to hurt it - somebody else with a bigger audience. If one gives complete attention to the image one has about oneself - attention, not concentration but attention - then one will see that the image has no meaning and it disappears.

Network of Thought


The Network of Thought Chapter 5 5th Public Talk Saanen 21st July 1981

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