The Impossible Question
Part 1, Public Talks Saanen 1970
Impossible Question Part I Chapter 4 4th Public Talk Saanen 23rd July 1970 'Fragmentation'
Krishnamurti: When we face our innumerable problems we are inclined to try to solve each problem by itself. If it is a sexual problem, we treat it as though it were something totally unrelated to other problems. Equally with the problem of violence or starvation, which we try to solve politically, economically or socially. I wonder why we try to solve each problem by itself. The world is ridden with violence; the various powers that be try to solve each problem as though it were something apart from the rest of life. We do not consider these problems as a whole, seeing each problem related to other problems and not in isolation.
Violence, as one can see in oneself, is part of our animal inheritance. A great part of us is animal, and without understanding the structure of ourselves as whole human beings, merely trying to solve violence by itself only leads to further violence. I think this must be clearly understood by each of us. There are thousands of problems which appear to be separate, which we never seem to see as interrelated, but no problem can be solved in isolation by itself. We have to deal with life as a continuous movement of problems and crises, great or small. Let us go into this very carefully, because unless it is clearly understood when we discuss the questions of fear, love, death, meditation and reality, we shall not understand how they are all interrelated. For the beauty of life, the ecstasy, the thing that is immeasurably vast, is not separate from our daily problems. If you say,`I am only concerned with meditation and with truth', you will never find it, but do understand how all problems are interrelated. For instance starvation, which cannot be stopped by itself, for it is a problem involving the national, political, economic, social, religious and psychological divisions between man and man. And we have the problem of personal relationship, the problem of suffering - not only physical but psychological suffering - problems of intense sorrow, not only personal sorrow but the sorrow of the world, its misery and confusion. If we try to find an answer to each particular problem, then we only bring about further division, further conflict. If you are at all serious and mature you must have asked why the mind tries to solve each problem as though it were unrelated to other problems. Why does the human mind, the brain, always divide as `me' and `mine','we' and 'they', religion and politics and so on? Why is there this constant division with all the effort to solve each problem by itself in isolation?
To answer that question we have to enquire into the function of thought, its meaning, substance and structure; because it may be that thought itself divides, and that the very process of trying to find an answer through thinking, through reasoning, causes separation.
People want a physical revolution in order to bring about a better order, forgetting all the implications of physical revolution, forgetting the whole psychological nature of man. So one has to ask this question. And what is the response? Is it the response of thought, or is it the response of understanding the totality of this vast structure of human life?
We want to find out why this division exists. We went into it the other day, as the `observer' and the `observed'. Let us put that aside and approach it differently. Does thought create this division? If we find it does, it is because thought tries to find an answer to a particular problem separated from other problems.
Do not, please, agree with me; it is not a question of agreement, it is a question of seeing for yourself the truth or the falseness of it. Under no circumstances accept what the speaker says at any time. There is no authority, neither you nor the speaker have authority; both of us are investigating, observing, looking, learning.
If thought, by its very nature and structure, divides life into many problems, trying to find an answer through thought will only lead to an isolated answer, therefore we see that it breeds further confusion, further misery. One has to find out for oneself, freely, without any bias, without any conclusion, if thought operates this way. Most of us try to find an answer intellectually or emotionally, or say we do so intuitively. One must bc very careful of that word `intuition; in that word lies great deception, because one can have intuition dictated by one's own hopes, fears, bitterness, wishes and so on. We try to find an answer intellectually or emotionally, as though the intellect were something separate from emotion and emotion something separate from the physical response. Our education and culture together with all our philosophical concepts are based on this intellectual approach to life; our social structure and our morality are based on this division.
So if thought divides, how does it divide? If you actually observe it in yourself you will see what an extraordinary thing you will discover. You will be a light to yourself, you will be an integrated human being, not looking to somebody else to tell you what to do, what to think and how to think. Thought can be extraordinarily reasonable; it must reason consecutively, logically, objectively, sanely; it must function perfectly, like a computer ticking over without any hindrance, without any conflict. Reasoning is necessary; sanity is part of the reasoning capacity.
Can thought ever be new, fresh? Every human problem - not the technical and scientific problem - but every human problem is always new and thought tries to understand it, tries to alter it, tries to translate it, tries to do something about it. If we deeply feel love for each other - not verbally but really then all this division would come to an end. That can only take place when there is no conditioning, when there is no centre as the `me' and the 'you'. But thought, which is the activity of the brain, of the intellect, cannot possibly love. Thought has to be understood and we ask whether thought can see anything new; or is it that the `new' thought is always old, so that when it faces a problem of life which is always new - it cannot see the newness of it because it tries to translate it in terms of its own conditioning.
Thought is necessary, yet we see that thought divides, as the `me' and `not me; it tries to solve the problem of violence in isolation, unrelated to all other problems of existence. Thought is always of the past: if we had not the brain, which like a tape-recorder has accumulated all kinds of information and experience, we would not be able to think or respond. Thought, meeting a new issue, must translate it in its own terms of the past and therefore creates division.
Leave everything aside for the moment and observe your thinking: it is the response of the past. If you had no thought there would be no past, there would be a state of amnesia. Thought inevitably divides life into the past, present and future. As long as there is thought, as the past, life must be divided into time.
If I want to understand the problem of violence completely, totally, so that the mind is altogether free from violence, I can only understand it by understanding the structure of thought. It is thought that breeds violence: `my' house, `my' wife, `my, country, `my' belief, which is utter nonsense. Who is the everlasting `me' opposed to the rest? What causes it? Is it education, society, the establishment, the church? They are all doing it and I am part of all that. Thought is matter; it is in the very structure, in the very cells of the brain so when the brain operates whether psychologically, socially, or religiously - it must invariably operate in terms of its past conditioning. We see that thought is essential and must function absolutely logically, ob- jectively, impersonally, and yet we see how thought divides.
I am not pushing you to agree, but do you see that thought must inevitably divide? Look what has happened: thought sees that nationalism has led to all kinds of war and mischief, so it says, `Let us all be united, form a league of nations'. But thought is still operating, still maintaining the separation - you, as an Italian, keeping your Italian sovereignty and so on. There is talk about brotherhood yet the maintaining of separation, which is hypocrisy. It is characteristic of thought to play double games within itself.
So thought is not the way out - which does not mean kill the mind. What then is it that sees every problem as it arises in its totality? A sexual problem is a total problem, related to culture, to character, to the various issues of life - not a fragment of the problem. What mind is it that sees each problem totally?
Questioner: I have understood, but still there remains a question.
Krishnamurti: When you have understood what thought does, at the highest and at the lowest level, yet when you say there is still another question, who is it that is asking that question? When the brain, the whole nervous system, the mind - which covers all of that - says, `I have understood the nature of thought', then the next step is: one sees whether this mind can look at the entirety of life with all its vastness and complexity, with its apparently unending sorrow. That is the only question and thought is not putting that question. The mind has observed the whole structure of thought and knows its relative value; can this mind look with an eye that is never spotted by the past?
This is really a very serious question, not just an entertainment. One must give one's energy, passion, one's life to find out; because this is the only way out of this terrible brutality, sorrow, degradation, everything that is corrupt. Can the mind, the brain which is itself corrupt through time be quiet, so that it can see life as a whole and therefore without problems? A problem only arises when life is seen fragmentarily. Do see the beauty of that. When you see life as a whole then there is no problem whatsoever. It is only a mind and a heart that is broken up in fragments that creates problems. The centre of the fragment is the `me'. The `me' is brought about through thought; it has no reality by itself. The`me' - `my, house, `my' disappointment,`my' desire to become somebody - that `me' is the product of thought which divides. Can the mind look without the `me'? Not being able to do this, that very `me' says: `I will dedicate myself to Jesus' - `to Buddha, to this, to that' - you understand? - `I will become a Communist who will be concerned with the whole of the world'. The 'me' identifying itself with what it considers to be greater, is still the 'me'.
So the question arises: can the mind, the brain, the heart, the whole being, observe without the `me'. The `me' is of the past; there is no `me' in the present. The present is not of time. Can the mind be free of the `me' to look at the whole vastness of life? It can, completely, utterly, when you have fundamentally, with all your being, understood the nature of thinking. If you have not given your attention, everything you have, to find out what thinking is, you will never be able to find out if it is possible to observe without the `me'. If you cannot observe without the `me' the problems will go on - one problem opposing another. And all these problems will come to an end, I assure you, when man lives a different life altogether, when the mind can look at the world as a total movement.
Questioner: At the beginning of the talk you were asking what made us try to solve problems separately. Is not urgency one of the reasons which cause us to try to solve problems separately?
Krishnamurti: If you see danger you act. In that action there is no question of urgency, no impatience - you act. The ur- gency and the demand for immediate action, takes place only when see the danger as a danger to the `me' as thought. When you see the total danger of thought dividing the world, that seeing is the urgency and the action. When you really see starvation, such as there is in India, and see how the starvation has been brought about, the callousness of people, of governments, the inefficiency of the politicians, what do you do? Tackle one area of starvation by itself? Or do you say `This whole thing is a psychological issue, it is centred in the `me' which is brought about by thought'? If that starvation in all its forms is completely, totally, understood - not only physical starvation, but the human starvation of having no love - you will find the right action. The very change is urgency; it is not that change will come about through urgency.
Questioner: You seem to say that thought has to function, at the same time you say it cannot.
Krishnamurti: Thought must function logically, non-personally and yet thought must be quiet. How can this take place?
Do you actually see, or understand, the nature of thinking - not according; to me or to a specialist - do you yourself see how thought works? Look Sir: when you are asked a question on a matter which is utterly familiar to you, your response is immediate, is it not? When you are asked a little more complicated question you take more time. If the brain is asked a question to which it cannot find an answer having searched all its memories ind books it says, `I do not know'. Has it used thought to say `I do not know'? When you say, `I do not know', your mind is not seeking, not waiting, not expecting; the mind which says `I do not know' is entirely different from the mind which operates with knowledge. So can the mind remain completely free of knowledge and yet operate functionally in the field of the known? The two are not divided. When you want to discover something new you have to put the past aside. The new can take place only when there is freedom from the known. That freedom can be constant; which means that the mind lives in complete silence, in nothingness. This nothingness and silence is vast, and out of that, knowledge - technical knowledge - can be used to work things out. Also, out of that silence can be observed the whole of life without the `me'.
Questioner: You were saying in the beginning of the talk, that to want to change things from the outside, would lead to the dictatorship of a group or person. Don't you think that we are now living under the dictatorship of money and industry?
Krishnamurti: Of course. Where there is authority there is dictatorship. To bring about a social, a religious or a human change, there must be first understanding of the whole structure of thought as the `me', which is seeking power - whether it is I, or the other who is seeking power. Can the mind live without seeking power? Answer this, Sir.
Questioner: Is it not natural to seek power?
Krishnamurti: Of course it is so-called natural. So is the dog seeking power over other dogs. But we are supposed to be cultured, educated, intelligent. Apparently after millennia we have not learnt to live without power.
Questioner: I wonder whether the mind can ever put a question about itself to which it does not already know the answer.
Krishnamurti: When the mind, as the `me', as the separate thought, puts to itself a question about itself, it has already found the answer, because it is talking about itself; it is ringing the same bell with a different hammer, but it is the same bell.
Questioner: Can we act without a `me'? - do we not then live in contemplation? Krishnamurti: Can you live in isolation, in contemplation? Who is going to give you your food, your clothes? The monks and the various tricksters of religions have done all this. There are people in India who say, `I live in contemplation, feed me, clothe me, bathe me, I am so disconnected' it is all so utterly immature. You cannot possibly isolate yourself, for you are always in relationship with the past or with the things around you. To live in isolation, calling it contemplation, is mere escape, self-deception.
23rd July, 1970
The Impossible Question
Part 1, Public Talks Saanen 1970
Impossible Question Part I Chapter 4 4th Public Talk Saanen 23rd July 1970 'Fragmentation'
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