Poona, India, 1948
Poona India 3rd Public Talk 12th September, 1948
Since all of us are concerned with action, and without action we cannot live, we ought to go into this question fully and try to understand it comprehensively. It is a difficult question, and we will have to follow it at its different levels; because, most of us live unintegrated lives, we live in departments, our life is compartmental. Philosophies, actions and activities exist at different levels, unconnected with each other; and such living inevitably leads to confusion and disorder. So, in trying to understand the complex problem of action, we must find out what is activity, and what is action. There is a vast difference between activity and action. We live an unintegrated life at different levels, and try to solve the many problems each on its own level. The economist tries to solve the whole problem of existence on the economic level, the religious person on the psychological or so-called spiritual level, and the man who believes in social reform is concerned with outward transformation, with change, the modification of social standards, and so on.
So, we see that most of us are acting departmentally, isolating the problem and trying to solve it as if it were wholly an economic problem, or wholly a psychological or spiritual problem, wholly inside the skin or outside the skin. Surely, this unrelated action is unintegrated action, and such departmental action is mere activity. That is, when we try to solve a problem on its own level, as if it were unrelated to other issues of life, then such treatment is mere activity. Activity is action unrelated to the whole. When we say, `Change the environment first, and everything will follow', surely such an idea reveals compartmental thinking, leading to mere activity. Ma does not live on one level alone, he lives at different levels of consciousness; and to separate his life into compartments, into different unrelated levels, is obviously detrimental to action. It is important to understand the distinction between activity and action. I would call activity the conduct of life based on unrelated or unintegrated levels - trying to live as though life were merely on one level, and not be concerned with other levels, with other fields of consciousness. If we examine such activities, we will find that they are based on idea, and idea is a process of isolation; therefore, activity is always a process of isolation, not unification. If you look into activity, you will find that it is the outcome of an idea; that is, the idea is considered the most important thing, and such an idea is always separative. An idea which brings forth activity, or activity based on the pattern of an idea, must inevitably be the cause of conflict - and that is what is happening in our life. We have an idea, and then conform to that idea; but if you will examine it closely, you will find that the idea is separative. An idea can never be integrating; idea is always separative, dividing. He who indulges in mere activities based on idea, is obviously creating mischief, causing misery, bringing about disorder. Integrated action is not born of an idea; it comes into being only when we understand life as a total process, not broken up into separate departments, separate activities apart from the whole of existence. Integrated action is action not is based on idea. It is comprehension of the whole, of the total process; and what is a total process has not the limitation of an idea. So, he who wants to act seriously, earnestly and fully, without bringing about disorder, must comprehend action as a whole, not based on idea. When action is based on idea, it is mere activity; and all activity is separative, exclusive.
Our problem, then, is how to act integrally, as a whole, not on different unrelated levels. To act as a whole, to act integrally, the obvious necessity is self-knowledge. Self-knowledge is not an idea: it is a movement. An idea is always static; and without self-knowledge, mere action based on an idea obviously leads to disorder, suffering and pain. So, for action, there must be self-knowledge. Self-knowledge is not a technique, it is not to be learnt from a book. One discovers the process of self-knowledge through relationship, relationship with one or with society. Society is the relationship of myself with another. There can be integrated action only when there is self-knowledge; and self knowledge is the outcome, not of an idea, but of relationship, which is in constant movement. If you observe, you will see that relationship can never be fixed, can never be bound by an idea; relationship is in constant movement, it is never static. Therefore, to understand relationship is arduous, extremely difficult, and that is why we turn to mere activity, ideation as a pattern of action. So, the earnest man obviously must not be caught in activity, but understand relationship through the process of self-knowledge. Understanding the process of the `me', of the `mine', in its entire field, brings about integrated action; and such action is complete, such action will not create conflict.
Now, I have several questions, and I will try to answer as many of them as I can. I have looked over these questions, but I have not thought about them. I have had to choose a few questions ut of many, and the rest we will deal with another week. So, I am answering without premeditated response; and if you also will think out each problem, we can proceed together and find the truth of the question. If you merely listen to the response and wait for a solution from me, this gathering will mean very little; but if we can think out the problems and find the truth together, then the meeting will have great significance. It is the truth that you want to find; and for truth to come into being, your mind must be prepared. To receive the truth, the mind must be swift, pliable and alert. If you merely wait for an answer from me, obviously your mind is dull, insensitive; and it is essential that the mind be swift and sensitive. The mind is not sensitive when you are merely in a state of receiving. Let us think out the problems, the manner of approach to each question, and try to find the true answer together.
Question: What are the duties of a wife?
Krishnamurti: I wonder who has put this question, the wife or the husband? If the wife has put it, it demands a certain response, and if the husband has put it, it demands a certain other response. In this country, a husband is the boss; he is the law, the master, because he is economically dominant, and it is he who says what the duties of a wife are. Since the wife is not dominant and is economically dependent, what she says are not duties. We can approach the problem from the point of view of the husband, or of the wife. If we approach the problem of the wife, we see that because she is not free economically her education is limited, or her thinking capacities may be inferior; and society has imposed upon her regulations and modes of conduct determined by the men. Therefore, she accepts what are called the rights of the husband; and as he is dominant, being economically free, and has the capacity to earn, he lays down the law. Naturally, where marriage is a matter of contract, there is no limit to its complications. Then there is `duty' - a bureaucratic word that has no significance in relationship. When one establishes regulations and begins to enquire into the duties and rights of husband and wife, there is no end to it. Surely, such a relationship is an appalling affair, is it not? When the husband demands his `rights' and insists on having a dutiful wife, whatever that may mean, their relationship is obviously merely a business contract. It is very important to understand this question; for surely, there must be a different approach to it. As long as relationship is based on contract, on money, on possession, authority, or domination, then inevitably relationship becomes a matter of rights and duties. One can see the extreme complexity of relationship when it is the result of a contract - determining what is right, what is wrong, what is duty. If I am the wife and you insist on certain actions, not being independent naturally I have to succumb to your wishes, you holding the reins. You impose on the wife certain regulations, rights and duties, and therefore relationship becomes merely a matter of contract, with all its complexities.
Now, is there not a different approach to this problem? That is, when there is love, there is no duty. When you love your wife, you share everything with her - your property, your trouble, your anxiety, your joy. You do not dominate. You are not the man and she the woman to be used and thrown aside, a sort of breeding machine to carry on your name. When there is love, the word `duty' disappears. It is the man with no love in his heart who talks of rights and duties, and in this country duties and rights have taken the place of love. Regulations have become more important than the warmth of affection. When there is love, the problem is simple; when there is no love, the problem becomes complex. When a man loves his wife and his children, he can never possibly think in terms of duty and rights. Sirs, examine your own hearts and minds. I know you laugh it off - that is one of the tricks of the thoughtless, to laugh at something and push it aside. Your wife does not share your responsibility, your wife does not share your property, she does not have the half of everything that you have, because you consider the woman less than yourself, something to be kept and to be used sexually at your convenience when your appetite demands it. So you have invented the words `rights' and `duty; and when the woman rebels, you throw at her these words. It is a static society, a deteriorating society, that talks of duty and rights. If you really examine your hearts and minds, you will find that you have no love. If you had love, you would not have put this question. Without love, I do not see the point of having children. Without love, we produce ugly, immature, thoughtless children; and they will be immature, thoughtless, all their lives, because they never had affection and were merely used as toys and amusements, as something to carry on your name. For a new society, a new culture to come into being, obviously there cannot be domination either by the man or by the woman. Domination exists because of inward poverty. Being psychologically poor, we want to dominate, to swear at the servant, at the wife or husband. Surely, it is the sense of affection, that warmth of love, which alone can bring about a new state, a new culture. The cultivation of the heart is not a process of the mind. The mind cannot cultivate the heart; but when the process of the mind is understood, then love comes into being. Love is not a mere word. The word is not the thing. The word `love' is not love. When we use that word and try to cultivate love, it is merely a process of the mind. Love cannot be cultivated; but when we realize that the word is not the thing, then the mind, with its laws and regulations, with its rights and duties, ceases to interfere, and then only is there a possibility of creating a new culture, a new hope, and a new world.
Question: What is that quality which gives us the perception of the whole?
Krishnamurti: Let us first understand the question. Most of us act without integration. We perceive only a part of any problem, and then act; and when our activity is based on the perception of only a part and not the whole of a problem, obviously there must be confusion and misery. So, the question is, how to perceive in its entirety any human problem? Because, when we perceive a problem in its entirety and act upon it as a whole, the problem is solved. such action does not create further problems. If I can see as a whole, and not merely partially, the problem of greed, of violence, of nationalism, of war, then my action will not produce further catastrophe, further misery. So, the question is, `What is that quality which gives us the perception of the whole?'
Now, how do you approach a problem? When you approach a problem seeking an answer, or trying to find the cause of the problem, or trying to resolve it, you approach it with a very agitated mind, don't you? You have a problem, and you want to find an answer; therefore you are concerned with the solution, and your mind is already occupied with finding that solution. That is, you are not interested in the problem, you are only concerned to find an answer to the problem. So, what happens? Because you want an answer to the problem, you are not aware of the significance of the problem itself. Since your mind is agitated, you cannot possibly see the problem in its entirety; for you can see a problem in its entirety only when the mind is still. There is perception of the whole only when the mind is utterly silent. But this silence, this stillness, is not induced, is not brought about through discipline or control. Stillness comes only when distractions cease, that is, when the mind is aware of all distractions. The mind is interested in many things, in multifarious problems, and if it chooses one interest and excludes other interests, then it is not aware of the entire problem, and therefore there is distraction; but if the mind is aware of every interest as it arises and sees its meaning, there is no distraction. There is distraction only when you choose a central interest, for then anything away from the central interest is distraction. When you choose a central interest, is the mind consumed, absorbed in that interest? Obviously it is not. You may choose a central interest, but if you examine your mind you will see that it is not consumed in any one thing. If it were consumed in one thing, there would be no distraction; but your mind is not consumed in one thing, it has many interests. The implication of a distraction is that there is a central interest, and therefore anything that competes with the central interest is a distraction. A mind which has a central interest and is resisting the so-called distractions, is not a still mind. Such a mind is merely fixed in an idea, in an image or a formula, and a fixed mind is not a quiet mind - it is merely held in bondage.
So, a still mind is essential for the perception of the whole; and the mind is still only as it understands each thought and each feeling as it arises. That is, the mind becomes still when the thought process stops. Merely to resist, to build a wall of isolation and live in that isolation, is not stillness, is not tranquillity. Stillness that is cultivated, disciplined, enforced, tranquillity that is compelled, is spurious, and such a mind can never perceive the problem as a whole. Sir, living is an art, and art is not learnt in a day. The art of living cannot be found in books, no guru can give it to you; but since you have bought books and followed gurus, your mind is full of false ideas, full of discipline, regulations and restrictions. Because your mind is never quiet, never still, it is incapable of perceiving any issue as a whole. To see anything fully, completely, there must be freedom, and freedom does not come through compulsion, a process of discipline, of suppression, but only when the mind understands itself, which is self-knowledge. That higher form of intelligence which is negative thinking comes only when the thought process has stopped and the mind is fully aware, alert; and in that alert stillness, the whole of the problem is perceived. Then only is there integrated action, action which is full, right, and complete.
Question: You say that repeating mantrams and performing rituals makes the mind dull. Psychologists tell us that when the mind is concentrated on one thing, or on an idea, it becomes sharp. A mantram is supposed to purify the mind. Is not your statement contradictory to the findings of modern psychologists?
Krishnamurti: If you are going to depend on authorities, you are lost, A specialist is an unintegrated person, and what he says about his specialty cannot lead to integrated action. Besides, if you quote one psychologist and somebody else quotes another contradicting him, where are you? What you and I think is much more important than all the psychologists put together. Let us, you and I, find out for ourselves, and not quote what the psychologists or experts say. That way leads to complete confusion and ignorant strife. The question is, does the repetition of a mantram, or the performance of a ritual, dull the mind? And the other question is, does concentration on an idea sharpen the mind? Let us find out the truth about it.
The repetition of a word, however well-sounding, is obviously a mechanical process, is it not? Look at your own mind. When you take the word Aum and keep on repeating it, what happens to your mind? When you keep on repeating that word day after day, you have a certain stimulation, a certain sensation, which is the outcome of repetition. It is a mechanical response; and do you think a mind that keep on repeating a word or a phrase is capable of sharpness or swift thought? You have repeated mantrams; and is your mind sharp, pliable, swift? You can see whether your mind is swift or not, only in your relationship with another. If you observe yourself in your relationship with your wife, your children your neighbour, you will see that your mind is dull. You just imagine that your mind is `sharp' - a word that has no referent in your action, in your relationship, which is never clear, complete, full. Such an imaginative mind is an unbalanced mind. The mere repetition of words obviously gives a certain stimulation, a certain sensation, but that is bound to make the mind dull.
Similarly, when you perform rituals, ceremonies, day after day, what is happening? The regular performance of a ritual obviously gives a certain stimulation, like going to the cinema; and you are satisfied with that stimulation. When a man takes a drink, a cocktail, for the moment he may feel uninhibited; but let him keep on drinking, and he gets more and more dull. It is the same when you keep on repeating rituals; you pour into your rituals an enormous significance which they do not have. Sir, it is your mind that is responsible for making itself dull, thereby making your life a mechanical process. You do not know what it means. If you thought it out, if you started all over again, you would not go on repeating words. You do so because somebody has said that repeating these words, these mantrams, will help you. To find truth you need no guru, no book; to have a clear mind you have to think out every issue, every movement of thought, every flutter of feeling. Since you do not want to find truth, you have this convenient dope, and the dope is the mantram, the word. I know you will go on doing these rituals, because to break away from this practice would create disturbance in the family, it would upset the wife or the husband. There would be trouble in the family, so you carry on. A man who carries on, not knowing what he does, is obviously an unbalanced person; and I am not at all sure that those who perform rituals are not unbalanced. If these rituals have any meaning, they must have a response in daily life. If you are a factory manager or owner and do not share your profits with the workmen, do you think you will get peace by repeating that word umpteen times? Men who are using people, monstrously exploiting their servants and employees, perform rituals and repeat the word `peace, peace' - it is a marvellous escape. Such a man is an ugly, unbalanced entity, and no amount of talking about purity of life, performing rituals, repeating the word Aum, changing the clothes of his God, is going to alter it. What is the good of your mantrams and rituals? You are talking of peace on the one hand, and causing misery on the other. Do you think such action is balanced? You will do innumerable rituals, but you will not act with generosity because there is no spark of life in you. Most of us want to be dull because we do not want to face life, and a dull mind can go to sleep and live happily in a semi-comatose condition. Mantrams, the performance of rituals, help to produce that sleeping condition - and that is what you want. You are listening to words, but you are not going to do a thing. That is what I am objecting to. You do not drop your rituals, you won't stop exploiting, you will never share your profits with others, you have no interest in raising the standard of the underprivileged. It is all right for you to live in a big house, but it is all wrong for them. Since you are not going to do a thing, I do not see why you listen so raptly.
The second problem is whether concentration on an idea can produce clarity or sharpness of the mind. It is a complex problem and many things are involved in it, so let us think it out. What do you mean by concentration? A child does not talk about concentration when he has an interest. Give him a watch, a toy, anything in which he takes interest - he will be completely absorbed in it, nothing else exist for him. You are not interested, therefore you make an effort to concentrate. That is, you choose a pleasurable or gratifying idea which you call truth, a quality which gives you a sense of well being, and try to fix your mind on it. Other thoughts creep in and you push them aside, and you spend your time battling against them in an effort to concentrate. If you can concentrate and fix your mind on one idea, if you are able to exclude other thoughts and isolate yourself with that one idea, you think you have achieved something. In other words, your concentration is merely exclusion. Life is too much for you, therefore you concentrate on an idea; and then you think your mind will be sharp. Will it? Can the mind ever be sharp if it lives in isolation, in exclusion? The mind is sharp, clear, swift, only when it is inclusive, when it does not live in isolation, when it is capable of following every thought completely through and seeing its consequences. Then only is the mind capable of being sharp - not when concentrating on an idea, which is an exclusive process.
There is another question involved in this. What do you mean by `idea'? What is an idea? Obviously, a fixed thought. What is thought? Thought is the response of memory. There is no thought without memory, there is no thought without the past; so thought comes into being as the response of memory. And what is memory? Memory is the residue of incomplete experience, of experience which is not completely understood; so memory is the product of incomplete action. Naturally I cannot go into it fully, as it would take a great deal of time; but briefly, memory is incomplete experience, and that incomplete experience which you call memory produces thought, from which there is an idea. So, idea is incomplete, and when you concentrate, your mind is incomplete; and a mind that is incomplete must always be dull. The mind becomes sensitive only when it is swift, clear, when it is aware of its own response and is free of the response. When you want to understand something, you love it; you watch that something very intently, without condemnation, without justification, without blame, without response. Then your mind is swift, then your action is not based on an idea - which is merely the continuation of memory, and therefore incomplete. A mind that is forced to concentrate, that is immolated to an idea, identified with an idea, is a dull mind, because an idea can never be complete; and as most of us live on ideas, our minds are dull. Only when the mind is free, capable of extraordinary pliability, can there be the understanding of truth.
Question: Does a man go to sleep when his body is asleep?
Krishnamurti: This is an extraordinarily complex problem. If you have the inclination and the interest, and are not too tired, we can go into it. What do you mean by sleep? Do you mean the body going to sleep? Are we asleep when we think we are sleeping? Are not most of us living in a state of dreams in which we do things automatically? When environmental influences compel you to certain forms of action, are you not asleep? Surely, merely going to bed is not the only form of sleep that most people aim at. Most of us want to forget, we want to be dull, undisturbed, we want an easy, comfortable life; so we put ourselves to sleep mentally and emotionally while we are actively doing things.
To understand this problem we have to understand the question of consciousness. What do we mean by consciousness? Do not quote what somebody has said about it, either a Shankara or a Buddha. Think it out for yourselves. I have not read any sacred books, the Bhagvad-gita or the Upanishads, nor any books on psychology. One has to think anew when one wants to find the truth, one cannot find the truth through another. What you repeat is a lie. It may be true for another, but when you repeat it, it becomes a lie. Truth cannot be repeated, it must be experienced, and you cannot experience it if you are caught in the net of words. We will have to find what we mean by consciousness. Surely, consciousness is a process of response to challenge, which you call experience. That is, there is a challenge, which is always new; but the response is always old. The response to the new, the response to a challenge, is experience. That experience is termed, named, given a label as good or bad, pleasurable or painful, and then recorded, put away. So, consciousness at different levels is the total process of experiencing; responding to a challenge, naming, and recording. That is actually what is going on at different levels of our being, a constant process, not a periodic process; response to a challenge, naming or terming it, and storing it up in order to communicate or to hold it. That total process at different levels is called consciousness. I am not inventing - if you observe yourselves, you will see that this is actually what is taking place. Memory is the storehouse, the record, and it is memory that interferes, responds to a challenge; and this process we call consciousness. This is exactly what is taking place.
Now, when the body goes to sleep, when you are asleep, what happens? The process is going on, the mind is still active, is it not? You can often see that the mind is active in sleep when you have a problem. During the day you think about it, worry about it, but you cannot find an answer. When you wake up, you have a new way of looking at the problem. How does that happen? Obviously, when the conscious mind, after having worried over the problem, becomes relaxed, into that quiet superficial mind the unconscious is able to project itself; and when you wake up, you have the answer. The conscious mind is never still; it is everlastingly active in all its different layers. It is not possible during the waking hours to still the mind; but when in sleep the superficial layer of consciousness is quiet, the unconscious projects itself and gives the right answer.
It is only when the mind, consciousness, is not naming, not storing, but merely experiencing - only then is here freedom, liberation. Sleep has a different meaning. We have no time now to go into that question, but we will deal with it on another occasion. The question is, what happens when the body is asleep? Obviously, the superficial mind is quiet; but the whole consciousness goes on. The vastness, the deeper significance of sleep is not understood if we are not fully aware during the waking hours of the process of consciousness. The process of consciousness is experiencing, naming, and storing or recording; and as long as that full process is kept up, there is no freedom. Freedom, liberation can come only when thought ceases - thought being the product of memory, which in turn is experiencing, naming, and recording. Freedom is possible only when there is full, peaceful awareness of everything about you and in yourself. Again, this brings up the question, what is awareness? We will have to discuss it another time.
Question: Belief in God has been a powerful incentive to better living. Why do you deny God? Why do you not try to revive man's faith in the idea of God?
Krishnamurti: Let us look at the problem widely and intelligently. I am not denying God - it would be foolish to do so. Only the man who does not know reality indulges in meaningless words. The man who says he knows, does not know; the man who is experiencing reality from moment to moment has no means of communicating that reality. Let us go into this question. The men who dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima said that God was with them; those who flew from England to destroy Germany said that God was their copilot. The Hitler's, the Churchill's, the generals, all talk of God, they have immense faith in God. Are they doing service, making a better life for man? The people who say they believe in God have destroyed half the world, and the world is in complete misery. Through religious intolerance, there are divisions of people as believers and nonbelievers, leading to religious wars. It indicates how extraordinarily politically-minded you are. And the capitalist has his fat bank account, his dull heart and empty mind. (Laughter.) Don't laugh, because you do exactly the same thing. The empty of heart also talk of God. Is belief in God `a powerful incentive to better living'? Why do you want an incentive to better living? Surely, your incentive must be your own desire to live cleanly and simply, must it not? If you look to an incentive, you are not interested in making life possible for all, you are merely interested in your incentive, which is different from mine - and we will quarrel over the incentive. But if we live happily together, not because we believe in God, but because we are human beings, then we will share the entire means of production in order to produce things for all. Through lack of intelligence we accept the idea of a super-intelligence which we call `God; but this `God', this super-intelligence, is not going to give us a better life. What leads to a better life is intelligence; and there cannot be intelligence if there is belief, if there are class divisions, if the means of production are in the hands of a few, if there are isolated nationalities and sovereign governments. All this obviously indicates lack of intelligence, and it is the lack of intelligence that is preventing a better living, not non-belief in God.
Now, the other point is, what do you mean by `God'? First of all, the word is not God, the word is not the thing. When you say the word `God', it is not God. When you repeat that word, naturally it produces a certain sensation, a pleasurable response. Or if you say you do not believe in God, this rejection also has a psychological significance. That is, the word `God' creates in you a nervous response, which is also emotional and intellectual, according to your conditioning; but such responses are obviously not God. Now, how are you going to find the truth? Not by isolation, not by withdrawing from life. To find truth, Sir, the mind must be free from the response of the past; for truth is not seen when the mind is fixed, it has to see anew from moment to moment. A mind that is the product of memory, of time, cannot follow truth. For reality to be seen, the thought process must cease. Every thought is the product of time, the outcome of yesterday; and the mind that is caught in the field of time cannot perceive something beyond itself. What it perceives is still within the field of time, and that which is in the field of time is not reality. Reality can be only when the mind which is the product of time, ceases, and then there is the experiencing of that reality, which is not fictitious, which is not self-hypnosis. The thought process ceases only when you understand yourself; and you can understand yourself completely, fully, not in isolation, not in withdrawal from life, but only in your relationship with your wife, your children, your mother, your neighbour. So, reality is not far away, regeneration is not a matter of time. Regeneration, that inward revolution of clarity, comes into being only when you perceive what is. It does not need time, it needs understanding, it needs clarity of attention. Only when the mind is tranquil does regeneration come. The experiencing of reality is not a matter of belief; he who believes it does not know it, and when he talks about it, he is merely indulging in words. Words are not experience, they are not reality. Reality is immeasurable, it cannot be caught in the garland of words, as life cannot be contained within the walls of possession. Only when the mind is free can creation come into being.
September 19, 1948
Poona, India, 1948
Poona India 3rd Public Talk 12th September, 1948
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