Ojai 8th Public Talk 7th August 1949
I am sure many of you believe in immortality, in the soul, or the atman, and so on. And perhaps some of you have had a passing experience of these things. But, if I may, I would like this morning to approach it from a different point of view; let us go into it very seriously and earnestly, and discover the truth of it - not according to any particular pattern of belief or religious dogma, or your own personal experience, however vast, however beautiful and romantic it may be. So, please examine what we are going to discuss, intelligently and without any prejudice, with the intention of finding out, rather than rejecting or defending it. Because, it is quite a difficult problem to discuss. The implications are many, and if one can think of it anew, perhaps we shall have a different approach to action and to life.
We seem to think that ideas are very important. Our minds are filled with ideas. Our mind is idea - there is no mind without idea, without thought, without verbalization. And ideas play an extraordinarily important part in our life: what we think, what we feel, the beliefs and ideas in which we are conditioned. Ideas have an extraordinary significance with most of us: ideas which seem coherent, intelligent, logical, and also ideas that are romantic, stupid, without much significance. We are crowded with ideas, our whole structure is based on them. And these ideas come into being, obviously, through external influences and environmental conditioning, as well as through inward demands. We can see very well how ideas come into being. Ideas are sensations. There is no idea without sensation. As most of us feed on sensation, our whole structure is based on ideas. Being limited and seeking expansion through sensation, ideas become very important: ideas on God, ideas on morality, ideas on various forms of social organization, and so on and so on.
So, ideas shape our experience, which is an obvious fact. That is, ideas condition our action. Not that action creates ideas, but ideas create action. First, we think it out, then we act; and the action is based on ideas. So, experience is the outcome of ideas; but experience is different from experiencing. In the state of experiencing, if you have noticed, there is no ideation at all. There is merely an experiencing, an acting. Later on comes the ideation of likes and dislikes, derived from that experiencing. We either want that experience to continue, or not to continue. If we like it, we go back to the experience in memory, which is a demand for the sensation of that experience - not experiencing anew. Surely, there is a difference between experiencing and experience, and that should be made fairly clear. In experiencing there is not the experiencer and the experience; there is only a state of experiencing. But after experiencing, the sensations of that experiencing are demanded, are longed for; and out of that desire, arises idea.
Say, for example, you have had a pleasurable experience. It is over, and you are longing for it. That is, you are longing for the sensation, not the state of experiencing; and sensation creates ideas, based on pleasure and pain, avoidance and acceptance, denial and continuance. Now, ideas are not basically important, because one sees that ideas have continuity. You may die, but the ideas that you have had, the bundle of ideas which you are, have a con- tinuance, either partially or wholly, either fully manifested, or only a little; but they have a form of continuity, obviously.
So, if ideas are the result of sensation, which they are, and if the mind is filled with ideas, if the mind is idea, then there is a continuance of the mind as a bundle of ideas. But that, surely, is not immortality; because ideas are merely the result of sensations, of pleasure and not pleasure; and immortality must be something which is beyond ideas, upon which the mind cannot possibly speculate; because it can only speculate in terms of pleasure and pain, avoidance and acceptance. As the mind can only think in those terms, however extensively, however deeply, it is still based on idea; but thought, idea, has continuity, and that which continues is obviously not immortality. So, to know or to experience immortality, or for the experiencing of that state, there must be no ideation. One cannot think about immortality. If we can be free of ideation, that is, if we do not think in terms of ideas, then there is a state of experiencing only, a state in which ideation has stopped altogether. You can experiment with this yourself, and not accept what I am saying. Because, there is a great deal involved in this. The mind must be entirely quiet, without movement backward or forward, neither delving nor soaring. That is, ideation must entirely cease. And that is extremely difficult. That is why we cling to words like the soul, immortality, continuity, God - they all have neurological effects, which are sensations. And on these sensations the mind feeds; deprive the mind of these things, it is lost. So, it holds on with great strength to past experiences, which have now become sensations.
Is it possible for the mind to be so quiet - not partially, but in its totality - , as to have direct experience of that which is not thinkable, of that which cannot be put into words? That which continues is obviously within the limits of time; and through time, the timeless cannot come into being; therefore God, or what you will, cannot be thought of. If you think of it, there is merely an idea, a sensation; therefore it is no longer true. It is merely an idea which has a continuance, which is inherited or conditioned; and such an idea is not eternal, immortal, timeless. It is essential to really feel this, see the truth of it as we discuss it - not say, `This is so, that is not so', `I believe in immortality, and you don't', `You are agnostic, and I am godly'. All such expressions are immature, thoughtless, they have no significance. We are dealing with something which is not merely a matter of opinion, of like or dislike, of prejudice. We are trying to find out what is immortality - not as do so-called religious people who belong to some particular cult or other; but to experience that thing, to be aware of it, because in that is creation. When once there is the experiencing of that, then the whole problem of life undergoes a significant, revolutionary change; and without that, all the squabbles and petty opinions have really no significance at all.
So, one has to be aware of this total process, of how ideas come into being, how action springs from ideas, and how ideas control action and therefore limit action, depending on sensation. It doesn't matter whose ideas they are, whether from the left or from the extreme right. As long as we cling to ideas, we are in a state in which there can be no experiencing at all. Then we are merely living in the field of time - in the past, which gives further sensation, or in the future, which is another form of sensation. It is only when the mind is free from idea that there can be experiencing. Just listen to this, don't reject or accept it. Listen to it, as you would listen to the wind in the trees. You don't object to the wind in the trees; it's pleasant. Or, if you dislike it, you go away. Do the same thing here. Don't reject, just find out. Because, so many people have expressed their opinion on this question of immortality; religious teachers speak of it, as does every preacher around the corner. So many saints, so many writers, either deny or assert; they say that there is immortality, or that man is merely the outcome of environmental influences, and so on and so on - so many opinions. Opinions are not truth; and truth is something that must be experienced directly, from moment to moment, it is not an experience which you want - which is then merely sensation. And only when one can go beyond the bundle of ideas - which is the me, which is the mind, which has a partial or complete continuity - , only when one can go beyond that, when thought is completely silent, only then is there a state of experiencing. Then one shall know what truth is.
Question: How is one to know or feel unmistakably the reality, the exact and immutable significance of an experience which is truth? Whenever I have a realization and feel it to be truth, someone to whom I communicate it tells me I am merely self-deluded. Whenever I think I have understood, someone is there to tell me I am in illusion. Is there a way of knowing what is the truth about myself, without delusion, self-deception?
Krishnamurti: Any form of identification must lead to illusion. There is the psychiatric illusion, and the psychological illusion. The psychiatric illusion we know what to do with. When one thinks one is Napoleon, or a great saint, you know what to do. But the psychological identification and illusion is quite different. The political, religious person, identifies himself with the country or with God. He is the country; and, if he has a talent, then he is a nightmare to the rest of the world, whether peacefully or violently. There are various forms of identification: identification with authority, with a country, with an idea; identification with a belief, which makes one do all kinds of things; with an ideology, for which you are willing to sacrifice everybody and everything, including yourself and your country, in order to achieve what you want; identification with an Utopia, for which you force others into a particular pattern. Then, there is the identification of the actor, playing different roles. And most of us are in that position of acting, posing, whether consciously or unconsciously.
So, our difficulty is that we identify ourselves with a country, with a political party, with propaganda, with a belief, with an ideology, with a leader - all that is one kind of identification.
Then, there is the identification with our own experiences. I have had an experience, a thrilling thing; and the more I dwell on it, the more intense, the more romantic, the more sentimental, the more blurred it becomes; and to that I give the name God - you know the innumerable ways of self-deception. Surely, illusion arises when I cling to something. If I have had an experience which is over, finished, and I go back to it, I am in illusion. If I want something repeated, if I hold on to the repetition of an experience, it is bound to lead me to illusion. So, the basis of illusion is identification - identification with an image, with an idea of God, with a voice, or with experiences to which we ardently cling. It is not to the experience that we cling, but to the sensation of that experience which we had at the moment of experiencing. A man who has built around himself various methods of identification is living in illusion. A man who believes, because of a sensation, of an idea to which he clings, is bound to live in illusion, in self-deception. Therefore, any experience about yourself to which you go back, or which you reject, is bound to lead to illusion. Illusion ceases only when you understand an experience and do not hold on to it. This desire to possess is the basis of illusion, of self-deception. You desire to be something; and this desire to be something, must be understood, in order to understand the process of illusion, of self-deception. If I think I shall be a great teacher. a great Master, the Buddha, X, Y, Z, in my next life, or if I think that I am that now and hold on to that, surely I must be in illusion; because I live on a sensation which is an idea, and my mind feeds on ideas, whether false or true.
How is one to know if an experience at a given moment is truth? That is part of the question. Why do you want to know if it is truth? A fact is a fact, it is not true or false. It is only when I want to translate a fact according to my sensation, to my ideation, that I enter into delusion. When I am angry, it is a fact, there is no question of self-deception. When I am lustful, when I am greedy, when I am irritated, it is a fact; it is only when I begin to justify it, find explanations for it, translate it according to my prejudice in my favour, or avoid it - only then I have to ask, `What is truth?' That is, the moment we approach a fact emotionally, sentimentally, with ideation, then we enter into the world of illusion and self-deceit. To look at a fact and be free of all this requires an extraordinary watchfulness. Therefore, it is most important to find out for oneself, not whether one is in illusion or self-deception, but whether one is free from the desire to identify, from the desire to have a sensation, which you call experience, from the desire to repeat, possess, or revert to an experience. After all, from moment to moment you can know yourself as you are, factually, not through the screen of ideation, which is sensation. To know yourself, there is no necessity to know the truth, or what is not the truth. To look at yourself in the mirror and see that you are ugly or beautiful, factually, not romantically, does not demand truth. But the difficulty with most of us is that when we see the image, the expression, we want to do something about it, we want to alter it, give it a different name; if it is pleasurable, we identify with it; if it is painful, we avoid it. In this process, surely, lies self-deception, with which you are somewhat familiar. The politicians do that; the priests do it when they talk of God in the name of religion; and we ourselves do it when we are caught up in the sensation of ideas and hold on to them - that is true, this is false, the Masters exist or don't exist - which is all so absurd and immature and childish. But to find out what is factual, one needs an extraordinary alertness, an awareness in which there is neither condemnation nor justification.
So, one can say that one deceives oneself, and there is illusion, when there is identification with a country, with a belief, with an idea, with a person, and so on; or when there is the desire to repeat an experience, which is the sensation of the experience; or when one goes back to childhood, and wants the repetition of the experiences of childhood, the delight, the nearness, the sensitivity; or when one wants to be something. It is extremely difficult not to be deceived, either by oneself or by another; and deception ceases only when there is no desire to be something. Then the mind is capable of looking at things as they are, of seeing the significance of what is; then there is no battle between the false and the true; then there is no search for truth apart from the false. So, the important thing is to understand the process of the mind; and that understanding is factual, not theoretical, not sentimental, romantic, going into dark rooms and thinking it all out, having images, visions - all that has nothing to do with reality. And, as most of us are sentimental, romantic, seeking sensation, we are caught by ideas; and ideas are not what is. So, the mind that is free of ideas, which are sensations, such a mind is free from illusion.
Question: Experience shows that understanding arises only when argumentation and conflict cease, and a kind of tranquillity or intellectual sympathy is realized. This is true even in the understanding of mathematical and technical problems. However, this tranquillity has been experienced only after every effort of analysis, examination, or experimentation has been made. Does this mean that this effort is a necessary, though not sufficient preliminary, to the tranquillity?
Krishnamurti: I hope you have understood the question. The questioner, to put it briefly, asks: Is not effort, digging, analyzing, examining, necessary before there is tranquillity of the mind? Before the mind can understand, is not effort necessary? That is, is not technique necessary before creativeness? If I have a problem, must I not go into it, think it out fully, search it out, analyze it, dissect it, worry over it, and be free of it? Then, when the mind is quiet, the answer is found. This is the process we go through. We have a problem, we think about it, we question it, we talk it over; and then the mind, becoming weary of it, is quiet. Then, the answer is found, unknowingly. With that process we are familiar. And the questioner asks: Is that not necessary, first?
Why do I go through that process? Don't let us put this question wrongly, whether it is necessary or not, but why do I go through that process? I go through that process, obviously, in order to find an answer. My anxiety is to find an answer, isn't it? That fear of not finding an answer, makes me do all these things; and then, after going through this process, I am exhausted, and say, `I can't answer it'. Then the mind becomes quiet, and then there is an answer, sometimes or always.
So, the question is not, is the preliminary process necessary, but why do I go through that process? Obviously, because I am seeking an answer. I am not interested in the problem, but in how to get away from the problem. I am not seeking the understanding of the problem, but the answer to the problem. Surely, there is a difference, isn't there? Because, the answer is in the problem, not away from the problem. I go through the searching, analyzing, dissecting process, in order to escape from the problem. But, if I do not escape from the problem and try to look at the problem without any fear or anxiety, if I merely look at the problem, mathematical, political, religious, or any other, and not look to an answer, then the problem will begin to tell me. Surely, this is what happens. We go through this process, and eventually throw it aside because there is no way out of it. So, why can't we start right from the beginning, that is, not seek an answer to a problem? - which is extremely arduous, isn't it? Because, the more I understand the problem, the more significance there is in it. To understand it, I must approach it quietly, not impose on the problem my ideas, my feelings of like and dislike. Then the problem will reveal its significance.
Why is it not possible to have tranquillity of the mind right from the beginning? And there will be tranquillity, only when I am not seeking an answer, when I am not afraid of the problem. Our difficulty is the fear involved in the problem. So, if one puts the question whether it is necessary or not to make an effort, one receives a false answer.
Let us look at it differently. A problem demands attention, not distraction through fear; and there is no attention when we are seeking an answer away from the problem, an answer that will suit us, that will be preferable, that will give us satisfaction or avoidance. In other words, if we can approach the problem without any of these, then it is possible to understand the problem.
So, the question is not whether we should go through this process of analyzing, examining, dissecting, whether it is necessary in order to have tranquillity. Tranquillity comes into being when we are not afraid; and because we are afraid of the problem, of the issue of the problem, we are caught in the desires of our own pursuits, the pursuits of our own desires.
Question: I no longer suppress my thoughts, and I am shocked by what sometimes arises. Can I be as bad as that? (Laughter)
Krishnamurti: It is good to be shocked, isn't it? Shock implies sensitivity, doesn't it? But, if you are not shocked, if you merely say there is a certain thing in you which you do not like, and you are going to discipline it, change it, then you are shock-proof, are you not? (Laughter) No, please don't laugh it away. Because, most of us want to be shock-proof; we do not want to know what we are, and that is why we have learnt to suppress, to discipline, to destroy the neighbour and ourselves, for our country and for ourselves. We don't want to know ourselves as we are. So, to discover oneself as one is, is a shocking thing: and it should be. Because, we want it to be different; we like to think of ourselves, picture ourselves as being beautiful, noble, this or that - which is all a resistance. Our virtue has become merely resistance, and therefore it is no longer virtue. To be sensitive to what one is, requires a certain spontaneity; and in that spontaneity, one discovers. But, if you have suppressed, disciplined your thoughts and feelings so completely that there is no spontaneity, then there is no possibility of discovering anything; and I am not at all sure that is not what most of us want - to become inwardly dead. Because, it is much easier to live that way - to give ourselves to an idea, to a belief, to an organization, to service, to God knows what else - and function automatically. It is much easier. But to be sensitive, to be aware inwardly of all the possibilities, is much too dangerous, much too painful; and we use a respectable way of dulling ourselves, an approved form of discipline, suppression, sublimation, denial - you know, the various practices which make us dull, insensitive.
Now, when you discover what you are, which, as the questioner says, is bad, what will you do with it? Previously, you have suppressed, and therefore never discovered; now you no longer suppress, and you discover what you are. What is your next response? Surely, that is much more important - how you deal with it, how you approach it. Then what happens, when you discover that you are what you call bad? What do you do? The moment you discover, your mind is already at work on it, isn't it? Haven't you noticed it? I discover that I am mean. It is a shock to me. What do I do? The mind then says, `I must not be mean', so it cultivates generosity. Generosity of the hand is one thing, and generosity of the heart is another. The cultivation of generosity is of the hand, and you cannot cultivate generosity of the heart. If you do cultivate the generosity of the heart, then you fill the heart with the things of the mind. So, what do we do when we discover certain things that are not generous? Watch yourselves, please, don't wait for my answer, my explanation - look at it, and experience it as we go along together. Not that this is a psychology class; but surely, in listening to something like this, we must experience and be free as we go along, not continue day after day in the same stupid way.
So, what do we do? The instinctive response is either to justify or to deny, which is to make ourselves insensitive. But to see it as it is, to see that I am mean, and then to stop there, without giving any explanations - merely to know that one is mean, is an extraordinary thing; which means there is no verbalization, no naming even of that feeling which one has. If one really stops there, then one will see there is an extraordinary transformation. Then one is aware extensively of the implications of that feeling; then one doesn't have to do a thing with regard to that feeling. Because, when you don't name a thing it withers away. Experiment with it and you will find out what an extraordinary quality of awareness comes into being when you are not naming or justifying, but merely looking, silently observing the fact that you are not generous, or that you are mean. I am using the words generous, mean, only for communication. The word is not the thing; so, don't be carried away by the word. But look at this thing. Surely, it is important to discover what one is; to be surprised and shocked to discover what one is, when one thought one was so marvellous. It is all romantic and idiotic and stupid to think one is this or that. So, when you put all that aside and merely look at what is - which needs an extraordinary alertness, not courage, not virtue - , when you no longer suppress it, justify it, condemn it, or give it a name - then you will see there is a transformation.
Question: What is it that determines the duration between the perception of one's thought-feeling, and the modification or permanent disappearance of the condition perceived? In other words, why is it that certain undesirable conditions in oneself do not vanish as soon as they are observed?
Krishnamurti: Surely, that depends on right attention, doesn't it? When one perceives an undesirable quality - I am using these words merely to communicate; I am not giving any special significance to `perceiving' - , there is an interval of time before there is transformation; and the questioner wants to know, why? Surely, the interval between perception and change depends on attention. Is there attention if I am merely resisting that, if I am condemning or justifying it? Surely, there is no attention. I am merely avoiding it. If I am trying to overcome it, discipline it, change it, that is not attention, is it? There is attention only when I am fully interested in the thing itself - not how to transform it; for then I am merely avoiding, being distracted, running away. So, what is important is, not what takes place, but to have that capacity of right attention when one discovers an undesirable thing; and there is no right attention if there is any form of identification, any feeling of pleasure or displeasure. Surely, that is very clear: the moment I am distracted by my pleasure of wanting it, or not wanting it, there is no attention. If that is very clear, then the problem is simple. Then there is no interval. But we like the interval. We like to go through all this rigmarole of labyrinthine ways to avoid the thing which we have to tackle. And we have cultivated marvellously and sedulously the escapes; and the escapes have become more important than the thing itself. But if one sees the escapes, not verbally, but actually sees that one is escaping, then there is right attention; then one doesn't have to struggle against the escapes. When you see a poisonous thing, you don't have to escape; it is a poisonous thing, you leave it alone. Similarly, right attention is spontaneous when the problem is really great; when the shock is intense. Then there is immediate response. But when the shock, the problem is not great - and we take care not to make any problem too great - , then our minds are made dull and weary.
Question: Is the artist, the musician, engaged in a futile thing? I am not speaking of one who takes up art or music, but one who is inherently an artist. Would you go into this?
Krishnamurti: It is a very complicated problem, so let us go into it slowly. As the questioner says, there are two types of people, those who are inherently artists, and those who take up art or music. Those who take it up, obviously, do it either for sensation, for upliftment, for various forms of escape, or merely as an amusement, an addiction. You might take it up as another takes up drink, or an `ism', or religious dogma; perhaps it is less harmful, because you are by yourself. Then, there is the other type, the artist - if there is such a person. Inherently, for itself, he paints, plays or composes music, and all the rest of it. Now, what happens to that person? You must know such people. What is happening to him as an individual? As a social entity? What is happening to such a person? The danger, for all those people who have a capacity, a gift, is that they think they are superior, first of all. They think they are the salt of the earth. They are people especially chosen from above; and, with that feeling of apartness, of being chosen, all the evils come: they are antisocial, they are individualistic, aggressive, extraordinarily self-centered - almost all gifted people are like that. So, gift, capacity, is a danger, is it not? Not that one can avoid the talent or the capacity; but one must be aware of the implications, the dangers of it. Such people may come together in a laboratory, or in a gathering of musicians and artists, but they have always this barrier between themselves and others, have they not? You are the layman, and I am the specialist; the man who knows more, and the man who knows less, and all the identification that goes with it.
I am not speaking slightingly of anybody, because that would be too stupid; but one must be aware of all these things. To point them out is not to abuse or deride somebody. Few of us are inherently artists, first of all. We like to play with it, because it is profitable, or gives certain eclat, a certain show, cer- tain verbal expressions which we have learnt. It gives us a place, a position. And if we are artists, really, genuinely, surely there is the quality of sensitivity, not of isolation. Art does not belong to any particular country, or to any particular person; but the artist soon makes his gift into the personal - he paints, it is his work, his poem; it puffs him up, like the rest of us. And therefore, he becomes antisocial, he is more important. And, as most of us are not in that position, fortunately or unfortunately, we use music or art merely as sensation. We may have a quick experience when we hear something lovely; but the repetition of that thing over and over and over again soon dulls us. It is merely the sensation we indulge in. If we do not indulge in that, then beauty has quite a different significance. Then we approach it anew every time. And it is this fresh approach to something every time, whether ugly or beautiful, that is important, that makes for sensitivity; but you cannot be sensitive if you are captured by your own addiction or capacity, by your own delight, by your own sensation. Surely, the really creative person comes to things anew, he does not merely repeat what the radio announcer has told him, or what the critics say.
So, the difficulty in this is to keep that sensitivity all the time, to be alert, whether you are an artist, or merely playing with art. And that sensitivity is dulled when you give importance to yourself as the artist. You may have vision, and you may have the capacity to put that vision into paint, into marble, into words; but the moment you identify yourself with it, you are lost, it is finished. You lose that sensitivity. The world loves to praise you, to say what a marvellous artist you are; and you like that. And, for most of us, who are not great artists inherently, our difficulty is not to get lost in sensations, because sensations dull; through sensations you cannot experience. Experiencing comes only when there is direct relationship; and there is no direct relationship when there is the screen of sensation, the desire to be, to alter, or to continue. So, our problem is to keep alert and sensitive; and that is denied when we are merely seeking sensation and the repetition of sensation.
August 7, 1949.
Ojai 8th Public Talk 7th August 1949
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