Ojai 9th Public Talk 13th August 1949
I think I will only answer questions this evening and not give the usual preliminary talk: but before answering, I would like to point out one or two things concerning these questions and answers.
First of all, most of us are very inclined to believe. The mind is very clever in persuading us to think differently, to adopt a new point of view, or to believe in things that are not fundamentally true. Now, in answering these questions, I would like to say that I am not persuading you to think along my particular line. We are trying to find the right answer together. I am not answering for you just to accept or deny. We are going to find out together what is true, and that requires an open mind, an intelligent mind, an enquiring mind, an alert mind; not a mind that is so prejudiced that it merely denies, or so eager that it accepts. And, in answering these questions, one fundamental thing must be borne in mind. It is that they are merely a reflection of the ways of our own thinking, they reveal to us what we think. They should act as a mirror in which we perceive ourselves. After all, these discussions, these talks, have only one purpose, and that is the pursuit of self-knowledge. For, as I said, it is only in knowing ourselves first - deeply, profoundly, not superficially - that we can know truth. And it is extremely arduous to know ourselves deeply, not superficially. It is not a matter of time, but a question of intensity; it is direct perception and experience that are important. And these discussions and talks are meant for that; so that each one of us may experience directly whatever is being discussed, and not merely understand it on the verbal level. It is important also to bear in mind that each of us must find the truth, each of us must be the Master and the pupil; and that requires a great deal of humility, not mere acceptance of assurance or denial from me.
So, when I answer these questions, please bear all this in mind. Because, all of us have innumerable problems. Life is not very pleasant or simple; it is very complicated; and we can understand it only when we understand the whole, total process; and the total process is in us, not outside of us. Therefore, it is important to understand ourselves. Then we can deal with the things that we face every day, the influences that are constantly impinging upon us.
Question: Gossip has value in self-revelation, especially in revealing others to me. Seriously, why not use gossip as a means of discovering what is? I do not shiver at the word `gossip' just because it has been condemned for ages.
Krishnamurti: I wonder why we gossip? Not because it reveals others to us. And why should others be revealed to us? Why do you want to know others? Why this extraordinary concern about others? First of all, Sir, why do we gossip? It is a form of restlessness, is it not? Like worry, it is an indication of a restless mind. And why this desire to interfere with others, to know what others are doing, saying? It is a very superficial mind that gossips, isn't it? An inquisitive mind which is wrongly directed. The questioner seems to think that others are revealed to him by his being concerned with them - with their doings, with their thoughts, with their opinions. But, do we know others if we don't know ourselves? Can we judge others, if we do not know the way of our own thinking, the way we act, the way we behave? And why this extraordinary concern over others? Is it not an escape, really, this desire to find out what others are thinking and feeling and gossiping about? Doesn't it offer an escape from ourselves? And, is there not in it also the desire to interfere with others' lives? Isn't our own life sufficiently difficult, sufficiently complex, sufficiently painful, without dealing with others, interfering with others? Is there time to think about others in that gossipy, cruel, ugly manner? Why do we do this? You know, everybody does it. Practically everybody gossips about somebody else. Why?
I think, first of all, we gossip about others because we are not sufficiently interested in the process of our own thinking and of our own action. We want to see what others are doing, and perhaps, to put it kindly, to imitate others. Generally when we gossip, it is to condemn others. But, stretching it charitably, it is perhaps to imitate others. Why do we want to imitate others? Doesn't it all indicate an extraordinary shallowness on our own part? It is an extraordinarily dull mind that wants excitement, and goes outside of itself to get it. In other words, gossip is a form of sensation, isn't it?, in which we indulge. It may be a different kind of sensation, but there is always this desire to find excitement, distraction. And so, if one really goes into this question deeply, one comes back to oneself, which shows that one is really extraordinarily shallow and seeking excitement from outside by talking about others. Catch yourself the next time you are gossiping about somebody; and if you are aware of it, it will indicate an awful lot to you about yourself. Don't cover it up by saying that you are merely inquisitive about others. It indicates restlessness, a sense of excitement, a shallowness, a lack of real, profound interest in people which has nothing to do with gossip.
Now, the next problem is, how to stop gossip. That is the next question, isn't it? When you are aware that you are gossiping, how do you stop gossiping? If it has become a habit, an ugly thing that continues day after day, how do you stop it? Does that question arise? When you know you are gossiping, when you are aware that you are gossiping, aware of all its implications, do you then say to yourself, `How am I to stop it?' Does it not stop of its own accord, the moment you are aware that you are gossiping? The `how' does not arise at all. The `how' arises only when you are unaware; and, surely, gossip indicates a lack of awareness. Experiment with this for yourself the next time you are gossiping, and see how quickly, how immediately you stop gossiping when you are aware of what you are talking about, aware that your tongue is running away with you. It does not demand the action of will to stop it. All that is necessary is to be aware, to be conscious of what you are saying, and to see the implications of it. You don't have to condemn or justify gossip. Be aware of it, and you will see how quickly you stop gossiping; because it reveals to oneself one's own ways of action, one's behaviour, thought pattern; and in that revelation, one discovers oneself, which is far more important than gossiping about others, about what they are doing, what they are thinking, how they behave.
Most of us, who read daily newspapers, are filled with gossip, global gossip. It is all an escape from ourselves, from our own pettiness, from our own ugliness. We think that through a superficial interest in world events we are becoming more and more wise, more capable of dealing with our own lives. All these, surely, are ways of escaping from ourselves, are they not? Because, in ourselves we are so empty, shallow; we are so frightened of ourselves. We are so poor in ourselves that gossip acts as a form of rich entertainment, an escape from ourselves. We try to fill that emptiness in us with knowledge, with rituals, with gossip, with group meetings - with the innumerable ways of escape. So, the escapes become all-important, and not the understanding of what is. The understanding of what is, demands attention; to know that one is empty, that one is in pain, needs immense attention, and not escapes. But most of us like these escapes, because they are much more pleasurable, more pleasant. Also, when we know ourselves as we are, it is very difficult to deal with ourselves; and that is one of the problems with which we are faced. We don't know what to do. When I know that I am empty, that I am suffering, that I am in pain, I don't know what to do, how to deal with it. And so we resort to all kinds of escapes.
So, the question is, what to do? Of course, obviously, one cannot escape; for that is most absurd and childish. But when you are faced with yourself as you are, what are you to do? First, is it possible not to deny or justify it, but just to remain with it, as you are? - which is extremely arduous, because the mind seeks explanation, condemnation, identification. If it does not do any of those things but remains with it, then it is like accepting something. If I accept that I am brown, that is the end of it; but if I am desirous of changing to a lighter colour, then the problem arises. So, to accept what is, is most difficult; and one can do that only when there is no escape; and condemnation or justification is a form of escape. So, when one understands the whole process of why one gossips, and, when one realizes the absurdity of it, the cruelty and all the things involved in it, then one is left with what one is; and we approach it always either to destroy it, or to change it into something else. But, if we don't do either of those things, but approach it with the intention of understanding it, being with it completely, then we will find that it is no longer the thing that we dreaded. Then there is a possibility of transforming that which is.
Question: We have a collection of ideals, and the choice is wide. We try to realize them through various methods. This is a long and time-taking way. In listening to you, I feel that the distinction or space between ideal and practice is illusory. Is this so?
Krishnamurti: First of all, are we aware, each one of us, that we have ideals; and that, having these ideals, we are trying to practise them, or live up to them, or approximate ourselves to them? Take the question of violence. We have the ideal of non-violence, and we try to practise that ideal in our daily lives. Or take any other ideal that you have. We are trying to live up to it all the time, to practise it, if we are serious and not merely living on the verbal level. And that takes time, a constant application, a series of failures, and so on.
Why do we have ideals? Any collection of them, why do we have them? Do they better our lives? And is virtue to be gained through constant disciplining? Is virtue a result? Or is it something quite different? Take humility. Can you practise humility? Or does humility come into being when the self is not important? Then the me and the mine do not predominate. But if we make that into an ideal, that the self should not predominate, then arises the question, how to come to that state? So, this whole process is very complicated and unreal, is it not? There must be a different approach to this problem, surely? Is not a collection of ideals, an escape? Because, it gives us time to play with it. We say, `I am practising it, I am disciplining myself; one day I will be that; it is necessary to go slowly, to evolve towards it' - you know all the various explanations that we give.
Now, is there a different approach? Because, we can see that the constant disciplining towards an ideal, approximating oneself to an ideal, does not really bring about the solution of the problem. We are no more kindly. We are not less violent. We may be, superficially - but not fundamentally. So, how is one, then, to be non-greedy without having the ideal of non-greed? Suppose, for example, I am greedy, or I am mean, or angry - any of these things. The ordinary process is to have an ideal, and try to approximate myself to that ideal all the time through practice, discipline, and so on. Does that free me from greed, from anger, from violence? What will free me from violence is to be free from my desire to be something, from my desire to gain something, to protect something, to achieve a result, and so on. So, our difficulty is, is it not?, that, having these ideals, there is this constant desire to be something, to become something; and that is really the crux of the matter. After all, greed or anger is one of the expressions of the me, the self, the I; and as long as that I remains, anger will continue. Merely to discipline it to function in a certain way does not free it from anger. This process only emphasizes the self, the me, does it not?
Now, if I realize that I am angry or greedy, need I go through all the disciplinary process in order to be free from it? Is there not a different approach to it, a different way of tackling it? I can tackle it differently only when I no longer take pleasure in sensation. Anger gives me a sensation of pleasure, doesn't it; though I may dislike it afterwards, at the time there is an excitement involved in it. It is a release. So, the first thing, it seems to me, is to be aware of this process, to see that the ideal does not eradicate anything. It is merely a form of postponement. That is, to understand something, I must give it full attention; and an ideal is merely a distraction which prevents my giving that feeling or that quality full attention at a given time. If I am fully aware, if I give my full attention to the quality I call greed, without the distraction of an ideal, then am I not in a position to understand greed and so dissolve it? You see, we are so accustomed to postponement, and ideals help us to postpone; but if we can put away all ideals because we understand the escapes, the postponing quality of an ideal, and face the thing as it is, directly, immediately, give our full attention to it - then, surely, there is a possibility of transforming it.
If I realize that I am violent, if I am aware of it without trying to transform it or become non-violent - if I am merely aware of it, then, because my attention is fully given to it, it opens up the various implications of violence, and therefore, surely, there is an inward transformation. But if I practise non-violence, or non-greed, or what you will, then I am merely postponing, am I not?, because I am not giving my attention to what is, which is greed or violence. You see, most of us have ideals either as a means of postponing, or to be something, to achieve a result. In the very desire to become the ideal, surely there is violence involved. In the very becoming of something, moving myself towards a goal, surely violence is involved, is it not? You see, we all want to be something. We want to be happy, we want to be more beautiful, we want to be more virtuous, we want to be more and more and more. Surely, in the very desire for something more there is violence involved, there is greed involved. But, if we realize that the more we want to be something, the more conflict there is, then we can see that the ideal merely helps us to increase our conflict - which doesn't mean that I am satisfied with what I am. On the contrary. As long as I want to be something more, there must be conflict, there must be pain, there must be anger, violence. If I really feel that, if I am profoundly affected by it, see it, am aware of it, then I am able to deal with the problem immediately, without having a collection of ideals to encourage me to be this or that. Then my action is immediate, my relationship with it is direct.
But there also arises in this another problem, which is that of the experiencer and the experience. With most of us, the experiencer and the experience are two different processes. The ideal and myself are two different states. I want to become that. Therefore, the I, the experiencer, the thinker, is different from the thought. Is that so? Is the thinker different from the thought? Or is there only thought, which creates the thinker? So, as long as I am separate from the thought, I can manipulate thought, I can change it, transform it. But is the I, who is operating on a thought, different from the thought? Surely, they are a joint phenomenon, are they not? The thinker and the thought are one, not separate. When one is angry, one is angry: there is an integrated feeling which we term anger. Then I say, `I am angry', therefore, I separate myself from that anger, and then I can operate on it, do something about it. But if I realize that I am anger, that I am that quality itself, that the quality is not separable from me, surely, when I experience that, then there is quite a different action, quite a different approach. Now, we separate ourselves from the thought, from the feeling, from the quality. Therefore, the I is a separate entity from the quality, and therefore the I can operate on the quality. But the quality is not different from the I, from the thinker; and when there is that integrated experience in which the thinker and the thought are one, not separate, then, surely, there is quite a different approach, a different response. Again, experiment with this and you will see. Because, at the moment of experiencing there is neither the experiencer nor the experience. It is only as the experiencing fades that there is the experiencer and the experience. Then, the experiencer says, `I like that', or, `I don't like it', `I want more of it', or, `I want less of it'. Then, he wants to cultivate the ideal, to become the ideal. But if the thinker is the thought, and there are not two separate processes, then his whole attitude is transformed, is it not? Then there is quite a different response with regard to thought; then there is no longer approximating thought to an ideal, or getting rid of thought; then there is no maker of effort. And I think it is really very important to discover this for oneself, to experience this directly, not because I say so or someone else says so. It is important to come to this experience: that the thinker is the thought. Don't let that become a new jargon, a new set of words which we use. Through verbalization we don't experience. We merely have sensations, and sensations are not experience. And if one can be aware of this joint phenomenon, of this process in which the thinker and the thought are one, then I think the problem will be understood much more profoundly than when we merely have ideals or have none, which is really beside the point.
If I am my thoughts, and my thoughts are not different from me, then there is no maker of effort, is there? Then I do not become that; then I am no longer cultivating virtue. Not that I am already virtuous. The moment I am conscious that I am virtuous, I am not virtuous. The moment I am conscious that I am humble, surely humility ceases. So, if I can understand the maker of effort - the me becoming its own self-projected demands, desires, which are the same as myself - then surely there is a radical transformation in my whole outlook. That is why it is important to have right meditation, to know what right meditation means. It is not the approximation to an ideal, it is not trying to reach out and get something, it is not to attain, to concentrate, to develop certain qualities, and so on which we discussed previously. Right meditation is the understanding of this whole process of the me, of the self. Because, as I said, right meditation is self-knowledge; and without meditation, one cannot find out what the process of the self is. If there is no meditator to meditate upon something, then meditation is the experiencing of that which is, the total process of the thinker as the thought. Then only is there a possibility that the mind can be really quiet. Then it is possible to discover if there is something beyond the mind - which is not a mere verbal assertion that there is or that there is not, that there is atman, the soul, or what you will; we are not discussing those things. It is going beyond all verbal expression. Then the mind is quiet - not merely on the higher level, the upper level of the mind, but the whole content of the mind, the whole consciousness, is quiet. But there is no quietness if there is a maker of effort; and there will be the maker, the will of action, as long as he thinks he is separate from the thought. And this requires a great deal of going into, of thinking out, not just experiencing it superficially and sensationally. And when one has that direct experience, then becoming the ideal is illusory, it has no meaning at all. Then it is altogether a wrong approach. Then one sees that this whole process of becoming the more, the greater, has nothing to do with reality. Reality comes into being only when the mind is completely quiet, when there is no effort. Virtue is that state of freedom in which there is no maker of effort. Therefore, virtue is a state in which effort has completely ceased; but if you make an effort to become virtuous, surely it is no longer virtue is it?
So, as long as we do not understand, do not experience that the thinker and the thought are one, all these problems will exist. But the moment we experience that, the maker of effort comes to an end. To experience that, one must be completely aware of the process of one's own thinking and feeling, of one's desire to become. And that is why it is important, if one is really seeking reality, or God, or what you will, to see that this whole mentality of climbing, evolving, growing, achieving, must come to an end. We are much too worldly. With the mentality of the clerk becoming the boss, the foreman becoming the executive - with that mentality we approach reality. We think we will do the same thing, climb the ladder of success. I am afraid it cannot be done that way. If you do, you will live in a world of illusion, and therefore of conflict, pain, misery and strife. But if one discards all such mentality, such thoughts, such points of view, then one becomes really humble. One is, not becomes. Then there is a possibility of having a direct experience of reality, which alone will dissolve all our problems - not our cunning efforts, not our great intellect, not our deep and wide knowledge.
Question: I am free from ambition. Is there something wrong with me? (Laughter)
Krishnamurti: If you are conscious that you are free from ambition, then there is something wrong. (Laughter) Then one becomes smug, respectable, unimaginative, thoughtless. Why should you be free from ambition? And how do you know you are free from ambition? Surely, to have the desire to be free from something is the beginning of illusion, is it not?, of ignorance. You see, we find ambition painful; we want to be something, and we have failed. And so now we say, `It is too painful, I will get rid of it'. If you succeeded in your ambition, if you fulfilled yourself in the thing which you want to be, then this problem wouldn't arise. But, not succeeding, and seeing there is no fulfillment there, you discard it and condemn ambition. Obviously, ambition is unworthy. A man who is ambitious, surely, cannot find reality. He may become the president of some club or some society or some country. But surely, he is not seeking reality. But the difficulty is, with most of us, if we don't succeed in what we want, we either become bitter, cynical, or we try to become spiritual. So we say, `That is a wrong thing to do', and we discard it. But our mentality is the same. We may not succeed in the world and be a great person there, but `spiritually' we still want to succeed - in a little group, as a leader. Ambition is the same, whether it is in the world, or turned towards God. To know consciously that you are free from ambition is surely an illusion, is it not? And if you are really free of it, can there be any question that you are or are not? Surely one knows within oneself when one is ambitious, does one not? And we can see very well all the effects of ambition in the world - the ruthlessness of it, the cruelty of it, the desire for power, position, prestige. But when one is consciously free of something, is there not the danger of becoming very respectable, of being smug, satisfied with oneself?
I assure you, it is a very difficult thing to be alert, to be aware, to walk delicately, sensitively, not to be caught in the opposites. It requires a great deal of alertness and intelligence and watchfulness. And then, even if you are free from ambition, where are you? Are you any more kindly, any more intelligent, any more sensitive to the outward and inward events? Surely, there is a danger in all this, is there not?, of becoming stultified, of becoming static, become dull, weary; and the more one is or no sensitive, alert, watchful, the more there is a possibility of really being free - not free from this or that. Freedom requires intelligence and intelligence is not a thing that you sedulously cultivate. Intelligence is something which can be experienced directly in relationship, not through the screen of what you think the relationship should be. After all, our life is a process of relationship. Life is relationship. And that requires an extraordinary watchfulness, alertness, not speculating whether you are free or not free from ambition. But ambition perverts that relationship. The ambitious man is an isolated man, therefore he cannot have relationship, either with his wife or with society. Life is relationship, whether with the one or with the many, and that relationship is perverted, is destroyed, is corrupted through ambition; and when one is aware of that corruption, surely, there is no question of being free from it.
So, in all this, our difficulty is to be watchful, to be watchful of what we are thinking, feeling, saying - not in order to transform it into something else, but just to be aware of it. And if we are so aware - in which there is no condemnation, no justification, but mere attention, full cognizance of what is - , that awareness in itself has an extraordinary effect. But if we are merely trying to become less, or more, then there is dullness, weariness, a smug respectability; and a man who is respectable, surely, can never find reality. Awareness demands a great deal of inward discontent which is not easily canalized through any satisfaction or gratification.
Now, if we see all this, all that we have discussed this evening, not merely on the verbal level, but really experience it, not at odd moments, not when we are pushed into a corner as perhaps some of you are now, but every day, from moment to moment; if we are aware, silently observing, then we become extremely sensitive - not sentimental, which only blurs, distort. To be sensitive inwardly needs great simplicity - not wearing a loin cloth, or having few clothes, or no car; but the simplicity in which the me and the mine are not important, in which there is no sense of possession; simplicity in which there is no longer the maker of effort. Then there is a possibility of experiencing that reality, or of that reality coming into being. After all, this is the only thing that can bring about real, lasting happiness. Happiness is not an end in itself. It is a by-product, and it comes into being only with reality. Not that you go after reality - you cannot. It must come to you. And it can come to you only when there is complete freedom, silence. Not that you become silent. That is a wrong process of meditation. There is a vast difference between being silent and becoming silent. When there is real silence, not put together, then there is something inexplicable, then creation comes into being.
August 13, 1949.
Ojai 9th Public Talk 13th August 1949
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