Ojai 11th Public Talk 20th August 1949
We have been discussing, for the past several weeks, the problem of understanding oneself. Because, the more one thinks about the many conflicting and everincreasing problems of life, private and social, the more one sees that, unless there is a fundamental, radical transformation within oneself, obviously it is not possible to deal with those problems that confront each one of us. So, it is essential, is it not?, if one is to resolve any of these problems of our life, to tackle them oneself directly, to be in relationship with them, and not merely rely on specialists, experts, religious leaders, or political givers of panaceas. And, as our life, our culture and civilization, are getting more and more complicated, it is becoming correspondingly difficult to deal with the everincreasing problems directly.
Now, it seems to me that one of the problems, amongst others, which most of us have not very deeply and fundamentally faced, is the question of domination and submission. And, if I may, I would like to discuss this double-sided nature of domination rather briefly and succinctly before I answer the questions. Why is it that we dominate, consciously or unconsciously - the man and the woman, the woman and the man, and so on? There is domination in different ways, not only in private life, but the whole tendency of governments is also to dominate. Why is this spirit of domination going on constantly, from period to period? Only very few seem to escape it. Can we think of it in a different sense? That is, can we understand it without going to the opposite? Because, the moment we recognize it, the moment we are aware of this problem of domination, we at once begin to submit, or we think of it in terms of the opposite, submission. Can we not think without the opposite, and look at the problem directly? Perhaps we shall then be able to understand this whole complex problem of domination, seeking power over another, or submitting oneself to another. After all, submission is another form of domination. To submit oneself to another, whether it be to a man or to a woman, is the negative form of domination. By the very denial of domination, one becomes submissive; and I do not think we shall be able to solve this problem by thinking in terms of the opposite. So let us go into it, and see why it exists.
First of all one must be aware, must one not?, of the obvious, crude form of domination. Most of us are aware of it, if we are at all alert. But there is the unconscious domination, of which most of us are unaware. That is, this unconscious desire to dominate takes the guise or the cloak of service, of love, of being kind, and so on. The unconscious desire to dominate exists under different forms; and I think it is much more important to understand this fact, than merely to try to regulate the superficial domination of one by another.
Now, why is it that we unconsciously want to dominate? Probably most of us are unaware that we dominate at different levels - not only in the family, but at the verbal level as well; and also there is this inward desire to seek power, to seek success, which are all indications of domination. Why? Why do we want to dominate another? Or, be subservient to another? If one deliberately, consciously, put that question to oneself, what would be the response? Most of us wouldn't know why we want to dominate. First of all, there is in it the sensation, the unconscious pleasure of dominating somebody. Is that the only motive which makes us want to dominate? Surely, that is part of it; but there is much more to it, a much deeper significance. I wonder if you have ever watched yourself dominating in relationship, either as the man or as the woman? And if you have been conscious of it, what has been your response, your reaction? And why shouldn't we dominate? In relationship, which is life, do we understand through domination? In relationship, if I dominate you or you dominate me, do we understand each other? After all, that is life, isn't it? Relationship is life, relationship is action; and if I merely live in the self-enclosing action of domination, is there any relationship? Is not domination a process of isolation, which denies relationship? Is not domination a process of separation which destroys relationship? And is this really what I am seeking? And can there be relationship between two people, if there is any sense of domination or submission? Life is relationship - one cannot live in isolation. But, is not our purpose unconsciously to isolate ourselves within the cloak, within that feeling of aggressive assertiveness which is domination?
So, is not the process of domineering a process of isolation, and isn't this what most of us want? Most of us sedulously cultivate it. Because, to be open in relationship is very painful, it needs extraordinary intelligence and adaptability, quickness, understanding; and when that is not, we try to isolate ourselves. And is not the process of domination, a process of isolation? Obviously, it is. It is a process of self-enclosure. And when I am enclosed, encased in my own opinion, my own desires, my own ambitions, my urge to dominate, am I related? And if there is no relationship, how is any real existence possible? Is there not constant friction, and therefore sorrow? So, our unconscious desire in relationship is not to be hurt, to seek security, refuge; and when that is thwarted, there is no fulfillment. Then I begin to isolate myself. And one of the processes of isolation is domination. And that fear which leads to isolation takes another form also, does it not? There is not only the desire to assert, to dominate, or be submissive, but there is also in this process of isolation the consciousness of being alone, of being lonely. After all, most of us are lonely - I won't use the word `alone', for that has a different sense. Most of us are isolated, we live in our own world, though we may be related; though we may be married and have children, we live in a world of our own. And that is a very lonely world. It is a sorrowful world, with an occasional opening of joy and amusement, happiness, and so on; but it is a solitary world. And, to escape from that, we try to be something, we try to assert, we try to dominate. And hence, in order to escape from what we are, domination becomes a means through which we can take flight from ourselves.
So, does not this whole process of domination take place not only when there is the desire to avoid facing that which we are but also when there is a desire to be isolated? If we can look at this process in ourselves, not in any condemnatory spirit, which is merely taking the opposite side, but to understand why we have this extraordinary desire to dominate, or to become very subservient; if we can be aware of it without any sense of taking the opposite side, I think we will really experience that state of isolation from which we are trying to run away; and then we shall be able to solve it. That is, if we understand something, we are free of it. It is only when we do not understand, that there is fear.
So, can we look at this problem without condemnation? Can we merely observe, silently watch this process at work within ourselves? It can be observed very easily in all our relationships. Just silently watch the whole phenomenon unfold itself. You will find that when there is no condemnation, no justification for your domination, it begins to unfold, there is no hindrance; then you will begin to see all the implications, not only of personal domination, but also of public domination, the domination of one group by another, of one country by another, of one ideology by another, and so on. Self-knowledge is essential for any kind of understanding. And as our relationship is life - without relationship there can be no existence - , if you approach it rightly you begin to see this process of domination expressing itself in so many ways; and when you understand this whole process, conscious as well as unconscious, there is a freedom from it. Surely, there must be freedom; and only then is there a possibility of going beyond. Because, a mind that is merely dominating, asserting, tethered to a particular form of belief, to a particular opinion, cannot go further, cannot take a long journey, cannot soar. And so, is it not essential, in understanding oneself, to understand this most difficult and complex problem of domination? It takes such subtle forms; and when it takes a righteous form, it becomes very obstinate. The desire to serve, with the unconscious desire to dominate, is much more difficult to deal with. Can there be love when there is domination? Can you be in relationship to someone whom you say you love, and yet dominate? Then, surely, you are merely using; and when there is using, there is no relationship, is there?
So, to understand this problem, one has to be sensitive to the whole question of domination. Not that you should not dominate, or be submissive; but there should be awareness of this whole problem. To be aware, one must approach it without any condemnation, not taking sides; and it is a very difficult thing to do, because most of us are swayed to condemn. And we condemn because we think we understand. We don't. The moment we condemn, we stop understanding. That is one of the easiest ways of brushing things aside - to condemn somebody. But to understand this whole process requires great alertness of mind; and a mind is not alert when it is condemning, or justifying, or merely identifying itself with what it feels.
So, self-knowledge is a constant discovery from moment to moment; but that discovery is denied if the past throws up an opinion, a barrier; the cumulative action of the mind prevents immediate understanding.
I have several questions, but before I answer them, may I say that those of you who are taking notes, should not do so. I will explain why: I am talking to an individual, to you, not to a group. You and I together are experiencing something. You are not taking notes of what I am saying, you are experiencing. We are going together on a journey; and if you are merely concerned with taking notes, you are not really listening. You take it down in order to think it over, you will say, or in order to tell some of your friends who are not here. But, surely, that is not important, is it? What is important is that you and I understand; and to understand, you must give your full attention. And how can you give your full attention when you are taking notes? Please, see the importance of this, and then you will naturally abstain from tak- ing notes. You don't have to be compelled, you don't have to be told. Because, what is important in these meetings is not so much the words, but the content behind, the psychological implications; and you cannot understand those unless you give your full attention, your conscious attention.
Question: Is not the experience of the past a help towards freedom and right action in the present? Cannot knowledge be a liberating factor, and not a hindrance?
Krishnamurti: Do we understand the present through the past? Do we understand something through the accumulation of experiences? What do we mean by knowledge? What do we mean by the accumulation of experiences which you say gives you understanding? What do we mean by all that? And what do we mean by past experience? Let's go into it a little bit, because it is very important to find out whether the past, which is the accumulation of your memories of incidents, of experiences, will give you understanding of an experience in the present.
Now, what happens when there is an experience? What is the process of it? What is an experience? A challenge and a response, is it not? That is what we call experience. Now, the challenge must always be new, otherwise it is not a challenge; and do I meet it adequately, fully, completely, if I respond according to my past conditioning? Do I understand it? After all, life is a process of challenge and response. That is the constant process. And there is friction between challenge and response when the response is inadequate - there is sorrow, pain. When the response is equal to the challenge, then there is harmony; then there is integration between challenge and response. Now, can my response to a challenge, if it is based on the various experiences of the past, can such a response be adequate? Can it meet the challenge on the same level? And what is the response? The response is the outcome of the accumulation of various experiences - the memory, the sensation of various experiences; not the experience itself, but the memory and the sensation of the experience. Therefore it is sensation which meets the challenge, it is memory which meets the challenge. That is what we call accumulated knowledge, isn't it? Therefore, knowledge is always the known, the past, the conditioned; the conditioned meets the unconditioned, the challenge, and therefore there is no relationship between the two; then you translate the challenge according to the conditioned mind, conditioned responses. And is that not a hindrance?
So, how to meet the challenge adequately is the question. If I meet it with my past experiences, I can see very well that it is not adequate. And my mind is the past; my thought is the result of the past. So, can thought meet the challenge - thought, the outcome of knowledge, the result of various experiences, and so on? Can thought meet the challenge? As thought is conditioned, how can it meet it? It can meet it partially, therefore inadequately - and therefore there is friction, pain, and all the rest of it. So, there is a different way of meeting the challenge, is there not? And what is that way, that process? That is what is implied in this question.
First of all, one must see that the challenge is always new; it must be new, otherwise it is not a challenge. A problem is always a new problem, because it is varying from moment to moment; and if it does not, it is not a problem. It is static. So, if the challenge is new, the mind must be new; it must come to it afresh, and not burdened by the past. But the mind is the past; therefore, the mind must be silent. We do this instinctively, almost without thought, when the problem is very great; when the problem is really new, the mind is silent. It is no longer chattering, no longer burdened by accumulated knowledge. Then, with that newness it responds, and therefore there is a comprehension of the challenge. Surely, that is how all creativeness takes place. Creation, or that sense of creativeness, is from moment to moment, it has no accumulation. You may have the technique for the expression of that creativeness; but that sense of creativeness comes into being only when the mind is absolutely quiet, no longer burdened by the past, by the innumerable experiences, the sensations it has gathered.
So, the adequacy of the response to the challenge depends, not on knowledge, not on previous memories, but on its newness, freshness; and that freshness is denied, that quality of renewal is denied, when there is a continuity of accumulated experience. Therefore, there must be an ending to each minute, a death to each minute.
Please, perhaps some of you may feel that it is all very well to talk like this; but if you really experiment with it, you will see how extraordinarily, how quickly one understands the challenge, how profoundly one is related to the challenge, and not merely responding to it. Surely, one understands only when the mind is capable of renewing itself being new, fresh - not `open'. Then it is like a sieve. And as the problem is always new - sorrow is always new, if it is real sorrow, not merely the memory of something else - , you must understand it, approach it afresh, you must have a fresh mind. And therefore, knowledge as the accumulation of experiences, individual or collective, such knowledge is an impediment to understanding.
Question: Is my believing in the now well-authenticated fact of survival after death a hindrance to liberation through self-knowledge? Is it not essential to distinguish between belief based on objective evidence, and belief arising from inner psychological states?
Krishnamurti: Surely what is important is, not whether there is or is not continuity after death, but why we believe. What is the psychological state that demands belief in something? Please let us be very clear. We are not disputing now whether there is or is not life after death. That is another question, and we shall deal with it afterwards, another time. But the question is, what is the compulsion in me, the psychological necessity, to believe? A fact does not demand a belief on your part surely. The sun sets the sun rises - that does not demand a belief. Belief arises only when you want to translate the fact according to your desires, to your psychological states, to suit your particular prejudices, vanities, idiosyncrasies. So, what is important is, how you approach the fact - whether it is the fact of life after death, or any other fact. So, the question is, not whether there is survival of the individual after death, after his body dies, but why you believe; what is the psychological urge to believe? Surely, that is clear, is it not? So, let us investigate whether that psychological belief is not a hindrance to understanding.
If one is confronted with a fact, there is nothing more to be said about it. It is a fact, the sun sets. But, the problem is why there is this incessant urge in me to believe in something - to believe in God, to believe in an ideology, to believe in a future Utopia, to believe in something or other. Why? Why do we believe? Why is there this psychological urge to believe? What would happen if we did not believe, if we merely looked at facts? Can we? It becomes almost impossible, does it not?, because we want to translate facts according to our sensations. So, beliefs become sensations, which intervene between the fact and myself. So, belief becomes a hindrance. Are we different from our beliefs? You believe that you are an American, or that you are a Hindu, you believe in this and that, in reincarnation - in dozens of things. You are that, are you not? You are what you believe. And why do you believe? Which doesn't mean that I am being atheistic, or denying God, and all that stupidity - we are not discussing that. Reality has nothing to do with belief.
So, the problem is, why do you believe? Why the psychological necessity, the investment in belief? Is it not because, without belief you are nothing? Without the passport of belief, what are you? Without labelling yourself as something, what are you? If you do not believe in reincarnation, if you do not call yourself this or that, if you have no labels, what are you? Therefore, belief acts as a label, an identifying card; and remove the card, where are you? Is it not that basic fear, that sense of being lost, which necessitates belief? Please, think it over, don't reject it. Let us experience together the things that we are talking about, not merely listen then go away and carry on with our usual beliefs and non-beliefs. We are discussing the whole problem of belief.
So, belief, the word, has become important. The label has become important. If I did not call myself a Hindu, with all its implications, I would be lost, I would have no identity. But to identify myself with India, as a Hindu, gives me tremendous prestige; it places me, it fixes me, it gives me value. So, belief becomes a necessity when I am psychologically aware, whether consciously or unconsciously, that without the label, I am lost. Then the label becomes important - not what I am, but the label: Christian, Buddhist, Hindu. And we try then to live according to those beliefs, which are self-projected, therefore unreal. Surely, the man who believes in God, his God is a self-projected God, a homemade God; but the man who does not believe in God is still the same. To understand what that is, that supreme something, one must come to it afresh, anew, not tethered to a belief. And I think that is our difficulty - socially, economically, politically, and in our individual relationships - , that is, we approach all these problems with a prejudice; and as the problems are vital, living, they can be met adequately only when the mind is new, not tethered to some self-projected, homemade belief.
So, belief becomes a hindrance, obviously, when the desire for belief is not understood; and when it is understood, there is no question of belief. Then you are able to face facts as they are. But even if there is continuity after death, does it solve the problem of living in the present? If I know that I am going to live after this thing dies, have I understood life? - which is now, not tomorrow. And to understand the present, do I have to believe? Surely, to understand the present, which is living, which is not merely a period of time, I must have a mind that is capable of meeting that present completely giving it full attention. But if my attention is distracted by a belief, surely there is no meeting of the present completely, fully.
So, belief becomes a hindrance to the understanding of reality. As reality is the unknown, and belief is the known how can the known meet the unknown? But our difficulty is, we want the unknown with the known. We don't want to let go the known, because it is too frightening, there is great insecurity, uncertainty; and that is why, to safeguard ourselves, we hedge ourselves about with beliefs. It is only in the state of uncertainty, insecurity, in which there is no sense of refuge, that you discover. That is why you must be lost in order to find. But we don't want to be lost. And to prevent ourselves from getting lost, we have homemade beliefs and gods to protect us. And when the moment of real crisis comes, these gods and beliefs have no value; and hence beliefs are an impediment to him who really wants to discover what is.
Question: Why is it that, in spite of all you have said against authority, certain individuals identify themselves with you or with your state of being, and thereby gain authority for themselves? How can the inexperienced prevent themselves from being caught in the net of these individuals? (Laughter)
Krishnamurti: Sir this is quite an important question, because it brings up the matter of our desire to identify ourselves with something. First of all, why do you want to identify yourself with me, or with my state of being, or whatever it is? How do you know it? Because I happen to talk, or happen to have a name? Surely, you are identifying yourself with something which you have projected. You are not identifying yourself with something that is alive. You are identifying yourself with some- thing which is self-created, and you give it a label; and that label happens to be well-known, or known to a few; and this identification gives you prestige. And then you can exploit people. You know, by calling yourself a friend of somebody, or a disciple of somebody, you gain a reflected glory. You go all the way to India to find your god, or your Master, and then identify yourself with that particular cult or that particular idea, and it gives you a certain boost. And then you can exploit the people around you. It is such a stupid process. It gives you a sense of authority, of power, to think that you are the one person that understands; everybody else doesn't understand; you are the nearest disciple - you know, the various forms which we use in order to exploit the blind.
So, the first thing to understand is the desire to exploit people, which means the desire to have for yourself power, position, prestige. And as everybody wants that, the inexperienced as well as the experienced, everybody is caught mutually in the net. We all want to exploit somebody. We don't put it so brutally, but cover it up with soft words. As all of us depend on others, not only for our physical necessities, but also for our psychological necessities, we all use others. If I used you in order to express myself at these meetings, you would like it much more; and I would feel gratified, and we would be mutually exploiting each other, surely. But such a process denies a search for truth, the search for reality. You cannot prevent the inexperienced from being caught in the net of these individuals who claim they understand, who are the `nearest'. Sir, perhaps you yourself may be caught in it; because we do not want to be free from all identification. Surely, truth has nothing to do with any individual; it does not depend on the interpretation of any individual. You have to experience it directly, not through somebody; and it is not a matter of sensation, not a matter of belief. But if we are caught in sensation and belief, then we will use others. So, if one is really seeking truth, honestly, directly, then there is no question of exploiting anybody. But that requires a great deal of honesty; that entails an aloneness, which can be understood only when one has been through loneliness, and has gone into it fully, completely. And as most of us do not want to go through the pain, the sorrow, of facing the complications of our psychological states, we are distracted by these exploiters; and we like to be exploited. It requires a great deal of patient awareness, of freedom from identification with anything, to understand, to grasp the whole significance of reality.
August 20, 1949
Ojai 11th Public Talk 20th August 1949
Texts and talks of Jiddu Krishnamurti. Krishnamurti quotes. Books about
J Krishnamurti. Philosophy.