London 3rd Public Talk 16th October 1949
I think it is fairly obvious that to understand a complex, and especially a psychological problem, requires a very quiet mind a mind that is still, but not with an enforced stillness; a mind that is peaceful, silent, so that it is capable of understanding directly the complex problem and its answer.
What prevents this quietness of mind is obviously conflict. Most of us are in such turmoil, worried about so many things, anxious about life, death, security, and our relationships. There is constant agitation; and it is extremely difficult, naturally, for a mind that is so agitated to understand the everincreasing social as well as psychological problems. And it is essential, is it not?, that to understand a problem completely, there should be a silent mind, a mind that is not biased, a mind that is capable of being free, still, and allowing the problem to reveal itself, unfold itself. And such a quiet mind is not possible, when there is conflict.
Now, what makes for conflict? Why are we in such conflict, each one of us, and so society, and so the State and the whole world? Why? From what does conflict arise? When conflict ceases, obviously there can be a peaceful mind; but a mind that is caught in conflict cannot be tranquil. And, desiring tranquillity, a certain sense of peace, we try to escape from conflict through every kind of means - social service, losing ourselves in some ritual, or in some kind of activity, mental and otherwise. But, obviously, escapes lead to illusion and to further conflict. Escapes only lead to isolation, and therefore to greater resistance. And, if one did not escape, or if one were aware of the escapes, and therefore were capable of understanding directly the process of conflict, then perhaps there would be a quietness of the mind.
And I think it is essential to see that a tranquil mind is necessary - but not a tranquillity that is forced, that remains in isolation, enclosed; not a tranquillity that is attached to one particular idea, and therefore is enclosed, held in that idea, or in a belief. Such tranquillity is not reality; it is death, because there is no creative process in its self-enclosed isolation.
So, if we could understand the process of conflict, and how it arises, then perhaps there would be a possibility of the mind being free, quiet. But, the difficulty in understanding conflict is, that most of us are so eager to get away from it, to go beyond conflict, to find a way out of it, to find the cause of it; and I do not think that merely looking for the cause or discovering the cause of conflict, is going to resolve conflict. But, if one can understand the total process of conflict, see conflict from every point of view, psychological as well as physiological; if one can have patience to investigate silently, without any condemnation or justification - then perhaps it will be possible to understand conflict.
After all, conflict arises, does it not?, through desire to be something, to be other than what is. This constant desire to be something other than what is, is one of the ways of conflict: which does not mean that we should be content with what is - one never is. But to understand what is, we must understand this desire to be something other than what is. I am something - ugly, greedy, envious - and I want to be something else, the opposite to what is. Surely, that is one of the causes of conflict, these opposing and contradictory desires, of which we are made up.
I think that merely looking at conflict, being aware of its process, is in itself freeing. That is, if we are aware, without any friction, without any choice, merely aware of what is: and if we are also aware of the desire to run away from what is, into the self-projected ideal - and all ideals are homemade, and therefore fictitious, unreal - if we are merely aware of all that, then that very awareness will bring about a tranquillity of the mind. And then you can proceed with what is; then there is a possibility of understanding what is.
But, surely, conflict is much more significant than the mere friction between opposites. Conflict arises, does it not?, through approximation of action to an idea. We are always trying to approximate action to a belief, to an ideal, to an idea. I have an idea of what I should be, of what the State should be, and I'm trying to live up to that ideal. Therefore, conflict arises when there is the attempt to bridge idea and action. But, is it possible to bridge idea and action? Action is real, is actual, isn't it? Without action I cannot live. But why should I try to conform action to an idea? Is idea more real than action? Has idea more substance than action? Is idea truer than action? And yet, if we watch ourselves, all our action is based on idea. We have the idea first, and then there is action. Only rarely is there action which is spontaneous, free, without the idea encompassing it.
So, why is there this division between idea and action? If we can understand that, perhaps we may be able radically to put and end to conflict; because, conflict is obviously not the way to understanding. If I quarrel with you, if I am in conflict with you, with my wife, with society, with my neighbours, close by or far away, there can be no understanding. Does understanding come through the struggle between thesis and antithesis, between the opposites? Does synthesis come through conflict? Or, is there understanding when there is no conflict? That understanding we try to translate through action, from which again arises conflict. To put it differently, when there is creativeness, when we have that creative feeling, there is no struggle, there is absence of struggle, which means that the self, the me, with all its prejudices, its conditioning, is not there. In that state, when the self is not, there is creativeness; and that creative feeling, that creative state, we try to express in action, through music, painting, or what you will. Then the struggle begins - the desire for recognition, and so on.
Surely, the creative state does not demand struggle; on the contrary, when there is struggle, there is no creative state. When the self, the me, is totally absent, then there is a possibility for that creative state to come into being. And as long as idea predominates, there must be struggle, there must be conflict. That is, to shape action according to idea, must further conflict. So, if we can understand why idea predomi- nates in our minds, then perhaps we shall be able to approach action differently.
Most of us are concerned with how to live according to an idea. We have the idea first - how to be noble, how to be good how to be spiritual, and all the rest of it - and then try to live according to it. Why do we do this? We first establish a mental pattern, which we call the idea, or the ideal, and according to that we try to live. Why? Is not the whole process of ideation brought about through the me, the I, the self? Is not the self, the me, an idea? There is no me apart from the idea of the me. The me creates the pattern. The me is an idea, and according to that idea we live, we try to act.
So, the idea is primarily, is it not?, the outcome of the importance of the self. And, having established the importance of the me and the mine, the pattern of behaviour, we try to live according to that. Therefore, idea controls action, idea impedes action. Take, for instance, generosity, complete generosity - not the generosity of mind, but of heart. If one lived according to that, it would be very dangerous, wouldn't it? If one were to act completely generously, it would lead to all kinds of friction with existing standards. So, the idea intervenes, controls generosity. And it is safer to live according to the idea of generosity, than according to the generosity of the heart.
So, when idea predominates, it is obvious that we are seeking security, safety, comfort, exclusion, isolation - and are therefore creating more friction. Because, nothing can live in isolation: to be, is to be related. Idea brings isolation, and action does not. And our conflict is always between idea and action. And I think that, if we can understand this process of ideation, if we can understand ourselves, not superficially, but the whole process of ourselves, the conscious as well as the unconscious, then perhaps we shall understand this conflict. After all, conflict arises because the me is important - the me which is identified with the country, with the particular belief, with the particular name or family. That is the source of all conflict, is it not? - because the me is ever seeking isolation, exclusion. Action based on the idea of exclusion must inevitably create conflict, from which we try to escape, consciously or unconsciously; and therefore conflict is increased.
So, to understand conflict, it is important, it seems to me, to know the whole process of one's thinking, and to be aware of how actually, in daily life, we are trying to approximate action to an idea. And, can one live without idea? Can one live without the self? Really and basically it comes to that - can one live in this monstrously ugly, conflicting world, without the thought of me? I think this can be answered actually, not theoretically, only when one understands the process of the me, what makes up the me. One sees that these tortuous ways, the contradictions, the denials, the approximations, all belong to the self-projected pattern of an idea. So, in knowing oneself totally - not at any one level of consciousness, but as a total process that is going on constantly - in being aware of that, there does come about a freedom from the self; and only then is it possible for the mind to be silent.
Only when the self is absent, is there a possibility for the mind to be quiet, and therefore be able to understand, able to receive that which is eternal. But to make a picture of eternity, to conceive an idea of it, or to hold to a belief about it, is really self-projection; it is merely an illusion, it has no reality. But, for the timeless to be, the workings, the fabrications, the projections of the self must obviously, entirely cease. And the cessation of that self-projection is the beginning of meditation, is it not? - because understanding oneself is the beginning of meditation; and without meditation there is no possibility of understanding the self. Without understanding the process of the self, there is no basis for thought, there is no basis for right thinking. Merely to approximate action to an idea or to an ideal, is utterly vain. Whereas, if we can understand ourselves in action, which is relationship in daily life: relationship with one's wife, one's husband, the way one talks to one's servant, the snobbishness, the nationalism, the prejudices, the greed's and the envies of everyday life; not the self, placed at a higher level, which is still within the field of thought, and therefore still part of self - to be aware of all this action in relationship is the beginning of meditation. And in understanding this action of the self, surely, there is tranquillity. Only when the mind is really quiet, not made quiet; only when it is not compelled not conforming, but is quiet - only then is there a possibility of discovering that which is eternal.
Question: Would you tell us what, according to you, is the truth which will free us? What is meant by your statement, "Truth must come to you, you cannot seek it"?
Krishnamurti: Surely, by understanding what is false, what is illusion, what is ignorance, truth comes into being, does it not? You don't have to seek it; because thought is the instrument with which you are seeking. If I am greedy envious, prejudiced, and I try to seek truth, obviously my truth will be the result of greed, envy, prejudice - therefore it is not truth. All that I can do, is to see what is false, to be aware that I am conditioned, that I am greedy, that I am envious. That is all I can do - to be aware of it choicelessly. Then, when I am so aware, and therefore free from greed, truth comes into being. But if we seek truth, the result obviously will be illusion. How can you seek truth? Truth must be something unknown to a mind that is caught in the false - and we are; because we are conditioned, psychologically as well as physiologically, and a conditioned mind, do what it will, cannot possibly measure the immeasurable.
These are not just words. You can see the truth of it, if you are really willing to listen rightly. How can I, when I am conditioned by belief, by fear, by my nationalism, by my prejudices, and in innumerable ways by greed and envy - how can I see the truth? If I do, it will be a self-projection. What the self seeks, is obviously its own creation, therefore untrue. And seeing the truth of this the truth of what I have just now said, is already a liberating process, is it not? - merely to see it, to be aware that greed cannot find, envy cannot find, that which is true. Merely to observe it, to see it, to silently be aware of it, will bring about not only release from greed, but the realization of what is true.
So, those who are trying to seek truth, will obviously be caught in illusion; and therefore, truth must come to you, you cannot go after it, you cannot chase it. Because, after all, what is it we all want? We want gratification, we want comfort, we want inward security, peace - and that is what we are seeking. We call it truth, we give it a name. Therefore, what we are seeking in different forms, at different levels, is gratification, not truth. Truth can come into being only when the desire for gratification, for security, has come to an end - which is extremely arduous: and as most of us are lazy, sluggish, we pretend to seek truth, and form societies and organizations around it.
So, all that we can do, is to be aware of our own appetites, desires and vanities - it does not matter at what level you may place them: to be aware of all that, and to be free of it, which means to be free of the self, the me. Then, you do not have to seek truth; then truth will come to you, because the field is there - a mind that is quiet, undisturbed by its own agitations. Such a mind is capable of receiving. It must be negatively aware, passively aware - which again is very, very arduous, because the mind wants to be something; it wants a result, an achievement. And if it has failed in one direction, it will seek success in another. That success it calls the search for truth. Whereas, truth is the unknown, it must be discovered from moment to moment, not in some abstraction, not in some isolated action, but in every moment of our daily existence. To see the false as the false, is the beginning of the truth - the false in our speech, the false in our relationships, the little appetites, the little vanities, the barbarities which we indulge in. To see the truth of the falseness of all that, is the beginning of the perception of what is true.
But you see, most of us do not want to be so aware. It is tiresome. We'd rather escape into some illusion, into some belief, in which we can find isolation and consolation - it's so much easier; and in that isolation we say that we seek truth. It is not possible to find truth in isolation. It is not possible, being psychologically secure, certain, for the great uncertainty of truth to come into being. So, all that we can do, if we are really serious, earnestly interested, is to give truth an opportunity to come into being by understanding our relationship with things, with people, with ideas. Then, understanding brings freedom; and in that freedom alone can there be the real.
Question: Your teachings some years ago were understandable and inspiring. You then spoke earnestly about evolution, the path, discipleship, and the Masters. Now it is all different. I am utterly bewildered. I readily believed you then, and would like to believe you now. I am confused. Which is the truth - what you said then, or what you say now?
Krishnamurti: This really needs serious consideration; and I hope those of you who are bored with this kind of stuff will listen patiently.
First of all, it's not a question of belief. You don't have to believe what I say - far from it. If you believe what I say, then it is your misery, not mine; then you will use me as another authority, and therefore take shelter, comfort. But what I am saying is merely that without self-knowledge, without knowing yourself, there can be no understanding of life. That does not demand belief. it demands watchfulness on your part - not belief in what I say. So, let us be very clear on that point, because, I think, that to believe is a hindrance to the understanding of truth - which does not mean that you must become an atheist, which is another form of belief. But to understand the total process of believing, of why you believe, is the beginning of wisdom.
We believe because we want to hold on to something, because we want security; we are so uncertain in ourselves, we are so discontented, we are so inwardly poor, that we want something rich to hold on to. As the worldly man holds on to property, so the so-called believer holds on to his belief - there is not much difference between the two. Both want security, both want comfort, both want certainty. And these beliefs are self-projected, and therefore do not lead to reality.
Now, the questioner wants to know why I have changed. At one time, some years ago, I talked of Masters, discipleship, progress, spiritual growth, and all that kind of thing. And now I do not. Why? Where has the change come, and what has produced it? - isn't that the basis of the question? And he wants to know which to believe: those things which I said previously, or what I am saying now.
What was said previously, demanded belief. After all, you need a belief about the Masters. You can rationalize that belief, but still it is a belief. And it's very convenient to have such a belief, especially when the Master is somewhere far away - because then you can play with that idea. But if you have a guru, a teacher, directly in relationship with you physically, then it's much more difficult, isn't it? - because he will criticize you, he will watch over you, he will tell you off - which is much more painful. Whereas, to have a Master in India, or in the Himalayas, or on some mountain far away from all our daily life, is very convenient, very encouraging. And such a thing needs belief. It is a self-projected idea. And that gives you comfort; because then you can postpone action, then you can say, "Well, I'll be like him in my next life. It will take me a long time to be free from greed" - and that you call evolution. Surely, greed is not a thing to be postponed; either you are free from greed now, or you will never be. To say that you will become free from greed some day, is the continuation of greed. And the idea that someone is looking after you, patting you on the back, encouraging you, showing special interest in you, while you discipline yourself according to him, according to the ideals laid down by him - all this is obviously puffing up the self. Naturally it gives you encouragement, it gives you inspiration, to think that someone is looking after you, that you have all eternity in front of you to be something, that the path is a thing to tread slowly, taking your time, and that one day you will arrive.
All such thoughts and beliefs are very encouraging and inspiring. That's why societies are formed for people who want to be encouraged. Such a process, to me, is the way of exploitation - because you like to be exploited by the Master, or by the representative of the Master; and you choose the representative according to your desires and gratifications. When you are being gratified, it's very inspiring - at least, you call it inspiring; it's really another form of sensation.
Now, when you see all that as being false, utterly without any basis; when you see that nothing can lead you to the truth except your own understanding of yourself. that no Master can give you the light save yourself - then it's not so inspiring, not so encouraging because to know oneself demands watchfulness, alertness, constant vigilance; and it is rather boring, tiresome, depressing, to know that one is ugly. But to be told there is something in you which is eternal, marvellous - that you like. And so you follow the Master, and accept all the illusions that go with it. Then it gives you satisfaction; and that is, after all, what most of us are seeking - not truth, not to understand what is false, bus to be gratified. And as you seek certainty, security, in the physical world, so you carry that over into the psychological, spiritual world. But there is no security in the psychological world. If you seek security, then there is illusion; for it is only in great uncertainty that you find.
Now, when you see all that, obviously you put those things away from you. You no longer play with them. And what I say now is not the other side of the coin - it has nothing to do with those things, which are false. To understand oneself, is the beginning of wisdom. When you see that which is false, you are already beginning to see that which is true. Obviously, this whole structure of self-expansion, with spiritual degrees of discipleship, the ladder of hierarchical achievement, is utterly false; because, that which is true, has no divisions. But we like divisions; we like exclusions, socially we like to be called by a title. And you carry the same snobbishness into the other world. But when one sees this whole process as being self-expansive, giving importance to the me, to the mine. giving prestige to myself, then, surely, it fades away; you don't have to struggle against it. It's like seeing something poisonous: it has no attraction, it is no longer true, therefore, you no longer belong to that way of thinking.
You see, all this implies that one must stand alone. But most of us are afraid to be alone - not alone in the sense of isolation, but alone in the sense of seeing something as it is, seeing the false as the false and the true as the true. To see the false as the false, when everybody is seeing what is false as the true, needs certain choiceless awareness. And, as most of us dread to be alone, quiet, free from all self-projected illusions, we cling to things made by the mind. Without understanding yourself, do what you will, invent any theory, any Master follow any discipline - it will not lead to happiness. You may deceive yourself; you may deceive yourself by saying, "What you say and what I believe are the same. They're the two sides of the coin." You may say what you like; but that is mere self-deception. But to go into this whole problem of the self, to see all its ways, its deceptions and illusions, its comforts - to know oneself so completely, brings tranquillity of the mind, which another cannot give you. Then, in that tranquillity, that which is eternal, can be. Question: How is one to be free of the constant fear of death?
Krishnamurti: What is it that creates fear? Why is one afraid of death? If you don't mind, let us experiment with this - not only with what I have said previously, but with this also. You see, while most of us are afraid of death, we also know why. Obviously, we don't want to come to an end. We know the body is going to perish, be destroyed like any other thing which is used constantly. But, psychologically, we don't want to come to an end. Why?
Because we don't want do come to an end, we have rationalized innumerable theories: that we will continue in the hereafter, that there is reincarnation, that some kind of self continues, and so on. But still, in spite of all these rationalized beliefs, convictions and determinations, there is fear. Why? Is it not because we want certainty of the unknown? We don't know what is after death. We would like to continue with all our qualities, with all our achievements, with all our identifications. We seek permanency, which we call immortality. We seek permanency in this world through name, property, possessions, family, and so on - which is an obvious thing we are doing all the time. And we also want to continue in another realm of thought, of feeling - in the psychological world, the spiritual world.
What is it that continues? Idea, thought, is it not? The idea of yourself as a name, as a particular identified individual - which is still an idea, which is memory, which means the word. So, thought, mind, identifying itself as memory, as the word, as the name, wants to continue. Surely, most of us are clinging to that, aren't we? in different ways. As I grow older, I look back upon life, or I look forward with fear to death. So, we want to continue, in some form or other. And, being uncertain of that continuity, we are afraid. You are not afraid of leaving your family, your children; that is just an excuse. Actually, you're afraid to come to an end.
Now, that which continues, that which has continuity - can that be creative? Is there a renewal in that which continues? Surely, there is renewal only in that which comes to an end. Where there is an ending, there is a rebirth - but not in that which continues. If I continue as I am, as I have been in this life, with all my ignorance, prejudices, stupidities, illusions, memories, and attachments - what have I? And yet it is to that, we cling so tenaciously.
Surely, in ending there is renewal, is there not? It's only in death that a new thing comes into being. I am not giving you comfort. This is not something to be believed or thought about, or intellectually examined and accepted - for then you will make it into another comfort, as you now believe in reincarnation, or continuity in the hereafter, and so on. But the actual fact is that that which continues has no rebirth, no renewal. Therefore, in dying every day there is renewal, there is a rebirth. That is immortality. In death there is immortality - not the death of which you are afraid, but the death of previous conclusions, memories, experiences, with which you are identified as the me. In the dying of the me every minute there is eternity, there is immortality, there is a thing to be experienced - not to be speculated upon or lectured about, as you do about reincarnation and all that kind of stuff. Only when you come to an end as the me, when you cease to be attached to your family, to your properties, to your ideas - only then is there immortality; which does not mean that you become indifferent, callous, or irresponsible.
When you are no longer afraid, because every minute there is an ending and therefore a renewal, then you are open to the unknown. Reality is the unknown. Death is also the unknown. But to call death beautiful, to say how marvellous it is, because we shall continue in the hereafter and all that nonsense has no reality. What has reality, is seeing death as it is - an ending; an ending in which there is renewal, a rebirth, not a continuity. For, that which continues, decays; and that which has the power to renew itself, is eternal. But a mind that is attached, possessed, can never renew itself. Therefore, such a mind is afraid of the unknown, of the future. Fear ceases only when there is constant renewal, which means constant death. But most of us do not want to die that way. We like to be attached to our furniture and properties, to our beliefs, to our so-called loved ones. We want to continue in that state, with our conflicts, with our experiences, with our attachments. And, when all that is threatened, we are frightened. And so there are innumerable books written about death. You're more interested in death than in living; whereas, in understanding living, that is, yourself in constant relationship; in seeing the false as the false, and therefore dying every minute, not in theory, but actually, to the things to which you are attached, to beliefs, to memories - only then is there renewal in which there is no death.
October 16, 1949
London 3rd Public Talk 16th October 1949
Texts and talks of Jiddu Krishnamurti. Krishnamurti quotes. Books about
J Krishnamurti. Philosophy.