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Paris 1950

Paris 4th Public Talk 30th April 1950

The problem of effort, struggle, of striving after something, should be thoroughly understood; because, it seems to me that the more we strive, the more we struggle to become something the greater becomes the complexity of the problem. We have never really gone into this question of striving after something. We make great efforts, spiritually, physically, and in every department of life; our whole existence, positively or negatively, is a process of constant effort - effort, either to become something, or to avoid something. Our whole social structure, as well as our religious and philosophical existence, is based, is it not?, on striving to achieve a result or to avoid an outcome.

Now, do we understand anything through struggle through strife, through conflict? Is there a possibility of adjustment, of pliability, through conflict, through struggle? And, is the effort that we are making practically the whole of the time, consciously and unconsciously - is that effort really essential? I know, obviously, that the present structure of society is based on struggle, on effort, on becoming successful or avoiding a result which one does not desire. It is a constant psychological battle. Through psychological effort, in trying to become something, do we understand? I think that is a problem we should really face and go into rather deeply. Perhaps it may not be possible this morning to go into details; but one can see quite clearly that there is effort of every kind, and that the effort of adjustment in relationship is the most prominent effort that we make. Struggle, conflict, exists in relationship: we are always trying to adjust ourselves to a different category of society, or to an idea; and will this constant striving really lead anywhere?

Now, striving creates a centre in one,s consciousness around which we build the whole structure of the `me' and the `mine' - my position, my achievement, my will, my success; and as long as the `me' exists, surely there is no possibility of really understanding the total process of oneself. And is it not possible to live a life without struggle, without conflict, without the centre of the `me'? Surely, such a manner of living is not mere oriental escapism - to call it that would be really absurd, that would be merely brushing it aside. On the contrary let us consider whether it is possible to live in the world and build a new society, whether this whole process of becoming successful, becoming virtuous, achieving or avoiding something, can be completely set aside. And is it not important that we should set aside this constant striving after something, if we would really understand what living is? After all, can we grasp the significance of anything through effort, through struggle, through conflict with it? Or, do we understand it only when we have the capacity to look at it directly, without this battle, this conflict between the observer and the observed?

We can see in everyday experience that if we would really understand something, there must be a certain sense of quietness, a certain tranquillity - not enforced not disciplined or controlled, but a spontaneous tranquillity in which one sees the significance of any problem. After all, when we have a problem, we struggle with it, we analyze it, we dissect it, we tear it to pieces, trying to find out how to resolve it. Now, what happens when we give up struggling with it? In that quiet state of relaxed tranquillity the problem has a different aspect - one understands it more clearly. Similarly, is it not possible to live in that state of alertness, in that state of choiceless observation, which brings about tranquillity and in which alone there can be understanding?

After all, our conditioning - social, economic, religious, and so on - is all based on the worship of success. We all want to be successful; we all want to achieve a result. If we fail in this world, we hope to make a success of it in the next. If we are not very successful politically, economically, we want to be suc- cessful spiritually. We worship success. And in becoming successful, there must be effort - which means constant conflict, within and without. Surely, one can never understand anything through conflict, can one? Is not the very nature of the self, the `me' a process of conflict, a process of becoming something? And is it not necessary to understand this `me', which is the field of conflict, in order to think, to feel directly? And can one understand this whole structure of oneself without the conflict of trying to alter what is? In other words, can one look at, consider, what one is, essentially, factually, and not try to alter it? Surely, it is only when we are capable of looking at the fact as it is, that we can deal with it; but as long as we are struggling with the fact, trying to alter it, make it into something else, we are incapable of understanding what is. Only when we understand what is, we go beyond it.

So, in order to understand the structure of myself, which is the central problem of all existence it is essential, is it not?, to be aware of the whole process of the `me' - the `me' that seeks success, the `me' that is cruel, the `me' that is acquisitive, the `me' that separates all action, all thought, as `mine'. In order to understand that `me', must you not look at it as it is, factually, without struggling with it, trying to alter it? Surely, only then is it possible to go beyond. Therefore, self-knowledge is the beginning of wisdom. Wisdom is not bought in books; wisdom is not experience; wisdom is not the accumulation of any kind of virtue, or the avoidance of evil. Wisdom comes only through self-knowledge through the understanding of the whole structure, the whole process, of the `me'.

For the `me' to be understood clearly, it must be seen, experienced, in relationship. It is only in the mirror of relationship that I discover the whole process of myself, conscious as well as unconscious; and obviously, all effort to transform it is a process of avoidance, process of resistance, which prevents understanding. So, if one is really serious, and not merely living on the verbal level, one must understand this process of the `me' - not theoretically, not according to any philosophy or doctrine but actually, in relationship; and that process can be discovered and understood completely only when there is no effort to change or alter it. That is, understanding can come only when there is observation without choice.

I do not think most of us realize that the problems of the world are not something apart from us. The problems of the world exist because of you and me; the world's problems are our problems, because the world is not different from you and me. And if one would really, seriously and earnestly, understand the whole problem of existence, surely one must begin with oneself - but not in isolation, not as an individuality opposing the mass or withdrawing from society the problem of the mass is the problem of the `me; and it is essential, if we could understand the world and bring about a new structure of society, that we should understand ourselves. I don't think we seriously realize the capacity that each one has to transform himself. We look to leaders, to teachers, to saviours; but I am afraid they will not transform the world, they will not bring about a new world order. No teacher can ever do it, but only you and I, in understanding ourselves; and I don't think we see the immensity of that. We think that as individuals we are so small, so unimportant, so ordinary, that we can not do anything in this world. Surely, great things are started in little ways. Fundamental revolution takes place, not outwardly, but inwardly, psychologically; and that fundamental, lasting revolution can come about only when you and I understand ourselves.

So, this understanding of oneself is not a withdrawal from life into a monastery, or into some religious meditation. On the contrary, to understand oneself is to understand one's relationship with things, with people, and with ideas. without relationship, we are not; we exist only in relationship; to be, is to be related. Relationship is with property, with people, with ideas; and as long as we do not understand the total process of the `me' in relationship, we are bound to create conflict within - which projects outwardly and makes misery in the world. So, it is essential to under stand oneself; and the understanding of oneself does not lie through any book, through any philosophy. It can be under stood only from moment to moment, in all the daily relationships. Relationship is life; and without understanding relationship, our life is a conflict, a constant struggle to transform what is into what we desire. Without understanding the `me', merely to transform or reform the world outside only leads to further misery, further conflict, and further destruction.

I have been given some questions, and I shall answer them. But before I answer them, may I say that, while it is easy to ask questions, to follow the question and discover the answer for oneself is extremely difficult. Most of us, when we ask a question, hope for an answer; but life is not made up of questions and answers. It is what is true; and when one puts a question, one must follow it through, go to the very end of it, and find the true answer. So, in considering these questions, I hope that you and I will try to find the truth of the matter, and not merely live on the verbal level.

Question: Why are we afraid of death? And how are we to overcome this fear?

Krishnamurti: Fear is not an abstraction; it obviously exists only in relationship to something. Now, what is it in death that we are afraid of? Of not being, of not continuing - surely, that is the primary thing. We are afraid of not having continuity, are we not? - which means basically, we are afraid of not knowing the future, the unknown. If there is an assurance of continuity, that is, if we can know the future, if we can know the unknown, then there is no fear.

Now, can we know the unknown - that which is beyond all the fabrications, all the projections of the mind? We can know the projections of the mind; but that is not the unknown. We can with hold the projections and try to feel out the unknown; but that is still a form of projection. So, as long as we are trying to find out intellectually, verbally, through desire, how to conquer the un known, surely there must be fear. We are afraid essentially, because of the future, of the unknown; and if another can guarantee, assure us, that there is continuity, then we are no longer afraid. But does continuity in any form bring about understanding of the unknown? Can continuity bring creativeness, or creative feeling? Surely, the moment there is continuity, there is no ending; and only in ending, in dying, is there creativeness, is there the new. We do not want to die, and so we make life a process of continuity; but only in death can we know living.

So, our problem is, is it not? can the mind ever conceive, ever formulate, the unknown? And is not the mind the result of the past, of time? Is it not a mere accumulation of experiences, know ledge, and so a storehouse of time, of the past? So, can the mind, which is the result of time, know the timeless, that which is beyond time? Obviously not. Whatever the mind projects is still within the field of time; and there will be fear as long as the mind is projecting itself, or trying to understand the future, the unknown. There will be the cessation of fear only when I see the truth of this: that continuity means the projection of myself - the `myself' being conflict, the constant swing between pleasure and pain. As long as there is a continuity of the `me', there must be pain, there must be fear; and the mind, which is the centre of the `me', can never find that which is beyond the field of time.

Our difficulty is, is it not?, that we really don't know how to live. Because we have not understood life, we think we want to understand death; but if we can understand the process of living then there will be no fear of death. It is because we do not know how to live that we are afraid of death. Look at the books that have been written on death, look at all the effort made to understand what is beyond! Surely, fear of what is beyond comes only when I do not know how to live in the present, when I do not know the whole significance of life.

Our life is a process of struggle of pain and pleasure, a constant movement from one thing to another, from the known to the known; it is a battle of adjustment, a battle of achievement, a battle of change. That is our whole life - with occasional rays of clarity. And since we do not understand life, we are afraid of death. Now, need life be a battle, a struggle, a constant becoming? Or, can there be freedom from this becoming, so that one can live without conflict? - which means dying each day, dying to all the things that one has accumulated, all the things that one has gathered, as experience as knowledge. Then there is a quality of newness, because life is no longer a movement from the known to the known, but a freedom from the known to meet the unknown. Then only is there a possibility of being free from the fear of death.

Question: What is the process of experience? Is it different from self-consciousness?

Krishnamurti: First, let us see what is experience. Surely, experience is the response to challenge, and the recognition of the response, is it not? Stimulus, response, and recognition of the response - that is experience, is it not? If you do not respond to a challenge, to a stimulus, or if you do not recognize that response, is there experience? So experience, surely, is the recognition of the response to a challenge - the recognition being the naming, the terming, giving it the appropriate value. That is, experience is the response to a challenge and the recognition of that response, giving it a term, either verbally or symbolically, consciously or unconsciously. Without the process of recognition, there is no experience.

So, this process of response to a challenge, and recognition of the response, is surely experience. And is that different from self-consciousness? As long as the response to the challenge is adequate, complete, obviously there can be no friction, there can be no conflict, between the response and the challenge. So, self-consciousness comes into being, does it not?, only when there is conflict between challenge and response. You can work this out for yourself, it is very simple; and you will see that it is not a question of believing or discarding, but only of experimenting and being aware, seeing actually what happens.

As long as you have no conflict, no battle, no struggle, is there self-consciousness? Are you aware that you are happy? The moment you are aware that you are happy, happiness ceases, does it not? And the desire for something, the desire for happiness, is the conflict which makes for self-consciousness. When there is conflict, when there is disturbance, there is recognition; and the very recognition is the process of self-consciousness.

So, experience, which is the recognition of the response to challenge, is the beginning of self-consciousness. There is no difference, then, between experiencing, which is recognizing, and self-consciousness. To understand this it is not necessary, surely, to read books about consciousness, or to study very deeply, or listen to others. One can discover it by actually observing the whole total process of one's own experiencing, one's own consciousness. That is exactly what we are trying to do. I am not propounding a new philosophy - I hope not - , nor am I putting something over to you. All that we are trying to do is to see what is consciousness. Surely, consciousness is experience, then the naming of that experience as good or bad, pleasant or unpleasant, and the desire for more of it or less of it; and the very naming, the very terming, gives it strength gives it permanence. So, consciousness is a process of experiencing, naming or terming, and storing as memory, recollection. This total process is either conscious or unconscious; and as long as we give a name, a term, to the experience, it must be made permanent, it must be fixed in the mind, held in the net of time. This whole total process is self-consciousness - whether it is on the verbal level, or very deep, covered up.

Now, as long as we give a name, a term, a symbol, to an experience, that experience can never be new; because, the moment we recognize an experience, it is already old. When there is an experience and the naming of it, it is merely the process of recording, remembering. That is, every reaction, every experience, is translated by the mind and put away in the mind as memory; and with that memory we meet the new, which is the challenge. In meeting the new with the old, we transform the new into the old - and so there is no understanding of the new at all.

The understanding of the new is possible only when the mind is capable of not giving it a name; and it is only then that experience can be fully, completely understood and gone beyond, so that every meeting of the challenge has a new quality and is not merely recognized and put into the record. There is freedom from self-consciousness, from the `me', only when we understand this whole total process of experiencing, naming and recording. Only when that process ceases, which is the process of the `me' and the `mine', is there a possibility of going beyond and discovering things which are not of the mind.

Question: I cannot conceive of a love which is neither felt nor thought of. You are probably using the word `love' to indicate something else. Is it not so?

Krishnamurti: When we say love', what do we mean by it? Actually, not theoretically, what do we mean? It is a process of sensation and thought, is it not? That is what we mean by love: a process of thought, a process of sensation.

Now, is thought, love? When I think of you, is that love? Or, when I say that love must be impersonal, universal - is that love? Surely, thought is the result of a feeling, of sensation; and as long as love is held within the field of sensation and thought, obviously there must be conflict in that process. And must we not find out if there is something beyond the field of thought? That is what we are trying to do. We know what love is in the ordinary sense - a process of thought and sensation. If we do not think of a person, we think we do not love him; if we do not feel, we think there is no love. But is that all? Or, is love something beyond? And to find out, must not thought, as sensation, come to an end? After all, when we love somebody, we think about them, we have a picture of them. That is, what we call love is a thinking process, a sensation, which is memory: the memory of what we did or did not do with him or her. So, memory, which is the result of sensation, which becomes verbalized thought, is what we call love. And even when we say that love is impersonal, cosmic, or what you will, it is still a process of thought.

Now, is love a process of thought? Can we think about love? We can think about the person, or think of memories with regard to that person; but is that love? Surely, love is a flame without smoke. The smoke is that with which we are familiar - the smoke of jealousy, of anger, of dependence, of calling it personal or impersonal, the smoke of attachment. We have not the flame, but we are fully acquainted with the smoke; and it is possible to have that flame only when the smoke is not. Therefore our concern is not with love, whether it is something beyond the mind, or beyond sensation, but to be free of the smoke: the smoke of jealousy, of envy, the smoke of separation, of sorrow and pain. Only when the smoke is not shall we know, experience, that which is the flame. And the flame is neither personal nor impersonal, neither universal nor particular - it is just a flame; and there is the reality of that flame only when the mind, the whole process of thought, has been understood. So, there can be love only when the smoke of conflict of competition, struggle, envy, comes to an end; because that process breeds opposition, in which there is fear. As long as there is fear, there is no communion, for one cannot commune through the screen of smoke.

So, it is clear that love is possible only without the smoke; and as we are acquainted with the smoke, let us go into it completely, understand it fully, so as to be free of it. Then only shall we know that flame which is neither personal nor impersonal, which has no name. That which is new cannot be given a name. Our question is not what love is, but what are the things that are preventing the fullness of that flame. We don't know how to love - we only know how to think about love. In the very process of thinking we create the smoke of the `me' and the `mine' - and in that we are caught. Only when we are capable of freeing ourselves from the process of thinking about love and all the complications that arise out of it - only then is there a possibility of having that flame.

Question: What is good and what is evil?

Krishnamurti: As I said, it is easy to ask a question, but it is much more difficult to go into it fully. But let us try.

Why do we always think in terms of duality, in terms of the opposite? Why is it that we are so conditioned by the thought that there is good and that there is evil? Why this division, why this dual process always at work within us? Surely, if we can understand the process of desire, we shall understand this problem, shall we not? The division of good and evil is a contradiction in us. We are attached to the good, because it is more pleasurable; and we are conditioned to avoid the evil, which is painful. Now, if we can understand the process of desire, which makes life a contradiction, then perhaps we shall be able to be free from the conflict of the opposites.

So the problem is not what is good and what is evil, but why this contradiction exists in our daily life. I want something; and in that very wanting there is the opposite. Now, is good the avoidance of evil? Is beauty the avoidance of the ugly? As long as I avoid something, do I not of necessity bring about resistance against it, and therefore create its opposite? So, is there a clear line of demarcation between good and evil? Or, is it that when I understand the process of desire, then perhaps I shall know what virtue is? Because, the man who is trying to become virtuous can obviously never be virtuous. The man who is trying to become kindly, loving, tolerant, can never be virtuous; he is merely trying to achieve something and virtue is not a process of achievement. The avoidance of evil is a process of achievement; but if I can understand the desire which creates duality, the conflict of the opposites, then I shall know what virtue is.

Virtue is not putting an end to desire, but understanding desire. Putting an end to desire is merely another form of desire. In the very desire to end desire, I create the opposite; and therefore I perpetuate the conflict, the battle, between the ideal and what 1 am. So, the man who pursues the ideal only creates conflict, and the man who is becoming virtuous can never know virtue - he is merely entangled in the battle of opposites. This conflict between himself and what he thinks he should be gives him a sense of living; but the man of ideals is really a man of escape.

Now if one can understand what virtue is, which means if one can understand desire, then there is freedom from the opposites; and one can understand desire only when one looks at it factually, sees it as it is, without any sense of comparison, without condemnation, without resistance. Then only is there freedom from desire. As long as one is condemning desire, there must be the conflict of the opposites as good and evil, as important and unimportant; as long as one is resisting desire, there must be the conflict of duality. But when one looks at desire as it is, without any sense of comparison, condemnation or justification, then one will see that desire comes to an end.

So, the beginning of virtue is the understanding of desire. To be caught in the conflict of the opposites is merely to strengthen desire; and most of us do not want to understand desire fully, we enjoy the conflict of the opposites. The conflict of the opposites we call virtue, becoming spiritual, but it is only another form of strengthening the continuity of `myself; and in the continuity of `myself' there can be no virtue. It is only when there is no fear that there is freedom, and fear ceases with the understanding of desire.

There is one more question. Shall I answer it, or not?

Audience: Yes, yes.

Question: You say that if I am creative, all the problems will be solved. How am I to change myself so as to be creative?

Krishnamurti: This question is as important as the first question, and I hope you are not too tired to go into it as fully as we can within a few minutes.

We see that in trying to resolve one problem, we create many other problems - which is an obvious fact. In trying to resolve the economic problem, we come upon a multitude of other problems, not only outward, external, but also inward problems. When I have a problem, I try to solve it; and in the very solution 27 of it, I find other problems on my hands. So, that is what we know of the problem: that it is never finally resolved, but is constantly increasing.

Now, that being the case, how is it possible to approach the problem of living, or any other problem, without multiplying it? That means, is it possible to approach the problem anew? Surely, that is the question, is it not? If I can approach any problem anew, which is to approach it creatively, then perhaps I shall not only resolve that particular problem, but also not introduce many other problems. So, how is it possible to be creative? What are the things that are hindering this sense of creativity, the sense of newness? And I think that is the best question: how is it possible to approach everything anew, with a fresh mind, a mind that is not loaded with experience, with knowledge, with imitation?

What is it that is preventing us from being creative? Obviously, technique. We always know what to do; we have the means. All our education is a process of learning a technique - which means a process of imitation, a process of copy. After all, knowledge is imitation, copy; and isn't that one of the major burdens that prevent us from meeting things anew? Is not authority in any form, spiritual or mundane, external or inward, an impediment to creative understanding? And why do we have authorities? Because, without authority we think we are lost. We must have some anchor. So, in the desire to be secure inwardly and outwardly, we create authority; and that very authority, which obviously means imitation, destroys creativeness, newness.

Is truth, God, that state of creativeness, something that can come through imitation, through copy, through authority, through compulsion? Must one not be free from authority, from all sense of imitation and copy? You will say, "No, we must begin with authority in order to be free; we must begin through imitation, through compulsion, in order ulti- mately to arrive at freedom." If you take the wrong means, can you come to the right end? If the end is freedom, must not the beginning also be free? Because, if you use a wrong means, obviously the end must be equally wrong; and if you have no freedom at the beginning, you will have no freedom at the end. If at the beginning your mind is controlled, shaped, disciplined, moulded according to authority, obviously it will still be encompassed, held in a frame, at the end; and such a mind, surely, can never be in a state of creativeness. So, the beginning is the end; the end and the means are one.

Surely, if we are to understand creativeness, the beginning matters enormously - which means understanding all those things that impede the mind and prevent its freedom. Freedom comes only when we understand the desire to be secure. It is the desire to be secure that creates authority, that creates discipline, the pattern of imitation, the pursuit of the ideal, the whole process of conformity. The loftier the ideal, the nobler, the holier, the more spiritual we think it is; but it is still merely a pattern; and a mind caught in a pattern is obviously not capable of being creative. But seeing that the mind is caught in a pattern, merely to reject it, as a reaction, is obviously not freedom. in understanding why the mind creates a pattern and holds to it, why the mind is caught in technique, in the addiction to knowledge, why the mind always moves from the known to the known, from security to security, from imitation to imitation - in the direct understanding of all that, and not merely reacting against it, there is freedom from the desire for security and hence from the sense of fear. As long as there is a centre of the `me', from which there is action and reaction, denial and acceptance, obviously there is must be a process of imitation and copy. As long as we are mere repeaters, reading books, quoting authorities, pursuing ideals, conforming to a formula or to a dogma holding on to a particular religion or joining new cults, seeking new teachers, in the hope of being happy - as long as that process exists, obviously there can be no freedom.

So, creativeness comes only when the mind is free from all imitation, from experience, which is merely the continuity of the `me'. The mind is free when there is no centre which is experiencing; and that centre in the mind disappears only when the whole process of desire is understood. Then only is there quietness of mind - not an imposed quietness, a disciplined stillness, or the tranquillity of conformity, but that spontaneous quietness which comes through understanding. And when the mind is still, there is creativeness there is the creative state of being. Stillness is not a process of imitation, of conformity; you cannot think about stillness. Tranquillity does not come through any projection of the mind. Only when thought is silent, not merely on the upper level, but right through unconscious only when the thought process comes to an end, is there a state of tranquillity, a stillness. In that silence there is a creation which is not mere technique, but which has its own vitality, its own way of expression. As long as you are concerned with expression, with technique, with knowledge, with any form of addiction, there can be no creativeness, because that creativeness comes only when the mind is utterly still. That stillness is not a process of avoidance, it does not come through learning a technique of meditation. Those who learn a technique of how to meditate will never know what silence is, will never be creative - their state will be a state of death and denial. There can be creation only when thought has come to an end - not only at the conscious upper level, but at those levels that are deep down, concealed, hidden. When the mind is utterly still, then there is creation.

April 30, 1950


Paris 1950

Paris 4th Public Talk 30th April 1950

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