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New York 1950

New York 2nd Public Talk 11th June 1950

I think it is important to see the necessity of self-knowledge; because, what we are, that we project. If we are confused, uncertain, worried, ambitious, cruel or fearful, it is just that which we produce in the world. We do not seem to realize how essential it is for thought and action that there should be a fundamental understanding of oneself - not only of the superficial layers of one's consciousness, but also of the deeper layers of the unconscious, of the totality of one's whole process of thinking and feeling. We seem to regard this understanding of oneself as such a difficult task that we prefer to run away from it into all kinds of infantile, immature activities, such as ceremonies, so-called spiritual organizations, political groups, and so on - anything rather than study and comprehend oneself integrally and completely.

The fundamental understanding of oneself does not come through knowledge or through the accumulation of experiences, which is merely the cultivation of memory. The understanding of oneself is from moment to moment; and if we merely accumulate knowledge of the self, that very knowledge prevents further understanding, because accumulated knowledge and experience become the centre through which thought focuses and has its being. The world is not different from us and our activities, because it is what we are which creates the problems of the world; and the difficulty with the majority of us is that we do not know ourselves directly, but seek a system, a method, a means of operation by which to solve the many human problems.

Now, is there a means, a system, of knowing oneself? Any clever person, any philosopher, can invent a system, a method; but surely, the following of a system will merely produce a result created by that system, will it not? If I follow a particular method of knowing myself, then I shall have the result which that system necessitates; but that result will obviously not be the understanding of myself. That is, by following a method, a system, a means through which to know myself, I shape my thinking, my activities, according to a pattern; but the following of a pattern is not the understanding of oneself.

So, there is no method for self-knowledge. Seeking a method invariably implies the desire to attain some result - and that is what we all want. We follow authority - if not that of a person, then of a system, of an ideology - because we want a result which will be satisfactory, which will give us security. We really do not want to understand ourselves, our impulses and reac- tions, the whole process of our thinking, the conscious as well as the unconscious; we would rather pursue a system which assures us of a result. But the pursuit of a system is invariably the outcome of our desire for security, for certainty, and the result is obviously not the understanding of oneself. When we follow a method, we must have authorities - the teacher, the guru, the saviour, the Master - who will guarantee us what we desire; and surely, that is not the way to self-knowledge.

Authority prevents the understanding of oneself, does it not? Under the shelter of an authority, a guide, you may have temporarily a sense of security, a sense of well-being; but that is not the understanding of the total process of oneself. Authority in its very nature prevents the full awareness of oneself, and therefore ultimately destroys freedom; and in freedom alone can there be creativeness. There can be creativeness only through self-knowledge. Most of us are not creative, we are repetitive machines, mere gramophone records playing over and over again certain songs of experience, certain conclusions and memories, either our own or those of another. Such repetition is not creative being - but it is what we want. Because we want to be inwardly secure, we are constantly seeking methods and means for this security, and thereby we create authority, the worship of another, which destroys comprehension, that spontaneous tranquility of mind in which alone there can be a state of creativeness.

Surely, our difficulty is that most of us have lost this sense of creativeness. To be creative does not mean that we must paint pictures or write poems and become famous. That is not creativeness - it is merely the capacity to express an idea, which the public applauds or disregards. Capacity and creativeness should not be confused. Capacity is not creativeness. Creativeness is quite a different state of being, is it not? It is a state in which the self is absent, in which the mind is no longer a focus of our experiences, our ambitions, our pursuits, and our desires. Creativeness is not a continuous state, it is new from moment to moment, it is a movement in which there is not the `me', the `mine', in which the thought is not focused around any particular experience, ambition, achievement, purpose, and motive. It is only when the self is not, that there is creativeness - that state of being in which alone there can be reality, the creator of all things. But that state cannot be conceived or imagined, it cannot be formulated or copied, it cannot be attained through any system, through any method, through any philosophy, through any discipline; on the contrary, it comes into being only through understanding the total process of oneself.

The understanding of oneself is not a result, a culmination; it is seeing oneself from moment to moment in the mirror of relationship - one's relationship to property, to things, to people, and to ideas. But we find it difficult to be alert, to be aware, and we prefer to dull our minds by following a method, by accepting authorities, superstitions, and gratifying theories; so, our minds become weary, exhausted, and insensitive. Such a mind cannot be in a state of creativeness. That state of creativeness comes only when the self, which is the process of recognition and accumulation, ceases to be; because, after all, consciousness as the `me' is the centre of recognition, and recognition is merely the process of the accumulation of experience. But we are all afraid to be nothing, because we all want to be something. The little man wants to be a big man, the unvirtuous wants to be virtuous, the weak and obscure crave power, position, and authority. This is the incessant activity of the mind. Such a mind cannot be quiet, and therefore can never understand the state of creativeness.

So, to transform the world about us, with its misery, wars, unemployment, starvation, class divisions, and utter confusion, there must be a transformation in ourselves. The revolution must begin within oneself - but not according to any belief or ideology; because revolution based on an idea, or in conformity to a particular pattern, is obviously no revolution at all. To bring about a fundamental revolution in oneself, one must understand the whole process of one's thought and feeling in relationship. That is the only solution to all our problems - and not to have more disciplines, more beliefs, more ideologies and more teachers. If we can understand ourselves as we are from moment to moment without the process of accumulation, then we will see how there comes a tranquillity that is not a product of the mind, a tranquillity that is neither imagined nor cultivated; and only in that state of tranquillity can there be creativeness.

There are several questions, and in considering them together, let us as individuals experiment together to find out the truth of each question. It is not my explanation that is going to dissolve the problem, nor your eager search for a solution; but what dissolves any problem is to unravel it step by step and thereby see the truth of it. It is seeing the truth of our difficulties, which dissolves them; but to see things as they are, is not easy. Listening is an art; and if in listening we can follow what is said experimentally, operationally, then there is a possibility of seeing the truth and thereby dissolving the particular problem which may confront each one of us.

Question: What mental attitude would you consider best suited for the achievement of contentment in today's troubled world, and how would you suggest we attain it?

Krishnamurti: When you want to attain contentment, you have an idea about it, haven't you? You have a preconception of what it is to be contented, and you want to be in that state; so, you seek a method, you want to know how to attain it. Is contentment a result, a thing to be achieved? Is not the very search for a result itself the cause of discontent? Surely, the moment I want to be something, I have already sown the seed of discontent; because I want to attain contentment, I have already brought discontent into being.

Please let us see the significance of this desire to achieve an end. The end is always gratifying, it is something that we think will give us permanent security, happiness. That is, the end is always self-projected; and having projected it, or imagined it, or formulated it in words, we want to attain it, and then we seek a method for its attainment. We want to know how to be contented. Does not that very desire to be contented, or the search for a method to that end, show the stupidity of our own minds? A man who says, `I want to attain contentment', is surely already in a state of stagnation. He is only concerned with being enclosed in a state wherein nothing will disturb him; so, his contentment is really the ultimate security, which is undisturbed isolation. Contentment which is achieved, and which we call the highest spiritual attainment, is really a condition of decay. But if we can understand the process of discontent, see what it is that brings it about; if, without coming to any conclusion, we can be aware of the ways of discontent, choicelessly watching its every movement - then, in that very understanding, there comes a state of contentment which is not a product of the mind, the thought process, or of desire.

Whatever the mind produces is obviously based on thought, and thought is merely the response of memory, of sensation. When we seek contentment, we are pursuing a sensation that will be completely satisfying; and sensation can never be contentment. If I am aware that I am contented, if I am conscious of it, is that contentment? Is virtue self-conscious? Is happiness a state in which I am conscious that I am happy? Surely, the moment I am aware that I am contented, I am discontented: I want more. (Laughter.) Please do not laugh at these things, because by laughing you are putting it away, you are not taking it in. It is a superficial reaction to something serious which you do not want to face and look at.

Contentment is a thing that cannot be achieved - though all the religious books, all the saints and the Masters, promise it to you. Their promise is no promise at all; it is just a vanity which gratifies you. But there is a possibility of understanding the whole process of discontent, is there not? What is it that makes me discontented? Surely, it is the desire for a result, a reward, an achievement, the desire to become something. In the very process of achieving a reward, there is punishment; and the man who seeks a reward is already punishing himself. Gaining implies discontent. The longing to achieve creates the fear of loss, and the very desire to attain contentment brings discontent. It is important, is it not?, to see this, not as a theory, not as something to be thought about, discussed, and meditated upon, but as a simple fact. The moment you want something, you have already created discontent; and all the advertisements, everything in our society, is instigating this desire to possess, to grow, to achieve, to become. And can this struggle to become something, be called evolution, growth, progress?

Surely, there is a process of understanding discontent; and in the process of understanding it, you will see that discontent is the very nature of the self, the `me'. The `me' is the centre of discontent, because the `me' is the accumulation of memories; and memories cannot thrive unless there are more memories, more sensations. Until you and I understand the `me', which is the centre of discontent, until we go into it and understand this whole process of becoming, achieving, there must always be discontent. How can a mind that is agitated by the desire for a result, ever understand anything? It may be quiet for a time in the isolation of its own achievement; but such a mind is obviously self-enclosed, and it can never know the tranquillity of that contentment which is not a result. The mind that is caught up in a result can never be free, and it is only in freedom that there can be contentment.

Question: You say we use physiological needs for our psychological expansion and security. You further show us that security is non-existent. This gives us a feeling of complete hopelessness and fear. Is this all?

Krishnamurti: This is a complex problem, and let us work it out together. First of all, there must be a physiological security, must there not? You must have food, clothing, and shelter. There must be security in the sense that our physical needs must be satisfied, otherwise we cannot exist at all. But the physical needs are used as a means for our psychological self-expansion, are they not? That is, one uses property, clothes, all the physical necessities, as a means of one's own position, progress, and authority.

To put it in a different way, nationalism, calling oneself an American, a Russian, a Hindu, or what you will, is obviously one of the causes of war. Nationalism is separatism, and that which separates obviously disintegrates. Nationalism destroys physical security; but one is nationalistic because there is a psychological security in being identified with the larger, with a particular country, group, or race. It gives me a sense of psychological security to call myself a Hindu, or by some other name; I feel flattered, it gives me a sense of well being.

Similarly, we use property, things, as a means of psychological enlargement, expansion of the `me; and that is why we have all this confusion, conflict and separation which is taking place in the world. So, the economic problem is not wholly on its own level, but is fundamentally a psychological problem. That is one of the things involved in this question.

Now, as long as we are seeking psychological or inward security, obviously we must deny outward security. That is, as long as we are nationalistic, we must create war, thereby destroying the outward security which is so essential. It is the individual's seeking of inward security that brings about wars, class struggles, the innumerable divisions of religion, and all the rest of the business, ultimately destroying outward security for all. So, as long as I am seeking inward security in any form, I must bring about outward chaos and misery. The mere rearrangement of outward security, individual or collective, without understanding the inward processes of desire, is utterly futile; because, the psychological necessity for inward expansion will inevitably destroy whatever outward structure has been created. This is a fact which we can discuss and which I will go into later.

Now, inward security is a non-existent state, and when we seek it, what we are doing is merely isolating ourselves, enclosing ourselves in an idea, in a hope, in a particular pattern which gratifies us. That is, we enclose ourselves either in the collective experience and knowledge, or in our own particular experience and knowledge, and in that state we like to remain because we feel secure. Having a particular name, possessing certain qualities and things, gives you a sense of well being. Calling yourself a doctor, a mayor, a swami, or God knows what else, gives you a sense of inward security; and that inward security is obviously a process of separation, and therefore of disintegration.

Now, when you actually see that there is no inward security, you say you have a feeling of complete hopelessness and fear. Why is there this sense of hopelessness? Why is there this sense of despair? What do you mean by hope? A man who clings to hope is obviously dead; a man who is hoping is dying, because to him what is important is the future - not what is, but what will be. A man who lives in hope is not living at all; he is living somewhere else, in the future, and living in the future is obviously not living. Now, you say that when you are without hope, you become hopeless. Is that so? When you see the truth about hope, how destructive it is, do you become hopeless? Do you? If you see the truth that there is no inward security of any kind - really see the truth of it, not merely speculate about the psychological state of insecurity - , are you hopeless, are you in despair? Because we always think in terms of opposites, when we are in despair we want hope; and when there is no hope, we become hopeless. Does this not indicate that we are seeking a state in which there will be no disturbance of any kind? And why should we not be disturbed? Must not the mind be completely uncertain in order to find out? But the moment you are uncertain, you fall into a state of hopelessness, despair, and fear; and then you develop a philosophy of despair and pursue that. Surely, if you really see the truth as regards hope, there comes a freedom from both hopelessness and hope; but one must see it, one must realize and experience that state.

What do we mean by fear? Fear of what? Fear of not being? Fear of what you are? Fear of losing, of being at a loss? Fear, whether conscious or unconscious, is not abstract: it exists only in relation to something. What we are afraid of is being insecure, is it not? We are afraid of being insecure - not only economically, but much more so inwardly. That is, we are afraid of loneliness, afraid of being nothing, afraid of a sense of complete denudation, a total purgation of all the beliefs, experiences and memories of the mind. Of that state, whatever it is, we are afraid; the state of not being loved, of losing, or not achieving. But when once we see what loneliness is, when we know what it is to be lonely without escape, then there is a possibility of going beyond; because, aloneness is entirely different from loneliness. There must be aloneness; but at present we are made up of many things, of many influences, and we are never alone. We are not individuals, we are merely a bundle of collective responses, with a particular name and a particular group of memories, both inherited and acquired. Surely, that is not individuality.

Now, to understand what it is to be alone, you must understand the whole process of fear. The understanding of fear ultimately brings you to that state in which you are completely empty, completely alone; that is, you are face to face with a loneliness which cannot be satisfied, which cannot be filled in, and from which there is no escape. Then you will see that one can go beyond loneliness - and then there is neither hope nor hopelessness, but a state of aloneness in which there is no fear.

As I said, a man who hopes is obviously not living, because to him the future is extraordinarily important; therefore, he is willing to sacrifice the present for the future. That is what all the ideologist, all the people who build Utopias, are doing: they are sacrificing the present, that is, they are willing to liquidate you and me for the future - as though they knew the future. All political parties, all ideologist, dangle a hope in front of us; and those who pursue hope are ultimately destroyed. But if we can understand the desire for inward security, see its whole process, and not merely deny it or live in some fanciful state; if through alert watchfulness we are aware of every response of the self, of the `me', and see that there is no inward security of any kind, whether through property, through a person, or through an ideology; then, in that state of complete insecurity of the mind, there comes a freedom in which alone there is a possibility of discovering what is. But such a state is not for those who hope, or fear, or who want to achieve a result.

Question: How can I experience God in myself?

Krishnamurti: What do we mean by experience? What is the process of experiencing? When do we say, `I have had an experience'? We say that only when we recognize the experience, that is, only when there is an experiencer apart from the experience. This means that our experiencing is a process of recognition and accumulation. Am I explaining myself?

I can experience only when there is a recognition of the experience, and the recognition is recollection, memory; and memory is obviously the centre of the `me'. That is, the whole process of recognition and accumulation of expe- rience is the `me', and the `me' then says, `I have had an experience'. What is recognized and accumulated as experience is the response to stimuli, the response to challenge. If I do not recognize the response to a challenge, I have no experience. Surely, if you challenge me, and I do not recognize the meaning, the significance of your challenge, nor my response to it, how can I have an experience? There is experiencing only when I respond to a challenge and recognize the response.

Now, the questioner asks, "How can I experience God in myself?" Is God, reality, or what you will, a thing to lie experienced, a thing to be recognized, so that you can say, `I have had an experience of God'? Obviously, God is the unknown; it cannot be the known. The moment you know it, it is not God: it is something self-projected, recognized, which is memory. That is why the believer can never know God; and since most of you believe in God, you can never know God, because your very belief prevents you. But non-belief in God, which is another form of belief, also hinders the discovery of the unknown; because all belief is obviously a process of the mind. Belief is the result of the known. You may believe in the unknown, but that belief is born of the known, it is part of the known, which is memory. Memory says, `I do not know God, it is something unknown'. So, memory creates the unknown, and then believes in it as a means of experiencing the unknown.

Is God to be believed in? The priests, the preachers, the organizers of religions, the bishops, the cardinals, the butcher, the man who flies an airplane and drops a bomb - they all say, `God is with me'. The man who makes money, exploits others, the man who accumulates wealth and builds temples or churches, says that God is his companion. All such people believe in God; and surely, their belief is merely a form of self-expansion, it is their own conceit. Such people, those who believe in organized dogmas, who have conditioned their minds according to a particular pattern called religion, obviously can never know the ultimate reality.

For the unknown to be, the mind must be completely empty; there can be no experiencing of reality, because the experiencer is the `me', with all his accumulated memories, conscious as well as unconscious. The `me', which is the residue of all that, says, `I am experiencing; but what he can experience is only his own projection. The `me' cannot experience the unknown; he can only experience the known, the self-projected, the thing believed in or hoped for, which is the creation of thought as a reaction from the past. Such a mind is obviously incapable of being completely empty, completely alone, and therefore it can never be free. It is only a free mind that can know what is - that thing which is indescribable, which cannot be put into words for you or me to recognize. The description of it is merely the cultivation of memory; to verbalize it, is to put it in time, and that which is of time can never be the timeless.

So, the important thing is not what you believe or disbelieve, or what your activities are, but to understand the whole process, the whole content, of yourself; and that means being aware from moment to moment without any sense of accumulation. When the mind is utterly tranquil, quiet, without any sense of acceptance or rejection, without any sense of acquisitiveness or accumulation, when there is that state of tranquillity in which the experiencer is not - only then is there that which may be called God. The word is not important. And then there is a state of creation which is not the expression of the self.

June 11, 1950


New York 1950

New York 2nd Public Talk 11th June 1950

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