Seattle 2nd Public Talk 23rd July 1950
With most of us, life is a constant struggle, a constant battle, within ourselves, and therefore outwardly. This battle, this conflict, seems never to end; and the difficulty with most of us is that we are always trying to conform our lives to certain standards, principles or ideals. Now, the cessation of conflict does not come about through a process of conformity, either to the past or to the future, but through understanding the events, the happenings, of our daily life as they arise from moment to moment; and we are incapable of that full comprehension of events as long as we hold to a particular outlook, opinion, experience or idea.
Life is relationship; and in relationship, most of us seek isolation. If we observe closely, we will see that our very thinking and action are self-enclosing, and this process of self-enclosing we call experience. Relationship is not only with people, but with ideas and things; and as long as we do not understand this self-enclosing process in relationship, we are bound to have conflict, because there must be conflict as long as there is isolation.
Isolation takes many and extraordinary forms. There is the isolation of memory, both personal and collective; there is isolation in the form of belief; and there is the isolation of the experiences that one has accumulated and to which the mind clings. This whole process of isolation, of separation, is obviously a disintegrating factor in our lives - and that is exactly what is happening at the present time in the world. Inwardly, as individuals, and outwardly, as nationalistic and religious groups, we are seeking isolation in self-enclosing ideals, beliefs, dogmas, and opinions; and as long as this process of isolation continues, there must be conflict. Conflict can never be overcome; be cause, a thing that is overcome has to be conquered again and again. Conflict ceases only in understanding the process of relationship. We cannot live in understanding relationship obviously is to understand relationship - our relationship with people, with property, and with ideas.
Does understanding depend on experience? What do we mean by experience? Experience is a reaction, the response to a challenge, is it not? If the response is not adequate, there is conflict; and the response can never be adequate as long as we do not understand relationship. To understand relationship, we must understand the whole background and process of o thinking. Thought, the whole structure of our thinking, is based on the pas and as long as we do not understand this background, relationship remains inevitably a process of conflict.
To understand thought, which is the process of the self at whatever level it may be placed, is arduous; because, thought has no break in continuity. That is why, to follow the movement, the reactions of thought, which is the self, the mind must be extraordinarily subtle, quick, and adaptable. The self, the `me', is obviously made up of the qualities, the tendencies, the prejudices and idiosyncrasies of the mind; and without understanding that whole structure of thinking, merely to solve the outer problems of relationship is obviously futile.
So, understanding does not depend on the process of thought. Thought is never new, but relationship is always new; and thought approaches this thing that is vital, real, new, with the background of the old. That is, thought tries to understand relationship according to the memories, patterns, and conditioning of the old - and hence there is conflict. Before we can understand relationship, we must understand the background of the thinker, which is to be aware of the whole process of thought without choice; that is, we must be capable of seeing things as they are without translating them according to our memories, our preconceived ideas, which are the outcome of past conditioning.
To understand conflict, we must understand relationship; and the understanding of relationship does not depend on memory, on habit, on what has been or what should be. It depends on choiceless awareness from moment to moment; and if we go into it deeply, we shall see that in that awareness there is no accumulative process at all. The moment there is accumulation, there is a point from which to examine, and that point is conditioned; and hence, when we regard relationship from a fixed point, there must be pain, there must be conflict.
Life, then, is a process of constant relationship with ideas, with people, and with things; and as long as we have a fixed point or centre of recognition, which is the consciousness of the `me', there must be conflict. From the centre of recognition, that accumulative principle of the `me', we examine all our relationships, and therefore there must be a constant isolation; and it is this isolation, this desire to be separate, that creates conflict and struggle.
So, our problem in life, in living, is to understand the desire to be separate. Nothing can live in isolation; but all our efforts based on desire must eventually be exclusive, separative. Therefore desire is the process of disintegration; and desire expresses itself in many ways, subtle and gross, conscious and unconscious. But if we can be aware of desire - not as a discipline, but by being choicelessly aware of it from moment to moment - , then we shall see that there comes a swift spontaneity of discovery of that which is true; and it is truth that gives freedom, not all our efforts to be free.
Truth is not cumulative; it is to be seen and understood from moment to moment. The person who accumulates, whether knowledge, property, or ideas, who is caught up in the self-enclosing process of relationship, is incapable of seeing truth. The man of knowledge can never know truth, because the process of knowledge is cumulative; and the mind which accumulates is caught in time, and therefore cannot know the timeless.
Now, how are we to understand the process of the self, the `me'? Without understanding this process, there is no basis for action, for thought. To understand the self, we must understand relationship; because, it is in the mirror of relationship that the self is seen. But the self can be seen clearly as it is, only when there is no condemnation, no comparison; that is, when we are capable of observation, alert passiveness, in which all choice has come to an end. As long as the mind is ac cumulating, it is not free; but when it is capable of perceiving without choice that which is, then that very perception is its own freedom. It is only when the mind is free that it is capable of discovery, and in that freedom there is the cessation of conflict and pain.
I have several questions, and in considering them, let us examine the problem and discover the truth of it together. To do that, the mind must be quick, pliable, actively aware. No problem has an answer, and if we seek an answer, it will lead us away from the problem; but if we understand that problem, the problem comes to an end. As long as we seek an answer to any problem, that problem will continue, because the desire to find an answer prevents the understanding of the problem itself. So, our approach to the problem is extraordinarily important, is it not? The man who is looking for the solution to a problem has his whole concentration placed on the discovery of the answer, and so he is really incapable of looking directly at the problem. But if we can look at the problem without the desire to find an answer we shall see that the problem is quickly resolved, because then the problem reveals its whole content. So, if I may suggest, let us in that manner examine these questions together.
Question: What system would give man the greatest physical security?
Krishnamurti: There are several things involved in this question, are there not? What do we mean by a system? And what do we mean by physical security? By a system we mean an ideology, either of the left or of the right, do we not? And can any ideology guarantee physical security? Can a system, an idea, a doctrine, however promising, however cunningly and subtly thought out, however erudite, give security? A political structure built around ideas, knowledge, and experience - that is what we mean by a system, is it not? It is an ideology in opposition to other ideologies; and can that ever bring physical security?
What do we mean by idea? Idea is a process of thinking, is it not? One thinks, and idea is merely the result of accumulated knowledge and experience; and we look to idea as a means of physical security. That is, to put it differently, there are many problems: starvation, war, unemployment, overpopulation, erosion of the soil and so on. Take starvation - though it is perhaps not the problem in this country that it is in the East. Two opposing systems, the left and the right, try to solve it. That is, we approach the problem of starvation with an idea, with a formula - and then fight over the formula. So, the formula, the system, becomes more important than the problem of starvation. The problem is starvation, not what idea, what formula to use. But we are more interested in the idea than in the problem of starvation; and so we group ourselves against each other, according to our ideas, and fight it out, liquidate each other; and starvation continues.
So, the important thing is to have the capacity to face the problem, to tackle it directly, and not look to a system; and by understanding the problem, we will naturally resolve it. That is entirely different from coming to it with a formula, is it not? After all, there is enough scientific knowledge to solve the problem of starvation. Why is it not done? Because of our nationalism, our power politics, and the innumerable other absurdities of which we are so proud. It is therefore a psychological problem, and not merely an economic problem. No expert can solve it, because the expert looks at it from his particular point of view, according to his formula. That is why it is important to understand the whole process of one's own thinking.
Now, can we have physical security as long as we are seeking psychological security? This is another problem which is also involved in this question. We have seen what is implied when we look to a system in order to have physical security; and now we are trying to find out what we mean by physical security, and if physical security is independent of psychological security. Is physical security assured if we are seeking psychological security? That is, if we use property as a means of psychological security, are we not creating physical insecurity? Property becomes extraordinarily important to us because psychologically we are weak; it gives us power, position, pres- tige, and so we put a fence around it and call it `mine'. To protect it, we create a police force, an army, and from that arise nationalism and war. So, in the very desire for psychological security, we bring about physical insecurity. Therefore, physical security is entirely dependent on whether or not we are seeking psychological security. If we do not seek psychological security in any form, then obviously there is a possibility of achieving physical security.
Physical security, then, depends upon the understanding of our own psychological process, the whole structure of our inner being; and as long as we do not understand ourselves, no system can give us physical security. A revolution based on an idea can never be a revolution, and can therefore never bring about physical security, because it is merely a modified continuation of what is. Revolution, transformation, is not the outcome of thinking; it comes into being only when thought ceases. Our difficulty is that we are so caught up with Utopian promises that we are willing to sacrifice the present for the future; and in the very sacrificing of the present is the destruction of the future. Only when we understand the fact of what is, without translating it according to any ideology, is there a possibility of having the physical security which is so essential.
Question: I seek God, truth, understanding. How am I to proceed in finding them?
Krishnamurti: Do not seek, for what you seek is obviously your own projection, is it not? When you say, "I seek God, truth, understanding", you have an idea of what truth or God is, and you are after that; and you will find what you seek - but it will not be God. It will merely be the image of your idea. Only the man who does not seek will find reality - which does not mean that we must become apathetic, lazy, sluggish. On the contrary, not to seek is extremely difficult; it requires great understanding, deep comprehension. When the mind is seeking, it is projecting, manufacturing, fabricating; and it is only when the mind is still not disciplined to be still, but spontaneously quiet - that there is a possibility of truth coming into being. The man who struggles and tries to seek is caught in the process of conflict, is he not? Because he is continuously seeking, searching out, his mind is agitated, it is never still; and how can such a mind ever be quiet? Such a mind wants a result, it is seeking an end, a goal, which means it wants to be successful, only it does not call it that; it calls it the search for God, for truth, for understanding. But the intention, the background of that search, is the desire to be successful, the desire to be certain, the desire to be secure, to avoid all conflict, to reach a place where all disturbance will cease. When such a mind says, `I am seeking', what it wants is to be enclosed permanently in the security of an ideal, which is its own projection.
So, the man who seeks will never find; but if we can understand the process of our own search, the whole psychological structure of our desire to find, to arrive, to succeed, which is quite complex, then we shall see that when seeking comes to an end there is the beginning of truth, the beginning of understanding. But there can be no understanding as long as the mind is in the process of grasping.
It is the very nature of the mind, is it not?, to acquire, to gain, to become; and in acquisition, in becoming, there is always agitation, conflict. Being in conflict, the mind seeks truth or God, and that search is merely avoidance, an escape from conflict. Escape is always the same, whether it is drink or God. So, a mind that is seeking can never find; but when the mind begins to understand its own process, then it is quiet it is content. That contentment is not the outcome of acquiring or becoming something, it is not the contentment of satisfaction, of arriving at a position. Contentment which is free of all grasping comes only with the understanding of what is; but to understand what is, requires diligence, an awareness without rejection or acceptance. Only when the mind is not struggling, acquiring, grasping, can it be still, and only then is there understanding.
Question: To me, discipline is necessary to the good life; but you say that discipline is a hindrance to the good life. Please explain.
Krishnamurti: We take for granted that discipline is essential to the good life. But is it? What do we mean by discipline? By discipline we mean conformity to a system, to an ideal, do we not? We are afraid to be what we are, so we discipline ourselves to be something else - which is a process of resistance, suppression, sublimation, substitution. Now, does conformity, resistance, suppression, lead to the good life? Are you good when you resist? Are you noble when you are afraid to see what you are and avoid it? Are you virtuous when you are conforming? The man who has enclosed himself in discipline - is he leading a noble life? Surely, he is merely resisting something of which he is afraid, conforming to a pattern that will assure him of security. Is that goodness? Or is goodness something beyond fear, beyond conformity and resistance?
It is easy merely to resist something, is it not? It is easy to comply, to conform, to imitate; but can such a mind ever be noble? After all, virtue is freedom, is it not? Discipline is a process of becoming virtuous; and surely, a mind that is becoming virtuous is never virtuous. Virtue is freedom, and I freedom comes through exploring and understanding the whole process of resistance, of conformity to social standards, that process by which the mind moves from the known to the known, and so is never in a state of insecurity. So, if we can understand the psychology of resistance, of conformity, of suppression, this whole process of becoming something which we call virtuous if we can understand all that, only then is there a good life. A good life is a free life, a comprehending life, not a life of resisting, fighting, conforming. To be free, we have to understand the process of our own conditioning which has trained us either to resist or to conform.
So, a mind that is disciplined can never be free. A mind that is disciplined at the beginning, will not be free at the end; because, the beginning is the end. The end and the beginning are not two separate states, they are one continuous process; and if you say, `I will be free through discipline', you are denying freedom at the very beginning. But if at the very beginning you go deeply into and understand the process of discipline, control, shaping, conforming, resisting, then you will see that freedom is now, not in the future.
Now, society makes use of discipline for its own purposes. A political party wants to have disciplined members for concerted action; but that action is never free, and therefore it creates resistance, the opposite, the other party; and so the two parties are in conflict with each other. But if we can understand the process which creates a party, whether of the left or of the right, the process of discipline arising from our conditioning - if we can understand this in its entirety, then we shall see that the good life does not come about through discipline, but comes only through understanding one's desire to conform, to resist, to suppress, to imitate; and that understanding is virtue.
Question: You have said in one of your talks that the thought process must cease for reality to be. How can we know anything if thought ceases?
Krishnamurti: First, let us examine what we mean by thinking, and what we mean by experiencing, which is recognizing. As the questioner says, if thought ceases, how can it recognize anything? Now, what do we mean by thinking? Please do not wait for my answer - we are exploring it together. When we say, `I am thinking', what do we mean? If I ask you that, you respond, do you not? - whether correctly or incorrectly is irrelevant for the time being. So, thinking is a process of response to challenge. The challenge is always new, but the response is always the old; so, thinking is the response of memory, is it not? I ask you if you believe in God, and your immediate response is according to your memory or conditioning. Either you do or you do not believe. So, thinking is the process, the response of memory, which is habit. That is, memory is the result of experience, and experience is knowledge; and according to your memory, experience, knowledge, you respond to any challenge. The challenge is new, and your response is modified according to the newness, the vitality of the challenge; but it is always the response of the background, is it not?
So, thinking is the response of the background, of the past, of accumulated experience; it is the response of memory at different levels, both individual and collective, particular and racial, conscious and unconscious. All that is our process of thinking. Therefore, our thinking can never be new. There can be no `new' idea, because thinking can never renew itself; thinking can never be fresh, because it is always the response of the background - the background being our conditioning, our traditions, our experiences, our accumulations, collective and personal. So, when we look to thought as a means of discovering the new, we see the utter futility of it. Thought can only discover its own projection, it cannot discover anything new; thought can only recognize that which it has experienced, it cannot recognize that which it has not experienced.
Thought, then, is the process of recognition. Thought exists through verbalization, through symbols, through images, through words, otherwise there is no thought; therefore, thought can never be new, it can never be creative. When you say you are experiencing something, your experiencing is recognizing, is it not? If you did not recognize, you would not know you were experiencing. Now, can thought experience the new? Obviously not; because, thought can only recognize the old, that which it has known, that which it has experienced before. The new can never be experienced by thought, because thought is the reaction of the old.
This is not something metaphysical, complicated, or abstract. If you will look at it a little more closely, you will see that as long as the `I' - the entity who is made up of all these memories - is experiencing, there can never be the discovery of the new. Thought, which is the `I', can never experience God, because God or reality is the unknown, the unimaginable, the unformulated; it has no label, no word. The word `God' is not God. So, thought can never experience the new, the unknowable; it can only experience the known; for the mind can function only within the field of the known, it can- not function beyond it. The moment there is thought about the unknown, the mind is agitated; it is always seeking to bring the unknown into the known. But the unknown can never be brought into the known, and hence the conflict between the known and the unknown.
So, only when thought comes to an end is it possible for the unknown to be; and then there is no question of an `I' experiencing the unknown. The `I' can never experience the unknown, reality, God, or what you will. The `I', the mind, the self, is the bundle of the known, which is memory; and memory can only recognize its own projections, it cannot recognize the unknown. That is why thought must come to an end.
Thought as the `I' must cease to experience; there must be no feeling, no certainty, that `I have experienced'. When thought, which is the response of memory, comes to an end, and the mind is no longer functioning in the field of the known, only then is it possible for the unknown to be.
The experiencing of the unknown is not possible, because, when you `experience' the unknown, you are only experiencing the known as a new sensation. The unknown can never be recognized. The unknown is. But in that state the mind rebels, because it can only function within the field of the known.
That is why, for reality to be, you must understand the whole process of thinking, the process of the self. Thought can never discover or come to the unknown, the real; but when the mind is still, utterly silent - not made silent by any practice, by any discipline, by any system of control or meditation - , then, in that tranquillity, there is the reality which can never be experienced by the mind; for reality is beyond all projections of the self.
July 23, 1950
Seattle 2nd Public Talk 23rd July 1950
Texts and talks of Jiddu Krishnamurti. Krishnamurti quotes. Books about
J Krishnamurti. Philosophy.