Seattle 3rd Public Talk 30th July 1950
We ought to be able, I think, to discern the difference between necessity and desire. Desire can never be integrated, because desire always creates contradiction, its own opposite; whereas, if we can understand necessity, then we shall see that in it there is no contradiction. And surely, it is important to be aware of this problem of desire, which creates contradiction in each one of us; because, desire can never at any time bring about integration, and it is only in the state of integration, in the state of wholeness, that there is a possibility of going beyond the contradictions created in the mind by desire. After all, desire is sensation, and sensation is the basis of thought, of the mind. Sensation is the foundation of all our thinking; and as long as we do not understand the process of desire, we are bound to create in our life the conflict of contradiction.
So, the understanding of desire is essential, and that understanding does not come through merely transferring desire from one level to another. Desire at any level, however high we may place it, is inevitably contradictory, and therefore destructive. But if we can understand necessity, then we shall see that desire is binding, that it does not bring about freedom; and to discern what is needful, is quite an arduous task, because desire constantly interferes with our needs. When we self. understand need, there is no contradiction; but to understand need, we must understand desire. And our problem is, is it not?, that there is a constant battle going on between need and desire. Our whole social structure is based on this contradiction of desire. We think we are making progress when we move from one desire to what we call a higher desire; but desire, whether high or low, is always a contradiction, a source of conflict and great suffering. So, if we can see how the whole process of desire works out in our daily life, then we shall understand the extraordinary importance of need, of necessity. Necessity is not a matter of choice, is it? When we can understand what is necessary, there is no contradiction, no battle either within or without; but to understand necessity, must we not examine the process of the mind that chooses what is necessary? The moment we bring in choice, does that not block the understanding of necessity? When we choose, do we ever discover what is necessary? Choice is always based, is it not?, on our conditioning; and that conditioning is the outcome of our contradictory desires. So, if we choose what is necessary, we are bound to create conflict, we are bound to bring about confusion. There is no thought without sensation; thought is the outcome of sensation, it is founded upon sensation; and if we can understand the ways of sensation, the ways of thought, and not choose what is necessary, then we shall see that necessity is a simple matter; and in that understanding there is no conflict, no contradiction.
Where there is desire, there is conflict and contradiction; and whether we are aware of it or not, contradiction invariably brings pain. So, desire is sorrow, whether we desire trivial things or great things. Desire inevitably brings its own opposite in its wake; and therefore, it is important, is it not?, to understand the whole process of thought, which is the `me' and the `mine'. The understanding of desire is the way of self-knowledge. Without understanding the self, there is no possibility of understanding what is essential, necessary in life. Self-knowledge comes only through the understanding of relationship, which is the beginning of wisdom. Wisdom cannot be bought, it cannot be gathered; it arises from moment to moment in relationship when the mind is aware, clear, and observing, without choice.
So, if we would understand the contradiction in which most of us live, there must be self-knowledge, which is the understanding of desire; and without understanding the whole process of desire, merely to follow one particular desire does not solve our problem. What solves our problem is to understand the nature of contradiction, which is desire. Desire can never be overcome; but when we see the truth that desire always creates its own opposite and therefore is a contradiction, then desire comes to an end; and only then is there a possibility of being content with necessity.
In considering these questions, it is important to find out in what way we are approaching them. If we come to a problem with a preconception, with a conclusion, with an opinion, obviously we cannot understand that problem. As I said, any problem is always new, fresh; and a mind that comes to a problem with a conclusion, with accumulated knowledge, cannot understand it. The mind can understand only when it comes to the problem afresh; and if we can this morning, let us examine each question directly and see the truth of it; for it is the discovery of the truth of the problem that liberates us from the problem itself.
Question: How many centuries will it take for the few who understand to bring about a fundamental transformation in the world?
Krishnamurti: It is important to find out, is it not?, from what point of view this question is put. If we say it will take many centuries to bring about a fundamental transformation because there are very few individuals who really desire to transform themselves, we are obviously concerned with the problem of time. That is, we want immediate transformation because we see in the world such confusion, misery, conflict, starvation, economic problems, and wars; we see this unceasing sorrow, and so we are impatient, we desire transformation within a certain period of time. We say, `The transformation of a few individuals will not bring about a fundamental and rapid change in the structure of society. Therefore, the transformation of the few is not very important. Though it is necessary, there must be a quicker way to bring about a fundamental revolution'.
Now, is there a rapid, an immediate way to transform man? And if we bring about a rapid change, will that be enduring? The world cannot be changed immediately. Even revolution cannot bring about an immediate and universal change; the millions cannot be fed overnight. But it is important, is it not?, to find out whether you and I can change, can bring about a fundamental transformation in ourselves, irrespective of its utilitarian aspect. And is the discovery and understanding of truth, useful? Has truth any use? Is it utilitarian? That is really what is implied in this question: whether truth is useful. Truth has no use whatever, has it? It cannot be used. It is. And the moment we approach truth with the desire to use it in the world of action, we destroy it. But if we can see the truth and allow it to operate without wanting to use it, then it brings about a fundamental transformation in our thinking, in our relationship. So, as long as we regard truth as a thing to be used, as a means of transforming society or ourselves, it becomes merely an instrument - it is not an end in itself, without causation. But if it is an end in itself, without any utilitarian purpose, that is, if we allow it to operate within us, and without any interference from the mind, then unknowingly, unconsciously, it has a far-reaching effect.
So, what is important is not whether the few can bring about a fundamental change - even though fundamental changes generally are brought about by the few - , but to find out whether one is oneself really in earnest to discover this extraordinary liberating factor, this thing that we call truth or God, irrespective of any social or other value it may have. Because, the mind is always seeking values, is it not? And if it seeks truth as a `value', then that value is recognizable; but truth is not recognizable, it has no `value' for the mind. The mind cannot use it. But if the mind is quiet, then truth will operate; and this operation is extensive, unlimited, and therein lies freedom and happiness.
Question: Religions advocate prayer, and for centuries man has found in it his consolation. This concerted effort through the centuries is surely a significant and vital force. Do you deny its importance?
Krishnamurti: What is the function of prayer? Has prayer any significance? And what do we mean by prayer? Let us go into the whole question without any bias or prejudice. Obviously, man through the centuries has prayed; and it must bring results, it must in some way give him consolation, satisfaction, an answer in accordance with his demand, otherwise he would not continue to pray. Now, when do we pray? Surely, we pray when we are in trouble, do we not? We pray when we are in a state of uncertainty, of contradiction, that is, when we are unhappy. We do not pray when we are happy, when we see things very clearly, simply, and directly, but only when we are confused. So, prayer is a form of petition, of supplication, is it not? And when we ask, we receive; and we receive accord- ing to our demand. When we pray, surely we are always asking for satisfaction in one form or another. One may pray for light, or guidance, another for the removal of pain, and so on; but the desire, the intention, is always to find peace, gratification. A mind that is seeking gratification at whatever level, high or low, is bound to be gratified, is it not? That is why, when we are confused, when we are in pain, when we are in uncertainty, we turn to prayer. Through prayer we hope to receive certainty, reassurance, the right answer to our problem. Please, I am not for or against prayer. We are examining the problem. I think there is a much greater thing than prayer; and we can discover that only when we understand the ways of prayer, this whole problem of supplication.
So, what happens when we pray? I am sure many of us have prayed. What is the way of prayer? We take a certain posture, repeat certain words or phrases, and gradually, through this repetition, the mind becomes quiet. The mind is made quiet by repetition of certain phrases, and in that quietness you receive an answer to your problem. But the answer is invariably gratifying, otherwise you would not accept it; though the answer may be painful, yet in the very acceptance of that painful answer there is gratification. That is, through the constant repetition of certain phrases, or the prolonged dwelling on certain ideas, the mind is made quiet; and when the mind is quiet, it is capable of receiving an answer. But the answer depends on the petitioner; and the answer he receives is from the concentrated accumulation of innumerable desires, conscious and unconscious longings, and collective effort, of many people through many centuries. You can test this out for yourself. When you consciously ask for something in prayer, there is an unconscious response; and that response is from the accumulated and concentrated effort of centuries, modified according to the particular conditioning of the petitioner. But prayer does not ultimately help the individual to understand himself; and it is only in understanding oneself fundamentally, as a total process, that there is a possibility of going beyond the state of demanding, seeking, of striving to achieve a result. As I said, there is something far more important than prayer, which is meditation; and we shall discuss that at another time.
Now, it is important, is it not?, to understand this problem of prayer in relation to conflict, pain and suffering. Because, we never pray when we are happy, when we are joyous, when we have no problems; we pray only when we are in conflict, when we have a difficulty which we cannot solve. There are two different kinds of prayer, which are essentially the same. There is the prayer of active supplication, petition, and there is the prayer in which we simply remain open, but are unconsciously waiting to receive something. When we pray, we always have an outstretched hand, we are waiting, hoping, longing for an answer, for some consolation; and in that petitioning, we will find an answer according to our struggles, according to our conditioning. But prayer will never release the mind from creating the very problems that cause us to pray. What will free the mind from manufacturing its own problems is the understanding of itself; and the understanding of itself is self-knowledge. But the whole process of knowing oneself is so complex that few of us are desirous of going into the problem; we would rather find a superficial answer, and so we turn to prayer. For centuries man has built up a concentrated reservoir, a store house of thought and desire, from which prayer may evoke an answer, a consolation; but that response is not the solution of the problem. The solution of the problem is to understand the total process of the mind itself.
Question: At various times in our lives, we have some kind of mystical experience. How do we know that these are not illusions? How can we recognize reality?
Krishnamurti: What do we mean by illusion? What creates illusion? Surely, illusion is created, is it not?, when the mind is caught up in desire. As long as the mind interprets what is perceived according to its longings, wishes, and desires, according to its likes and dislikes, there must be illusion. As long as the mind does not understand desire, it translates experience and inevitably creates illusion. That is, if I have an experience which is called `mystical' and do not understand the process of my own mind, that experience is bound to create illusion. And if I am attached to any particular form of experience, if I wish to gather more of it and continue in it, there must also be illusion; because, I am concerned, not with perceiving what is, but with gaining, guarding, accumulating.
Most of us have had some kind of mystical experience which has brought a certain clarity, a certain release, a certain happiness; and when it has passed, the memory of it becomes very important to us. We cling to the memory of that experience, and the very fact that we cling to it indicates that we are caught in illusion. Memory is within the field of time, and what is true is beyond time; and when the mind holds to any particular experience, that experience becomes mere sensation, and sensation makes for illusions. So, when we cling to the memory of any so-called `mystical experience' which we may have had, it indicates that we are concerned with the sensation that the experience has left behind, and therefore there is illusion. We cannot ever cling to the experience itself; we can never hold on to the state of experiencing. We can only accumulate memory, with its sensations; and when we do, we create a hindrance to further experiencing. Clinging to the past prevents the new, and so this attachment to the memories of a particular experience creates illusion.
The next part of this question is, "How can we recognize reality?" To go into that, we must understand the process of experiencing. We experience only when we recognize, do we not? If I meet you and recognize you, I have an experience; but if I do not recognize you, there is no experience. So, where there is recognition, there is the process of experiencing. Now, how do I recognize? Recognition is based on memory, is it not? And can memory, which is the residue of the past, ever recognize the new? Please, as this is an important question, let us go into it a little carefully.
Most of us move from the known to the known; our mind functions within the field of the known, and it cannot function outside. Now, can such a mind recognize what is true? Can it recognize the unknown? Can it recognize God? If God is the unknown, how can we recognize it? We can only recognize something which we have experienced, which we have known before; and when we recognize something, is it the truth, is it the new? As long as there is the old, the new cannot be; only when the old ceases is there a possibility of the new. And when we ask, "How can we recognize reality?", we want to know whether the `I', the accumulated past, the known, can give a name to the new. When we give a name to the new, has not the new ceased to be? So, God is not a thing to be recognized; truth is not something to be known through memory. It is only when the mind is entirely and absolutely still that the new can be - which is not a process of recognition. On the contrary, when the mind is translating the new in terms of the old, it is not still, and so truth cannot be. The mind cannot translate the new in terms of the old - it can only translate what is supposed to be the new in terms of what it has known.
So, the important thing is not whether you and I can recognize truth, but how to free the mind from desire so that it can be completely still. Stillness of the mind does not come about through any discipline. The mind cannot be made still by any compulsion, with any motive, or for any purpose; but it is spontaneously still when it understands its own conflicting desires, which create problems. The mind is still, only when it knows itself as a totality; but as long as it does not know itself completely, it goes on creating problems and can never be still. So, the mind must understand the ways of itself, and for that it must be alertly passive, aware without choice; and only then is there a possibility that the mind can be completely and totally still. We can make the mind superficially still through prayer, through various psychological tricks, but such a mind is not fundamentally still. Stillness comes only when there is complete understanding of the whole process of recognition, demanding, and responding, which is the process of the self; and that is an arduous task.
Question: Will you please explain what you mean by creativeness?
Krishnamurti: Is creativeness a matter of capacity? Is creativeness mastery of a technique? Is creativeness a gift?
One can master a technique through constant practice, through the accumulation of knowledge and experience, both one's own and that of another. But does the perfection of a technique make for creativeness? You may practise the piano for hours and be able to play expertly, your technique may be perfect; but will that make you a creative musician? If you know how to write poetry, if you can make a perfect garland of words, are you there by a poet? Will technique bring about that freedom in which the `me', the self, is absent? It is only when the self, the `me', is absent, that there is creativeness; otherwise, technique merely emphasizes or distracts the self, modifying or enlarging it - and surely, that does not bring about creativeness.
As long as the mind is in conflict with what it has produced, is producing, or will produce, there cannot be a creative state, can there? Can there ever be creativeness as long as we are in conflict? Surely, conflict excludes every form of creative action; and creativity comes into being only when the mind is still, not in a state of conflict. As long as the mind is caught between thesis and antithesis, between the opposites, how can there be that state of alert passivity which alone is creative? We think that through conflict, through battle, through probing, analyzing, we shall have a peaceful state; but is there ever a peaceful state through conflict? Is not that peaceful state independent of conflict? As long as there is the desire to achieve a result, the desire to be creative, obviously we must be in a state of conflict; and such a state denies creativeness.
So, how is one to have that creative state? How is it possible to achieve creativeness? It is not possible to achieve creativeness. All that we can do is to understand conflict, which denies creativeness; and the understanding of conflict is the understanding of oneself. You see, we think that to have a technique, to be able to draw, to write a poem or an article, to fulfil oneself in one form or another, is to be creative. But surely, that is not creativeness; that is merely self-expression, satisfying a certain appetite through technique. But if we can understand this whole process of conflict, this striving after attainment which brings in our lives such contradiction, such sorrow and pain, then we shall see that the mind becomes very quiet, without any striving; and when the mind is silent, free of the anxieties and demands of the self, only then is there a possibility for creative being. That creativeness may or may not express itself in words, in marble, in thought; or it may be utterly silent. But we want expression. To most of us, creativeness is a process of expression, it is the power to do something; and we consider that power of expression as far more important than to be free. We crave for expression because it gives us a sense of fulfillment, a sense of importance; it gives us the feeling of being somebody, of being socially useful. All this feeds our vanity in many ways, and so destroys the state of creativeness.
Actually, creativeness may not express itself at all, because the state of creativeness is silent. To seek expression is to deny creativeness, because that which is creative can never be cumulative. Creativeness is only from moment to moment, it is not a state of continuity. The moment it is a continuous state, it is within the field of time, and that which is within the field of time is not creative. Creativeness is timeless; but we would like to hold it within the field of time in order to be able to express it. As long as the mind is seeking to be creative, creativeness can never be, because all the efforts of the mind are within the field of time. Only when the mind is utterly still, silent with a silence that is not induced, is there a possibility of the timeless, the creative. So, what is important is not to verbalize about this creative state, but to understand the whole process of conflict in the mind. And as the pool is quiet when the winds stop, so there is creativeness when the problems which the mind creates come to an end.
July 30, 1950
Seattle 3rd Public Talk 30th July 1950
Texts and talks of Jiddu Krishnamurti. Krishnamurti quotes. Books about
J Krishnamurti. Philosophy.