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Seattle 1950

Seattle 5th Public Talk 13th August 1950

Most of us are very easily satisfied with explanations, theories and words, and our superficial interest will obviously never bring about a fundamental revolution. What is necessary, surely, at the present time and at all times, is to have a radical transformation in oneself; and this transformation affects not only our personal relationships, but also our relationship to society. Without this deep inner revolution, there can be no lasting happiness, no final solution to any of our problems. It is almost impossible for those who are only superficially interested to go into these matters deeply and understand the whole process of themselves; and only those who are really in earnest can bring about this revolution. This inner revolution is not the search for new explanations, new words, new slogans; it comes only with the freedom from all sense of acquisitiveness.

Now, we are not only acquisitive on the physical plane, where we have built our whole social structure on acquisitiveness, but also in our relationships. That is, in our relationship with one another there is a sense of possessiveness, which is merely an outward indication of deep frustration, loneliness, and so on. We are acquisitive also in the matter of knowledge. We think that acquiring more and more knowledge, more and more explanations, wider and wider information, will in some miraculous way solve our problems. Acquisitiveness at any level only binds the mind, shapes it according to a particular pattern; and a pattern can obviously never produce revolution. Any form of acquisitiveness - whether in the pursuit of worldly things, in relationship, in learning, in experience, or in the desire to find reality - will always create conflict, will always bring about misunderstanding, a series of battles, inward as well as outward. And where there is conflict, there can obviously be no understanding.

It is acquisitiveness that prevents us from living clearly, simply, and directly; and until there is a fundamental revolution in each one, obviously no real social improvement is possible. That is why it is so important to understand the whole process of oneself. The ways of the self can be discovered only in relationship to things, to people, and to ideas; and in the mirror of that relationship we begin to see ourselves as we are. But to understand the process of oneself, there can be no condemnation or justification of one's own reactions. Our difficulty is, is it not?, that most of us are continually seeking subtle forms of isolation. Because we have conflict in our relationships, we gradually withdraw, inwardly as well as outwardly, into isolation; and without understanding relationship at all levels, not only with people, but also with ideas and things, it is impossible to go deeply into the problem of reality.

Reality is not something abstract or theoretical, it has nothing to do with philosophy; reality is in the understanding of relationship, in being aware at every moment of our speech, of our conduct, of the way we treat people, the way we consider others; for behaviour is righteousness, and in that there is reality. Without understanding relationship, it is impossible to go beyond conflict. To go beyond conflict without that understanding is merely a means of escape; and where there is escape, there is the power to create illusion. Most of us have that power to create illusion extraordinarily developed, because we have not understood relationship. It is only in the understanding of relationship, which is to comprehend the total process of oneself fundamentally and deeply, that there is freedom; and only in freedom can there be the discovery of what is real.

The mind can never find reality by searching for it. All that the mind can do is to be quiet, to be tranquil, and then reality comes into being. Reality must come to us; we cannot go after reality. If you seek God, you will never find God, because your search is merely a desire to escape from the realities of life. Without understanding the realities of life, every conflict, every movement of thought, the inward workings of the mind, both subtle and obvious, the hidden as well as the open - without understanding all that, merely to seek reality is only an evasion; and the mind is infinitely capable of producing illusory concepts of reality. So, as long as the mind is not understood, as long as the whole process of the self, of the `me`, which is the centre of acquisitiveness, is not fully comprehended, there can be no cessation of conflict, and therefore no happiness, no virtue.

Virtue is not an end. Virtue brings freedom; therefore, virtue is essential. Virtue, which is freedom, lies in the understanding of conduct, of our relationship to things, to nature, to people, and to ideas. Surely, then, it is important to know our own thinking and feeling, to be aware of all our actions without any sense of condemnation or justification. To see in the mirror of our relationship exactly what is taking place, there must be choiceless awareness; and in the very perception of what is, there is freedom from what is. But to perceive clearly exactly what is taking place, is most difficult and arduous; because, we have so many prejudices, so many subtle forms of condemnation and justification, and these prevent fundamental understanding. It is these subtle conditioning's of the mind that hinder the further understanding of relationship, of the complex problem of life; and without that understanding, however earnest one may be in search of what is called reality, such a search inevitably becomes an evasion, an escape. In escape there are all kinds of illusions, all kinds of myths; and the more we acquire and cling to these myths, the greater will be the difficulty of liberation.

So, what is important is to understand the whole process of the self, of the `me', for without that understanding, there is no possibility of a new and fundamental action. If one would understand society and bring about a fundamental revolution in the social structure, one must obviously begin with oneself; because, we are not different from society. What we are, society is. We have made society from ourselves, from our reactions, from our responses; and without understanding our responses, there is no possibility of a radical change in society.

I have several questions, and I shall try to answer them as briefly as possible; but the solution to any problem does not lie in the answer. The answer is never important; what is important is the understanding of the problem. If we approach the problem merely with a desire to find an answer, we shall not be in a position to understand the problem itself. Most of us are eager to find an answer, a solution, eager to solve the problem; and this very eagerness prevents the full observation and clear understanding of the problem. Whatever the problem may be, as long as we seek an answer away from the problem, the problem cannot give its whole significance. Most of us have problems in our life; and to carry a problem on from day to day exhausts the mind. Conflict can never solve any problem. What brings about the solution of a problem is to study it, to observe it, for only then can it reveal its full significance. But that is arduous; and we are always so anxious to go beyond the problem that we are incapable of living with it, of allowing it to unfold, to give its perfume. Surely, the problem comes to an end only when it is understood completely.

Question: I want to help people. What is the best way?

Krishnamurti: I wonder why you want to help people? Is it because you love people? And if you love, w ill you ask what is the best way to help? There are different ways of `helping' people, are there not? The market helps people; the doctor, the lawyer, the scientist, the laborer, the priest - they are all `helping' people, are they not? The desire to serve people has become a profession, and this desire always has a reward attached to it. Service organizes itself into efficient groups, and each group is in contention with the other. All desire to serve, to help; and all are in competition with each other, becoming more and more efficient, therefore, more and more ruthless.

So, when you say you want to `help' people, what do you mean by that word? How can you help people? At what level do you want to help people? Is it at the economic level, or at the so-called spiritual or psychological level? Some are content to help people merely at the economic level, at the immediate social level. Their concern, therefore, is to bring about social reformation. But mere reform creates the need for further reform, and there is no end to reformation. And there are those who want to help people psychologically or spiritually. But to help another in the psychological or spiritual sense, must you not understand yourself first? It is so easy to say, `I can help another', to have the desire, the wish, the longing, to help; but in the very process of helping, you may bring about confusion.

So, if you would help others at any level, is it not important to see that there must be, not mere patchwork reform, but a fundamental revolution? And can fundamental revolution be based on an idea? Is revolution ever a revolution when it is born of thought? Because, ideas are always limited, they are conditioned responses, are they not? Thought is always the response of memory, therefore it is always conditioned; and any revolution based on an idea can never be a fundamental transformation. The more there are revolutions based on ideas, the more separation and disintegration there will be; because, ideas, beliefs, and dogmas, always separate people, they can never bring people together, except in mutually exclusive and conflicting groups. They are a most disastrous foundation on which to build a society, because they inevitably create enmity.

Now, seeing all that, if you really want to bring about a fundamental revolution in the structure of society, surely you must begin on the psychological level, that is, with yourself. And if you really bring about in yourself a fundamental transformation, then you will be able to help others not to create illusions, not to create more dogmas, more beliefs, more cages for people to be caught in. Then your desire to help another will not be born of any conviction, of any calculation, of any belief. You will help people because you love them, because your heart is full. But your heart can never be full if it is the mind that fills the heart; and most of us have our hearts filled with the things of the mind. It is only when our hearts are filled with the things of the mind that we want to know how to help; but when the heart is empty of the things of the mind, and is therefore full, then there is a possibility of helping. When one really loves, one helps. But love is not a thing of the mind. Love is not sensation. You cannot think about love. If you think about love, you are only thinking about sensation, which is not love. When you say, `I love somebody', you are not thinking about love, but about the sensation, the image, the picture, of that person.

So, thought is not love. Love is something that cannot be captured by the mind. The mind can only capture sensation, and then it is sensation that fills our hearts; and from that sensation there comes the desire to help people through making them better, through reforming them, and so on and on. As long as our hearts are filled with the things of the mind, there is no love; and when there is love, there is no question of how to help people. The very action of love, without the interference of the mind, helps people; but as long as the mind interferes, there can be no love.

Question: My life seems to be aimless, and as a result my behaviour is unintelligent. Should I not have an overall purpose?

Krishnamurti: How will you discover an overall purpose? And why do you want a purpose? Can you discover a purpose that will cover the whole significance of existence? And what is the instrument that discovers? Most of us want a purpose, for then we can use it as a guide, and according to our purpose we can build; in its shadow we can live securely, purposefully, with a sense of direction. Without an end, a goal, a purpose, most of us are lost and our action becomes unintelligent, as the questioner says.

Now, can you find an overall purpose? How will you set about to find it? Who is the entity that will find. it? Surely, it is your own mind, your own desire and longing; so, your own desire will shape the end, will it not? That is, your own desire creates the end or the purpose. To put it differently, you are confused, and your actions are therefore unintelligent. Out of this confusion, you want to choose an end, an overall purpose. But can you choose anything when you are confused? And will whatever you choose not also be confused? Surely, it is important to clarify the confusion, and not choose a purpose out of that confusion. There is the purgation of confusion only when you begin to understand every act of that confusion; and in that very process you will discover a clarity which is its own end.

Most of us are confused, struggling, uncertain, we do not know what to do. We have created society and are subject to all of its influences, its demands its wars, its utter confusion, misery and destruction. We are part of all that; and if, in that state, we make a choice, whatever we choose will obviously still be confused. And that is what is happening in the world, is it not? Being confused, we choose a leader, and there fore the leader is also confused. But if we can patiently understand our own confusion, going deeper and deeper, ever more widely and extensively, into all the layers of consciousness, then we will see that out of that understanding there comes a clarity; and that clarity brings about a spontaneous behaviour which is not chosen by will or guided by any particular pattern.

So, what is essential is, not to have a purpose, but to understand oneself. That is, one must begin to see the deep inward source of conflict, misery, pain, uncertainty; and in the very process of that understanding, there comes a direct action which is not in the shadow of a determined end.

Question: What objective proof is there of the experiencing of reality? In the search for reality, is not self-confidence necessary?

Krishnamurti: Surely, there are two kinds of self-confidence, are there not? There is the self-confidence which comes through having a particular faculty, through experience, through repetition or practice, through gain. That is, the more you acquire at any level, the greater the self-confidence. Such confidence only breeds arrogance, defensive attitudes, and enmity, within and without, because it is essentially based on the expansion of the self. The more you possess, the more you acquire, the more you experience, the greater the strength of the self, of the `me; and that obviously breeds a certain kind of self-assurance. But surely, such self-confidence is a form of resistance, is it not? It only strengthens the process of isolation, ultimately leading to illusion, to misery.

Now, I think there is a different kind of confidence, which is not based on accumulation. It is the confidence that comes through experimentation, through being sensitive, alert, through continual discovery and understanding of every response, every idea, every movement of thought. That is quite a different kind of confidence, is it not? Because, in that confidence, there is no question of an accumulating centre. The moment you have an accumulating centre, there can be no rapid adjustment, swift sensitivity, nor the immediate perception that understands fully and extensively every movement of thought and feeling. It is the confidence born of understanding that is essential - not the self-assurance which breeds arrogance; and that confidence comes only when there is constant watchfulness without accumulation. How can you be sensitive when you are accumulating? The person who is accumulating is shrewd and watchful to save himself and his accumulation; but surely, that is not sensitivity. The confidence of sensitivity, which is essential, comes into being only when there is no sense of accumulation, when there is no centre which is always gathering, which is always craving for more.

The other part of this question is, "What objective proof is there of the experiencing of reality?" What do you mean by objective proof? A demonstration? An argument capable of convincing another? A system of philosophy, carefully devised and sharply defined, so that others can see it? Do you want the authority of another to support your own experience? Is truth, reality, something to be proved, either to another or to yourself? As long as we want proof, which means that we want to be made certain in our own experience, whatever we experience is not truth. Most of us want assurance, we want to be assured that we are experiencing what we call truth. We want to be sure that we are not caught in the net of illusion, of myths, and so on, and that what we experience is real. We want not only objective proof, but also subjective proof.

Now, as long as the mind clings to any form of experience, it is bound to be caught in illusion, because then it is the residue or memory of the experience that becomes all-significant to the mind. What is remembered is the sensation of the experience. If the sensation is painful, it is avoided; if pleasurable, it is retained. So, as long as the mind clings to any so-called spiritual experience, living around the sensation of it and building that into its own existence, it is bound to be caught in the net of illusion.

Reality is not cumulative, it is not to be gathered, it does not give you any assurance, any gratification. It comes when the mind is quiet, tranquil, not demanding; and it is to be understood from moment to moment. And there is no accumulation, no urge for more, as a result of that experience. The moment you want an assurance of the truth of your experience, you may be sure that the experience is an illusion. A mind that craves to be certain, that seeks certainty as an end, is conditioning itself; and therefore, whatever experience it has will only further condition it, bringing about more struggle and misery.

You may have an experience, and because it is pleasurable, you cling to it; the mind goes back to that pleasure over and over again. So, the past becomes extraordinarily significant, and your memories of it then prevent the experiencing of the new. There is a possibility of experiencing the new only when the mind is not anchored to any particular pleasure or experience.

So, there is no proof of reality, objective or subjective; but what is important is the conduct of life, for behaviour is not different from righteousness. Merely to seek proof of subjective experience in no way transforms the conduct of life. On the contrary, it prevents righteous behaviour, because the past experience then becomes all-important, and the mind is made incapable of understanding its own responses in the present. Do not let us be caught in proof and disproof, in assertions and denials, but let us understand confusion, struggle, misery, ill will, enmity, greed, and ambition. When the mind is free from all that, from all the worldly things which it creates and clings to, then there is a real possibility of stillness; and in that stillness, in that tranquillity, reality comes into being. But to ask for proof of reality is to ask the impossible; because, if you want assurance, you do not want truth. For truth or reality to be, the state of uncertainty is essential, because only then is there no accumulation, no centre around which the mind can dwell.

What is important, then, is not to seek proof of reality, but to look to one's conduct in everyday life, to be choicelessly aware of what we do, what we think, what we say. In the freedom of that understanding, the mind is quiet, not demanding, not projecting; and in that stillness, there is the real.

Question: My thoughts wander to such an extent that I find meditation extremely difficult. Is not concentration necessary for meditation?

Krishnamurti: This is a very complex question, and to understand it fully I am afraid we will have to go rather deeply into the problem. Meditation of the right kind is essential, but very few people know the full significance of meditation. They may learn a few tricks from some oriental teacher, or from their own priest, but that is not meditation. Meditation is something which has no result, nor is meditation the search for a result. We will find out what is right meditation only if we can understand the process of thinking. The questioner wants to know how to concentrate, because his thoughts wander.

Now, why do our thoughts wander? Have you ever watched your mind in action? It is always going off, it is always being distracted - at least, that is what we call it. Distracted from what? Distracted from a central thought, a thought which you have chosen and upon which you want to dwell. Please follow this, if you will, and you will see what is right meditation. Without right meditation, self-knowledge is not possible; and without self-knowledge, do what you will, there can be no right thinking. So, meditation is fundamentally necessary. But we must understand what meditation is, so I hope you will follow it patiently.

When we want to focus our attention on a particular thought, the mind wanders off repeatedly, and there is a constant struggle to keep it focused; and the wandering off we call distraction. Now, there are several things involved in this process. First, you choose a central thought upon which you wish to dwell, and as that choice is made out of confusion, there is resistance against other thoughts. That is, as long as you have a chosen central thought upon which you wish to dwell, every other thought is a distraction; and it is important to discover why you choose that central thought. Surely, you have chosen it from among many thoughts because it gives you pleasure, or it promises you a reward, a comfort. That is why you wish to dwell on it. But the very desire to dwell on it creates resistance against the other thoughts which come pouring in; and so you keep up the battle, the constant fight between the central thought and the other thoughts. And if ultimately you can conquer all other thoughts and make them one, you think you know how to meditate. Surely, that is really quite immature.

So, it is futile to say, `This is the right thought, and all the rest are distractions'. What is important is to find out why the mind wanders. Why does it wander? It wanders because it is interested in all the things that are going on. It has some vested interest in every thought that comes back, otherwise it would not come back. Every thought has some significance, some value, some hidden meaning; and so, like weeds, they keep coming.

Now, if you can understand each thought and not resist it, not push it away; if you can look at each thought as it arises and uncover its meaning, then you will see that those thoughts never come back - they are finished. Only thoughts that are not fully understood are repetitive. So, the important thing is not the controlling of thought, but the understanding of thought. Anybody can learn to control thought, but that is not understanding. In merely controlling thought there is no flexibility, it is only a form of resistance. All disciplining of thought to a particular pattern creates resistance; and how can you understand through resistance?

The questioner asks, "Is not concentration necessary for meditation?" What do we mean by concentration? By concentration we mean exclusion, do we not? To concentrate is to exclude every thought but one. Therefore, with most of us, concentration is a narrowing-down process; and a mind that is narrowed down, limited, disciplined, controlled, shaped, according to its own desires and the influences of its environment, can obviously never be free. So, concentration, as most people practise it in what they call meditation, is a form of exclusion, and therefore a process of self-isolation. This isolation is self-protection; and a mind that is protecting itself must inevitably be in a state of fear. And how can a mind which is fearful ever be open to that which is real?

If you examine and understand the significance of every thought, you will inevitably and naturally come to the question of whether the thinker is separate from thought. If the thinker is separate from thought, then the thinker can operate upon thought, can control and shape thought. But is the thinker separate from thought? Does not the thinker come into being because of his thought? Surely, the two are not separate; the thinker, the experiencer, is not separate from what is experienced.

Now, the moment you see that there is no thinker separate from thought, that there is only thought, then all choice is removed, is it not? That is, if there is only thought and not the translation of thought, then there is no entity that says, `I will choose this thought and reject the others; there is no translator, no interpreter, no judge, no bearer of the club. Then you will see that there is no conflict between the thinker and the thought, and therefore the mind is no longer chattering, no longer caught in the word `distraction'. Then every movement of thought becomes a significant one. And if you go still deeper, you will find that the mind becomes very quiet. It is no longer made quiet, it is no longer disciplined to be quiet.

A mind which is made quiet by discipline, is a dull mind; it lives in its formula of discipline, and such a mind is not sensitive, free. It lives only in the known, it is not an open mind; therefore, it is incapable of receiving the unknown, the imponderable. A mind that is disciplined can never be extensive; it is a limited mind, and whatever it does, is bound to be always petty. God is made petty by a petty mind. So, when the mind sees that whatever it does to control its own thought only makes it more narrow, limited, conditioned, then the thought process as we know it comes to an end, because the thinker is no longer fighting with his thoughts. Then the mind becomes quiet, still, without any contradiction; and in that stillness, there are wider and deeper states. But if you merely pursue the deeper, it becomes imagination, speculation. Imagination and speculation must cease for reality to be.

So, this whole process of understanding oneself is the beginning of meditation. There is no technique, no special posture, no acquired method of breathing, nor any of the tricks that one learns from books or from others. Self-knowledge is the beginning of meditation. Without knowing yourself, whatever you think has no reality, no basis. But to know yourself, there must be constant watchfulness - not with a stick, not with condemnation or justification, but just awareness, a passive alertness, in which you see things as they are. In seeing things as they are, you understand yourself, which leads to perfect tranquillity of mind; and only in that tranquillity, that stillness of the heart and mind, can reality be.

August 13, 1950


Seattle 1950

Seattle 5th Public Talk 13th August 1950

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