Madras 2nd Public Talk 6th January 1952
We were talking yesterday about the problem of desire and how to understand it. As it is a very important question, it should not be casually considered and discarded. One can put innumerable questions to find the right answer, but one must have the capacity to listen. Most of us are so eager to get an answer, to have a right response, to find the right solution, that in our eagerness we miss them all. So, as I suggested yesterday, we should have a great deal of patience, not lethargy but alertness with patience, alert passivity. What I would like to do this evening is to talk over the problems of belief and knowledge. Belief and knowledge are very intimately related to desire; and perhaps, if we can understand these two issues, then we can see how desire works, and understand its complexity.
May I suggest that you should listen and not take notes, because it is very difficult to take notes and to listen. What I would like to experiment with each one of you here in all my discussions and talks is that we should see the issue directly, understand it directly, and not to grope about after you have gone from here. Then you will see that these meetings are worthwhile. I feel most ardently that I am not talking to a large audience or to a small audience, but that I am talking to each individual; and I mean it. It is only the individual that can see, understand and create a new world, that can bring about an inward revolution and therefore an external revolution also. So, you as an individual and I are discussing the problem together and are going into it as deeply as possible to do that, you have to listen; you have to be a little receptive, be capable of exposing yourself to what is being said, and find out your own reactions as we go along. So, may I suggest that, as you listen, you should see the thing without interpretation and understand it directly.
As I said, it is really a very interesting problem, this question of belief and knowledge. What an extraordinary part it plays in our life! How many beliefs we have! Surely the more intelligent, the more cultured, the more spiritual, if I can use that word, a person is, the less is his capacity to understand. The savages have innumerable superstitions, even in the modern world. The more thoughtful, the more awake, the more alert are perhaps the less believing. That is because belief binds, belief isolates; and we see that, throughout the world, the economic and the political world, and also in the so-called spiritual world. You believe there is God, and perhaps I believe that there is no God; or, you believe in the complete State control of everything and of every individual, and I believe in private enterprise and all the rest of it; you believe that there is only one Saviour and through him you can get your end, and I don't believe so. So, you with your belief and I with mine are asserting ourselves. Yet we both talk of love, of peace, of unity of mankind, of one life - which means absolutely nothing; because actually the very belief is a process of isolation. You are a Brahmin, I a non Brahmin; you are a Christian, I a Mussulman, and so on. But you talk of brotherhood and I also talk of the same brotherhood, love and peace. In actuality, we are separated, we are dividing ourselves. A man who would want peace and would want to create a new world, a happy world, surely cannot isolate himself through any form of belief. Is that clear? It may be verbal; but, if you see the significance and validity and the truth of it, it will begin to act.
So, we see that where there is a process of desire at work, there must be the process of isolation through belief; because, obviously, you believe in order to be secure economically, spiritually, and also inwardly. I am not talking of those people who believe for economic reasons; because they are brought up to depend on their jobs and therefore they will be Catholics, Hindus - it does not matter what - as long as there is a job for them. We are not also discussing those people who cling to a belief for the sake of convenience. Perhaps, with most of you it is equally so. For convenience, we believe in certain things. Brushing aside these economic reasons, you must go more deeply into it. Take the people who believe strongly in anything, economic, social or spiritual; the process behind it is the psychological desire to be secure. Is it not? And then there is the desire to continue. We are not discussing here whether there is or there is not continuity; we are only discussing the urge, the constant impulse to believe. A man of peace, a man who would really understand the whole process of human existence, cannot be bound by a belief. Can he? It means, he sees his desire at work as a means to become secure. Please do not go to the other side and say "I am preaching non-religion". That is not my point at all. My point is that as long as we do not understand the process of desire in the form of belief, there must be contention, there must be conflict, there must be sorrow, and man will be against man, which is seen every day. So, if I perceive, if I am aware that this process takes the form of belief which is an expression of the craving for inward security, then my problem is not that I should believe this or that but that I should free myself from the desire to be secure. Can the mind be free from it? That is the problem, not what to believe and how much to believe. These are merely expressions of inward craving to be secure psychologically, to be certain about some thing when everything is so uncertain in the world.
Can a mind, can a conscious mind, can a personality be free from this desire to be secure? We want to be secure and therefore need the aid of our estates, our property and our family. We want to be secure inwardly and also spiritually by erecting walls of belief, which are an indication of this craving to be certain. Can you as an individual be free from this urge, this craving to be secure, which expresses itself in the desire to believe in something? If we are not free of all that, we are a source of contention; we are not peacemaking; we have no love in our hearts. Belief destroys all that, and this is seen in our everyday life. So, can I see myself when I am caught in this process of desire, which expresses itself in clinging to a belief? Can the mind free itself from it? It should not find a substitute for belief but be entirely free from it. You cannot answer "yes or no" to this; but you can definitely give an answer if your intention is to become free from belief. You then inevitably come to the point when you are seeking the means to free yourself from the urge to be secure. Obviously, there is no security inwardly which, as you like to believe, would continue. You like to believe there is God who is carefully looking after your petty little things, whom you should see, what you should do and how you should do. Obviously, this is childish and immature thinking. You think the Great Father is watching every one of us. That is a mere projection of your own personal liking. It is not obviously true. Truth must be something entirely different. To find out that truth which is not a projection of our liking, is our purpose in all these discussions and talks. So, if you are really earnest in your endeavour to find out what truth is, it would be obvious that a mind that is crippled, that is bound, that is trammelled by belief, cannot proceed any distance.
Our next problem is that of knowledge. Is knowledge necessary to the understanding of truth? When I say `I know', the implication is that there is knowledge. Can such a mind be capable of investigation and search of what is reality? And besides, what is it we know, of which we are so proud? Actually what is it we know?, We know information; we are full of information and experience based on our condition, our memory and our capacities. When you say `I know', what do you mean? Do please think it out, go along with me, don't merely listen to me. Either the acknowledgment that you know is the recognition of a fact or a certain in formation, or it is an experience that you have had. The constant accumulation of information, the acquisition of various forms of knowledge, information, all that, constitutes the assertion `I know; and you start translating what you have read, according to your background your desire, your experience. Your knowledge is a thing in which a process similar to the process of desire is at work. Instead of belief we substitute knowledge. `I know, I have had experience, it cannot be refuted; my experience is that, on that I completely rely; these are indications of that knowledge. But when you go behind it, analyse it, look at it more intelligently and carefully, you will find that the very assertion `I know' is another wall separating you and me. Behind that wall you take refuge, seeking comfort, security. Therefore, the more the knowledge a mind is burdened with, the less capable it is of understanding. Obviously! Surely, Sirs, the man who would seek peace, who would seek truth, must be free from all knowledge; because he that has knowledge, would interpret in his own way all that he observes and experiences. Therefore, the suppression of all knowledge is essential to experience reality - suppression in the sense not of subjugation, not enforcing it down.
It is a very interesting thing to watch how in our life these two, knowledge and belief, play an extraordinarily powerful part. Look how we worship those who have immense knowledge and erudition! Can you understand the meaning of it? Sirs, if you would find something new, experience something which is not a projection of your imagination, your mind must be free. Must it not be? It must be capable of seeing some thing new. But unfortunately, every time you see something new, you bring all the information known to you already, all your knowledge, all your past memories; obviously you become incapable of looking, incapable of receiving anything that is new and that is not of the old. Please don't immediately translate this into detail. If I do not know how to get back to Mylapore, I would be lost; If I do not know how to run a machine, I shall be of little use. That is quite a different thing. We are not discussing that here. We are discussing about knowledge that is used as a means to security, psychological and inward security, to be something. What do you get through knowledge? The authority of knowledge, the weight of knowledge, the sense of importance, dignity, the sense of vitality and what not? A man who says `I know', `There is' or `There is not', surely has stopped thinking, stopped pursuing this whole process of desire.
Our problem then, as I see it, is: "I am bound, weighed down by belief, with knowledge; and is it possible for a mind to be free from yesterday and the beliefs that have been acquired through the process of yesterday". Do you understand the question? Is it possible for me as an individual and you as an individual to live in this society and yet be free from the beliefs in which the mind has been brought up? Is it possible for the mind to be free of all that knowledge, all that authority? Please, sirs, do pay a little attention to this, because I think it is very important if you are at all earnest to really go into this problem of belief and knowledge. We read the various scriptures, religious books. There, they have very carefully described what to do, what not to do, how to attain the goal, what the goal is and what God is. You all know that by heart and you have pursued that. That is your knowledge, that is what you have acquired, that is what you have learnt; along that path you pursue. Obviously what you pursue and see, you will find. But is it reality? Is it not the projection of your own knowledge? It is not reality. Is it possible to realize that now - not tomorrow, but now - and say `I see the truth of it', and let it go, so that your mind is not crippled by this process of imagination, of projection, of seeing what it must be.
Similarly, is the mind capable of becoming free from belief? You can only be free from it when you understand the inward nature of the causes that make you hold on to it, not only the conscious but the unconscious motives as well, that make you believe. After all, we are not merely a superficial entity functioning on the conscious level. We can find out the deeper conscious and unconscious activities if you give the unconscious mind a chance, because it is much quicker in response than the conscious mind. If you listen, as I hope you are listening, to what I am saying, your unconscious mind must be responding. While your conscious mind is quietly thinking, listening and watching, the unconscious mind is much more active, much more alert and much more receptive; it must, therefore, have an answer. Can the mind which has been subjugated, intimidated, forced, compelled to believe, can such a mind be free to think? Can it look anew and remove the process of isolation between you and me? Please do not say belief brings people together. It does not. That is obvious. Is that not? No organized religion has. Look at our selves in this country. You are all believers, but are you all together? Are you all united? You yourselves know you are not. You are divided into so many petty little parties, castes; you know the innumerable divisions; similarly in the west. The process is the same right through the world - Christians destroying Christians, murdering each other for petty little things, driving people into camps, and so on, the whole horror of war. So, belief does not bind people. That is so clear. If that is clear and that is true, and if you see it, then it must be followed. But the difficulty is that most of us do not see, because we are not capable of facing that inward insecurity, that inward sense of being alone. We want something to lean on, whether it is the State, whether it is the caste, whether it is nationalism, whether it is a Master or a Saviour or any thing we want to hold on. And when we see the falseness of it, the mind is capable, it may be temporarily for a second, of seeing the truth of it; and when it is too much, it goes back. But to see temporarily is sufficient; if you can see it for a fleeting second, it is enough; because you will then see an extraordinary thing taking place. The unconscious is at work though the conscious may reject. And it is not a progressive second; but that second is the only thing and it will have its own results even in spite of the conscious mind struggling against it.
So, our question is `Is it possible for the mind to be free from knowledge and belief?' Is not the mind made up of knowledge and belief? Are you following all this? Is not the structure of the mind belief and knowledge? Belief and knowledge are the processes of recognition, the centre of the mind. The process is enclosing, the process is conscious. So can the mind be free of its own structure? You understand what I mean? The mind is not as we know the mind to be. It is so easy to ask questions without understanding. Probably, I shall receive many questions tomorrow such as `How can the mind be like this or that?' Do not please ask such questions. Think it out, feel it out, go into it, do not accept what I am saying, but see the problem with which you are con fronted everyday in your life.
Can the mind cease to be? That is the problem. Mind, as we know it, has belief behind it, has desire, urge to be secure, knowledge and accumulation of strength. And if, with all its power and superiority, one cannot think for oneself, there can be no peace in the world. You may talk about it, you may organize political parties, you may shout from the housetops; but you cannot have peace; because in the mind is the very basis which creates contradiction, which isolates and separates. We will discuss this as we go along. Just leave it alone. You have heard it, let it simmer. If you have already discarded desire, finished with it, so much the better; if you have not, let it operate. And it will operate if you listen rightly because it is something vital, it is something that you have to solve. A man of peace, a man of earnestness, cannot isolate himself and yet talk of brotherhood and peace. It is just a game, political or religious, a sense of achievement and ambition. We shall discuss that later. A man who is really earnest about this, who wants to discover, has to face the problem of knowledge and belief; he has to go behind it, to discover the whole process of desire at work, desire to be secure, desire to be certain.
Question: You have condemned discipline as a means of spiritual or other attainment. How can anything be accomplished in life without discipline or at least self-discipline?
Krishnamurti: Again please let us listen. Let us listen to find the truth of the matter. It does not matter what I say or somebody else says; but we have to find the truth of the matter. First of all, there are many who say that discipline is necessary, or the whole social, economic, and political system would cease; that, in order to do this or that, in order to realize God, you must have discipline. You must follow a certain discipline; because without discipline, you cannot control the mind; without discipline, you will spill over.
But I want to know the truth of the matter, not what Sankara, Buddha or Patanjali or anybody else had said. I want to know what is the truth of it. I do not want to rely on authority to find it out. Would I discipline a child? I discipline a child when I have no time, when I am impatient, when I am angry, when I want to make him do something. But if I help the child to understand why he is mischievous, why he is doing a certain thing, then discipline is not necessary. Is it? If I go and explain, take the trouble, have the patience to understand the whole problem of why the child is acting in such and such a way, surely, discipline is not necessary. What is necessary is to awaken intelligence, is it not? If intelligence be awaken ed in me, then obviously I shall not do certain things. Since we do not know how to awaken that intelligence, we build walls of control and resistance, and call that discipline. So discipline has nothing to do with intelligence; on the contrary, it destroys intelligence. So how am I to awaken intelligence? If I understand that to think in a certain manner - for instance, to think in terms of nationalism - is a wrong process, if I see the whole implication of it, the isolation, the sense of identification with something larger, and so on, if I see the whole implication of desire, of the activity of the mind, if I really understand and see the whole content of it, if my intelligence awakens to it, the desire drops away; I do not have to say `It is a very bad desire'. This requires watchfulness, attention, alertness and examination. Does it not? And because we are not capable of it, we say we must discipline; it is a very immature way of thinking about a very complex problem. Even modern systems of education are discarding the whole idea of discipline. They are trying to find out the psychology of the child and why he is going in such and such a way; they are watching him, helping him.
Now, look at the process of discipline. What happens? Discipline is, surely, a process of compulsion, of repression. Is it not? I want to do something and I say, `I must, because I want to get there' or `That is bad'. Do I understand anything by condemning it? And when I condemn a thing, do I look at it, do I go into it? I have not seen it. So, it is the sluggish mind that begins to discipline, without understanding what it is all about; and I am sure all religious rules have been laid down for the lazy. It is so much easier to follow than to investigate, than to enquire, than to understand. The more you are disciplined, the less your heart is open. Do you know all these things, Sirs? How can an empty heart understand something which is beyond the influence of the mind?
The problem of discipline is really very complex. The political parties use discipline in order to achieve a particular result, in order to make the individual conform to the ideal pattern of a future society, and for which we are only too willing to be come slaves because that promises something marvellous. So a mind that is seeking a reward, an end, forces itself to conform to that end which is always a projection of a clever mind, of a superior mind, a more cunning mind. A disciplined mind can never understand what it is to be peaceful. How can a mind which is enclosed by regulations and restrictions, see anything beyond?
If you look at this process of discipline, you will observe that desire is at the back of it, the desire to be strong, the desire to achieve a result, the desire to become something, the desire to be powerful, to become more and not less. This constant urge of desire is at work, this urge to conform, to discipline, to suppress, to isolate. You may suppress, you may discipline. But the conscious cannot control and shape the unconscious mind. If you try to shape your unconscious mind, it is what you call discipline. Is it not? The more you suppress, the more you put the lid on your mind, the more the unconscious revolts till ultimately the mind either ends up neurotically or does a crazy thing.
So what is important in this question is not whether I condemn discipline or you approve of it, but to see how to awaken the integrated intelligence, not departmentalized intelligence, but integrated intelligence, which brings its own understanding, and therefore avoids certain things naturally, automatically and freely. It is the intelligence that will guide, not discipline. Sir, this is really a very important and complex question. If we would really go into it, if we watch ourselves and understand the whole process of discipline, we will find that we are not really disciplined at all. Are you disciplined in your lives? Or are you merely suppressing the various cravings, resisting various forms of temptations? If you should resist through discipline, those temptations and those demands are still there. Are they not hidden deep down but still there, waiting for an opening to burst out? Have you not noticed as you grow older, that those feelings that are suppressed, are coming out again? So you cannot play tricks with your unconscious; it will pay you back thousandfold.
You have to understand this whole process, not that you are all for discipline, and I am against it. I assert that discipline will lead you nowhere; on the contrary, it is a blind process, unintelligent and thoughtless. But to awaken intelligence is quite a different problem. You cannot cultivate intelligence. Intelligence when awakened, brings its own mode of operation; it regulates its own life, observes various forms of tempta- tions, inclinations, reactions and goes into it; it understands, not superficially but in an integrated, comprehensive manner. To do that, the mind must be constantly alert, watchful. Must it not? Surely, for a mind that would understand, the restrictions imposed upon it by itself are of very little significance. To understand, there must be freedom; that freedom does not come through compulsion in any form; and freedom lies not at the end but at the beginning. Our difficulty is to awaken integrated intelligence, and that can only come about when we are capable of understanding the whole.
This complex problem of desire expresses itself through discipline, through conformity, through repression, through belief, through knowledge. When we see the vast structure of desire, then we will begin to understand. Then the mind will begin to see itself and be capable of receiving something which is not the projection of its own.
January 6, 1952
Madras 2nd Public Talk 6th January 1952
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