Madras 3rd Public Talk 12th January 1952
I have been trying to find out, the last two times that we have met, the action that is not isolated, that is not fragmented, action that is not bound by idea; and I think it is important to go into that matter rather carefully because I feel that, without understanding the whole process of ideation, mere action will have very little significance. The conflict between idea and action will always be ever increasing and it can never be bridged. So, to find out action which is not fragmented, that is not broken up, not isolated, but comprehensive, we have to investigate the whole process of desire. Desire is not a thing that can be annihilated, that can be subjugated or twisted. That is because, as I explained, however much we may wish to abandon de sire, it can never be done; for desire is a constant process of the conscious as well as the unconscious, and we may temporarily control the conscious desire but it is very difficult to subjugate or control the unconscious. I feel that utter confusion and chaos would result from any action which is isolated; and it also seems to me that most of us are occupied with such actions. Experts and specialists have separated action and idea; they have done this at different levels and in different patterns and have told you how to act. There are, as you know, the economists, the politicians, the religious persons and so on; they have given us fragmentary views of the whole comprehension of life. It seems to me that those who are really very earnest to understand this process of action which is not isolated and not fragmented or broken up, must be on their guard. It can only be done when we understand the whole process of desire. That is more or less what we discussed last Saturday and Sunday.
To understand desire is not to condemn it. As most of us are conditioned, as most of us have fixed ideas and opinions with regard to desire, it is almost impossible for us to follow the movement of desire without condemning it, without having opinions. If I would understand something, I must observe it without any process of condemnatory attitude. Must I not? If I would understand you and if you would understand me, we must not judge each other, we must not condemn each other; we must be open and receptive to all the implications of each other's word, to the expression of our face; we must be completely receptive and open minded. That is not possible when there is condemnation. Is it possible to have action without idea? For most of us, ideas come first and action follows after. Ideas are always fragmentary, they are always isolated; and any action based on idea must be fragmentary, isolated. Is it possible to have an action that is not broken up, that is comprehensive, that is integrated? It seems to me that such an action is the only redemption for us. All other actions are bound to leave further confusion all further conflict. So, how is one to find action which is not based on idea?
What do we mean by idea? Surely idea is the process of thought. Is it not? Idea is a process of mentation, of thinking; and thinking is always a reaction either of the conscious or of the unconscious. Thinking is a process of verbalization which is the result of memory; thinking is a process of time. So, when action is based on the process of thinking, such action must inevitably be conditioned, isolated. Idea must oppose idea, idea must be dominated by idea. There is a gap then between action and idea. What we are trying to find out is whether it is possible for action to be without idea. We see how idea separates people. As I have already explained, knowledge and belief are essentially separating qualities. Beliefs never bind people; they always separate people; when action is based on belief or an idea or an ideal, such an action must inevitably be isolated, fragmented. Is it possible to act without the process of thought, thought being a process of time, a process of calculation, a process of self-protection, a process of belief, denial, condemnation, justification. Surely, it must have occurred to you as it has to me, whether action is at all possible without idea. I see as well as you see that when I have an idea and I base my action on that idea, it must create opposition; idea must meet idea and must inevitably create suppression, opposition. I do not know if I am making myself clear. To me this is really a very important point. If you can understand that, not by the mind or sentimentally but intimately, I feel we shall have transcended all our difficulties. Our difficulties are of ideas, not of action. It is not what we should do, which is merely an idea; what is important is acting. Is action possible without the process of calculation, which is the result of self-protection, of memory, of relationship, personal, individual, collective and so on? I say it is possible. You can experiment with it when you are here. If we can follow without any condemnation the whole process of desire, then you will see that action is inevitable without idea. That no doubt requires an extraordinary alertness of mind; because our whole conditioning is to condemn, justify, to put into various categories - which are all a process of calculation, mentation. For most of us, idea and action are two different things. There is idea first and action follows after. Our difficulty is to bridge action and idea. Let us look at it differently.
We know every form of greed is destructive. Envy leads to ambition - political, religious, collective or individual. Every form of ambition, if we are aware of it, is limited and destructive. We all know that; we do not have to be told; we have not got to think a great deal about it. Ambition produces envy. Ambition is the result of the desire for power and position, for personal advancement, political and religious - politically in the name of an idea of the future or of the present, and spiritually in the name of something equally good or equally bad. We have known such ambitions - to be somebody, to be dominating people in the name of peace, in the name of Master, in the name of God and Heaven knows what else. Where there is ambition, there must be exploitation, man against man, nation against nation; and the very people who are shouting peace, are the very ones who are doing things which are highly destructive, perhaps for themselves and for their country or for their idea. Such people do not bring peace. They only verbalize peace but they have not got peace in their hearts. Such people obviously cannot bring to the world peace or happiness; they must only bring contention, war.
Ambition is the result of greed, envy, desire for power. It is all based on an idea. Is it not? Idea is nothing but reaction. It is so, neurologically, psychologically or physically. Ambition is an idea to be something politically, religiously; `I want to become a great person and want to work for the future'. What does it reflect? We also know political ambition in the name of the country and so on. All this is based on an idea. It is an idea, a concept, a formulation of what I shall be or my party shall be. Having established the idea, then I pursue that idea in action. First of all, morally, an ambitious person is immoral. He is a source of contention; and yet we all encourage ambition. Otherwise, what can we do? There may be no achievement. So, when you look at it, you will see ambition is an idea, the pursuit of an idea in action, `I am going to be some thing', in which is involved exploitation, ruthlessness, appalling brutality etc. After all the `me' is an idea which has no actuality. It is a process of time. It is a process of memory, recognition, which are all essentially ideas.
Can ambition be completely put aside when I perceive that action, if based on an idea, must ultimately breed hatred, envy? Can I abandon completely ambition, and therefore act without the process of idea? I shall put it more simply. If we are ambitious, is it possible to abandon completely ambition - politically, religiously? Only then, I am a centre of peace. But to abandon completely ambition with all its meaning, significance, inward confusion, brutality, with the whole significance of the desire for power and condemnation, is not so easy. I can only drop it integrally, wholly and completely when I no longer pursue in the idea, the idea being the `me; then there is no problem of how I am not to be ambitious, or being ambitious, how I am to get rid of it. Is that not our problem? We are all greedy, we are envious; you have more and I have less; you have more power and I want that power, spiritually, secularly. Being caught in it, my problem then is how to get rid of it. How am I to abandon it? We then introduce the problem `How?'. That is merely a postponement of action. If I see that action based on an idea must introduce postponement, then I realize the necessity for action without ideation. I wonder if I am making myself clear. Is not ambition destructive? Ambitious nations, individuals after power, or persons immensely gloated with their self-importance are all dangers; you know what misery they cause to themselves and to those around them. How are they to be got rid of - not superficially but profoundly, both in the conscious as well as in the unconscious?
Idea introduced into action creates non-action. Action not based on idea will be immediate, not to morrow. If I am able to see without ideation the brutality, the implications of ambition, then there is immediate action. There is no question of how I am not to be ambitious. If we want action which is not separated, which is not fragmented, which is not isolated, we must think over. Have you not seen man against man, nation against nation, one sect against another, one group against another communally, one dogma against another, one Master against another? You know the whole game of division and brutality. Knowing it, seeing the fact of it clearly, can ambition be abandoned? We are aware of domination - spiritual, economic and political; and we have noticed the results - which are constant wars, starvation, fragmentation of man and so on. We know that any action without under standing the whole process of ideation and the course of ideas, will only further breed antagonism. So, a man who is earnest, who is really peaceful, not just politically peaceful, cannot prejudice this problem through idea; because idea is postponement, idea is fragmentary, and it is not integrated intelligence. Thought must always be limited by the thinker who is conditioned; the thinker is always conditioned and is never free; if thought occurs, immediately idea follows. Idea in order to act is bound to create more confusion. Knowing all this, is it possible to act without idea? Yes, it is the way of love. Love is not an idea; it is not a sensation; it is not a memory; it is not a feeling of postponement, self protective device. We can only be aware of the way of love when we understand the whole process of idea. Now, is it possible to abandon the other ways and know the way of love which is the only redemption? No other way, political or religious, will solve the problem. This is not a theory which you will have to think over and adopt in your life; it must be actual; and it can only be actual when you see and realize that ambition is destructive and therefore should be pushed away from you.
We have never tried that way of love. We have tried every other way. Please do not shut your eyes and go to sleep over the word `love'. It is not a process of thinking. Your immediate reaction is `What is love? Can I know it? How am I to live according to that'? What is the way of love which is apart from the process of thinking and idea? When you love, is there idea? Do not accept it; just look at it, examine it, go into it profoundly; because every other way we have tried and there is no answer to misery. Politicians may promise it; the so-called religious organizations may promise future happiness; but we have not got it now, and the future is relatively unimportant when I am hungry. We have tried every other way; and we can only know the way of love if we know the way of idea and abandon idea, which is to act. It may sound absurd or foolish to the majority of you when you hear that action can be without idea; but if you go into it a little more deeply, without pushing it aside as silly, if you go into it deeply with earnestness, you will see idea can never take the place of action. Action is always immediate. You see something like ambition or greed; there is no `How to get rid of that? Can you do it'? Please think it out. We can discuss it. You will see that love is the only remedy; that is our only redemption in which man can live with man peacefully, happily, without exploiting, without dominating, without one person becoming greater and superior through ambition, through cunning. We do not know that way. Let us become aware of all this. When we have fully recognized the whole significance of action based on idea, the very recognition of it is to act away from it - which is the way of love.
Question: We are told that India is rapidly disintegrating. Is this your feeling too?
Krishnamurti: What do you think? What do you mean by disintegration? Surely, a nation, a group, an individual is disintegrating, when it or he is corrupt, is bound to tradition, when he is imitating, when he is following, when he is not independent in his thinking, when he is not free from the environment so that he, as an individual, cannot look, think and see clearly. Obviously, when one individual exploits another by his cunning, by his superior knowledge, by his capacities, surely such an individual is a factor of disintegration. Is he not? And are not we all in that same position? Are not we all imitating, following, exploiting, afraid, bound to the tradition of others' thoughts? Are we capable of thinking for ourselves without the imposi- tion of others' ideas? Does not all this indicate the process of disintegration? When you worship somebody, however great, is that not a process of disintegration? When you are pursuing an ambition, climbing its ladder, reaching the dung-heap, is that not disintegration? The dung-heap may be politically satisfying, economically gratifying; is that not also disintegration? Is not that disintegration when you are spiritually influenced by somebody, a special messenger? When you are building for the future, for tomorrow, or for the future of your own existence, next life and so on, is not that disintegration? You are always living in the future, sacrificing many for an idea. Surely, all this is an indication of disintegration, is it not? This is not only here, in India; this is taking place all over the world. Why are we doing this all the time? Is it very difficult to find out the "why"?
We all want to be secure, economically and psychologically. Our petty selves are so narrow and limited that we want to be secure. Therefore we worship authority. So long as we seek security inwardly, there must be disintegration. Outward security we must have. I must be sure of my next meal, shelter and clothing; but that is made impossible if each one of us seeks inward security either through property or nation, or desires to achieve the topmost rung of the ladder. That is, so long as I am seeking personal advancement in any form, which is an indication of the desire for inward security, there must be disintegration, because I am fighting my fellowman.
You listen to all this, and what is your action? Not what is your idea, or your opinion, because anybody can have an opinion; but what is your action? If you say `How am I not to be ambitious, how am I not to be self-protective', then my question to you is merely an idea, is merely an exchange of thought, opinion. But if it is genuine in the sense that it is a challenge for you to respond through action, then what will you do? That is, you are truly a factor of disintegration. It does not matter what society you belong to - Indian, Russia, American or English - you are sure to be a factor of destruction and disintegration, as long as you consciously pursue security, inwardly or outwardly. What is your action? Surely, that is the only response you can have, not `I shall think over it; how am I to do it'?, which is rather a response to an idea. But a man who sees it, acts immediately; and that man will know the way of love; to me, he is the regenerating factor in the world of corruption. That does not require great courage, great intelligence which are merely factors of the cunning mind; it requires perspective, direct perspective of what is. The man who sees clearly, inevitably must act. We do not want to see, and that is where our misery lies. We know all this. We are familiar with all this corruption, disintegration; and we cannot act because we are caught in ideation, in ideas, thought of how and what. So a man who sees corruption and is aware of it without the screen of idea, will act; and such a man knows the way of love.
Question: When the mind ceases to recognize, does it not come to a state of inactivity? What functions then?
Krishnamurti: To answer that question fully, you must understand what has been said previously. I said the process of mind is recognition. Thought, experience, the centre of me, is recognition. Without recognition, without knowing, there is no thought process. If I have an experience, I must be able to recognize it either verbally or without verbalization. I must know I have had experience; that is, I must recognize experience as pleasurable, painful and so on. I must give it a name. There is the centre of recognition, which is the me, the self - not higher self or lower self, self is one; not superior or inferior, that is the invention of the clever mind. So, this centre of recognition is the self; and without recognition, can the mind exist, can the centre, the me, exist? Obviously, not.
The questioner asks if that recognition is not, if the centre is not, what is the state of activity of the mind. What is the activity there? What happens then? Have I explained the question? Now, why do you want to know? There is no pushing you back into yourselves. You want to know in order to be able to recognize, is it not? To be able to recognize from my experience when I verbalize it to you, so that you can say I have had it, so that you can recognize your experience as corresponding to mine. Your asking the question is a continuation of the process of the self. Is my experience the same as yours? You are asking the question in order to feel secure in your recognition. Please see how your own mind works. So, what you are interested in, is not what happens when the process of recognition is not; but, you want an assurance from me that your experience is the same as mine; which is, you want to recognize your experience in relation with mine. So your question has no answer. It is a wrong question.
Let us put it differently. We only know experience through recognition. And each recognition strengthens the mind, the self, gives emphasis, strengthens the security of the self. Each experience is recognized and you cannot have experience without saying `Yes, I know what it is'. So your experience is only a projection of your own thought. Listen without being clever and cunning; just watch it. Psychologically it is a fact. I want to see the Master and I see him, and I experience; but it has nothing to do with reality. It is my desire projected and recognized, which only strengthens my experience, my recognition; and so I say `I believe, I know'. So, if I rely on my experience to see what truth is, then it is my projection of what truth should be. And is it possible for the centre, for the me, to have no recognition, not to aid experience through recognition? You try it. You try to see if your mind can be completely still without recognition, without recognizing things; when this happens, the mind is in a state of stillness. Soon after wards, it wants to prolong that state thereby reducing that experience to the realm of memory and strengthening the process of thought, of recognition, which is the centre of the self; therefore, there is no possibility of experiencing anything anew; recognition persists; there is the desire to hold on to the experience done years ago, to continue it. Can the mind be still, without any of all this? Which means, can the mind be still without verbalization which is thought process? If the mind is still in that manner, activities that follow cannot be measured, cannot be verbalized, cannot be recognized.
God, Truth, is not recognizable. Therefore, to know Truth, there must be the understanding and putting away of all knowledge, of all beliefs; because when the mind is not in a state of knowledge, when recognition has ceased, Truth can come into it and be there.
Question: If I am myself unable to find Truth, how can I prevent my child from being the victim of my conditioning?
Krishnamurti: How would you set about it? Knowing that a parent is conditioned, that he has prejudices, has ambitions, has absurdities, has pronouncements, has secularism, has beliefs, has traditions, has grand mother's opinions, what society will say and will not say; knowing all that, how will you help the child to grow to be a free and integrated human being? That is the problem. Is it not? How will you set about it? It requires a whole hour to answer it, because the question is how to educate the child. What are we doing for our children? Merely trying to fit them into the present state of society, to help them pass examinations! We have really no idea of what he should be; we want to try to help the child to understand what we have not understood. If I am blind, can I lead you across the road? But being blind, I do not say I am blind. I am not aware that I am blind. I say `Yes, I am conditioned, it is so. But I want to help my child'. But if I am aware that I am deeply and fundamentally conditioned, I have problems, prejudices, ambitions, superstitions, beliefs, if I am aware of it, be cognizant of it, be in the know of it, then what happens? My action towards my child will be different. If I know I am poisoned, religiously poisoned, will I allow my child to come near me? I will reason with him, show him why he should not come to me; which means, I must love my child. But we do not love our children. We have no love in our hearts for the children; otherwise, if there was, we would prevent wars; we would prevent all this fragmentation of human beings into classes, nationalities, British, Indian, Brahmin and Non Brahmin, white and black, purple and blue. So being conditioned, I cannot help another if I am unaware of my conditioning. But to acknowledge I am conditioned is to break from it, and not `I am conditioned, how am I to be free from the conditioning'? which is merely an idea which helps me to postpone action. If I am aware of it, if I know I am conditioned, then I cannot but act and help the child. It is really very important to under stand this question, not the question of conducting the child, how to help him.
We have to understand the whole problem of idea and action. We have always placed idea first and action afterwards. All our literature - religious, political, economic - are based on idea. Our knowledge is nothing more. A mind that is full of knowledge and ideas can never act. Therefore, belief and knowledge are an impediment to action. They may sound contradictory and absurd; but, if you will kindly go into it, you will see the reasonableness behind that statement. So what is important in these questions and talks, is not to find the cultivation of ideas; or to exchange opinions, dogmas and beliefs; or to substitute them for another; but to be free to act, without action being isolating. Action will always be isolating so long as it is based on knowledge and belief, which is idea, which is the process of thinking. When you have a problem as of ambition, you cannot have an idea about it; you can only act about it. Similarly, when I know I am conditioned, a mere thought process regarding it is postponement of the mind from that conditioning. I assure you, it ceases to be a problem only to a man who is earnest, whose function is peace, who is intent on finding love, the way of love, because he is not concerned with idea, because he is concerned with action which is not isolated.
January 12, 1952
Madras 3rd Public Talk 12th January 1952
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