Ojai 5th Public Talk 16th August 1952
May I request those who are so anxious to take photographs of me to refrain from doing so. I do not autographs nor do I want to pose for photographs, and please don't embarrass yourself by asking me about it.
If we can this evening talk over together this problem of fundamental change, I think it will be very profitable. As there are so many of us and we cannot discuss it individually, perhaps you will kindly listen to me and try to find out what I mean. I feel that this radical change demands a certain attitude of mind, a certain state of consciousness; and I want to talk it over, so that you and I together understand both the problem and its resolution. I feel we have so far dealt with the problem of change merely on the level of active consciousness. We see that a change, a psychological change is necessary, and we set about to find ways and means to achieve that change. Such a pursuit is still on the level of active consciousness, on the superficial level of the mind, is it not? And some times we feel that if we could only get at the unconscious, resolve or bring to the surface all its hidden motives, pursuits and urges, then, perhaps, a vital change would be brought about. I feel there is quite a different way of approach to this problem, and I would like to talk it over hesitantly and rather tentatively with you.
To consider this problem fully we must go into the question of what is consciousness. I wonder if you have thought about it for yourself, or have merely quoted what authorities have said about consciousness? I do not know how you have understood, from your own experience, from your own study of yourself, what this consciousness implies - not only the consciousness of everyday activity and pursuits, but the consciousness that is hidden, deeper, richer, and much more difficult to get at. If we are to discuss this question of a fundamental change in ourselves, and there fore in the world and in this change to awaken a certain vision, an enthusiasm, a zeal, a faith, a hope, a certainty which will give us the necessary impetus for action - if we are to understand that, isn't it necessary to go into this question of consciousness?
We can see what we mean by consciousness at the superficial level of the mind. Obviously, it is the thinking process, thought. Thought is the result of memory, verbalization, it is the naming, recording and storing up of certain experiences, so as 26 to be able to communicate; and at this level there are also various inhibitions, controls, sanctions, disciplines. With all this we are quite familiar. And when we go a little deeper, there are all the accumulations of the race, the hidden motives, the collective and personal ambitions, prejudices, which are the result of perception, contact and desire. This total consciousness, the hidden as well as the open, is centred round the idea of the "me", the self.
When we discuss how to bring about a change, we generally mean a change at the superficial level, do we not? Through determinations, conclusions, beliefs, controls, inhibitions, we struggle to reach a superficial end which we want, which we crave for, and we hope to arrive at that with the help of the unconscious, of the deeper layers of the mind; therefore we think it is necessary to uncover the depths of oneself. But there is everlasting conflict between the superficial levels and the so-called deeper levels - all psychologists, all those who have pursued self-knowledge are fully aware of that.
Now, will this inner conflict bring about a change? And is that not the most fundamental and important question in our daily life; how to bring about a radical change in our selves? Will mere alteration at the superficial level bring it about? Will understanding the different layers of consciousness, of the "me", uncovering the past, the various personal experiences from childhood up to now, examining in myself the collective experiences of my father, my mother, my ancestors, my race, the conditioning of the particular society in which I live - will the analysis of all that bring about a change which is not merely an adjustment?
I feel, and surely you also must feel, that a fundamental change in one's life is essential - a change which is not a mere reaction, which is not the outcome of the stress and strain of environmental demands. And how is one to bring about such a change? My consciousness is the sum total of human experience, plus my particular contact with the present; and can that bring about a change? Will the study of my own consciousness, of my activities, will the awareness of my thoughts and feelings and stilling the mind in order to observe without condemnation - will that process bring about a change? Can there be change through belief, through identification with a projected image called the ideal? Does not all this imply a certain conflict between what I am and what I should be? And will conflict bring about fundamental change? I am in constant battle within myself and with society, am I not? There is a ceaseless conflict going on between what I am and what I want to be; and will this conflict, this struggle bring about a change? I see a change is essential; and can I bring it about by examining the whole process of my consciousness, by struggling, by disciplining, by practising various forms of repression? I feel such a process cannot bring about a radical change. Of that one must be completely sure. And if that process cannot bring about a fundamental transformation, a deep inward revolution, then what will?
I hope I have made myself clear so far.
Do we see that the struggle to change what one is will not bring about a revolution, an inward transformation? If I see that, then what is the next step, what am I to do? Be fore I can find out the truth of this matter, must I not be very clear that such a process - the restrictions, moralities, compulsions and thoughts which are continually imprinted upon me by the society in which I have been brought up and conditioned - can never bring about a fundamental change? I must be very clear about that, must I not? And I doubt if we are.
So, I think it is important to see very clearly for oneself that the way we have been attempting to change ourselves is utterly false; for, if that process is seen to be false, then we shall be in a state of mind to discover what is the true way of changing. But if we do not see the content of the false in our minds, in our habits of thought and so on, then how can we ever find the other? So, should we not find out for ourselves, first of all, whether the pursuits with which we are familiar can ever bring about a radical change? Discipline, suppression, control, analysis, going through various forms of hypnosis to release the unconscious, adherence to a belief, conformity, the constant developing of a particular quality, the struggle to follow an ideal - is not this whole process utterly false? And if it is false, then should we not look at it, understand it, go into it and be completely free of it? Surely, it must be completely put away from us, and only then is there a possibility of discovering the new, which will bring about a transformation.
To convey verbally how to bring about a radical change is comparatively simple; but to actually experience that new element, that transforming quality, is entirely different. That is why I feel you should listen, not merely to hear what I am saying, but to find out for yourself whether the disciplines you have practised, the ambitions, the jealousies, the envies you have felt, the various ideals and beliefs you have followed, the analysis you have gone through, the introspection and struggle in which you have been caught - whether these things have any validity. And if they have not, then what is the state of the mind that has seen through and finished with them all?
Let us put the problem differently. However much I struggle to be different, to change, is not that struggle still part of the "me" that is desirous of a result, that is seeking a conti- nuity of happiness, the perpetuation of a particular state? I am greedy, or envious, or acquisitive, and I see the implications of it; so I discipline myself against it, I suppress it, try to inhibit certain reactions. This desire, this struggle to change greed into something else, is it not still an activity of the "me" that is attempting to become a better "me"? And the "me", the "I", this centre of the accumulating process, can it ever be "better"? And we know those moments, those rare occasions when the "me" is absent, completely absent, in which there is a timeless state, a sense of happiness that is not measured by the mind.
So, our problem is, how to bring about a change without effort? We are used to effort, are we not? We have been brought up in the habit of effort. Not liking this, we make effort to change it into that. Seeing have been brought up in the habit of effort. Not liking this, we make effort to change it into that. Seeing myself to be ugly, selfish, or what you will, I make tremendous effort to change it. That is all we know. Now, realizing all this, being aware of the workings of the mind, is it possible not to make effort - and see what happens? Our effort is always towards success and conformity, is it not? We work towards a desired end, and to achieve it, we must conform. That is all we know in various degrees, negatively or positively. And is it possible to free the mind from this habit, that is, to make no effort, but merely be in a state in which the mind sees the fact and does not act upon the fact in order to trans form it?
If we can look at ourselves with out any desire to change, then there is a possibility of a radical change. But that is extremely difficult, is it not? It is not easy to observe one self without the desire to do some thing about it. When we have a pleasant experience, we want to continue in that experience. If I had a pleasant experience yesterday, I want to continue it today; my mind lives on that experience of yesterday, and so it is everlastingly making an effort to recapture the past, or to create the future from the memory of yesterday. Is it not possible for the mind to be aware of all this? And if you are not aware, you cannot be quiet, you cannot but make effort. You have to know the various activities of the mind, you have to be conscious of them, aware of what the mind is doing; and being aware, seeing how every kind of effort is still within the field of struggle of trying to become something, and therefore of conformity - being aware of all that, is it not possible to observe without effort, to look without any desire to change what you are into something else?
It is extremely difficult to talk about this, to convey in words the thing that actually happens when you do not desire any particular change. After all, that is what we mean by integration, is it not? When you see the whole process of the mind, when you are aware of the various struggles, divisions, cleavages, and in the centre there is no movement to transform or to bring these cleavages together then the observer is essentially quiet. He does not wish to trans form anything, he is merely aware that these things are happening - which requires enormous patience, does it not? But most of us are so eager to change, to do something about ourselves; we are impatient for an end, for a result. When the mind is aware of its own activities, not only the conscious, but also the unconscious, then you do not have to examine the unconscious to bring the hidden things to the surface - they are there. But we do not know how to observe. And don't ask, "How am I to observe, what is the technique? "The moment you have a technique it is finished, you do not observe. The quietness of the centre comes only when you are aware of all this, and you see that you cannot do anything about it: it is so. As long as the mind is active in its desire to transform itself, it can only be a model of its own projection; therefore there is no transformation. If you really see the truth of this, then there comes a state of mind which is not concerned with change at all - and therefore a change does take place.
As I said, this is a very difficult subject to talk about. It is more a question, not of verbal or so-called intellectual comprehension, but of feeling out for oneself how the activities of the mind do impede the radical change.
I will try to answer some of these questions.
Question: I think all mysticism is foolish, and your talks seem to have a mystical undertone. Is this your intention, or is my reaction to your talks a peculiar one based on my own prejudices exclusively?
Krishnamurti: What do we mean by "mysticism"? Something hidden, mysterious? Something that comes out of India? Something you feel when your mind is irrational? Some thing vague, unclear, of which the prophets and teachers have spoken? Or, is it the experiencing of some thing real, something which is the summation of reason and yet is beyond reason, which is not verbal, an experience which is not a mere projection of the mind? Is it not important to find out the truth of the matter, without condemnation or acceptance?
We live in experience, do we not? We know life only as experience. And what do we mean by that word "experience"? Something which we can recognize, do we not? Some thing which we can name, which we can communicate to others. I have an experience only when I am capable of recognizing it. Otherwise, I have no experience. Once having had a certain experience, I store it in memory, name it, give it a particular term; and when a similar experience comes, I recognize it, I give it the same term which I have used before. So, is not all experience that we are aware of based on recognition? And is truth, God, that some thing which is unnameable, a matter of recognition? That is, can reality be recognized? To recognize it, I must have had an experience of it before. Having had a previous experience of it, I say, "There it is again; therefore, what I experience is never new.
Is it not important to inquire into this question of recognition and experience? If I am capable of recognizing an experience, does it not indicate that I have already experienced it? Therefore the experience which I now have is not new, it is already the old. As that which is re experienced, recognized, is never new, but always the old, can it be reality, God? Must not this process of recognition come to an end before the new can be? And can that which is the new be verbalized, put into words? If it cannot, then is mysticism the experiencing of that which is beyond the verbal level, beyond the recognition of the mind? Surely, to be aware of that state, , whatever it is, must we not go beyond all images, all knowledge? To find reality, God, or what you will, must we not go beyond the symbols of Christianity, of Hinduism, of Buddhism? Must we not free the mind from all habits, traditions, from all personal and collective ambitions? You may call this "mysticism" and say that it sounds foolish; but it is only when the mind is as nothing that it is capable of receiving the new. If we rely entirely on the mind for our guidance, if our action is based exclusively on reason, on logic, on conclusions, on materialistic reactions, then we will obviously create a brutal, ruthless world. Seeing all this, is it not possible for the mind to go beyond and discover that which is new, the timeless?
Question: I find it extremely difficult to concentrate. Would you please go into this matter?
Krishnamurti: Let us go into this matter together and see if we cannot understand what it is to concentrate without making an effort to be concentrated. Actually, what happens when you are attempting to concentrate? There is a conflict, is there not? You are trying to fix your mind on a particular thought, and your mind goes off; so there is a division, a cleavage in the mind between what it wants to concentrate upon, and what it is interested in. There is this constant battle going on. We try to discipline the mind, we practise focussing our thought on a particular idea, phrase, image, or symbol, and the mind is always wandering off. With that we are familiar, are we not?
Now, how is the mind to be concentrated? If it is interested, is there an effort to concentrate? And why is there this division between various thoughts pursuits, desires if that can be understood, then there will be natural concentration, will there not? Why is there this division of attention between the thing which I am trying to be interested, and a thought which is apart from that? And what happens when we are aware of this division? We try to bridge the gap so that the mind can be concentrated on only one thing.
So, is not our problem that of the thinker and the thought? I want to think about one particular thought, and I put my mind on it, but another part of me wanders off. I pull it back and try to concentrate, and again it wanders off; so I keep this conflict going. I never try to find out why there is a thinker apart from the thought, why the thinker is always trying to control the thought, bring it back. Why is there this division? That is the problem, is it not? If there is no thinker apart from the thought, then every thought is concentration, is it not? Please observe your own thinking and you will see. There is the thinker trying to control his thought, trying to do something about his thought, trying to change it, dominate it. Now, why is there this division? And can the thinker ever dominate all his thoughts? He can do it only when he is completely absorbed in one particular thought, wholly identified with one belief, one symbol. Such a state obviously leads to insanity, does it not?
Now, can we understand why the thinker chooses between various thoughts and tries to dwell upon one particular thought? If we can understand that, which is to understand the process of choice, then we shall come naturally to a concentration in which there is no conflict. So, we have to understand the problem of choice, why the thinker chooses one thought and rejects another. When the thinker chooses a particular thought, various other thoughts are always impinging, and he is always pushing them aside. So does choice lead to concentration? Is the mind concentrated when it is constantly choosing, excluding, rejecting? Is concentration a process of narrowing down the mind so that it can be completely identified with a particular thought? Yet that is what we generally mean by concentration, is it not? We mean a state in which the mind is so completely absorbed in a particular idea, a chosen thought, that no other thoughts disturb it, no other reactions come in; and yet there is a conflict of choice going on all the time.
So, in order to understand concentration, must we not first under stand the problem of choice? As long as we choose one particular thought and try to dwell on it, is not conflict with other thoughts inevitable? Must we not examine, be aware of every thought, rather than choose one and reject others? You will say, "I have no time to do that". But have you time to struggle against the army of impinging thoughts? And is that not a waste of time?
As every thought arises, look at it; do not choose, do not say, "This is good, that is bad; I am going to hold to the good and reject the bad". Without condemnation, be aware of each thought as it arises, and then you will see there comes a concentration which is not exclusive, which is not the result of choice, which is not the narrowing down of the mind. Such concentration is extensive, and only then is it possible for the mind to be quiet, for the mind to be still. Stillness is not the outcome of concentration, it is not the result of choice. Stillness comes about spontaneously when we understand the whole process of choice with its various activities, struggles; and in that stillness there is the unrecognizable, an experience which is not of the past.
August 16, 1952
Ojai 5th Public Talk 16th August 1952
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