Ojai 7th Public Talk 23rd August 1952
I think it is possible, in talking, to expose oneself and one's own inward thoughts, and if we can do that this evening, perhaps it will be worth while; for then this will not be a lecture, a talk to which you are listening, but an exposing of the problems and difficulties that one confronts in going into the question of transformation, this inward revolution which is so essential. We see around us the disintegration of the world, and we are aware of our own extraordinary processes of deterioration as we grow older: lack of energy, the settling into grooves of well-established habit, the pursuit of various illusions and so on, all of which creates a barrier to the understanding of our own fundamental and radical change.
In considering this problem of change, which we have been doing for the last three weeks, it seems to me that the question of incentive is very important. For most of us, change implies an incentive. I need an incentive to change. Most of us require an incentive, an urge, a motive, a purpose, a vision, or identification with a particular belief, Utopia, or ideology, do we not? And does incentive bring about a radical change? Is not incentive merely a projection of one's own desires, idealized or personified, or put away in the future in the hope that by pursuing that self-projection we can somehow bring about a change? Is not this problem of change very profound, and can it be solved by the superficial incentives which societies offer, which religious organizations dangle before us? Can a fundamental transformation be brought about by the revolutionary ideologies which o give logical reasons for change and offer the incentive of a better world, a heaven on earth, a society in which there are no class distinctions? We identify ourselves with these incentives and give our lives for the things which they promise; and does that bring about a radical change? That is the problem, is it not?
I do not know how much you have thought about all this, or how deeply you have gone into the question of changing oneself; but unless we understand from what point of view, from what centre the transformation must take place, it seems to me that mere superficial changes, however beneficial socially and economically, will not resolve our extraordinarily complex problems. The incentives, the beliefs, the promises, the Utopias - to me, all these are very superficial. There can be a radical change only at the centre, only when there is complete self-abnegation, complete self-forgetfulness, the complete putting aside of the "me", the self. Until that is done, I do not see how a fundamental transformation can take place. And is this radical change at the centre brought about through an incentive of any kind? Obviously not. And yet all our thinking is based on incentive, is it not? We are continually struggling to gain a reward, to do good, to live a noble life, to advance, to achieve. So, is it not important to find out what this self is that wants to grow, to improve?
What is the self, the "me"? If you were asked, what would be your response to that question? Some would say, perhaps, that is the expression of God, the higher self enclosed in material form, the immense manifested in the particular. And probably others would maintain that there is no spiritual entity, that man is nothing but a series of responses to environmental influences, the result of racial, climatic and social conditioning. Whatever the self may be, should we not go into it, understand it, and find out how it can be transformed at the centre?
What is the self? Is it not desire? Please, I would like to suggest these things for you to observe, not to contradict or accept; because, I feel the more one is capable of listening, not so much with the conscious mind, but unconsciously, effortlessly, the more there is a possibility of our meeting and proceeding together further and more deeply into the problem. If the conscious mind merely examines an idea, a teaching, a problem, then it does not go beyond its own level, which is very superficial; but if one can listen, not with the conscious mind, as it were, but with a mind that is relaxed, observing, and is therefore able to see what is beyond the words, the symbols, the images, then there is a possibility, I think, of a quickening of direct experience and understanding, which is not a process of conscious analysis. I think we can do that at these talks if we do not meet idea by idea. What I am saying is not a set of ideas to be learnt, to be repeated, to be read over, or communicated to others; but if we can meet each other, not at the conscious, reasoning level, which we can do later, but at that level where the conscious mind is neither opposing nor struggling to understand, then there is a possibility, I think, of seeing something which is not merely verbal, not merely intellectual.
So, what is the self that needs fundamental transformation? Surely, it is there that a change must take place, not on the superficial level; and in order to bring about a radical change there, must we not find out what this self is, the "me"? And can we ever find out what the "me" is? Is there a permanent "me"? Or, is there a permanent desire for some thing, which identifies itself as the "me"?
Please don't take notes, do please listen. When you take notes you are not really listening; you are more concerned with putting down what you hear so that you can read it over tomorrow, or convey it to your friends, or print it somewhere. What we are trying to do is something quite different, is it not? We are trying to find out what this thing is which we call the self, the centre of the "me", from which all activity seems to spring; for if there is no transformation there, mere change on the periphery, on the outside, on the surface, has very little meaning.
So, I want to find out what this centre is, and whether it is possible to really break it up, transform it, tear it away. What is the self with most of us? It is a centre of desire manifesting itself through various forms of continuity, is it not? It is the desire to have more, to perpetuate experience, to be enriched through acquisition, through memories, through sensations, through symbols, through names, through words. If you look very closely, there is no such thing as a permanent "me" except as memory, the memory of what I have been, of what I am and what I should be; it is the desire for more, the desire for greater know ledge, greater experience, the desire for a continued identity, identity with the body, with the house, with the land, with ideas, with persons. This process goes on, not only at the conscious level, but also in the deeper, unconscious layers of the mind, and so the self, the centre of the "me" is sustained and nourished through time. But none of that is permanent, in the sense of a continuity, except through memory. In itself it is not a permanent state, but we try to make it permanent by clinging to a particular experience, a particular relationship or belief - not consciously, perhaps, but unconsciously we are driven to it through various desires, urges, compulsions, experiences.
So, all this is the "me", is it not? It is the self, the "I", which is ever wanting the more, which is never satisfied, everlastingly groping for further experience, further sensation, cultivating virtue in order to strengthen itself at the centre; there fore it is never virtue, but only the expansion of itself in the guise of virtue. So, that is the "me", the "I: it is the name, the form, and the feeling behind the symbol, beyond the word, which, in its struggle to acquire, to hold, to expand or to be less, creates an acquisitive society in which there is contention, competition, ruthlessness, war, and all the rest of it.
Unless there is a transformation at the centre, not substitution, but a radical uprooting of the "me", no fundamental change is possible. Realizing this, how is one to bring about a deep inner change? That is the problem, is it not? - for a serious person, not for the superficial who are seeking some comforting illusion, gurus. teachers, and all the rest of the nonsense. So, how can that centre trans form itself? Sirs, people who see that a change must take place, and do not know how it should come about, are easily caught by incentives, are they not? They are distracted by ideological Utopias, by the Masters, by worship, by churches, by organizations, by saviours and so on and on and on; but when I put aside all distractions because they will not transform the centre, and I am concerned only with the transformation of the center - when I really see the urgency, the necessity of that, then all these superficial reformations have very little significance.
Now, when all incentives, pursuits and desires have been put aside, is one then capable of transforming the centre? You and I are considering this problem as two individuals, I am not addressing a group. You see the problem, do you not? There must obviously be a change, not at the superficial or abstract level, but at the very centre; there must be a new flow, a new state of being which is not of time, of memory; there must be a change which is not the result of any theory or belief, whether of the left or of the right, a change which is not the conditioning of a believer or a non-believer. I see this complex problem; and how is it possible for a spontaneous change to take place at the center - a change which is not the result of compulsion, of discipline which are mere substitutions? I do not know if you have put the question to yourself in this manner; and if you have, what do you find, how are you to bring about that change, that transformation? Is the understanding of these distractions, incentives, pursuits, de sires, merely verbal, intellectual, superficial, or is it real - real in the sense that incentives no longer have any value, and there fore they have dropped away? Or, knowing their immature prompting's, are you still playing with them?
So, I have first to find out what is the state of my mind that sees the problem and tries to seek an answer, have I not? Am I making myself clear? There is the problem, which we all know, and of which we are fully aware at different moments of our existence; there are occasions when we see the significance, the depth of it. And as we discuss it together, what is the state of one's mind that is looking at the problem? Isn't that important? The state of the mind as it approaches the problem is very important, because that state of mind is going to find the answer. So, I first see the problem, and then I have to see what the state of my mind is that looks at the problem. Please, these are not first and second steps - the problem is a whole, a total process. It is only in putting it verbally that it has to be broken up in this way. If we approach the problem in stages, first seeing the problem, then inquiring what the state of the mind is, and so on and on, we shall get lost, we shall wander further and further away from the central issue. So, it is very important for me to be fully aware of the whole state of my mind as I approach the problem.
First of all, I do not know if I want to have a fundamental change, if I want to break all the traditions, values, hopes, beliefs that have been built up. Most of us do not, obviously. Very few want to go so deeply and fundamentally into the problem. They are quite satisfied with substitutes, with a change of belief, with better incentives. But, going beyond that, what is the state of my mind? And is the state of the mind different from the problem? Is not the problem the state of the mind? The problem is not apart from the mind. It is my mind that creates the problem, my mind being the result of time, of memory, the seat of the "me", which is everlastingly craving for the more, for immortality, for continuity, for permanency here and in the hereafter. So, can the mind detach itself from the problem and look at the problem? It can abstractly, logically, with reason - but actually, can it separate itself from the thing it has created and of which it is a part? This is not a conundrum, this is not a trick. It is a fact, is it not? My mind, seeing its own in sufficiency, its own poverty, proceeds to acquire properties, degrees, titles, the everlasting God; so, it strengthen itself in the "me". The mind being the centre of the "me", says, "I must change", and it proceeds to create incentives for itself, pursuing the good and rejecting the bad.
Now, can such a mind see the problem and act upon the problem? And when it does act, is it not still within the field of incentives, of desires, of time, of memory? So is it not important for me to find out how my mind looks at the problem? Is the mind separate from the problem, as the observer apart from the observed, or is the mind itself the totality of the problem? With most of us, that is the point, is it not? I am observing the problem of how to dissolve radically and deeply that centre which is the "me", so the mind says, "I am going to dissolve it". That is, the mind, the "I" separates itself as the observer and the observed, and then the observer acts upon the observed, the problem. But the observer is the creator of the problem, the observer is not separate from the problem. He himself is the problem. So, what is he to do? If we can really feel this out, just stay with the problem and not try to find an answer a quick solution, or reach for a quotation from some teacher or book, or rely on our past experience; if we can simply be aware of this total problem without judgment, then I think we will find the answer - not an answer at the verbal level, but a solution which is not invented by the mind. So, my problem is this, and I hope it is yours also: I see that a fundamental revolution must take place at the centre, not on the surface. Change on the surface has no meaning. Becoming better, nobler, acquiring more virtue, having much or little property - these are all superficial activities of a very superficial mind. I am not talking about those changes; I am concerned only with a change at the centre. I see that the "me" must be completely dissolved. So I inquire what the "me" is, I become aware of the "me", not as a philosophical abstraction, but from day to day. From moment to moment I see what the "me" is - the "me" that is always watching, observing, gathering, acquiring, rejecting, judging, hating, breaking up, or coming together in order to be more secure, The change has to take place there; that centre has to be rooted out completely. And how is that to happen? Can the mind, which is the creator of the problem, abstract itself from the problem and then act upon it in the name of God, in the name of the higher self, for a Utopia, or for any other reason? And when it does that, has it dissolved the centre? Obviously it has not. There fore, my problem is, can the mind bring about a fundamental revolution through dialectics, or through know ledge of historical processes? This is an important question, is it not? Because, if a radical change can take place at the centre, then my whole life has a different significance; then there is beauty, then there is happiness, then there is creation, then there is quite a different state of being; there is love, which is everlasting forgiveness.
So, can that state be brought about by the mind? If you say, "No", you are not aware of the problem. That is a very quick, a very superficial answer. And if you say, "I must look to God, to some high spiritual state which will transform all this", again you are relying on words, on symbols, on a projection of the mind. So, what is one to do? Is this not a problem to you? Looking at this complex problem of the "me", with all its darkness, its shadows and lights, its tensions and stresses, can I, the observer, affect this thing that is observed? Please listen to the problem, don't look for an answer or try to solve it; just listen to it, let it soak into you, as the soft rains that enrich the earth. If you are really with the problem, if it is your daily concern from moment to moment to see how that change can be brought about, and if you are negatively putting aside those things which you have thought to be positive, then I think you will find the element that comes into being so darkly, without your knowing. This is not a promise. Don't smile as though you had understood.
So, what we have to do, surely, is to be aware of the totality of this problem, not merely consciously, but especially unconsciously; we have to be aware of it inwardly, deeply. The superficial mind can give reasons, explanations, it can logically work out certain problems; but when we are concerned with a profound problem, the superficial approach has little value. And we are concerned with a very profound problem, which is how to bring about a change, a revolution at the centre. Without that fundamental transformation, mere changes on the surface have no meaning, and reforms need constant reform. If we can look at this problem as a whole, taste it, smell it, unconsciously absorb it, then we shall be familiar with all the activities and tricks of the "me", we shall see how the observer is separating himself from the observed, rejecting this and accepting that. The more we know of this total process, the less the superficial mind will act. Thought is not the dissolver of the problem. On the contrary, thought must come to an end. It is the observer who judges, justifies, accepts and rejects, all of which is the process of thinking. Thought has created our problem - the thought that seeks the more in property, in things, in relationship, in ideas, in knowledge; and with that thought we are trying to solve the problem. Thought is memory, and the calming of memory is the stilling of the mind; and the more the mind is still, the deeper it will understand this problem and resolve the centre.
Question: Does not this process of constant self-awareness lead to self-centredness?
Krishnamurti: It does, does it not? The more you are concerned about yourself, watching, improving, thinking about yourself, the more self-centred you are, are you not? That is an obvious act. If I am concerned with changing myself, then I must observe, I must build a technique which will help me to break up that centre. There is self-centredness as long as I am consciously or unconsciously concerned with a result, with success, as long as I am gaining and putting aside - which is what most of us are doing. The incentive is the goal I am pursuing; because I want to gain that end, I watch myself. I am unhappy, I am miserable, frustrated, and I feel there is a state in which I can be happy, fulfilled, complete; so I become aware in order to gain that state. I use awareness to get what I want; so I am self-centred. Through awareness, through self-analysis, through reading, studying, I hope to dissolve the "me", and then I shall be happy, enlightened, liberated, I shall be one of the elite - and that is what I want. So, the more I am concerned with gaining an end, the greater is the self-centredness of thought. But thought is ever self enclosing anyhow, is it not?
So, what? To break down the self-centredness, I must understand why the mind seeks an end, a goal, a particular result. Why does my mind go after a reward? Why? Can it function in any other way? Is not the movement of the mind from memory to memory, from result to result? I have acquired this, I don't like it, and I am going to get some thing else. I don't like this thought, but that thought will be better, nobler, more comforting, more satisfying. As long as I am thinking, I can think in no other terms; for the mind moves from knowledge to know ledge, from memory to memory. Is not thinking self-centred in its very nature? I know there are exceptions, but we are not discussing the exceptions. In our everyday life, are we not consciously or unconsciously pursuing an end, gaining and avoiding, seeking to continue, putting aside anything that is disturbing, that is insecure, uncertain? In seeking its own certainty, the mind creates self-centredness; and is not that self-centredness the "me", which then watches over and analyzes itself? So, as long as we seek a result, self-centredness must exist, whether in an individual, in a group, in a nation or a race. But if we can understand why the mind seeks a result, a satisfying end, why it wants to be certain - if we understand that, then there is a possibility of breaking down the walls that enclose thought as the "me". But that requires an astonishing awareness of the total process, not only of the conscious, but also of the unconscious levels, an awareness from moment to moment in which there is no gathering, no accumulation, no saying, "Yes, I have understood this, and I am going to use it for tomorrow", a spontaneity which is not of the mind. Only then is there a possibility of going beyond the self-enclosing activities of thought.
August 23, 1952
Ojai 7th Public Talk 23rd August 1952
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