London 5th Public Talk 8th April 1953
I would like this evening for us to consider a problem that may be rather difficult to go into; I want to talk over with you the problem of consciousness. Because, without understanding the function of the mind, what the mind is, however much one may earnestly seek to transform oneself, to bring about a deep fundamental revolution in oneself, it seems to me that it will not be possible. It is obviously a very difficult subject. Because, each one of us has very definite opinions, unfortunately, on what the mind is or should be. We have, after reading a great many books, come to definite conclusions about what consciousness is. But perhaps if we can put aside our particular knowledge, the things that we have learned, the things that we have experienced, if that is possible, and examine it anew, then we may find out how to bring about this fundamental transformation and not merely a superficial change.
So, what is the function of the mind? Can the mind bring about an entire change, transform itself? And, the `I' the `me', the ego, is that different from the mind? At whatever level one may place the `I', the ego, the `me', and however much it may struggle to bring about a transformation within itself, is that not still within the field of the mind, of consciousness? And can there be a transformation - not permanent in the sense of continuity, but a complete revolution within itself - without any cause, without any motive, without any desire to seek a result?
I think if one can go rather hesitantly into this question of what is consciousness, and what the function of the mind is, then we may be able to discover what is wisdom.
So, what is consciousness? What is the thing that is functioning all the time that chooses that struggles that creates ideals images symbols that allows itself to be conditioned, and demands to uncondition itself, that feels pain, and avoids any pursuit that might entail fear? What is this thing that is constantly seeking permanency, comfort, security, and what it calls God? What is this total thing - not just the superficial part, that shrinks through fear, or enlarges through pleasure? What is this `me' - the `me' that is constantly endeavouring to become better, the `me' that allows itself to be disciplined in order to achieve a result, the thing that is driven by ambition, that is always seeking to overcome any barrier and so always being afraid of frustration - and where is its centre? Is not all this what we call consciousness - not only the consciousness that is functioning daily, but also the consciousness that is hidden, the consciousness of the race, in which all the traditions of the past are embedded? The things that one has learned, the things that one has acquired, the experiences, the prejudices, and so on, and also, the `me' that tries to go beyond the limitations, the conditionings, is not all that our consciousness?
And is not the unconscious a part of the whole of mankind? Is not my unconscious the totality of the thought of India, as yours is of another race, another clime?
Is not all this, the total process, what we call consciousness? Is not that the mind - the mind being the result of time, of cultivation, the `me' that is always being put together through contact, sensation, desire, and the accumulation of experience through that desire? And, when we talk of experience, is it not memory, the word, the symbol, the idea? So, as we - plain people, not very highly theological or erudite people - know it, that is our mind, is it not? That is our consciousness - desire, experience, memory, and knowledge - and within that sphere we function.
Will the consciousness of the `me' bring about wisdom? Will knowledge bring about wisdom - not the wisdom of books, not the wisdom that one learns through going to a school of wisdom?
So, what I want to find out is, can the mind which is the product of time, which has been put together through experience, through memory, through symbols, which is constantly aspiring, despairing, hoping, feeling itself frustrated, in bondage, in pain, in misery, which is ever choosing, and in its very choice being caught by the bigger choice, the better choice, can that mind discover what is wisdom, what is truth, what is God? And if the mind experiences reality, is not that mind of the nature of reality, at the time when it experiences reality?
You follow what I mean? I see that my mind is the result of time. That is fairly obvious, we need not go into that in too great detail. It has been put together through generations of experience. I am the result of all the thought, the struggles, the pain, the superstitions of the world; my mind is that. And yet, this mind is seeking some reality which obviously must be out of time, which cannot be gathered, accumulated, stored up to be used. And, yet, the mind being the only instrument with which we can feel, experience, surely in the moment of experiencing reality, the mind is of the quality of truth, the quality of timelessness?
So, how does this transformation take place? And can the `I', the `me', which is the result of time bring about the change within itself, a transformation within itself? Because, that is our problem, is it not? I want to change; I want to bring about in myself a transformation. Because, my life is very dull; I am unhappy, I am conditioned; it is a constant struggle, with the pleasures and joys and depressions that make up the `me'. And in that consciousness, at the centre, there must be a revolution. I do not want to change just on the outward periphery, because that has no meaning. If I am at all serious and in earnest, I want a transformation at the centre, a transformation which is not merely of time, of convenience, of varying moods, or even of necessity. And I have no other means than the mind. I cannot put aside my mind, because I am the mind. The things which I think, the things which I feel, the aspirations, the longings, the fears, the loves and the hates, the inevitable death and the unknown, all that is me. And at the centre of that self, consciousness there must be a revolution.
And how is that possible? Will the unconscious, which is the result also of time, will that bring about any revolution? Will the unconscious aid, help the conscious mind to stop accumulating, so that at the centre there is complete abnegation? I think this is very important. Even though I may put it clumsily, use words that have a different meaning to each one of us, that is the fundamental question, is it not? Because, every attempt leads to dreariness, leads to routine, to degeneration, to slow withering away. There are moments of supreme happiness, ecstasy; and then, a few days later, everything has faded away.
So, seeing all this extraordinary complexity, is it not necessary to inquire whether it is possible to come to that revolution, to that inner transformation, without the interference of the mind? Can the mind change itself? Can the mind transform itself? I know there are moments when it perceives reality, unbidden, unasked. At that moment the mind is the real. When the `I' is no longer struggling, consciously or unconsciously, no longer trying to become something, when the `I' is totally unaware of itself, at that moment, that state of worship, that state of reality is there. And so, the mind at that moment is the real, is God.
So, the problem is, can the mind, which is the result of time, the mind which is the self, the `me', however much it may like to divide itself into the higher self and the lower self, as the observer and the observed, can that `me' whose whole consciousness is the result of accumulation of experience, of memory, of knowledge, can that `me' come to an end, without desiring, without hoping for the `me' to be dissolved? Because, I have only one instrument, which is the mind, the mind which evaluates, judges, condemns. And can such a mind which is of time, which is not of truth - the mind knows knowledge, but knowledge is not truth - suddenly cease, so that the other mind, the other state of being, the mind which experiences reality can be and therefore the mind itself is the real.
By asking, by inquiring seriously, I think, one finds the answer. Can the mind, which is the only instrument we have, can the self cease to be, cease to accumulate? Can the mind which has accumulated knowledge, experience, memory, completely free itself? Can it allow itself to watch the memories, the experiences, knowledge, go by, and itself remain on the bank of the stream, as it were, without attaching itself to any particular memory, to any particular experience, and so, be free and remain anchored in its freedom?
Because we cannot put aside our knowledge, or experiences, or the memories, they are there. But we can watch them go by, without clinging to any one of them, either the pleasurable or the painful. This is not a thing to be practiced. Because, the moment you practice, you are accumulating; and where there is accumulation there is the strengthening of the `me'. The `me' of time, the `me' that pursues virtue and cultivates virtue, is accumulating. Reality has nothing to do with acquired virtue. But yet, there must be the virtue of the non-accumulative state. The man who is observing his experiences, his memories, his knowledge, watching them go by, he does not require vir- tue; he is not gathering. And when the mind is no longer accumulating when the mind is awakened to the whole process of consciousness with all its memories, the unconscious motives, the impulses of generations, of centuries, and can let it pass by, then is not the mind out of time? Then is not the mind, though aware of the experiences, not holding on to them at all, no longer caught in the net of time?
Because, what makes for time is the occupation with memory, the capacity to distinguish different forms of memory. And is it possible for the mind to remain out of time, out of knowledge which is memory, which is experience, which is the word, the symbol? Can it be free from that, and so be out of time? Then is there not a fundamental revolution or transformation at the centre? Because, then the mind is no longer struggling to achieve, to accumulate, to arrive. Then there is no fear. Then the mind in itself is the unknown; the mind in itself is the new, the uncontaminated. Therefore it is the real, the incorruptible, which is not of time.
Question: I find I am deeply afraid to give up certain habits which give me pleasure; and yet I feel I must give them up, as their hold on me is too great. What can I do?
Krishnamurti: Can habits be broken, without creating another habit? My problem is, surely, not that I want to give up one particular habit which is painful or cling to a habit which is pleasurable, but, can I be free from all the habit-forming mechanism? Can I be free from the whole pattern of action, not only from the particular but from the whole pattern-making thought? That is, can I break down, be free from the thought, the pattern, which has been made, created for centuries, without creating another pattern? That is what most of us indulge in: we break one pattern, and go and join, create, or make on another pattern. If I am a Hindu, I break it and become a Communist; but it is still a pattern of thought, an organized philosophy. Or, if I am a Communist, I break that and become a Catholic. So, I go from one pattern to another; that is my life. I am always seeking better patterns of action, better patterns of thought, a better framework of reference. I revolt against one pattern and take on another.
So, the problem is: can I, can the mind, break from all patterns? Can it be in revolt, not merely against any one particular pattern, but be essentially in revolt? When we are in revolt, we are against something, are we not? As a traditional Christian, I may be in revolt against communism; or the Communist may be in revolt against capitalism. We are always in revolt against something, are we not? The very revolt against something creates the pattern. When I, as a Hindu, am against Christianity or communism, does it not create yet another pattern of action? So, can I be in revolt, not against something, but be in essence in a state of revolution?
That is the problem, is it not?, how to be in oneself in revolt, and not how to break down one pleasurable habit, one particular pattern of action, or how to find a better framework, another reference of ideas - because, we go through that process everlastingly, there is no end to it. But if I am concerned with breaking down the whole pattern-forming mind, must I not be in revolt, not against something, but be in myself in revolt? The pattern comes to an end, surely, only when I am not in opposition to something.
What is happening when I am in opposition, when I am against something, when one idea is opposed by another idea? If I, as a Hindu, am against Christianity, my idea opposes your idea. And it is this idea that creates the pattern, even though it may be a so-called new idea. So, if I would be free from all patterns, there must be revolt without a motive, a revolt without the new idea. Such a revolt is surely creative, that state is creativeness; it is the pure thing, unadulterated, uncorrupted; because there is no hope even; it is not against anything; it is not caught in any particular pattern.
But that transformation is only possible when the mind understands the whole structure of the pattern, the whole process of idea opposing idea, belief opposing belief, one experience contradicting another experience. So long as the mind is caught in its own experience, in its own knowledge, it can never free itself; there must ever be the pattern. The mind can see, surely, how the patterns are made. The formation of idea to which the mind clings, the adherence to a belief, to a habit, to a pleasure, all these create the form, the framework, in which the mind is held. So, can the mind be free from idea?
Thought is the creator of the pattern; thought is always conditioned; there is no freedom in thought; because what I think is the result of my background, and all thinking is the reaction to the background. So, the question is: not `how to be free of a particular pattern or habit of thought', but `whether the mind can be free from creating ideas, from clinging to belief, from holding on to experience, to knowledge, to memory.' Then only is there a possibility of breaking the pattern, of being completely free of all pattern.
Question: Christians, including Roman Catholics, promise heaven. What do you offer?
Krishnamurti: Why are you seeking heaven? Why are you wanting something? Why do you say, `others give me something; what have you to offer?' If you are promised something because you are stretching out your hand, begging, is what you get the truth?
What is heaven, and what is hell? What is the heaven that religions offer? Security, in some form or another, is it not? A hope, a reward, a better life, a greater happiness on the other side, salvation beyond death, and a secure place for each one of us hereafter. That is what we all want. And each religion promises the ultimate reward; so each religion has its own monopoly on heaven. This is what we want; and we create all these heavens and hells for ourselves. It is not merely that religions offer them; they are what we want. We want security, we want a permanent happiness, never to be in a state of unknowingness.
But, the unknown is reality. Heaven is a state of unknowingness; and hell is the state of knowing. And we are caught between the knowing and the unknowing. And as all our life is a state of knowing, we are always afraid of that which is not known. God, the real, the Heaven, is the unknown. And we want a place in the unknown. So any religion, any State, any political party that promises us a place of security, we accept; and we become either Catholics, Communists, or join some other organized philosophy. So long as we are seeking a permanent place, a happiness that knows no variety, no change, a peace that shall never be disturbed, that is everlasting, we shall find, we shall organize philosophies, religions that will satisfy us.
So, as long as I am seeking permanency, I shall create dogmas, beliefs. And in those dogmas, beliefs, theories, I shall be caught. And that is all we want. Fundamentally, deeply, we never want to be in a state in which there is no `knowing'. Even though the thing that I have known becomes the routine, the chore, the tiresome, the unknown is something of which I am afraid. And as I feel there is the unknown, I want a place in that. So I am in constant battle between the thing that I know, and the thing that I do not know. That is my hell. So, is it possible for the mind to put aside all its knowledge, all its experiences, memories, and be in that state of unknowing? That is the mystery, is it not?, not the mystery of superstition, dogmas, Saviours and Masters, but the mystery of the unknown. Cannot the mind itself become the unknown, be the unknown? That requires, does it not?, extraordinary freedom from the known. So the mind, with the burden of the known, tries to capture the unknown. And there is this constant battle between the past and something not knowable by the mind which is caught in the past.
But when the mind is free from the past, the past of experience, of memory, of knowledge, then the mind is the unknown. To such a mind there is no death.
These are merely words, unless you experience it. Unless it is a direct revolution which the unknown brings, mere repetition of words will have little meaning. And, is it possible for plain people like us to come to this thing? The simpler and plainer we are, the nearer. The man of erudition, the man of vast experience, the man who is burdened with innumerable memories, can never come to it. But unfortunately the plain man, the ordinary man, is grasping to become `the more', to become wiser, to acquire more knowledge. But if he remains simple, plain, not acquiring, then there is a possibility, is there not?, for the mind itself to become the unknown. Therefore the mind itself becomes teh heaven, the unfathomable.
Question: The words "the thinker and the thought are one" seem incomprehensible to me, and arouse my resistance. Can you tell me why I find the idea so extremely difficult to understand?
Krishnamurti: Probably the idea is difficult because you are meeting idea with idea, because we have been conditioned from childhood to think that there are two different states, the thinker and the thought, the higher self and the lower self, the God and the non-God - the one trying to dominate, control, shape the other. That is what we are always taught, are we not? We are conditioned in that way, prejudiced, biased. We think these two states are separate. And so there is a constant battle between the thinker and the thought.
Please notice your own minds, your own thoughts, and you will see this is an ordinary, everyday fact: there is the thinker controlling, disciplining his thought, shaping it, making it more noble, more virtuous, more respectable, inhibited. That is what we are doing, is it not?
And, if you are at all awake, why do you ask the question whether the thinker is separate? Is there a thinker as an entity, a spiritual essence, or call it what you like, a higher self, apart from thought? Is there a thinker apart from the very quality of thinking? Obviously not. If I do not think, there is no thinker. So, thinking creates the thinker.
Please, you do not have to accept anything I say; just observe your own ways of thought.
And so, we are everlastingly in conflict, the conflict between the thinker and his thought. I want to concentrate, and my thoughts go off; I am jealous, and I must not be jealous; at one end of the scale I am very noble, at the other end I am ugly. So, there is this battle going on. And if one wants to transcend, to go beyond this battle, to be free from this everlasting struggle, must one not find out if the thinker is a reality, if there is a thinker apart from the thoughts? Thoughts are transient, aren't they; they change. And the mind, seeing this vast transient chain going on, naturally desires to establish a thinker which is not destructible. So, I, thought, have given myself a quality of imperishability. So there I have established, by thought, a thinker - the thinker that knows, the thinker that accumulates, the thinker that can choose, the thinker that can overcome all difficulties. But the thinker is part of the thought. There is only thinking.
Can the thinking process free itself from the struggle, from the constant battle of achievement, the constant desire for permanency? After all, thought is the result of the known; thought is the reaction of the known, of memory, of experience, of knowledge. You cannot think without words, without symbols, or without memory. And thought, in its struggle to become something greater, creates the ideal. And then there is the ideal and the actual; the `what should be' and the `what is'. And so there is a battle ever going on, a constant effort, constant struggle, to achieve, to become, to be better.
And yet one really wants to understand and be free from the struggle. Because, struggle, conflict, is uncreative; like all war, it is destructive. And if there is to be creativeness in the highest sense of that word, there cannot be conflict. And if I am serious in my desire to find out how to put an end to conflict, I must be clear about this question of the observer and the observed. As long as there is the observer, the thinker, the experiencer, apart from the experience, the observed, the thought, there must be conflict.
Seeing this whole process, how the mind invents the thinker, the separate entity, the ego, the higher self, the atman, is it not possible for the mind not to divide itself but only be concerned with thinking? Is it not possible for the mind to be free of ideation, of thought - thought being the memory, the background, from which there is the reaction through words, through expression, through symbols?
Surely, when the mind is free from struggle, from conflict, when the mind is still, when there is that stillness which is not induced by the background, by thought, then only is there the cessation of all conflict. That stillness is not an idea, it is a fact. It is the unfathomable, the unknown. And then the mind is the real.
April 8, 1953.
London 5th Public Talk 8th April 1953
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