Ojai 2nd Public Talk 21st June, 1953
I would like this morning, if I can, to talk over the problem of change. Considering the world situation, the starvation, the wars, the competition, the incessant conflict between man and man, the extraordinary prosperity of some nations and the extreme poverty in the East, where millions of people have one meal or less a day - taking all this into consideration, it is clear that there must be some kind of radical transformation, a revolutionary change. And I think it is fairly obvious, if one has thought about this matter, that any change through conformity, compulsion, or fear, is no change at all. Mere peripheral change, adjustment on the outward circle, whether economic, political, social, or even so-called religious, is no revolution. Revolution must naturally be at the centre, not on the circumference, on the outside; and how is this revolution at the centre to take place? I am using the word "revolution" advisedly, for if there is change at the centre, it is a revolution, a complete transformation of thought; and it is only when there is this revolution at the centre that there can be significant changes on the outside, on the periphery. But most of us are concerned, not with the revolution at the centre, but with changes on the outside: we want a better economic position, more riches, more comfort, more prosperity, more luxury, a greater variety of entertainments and distractions. With that most of us are concerned. Or we change from one special activity to another, from one religion to another, from one dogma to another, which is merely going from an old cage to a new one. And if we are somewhat inclined to be serious, we talk about the stopping of war - again considering how to bring about a change on the outside. Scientific research, social reform, political adjustment, are all concerned with outward change, as are the various religions and sectarian societies.
Now, how is one to bring about a change at the centre? That is the problem for most of us, is it not? If we are at all serious and see the superficiality of merely seeking a better job, or an immediate solution for our problems, whether economic, political, or religious, we will naturally want to know if it is possible to bring about a change at the centre which will in turn bring about a transformation in our relationship with our family, with our immediate partners, and so on, which is society.
I do not know if you have thought about this matter, but I consider it a fundamental issue, not easily to be put aside. For years we have tried to reform ourselves outwardly, we have sought to transform our manners, our thoughts, our conduct, our society, and it has not brought about a radical change, a creative release; and it seems to me that without this deep, inward revolution at the centre, whatever effort we exert to change things on the outside is utterly useless. It may bring about changes which are satisfactory for the moment; but if the revolution does not take place at the centre, mere alteration on the circumference, on the outside, is of very little significance, and it may ultimately lead to greater mischief. So realizing that, let us find out how to bring about this change, this revolution at the centre.
What is this centre? Surely, it is the mind; and we are going to find out if the mind can change, can bring about a revolution within itself. The mind is obviously made up of the conscious as well as the unconscious levels; and any effort to change itself on the part of the conscious mind is still on the outside. Please see the importance of this.
As I said yesterday, if I may repeat it in a different way without boring you, it is important to know how to listen. When you make a conscious effort to listen, to understand, then understanding is thwarted by that very effort. When your whole attention is given to trying to find out, your mind is in a state of tension, and therefore there is no listening, there is no penetration, there is no spontaneous response to something that is not completely or fully understood. And yet to listen requires a certain attention, you cannot just go to sleep. But to listen is entirely different from hearing. You may hear what I am saying and comprehend the significance of the words; but if the mind does not go beyond the mere verbal communication between you and me, there is no real understanding. What I am trying to convey is not so much the verbal implication but much more the things that lie between words, the space, the interval between thoughts. If the mind can be quiet, attentive to that which lies between the words, if it can be so attuned, then it can listen wholly totally; and perhaps it is that very listening which brings about a revolution, and not the conscious effort to achieve understanding.
Most of us know only the conscious effort to change, to discipline the mind, and therefore what we call change is a partial process, it is not a total revolution. I am talking of that total, integrated revolution, not a partial, a superficial action; and that total revolution cannot take place through any conscious effort on our part. We know what consciousness is we are familiar with the conscious mind that thinks and desires, that is moved by impulse, by motive, and brings about conformity. The conscious mind is constantly making an effort in a particular direction, either to conform through fear, or through fear to change itself to fit another pattern of action. So any conscious effort to change must be influenced by conformity, by fear, by the desire to succeed, or to better oneself in order to achieve a certain result, either in this world, or in the world of sainthood. it is imperative that there should be a deep revolution, but that revolution must obviously be unconscious; because, if I deliberately bring about a revolution in myself, it will be the result of desire, of memory, of time. I want to be better, I want to achieve a result, I want to find out what God is, what truth is, I want to be happier; so I say there must be a change. Positive or negative effort, the effort to be or not to be, is based on fear, on the urge to gain, to find comfort, peace, security; so any change through conscious effort is not a change at all, it is merely an adjustment to a different pattern. Of that one must see the truth completely. Like all economic revolutions, whether of the right or of the left, it is still not a change at the centre. Both bring about tyrannies. So the wise man is not concerned essentially with peripheral changes: he is concerned with that revolution which is inward, which is at the centre. And how are you and I to bring about that change?
I do not know if you see the importance of this question. All schools of religion, all religious societies, seek to bring about a change through conscious effort, through discipline, through conformity, through fear, through the desire to achieve a better state, whether socially, religiously, or psychologically, all of which is on the outside. But surely, the man who is consciously becoming virtuous is immoral, because he is virtuous for his own security, for his own comfort, for his own happiness. We are not talking of such a change, such a transformation.
So how is one to bring about this revolution at the centre? We see that the deliberate, conscious effort of everyday thought cannot do it. And can the unconscious do it? Do you understand what we mean by the unconscious? The unconscious is the residue of the past, is it not? It is the result of the racial instincts, of the cultural imprints, of all that we have been in the past, of the whole human struggle with its hidden urges compulsions, drives. Can that unconscious help to bring about a change, a revolution at the centre? And is there a difference, a gap, a hiatus between the unconscious and the conscious? Surely, the conscious mind, the mind that is awake during the day, functioning in our daily activities, is only the outer edge of the unconscious, is it not? There is not a fundamental difference between the two. As the leaf of a tree is the outcome of the deep roots in the earth, so the conscious mind is the outcome of the deep unconscious. There is not a division between them, the two things are not different, only we are not familiar with the unconscious. We are familiar with the conscious mind, the every day activity of greed, competition, jealousy, envy, wanting this and not wanting that, the ceaseless struggle; but the same urges are also at the deeper level, are they not? So can one look to the unconscious to bring about a radical transformation?
If you really listen to all that I am saying and follow it easily, you will find the right answer; and the finding of the right answer is the revolution at the centre. What is the state of the mind when there is no effort either by the conscious or the unconscious? Is there a centre then? With the majority of us there is a centre, which is the "me", the ego, the self; and whether that centre be at a higher or a lower level is not of great significance. The centre is the "me", the acquisitive instinct which expresses itself through the ownership of property, through the desire to become better, to acquire virtue through control, through discipline, and all the rest of it. The fears, the anxieties, the affections, the longings, the hopes, the failures, the frustrations - that is the centre we know, is it not? And for that centre to cease completely is the only revolution; but that revolution cannot come about through any effort on the part of the conscious or the unconscious.
Now, when one realizes all this, what is the state of one's mind? Obviously, the first response is an extraordinary sense of anxiety, of fear, of not knowing what is going to happen. The "me", the centre which is an accumulation of innumerable reactions, of innumerable cultural, political and religious influences - it is that centre which has been functioning; and if that centre has to go completely for the mind to be pristine, incorruptible, single, alone, the first reaction is obviously a sense of tremendous negation, of not being; and very few of us can stand that, which is to face what we actually are. So at the centre there is fear, and from that centre we begin to create defence, we cling to gifts, capacities, talents, thereby bringing about the constant conflict between what we actually are, and what we should like to be. And yet, at intelligent moments, we perceive that this mere traffic with the outward affairs will never bring about a deep, lasting, fundamental revolution. So those of us who are at all serious and religiously inclined must obviously be concerned with this question of revolution at the centre.
Since neither the conscious nor the unconscious mind can bring about a radical change at the centre, what is the mind to do? Can the mind do anything? As we have seen, the mind is the conscious as well as the unconscious activity of thought, of reaction, of memory. Mind is the result of time, and time does not bring about revolution. On the contrary, it is the cessation of time that produces the fundamental revolution at the centre. The centre is used to time, the centre is time, the whole psychological process of yesterday, today and tomorrow, "I have been", "I am", "I shall be: the frustration, the fear and the hope. So the mind cannot produce a revolution; when it does, it creates more brutality, more tyrannies, more horrors, a totalitarian compulsion. And if the mind cannot bring about a radical change, then what is the function of the mind?
I hope you are following all this, because I am talking not only for myself, but also for you. I feel that if this extraordinary revolution could take place in each one of us, we would bring about a different world, we would be missionaries of a totally different kind, not those who convert, but who liberate.
So what is the function of the mind when it realizes that neither a conscious effort nor an unconscious urge on its part can bring about complete transformation? What is it to do? It can only be still, can it not? Any effort on its part to change itself is the outcome of its conditioning, of its fear, of its desire for success, of its hope that things will be better, and such effort only thwarts the discovery of the right answer. Please see the importance of this. If I realize that the fundamental revolution cannot be brought about through any response of the mind, conscious or unconscious, that all such responses are based on acquisitive fear, on memory, on time, and are therefore on the outside, on the periphery - if I realize that, then the mind has to be completely quiet, has it not? So the mind's function is only to see how these responses arise, and not seek to capture a particular state, or try to bring about a change at the centre through an action of will. All that it can do is to watch its responses. But to watch requires infinite patience; and if you are impatient, then that very watching becomes a drudgery, because you want to get on, you want to achieve a result. It is only when the mind is constantly aware of its own responses of fear, of greed, of envy of hope, that these responses come to an end; but they cannot come to an end if there is any condemnation, comparison, judgment. They come to an end by mere observation, by complete cessation of all choice. Then the mind becomes extraordinarily quiet, utterly still, and in that stillness there is a revolution at the centre. Only then is there a possibility of being truly individual, because then the mind is alone, uninfluenced. That state is creativeness. There is no longer an experiencer who is experiencing. As long as there is an experiencer, there is the process of time.
So this revolution at the centre, which is so obviously essential, is not possible through any form of compulsion or discipline, which is all childish; it can come about only when the mind is utterly quiet, choicelessly aware of its own responses, outward and inward, as a total process. Then you will find that there comes an extraordinary sense of inward bliss - which is not a promise, nor a reward for your valiant effort of days or years to come to it. That happiness, that bliss, is not the opposite of sorrow; it has nothing to do with sorrow. But in the understanding of sorrow, and being free from sorrow, that state comes into being.
In considering some of these questions, I hope you and I are really thinking over the problem together. You are not waiting for my answer, because I am not giving an answer. It is very simple to give answers, to say "yes" or "no", like a school teacher. What is important is that you and I together uncover the answer in the problem, which is the only right answer; and to do that, you must be alert, and I must be alert. The right answer is not easily found. Most of us are so eager to find the answer and get on with the next problem that we never examine the problem itself. There is only one problem, though it may have different expressions; and to understand that problem through its various expressions requires a great deal of wisdom penetration insight, and a patience which is not laziness. To penetrate, to understand, the mind must be free from all authority, from all book knowledge, from what some one else has previously said. Unfortunately, most of us have read so much, we know so well what the Buddha, the Christ, or someone else has said, that we are incapable of thinking the problem right through. But if we are to find the right answer together, you also have to think, to inquire, to penetrate into the question.
Question: You say that to be free of the self is an arduous task, and at the same time you assert that any effort to be free is an impediment to that very freedom. Is this not a vicious circle? How can one perform the arduous task without effort?
Krishnamurti: What do we mean by effort? When do you make an effort? And if there is no effort does it imply laziness, stagnation? So let us begin to find out what we mean by effort, in what direction we are making effort, and why we make effort.
When we talk of making an effort, we always mean exerting ourselves in order to achieve a result, do we not? We want better health, better understanding, a better social, economic or political position, and so on, which means that we are always making an effort to arrive somewhere. Or we make an effort to remove certain psychological blocks. If we are envious, we say we must not be envious, and therefore we create a resistance against envy. Or we want to be very learned, we want to know more in order to impress, or to have a better job; therefore we read, we study. That is all the effort we know is it not? For most of us, effort is either positive or negative, it is a process of becoming or not becoming; and that very process is the centre of the self, is it not? If I am envious and I make an effort not to be envious, surely the entity who makes that effort is still the self, the "me". Any effort to dominate the self, positively or negatively, is still part of the self, and therefore it only further strengthens the self; and in that vicious circle one is caught. So the problem is how to break that vicious circle, that continuous chain of effort which only gives greater strength to the "me".
Now please follow this. You can break the vicious circle only if you are aware of it as a total process. When the mind sees that it is envious, it wants to be un-envious, because it thinks that not being envious will pay it in some way; it derives a certain satisfaction from the effort not to be envious, it makes a spiritual record. So in not being envious, the mind finds security, shelter, and the maker of the effort is still the "me", the ego the self. Please just realize that, only that. Then the problem arises, what am I to do when I am envious? I am used to denying, creating resistance against envy; now I see the futility of that, the absurdity of one part of me denying another part, when I am the whole. So what am I to do? But we never come to that point, we never recognize that we are both the envy, and the desire not to be envious. When we are envious, we exert effort to dominate envy, and we think that effort is beneficial, that it will bring about freedom from the self. It will not. But when I understand, when I am fully aware that envy and the desire not to be envious is a total process, then is there an effort? Then something entirely different takes place, does it not?
Is all this too much for this morning?
Audience: No, no.
Krishnamurti: All right. The moment we are conscious that we are envious, or angry, or jealous, a process of condemnation is set going; and as long as one is condemning, there is no comprehension. The very words "envy", "anger", "jealousy", imply judgment, comparison, condemnation, do they not? Through centuries of education, of culture, of religious training, these words have come to connote a sense of denunciation; they stand for something to be put aside, resisted, fought, and our whole reaction is in that direction. So I find that when I name certain feelings, I am already in a position of condemnation; and the very act of condemning, of resisting a feeling strengthens it. If I don't condemn envy, will I yield to it? Will I become more envious? Surely, envy is always envy, it is not more or less. The demand, the direction may vary, but envy is always the same whether its object be a Ford or a Cadillac, a large house or a small one. So not to name and therefore not to condemn envy, is not to indulge in it. When one understands that the very word "envy" connotes condemnation, that the feeling of antagonism to envy is embedded in the word itself, then a freedom comes into being. That freedom is not opposed to envy, it is not freedom from envy. Freedom from a particular quality is not freedom at all, and the man who is free from something is like the man who is against the government: as long as he is against something he is not a free man. Freedom is complete in itself, it is not from any position, or against any state or quality.
So all effort to overcome, to be free from something, only strengthens the "me", the self, the ego; and when one really understands this, when one is aware of the quality and its opposite as a total process and sees how the word itself contains condemnation or encouragement, then one is no longer caught in words, and therefore the mind is free to regard, to observe what is. The understanding of what is, and the freedom that it brings, is not the outcome of a persistent practice, of a drudgery to which you devote so many minutes every morning; it comes into being only when one is aware throughout the day of the trees, of the birds, of one's own reactions, of the things that are happening inwardly and outwardly as a total process. When there is condemnation or justification, comparison or identification, there is no comprehension of what is, and that is why it is very arduous to be aware. What is can be understood only from moment to moment, which means that one must be completely aware that one is judging, that every word has either approval or denial. As long as the mind is the verbal expression of its own conditioning, it can never be free. There is freedom only when the mind is empty of all thought.
June 21, 1953
Ojai 2nd Public Talk 21st June, 1953
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