Ojai 4th Public Talk 28th June, 1953
I think it is important with what attitude we come to these meetings, because to me they are very serious, You are not here to meet your friends which you can do afterwards, or to spend an hour in entertainment, in mere verbal discussion, opposing one idea or opinion with another. What we are trying to do is to go into the very complex problem of living, and for that there must be a great deal of earnestness. Bearing that in mind, it is obviously quite out of place to take photographs, or to ask for autographs, which are among the many flippant things we do when we are not really in earnest; and I would beg of you to regard our meeting here, not as a curious gathering of very odd people, but as a coming together of those who are seriously endeavouring to find out the full significance of living. At least, that is my approach, and I am very earnest about it. There is such chaos, such misery and confusion in the world; and, however small our gathering may be, if we can go into this problem very intently, not just for an hour or so on Saturday afternoon or Sunday morning, but continuously throughout the week, then perhaps we shall come to a point when we ourselves will be the missionaries, not merely the listeners, when we ourselves will begin to talk of these things out of our own depth of understanding and experience. So my intention in talking here is not to express or to fulfil myself, which would obviously be most childish, but rather to see if we cannot together awaken that intelligence, that integrated outlook on life which will enable each one of us to be the flame that brings about a fundamental, radical revolution in our own thinking, and so perhaps in the world about us. If there is a sense of quietness, a sense of dignity, a mutual respect which demands equal attention on the part of all, then perhaps we can go deeply into these problems and not be satisfied with descriptions, with mere scratching on the surface.
This morning I would like, if I can, to talk over the problem of what it is to experience; and, if we do not bring about a fundamental revolution at the centre, whether there is any possibility of experiencing except as a mere continuation of past experience. Now, what is this centre? Surely, it is the "me", the self, the ego, the mind: the mind which is so sensitive, so extraordinarily capable which can understand such a variety of experience, which can store up in numerable memories, which can invent, which can design a plane capable of flying at forty thousand feet and at six hundred miles an hour. This centre, which is a complex machine with unlimited potentialities, is edged about with the thought of "me: my pleasure, my security, my vanities, my possessions, my advancement, my fulfilment. It is a centre of affection, of hate, of passing pleasures, of envy, greed and pain. And can I bring about a revolution at this centre so that the self, the "me" is non-existent? Because, the "me" is the source of misery, is it not? Though the "me" may have passing satisfactions, superficial joys and affections, it is constantly multiplying problems, producing pain. However high I may place the self, at whatever level, it is still within the field of thinking; and thinking, with most of us, is pain, suffering, a constant battle between what I am and what I should be. And yet this machine, this mind which is always thinking about itself and its own security, is also capable of infinite unfoldment.
I do not know if you have ever thought what extraordinary significance, what nuances, what subtle profundities words like "love" and "death" have for the mind. And yet this mind, with all its subtleties and swiftness of movement, is bound by the thought of "me: the "me" that is not loved and must be loved, the "me" that should love, the "me" that is going to die. And is it possible for this "me", the self, to completely come to an end? That is fundamentally our problem, is it not? All religions, not the organized churches, but all real teachers, all civilizations and cultures, have always struggled to eliminate the "me", the sense of separate effort. Various governments have made extraordinary efforts to destroy the "me" through tyranny, either of the left or of the right, through the totalitarian domination over the thought of "me", hoping to bring about a culture of co-operative work. Yet this "me', is constantly asserting itself; it is always translating every experience, every reaction, every movement of thought in terms of its own centre. The "me", the self, the ego, is the source of conflict, of pain, of the everlasting strife. to become, to achieve, to gain; and as long as we do not see this fact, however capable, however subtle and learned the mind may be, it will only create more problems, produce more misery. So those of us who are really in earnest must obviously direct our inquiry to finding out if this "I" can come to an end.
Now, what is this "I"? It is a process of recognition, is it not? It is a centre of experience, of fear, of joy, of passing fulfilment, of memory. If the "I" is not, there is no experience with which the mind identifies itself as my experience.
I am not telling you anything new. On the contrary, I am just describing what is actually taking place in each one of us. My verbal expression must inevitably be very limited; but if, as you listen, you observe this process in yourself you will begin to see the intricacies, the extraordinary subtleties of your own thinking; you will become aware of your own centre, of this aggressive or negative state of the mind which is called the "me" and which is constantly reaching out to gain through acceptance or denial.
So the "I" is a centre of recognition and experience; and as the mind translates every experience in terms of this centre, it is constantly limiting itself. As long as the "I" is there the mind cannot go beyond, however capable, however fantastically subtle it may be. When every experience is translated in terms of the self, in terms of like and dislike, how can the mind go beyond? A mind that is caught in the pursuit of gratification and the avoidance of pain, that is always limiting itself by its efforts, by its demands, by its fears - how can such a mind ever experience or comprehend that which is beyond itself? And yet, if we are at all earnest, that is what we are seeking, is it not? Of course, if we are satisfied to be caught in the pleasures and pains of daily life, there is no problem; we will merely go on substituting one pain for another, one pleasure for another, one belief or dogma for another. But if we want to go beyond, to search out, to discover, surely the "me" which is everlastingly putting a limit on the mind, must come to an end. Now, how is this "I", the self, the ego, this self-centred and self enclosing movement of thought, to come to an end? This centre is fed by experience, is it not? And what is experience, whether it is conscious or unconscious? Please this is a very important question, so let us think it out together.
Experience is a continuation of memory, is it not? If I meet you and you are a complete stranger, there is no recognition. But if I know you, there is set going the process of recognition, which is the experiencing of pleasure or pain, of flattery or insult. So the mind is always translating experience in terms of the known. Therefore the unknown, that which cannot be found out, becomes something fearful, something to be afraid of: to morrow, death, the future. Being afraid, the mind builds theories, hopes, ideas, all of which further strengthen the "me". That is the process we know. But if we can find out how not to feed the "me" at any level, high or low, then perhaps we shall negatively be capable of bringing about the ending of the "me". It cannot be done positively, but only negatively, by finding out how this "I" nourishes itself and continues to survive. Surely, the "I", the mind can think only in terms of past experience, in terms of the known. Our religions, our culture, our outlook, our ideals, are all in terms of the known, and the mind, the "I", clings to these things and strengthens itself through its knowledge of the known.
So, being aware of this whole process, can the mind free itself from the known and come to a state in which the unknown can be? Surely, that is the only revolution: when the fear of the unknown is not. And that revolution can take place only when the mind sees the futility of the known. But consciously or un- consciously we are always seeking the known; it is our desire for the known that creates gods, heaven, the ideal future, the perfect State. We project what should be and force man to fit into the known, and that is our Utopia.
Man can never perfect himself, because his perfection is always the known. Please, it is very important to think this out. We are striving to make ourselves more and more perfect, technologically as well as psychologically. The effort to bring about technological perfection one can understand. But the desire to make oneself inwardly, psychologically, more perfect is always to conform to the known, to something which has already been experienced - which implies that the mind can perfect itself only in terms of the past, or in terms of reaction to the past. As the communist society is a reaction to the capitalist state, to which it is constantly opposed, so the mind's effort to perfect itself is a reaction to its conditioning; and reaction is never perfect, it is only an extension of the known.
The "me" is a total entity. Though we talk of the conscious and the unconscious, actually there is only one state: consciousness. We are aware of that part which we call the conscious, and of the other part we are hardly aware; but the mind is a total process which includes both the inner and the peripheral consciousness, the hidden as well as the open. Now, can one be aware of this total consciousness which is the "me", with its desires, its anxieties, its fears, its motives, its constant struggle to better itself, its urge to fulfil - can one be completely aware of this process without strengthening the activity of the "me"? And can this whole process of the "me" come to an end? Surely, it cannot come to an end by any act of volition, nor by any trick, nor by repeating phrases, chants, mesmerizing oneself with words, nor by losing oneself in some idiotic phantasy such as that of the nation, or the phantasy of God.
If you will really go into it, you will see that this is a very important inquiry, because the solution to our human problems does not lie at any conscious level. Our consciousness is now limited by the "me", and any answer that comes out of the "me" will only produce further mischief, further sorrow. Knowing this, being aware of the total process of the "me", can there be an ending to the "me"?
Do you understand how we have tried to end the "me", the self? We have tried it through discipline, through controls, through defence, through resistance; we have tried it through compulsion, through conformity to dogma and belief. We have tried it through various forms of self immolation, forgetting oneself for the bigger thing, for one's property, for one's wife and children, for the State, for the world. We have tried to forget ourselves in war, in service, in loving another, and ultimately in the idea of God. We have tried all these tricks - and they are tricks - and have only brought about more misery, more tyranny, more chaos in the world.
You don't have to read a great deal to understand all this. You are the result of the past, of all human struggle, of all human endeavour, joy and sorrow. The whole story of humanity is in you, and if you know how to read that, then you don't have to read a single book. To discover that, no philosophy, no system is necessary. So the question I am putting to myself, and which I hope you will also put to yourself, is: can this thing called the "me", which runs like a thread through every action, through every thought, through every movement of affection, come to an end? Please just put the question to yourself, don't try to find an answer, because whatever you find will be a positive answer, which is an invention of the mind, and there- fore it will become another means of perpetuating the "me". But if you put the question to yourself, being totally aware of this whole process, then you will find, not a verbal answer, but that spontaneous answer which is a revolution and which comes into being only when you ask the question without any volition; and that is true listening. If you become choicelessly aware of the "me" in all its activities, of the whole process of your thinking, the cognitive as well as the hidden, if you see it without judgement or condemnation, you are bound to bring about revolution at the centre. Then the mind becomes extraordinarily subtle, astonishingly active and alert.
At present our minds are crippled by our fears, by our frustrations, by the desire to succeed; but if, without judgment, without condemnation or choice, we begin to be aware of this whole process of consciousness that is going on, whether we are awake or asleep, then we will find that, in spite of ourselves and our desires, in spite of our conflicts, our wars and brutalities, there is a revolution at the centre; and like a wave that reaches further and further, from the centre all our difficulties will be solved. But if merely approached from the outside, our problems can never be solved. It is from the centre that all human problems arise; and if there is an ending, a complete cessation at the centre, that in itself will bring about a total revolution. But a mind that deliberately tries to bring about a revolution, to deny the centre, will only create further misery. Then it becomes an ideal, and an idealist is not a revolutionary: he is merely conforming to a pattern of his own invention.
So please just listen to all this, absorb it silently, and you will see that creativeness is a thing that comes into being when the mind is quiet, when the "`me" is totally absent. The creativeness which we occasionally know through turmoil is not the same as the creativeness which is free from the centre. Creativeness free from the centre is not of time, because it is not the invention of the mind; and without that creativeness life has very little significance, though we may have all the prosperity, all the latest gadgets in the world. We soon get tired of that; we want more of these gadgets. But this creativeness is not of satisfaction, it is something totally unknown it cannot be conceived or speculated upon. It can come into being only when the mind, being fully aware of the total process of the "me", understands its significance and therefore does not feed it through experience.
Question: Why is it that those who have a secure income and are able to retire from responsible work so often deteriorate and go to pieces psychologically?
Krishnamurti: Is the deterioration merely a matter of secure income? Perhaps the secure income only exaggerates the deterioration which has already taken place. No, sirs, please don't brush it off by laughter. Are we concerned with why the mind deteriorates at a certain stage, or with why the mind deteriorates at all? A man who is working, earning money, going regularly to an office, is apparently not deteriorating because he is active; but when that activity stops, you perceive the deterioration. The mind that is caught in routine, whether it is the routine of an office, of a ritual, or the routine of a certain dogma, is already deteriorating, is it not? Surely it is much more worthwhile to find out what are the causes which bring about this deterioration of the mind, than to inquire why your neighbour who has money goes to pieces when he retires. Please, if we can really understand this one question, perhaps we shall know the eternity of the mind. Why does the mind deteriorate - not your mind only, but the mind of man? One can see that the deteriorating factor arises when the mind becomes a machine of habit, when its education is merely a matter of memory, and when it is ceaselessly struggling to conform to a pattern whether imposed or self-created. There is fear, deterioration, a destruction of the mind when it is constantly seeking security, or when it is burdened with the desire to fulfil itself. And that is our state, is it not? Either we are caught in habit, in routine, doing the same thing over and over again, practising virtue, conforming to the pattern of a discipline in order to arrive somewhere, to find psychological or material security; or else we are competing, making tremendous effort in our ambition to achieve worldly success. Surely, that is what each one of us is doing, and therefore we have already set going the mechanism of deterioration. If any of these responses exist in us, at whatever level, we are deteriorating.
Now, can the mind renew itself constantly? Can the mind be creative from moment to moment? I do not mean creativeness in the sense of mere design, expression, capacity, the cultivation of a technique. I am not referring to creativeness in any of those terms. But can the mind experience the unknown? Surely, it is only in the state of unknowableness that there is no deterioration. Any other state is bound to bring old age to the mind. Like any other piece of machinery that is kept running day after day for weeks, months, years, the mind that is always active inevitably deteriorates. As long as you use your mind as a machine to achieve, to produce, to gain, you have the seeds of deterioration, of old age and senility; and whether in a boy of sixteen or in a man of sixty, it is the same process. But of that deteriorating process most of us are not aware. All that we are aware of is that we are caught in the machinery of pleasure and pain, of misery and the struggle to get out of it. So the mind is never still, never unoccupied, it is everlastingly occupied with something: with God, with communism, with capitalism, with growing wealthy, with what one's neighbour thinks, or with the kitchen - oh, innumerable things! Being constantly occupied, it is never free, quiet. It is only the mind that is quiet, not out of dullness, but because it is in that state of silence which is creative - it is only such a mind that ceases to deteriorate. Freedom from deterioration is not possible for the mind that fulfills itself through capacity. As you grow older, capacity becomes dull. You may be an expert player of the piano, but as you grow older rheumatism sets in, disease comes on, you go blind, or you are destroyed by an accident. The mind which is seeking fulfilment in any direction, at any level, has already within it the seed of destruction. It is the "me" that is wanting to fulfil itself, to become something; being empty, frustrated, the "me" seeks fulfilment in my family, my child, my property, my idea, my experience. When one recognizes all this and sees the danger of it, only then is it possible for the mind to be empty from moment to moment, from day to day un-crippled by the burden of the past or the fear of the future. To live in that moment is not something fantastic, something given only to the few. After all, as I said, each one of us is caught in misery, in strife, in pain, in passing joy, and each one of us must find this unknown; it is not reserved for one and denied to the rest. It is together that we can create a new world; but the new world cannot come into being through revolution on the outside, which is the revolution of decay.
The mind deteriorates as long as it is seeking an end, or as long as it is conforming to authority bred of fear. There is a withering away of the mind when there is no self-know- ledge, and self-knowledge is not a thing to be learnt from a book. It is to be uncovered at every moment of the day, which requires a mind that is extraordinarily alert; and the mind is not alert when it has found an end. So the factor that brings about deterioration lies in our own hands. A mind that is caught in experience, that lives on experience, can never find the unknowable. The unknowable comes into being only when the past is not; and the past is not only when the mind is still.
June 28, 1953
Ojai 4th Public Talk 28th June, 1953
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