Madras 3rd Public Talk 12th December 1953
You may remember what we were discussing last week. We were considering how to approach the problem. As long as we are looking for an answer to the problem, a solution, the problem is of no importance in itself. If we are merely searching a way out of the problem, which most of us do, then the problem becomes insignificant. If we can approach the problem without a desire to find an answer then, as we stated, we will find that the problem itself becomes all important; and then it is a matter of how one approaches the problem, and not the search for an answer.
Now I would like to discuss this evening the same thing, what we were saying last week, only differently, to approach it differently. But before I go into that, is not communication difficult? I have something to say, and you listen with your conclusions or your own biases or your own particular experiences. You listen from a conclusion and so you are not listening to it at all. Please pay, if you don't mind, a little attention to what I am saying. What I want to say is not so complicated. If you can listen, not with a conclusion but trying to find out what I am trying to convey, then perhaps communication may be made easier. Most of us are told what to think; but we do not know how to think. Our minds are so conditioned and so full of what to think, that any statement of another - contradictory, silly or wise - is translated through the screen of our conclusion. So we are not listening or understanding what the other fellow is saying at all. Is it possible to listen without a conclusion, purely to listen as you would listen to music?
What I want to discuss this evening is the problem of a mind approaching this vast complex problem of existence. The existence is not only the acquiring of a job or maintaining a job but the whole field of the psychological existence with which most of us are almost unfamiliar. We have been told by some that there is continuity and by others that there is no continuity; but we have never found out for ourselves. The problem of existence is this vast complex of wars, class, caste, division - the perpetual battle of man against man in competition. We have the desire to find out what is truth, what is God, what is mortality, if there is continuity after death. We have not found the reality of any of these things. But we believe what we are told from our childhood; or, from out of our fear, or for our security, we invent or grasp at some hope.
Now there is this enormous, psychological, unconscious or semi-conscious complexity which we call life. How does the mind approach the problem? Can a mind which is constantly thinking in terms of `becoming', acquiring, understand this complex state when the mind is only thinking in terms of acquiring or is being driven with acquisitive discontent? Do you understand? There is this problem. How do you approach the problem? Do you approach it in thinking of the problem in terms of the more, in terms of `becoming', or in terms of `being'? This is not a philosophical question. Do not translate immediately into terms of becoming, being, as a philosophical thesis.
Our minds are accustomed to think in terms of becoming - becoming more rich, having a better job, having greater virtue, becoming more beautiful, in terms of the more, more time to develop, to become greater, wiser, more in knowledge - which we call discontent. That is our state of mind. `The more' implies the whole process of time, `I must have tomorrow to learn more, to become wise; I must have more time to understand.' So is our approach, is it not? When we are confronted with this problem, we are thinking of the more, in terms of time. We never begin to understand it as `being'.
The fact is that there is this complexity, and we think of changing the fact in terms of time and not in terms of being. This is what is mediocrity. I am not using that word comparatively, that is, in terms of one who is cleverer, more brilliant, greater genius, greater capacity to create. I am not using that word comparatively, in terms of greater and lesser. But if you are going to translate that word in terms of the more and the less, more clever, more genius or less, you are going to be misled by your own conclusions, which is not in my mind. I want to discuss this with you, for I feel this is one of the problems we are confronted with. A mediocre mind is middling, ordinary, average. I am not now talking of the mind which wants to be the more, which wants to be more clever, which wants to come out of level, which is not creative and therefore struggling to be creative writing poems, writing sentences. I am talking of a mind which is mediocre. Now immediately, the mind - if you observe your own minds in operation - wants a definition of `What is mediocre?' Having a definition, you will think out according to that definition; either you are accepting it, or rejecting it. Is not the mind mediocre when it seeks a definition according to which it shall think? Please follow this.
As I have said last week, it is important to bring about a revolution - not an economic or particular revolution or a revolution at a particular level of our being or existence - a total revolution, a complete, whole, integrated revolution; and that is only possible if our whole thinking process undergoes a real revolution - not a mere substitution of one thought, of one belief, of one idea, by another. So if you are concerned, you will see the importance of a total revolution. The communist or the socialist revolutions are really no revolutions at all. Merely following a particular action or system of thought laid down according to Marx or according to Sankara, is not revolution. A total revolution is necessary because the problems are enormous; and to understand problems we have to understand the mind, because the mind will translate the problems according to its mediocrity, according to its wisdom, according to its knowledge. So, there must be a total revolution in the contents of the mind, which is thought.
So we have to enquire what is mediocrity - not the definition, not how to make the mind which is mediocre, whatever it is, into some thing else. We have actually to discover for ourselves what is mediocrity, not how to become less or more mediocre; because, in the problem of mediocrity you will find this issue of discontent, and the pacification of discontent arises. In that, you will find a constant endeavour to become, to be something. Is a mind which is not trying to become something, mediocre, stagnant? All these problems arise when you enter into this question of what is mediocre. That seems to me to be one of our major difficulties in life.
Out of the enquiry into mediocrity, arises the question `What is creativeness?' A man who paints a picture, writes poems, gives a lecture or uses his power as a means to compel others, in order to become self-important - is that creativeness? Or is creativeness something totally different, not comparable but totally different? If we can go into that question of mediocrity, all these problems will be dealt with. But before we can go into it, we must clear our minds, must we not?, of all comparative thinking. I mean by comparative thinking a mind which is constantly comparing itself with somebody, with an idea, with becoming. For instance, special- ly in this country where caste or class is terrible, our mind is so shaped and so deliberately cultivated as to maintain these strata. We think always in terms of becoming less or more, or, despising them all, destroying what we consider to be the more intelligent in order to bring about equality. I hope you are following all this.
Your mind will say `What is the practicality of all these? What is the use of all these in our daily life?' I will tell you. There is no use at all because your daily life is now not revolutionary, not creative, but dull, heavy, routine; and you cannot solve the problems with your minds as they are now. The moment your mind in thinking process changes, you will be able to deal with the problem. So when you ask about the practicality of what I am saying, then that very question will show that you are not thinking in terms of revolution but only how to bring about superficial adjustment.
Let us look into this question of what is mediocrity. Please follow this. Do not ask for a definition because you are having it in a dictionary, you can go home and look into it. But how can you and I be aware of what mediocrity is? What do we mean by mediocrity? Please do not hold to anything I may say verbally in order to explain what is mediocrity, because then you will use it as a conclusion, as a definition, and you will compare what I have said with what some one else has said, and choose the definition you prefer. Now that process of mind which chooses a definition and compares it with another and in that comparison says `This is applicable to me, this appeals to me' - is not that process a mediocre process? Do you understand what I am talking about?
If I am to enquire into what is mediocrity, I must be aware how my mind is operating, not how to becomes mediocre. The demand of the mind, in wanting to change the mediocre mind into something intelligent, wise, clever, sets about enquiring and trying to find out the definition; and having found a suitable definition which appeals to the mind, it begins to carry that out. Is it not a mediocre mind that is doing this? I hope you are observing your own minds in operation, not merely listening to my words. My words are merely indicating the operation of the mind, the mind which is yours. So you are watching your own mind in operation and not following what I am saying.
When a mind compares because, either for reasons of fear or for security or for greater economic certainty, it wants `to become', is not such a mind mediocre, which means a mind that is afraid? As long as there is fear, there must be comparison, there must be the process of `becoming,' imitation, conformity. So is not mediocrity a state of mind which, being discontented, finds easy pacification of that discontent? We think discontent is wrong. Don't we? At least we are told not to be discontented. Are we not? Is not the pacification of discontent an indication of mediocrity? I am not defining mediocrity, but watching how the mediocre mind works. Does not the mediocre mind seek comfort when there is a burning flame of discontent? That is what most of us want, to find contentment. Because I am discontented, I want to find some resting place somewhere I can be at peace. So what is happening? My mind soon finds a way to be pacified, to be quiet, to be undisturbed - which we call tranquillity of the mind. My mind becomes slowly dull, and I am exhausted because I have not really understood the whole process of discontent. A mind being discontented sometimes becomes very clever, drives, is aggressive; such a mind also is a mediocre mind, because it is trying to transform what is into something else. So is not a mediocre mind a mind that is constantly trying to `become', not only in this world of acquisitiveness but also in the so-called spiritual world, the whole hierarchical principle. `You know, and I do not know; you are the guru, you lead me to safety' - this total process of the mind indicates a mediocre mind. The `becoming', away from what is - `I am little, small; I am ignorant; I am this; and I want to become that, the most supreme one, the God or the Commissar or the Cabinet Minister' - is not this everlasting `becoming', wanting more, not only physiologically or psychologically but also spiritually, the cause of all discontent? Is not this whole process an indication of mediocrity? Now, do you realize that it is so, not merely verbally but actually,? Do you see it as a fact, a defenceless fact? The mind that clings to God, Buddha, Sankara, Aristotle, Gandhiji, or X, Y or Z - is not that also a mediocre mind because it is in capable of discovering what is truth for itself? Therefore it must realize the fact. Now, when you are confronted with that fact, what is the operation of your mind? How does your mind work when you are confronted with this fact? If you are aware of the fact, you will also see that your mind immediately asks `How am I to transform the fact'? Does it not? `I realize my mind is mediocre from what all you have stated now; what am I to do?' - that very question shows that you have not understood the problem. When you are confronted with this fact of mediocrity and you say `What am I to do'?, you are again caught in mediocrity, because you are concerned with changing it. You are not aware of the fact and the truth of it. The very desire to change your mediocre mind into something bigger is preventing you from being creative - not the creativeness of writing poems, however clever, however marvellous. That creativeness which is timeless, which is of no class, no group, no religion, which is truth, which is God, whatever name you give it - that creativeness is not caught by a mediocre mind, a mind which says `I must be creative, I must get at it, I must know more.' But the creativeness comes into being when the mind is face to face with the fact and is still.
The fact of mediocrity and the mind confronted with that fact and having no desire to alter the fact from the state of being in which mediocrity melts away. But this requires a great alertness of mind. You cannot be alert when there is fear. No. Fear makes us dull, unintelligent. A person who is afraid may be very clever, may occupy the highest position in the land, may know all the scriptures, may climb the social ladder or the hierarchical ladder of what is called spirituality which is only illusory; but his is only a dark mind capable of inventing mischief and illusion. Until we resolve that centre of fear - not how are we to resolve it?, we cannot be creative. Being aware of fear without any desire to resolve it, to overcome it, to run away from it, that very discovery of the fact and remaining with the fact is the dissolution of fear.
The gentleman asks `living in a country like this, with a neighbour who is aggressive, who wants to destroy, what is to be my action? Now, Sirs, let us go into the matter, not what to do but how to think of the problem, how to approach the problem. What to do, what action should take place - you will find it out if your minds are clear. India has been unfortunately divided into Pakistan and India. It has been divided through many causes - by the politicians' greed to have immediate power, and by the politicians of other countries to bring about a disunited India and to divide and rule, which has been going on for centuries. It is not just an event happening out of context. It has been a growth. How are you to meet it? How do you meet it? You meet it by armament and so you prolong the problem. Don't you? You are armed and I am armed; and by mutual terror, we hope to have peace; that is what the world is doing, and that is the result of centuries of wrong thinking. Is it not? See how the world is divided. You think India is a separate sovereign country; so is England a separate sovereign country; and so on; different sovereign countries with different flags, different ministers, different laws, different economic barriers. We have been maintaining all this out of our greed, out of our fear; and you say `How am I to act and what am I to do as an individual'? Is that not the problem? Now can you stop this division? The politicians want to divide because then only they can have more power. Are you not having the same, next door, the Andhras and the Tamils? Not so brutally, not so very antagonistically, but the same issue is at stake. Is it not? You will have out of this division other problems; and when these problems arise, you say `What am I to do'? So all that one can do is to think entirely and totally differently, as a human being - not as a Tamilian, Telegu, Indian, Christian or a Communist but as an integrated human being concerned with the problem.
There is only the problem and not the answer to the problem. The moment you put the question `What am I to do', have you not already entered into a system of thought which is going to divide you? Then you have one system and I have another system. Please see the importance of this. There is only the man, not the Englishman, the Russian, the German or the Hindu. As long as there are even a few of us who are thinking in those terms and creating a new process of thinking about these matters, others will come in and rather bring about greater misery and destruction. This answer does not satisfy you because you want an immediate answer to a problem created through centuries by our deliberate desire to have a better position than the neighbour, to be more clever to cultivate a brain, to exploit others - which the Brahmin has unfortunately become now. After creating the mischief, you say `How am I to deal with it?'. You cannot deal with it because it is going on from moment to moment. All that you can do is to have a total perception of that problem, and that perception will bring about a revolution; but you do not like to have this. Before I answer any of these questions written to me, perhaps you will like to ask questions from the talk which I have just now given.
Question: Can a mediocre mind, as it is, realize self-realization?
Krishnamurti: Sirs, it all depends. This is a question and answer meeting and not a discussion. If you want to discuss, please come on Monday morning, Tuesday morning or Wednesday morning when we can discuss this problem. So let me explain what the question means. Because, if you understand the question, you will find the answer in the question itself; you do not have to ask me.
Can a mediocre mind realize God? Is that not, Sir? You may use the word `self-realization,' whatever that may mean. Can the mind be liberated, can it find truth, God, can it? Sir, please do listen. Can a mediocre mind, a small mind, a disturbed mind, a mind that is petty, broken up, that is average, find reality? Reality is something totally unknown. It is something to be from moment to moment. It is not a thing fixed there for me to get. If it is fix- ed there for me to get, it is an invention of the mind. We create God in our image, don't we? All the books, all the temples are filled with the works of our hands - the word, the image, or the symbol which the mind considers very important because it is afraid to discover for itself. Can such a mind find truth or self-realization whatever that word "self-realization" may mean? Can a small mind which is only thinking in terms of getting more, thinking in terms of time - that is, `I will do something to morrow.' `I will get something next life' - can such a mind understand that which is timeless, which is beyond chronological and psychological demand of desire. Obviously not.
Sirs, God is not something that you acquire, as you acquire a suit or get a virtue. It is something incomparable, timeless, unimaginable, not nameable, you cannot come to it. It must come to you. It can only come to you when your mind is no longer seeking. Because you are seeking now in order to acquire in order to become comfortable, in order to become something because you are thinking in terms of time, in terms of growth, in terms of achieving results, you can never know what reality is. Such a mind is a mediocre mind. It can invent phrases, it can talk about God, it can talk about truth. But such a mind has no experience of reality. It cannot. It is only when the mind is no longer comparing, no longer acquiring, to such a mind that is still, reality comes into being; and that reality is not continuous, it is from moment to moment. That which was, is not; and that which is, shall not be. Sirs, these are not just words. When you really go into the problem of all that I have been saying, you yourself will find out what it is to be creative. You yourself will have the mind that is no longer comparing, acquiring, a mind that has come into a state of `being,' and into that being reality comes. That reality is never the same. Therefore the mind cannot write, talk, describe about the reality. That reality has no appeal. You cannot say it appeals to me. Therefore it is really a vain foolish talk.
Only when the mind no longer is seeking, no longer demanding, no longer searching, wanting, becoming, only then the mind is still; and that stillness is not constant, that stillness varies from moment to moment. A mind that only knows continuity is not a still mind. All this requires a great deal of patience, awareness and self-knowledge. That self-knowledge is not of some self you have heard of in books, in which you have been conditioned, brought up; but it is of the self of every day, the self that is finding, seeking, wanting, being acquisitive, discontented corrupting, greedy in vain, inventing the hierarchy in order to assert itself in more power. That is the mind that has to be understood. That can be understood from moment to moment, as you walk, as you talk. You will find when you talk to your servant, watching the language you use, how your mind is conditioned, crippled by tradition; such a mind can never find reality. There must be a total revolution in our thinking for that which is timeless to be.
December 12, 1953
Madras 3rd Public Talk 12th December 1953
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