Banaras 1st Public Talk 9th January 1955
If we can begin by considering what it is to be serious, then perhaps our investigation into the whole process of our thinking and responding to the various challenges of life will have deeper significance.
What do we mean by being serious? And are we ever really serious? Most of us think very superficially, we never sustain a particular intention and carry it through, because we have so many contradictory desires, each desire pulling in a different direction. One moment we are serious about something, and the next it is forgotten and we pursue a different object at a different level. And is it possible to maintain an integrated outlook towards life? I think this is a fairly important question to consider cause I wonder how many of us are serious at all? Or are we serious only about those things which give us satisfaction and have but a temporary meaning?
So I think it would be very interesting, not merely to listen to a talk which I happen to be giving, but earnestly to try to find out together what it means to be serious. When a petty mind gives its effort to being serious, its seriousness is bound to be very shallow, because it is without any understanding of the deeper significance of its own process. One may give one's energies to a particular object, spiritual or mundane, but as long as the mind remains petty, complex, without any understanding of itself, its serious activities will have very little significance. That is why it seems to me very important, especially at this time when there are so many complex problems, so many challenges, that a few of us at least should have a sustained interest in trying to find out if it is possible to be earnest or serious without being distracted by the superficial activities of the mind.
I don't know if you are interested in this problem, but it is surely quite important to find out why most people are not really serious; because it is only a serious mind that can pursue a particular activity to its end and discover its significance. If one is to be capable of action which is integral one must understand the ways of one's own mind, and without that understanding, merely to be serious has very little meaning. I wonder if any of you are following all this, and whether I am explaining myself?
We see the disintegrating process that is going on in the world. The old social order is breaking down, the various religious organizations, the beliefs, the moral and ethical structures in which we have been brought up, are all failing. Throughout our so-called civilization, whether Indian, European, or whatever it be, there is corruption, and every form of useless activity is being carried on. So, is it possible for you and me to be aware of this whole process of disintegration and, stepping out of it as individuals, be serious in our intention to create a totally different kind of world, a different kind of culture, civilization? Do you think we could discuss this instead of my giving a talk?
The problem is this: being caught up in this social, religious and moral disintegration, how can we as individuals break away and create a different world, a different social order, a different way of looking it life? Is this a problem to any of you, or are you content merely to observe this disintegration and respond to if in the habitual manner? Can we this evening discuss this problem together, think it right through and resolve it in ourselves? Do you think it would be profitable to discuss what we mean by change?
Questioner: Let us discuss seriousness.
Krishnamurti: What do we mean by seriousness? To be serious, to be earnest, surely implies the capacity to find out what is true. Can I find out what is true if my mind is tethered to any particular point of view? If it is bound by knowledge, by belief, if it is caught in the conditioning influences that are constantly impinging upon it, can the mind discover anything new? Does not seriousness imply the total application of one's mind to any problem of life? Can a mind which is only partially attentive, which is contradictory within itself, however much it may attempt to be serious, ever respond adequately to the challenge of life? Is a mind that is torn by innumerable desires, each pulling in a different direction, capable of discovering what is true, however much it may try? And is it not therefore very important to have self-knowledge, to be serious in the process of understanding the self with all its contradictions? Can we discuss that?
Questioner: Would you kindly tell us if life and the problems of life are the same?
Krishnamurti: Can you separate the problems of life from life itself? Is life different from the problems which life awakens in us? Let us take that one question and follow it right through. Questioner: What about the atomic and the hydrogen bombs? Can we discuss that?
Krishnamurti: That involves the whole problem of war and how to prevent war, does it not? Can we discuss that so as to clarify our own minds, pursue it seriously, earnestly, to the end and thereby know the truth of the matter completely?
What do we mean by peace? Is peace the opposite, the antithesis of war? If there were no war, would we have peace? Are we pursuing peace, or is what we call peace merely a space between two contradictory activities? Do we really want peace, not only at one level, economic or spiritual, but totally? Or is it that we are continually at war within ourselves, and therefore outwardly? If we wish to prevent war we must obviously take certain steps, which really means having no frontiers of the mind, because belief creates enmity. If you believe in Communism and I believe in Capitalism, or if you are a Hindu and I am a Christian, obviously there is antagonism between us. So, if you and I desire peace, must we not abolish all the frontiers of the mind? Or do we merely want peace in terms of satisfaction, maintaining the status quo after achieving a certain result?
You see, I don't think it is possible for individuals to stop war. War is like a giant mechanism that, having been set going, has gathered great momentum, and probably it will go on and we shall be crushed, destroyed in the process. But if one wishes to step out of that mechanism, the whole machinery of war, what is one to do? That is the problem, is it not? Do we really want to stop war, inwardly as well as outwardly? After all, war is merely the dramatic outward expression of our inward struggle, is it not? And can each one of us cease to be ambitious? Because as long as we are ambitious we are ruthless, which inevitably produces conflict between ourselves and other individuals, as well as between one group or nation and another. This means, really, that as long as you and I are seeking power in any direction, power being evil, we must produce wars. And is it possible for each one of us to investigate the process of ambition, of competition, of wanting to be somebody in the field of power, and put an end to it? It seems to me that only then can we as individuals step out of this culture, this civilization that is producing wars.
Let us discuss this. Can we as individuals put an end in ourselves to the causes of war? One of the causes is obviously belief, the division of ourselves as Hindus, Buddhists Christians, Communists, or Capitalists. Can we put all that aside?
Questioner: All the problems of life are unreal, and there must be something real on which we can rely. What is that reality?
Krishnamurti: Do you think the real and the unreal can so easily be divided? Or does the real come into being only when I begin to understand what is unreal? Have you even considered what the unreal is? G pain unreal? Is death unreal? If you lose your bank account, is that unreal? A man who says, `All this is unreal, therefore let us find the real', is escaping from reality.
Can you and I put an end in ourselves to the factors that contribute to war within and without? Let us discuss that, not merely verbally, but really investigate it, go into it earnestly and see if we can eradicate in ourselves the cause of hate, of enmity, this sense of superiority, ambition, and all the rest of it. Can we eradicate all this? If we really want peace, it must be eradicated, must it not? If you would find out what is real, what is God, what is truth, you must have a very quiet mind; and can you have a quiet mind if you are ambitious, envious, if you are greedy for power, position, and all that? So, if you are really earnest, really serious in wanting to understand what is true, must not these things be put away? Does not earnestness, seriousness consist in understanding the process of the mind, of the self, which creates all these problems, and dissolving it?
Questioner: How can we uncondition ourselves?
Krishnamurti: But I am showing you! What is conditioning? It is the tradition that has been imposed upon you from childhood, or the beliefs, the experiences, the knowledge that one has accumulated for oneself. They are all conditioning the mind.
Now, before we go into the more complex aspects of the question, can you cease to be a Hindu, with all its implications, so that your mind is capable of thinking, responding, not according to a modified Hinduism, but completely anew? Can there be in you a total revolution so that the mind is fresh, clear, and therefore capable of investigation? That is a very simple question. I can give a talk about it, but it will have no meaning if you merely listen and then go away agreeing or disagreeing. Whereas, if you and I can discuss this problem and go through it together to the very end, then perhaps our talking will be worth while.
So, can you and I who wish to have peace, or who talk about peace, eradicate in ourselves the causes of antagonism, of war? Shall we discuss that?
Questioner: Are individuals impotent against the atomic and hydrogen bombs?
Krishnamurti: They are going on experimenting with these bombs in America, in Russia and elsewhere, and what can you and I do about it? So what is the point of discussing this matter? You may try to create public opinion by writing to the papers about how terrible it is, but will that stop the governments from investigating and creating the H-bomb? Are they not going to go on with it anyhow? They may use atomic energy for peaceful as well as destructive purposes, and probably within five or ten years they will have factories running on atomic energy; but they will also be preparing for war. They may limit the use of atomic weapons, but the momentum of war is there, and what can we do? Historical events are in movement, and I don't think you and I living here in Benaras can stop that movement. Who is going to care? But what we can do is something completely different. We can step out of the present machinery of society, which is constantly preparing for war, and perhaps by our own total inward revolution we shall be able to contribute to the building of a civilization which is altogether new.
After all, what is civilization? What is the Indian or the European civilization? It is an expression of the collective will, is it not? The will of the many has created this present civilization in India; and cannot you and I break away from it and think entirely differently about these matters? Is it not the responsibility of serious people to do this? Must there not be serious people who see this process of destruction going on in the world, who investigate it, and who step out of it in the sense of not being ambitious and all the rest of it? What else can we do? But you see, we are not willing to be serious, that is the difficulty. We don't want to tackle ourselves, we want to discuss something outside, far away. Questioner: There must be some people who are very serious, and have they solved their problems or the problems of the world?
Krishnamurti: That is not a serious question, is it? It is like my saying that others have eaten when I myself am hungry. If I am hungry I will inquire where food is to be had, and to say that others are well fed is irrelevant, it indicates that I am not really hungry. Whether there are serious people who have solved their problems is not important. Have you and I solved our problems? That is much more important, is it not? Can a few of us discuss this matter very seriously, earnestly pursue it and see what we can do, not merely intellectually, verbally, but actually?
Questioner: Is it really possible for us to escape the impact of modern civilization?
Krishnamurti: What is modern civilization? Here in India it is an ancient culture on which have been superimposed certain layers of Western culture like nationalism, science, parliamentarianism, militarism, and so on. Now, either we shall be absorbed by this civilization, or we must break away and create a different civilization altogether.
It is an unfortunate thing that we are so eager merely to listen, because we listen in the most superficial manner, and that seems to be sufficient for most of us. Why does it seem so extraordinarily difficult for us seriously to discuss and to eradicate in ourselves the things that are causing antagonism and war?
Questioner: We have to consider the immediate problem.
Krishnamurti: But in considering the immediate problem you will find that it has deep roots, it is the result of causes which lie within ourselves. So, to resolve the immediate problem, should you not investigate the deeper problems?
Questioner: There is only one problem, and that is to find out what is the end of life.
Krishnamurti: Can we discuss that really seriously, go into it completely, so that we know for ourselves what is the end of life? What is life all about, where is it leading? That is the question, not what is the purpose of life. If we merely seek a definition of the purpose of life, you will define it in one way and I in another, and we shall wrongly choose which is the better definition according to our idiosyncrasies. Surely that is not what the questioner means. He wants to know what is the end of all this struggle, this search, this constant battle, this coming together and parting, birth and death. What is the whole of existence leading to? What does it mean?
Now, what is this thing which we call life? We know life only through self-consciousness, do we not? I know I am alive because I speak, I think, I eat, I have various contradictory desires, conscious and unconscious, various compulsions, ambitions, and so on. It is only when I am conscious of these, that is, as long as I am self-conscious, that I know I am alive. And what do we mean by being self-conscious? Surely, I am self-conscious only when there is some kind of conflict; otherwise I am unconscious of myself. When I am thinking, making effort, arguing, discussing, putting it this way or that, I am self-conscious. The very nature of self-consciousness is contradiction.
Consciousness is a total process, it is the hidden as well as the active, the open. Now, what does this process of consciousness mean, and where is it leading? We know birth and death, belief, struggle, pain, hope, ceaseless conflict. What is the significance of it all? To find out its true significance is what we are trying to do. And one can find out its true significance only when the mind is capable of investigation, that is, when it is not anchored to any conclusion. Is that not so?
Questioner: Is it investigation, or reinvestigation?
Krishnamurti: There is reinvestigation only when the mind is tethered, repetitive, and therefore constantly reinvestigating itself. But to be free to investigate, to find out what is true, surely that requires a mind that is not held in the bondage of any conclusion.
Now, can you and I find out what is the significance of this whole struggle with all its ramifications? If that is one's intention and one is serious, earnest, can one's mind have any conclusion about it? Must one not be open to this confusion? Must one not investigate it with a free mind to find out what is true? So, what is important is not the problem, but to see if it is possible for the mind to be free to investigate and find out the truth of it.
Can the mind be free from all conclusions? A conclusion is merely the response of a particular conditioning, is it not? Take the conclusion of reincarnation. Whether reincarnation is factual or not is irrelevant. Why do you have that conclusion? Is it because the mind is afraid of death? Such a mind, believing in a certain conclusion which is the result of fear, hope, longing, is obviously incapable of discovering what is true with regard to death. So, if we are at all serious our first problem, even before we ask what this whole process of life means, is to find out whether the mind can be free from all conclusions.
Questioner: Do you mean that for serious thinking the mind must be completely empty?
Krishnamurti: What do we mean by freedom? What does it mean to be free? You assume that if the mind is free, not tethered to any conclusion, it is in a state of vacuum. But is it? We are trying to find out the truth of what is a free mind. Is a mind free that has concluded? If I read Shankara, Buddha, Einstein, Marx - it does not matter who it is - and reach a conclusion or believe in a certain system of thought, is my mind free to investigate?
Questioner: Has comparison no place in the process of investigation?
Krishnamurti: Comparing what? Comparing one conclusion with another, one belief with another? I want to find out the significance of this whole process of life with its struggle, its pain, its misery, its wars, its appalling poverty, cruelty, enmity; I want to find out the truth of all that. To do so must I not have a mind that is capable of investigation? And can the mind investigate if it has a conclusion, or compares one conclusion with another?
Questioner: Can a mind be called free if it has only a tentative conclusion?
Krishnamurti: Tentative or permanent, a conclusion is already a bondage, is it not? Do please think with me a little. If one wants to find out whether there is such a thing as God, what generally happens? By reading certain books, or listening to the arguments of some learned person, one is persuaded that there is God, or one becomes a Communist and is persuaded that there isn't. But it one wants to find out the truth of the matter, can one belong to either side? Must not one's mind be free from all speculation, from all knowledge, all belief?
Now, how is the mind to be free? Will the mind ever be free if it follows a method to be free? Can any method, any practice, any system, however noble, however new or tried out for centuries, make the mind free? Or does the method merely condition the mind in a particular way, which we then call freedom? The method will produce its own results, will it not? And when the mind seeks a result through a method, the result being freedom, will such a mind be free?
Look, suppose one has a particular belief, a belief in God, or what you will. Must one not find out how that belief has come into being? This does not mean that you must not believe; but why do you believe? Why does the mind say, `This is so'? And can the mind discover how beliefs came into being?
You see insecurity in everything about you, and you believe in a Master, in reincarnation, because that belief gives you hope, a sense of security, does it not? And can a mind that is seeking security ever be free? Do you follow? The mind is seeking security, permanency, it is moved by a desire to be safe; and can such a mind be free to find out what is true? To find out what is true, must not the mind let go of its beliefs, put away it's desire to be secure? And is there a method by which to let go of the beliefs which give you hope, a sense of security? You see this is what I mean by being serious.
Questioner: Are there periods of freedom in the conditioned mind?
Krishnamurti: Are there periods or gaps of freedom in the conditioned mind? Which is it that you are aware of, the freedom or the conditioned mind? Please take this question seriously. Our minds are conditioned, that is obvious. One's mind conditioned as a Hindu, as a Communist, this or that. Now can the conditioned mind ever know freedom, or only what it imagines to be freedom? And can you be aware of how your own mind is conditioned? Surely, that is our problem, not what freedom is. Can you just be aware of your conditioning, which is to see that your mind functions in a particular manner? We are not talking of how to alter it, how to bring about a change; that is not the question. Your mind functions as a Hindu or a Communist; it believes in something. Are you aware of that?
Questioner: Freedom is not an acquisition but a gift.
Krishnamurti: That is a supposition. If freedom were a gift it would only be for the chosen few, and that would be intolerable. Do you mean to say that you and I cannot think it out to be free? You see sir, that is what I am saying: we are not serious. To know how one is conditioned is the first step towards freedom. But do we know how we are conditioned? When you make a red mark on your forehead, when you put on the sacred thread, do puja, or follow some leader, are not those the activities of a conditioned mind? And can you drop all that so that in dropping it you will find out what is true? That is why it is only to the serious that truth is shown, not to those who are merely seeking security and are caught in some form of conclusion. I am just saying that when the mind tethered to any particular conclusion, whether temporary or permanent, it is incapable of discovering something new.
Questioner: A scientist has data. Is he prepared to give up that data?
Krishnamurti Are you talking as a scientist or as a human being? Even the poor scientist, if he wants to discover anything, has to put aside his knowledge and conclusions, because they will colour any discovery. Sir, to find out we must die to the things we know.
Questioner: Can the unconditioning of the mind be done at the conscious or unconscious level, or both?
Krishnamurti: Sir, what is the mind? There is the conscious mind and the unconscious mind. The conscious mind is occupied with the everyday duties, it observes, thinks, argues, attends to a job, and so on. But are we aware of the unconscious mind? The unconscious mind is the repository of racial instinct, it is the residue of this civilization, of this culture, in which there are certain urges, various forms of compulsion. And can this whole mind, the unconscious as well as the conscious, uncondition itself?
Now, why do we divide the mind as the conscious and the unconscious? Is there such a definite barrier between the conscious and the unconscious mind? Or are we so taken up with the conscious mind that we have never considered or been open to the unconscious? And can the conscious mind investigate, probe into the unconscious, or is it only when the conscious mind is quiet that the unconscious promptings, hints, urges, compulsions come into being? So, the unconditioning of the mind is not a process of the conscious or of the unconscious; it is a total process which comes about with the earnest intention to find out if your mind is conditioned.
Please look at this and experiment with it. What is important is the total, earnest intention to find out if your mind is conditioned, so that you discover your conditioning and do not just say that your mind is or is not conditioned. When you look into a mirror you see your face as it is; you may wish that some parts of it were different, but the actual fact is shown in the mirror. Now, can you look at your conditioning in a similar way? Can you be totally aware of your conditioning without the desire to alter it? You are not aware of it totally when you wish to change it, when you condemn it or compare it with something else. But when you can look at the fact of your conditioning without comparison, without judgment, then you are seeing it as a total thing, and only then is there a possibility of freeing the mind from that conditioning.
You see, when the mind is totally aware of its conditioning, there is only the mind, there is no `you' separate from the mind. But when the mind is only partially aware of its conditioning, it divides itself, it dislikes its conditioning, or says it is a good thing; and as long as there is condemnation, judgment, or comparison, there is incomplete understanding of conditioning, and therefore the perpetuation of that conditioning. Whereas, if the mind is aware of its conditioning without condemning or judging, but merely watching it, then there is a total perception; and you will find, if you so perceive it, that the mind frees itself from that conditioning.
This is what I mean by being serious. Experiment with this, not just casually, but seriously watch your mind in action all the time, when you are at the dinner table, when you are talking, so that your mind becomes entirely aware of all its activities. Then only can there be freedom from conditioning, and therefore the total stillness of the mind in which alone it is possible to find out what is truth. If there is not that stillness which is the outcome of a total understanding of conditioning, your search for truth has no meaning at all, it is merely a trap to fall into.
January 9, 1955
Banaras 1st Public Talk 9th January 1955
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