Bombay 5th Public Talk 2nd March 1955
I think it is important to consider the question of what is learning, and also to understand what is creativity; because, in the deepest and most profound sense, creativity and learning are closely related. To most of us that word `creativity' means very little, either painting a picture, or writing a poem, or having children, or enjoying the sunset on the river; but surely, creativity is not the mere expression of a feeling or a technique. Creativity is something entirely different. It is a state of mind in which all thought has completely ceased, and which may be called reality, God, or what you will; and I think this state of creativity comes into being when we understand what it is that we call learning. So please have the patience to go with me into the problem.
Do we learn anything? And what is it that we learn? Deeply, fundamentally, is there anything to know? Is it not important to ponder over this whole question of teaching and learning? Beyond all expression. beyond all verbal statement and explanation, beyond all the restless activity of the mind, is there anything to know. to learn? And what do we mean by learning?
Learning is the accumulation of experience, it is skill in action. One learns a language, a craft, a skill, one learns how to drive a car, how to draw. how to read, how to build a dynamo, or sail a ship. Learning is also the accumulation of knowledge, knowledge of various philosophies, of science, and so on. And is there anything more to learn? Can one learn about oneself? Or is the understanding, the knowledge of oneself only from moment to moment and not from accumulation to accumulation? Must not the mind understand this whole process of accumulating knowledge, with its imitative capacity, and go beyond it?
What do we actually know? What we call knowledge is the education imparted at different levels of our existence by society, by religion, and with its help we try to survive. In the process of survival our lives are nightmares of ambition, of corruption, of competition, of the struggle to be something; there is a constant battle a conflict going on within ourselves and around us. Modern existence which is based on self-survival greed, jealousy, violence, war, is an everlasting struggle which we all know. That is our life, and we have learnt how to survive within that culture of ambition, of ruthlessness of belief, of quarrels, of fragmentary thought; we have learnt how to manipulate our way through this chaos, this mess. And what is it that we have learnt? We have learnt various techniques, various forms of expression. We are always gathering, and expressing what we have gathered. One learns the technique of painting, or of building a bridge, and from that learning there is expression. We are constantly learning, accumulating knowledge, information. This is an obvious fact. And if we go beyond all that, what is it that we know? Do we know anything? We know the distance between the stars, how to build airplanes, how to split the atom, and so on; but apart from that, do we know anything at all? Do we know anything except technique, skills, facts? And must not the mind go beyond all knowledge, all learning?
Now, if without being mesmerized by words we can listen to the description of what lies behind this extraordinary struggle to acquire knowledge, learning, and let that struggle come to an end, then I think a totally different state will come into being and we shall find out what is true creativity. We have acquired many forms of technique, we are familiar with the complex machinery of living, of survival, and we may have studied various philosophies and be capable of scholarly disputations with erudite people; but as long as one merely practices a technique, or lives along the lines of any particular philosophy, one is obviously living according to a pattern, and therefore there must be imitation, copy. And is it possible to experience that state in which there is no copy, no imitation? Surely, to find out if such a thing is possible, we must begin by inquiring what it is that we know.
Have you ever considered what it is that you know? You may be scholars, very clever people who have read, who have studied, and who have suffered in the battle of life; but what is it that you know? Do you actually know anything? You know how to survive, how to do a particular job, you know a certain technique and have acquired the skill which comes with experience. But beyond that, do you know anything at all? Can the mind ask that question and remain with it, without trying to justify itself or answer the question? Because the moment you have explanations, the moment you answer that question, you have already entered the field of the known. So, is it not important for the mind to inquire and remain in that state of inquiry, which is not to seek an answer but simply to see if you know anything at all beyond the knowledge which has already been accumulated? I hope I am making myself clear.
All that we learn and all that we know is accumulation. It is the accumulative memory which acts, therefore it is imitation. And is it possible to find a state of being in which all knowledge has ceased and there is only that state of being? It seems to me very important to find this out, because we approach existence, not with the unknown, but always with the known. We translate every experience in terms of the known, in terms of the past, and therefore living becomes a series of reactions based on the known; and as the known is mere imitation, copy, our lives become very dull, empty.
Now, is it possible for the mind to live in a state of not knowing? After all, what is it that we know? Everything that we know is based on experience, on conformity, fear; we know in order to survive, and with that same mentality we approach the unknown, which is reality, God, or what you will. And can the mind be totally free of the known?
Sirs, this is an important question to ask oneself, is it not? Because we are always content with the known, and when you scratch the surface of the known there is nothing, there is emptiness, a void. And surely it is very important for the mind to live completely in that void, in that silence, and from that void, that silence to think, to express, to invite thought and thereby action. That is why we must understand what it means to learn. Beyond a certain point we cannot learn any more, because there is nothing to learn, there is no teacher to teach, and we must come to that point - which means, really, being completely free from all sense of becoming something, from all sense of the more. It is only when the mind is in that state of void in which there is no knowledge, in which there is no longer the experiencer who is learning, who is gathering, who is accumulating - it is only then that there is this creativity which can express itself through various skills and crafts without causing further misery.
What I am saying is not difficult. The difficulty is to ask the question and keep on asking it. If you are waiting for an answer to the question, you are not concerned with the question at all.
So, we must come to this point where there is nothing to learn, for then the mind is free from society, free from all impositions, from this struggle for social recognition, and so on; and it is only in that state of freedom from society that we can create a new culture, bring about a new civilization. We may learn how to reform a particular society, how to adjust ourselves to the prison of a particular culture, and that is what most of us are occupied with; therefore our response to challenge is always limited, inadequate. Whereas, it the mind is completely free from society, from every form of social conditioning, which means that it is a truly religious mind, then it is in a state of silence in which there is no acquisition of knowledge, no experiencer; and it is the action of such a mind that produces a new culture, a new civilization.
Question: Can I be free from the past?
Krishnamurti: Now, if we can actually listen to what is being said, listen to find the truth of the matter without verbal disputation or the complications of a cunning mind, then that very truth frees the mind from the past.
So, let us inquire. Can the mind be free from the past? To say that it can or cannot be free would have no validity, because you don't know. All that you can do is to inquire. Some people will say that the mind can never be free from the past, others that it can be free ultimately, in the future; but a man who really wants to find out for himself will have an entirely different attitude, an attitude neither of acceptance nor of denial.
What is the mind? The mind is essentially the product of time, of many thousands of yesterdays; it is the result of tradition, and in its development through the desire to survive it has created various forms of culture, it has gathered knowledge, information. Being the product of time, the mind has the possibility of growth, and it goes from one target to another, from one purpose to another, changing within the pattern of the known; it develops through desire and through changing the objects of desire. A child desires toys; later on its desires become those of a young man or woman; and later still, as the mind matures, it wants to know what is beyond mere everyday existence. This process of inquiry, of wanting more, is what we consider to be growth, progress. Being the product of time, the mind develops in moving from the known to the known.
Now, the questioner wants to know whether the mind can be free from the past. And what is the past? The past is tradition, memory, the various impositions, sanctions, compulsions of society; the past is all the accumulated knowledge of how to run a motor, how to build a railway, how to split the atom, and so on. To be creative, to bring a new thing into being, even the technician must be free from the past, otherwise he merely remains a technician. And can the mind, which is the result of time, cease to think in terms of time? Surely, that is what it means to be free from the past. Can the mind cease to think in terms of time, time being the pursuit of the more, the whole process of moving from one object or conclusion to another?
Sirs, your mind, which is obviously the result of many thousands of yesterdays, can only function in the field of the known; and when such a mind says, `Can I be free from the known?', what is its response? Its response can only be, `I do not know'. That is, when the mind asks itself whether it can be free from the results of all its yesterdays, from its memories, its pains, its joys, its experiences, its virtues, its money, its position, surely the only answer is that it does not know.
Now, can the mind remain in that state, actually and not theoretically, in which it says, `I do not know'? Can you actually experience the fact that you do not know? Do you understand what I am saying, sirs? Here is a question: can the mind be free from the memories, from all the accumulations of the past? If you don't theorize, if you don't either positively or negatively assert, then you can be in only one state, which is that you do not know. Now, if the mind can remain there, not merely verbally, but if it can actually experience that state of not knowing, then is not the mind free from the past? It is very interesting to inquire into this question; because, if the mind is merely in the field of the known, which it is, then unless it has the experience of not knowing and profoundly feels that state, all its inquiry will be the reaction of the known and therefore a further development of the known. To put it differently, the mind must be quiet, completely still; and the moment the mind is still, it is in the state of not knowing. Any movement of the mind is a reaction of the known, and it is only when the mind is silent, without movement, that it is capable of being innocent, fresh, totally aware.
You may ask what all this has to do with our daily living, with our daily conflicts, miseries, quarrels and ambitions. It has nothing whatsoever to do with it. You cannot use this to overcome that. To experience this there must be the total cessation of all ambition, greed, jealousy, of all the competitive pur- suits of self-preservation by which we have built up this rotten society which is disintegrating and for which there can be no reformation. The truly religious man is he who is free of society and the recognition of society, who in his inquiry into whether he can be free from the past has come to that state of mind in which there is no movement. It is only such a mind that is capable of creating a new culture. To reform the old culture is merely to decorate the prison.
Question: What have you to say about the possibility of integrating one's personality?
Krishnamurti: I do not think what I have to say about it has much value; but if you and I together can find out what it is to be integrated, if we can actually experience the state of integration and not merely define or describe it, then it will have some significance.
Now, to experience, to know what is the state of integration, we must first see that we are disintegrating, which is a fact. We are torn apart by desires which are in conflict with each other. There is the conflict of good and bad, of distraction and attention. I am this and I want to be that, which is the everlasting struggle between what I am and what I should be, between the fact and the ideal. This torn-apart-entity which we call the `me', with its different marks, its conflicting attractions and pursuits, is what we actually are, and merely to put together what is torn apart is not integration. Contradictory desires may be brought together through conformity, tied together by fear, by incentive, but that is not integration.
So, first we have to be aware of the fact that we are made up of different entities with different masks, different poses; and to be aware is not merely to say that we are aware, but actually to see this extraordinarily contradictory thing which we are without trying to transform or control it. Because the moment we realize that we are in contradiction, we want to bring about a state of non-contradiction, which is another form of contradiction; it is merely to have another mask, another desire. And is it possible just to be aware that we are made up of different beings? The higher self, the lower self, the Atman, the Paramatman, and the ambitions, the fears, the jealousies, the envies, are all within the field of the mind, of thought. One desire is in opposition to another desire, and any effort to bring about integration within the field of contradiction is itself a contradiction. The moment the mind desires to be something there is already a division, a process of effort, which is obviously a process of disintegration.
In this question is also involved the whole content of the unconscious, is it not? If we are at all alert we know how extraordinarily contradictory we are on the conscious level. When we do not fulfil our desires, there is frustration, sorrow. And is the unconscious also contradictory? In the unconscious, in the many layers of the mind below the conscious level, are there hidden pursuits, incentives, urges that are opposing each other, or is there only one constant drive? The unconscious is also the result of centuries of accumulation, it too has been shaped by racial and cultural influences, by beliefs, by fears; and in that vast field of half-imagined, half-felt consciousness, is there not also contradiction? Is not the whole consciousness a field of contradictory desires? And when there is conflict, whether at the conscious level or at the deeper level, there is no attention, is there? Attention, total attention, is the good, and there cannot be total attention as long as there are contradictory desires. If contradictory desires are brought together by an effort of will, the will itself is the result of another desire, and therefore it creates still another contradiction.
Now, can the mind see this whole process, not merely verbally, descriptively, imaginatively, but can it actually be aware of this total mass of opposing desires, of which the mind itself is the battlefield? Can it be aware and not wish to bring about a state of integration? Can it just be choicelessly aware and remain there, neither hoping nor despairing, but merely observing the fact? Then, being aware of confusion, and not making effort to alter it, or to bring about an integrated state, no longer wishing to produce any result, is not the mind still? And is not that stillness, that tranquillity, the quieting of all energy, energy being the contradictory desires which have been opposing each other? And is not that cessation of all movement a state of integration from which action takes place which is not contradictory, and which therefore does not dissipate energy?
But you see, ladies and gentlemen, unless you directly experience all this, unless you feel out the truth of what is being said, it will have very little significance.
Question: What is right meditation?
Krishnamurti: I think the right question would be, not what is right meditation, but what is meditation? And it is surely very important to find out what meditation is, because it will bring about a definite action in our daily life.
Now, to find out what meditation is, must you not first see what you think about meditation? When you use that word `meditation', you already have various conclusions about it, have you not? You meditate according to a pattern, according to what some book or some teacher has said. So you already know what meditation is; and if you already know what meditation is, then you are not really inquiring.
Do you understand what I am talking about, sirs? If you are inquiring into what is meditation, then the formulas, the repetitions, the japams, the various things that you do must be put aside, and the mind must be entirely quiet. Either what you are doing now is meditation, or it is not. It is meditation, than there is no problem. But to find out if what you are doing is meditation, you must be free to look at it, to question it, you cannot merely accept it. To inquire into what is meditation, surely that freedom is the first necessity. So, can you be free from all your practices, from all your disciplines, from all your various conclusions and compulsions? And if you are freeing yourself from those things because you are inquiring into what is meditation, then that very inquiry is meditation, is it not?
Why do you discipline your mind, and who is it that disciplines the mind? Who is it that meditates, and what is it that he meditates upon? What is the drive, the urge, the incentive to meditate? You must inquire into all that, must you not? If you have the incentive to find God and your meditation is the result of that incentive, which is a form of compulsion, then you will never find God. The mind disciplines, controls, shapes itself because it has already conceived what God, is, what truth is, and it thinks that if it treads a certain path, does certain things, it will achieve an end, and that in the achievement there will be perfect happiness. But as long as the mind is seeking to achieve a result it will never find that which is truth, reality, God, that which is immeasurable, timeless, because the mind itself is the result of time. So meditation has quite a different significance. When the mind is no longer being driven by any incentive, when it is no longer conditioned by any discipline, when it is no longer seeking any result, then is not the mind in a state of meditation?
Is it not also important to inquire who is the meditator, and what it is that he is meditating upon? Is there such a thing as the meditator separate from meditation? When you discipline yourself, who is the entity that disciplines? You may say it is the higher self. Is it? Or is it merely the invention of thought, one thought controlling another thought? You may call that controlling thought the higher self, but it is still within the field of thinking, therefore within the field of time. So, to inquire into what is meditation, must not the mind be free of conclusions? If any conclusion, any experience already exists, it is within the field of time. For a fleeting second you may have an experience of what you think is reality, happiness, bliss, but to cling to that is to hold the mind within the field of time and therefore make it incapable of any further experiencing of what is truth.
To inquire into what is meditation, then, the mind must first find out if it is free from all the technical approaches which it has learnt in order to meditate. The mind has learnt certain practices because it wants to achieve a result, and that result it has already preconceived. But that which it has preconceived is not the real, and to meditate upon what it has preconceived, to control, discipline itself in order to achieve what it has imagined, which is a mere speculation or the reaction of its own past, is utterly useless and has no meaning; it is a process of self-hypnosis. But if the mind begins to inquire into its various practices by being aware of its own incentives, its own pursuits, then that very inquiry is meditation. Then you will find that the mind becomes extraordinarily full of energy because there is no dissipation of energy through effort, through control, through shaping itself towards a particular end. To find out what is true there must be abundant energy, and that energy must not be in any movement, it must be still. That stillness comes into being when the mind is free from all effort, when it is no longer caught in the pattern of discipline, fear and achievement. Then there is no accumulation of memory, no residue, no experiencer, there is only a state of experiencing. When the mind is still, when there is no movement of effort, no demand for more, no gathering of memory, only then is there the truth which is from moment to moment.
March 2, 1955.
Bombay 5th Public Talk 2nd March 1955
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