Bombay 6th Public Talk 6th March 1955
Is it not important to consider the question of what it is that we are seeking, and why we seek at all? Why is there this extraordinary anxiety to seek and to find, and why do we waste so much energy in that struggle? And what is it that we are individually or collectively seeking? If we can go into this matter diligently we may find that the whole process of seeking truth, perfection, God, and so on, is a hindrance; the search itself may be a distraction. It may be that the mind can find that which is beyond the measure of time only when it is no longer seeking - which does not mean that it must be contented, satisfied. So I think it is important to go into this question.
In its anxiety to find, in its restless activity to discover what is truth, the mind is never quiet; and is not this process of search a hindrance to that very discovery? Is it not possible for the mind to be quiet and yet full of vigour, to be intensely aware without this constant strife, this anxiety to find? And what is it that we are all so anxiously seeking? Each one may interpret differently the intention, the urge that lies behind this search; but what is it fundamentally that we all want to find, what is it that we hope to gain at the end of our search?
In the movement of this search we join a society, a religious body, hoping thereby to find some kind of release, some kind of quietness, and we are soon caught, enmeshed in the dogmas, the beliefs, the rituals, the taboos and sanctions of that particular religion. So the search has led nowhere. but only to a series of inward and outward conflicts, adjustments in conformity to a pattern, and in this process of struggle and adjustment we grow old. Or if we already belong to a particular group or pattern, we break away from it and join something else, leaving one cage, one bondage to enter another. We continue in that way year after year, struggling, conforming, taking vows, adjusting, hoping thereby to find. The earnest read the Gita, the Bible, this or that. hoping to find; and the light-hearted, the easygoing seek on a different level, to them what is important is going to the club, listening to the radio, having a good job, a little money. We are all being relentlessly driven to seek; and what is it that we want to find? I think it is important for each one of us to find out what it is that he is seeking. I may be able to describe it in different ways, but the verbal expression is not the actuality of your own perception of what you are seeking. So, if I may suggest, listen to what is being said, not with exclusive concentration, but listen in that silence between two thoughts. When the mind is trying to listen to a particular thought, many other thoughts come in, and then you push those thoughts away and try to listen. But instead of doing that, perhaps you can listen in the gap between two thoughts. when you are just attentive and therefore able to listen without effort.
To put it differently, what is important is not merely to listen to what is being said, but to be aware, to be conscious of what you are thinking while you are listening. and to pursue that thought to the end. If your mind is occupied with resisting one thought by another thought, you are not listening at all. I think there is an art of listening, which is to listen completely without any motive, because a motive in listening is a distraction. If you can listen with complete attention, then there is no resistance either to your own thought or to what is being said - which does not mean that you will be mesmerized by words. But it is only the very silent, quiet mind that finds out what is true, not a mind which is furiously active, thinking, resisting. Putting out its own opinions and conclusions.
So, is it possible to listen with that ease of attention which is without motive? If you can listen in that way, then I think you will find out for yourself the true answer to the question, what is it you are seeking? There may be an immediate response to that question, with many words, phrases, conclusions, but the true answer lies much deeper than the immediate response. If you are able to listen silently, that is, without the intense activity of a mind which is ceaselessly projecting its own thoughts, then perhaps you will find out what it is that you are seeking.
Obviously, we all want to be happy, because our lives are very disturbed, anxious, fearful. There is nothing permanent, and for most of us, life is a series of conflicts in the action of survival. The very desire to survive has its own destructive by-products. And what is it that we want to find, each one of us? The very humble clerk who goes to an office every day, the lady who has plenty of money and who goes to the club or to the races, the woman who is married and has many children, the man who has a certain capacity to learn - what is it they are all seeking? And why do we seek? Is it because we are so disturbed. so discontented with what we are? Being ugly we want to be beautiful; being ambitious we want to fulfil our ambition; having capacity we want to make that capacity more vigorous; being good we want to be better; being mediocre we want to shine; being intellectual we want to give significance to life; being religious we seek to find that which is beyond the mind, inquiring, begging, praying, sacrificing, cultivating, disciplining, and so on. This strain, this process of conformity, is our life, is it not? Our life is an everlasting battlefield from morning till night, and not knowing what it is all about, we look to somebody else to tell us the goal, the end, the purpose of life. We turn to beliefs, to books, to leaders, and when they offer us something, though we may be momentarily satisfied, sooner or later we want something else.
So, what is it that we want? Being disturbed we want to find peace, being in conflict we want to end conflict. If we are very alert, watchful, we see the futility of all thinking, of all the ideological Utopias, the different systems of philosophy; and yet we go on seeking, seeking to find something that is real, something that has no confusion, something that is not man-made or mind-made, something beyond our immediate anxieties, fears and wars. We struggle to gain something, and when we have gained it we proceed further, we want still more. Our life is a series of demands for comfort, for security, for position, for fulfilment, for happiness, for recognition, and we also have rare moments of wanting to find out what is truth, what is God. So God or truth becomes synonymous with our satisfaction. We want to be gratified, therefore truth becomes the end of all search, of all struggle, and God becomes the ultimate resting place. We move from one pattern to another, from one cage to another, from one philosophy or society to another, hoping to find happiness, not only happiness in relationship with people, but also the happiness of a resting place where the mind will never be disturbed, where the mind will cease to be tortured by its own discontent. We may put it in different words, we may use different philosophical jargons, but that is what we all want: a place where the mind can rest, where the mind is not tortured by its own activities, where there is no sorrow. So our life is an endless search, is it not? And if we don't seek we think that we shall deteriorate, stagnate, that we shall become like animals, that we shall die.
What is the intention of your seeking? Surely, on that depends what you will find. If your intention is to find peace, you will find it; but it will not be peace, because the mind will be tortured in the very process of finding and maintaining it. To have peace you must discipline, control, shape your mind according to a particular pattern - at least, that is what you have been told. Every religion, every society, every book, teacher, guru, tells you to be good, to conform, to adjust, to comply, to discipline your mind not to wander, and so there is always restriction, suppression, fear. You struggle because you have to achieve that which you want, the goal.
Now, does not this search seem utterly futile? To be caught in the cage of a particular discipline, or to be driven from one cage, from one system, from one discipline to another, obviously has no meaning. So we must inquire, not into what it is you are seeking, but why you seek at all. Seeking may be a totally wrong process. The very search may be a waste of energy, and you need all that energy to find. So it may be that your approach is entirely wrong, and I think it is, no matter what your Gita, your guru, or anybody else says. You are disciplined, you meditate, you gather virtue as you gather grain, and yet you are not happy, you have not found, there is not this inward joy, this creative revolution. It may be that God can never be found by a mind which is seeking, because its motive is to escape from the torture of daily existence. Whereas, the mind that ceases to struggle because it has understood this whole problem of seeking, that puts aside the conflict of search because it sees what extraordinary energy is required to be open to that which is timeless - it may be that only such a mind can find, can discover or receive that which is truth, God.
It is possible, then, to have a very alert mind which at the same time is peaceful, not seeking? Surely, a mind which is seeking is not a quiet mind, because its motive is to gain something. As long as there is a motive in search, it is not the search for reality, it is only a search for what you want. All our human search, all our human endeavour to find out, is based on a motive, and as long as we seek with a motive, whether good or bad, conscious or unconscious, the mind can never be free and therefore still. To seek happiness is never to find happiness because one is seeking with a motive and therefore there can be no cessation of fear.
Now, can one perceive and understand immediately that all search is vain when there is a motive? Can you listen to what is being said and grasp it, see the significance of it at once, not at some future date? Truth is not in the future, and if in the very act of listening you discover the futility of your search, then that very act of listening is the experiencing of truth and therefore your search will stop. Then your mind is no longer caught in motives, intentions.
So, it is not a question of how to free the mind from motive. The mind can never free itself from motive, because the mind in itself is cause-and effect, it is a result of time. When the mind says, `How am I to free myself from motive?', again the search with a motive begins, again you are entering the field of strain, of discipline, of control, of this endless struggle which leads nowhere. But if you can listen and see the truth that as long as there is a motive in search, such search is utterly vain, meaningless, and only leads to more misery, more sorrow - if you see that and are really comprehending it now, as you are listening, then you will find that your mind has stopped seeking because it no longer has a motive. You are not being mesmerized by words, or by a person. You have perceived for yourself the futility of this everlasting search with a motive, therefore your mind is still, quiet, there is no movement of search at all; and that total stillness of mind may be the state in which the timeless comes into being.
You see, the mind is so restless, it is afraid to be still, it is afraid not to know all the latest things, it is afraid not to be at all, to be simply nothing; but it is only out of nothingness that wisdom comes, not out of much learning. Wisdom comes only to the mind that is silent. A mind that is full of its own conflicts and its own workable knowledge can only produce its own misery.
Question: How can I cease to be mediocre?
Krishnamurti: You must first know what mediocrity is, must you not? What is mediocrity? The mediocre may have cars, luxurious houses, or they may live in a slum. They may be more powerful in their minds, and generally they are. So what is this mediocrity that you want to escape, to get away from? If I realize I am mediocre, stupid, dull, and I want to become less mediocre, more intelligent, more learned, is not that very demand for the more, and the effort to become the more, a mediocre state of mind? Please listen to this, don't agree or disagree.
The mind that has a motive, that is pursuing the ideal of what it thinks it should be, that is disciplining, controlling, shaping itself, struggling to be other than it is - is not such a mind mediocre? Do you understand? Seeing that it is mediocre, stupid, dull, that it is greedy, envious, ambitious, ruthless, or whatever it be, the mind says, `I must become non-mediocre', and is not that effort to become non-mediocre the very essence of mediocrity? In trying to become something, the mind escapes from the actual fact into the ideal, and that is what you have all done. You are pursuing, worshipping the ideal which you have projected. Therefore there is never an overflowing, there is never a creative abundance with austerity, because your energy is constantly being dissipated in the struggle to fulfil, to become something.
That is our way of life, is it not? We are ambitious and we want to fulfil, and in the very pursuit of that which we desire we are becoming mediocre. Virtue is essential, but the process of acquiring virtue is mediocre. The man who ceaselessly practices virtue, who deliberately disciplines his mind to be virtuous, merely becomes respectable, and that is what society wants. Society wants you to be respectable, to conform, not to be creatively abundant, revolutionary in the right sense of that word. Real revolution is not the communist or some other stupid revolution of economic and social upheaval; it is a revolution in thought, and that can come about only when you abandon society completely. In that freedom your mind is no longer conforming, adjusting, defending, suppressing, therefore it is truly religious; and a truly religious man is the only revolutionary. Then truth acts, and such action is not in the pattern of any particular culture.
So, mediocrity cannot be changed into something more beautiful. If you are aware of being stupid and try to become clever, in the very process of becoming clever there is mediocrity, so all such effort is a waste of energy. Whereas, if you can live with and understand that which you see to be stupid, go into it fully without judging or condemning it, then you will find that there comes a state which is totally different; but that requires complete attention, not the distraction of trying to become something.
Question: How can I understand the significance of my dreams?
Krishnamurti: The question is not how you can understand the significance of your dreams, but why do your dream at all? Surely, that is the problem, not how to translate the symbols, the visions, the images which the unconscious projects when the conscious mind is asleep. Because your conscious mind is wholly occupied during the day, you dream when you are asleep; and when you wake up you say, `How am I to translate those dreams?' There are innumerable ways of translating dreams. You can translate them according to Freudian or some other philosophy and get lost in the study of symbols, chasing from one authority to another, which is so utterly futile. But if you ask yourself why you dream at all, then I think it will have significance.
What is a dream, and why do you dream? Have you ever thought about it? Without turning to any philosophy, to any book, to any expert on dreams, let us find out together why you dream at all.
After all, your consciousness is not just the superficial mind that goes to the office every day, that has a few virtues, clothes, this and that; your consciousness is the unconscious as well. When you are sleeping the superficial mind is somewhat at rest, so the unconscious acts, and you have dreams; and when you wake up you say, `What am I to do now?' But if you ask yourself why you dream at all, and whether dreaming is necessary, you will presently see that there is something more important than interpreting dreams.
During the day, your conscious mind is occupied with trivialities, with the struggle to survive, to be something, to fulfil your ambitions, to be loved, and so on; there is never a moment of quietness, of observation, of awareness of things, not as you would like them to be in imagination, but as they actually are. Whereas if, during the waking hours, you can be aware of everything about you and your response to it, if you can observe your own thoughts and let your mind slow down so that easily, without friction, it is acquainted with every emotion, every reaction and the significance of it, then you will see that you no longer dream, because your whole mind is occupied in understanding all the time, not just when you are asleep, therefore symbols have no meaning. If during the daytime you are passively aware of every thought, of every feeling, of every reaction, watching it without interpreting, condemning, or judging it, so that it is understood, then the mind becomes very quiet, and when you sleep there are no dreams. In that sleep the mind can go much deeper, and can experience something which the waking consciousness can never touch.
So, to experience that which is beyond the mind, the mind must be still during the day and must have understood all the conflicts of the day, without suppression, sublimation, or escape; and you are bound to suppress, sublimate, escape, as long as you are condemning, judging, evaluating, translating. But if you can merely observe so that your observation flows with your thought, then you will see that life is not a tortuous process, and that out of it comes a great energy which enables you to break away from society with all its stupidities. This does not mean that you become a hermit or a sannyasi. Such a man has not broken away from society, because he is still caught in his conditioned mind. But if you can break away from society in the true sense, then in the very breaking away there is understanding of that which is eternal.
Question: You seem to question the validity of time as a means to the attainment of perfection. What then is your way?
Krishnamurti: You see, the very idea of the attainment of perfection and the way to it implies time, and in wanting to know what my way to it is, the questioner is still thinking in terms of time. Sir, there may be no way at all. Let us go into it.
What do we mean by time? Let us think about it, not philosophically, but very simply, quietly, easily. There is obviously chronological time. I must have time to catch train, time to go from here to where I live, time to receive a letter, time to talk, time to tell you a story, time to write a poem or carve an image out of marble. But is there any other form of time? You say there is, because there is memory. If I had a certain experience yesterday which gave delight, it has left a memory, and I want more of that delight. So the `more' is time in the psychological sense. I must have time to fulfil, to achieve, to gather, to become: I must have time to bridge the gap between myself who am not perfect, and that which is perfect over there, the `over there' being in my mind. So there is space in my mind, a distance between what is and what should be, the perfect ideal. There is a fixed point as the `me', and a fixed point as the `non-me' which I call perfection, the higher self, God, or what you will; and to move from this fixed point as the `me' to that fixed point as the `non-me', I need time. So the mind has not only the chronological time which is necessary to catch a train or keep an appointment, but also psychological time, time to fulfil, to achieve. If I am ambitious I must have time to attain, to become famous, and so on, and in the same way we think of perfection. Having divided itself as the imperfect, the mind conceives a state of perfection and establishes the distance between itself and that state; and then it says, `How am I to get from here to there?' Do you understand, sirs?
I am miserable, and I think I must have time to become perfect, to find happiness, if not in this life, then in some future life; but the mind is still within the field of time, however much that field may be extended or narrowed down. All your sacred books, all your religions say that you need time to become perfect, and that you must take a vow of celibacy, of poverty, you must resist temptation, discipline, control yourself in order to get there. So the mind has invented time as a means to perfection, to God, to truth, and it thinks in those terms because in the meantime it can be greedy, brutal, saying that it will polish itself up and eventually become perfect. I say that way is totally wrong, it is no way at all. It is merely an escape. A mind that is caught in perfection, in struggle, can only conceive of what perfection is, and that which it conceives out of its confusion, its misery, is not perfection, it is only a wish.
So, in its effort to be that which it thinks it should be, the mind is not approaching perfection, it is merely escaping from what is, from the fact that it is violent, greedy. Perfection may not be a fixed point, it may be something totally different. As long as the mind has a fixed point from which it moves, acts, it must think in terms of time, and whatever it projects, however noble, however idealistically perfect, is still within the field of time. All its speculations on what Krishna, Buddha, Shankara, or anyone else has said, all its imaginations, its desires for perfection, are still within the field of time, therefore utterly false, valueless. A mind with a fixed point can only think in terms of other fixed points, and it creates the distance between itself and the fixed point which it calls perfection. Though you may wish otherwise, there may be no fixed points at all. In actuality, there is not any fixed `you' or fixed `me', is there? The `I', the self is made up of many qualities, experiences, conditionings, desires, fears, loves, hates, various masks. There is no fixed point; but the mind abhors this fact, therefore it moves from one fixed point to another, carrying the burden of the known to the known.
So time is an illusion when we think in terms of perfection. Desire has time, sensation has time, but love has no time. Love is a state of being. To love completely, simply, without either seeking or rejecting, is not to think in terms of perfection or of becoming perfect. But we do not know such love, therefore we say, `I must have something else, I must have time to reach perfection'. We discipline ourselves, we gather virtues, and if we don't sufficiently gather in this life, there is always the next life; so this movement of backwards and forwards is set going.
When you think in terms of time you are really pursuing the `more', are you not? You want more love, more goodness, more pleasure, more ways of avoiding pain, more of the experience which delights, which brings a fleeting happiness; and the moment the mind demands more it must have time, it must of necessity create time. This demand for the `more' is an escape from the actual. When the mind says, `I must be more clever', that very assertion implies time. But if the mind can look at what is without condemnation, without comparison, if it can just observe the fact, then in that awareness there is no fixed point. As in the universe there is no fixed point, so in us there is no fixed point. But the mind likes to have a fixed point, so it creates a fixed point in name, in property, in money, in virtue, in relationships, in ideals, beliefs, dogmas; it becomes the embodiment of its own desires. The mind's idea of perfection is not the opposite of what is. Perfection is that state of mind in which all comparison has ceased. There is no thinking in terms of the `more', therefore no struggle. If you can just know the truth of that, if you can merely listen and find it out for yourself then you will see that you are free from time altogether. Then creation is from moment to moment without accumulation of the moment, because creation is truth, and truth has no continuity. You think of truth as continuous in time, but truth is not continuous, it is not a permanent thing to be known in time. It is nothing of that kind, it is something totally different, something that cannot be understood by a mind that is caught within the field of time. You must die to everything of yesterday, to all the accumulations of knowledge, experience, and only then that which is immeasurable, timeless, comes into being.
March 6, 1955
Bombay 6th Public Talk 6th March 1955
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