London 2nd Public Talk 18th June 1955
I think it would be rather worthwhile if we could go into a problem thoroughly with that awareness of which we were speaking yesterday, and see if one can go through the whole process, not theoretically but actually, and discover for oneself the truth of what is being said. For that, it seems to me very important to know how to listen. Most of us do not really listen. We have various theories, reactions, responses, which actually block the real listening. I would like to discuss a problem which I think is quite complex, and which therefore needs an attention in which there is neither the struggle to understand, nor the attitude of merely listening to an explanation. Let us rather actually follow the issue, being alert and aware, and so explore, uncover, the whole problem.
Our culture is based on envy, and we are the product of that culture. Envy exists not only in social matters, where there is competition with one another to achieve a result, a certain position, to gain power, and so on, but also inwardly, so-called spiritually, there is this acquisitive urge. I think most of us are aware of it. The urge to arrive, to grasp, to understand, to be, to gain a goal, to find happiness, God, or what you will, - all these are obviously the process of acquisition, the urge of envy. Society, as it develops, is going more and more to control the acquisitive instinct outwardly, through legislation; but inwardly there is no legislation which can control it. And it seems to me that this acquisitive instinct is one of the major issues; because in it is involved the whole process of effort. If we can really go into this, and see if one can actually be free from this urge to find a haven, a refuge, spiritually to become something, then I think we shall have solved an enormous problem, - perhaps the only problem.
After all, when we seek reality, or God, we sometimes wish to give up the world, with its competition, its divisions, its classwarfare, and all the rest of it, and we then try to become monks, or sannyasis. But there is no abandonment of this process of acquisition, even though we become hermits, even though we renounce the world. There is still this desire to `become something', to follow somebody in order to realize, in order to find truth; there is always this sense of envy, of acquisitiveness, of gain. On that whole process our culture, socially and spiritually, is based. All our efforts are directed towards acquiring either virtue, or goods, or property, or a state of happiness, a state of bliss, - in which is involved this constant endeavour, constant striving, the struggle to be something. I think that is a fact, and I think most of us are aware of it.
Now, can we be aware of this whole issue, not only consciously, but deep down in the unconscious, and so be free of this urge? Because so long as there is this striving, however beneficial it may be at one level it becomes detrimental, a hindrance, at another. All of us are trained, educated, to compete, inwardly as well as outwardly; and so there is no love of anything for its own sake, but only a sense of something to be achieved. Surely it is important to find out if the mind can be free from all this acquisitive pursuit.
After all, seeking to become virtuous is a form of envy, is it not? And can we discuss that? So long as the mind is caught in any form of envy, achieving, gaining a goal, pursuing a result, searching for heaven, peace, or reality, there must be a constant accumulation of various forms of memory, which actually deter one from the discovery of the real. Essentially we are afraid, are we not?, to be what we are; we want to change what we are; and in the process of changing, the whole problem arises of the `how'. Our desire is to change in order to be something else; and so we are constantly inquiring as to a method, - how to achieve, how to be non-violent, and so on.
The issue is, that our culture is acquisitive, - which means essentially, envious: our culture is based on envy. Socially one can see that very easily. But inwardly, so-called spiritually, intellectually, deep down, the same thing prevails, - envy is the basis of our search. Because I am unhappy, in sorrow, I want to change that, to escape into another state, - and so the problem arises of how to arrive at that other state. So we pursue different teachers, listen to various talks, read religious books, try to reform, try to discipline ourselves, always in order to achieve a result. If one can be aware of all that, then I think perhaps we shall understand a state in which there is no effort at all.
Can we actually discuss this?
Audience: Is it wrong to try and improve ourselves? What are we doing here listening to you, if we are not trying to improve? Krishnamurti: That is really a good question, if we can go into it. What is self-improvement?
First of all, if there is to be improvement we must understand what the self is, must we not? We think it is permissible, right, that there should be self-improvement. But what do we mean by the self, the `me'? Is there a `me', a self, that is constant, that can be improved, a thing which has actual continuity? - not just the continuity that we wish to have, but in reality is there a continuity of the `me'? - apart from the continuity of the physical organism with its particular name, its particular qualities, living in a certain place and in certain relationships, having a job, and so on. Apart from that, is there a `me' that continues?
Audience: Yes. No.
Krishnamurti: Surely it is not merely a matter of opinion, "yes" or "no". If we are to find out we must not jump to any conclusions. We must not take an opinion or a wish to be a fact. We want to find out if there is a `me' that can improve, be added to: if there is a permanent entity that goes on improving, improving. Or, are there contradictory desires, urges, compulsions, one dominating the other, and that which dominates wishes to continue, suppressing the other desires? Or, is there only a state of flux, a constant change without any permanency, and the mind, realizing this impermanency, this flux, this transiency, wishes to have something permanent which it calls the self, and wishes that self to continue by improving itself?
When we talk about self-improvement, `myself' becoming better, nobler, less this and more that, - surely that is all a process of thinking, is it not? There is no permanent `me' except for the desire to have permanency. So, is there an improvement of `me', can I improve myself? What does it mean, to `improve'? - from what to what? I am greedy, I want to improve, to be non-greedy. I am envious, irritable, whatever it is, and I wish to change that into something else. I make great efforts, discipline myself, follow certain meditations, and so on and so on, trying to improve myself all the time; but I never ask the basic question, - what is the `me' that wants to improve? Who are these two entities, the one that observes and wishes to change, and that which is observed?
Am I making myself clear?
Audience: Yes. Yes.
Krishnamurti: So, when I say "I must improve myself", what is the entity that says "I must improve"? And is there an entity, a `me', that is different from the observer? (Pause) Let us discuss this and go into it. I am greedy, envious, and I want to improve, to put away envy. In that there are two entities, are there not? - the one that is envious, and the other that wants to free itself from envy.
Audience: Not necessarily, - there is only one entity.
Krishnamurti: Let us see. What is the actual process? I am envious; and I feel it is not the right thing, there is pain in it, it is immoral, and I wish to change the envy, or whatever it is. Those are the two states within me. But they are both within the same field of thought, are they not? The `me' that is greedy, and the `me' that wishes to change, - both are `me', are they not? Audience: The minute you decide to change you are greedy no longer.
Krishnamurti: We are not at present discussing how or what to change. When we talk of improving ourselves, is there actually an improvement, or merely a change from one coat to another, substituting one set of words and feelings for another?
Audience: There is no improvement unless you carry your ideal into action.
Krishnamurti: Most of us pursue ideals, - `the good', `the beautiful', `what is true', `non-violence', and so on. And we know why we pursue them, - because we hope through ideals to change ourselves. Ideals act as a lever and urge us to change ourselves, to become more perfect. That is an actual fact, is it not?
Take violence: I am violent, and so I have the ideal of non-violence. And I pursue that ideal, try to practise it, I am constantly thinking about it, trying to change myself and the ways of my thinking in order to conform to the ideal which I have established for myself. But, have I actually changed? - or have I merely substituted one set of words for another? Is violence changed through an ideal? (Pause)
What is important, surely, is not the ideal but the actual, the understanding of `what is'. The important thing is to understand my state of violence, from whence it arises, what are the causes, and so on, - and not to try to achieve a state of non-violence. Is that not so? Is it not extremely difficult for most of us to give up ideals, to wipe them all away, and be concerned with actually `what is'? If you are only concerned with `what is', then is there any form of self-improvement?
Audience: Do all these things disappear if we discuss them? (Laughter).
Krishnamurti: We are not concerned, are we?, with how to make things disappear. We want to find out, do we not?, how to transform something like greed, without conflict.
Audience: Being concerned with `what is', - let us say, with violence, - does that not give strength to the violence?
Krishnamurti: Does it?
Please, let us go into this. All of us here, apparently, are great idealists; we accept ideals as a means of changing ourselves. So can we proceed from that, slowly?
Audience: Is not an ideal good or bad according to the way you use it? You can buy things that are good, or bad, with your power, your money; and the same with your ideals.
Krishnamurti: I thought this was an old subject, long ago brushed away, but I see it is not. Why do we have ideals?
Audience: Largely because we have been educated to have ideals.
Krishnamurti: Even if you had not been educated to a certain pattern of thinking, would you not create ideals for yourself?
Audience: God gave us a brain to think with, and with it we have made ideals to help ourselves forward.
Krishnamurti: Let us go into this matter slowly, step by step, and find out at least one thing this evening, - why we have ideals. Let us see if ideals have any significance at all in our lives, - deeply, not superficially, - and the whole implication of what is involved in ideals. Have they really any significance? If not, can we put them completely aside and perhaps look at things entirely differently?
Audience: It gives us great pleasure to think of the ideal.
Audience: Are not ideals an approach to the light? Are we not attracted upwards without even knowing it?
Audience: Surely, we are dissatisfied with what we are, and are trying to get away from it. If what we are gives us pain, then we try to get away from pain to something that gives us pleasure and happiness.
Krishnamurti: That is so, is it not? We are dissatisfied with what we are and we want to get away from that, we want to be free from that state of dissatisfaction. That is our concern, is it not? - and not, the ideal. Our concern is, we are dissatisfied with what we are.
Audience: I don't think it is. I am perfectly satisfied with what I am. I don't see why one shouldn't be. (Laughter).
Krishnamurti: If I am perfectly satisfied with what I am, then there is no problem, no issue. But surely most of us are dissatisfied.
Audience: Do we not have ideals because in every human being there is a divine spark?
Krishnamurti: Sir, what does that mean? How do we know? I am dissatisfied with what I am, - that is the general state with most of us. I am ugly and I want to become beautiful; I am greedy and I want to be non-greedy, because greed involves pain; I am attached and I want to be detached, because attachment breeds sorrow. It is all a form of dissatisfaction with `what is', is it not? We hope, through our dissatisfaction to achieve a change, a result; we want to wipe away dissatisfaction. If we can just concentrate on that issue now, perhaps we shall understand everything.
I am dissatisfied with what I am. Does that dissatisfaction arise because I am comparing myself with something else? You understand the question? I am dissatisfied with myself because I have seen you being happy, satisfied. You have something which I have not got, and I would like to get it.
Audience: If we stop all that, if we are aware of that, if we know that "I am what I am", - then, what have we left to go after, to build up, to strive for? Then, why are we frustrated?
Krishnamurti: I think if we could go a little bit slowly, and not jump to any conclusions, then perhaps we shall be able to get at the root of this problem.
It has been said that we have ideals because we are divine. But I do not know if I am divine. People may have told me that there is a spark of divinity in me, but I do not know anything about it, do I? - I merely repeat it. I want to find out for myself if there is such a thing as divinity. And I cannot find that out if my mind is dissatisfied, because, being dissatisfied, I may myself create an idea of divinity which will satisfy me. Being dissatisfied, psychologically, inwardly, my whole search is to find satisfac- tion. So I create a truth, a staff, a reality, a bliss, a haven, which will satisfy me; therefore it is only my own creation. But if I can understand why I am dissatisfied, the whole process and the content of dissatisfaction, then perhaps I shall understand something much greater, instead of merely clinging to a creation of my own desire.
So, let us please keep to this point. We are dissatisfied. Now, our problem is, being dissatisfied, how am I to find satisfaction? I may put it very crudely, but that is the actual fact.
Audience: (Standing up and brandishing Bible). I find satisfaction by reading God's word. I was converted, and since I've read God's word I'm satisfied and I don't want anything else.
Krishnamurti: Yes, sir. We are all seeking satisfaction. You will find satisfaction in the Bible, in a book; I may find satisfaction in a drink. You may find satisfaction in power, position, prestige, money; and I may find satisfaction in self-improvement. So, we all are seeking satisfaction. Is that not so?
Audience: Yes. Yes.
Krishnamurti: We are seeking satisfaction through the achievement of an ideal, through a belief. You may find it in one way and I may find it in another; yours may be a so-called noble way and mine may be a so-called low way. But the urge, the drive, the tendency, is to find a state of satisfaction which will never be disturbed. Is that not what we want?
Audience: Yes. Yes.
Audience: But is not that urge smoothed out directly we get beyond ourselves? Like listening to music, - , it takes us away from ourselves and from life's limitations.
Krishnamurti: Surely that is merely a theory, - if we did `this', `that' would happen. It is a supposition. But the actual fact is that we are dissatisfied and are seeking satisfaction. That is why you are listening to me, is it not? You hope to find something by listening. You are dissatisfied, you are searching, you are unhappy, frustrated, in contradiction, and you want to find a way out of this mess, this chaos; and so you listen, hoping to find a way out.
Now, I am suggesting that we should first find out why there is dissatisfaction, and not concern ourselves with how to transform it into satisfaction. Actually, what does being dissatisfied mean?
Audience: It is because we do not have the understanding of supreme consciousness.
Krishnamurti: Oh sir! How can a mind which is so disturbed, which is so anxious, which is so frustrated, which is constantly demanding, wanting, - how can such a mind think of a supreme consciousness or any of those ideals? They may be all nonsense. The actual fact is that I am disturbed. Why cannot we start from there? I am dissatisfied; how am I to find satisfaction? That is our problem, is it not?
Audience: Yes. Yes.
Audience: Sir, isn't satisfaction the same as the self which is disturbed? Krishnamurti: We will investigate, sir. Please, let us go slowly, step by step. I am dissatisfied, and you are.
Audience: I am dissatisfied with what I am. If I knew what I am I should be much happier, - but I do not know what I am.
Krishnamurti: That is the whole problem, is it not? I am unhappy, and I want to find happiness. I am in a state of misery, frustration, and I want to find fulfilment.
Krishnamurti: Please, - let us first see the fact, and not say "Why?" We will go into that. But is that the fact? (Pause)
Audience: Yes, it is.
Krishnamurti: So the next thing we are concerned with is how to bring about a change. I am unhappy, and I want to be happy. How is that change to be brought about?
Audience: By being happy.
Krishnamurti: Sir, if you say to an unhappy man "Be happy", it has no meaning, has it?
Audience: I can see there is dissatisfaction within myself, and that by getting away from it my mind is escaping.
Krishnamurti: That is so, is it not? I have never understood the whole process of dissatisfaction, but I merely want to escape from it,I want to get away from it, to take flight from it, deny it. I am dissatisfied, I am unhappy, I am violent; I do not like that state, so I want to change it. And I have the ideal as a means of bringing about a change in me; or I pursue someone who will show me the way to be satisfied, how to be happy. Which means, really, I have not understood the state in which I am, but am denying it. Surely that is so? I am denying the state in which I am, - because I am pursuing a state which I think will give me satisfaction, give me happiness, put an end to my frustration. Whereas, if we had no escape, if we would put away all ideals and face the fact that we are dissatisfied, then we could proceed. But so long as I am escaping from the fact that I am dissatisfied, by trying to become satisfied, there is bound to be frustration. So I want to understand that state of dissatisfaction, with all its implications, and not try to change it into something else.
Do we understand this? And can we, in talking it over together, free the mind from the ideal, and face the fact that I am violent? - not ask how to be non-violent, which is merely an escape from the fact. Can I look at the fact? (Pause)
Audience: What do you mean by `looking at the fact'?
Krishnamurti: Can we now go into that? How do I actually face the fact that I am violent? What does it mean, to look at something? It means, can I look at myself without condemning myself? Can I look at the fact of violence without introducing the desire not to be violent? The very word `violence' has a condemnatory significance, has it not?
You are following this? Audience: Yes. Yes.
Krishnamurti: That is, I become aware that I am violent, envious. And to me, what is important is to understand that state and not try to change it. Because the very desire to change is an escape from the fact. Unless that is very clear, we cannot proceed further. (Pause)
The difficulty here is that each one is pursuing his own thoughts, his own way of translating what is being said. Can we look at this one issue together, very simply? I am envious. I have been told from childhood that it is wrong, and I have been conditioned to condemn it; so I am dissatisfied with it. I have read in books, I have been told, that one must live in peace, in a state of love, and all the rest of it. So, I am trying to change what I am into what I should be. The `should be' is the ideal, is it not? - which is an escape from what I am. I think that is fairly clear. So first let us put aside the ideal altogether. For most of us, that is the most difficult thing to do.
The mind must be free from the ideal first. Perhaps I am dissatisfied because of the ideal? Perhaps I feel I should be something noble, and because I am not I am dissatisfied? Or, is dissatisfaction something inherent, quite apart from comparison? You understand the problem?
Krishnamurti: So do I know dissatisfaction only through the comparison of the ideal with what I am? And if there was no comparison at all, would I still be dissatisfied? If I did not think in terms of the `more' or the `less', would there be dissatisfaction? Is dissatisfaction inherent in my thinking, in my being? I know of the ideal, I am being taught about it, and also I want to improve, become something greater, - therefore I am dissatisfied. But so long as I am thinking in terms of time, - which is, the becoming something in the future, - there must be dissatisfaction, surely? So, can the mind be free from all comparison?
You are listening to me, are you not?, because you want to achieve a state which I have talked about. Whether I have achieved it or not is not important. You want to achieve that state. Why? Because, you are dissatisfied, you are unhappy, frustrated, you are nothing and you want to be something. And this effort to get from the state in which you are to the state which you think you should achieve is called a process of growth, is it not?
Krishnamurti: But if I can understand the actual state in which I am, then perhaps this whole idea of becoming something, this whole idea of demanding time in order to grow, may be irrelevant, may be utterly false. I think it is. So the problem then is, that I am dissatisfied, - and I am no longer concerned with how to achieve satisfaction, because I see it as an escape from the actual fact of dissatisfaction, of unhappiness, of frustration. The actual fact is, I am frustrated, - because I am seeking fulfilment. Is that not so? I am seeking fulfilment, therefore I am frustrated.
So I ask myself if there is such a thing as fulfilment at all. You understand? So long as I am seeking fulfilment there is the accompanying fear of not fulfilling. So, is it not right to find out for oneself whether there is fulfilment at all? - not, how to fulfil, how to wipe away the frustration in which I am caught. Because so long as I am seeking fulfilment in any form, there must be frustration. Surely, that is a fact.
Now, why do I seek fulfilment? - in my son, through a job, and all the other ways; we know what it means without too much description. There may be no fulfilment at all; and if we seek fulfilment there is frustration, from which arises sorrow. If I can find out the truth, - whether there is fulfilment at all, - then perhaps I can be free from frustration. So, is there fulfilment? That is the whole question. Is that clear?
Krishnamurti: In our daily life there is the urge to fulfil. And with that urge go frustration, grief, sorrow, envy, and all the rest of it, - with which we are all familiar. So there is always a lack, a sense of insufficiency, is there not? I may fulfil in one direction and yet be miserable in another. It goes on indefinitely; and so frustration is a continual process. So, my problem then is, to find out the truth, whether there is fulfilment. And, why do we want to fulfil?
Audience: Because we are afraid of a state of not being fulfilled; we are afraid to stay unfulfilled.
Krishnamurti: Let us investigate, look into ourselves. Fulfilment is a state of transiency; the urge is constantly changing. There is no permanent state of fulfilment, is there? So, why is there this urge to fulfil?
Audience: Because we long for permanency.
Krishnamurti: So because in ourselves we are not permanent, because there is nothing in us which is enriching, because we are inwardly poor, sorrowing, therefore we seek fulfilment, we try to gather, to be something. That is the root of it, is it not? Do we see that? (Pause)
Krishnamurti: Now, let us proceed from that. We are confused, we are lonely, inwardly we are insufficient, - that is the fact. Every action away from that fact is an escape, is it not? And it is one of the most difficult things to do, not to escape. Because, to look at the fact, to consider it, to be aware of it, implies no condemnation of the fact, no comparison, no evaluation. So can we, not theoretically but actually, experience the thing we are talking of? Because then we will see that it is possible to be totally free from this sense of insufficiency, from this root cause of misery.
Audience: Do you mean that we should be satisfied as we are? (Sh! Sh!)
Krishnamurti: No, sir, - that only leads to stagnation, to immobility, to death. I am showing that any interpretation of the fact is either based on satisfaction or dissatisfaction.
So, can I look at that fact of inward insufficiency without comparing, without judging? Can I look at it without fear? Is it not fear of the fact that is making me do all these things, making me pursue the ideal? Can we understand now that it is fear that is making us compare? - fear of some, thing which we do not know. We have given it the name of insufficiency, of loneliness, of misery, of confusion; and having given a name to it we have thus condemned it and run away from the fact. When we do not condemn, do not judge, do not evaluate and compare, then we are left only with fear. Is that clear, so far?
Audience: Yes. Yes.
Krishnamurti: Fear, of what? You understand the question? I am afraid of a state which I call `insufficiency'. I do not know that state, I have never really looked at it, but I am afraid of it. Being afraid of it, I run away from it. But now I am not running away through comparison, or through ideals, because I see the falseness of escape. So I am left only with fear of something about which I do not know. Is that not so?
Krishnamurti: If you are following this actually, - not verbally, not intellectually, not descriptively, - you will see for yourself the process of this unfolding, and the depths into which one can go. Then I no longer have ideals; they have no meaning any more. I am no longer striving to achieve. The fact is, I am afraid of something about which I do not know; but if I stop running away from it, then I am left with the fact and the fear. If I pursue the fear, if I ask the question "How am I to get rid of fear?", then that is another escape from the fact, is it not? So, I am now concerned with the understanding of `what is; and I see that giving a name to a thing as `emptiness', as `loneliness', as `insufficiency', has actually created the fear. Giving it a label has brought about the reaction of fear to that label.
So, can the mind be aware of the thing without condemning, without judging, without escaping, and without giving it a name? This is extraordinarily difficult, because most of us are so conditioned to pursue the ideal that it prevents us from looking at the actual fact. We are not capable of looking at the fact when there is comparison, when the mind gives a label, a name. But when there is no naming of the fact, no escaping from it through ideals, through comparison, through judgment, then what is there left? Is there anything which can be called insufficiency? Is there that urge to fulfil which breeds frustration? (Pause)
So we begin to find out how the mind has been incapable of, looking at anything without all this confusing, contradictory process. Only when the mind is capable of abandoning it all, - not through any effort but because it sees the truth of all this, - only then is there the cessation of envy, - the complete cessation. Such a mind is no longer caught by society, by any particular culture, - for all our culture is based on envy. Then we will find that the mind is no longer seeking, because there is nothing more to seek. Then such a mind is really quiet.
Merely repeating what has been said has no meaning at all. But to actually experience this, through self-knowledge, and not to accumulate that which has been experienced, - because accumulation distorts all further experience, - to be aware of all this, gives truth, gives that extraordinary freedom which comes through complete aloneness. The mind that is completely alone, uncontaminated, not escaping is capable of receiving that which is true.
June 18, 1955
London 2nd Public Talk 18th June 1955
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