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Ojai 1955

Ojai 3rd Public Talk 13th August 1955

I think one of our greatest difficulties is that of communication. I want to say something, naturally with the intention that you should understand it; but each one of us interprets the words he hears according to his own peculiar background, and so with a large audience like this it is extremely difficult to convey exactly what one intends.

I would like to discuss this evening something what I consider quite important, and that is the whole problem of the cultivation of virtue. One can see that without virtue the mind is quite chaotic, contradictory, and without having a quiet, orderly mind in which there is no conflict, one obviously cannot go much further. But virtue is not an end in itself. The cultivation of virtue leads in one direction, and being virtuous leads in another. Most of us are concerned with the cultivation of virtue because, even though only superficially, virtue does give a certain poise, a certain quietness of mind in which there is not this incessant conflict of contradictory desires. But it seems to me fairly obvious that the mere cultivation of virtue can never bring about freedom, but only leads to respectable tranquillity, the sense of order, of control which arises from shaping the mind to conform to a certain social pattern which is called virtue.

So our problem is to be good without trying to be good. I think there is a vast difference between the two. Being good is a state in which there is no effort; but we are not in that state. We are envious, ambitious, gossipy, cruel, narrow, petty-minded, caught in various forms of stupidity, which is not good; and being all that, how can one come to a state of mind which is good without making an effort to be good? Surely, the man who makes an effort to be virtuous is not virtuous, is he? A person who tries to be humble obviously has not the least understanding of what humility is. And not being humble, is it possible to have the sense of humility without the cultivation of humility?

I do not know if you have thought about this problem at all. One can see very well that there must be virtue. It is like keeping the room tidy; but having a tidy room is not at all important in itself. To make virtue an end in itself obviously has social benefits, it helps you to be a so-called decent citizen who lives according to a certain pattern, whether here, in India, or in Russia. But isn't it very important for the mind to be orderly without enforcement, without discipline, and to forget it, so that it is not all the time restrained, disciplined, cultivating conformity?

After all, what is it we are seeking? What is it that each one of us is in search of, not theoretically, abstractly, but actually? And is there any difference between the search of the man who is seeking satisfaction through knowledge, through God, and that of the man who is seeking to be wealthy, to fulfil his ambition, or who seeks satisfaction through drink? Socially there is a difference. The man who is seeking satisfaction through drink is obviously an antisocial being, whereas the man who seeks satisfaction by joining a religious order, becoming a hermit, and so on, is socially beneficial; but that's all.

So, does what we are seeking actually bring about contentment, however serious we are in our search? And we are serious, are we not? The hermit, the monk, the man who is pursuing various forms of pleasure, each in his own way is very serious. And does that constitute earnestness? Is there earnestness when there is a search to acquire something? Do you understand my question? Or, is there earnestness only when there is no seeking of an end?

After all, you who are here must be somewhat earnest, otherwise you wouldn't have taken the trouble to come. Now, I am asking myself, and I hope you are asking yourself, what it means to be earnest; because on that depends, I think, what I am going to explain a little later. If you are here seeking contentment, or to understand some past experience, or to cultivate a certain state of mind which you think will give you tranquillity, peace, or to experience that which you call reality, God, you may be very earnest; but should you not question that earnestness? Is it earnestness when you are seeking something which is going to give you pleasure or tranquillity?

If we can really understand this whole process of seeking, understand why we seek and what we seek - and that process can be understood only through self-knowledge, through awareness of the movement of our own thinking, of our own reactions and responses, of our various urges - , then perhaps we shall find out what it is to be virtuous without disciplining ourselves to be virtuous. You see, I feel that as long as the mind is held in conflict, though we may suppress it, though we may try to run away from it, discipline it, control it, shape it according to various patterns, that conflict remains latent in the mind, and such a mind can never be really quiet. And it is essential, it seems to me, to have a quiet mind, because the mind is our only instrument of understanding, of perception, of communication, and as long as that instrument is not completely clear and capable of perception, capable of pursuit without an end, there can be no freedom, no tranquillity, and therefore no discovery of anything new.

So, is it possible to live in this world - where there is so much turmoil, anxiety, insecurity - without effort? That is one of our problems, is it not? To me that is a very important question, because creativity is something that comes into being only when the mind is in a state of no effort. I am not using that word `creativity' in the academic sense of learning creative writing, creative acting, creative thought, and all that stuff; I am using it in an entirely different sense. When the mind is in a state where the past, with its cultivation of virtue through discipline, has wholly ceased - it is only then that there is a timeless creativity which may be called God, truth, or what you like. So, how can the mind be in that state of constant creativity?

When you have a problem, what happens? You think it out, you wallow in it, you fuss over it, you get wildly excited about it; and the more you analyze it, dig into it, polish it, worry about it, the less you understand it. But the moment you put it away from you, you understand it, the whole thing is suddenly very clear. I think most of us have had that experience. The mind is no longer in a state of confusion, conflict, and therefore it is capable of receiving or perceiving something totally new. And is it possible for the mind to be in that state, so that it is never repetitive but is experiencing something new all the time? I think that depends on our understanding of this problem of the cultivation of virtue.

We cultivate virtue, we discipline ourselves to conform to a particular pattern of morality. Why? Not only in order to be socially respectable, but also because we see the necessity of bringing about order, of controlling our minds, our speech, our thought. We see how extraordinarily important that is, but in the process of cultivating virtue we are building up memory, the memory which is the `me', the self, the ego. That is the background we have, especially those who think they are religious, the background of constantly practising a particular discipline, of belonging to certain sects, groups, so-called religious bodies. Their reward may be somewhere else, in the next world, but it is still a reward; and in pursuing virtue, which means polishing, disciplining, controlling the mind, they are developing and maintaining self-conscious memory, so never for a moment are they free from the past.

If you have ever really disciplined yourself, practised not being envious, not being angry, and so on, I wonder if you have noticed that that very practice, that very disciplining of the mind leaves a series of memories of the known? This is rather a difficult problem we are discussing, and I hope I am making myself clear. The whole process of saying, `I must not do this', breeds or builds up time; and a mind that is caught in time can obviously never experience something which is timeless, which is the unknown. Yet the mind must be orderly, free of contradictory desires - which does not mean conforming, accepting, obeying.

So, if you are at all earnest, in the sense in which I am using that word, this problem must inevitably arise. Your mind is the result of the known. Your mind is the known, it is shaped by memories, by reactions, by impressions of the known; and a mind that is held within the field of the known can never comprehend or experience the unknown, something which is not within the field of time. The mind is creative only when it is free from the known - and then it can use the known, which is the technique. Am I making myself clear, or is it all as clear as mud? (Laughter).

You see, we are so bored that we constantly read, acquire, learn, go to churches, perform rituals, and we never know a moment which is original, pristine, innocent, completely free from all impressions; and it is that moment that is creative, that is timeless, everlasting, or whatever word you like to use. Without that creativity, life becomes so insipid, stupid, and then all our virtues, our knowledge, our pursuits, our amusements, our various beliefs and traditions, have very little meaning. As I was saying the other day, society merely cultivates the known, and we are the result of that society. To find the unknown, it is essential to be free of society - which doesn't mean that you must withdraw into a monastery and pray from morning till night, everlastingly disciplining yourself. conforming to a certain belief, dogma. Surely, that does not bring about the release of the mind from the known.

The mind is the result of the known, it is the result of the past, which is the accumulation of time; and is it possible for such a mind to be free from the known without effort, so that it can discover something original? Any effort it makes to free itself, any search in order to find, is still within the field of the known. Surely, God or truth must be something totally unthought of, it must be something entirely new, unformulated, never discovered, never experienced before. And how can a mind which is the result of the known ever experience that? Do you follow the problem? If the problem is clear, then you will find the right way of approaching it, which is not a method. That's why it is important to find out if one can be good, in the complete sense of that word, without trying to be good, without making an effort to get rid of envy, of ambition, of cruelty, without disciplining oneself to stop gossiping - you know, the whole mass of strictures which we impose upon ourselves in order to be good. Can there be goodness without the attempt to be good? I think there can be only if each one of us knows how to listen, how to be attentive now. There is goodness only when there is complete attention. See the truth that there can be no goodness through endeavour, through effort, just see the truth of that - and you can see the truth of it only if you are giving complete attention to what is being said. Forget all the books you have read, the things that you have been told of, and give complete attention to the statement that there can be no virtue as long as there is endeavour to be virtuous. As long as I am trying to be non-violent, there is violence; as long as I am trying to be unenvious, I am envious; as long as I am trying to be humble, there is pride. If I see the truth of that, not intellectually or verbally, which is merely to hear the words and agree with them, but very simply and directly, then out of that comes goodness. But the difficulty is that the mind then says, `How can I keep that state? I may be good while sitting here listening to something which I feel is true, but the moment I go out I am again caught in the stream of envy'. But I don't think that matters; you'll find out.

Our culture, our society, is based on envy, on various forms of acquisitiveness, whether it is the acquisition of knowledge, of experience, of property, or what you will. And to be free of all that doesn't require endeavour, effort, but seeing the whole implication of effort. A man who is acquiring knowledge is not peaceful, he is caught in effort. It is only when the mind is totally without effort that it is peaceful, which is really an extraordinary state, and I think anybody can have it who gives his heart, his whole attention to the matter. A mind that is not toiling, that is not trying to become something socially or spiritually, that is completely nothing - it is only such a mind that can receive the new.

Question: Some philosophers assert that life has purpose and meaning, while others maintain that life is utterly haphazard and absurd. What do you say? You deny the value of goals, ideals and purposes; but without them, has life any significance at all?

Krishnamurti: Has what the philosophers say a great significance to each one of us? Some intellectuals say there is meaning, significance to life, while others say it is haphazard and absurd. Surely, in their own way, negatively or positively, both are giving significance to life, are they not? One asserts, the other denies, but essentially they are both the same. That is fairly obvious.

Now, when you pursue an ideal, a goal, or inquire what is the purpose of life, that very inquiry or pursuit is based on the desire to give significance to life, is it not? I do not know if you are following all this.

My life has no significance, let us suppose, so I seek to give significance to life. I say, `What is the purpose of life? because, if life has a purpose, then according to that purpose I can live. So I invent or imagine a purpose, or by reading, inquiring searching, I find a purpose; therefore I am giving significance to life. As the intellectual in his own way gives significance to life by denying or asserting that it has purpose and meaning, we also give significance to life through our ideals, through our search for a goal, for God, for love, for truth. Which means, really, that without giving significance to life, our life has no meaning for us at all. Living isn't good enough for us, so we want to give a significance to life. I do not know if you see that.

What is the significance of our life, yours and mine, apart from the philosophers? Has it any significance, or are we giving it a significance through belief, like the intellectual who becomes a Catholic, this or that, and thereby finds a shelter? His intellect has torn everything to pieces, he cannot stand being alone, lonely, and all the rest of it, so he has to have a belief in Catholicism, in Communism, or in something else which nourishes him, which for him gives significance to life.

Now, I am asking myself, why do we want a significance? And what does it mean to live without significance at all? Do you understand? Our own life being empty, harried, lonely, we want to give a significance to life. And is it possible to be aware of our own emptiness, loneliness, sorrow, of all the travail and conflict in our life, without trying to get out of it, without artificially giving a significance to life? Can we be aware of this extraordinary thing which we call life, which is the earning of a livelihood, the envy, the ambition, the frustration - just be aware of all that without condemnation or justification, and go beyond? It seems to me that as long as we are seeking or giving a significance to life, we are missing something extraordinarily vital. It is like the man who wants to find the significance of death, who is everlastingly rationalizing it, explaining it - he never experiences what is death. We shall go into that in another talk.

So aren't we all trying to find a reason for our existence? When we love, do we have a reason? Or is love the only state in which there is no reason at all, no explanation, no endeavour, no trying to be something? Perhaps we do not know that state. Not knowing that state, we try to imagine it, give significance to life; and because our minds are conditioned, limited, petty, the significance we give to life, our gods, our rituals, our endeavours, are also petty.

Isn't it important, then, to find out for ourselves what significance we give to life, if we do? Surely, the purposes, the goals, the Masters, the gods, the beliefs, the ends through which we are seeking fulfilment, are all invented by the mind, they are all the outcome of our own conditioning; and realizing that, is it not important to uncondition the mind? When the mind is unconditioned and is therefore not giving significance to life, then life is an extraordinary thing, something totally different from the framework of the mind. But first we must know our own conditioning, must we not? And is it possible to know our conditioning, our limitations, our background, without forcing, without analyzing, without trying to sublimate or suppress it? Because that whole process involves the entity who observes and separates himself from the observed, does it not? As long as there is the observer and the observed, conditioning must continue. However much the observer, the thinker, the censor may try to get rid of his conditioning, he is still caught in that conditioning, because the very division between the thinker and the thought, the experiencer and the experience, is the perpetuation of conditioning; and it is extremely difficult to let this division disappear, because it involves the whole problem of will.

Our culture is based on will, the will to be, to become, to achieve, to fulfil; therefore in each one of us there is always the entity who is trying to change, control, alter that which he observes. But is there a difference between that which he observes and himself, or are they one? This is a thing that cannot be merely accepted. It must be thought of, gone into with tremendous patience, gentleness, hesitancy, so that the mind is no longer separated from that which it thinks, so that the observer and the observed are psychologically one. As long as I am psychologically separate from that which I perceive in myself as envy, I try to overcome envy; but is that `I', the maker of effort to overcome envy, different from envy? Or are they both the same, only the `I' has separated himself from envy in order to overcome it because he feels envy is painful, and for various other reasons? But that very separation is the cause of envy.

Perhaps you are not used to this way of thinking and it is a little bit too abstract. But a mind that is envious can never be tranquil because it is always comparing, always trying to become something which it is not; and if one really goes into this problem of envy radically, profoundly, deeply, one must inevitably come upon this problem, whether the entity that wishes to be rid of envy is not envy itself. When one realizes that it is envy itself that wants to get rid of envy, then the mind is aware of that feeling called envy without any sense of condemning or trying to get rid of it. Then from that the problem arises, is there a feeling if there is no verbalization? Because the very word `envy' is condemnatory, is it not? Am I saying too much all at once?

Is there a feeling of envy if I don't name that feeling? By the very naming of it am I not maintaining that feeling? The feeling and the naming are almost simultaneous, are they not? And is it possible to separate them so that there is only a sense of reaction without naming? If you really go into it you will find that when there is no naming of that feeling, envy totally ceases - not just the envy you feel because somebody is more beautiful, or has a better car, and all that stupid stuff, but the tremendous depth of envy, the root of envy. All of us are envious, there isn't one who is not envious in different ways. But envy isn't just the superficial thing, it is the whole sense of comparing which goes very deep and occupies our minds so vastly, and to be radically free of envy there must be no censor, no observer of the envy who is trying to get rid of envy. We shall go into that another time.

Question: To be without condemnation, justification or comparison, is to be in a higher state of consciousness. I am not in that state, so how am I to get there?

Krishnamurti: You see, the very question, "How am I to get there?" is envious. (Laughter). No, sirs, please pay attention. You want to get something, so you have methods, disciplines, religions, churches, this whole superstructure which is built on envy, comparison, justification, condemnation. Our culture is based on this hierarchical division between those who have more and those who have less, those who know and those who don't know, those who are ignorant and those who are full of wisdom, so our approach to the problem is totally wrong. The questioner says, "To be without condemnation, justification or comparison, is to be in a higher state of consciousness." Is it? Or are we simply not aware that we are condemning, comparing? Why do we first assert that it is a higher state of consciousness, and then out of that create the problem of how to get there and who is going to help us to get there? Is it not much simpler than all that?

That is, we are not aware of ourselves at all, we do not see that we are condemning, comparing. If we can watch ourselves daily without justifying or condemning anything, just be aware of how we never think without judging, comparing, evaluating, then that very awareness is enough. We are always saying, `This book is not as good as the other', or, `This man is better than that man', and so on; there is this constant process of comparison, and we think that through comparison we understand. Do we? Or does understanding come only when one is not comparing but is really paying attention? Is there comparison when you are looking attentively at something? When you are totally attentive, you have no time to compare, have you? The moment you compare, your attention has gone off to something else. When you say, `This sunset is not as beautiful as that of yesterday', you are not really looking at the sunset, your mind has already gone off to yesterday's memory. But if you can look at the sunset completely, totally, with your whole attention, then comparison ceases, surely.

So the problem is not how to get something, but why we are not attentive. We are not attentive, obviously, because we are not interested. Don't say, `How am I to be interested?' That's irrelevant, that's not the question. Why should you be interested? If you are not interested in listening to what is being said, why bother? But you are bothered because your life is full of envy, suffering, so you want to find an answer, you want to find a meaning. If you want to find a meaning, give full attention. The difficulty is that we are not really serious about anything, serious in the right sense of that word. When you give complete attention to something, you are not trying to get anything out of it, are you? At that moment of total attention there is no envy, there is no entity who is trying to change, to modify, to become something, there is no self at all. In the moment of attention the self, the `me' is absent, and it is that moment of attention that is good, that is love.

August 13, 1955.


Ojai 1955

Ojai 3rd Public Talk 13th August 1955

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