Ojai 5th Public Talk 20th August 1955
One of the grave problems about which most of us must have thought is the complete control of the mind; because one can see that without a deep, rational, balanced control of the mind there is not the conservation of energy which is so essential if one is to do anything, and especially in matters that pertain to so-called search, the search of truth, of reality, of God, or what you will. One is aware, I think, that this stability of mind is necessary to penetrate into fundamental problems which a superficial mind cannot touch. And yet the difficulty lies in how to control the mind, does it not? Many systems of discipline, various religious sects and monastic communities, have always insisted on the absolute control of the mind; and this evening I would like to discuss whether such a thing is possible at all, and how this absolute steadiness of the mind is to be brought about. I am using the word `absolute' in its correct sense, meaning complete, total control of the mind. As I said, it is essential to have such steadiness, because in that state there is no conflict, no dissipation, no distraction of any kind; therefore it brings enormous energy, and such a mind, being completely steady, is capable of deep, radical penetration into reality.
Now, however much it may control, dominate, discipline itself, can a petty mind ever be steady? Most of our minds are narrow, limited, prejudiced, petty, and a petty mind is occupied incessantly with things that are very superficial, with a job, with quarrels, with resentment, with the cultivation of virtues, with trying to understand something, with gossip, with its own evolution and its own problems. And can such a mind, however much it may control, discipline itself, ever be free to be steady? Because without freedom the mind obviously cannot be steady.
That is, a mind which is striving after success, a result, groping after something which it cannot have, is essentially narrow, conditioned, limited, made petty by that very effort; and however much it may attempt to be steady by controlling itself, can such a mind ever bring about that essential energy which comes with deep, fundamental steadiness, or will it only build another series of limitations, further pettiness? I hope I am making the problem clear.
If my mind is nationalistic, bound by innumerable beliefs, superstitions, fears, caught up in envy, in resentment, in the cruelty of words, of gesture, or thought, however much it may try to think of something beyond itself, it is still limited. So the problem is how to break up this pettiness of the mind, is it not? That is one of the fundamental issues, and if it is clear, then we can proceed to find out what it means to have complete control of the mind. To find out what is truth, what is God, or whatever name you may like to give it, one must obviously have enormous energy, and in search of that energy we do all kinds of nonsensical things. Either we resort to monasteries, or become cranky about food, or we try to control the various passions, lusts, hoping thereby to canalize energy in order to find something beyond the mind. After all, that is what most of us are endeavouring to do in different ways. We are trying to control our thoughts, our desires, cultivate virtue, be watchful of our words, our actions, and so on, either with the intention of being good, respectable citizens, or in the hope of canalizing all this extraordinary vitality of desire in order to find out what lies beyond; but we cannot find that out, however much we may struggle, as long as we do not understand the pettiness of the mind. When a petty mind seeks God, its God will also be petty, obviously; its virtues will be mere respectability. So, is it possible to break up this pettiness? Is the question clear? All right, then let us proceed.
Our minds are petty, envious, acquisitive, fearful, whether we admit it or not. Now, what makes the mind petty? Surely, the mind is narrow, limited, shallow, petty, as long as it is acquisitive. It may give up worldly things and become acquisitive in the pursuit of knowledge, wisdom, but it is still petty, because in acquiring it develops the will to achieve, to gain, and this very will to achieve constitutes pettiness.
May I say something here about attention? Attention is very important, but attention is entirely different from concentration or absorption in something. A child is absorbed in a top; the toy attracts him, and so he gives his mind to the toy. That is what happens, is it not? The object draws the mind, absorbs the mind, or else the mind absorbs the object. If you are interested in something, the object of that interest is so enticing that it absorbs you; whereas, if you deliberately concentrate on something, which is another form of absorption, then you absorb the object, do you not?
Now, I am talking of something entirely different. I am talking of an attention in which there is no object at all, no strain, no conflict, an attention in which you are neither absorbed nor are you trying to concentrate on something. In listening to what is being said here, you are endeavouring to understand, your listening has an object, therefore there is an effort, a strain, there is no relaxed attention at all. That is a fact, is it not? If you want to listen to something, there must be no strain, no effort, no object which attracts your attention and absorbs you, otherwise you are merely hypnotized by what is being said, by a personality, and all the rest of that nonsense. If you observe closely this process of absorption, you will see that in it there is always a conflict, a sense of strain, an effort to get something; whereas, in attention there is no particular object at all, you are just listening as you would listen to distant music, or to the notes of a song. In that state you are relaxed, attentive, there is no strain.
So, if I may suggest, try just being attentive while you are listening to what is being said here. What I am talking about may be difficult and somewhat new, and therefore rather disturbing; but if you can listen with this relaxed attention you won't be mentally agitated, though you may be disturbed in a different way which perhaps is good. What I am saying is something which it is essential to understand. I am saying that the mind must be completely steady. But this steadiness cannot come about if the mind tries to make itself steady, because the mind, the maker of effort, is in its very nature petty. The mind may be full of encyclopaedic know- ledge, it may be capable of clever discussions and possess vast accumulations of technique, but it remains essentially petty as long as it is based on the sense of acquisitiveness and therefore on the cultivation of will, that is, as long as there is the `I', the entity who is acquiring, who is making an effort, who is putting aside and gathering. The mind may think of God, it may discipline itself, try to control its various desires in order to be virtuous, in order to have more energy to seek truth, and so on; but such a mind is narrow, limited, it can never be free and therefore steady.
Our problem, then, is how to break up this pettiness of the mind. Is the question clear? If it is clear, then what are you to do? One sees the necessity of a very steady, deep, quiet mind, a mind which is completely controlled - but not controlled by a separate entity who says, `I must control it'. Do you follow? That is, I see the importance of a steady mind. Now, how is this steadiness to be brought about? If another part of the mind says, `I must have a steady mind', then it develops conflicts, controls, subjugations, does it not? One part of the mind dictates to the other part, trying to prevent it from wandering, controlling it, shaping it, disciplining it, suppressing various forms of desire; so there is conflict all the time, is there not?
Now, a mind in conflict is in its very essence petty, because its desire is to acquire something. Desiring to acquire a steady mind, you say, `I must control my mind, I must shape it, I must push away all conflicting desires', but as long as there is this dual process in your thinking there must be conflict, and that very conflict indicates pettiness, because that conflict is the outcome of the desire to gain something. So, can the mind obliterate, forget this whole process of acquisition, of acquiring a very steady mind in order to find God, or whatever it is? That is, as you listen, can you see the truth of what is being said immediately? I am saying that there must be complete and absolute steadiness of the mind, and that any endeavour to achieve that state indicates a mind that is divided, a mind that says, `By Jove, I must have that steadiness, it will be marvellous', and then pursues that state through discipline, through control, through various forms of sanction, and so on. But if the mind is capable of listening to the truth of that statement, if it sees the absolute necessity of complete control, then you will find there is no endeavour to achieve a state.
Is this too difficult? I'm afraid it is, because, you see, most of us think in terms of effort, there is always the entity who is making an effort to achieve a result, and hence there is conflict. You hear the statement that the mind must be absolutely steady, controlled, or you have read and thought about it, and you say, `I must have that state', so you pursue it through control, discipline, meditation, and so on. In that process there is effort, there is conformity, the following of a pattern, the establishment of authority, and the various other complications that arise. Now, any effort to achieve a result, any form of desire to acquire a state, makes for a petty mind, and such a mind can never possibly be free to be steady. If one sees the truth of that very clearly, then is there not an absolute steadiness of the mind? Do you understand?
To put it differently, one can see very clearly that energy is needed for any form of action. Even if you want to be a rich man you must devote your life to it, you must give to it your concentrated energy. And to find that which is beyond the activities, the movements of the mind, which implies a tremendous depth in self-knowledge, concentrated energy is essential. Now, how is this concentrated energy to come into being? Seeing the necessity of it, we say, `I must control my temper, I must eat the right food, I must not be oversexual, I must control my passions, my lusts, my desires' - you know, we go off at tangents. These are all tangents, because the centre is still petty. As long as the mind thinks in terms of acquiring something, of achieving a result, it is ambitious, and an ambitious mind is in its very nature small, shallow. Such a mind, like that of an ambitious man in this world, obviously has a certain amount of energy; but what we are discussing demands much deeper, wider, more unlimited energy in which the self is totally absent.
So, one has been conditioned through centuries, religiously, socially and morally, to control, to shape one's mind to a particular pattern, or to follow certain ideals, in order to conserve one's energy; and can such a mind break free from all that without effort and come immediately to that state in which the mind is totally still, completely steady? Then there is no such thing as distraction. Distraction exists only when you want to go in a certain direction. When you say, `I must think about this and nothing else', then everything else is a distraction. But when you are completely attentive with that attention in which there is no object because there is no process of acquiring, no cultivation of the will to achieve a result, then you will find that the mind is extraordinarily steady, inwardly still; and it is only the still mind that is free to discover or let that reality come into being.
Question: How can one stop habits?
Krishnamurti: If we can understand the whole process of habit, then perhaps we shall be able to stop the formation of habits. Merely to stop a particular habit is comparatively easy, but the problem is not then solved. All of us have various habits of which we are either conscious or unconscious; so we have to find out whether the mind is caught in habit, and why the mind creates habits at all.
Is not most of our thinking habitual? From childhood we have been taught to think along a certain line, whether as a Christian, a Communist, or a Hindu, and we dare not deviate from that line because the very deviation is fear. So fundamentally our thinking is habitual, conditioned, our minds function along established grooves, and naturally there are also superficial habits which we try to control.
Now, if the mind ceases altogether to think in habits, then we shall approach the problem of a superficial habit entirely differently. Do you understand? If you are investigating trying to find out whether your mind thinks in habits, if that is what you are really concerned with, then the habit of smoking, for example, will have quite a different meaning. That is, if you are interested in inquiring into the whole process of habit, which is at a deeper level, you will treat the habit of smoking in a totally different manner. Being inwardly very clear that you really want to stop, not only the habit of smoking, but the whole process of thinking in habits, you do not fight the automatic movement of picking up a cigarette, and all the rest of it, because you see that the more you fight that particular habit, the more life you give to it. But if you are attentive, completely aware of that habit without fighting it, then you will see that that habit ceases in its time; therefore the mind is not occupied with that habit. I do not know if you are following this.
Inwardly I see very clearly that I want to stop smoking, but the habit has been set going for a number of years. Shall I fight that habit? Surely, by fighting a habit I am giving life to it. Please understand this. Any- thing I fight I am giving life to. If I fight an idea, I am giving life to that idea; if I fight you, I am giving you life to fight me. I must see that very clearly, and I can see it very clearly only if I am looking at the whole problem of habit, not just at one specific habit. Then my approach to habit is at a different level altogether.
So the question now is, why does the mind think in terms of habit, the habit of relationship, the habit of ideas, the habit of beliefs, and so on? Why? Because essentially it is seeking to be secure, to be safe, to be permanent, is it not? The mind hates to be uncertain, so it must have habits as a means of security. A mind that is secure can never be free from habit, but only the mind that is completely insecure - which doesn't mean ending up in an asylum or a mental hospital. The mind that is completely insecure, that is uncertain, inquiring, perpetually finding out, that is dying to every experience, to everything it has acquired, and is therefore in a state of not knowing - only such a mind can be free of habit, and that is the highest form of thinking.
Question: Is it possible to raise children without conditioning them. and if so how? If not, is there such, a thing as good and bad conditioning? Please answer this question unconditionally. (Laughter).
Krishnamurti: Is it possible to raise children without conditioning them?" Is it? I don't think so. Please listen, let's go into this together. But first of all, let's dispose of this latter question, whether there is good conditioning and bad conditioning. Surely, there is only conditioning, not good and bad. You may call it a good conditioning to believe that there is God, but in Communist Russia they will say, `What nonsense, that is an evil conditioning'. What you call good conditioning, somebody else may call bad, which is obvious; so we can dispose of that question very quickly.
The question is, then, can children be brought up without conditioning, without influencing them? Surely, everything about them is influencing them. Climate, food, words, gestures, conversation, the unconscious responses, other children, society, schools, books, magazines, cinemas - all that is influencing the child. And can you stop that influence? It is not possible, is it? You may not want to influence, to condition your child; but unconsciously you are influencing him, are you not? You have your beliefs, your dogmas, your fears, your moralities, your intentions, your ideas of what is good and what is bad, so consciously or unconsciously you are shaping the child. And if you don't, the school does, with its history books that say what marvellous heroes you have and the other fellows haven't, and so on. Everything is influencing the child, so let us first recognize that, which is an obvious fact.
Now, the problem is, can you help the child to grow up to question all these influences intelligently? Do you understand? Knowing that the child is being influenced all around, at home as well as at school, can you help him to question every influence and not be caught in any particular influence? If it is really your intention to help your child to investigate all influences, then that is extremely arduous, is it not? Because it means questioning not only your authority, but the whole problem of authority, of nationalism, of belief, of war, of the army - you know, investigating the whole thing, which is to cultivate intelligence. And when there is that intelligence, so that the mind no longer merely accepts authority or conforms through fear, then every influence is examined and put aside; therefore, such a mind is not conditioned. Surely, that can be done, can it not? And is it not the function of education to cultivate that intelligence which is capable of examining objectively every influence, of investigating the background, the immediate as well as the deep background, so that the mind is not caught in any conditioning?
After all, you are conditioned by your background, you are this background, which is made up of your Christian inheritance, of the extraordinary vitality, energy, progress of America, of innumerable influences, climatic, social, religious, dietetic, and so on. And can you not look at all that intelligently, bring it out, put it on the table and examine it, without going through the absurd process of keeping what you think is good and throwing out what you think is bad? Surely, one has to look objectively at all of this so-called culture. Cultures create religions but not the religious man. The religious man comes into being only when the mind rejects culture, which is the background, and is therefore free to find out what is true. But that demands an extraordinary alertness of mind, does it not? Such a person is not an American, an Englishman, or a Hindu, but a human being; he does not belong to any particular group, race, or culture, and is therefore free to find out what is true, what is God. No culture helps man to find out what is true. Cultures only create organizations which bind man. Therefore it is important to investigate all this, not only the conscious conditioning, but much more the unconscious conditioning of the mind. And the unconscious conditioning cannot be examined superficially by the conscious mind. It is only when the conscious mind is completely quiet that the unconscious conditioning comes out, not at any given moment, but all the time, when you are on a walk, riding in a bus, or talking to somebody. When the intention is to find out, then you will see that the unconscious conditioning comes pouring out, so the doors are open to discovery.
Question: When I first heard you speak and had an interview with you, I was deeply disturbed. Then I began watching my thoughts, not condemning or comparing, and so on, and I somewhat gathered the sense of silence. Many weeks later I again had an interview with you and again received a shock, for you made it clear to me that my mind was not awake at all, and I realized that I had become somewhat smug in my achievement. Why does the mind settle down after each shock, and how is this process to be broken up?
Krishnamurti: Socially, religiously and personally we are constantly avoiding any form of change, are we not? We want things to go on as they are, because the mind hates to be disturbed. When it achieves something, there it settles down. But life is a process of challenge and response, and if there is no response adequate to the challenge, there is conflict. In order to avoid that conflict, we settle down in comfortable grooves and so decay. That is a psychological fact.
That is, life is a challenge, everything in life is demanding a response, but because you have your limitations, your worries, your conditioning, your beliefs, your ideals of what you should and should not do, you cannot respond to it fully; therefore there is conflict. In order to avoid or to overcome that conflict, you settle back, you do something else which gives you comfort. The mind is seeking continuously a state in which there will be no disturbance at all, which you call peace, God, or what you like; but essentially the desire is not to be disturbed. The state of non-disturbance you call peace, but it is really death. Whereas, if you understand that the mind must be in a state of continuous response and there is therefore no desire for comfort, for security, no mooring, no anchorage, no refuge in belief, in ideas, in property, and all the rest of it, then you will see that you need no shock at all. Then there is not this process of being awakened by a shock, only to fall asleep again.
You see, that brings up a question which is really very important. We think we need teachers, gurus, leaders, who will help us to keep awake. Probably that is why most of you are here: you want another to help you to keep awake. When somebody can help you to keep awake, you rely on that person, and then he becomes your teacher, your guide, your leader. He may be awake, I do not know; but if you depend on him, you are asleep. (Laughter). Please don't laugh it away, because this is what we all do in our life. If it is not a leader, it's a group, or a family, or a book, or a gramophone record.
So, is it possible to keep awake without any dependence at all, either on a drug, on a guru, on a discipline, on a picture, or on anything else? In experimenting with this you may make a mistake, but you say, `That doesn't matter, I am going to keep awake'. But this is a very difficult thing to do, because you depend so much on others. You have to be stimulated by a friend, by a book, by music, by a ritual, by going to a meeting regularly, and that stimulation may keep you temporarily awake; but you might just as well take a drink. The more you depend on stimulation, the duller the mind gets, and the dull mind must then be led, it must follow, it must have an authority or it is lost.
So, seeing this extraordinary psychological phenomenon, is it not possible to be free from all inward dependence on any form of stimulation to keep us awake? In other words, is not the mind capable of never being caught in a habit? Which means, really, goodbye to whatever we have understood, whatever we have learnt, goodbye to everything that we have gathered of yesterday, so that the mind is again fresh, new. The mind is not new if it hasn't died to all the things of yesterday, to all the experiences, to all the envies, resentments, loves, passions, so that it is again fresh, eager, awake, and therefore capable of attention. Surely, it is only when the mind is free from all sense of inward dependence that it can find that which is immeasurable.
August 20, 1955
Ojai 5th Public Talk 20th August 1955
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