Ojai 7th Public Talk 27th August 1955
One of our gravest problems, it seems to me, is this question of violence and the desire on our part to find peace. I do not think peace can be found without comprehending the whole anatomy of violence. And peace is not something which is the opposite of violence; it is a totally different state, therefore it cannot be conceived by a mind that is caught up in violence. As most of our lives are entrenched in violence, and most of our thought is hedged about by violence, it seems to me that it is very important to understand this problem, which is very complex and needs a great deal of penetration, insight; and this afternoon I would like, if I can, to go into it.
Strangely, no organized religions, except perhaps Buddhism and Hinduism, have ever stopped wars and put an end to this astonishing antagonism between man and man. On the contrary, some so-called religions have instigated wars and have been responsible for an enormous slaughter of human beings. Our lives, as we examine them daily, are fraught with violence; and why is it that we are violent? From where does violence spring, and can we really put an end to it? It seems to me that one can come to the end of violence, drastically, radically put a stop to it, only when one understands from what source this violence springs. And I would beg of you not merely to listen to my description of violence, but rather in the very process of my talking to observe the ways of your own thinking, and through the description perhaps experience directly the issue that lies behind this word `violence'.
Why is it that we are violent, not only as a race, but also as individuals? I do not know if you have ever asked yourself that question. And what is our approach to violence when we look at it, when we are aware of it, when we think about it? Obviously, most of us say it cannot be helped; we are brought up in this particular society, which conditions, encourages us to be violent, and so we slur over the problem very briefly and quickly. But let us see if we cannot go below all that and investigate this problem to find out why each one of us has this extraordinary feeling of violence, and whether it is possible to put an end to it, not superficially, but fundamentally, deeply.
Obviously, this culture, this civilization is based on violence, not only in the Western world, but also in the East; society encourages violence, our whole economic, social and religious structure is based on it. I am using that word `violence', not in the superficial sense of anger or animosity only, but to include this whole problem of acquisition, of competition, the desire on the part of the individual as well as the collective to seek power. Surely, that desire breeds violence, does it not? There must be violence as long as I am competing with another, as long as I am ambitious, acquisitive - acquisitive, not only in the worldly sense of being greedy for many things, but acquisitive in a deeper sense of that word, which is to be driven by the urge to become something, to dominate, to have security, an unassailable position.
So, as long as one is seeking power in any form, surely there must be violence. Please do not say, `In a culture that is based on violence, what shall I as an individual do?' I think that question will be answered if you can listen to what is being said and not ask what is to be done. The doing is not important. The action comes, I think, when we understand this whole complex problem of violence. To be eager to act with regard to violence without understanding the desire to be something, the desire to assert, to dominate, to become, is really quite immature. Whereas, if we can understand the whole process of violence and perceive the truth of it, then I think that very perception will bring about an action which is not premeditated and therefore true. I do not know if you are following this.
We see in the world what is happening. Every politician talks about peace, and everything he does is preparing for division, for antagonism, for war. And it seems to me very important that those of us who are really serious about such matters should understand the truth of the problem, and not ask what to do; because if we understand the truth of the problem, that very perception of what is true will precipitate an action which is not yours or mine, and of which we cannot possibly envisage or foresee all the implications.
It is an obvious fact that everything we do in this world, socially, economically and religiously, is based on violence, that is, on the desire for power, position, prestige, in which is involved ambition, achievement, success. The enormous buildings that we put up, the colossal churches, all indicate that sense of power. I wonder if you have noticed these extraordinary buildings, and what your reaction is when you see them? They may have beauty, but to me beauty is something entirely different. For beauty there must be austerity and a total abandonment; and there cannot be abandonment if there is any sense of ambition expressing itself as an achievement. When there is austerity there is simplicity, and only the mind that is simple can abandon itself; and out of this abandonment comes love. Such a state is beauty. But of that we are totally unaware. Our civilization, our culture is based on arrogance, on the sense of achievement, and in society we are at each other's throats, violently competing to achieve, to acquire, to dominate, to become somebody. These are obvious psychological facts.
Now, why does this state of violence exist? And recognizing this state, can we go beyond it? If we can, then I think we shall be able to penetrate into something entirely different. Let us take, as an example, the desire to dominate. Why do we want to dominate? First of all, are we at all aware, in our relationships and in our attitude towards life, of this sense of domination, this sense of wanting power, position? If we are aware of it, from what does it spring? Do you understand what I am asking? If we can discover from what the sense of domination springs, that discovery may answer the question of why we are violent. We are all violent in the sense that we all in different ways want to be somebody; we are competitive, ambitious, acquisitive, we want to dominate. Those are the outward symptoms of an inward state, and we are trying to find out what that inward state is which makes us do these things. And are we aware of that state at all, or are we merely adjusting to a moral pattern, being ideologically non-violent, unambitious, without really tackling the source, the root which makes us do all these things? If we can go into that, then perhaps our approach to the problem of violence will be entirely different. So please listen to what is being said, not with an attitude of, `Oh, is that all?', but rather let it be a self-discovery. If through my talking about it you can discover, actually experience the thing for yourself, then it will have an extraordinary effect.
Why am I violent? I want to find out. I see that I am violent because socially, religiously, there is this extraordinary urge to be something. That is a fact. In the business world I want to be richer, to be more capable, to be on top, and in the so-called spiritual world I follow an authority who will help me to be something there. So I see that my activities, my thoughts, my relationships are all based on domination, on dependence. When I depend I must follow an authority, which breeds violence.
Now, I want to understand the whole process of violence, and not merely adjust to a social pattern, which is very superficial and not at all interesting. I want to find out if the mind can be totally free from violence, if this whole process can be radically uprooted from the mind. I am really interested in this, I want to find out. I see that mere adjustment of the superficial urges, demands and influences to a different pattern, does not solve the problem. To substitute one social structure for another, to set up a Communist society in place of a Capitalist society, will not bring about freedom from domination, freedom from violence. I see that, so I am inquiring into myself to find out what is the source of all these extraordinary urges, demands, pursuits, which breed animosity, violence.
Why am I violent, competitive, ambitious, acquisitive? Why is there in me this constant struggle to be, to become? Obviously, I am running away, taking flight from something through ambition, through acquisitiveness, through wanting to be a success. I am afraid of something, which is making me do all these things. Fear is a state of escape. So I am inquiring into what it is that I am really afraid of. I am not for the moment concerned with the fear of darkness, of public opinion, of what somebody may or may not say of me, because all that is very superficial; I am trying to find out what it is that is fundamentally making me afraid, which in turn drives me to be ambitious, competitive, acquisitive, envious, thereby creating animosity, and all the rest of it.
Please think with me. First of all, it seems to me that we are very lonely people. I am very lonely, inwardly empty, and I don't like that state, I am afraid of it, so I shun it, I run away from it. The very running away creates fear, and to avoid that fear I indulge in various kinds of action. There is obviously this emptiness in me, in you, from which the mind is escaping through action, through ambition, through the urge to be somebody, to acquire more knowledge - you know, the whole business of violence. And without running away, can the mind look at this emptiness, this extraordinary sense of loneliness, which is the ultimate expression of the self? - the self being the entity, the self-consciousness which is empty when it doesn't run. Do you understand what I am explaining? If it is not clear I shall talk about it in a different manner.
After all, the self, the ego, the `I' is expressing itself through ambition, through acquisitiveness, through envy, through being violent and trying to be non-violent, and so on. These are all expressions of the `me'. I see all that, and going behind it, I also see that that very activity of the self arises from this extraordinary sense of emptiness. I do not know if you have noticed that when you have traced the `I' in all its movements, you come to this point where the mind is totally aware of the self as being completely empty; but the mind has never really looked at this emptiness, it has always run away, taken flight.
Now, if I can understand what this emptiness is, then perhaps I shall be able to solve the problem of violence; but to understand what emptiness is I must look at it, and I cannot look at it as long as I am running away. It is the very running away which causes fear and precipitates the action of envy, competitiveness, ruthlessness, enmity, and all the rest of it. So, can the mind look at the thing from which it has always run away into action? I hope I am making myself clear.
Aren't you aware that you are lonely, empty? We are not considering what you should do about it. The 'what you should do about it' has produced this stupid, chaotic world. I am asking what is back of the desire to do something, which is extremely difficult to discover, because the mind has always avoided that central issue. But if the mind can be totally aware of itself as being empty, lonely, which means a complete discovery of the ways of the self which have brought it to that state, then you will find that any action, any action without that understanding must precipitate violence in different forms. Being a mere pacifist, or an ideologist who is pro-this and anti-that, does not solve the problem. The man who practises non-violence hasn't solved the problem of violence at all; he is merely practising an idea, and he has never tackled this deep, fundamental issue from which all action springs.
Now, please watch yourself, do not just follow my description. Can your mind be aware of this emptiness without running away from it? It is because you are empty, lonely, that you want a companion, you want somebody on whom to depend, and that dependence breeds authority which you follow; so the very following of authority is an indication of violence. Can the mind, seeing the truth of all that, stop running away and look at this emptiness? Do you understand what it means to look? You cannot look at this emptiness if you are frightened of it, if you want to avoid it; you can be fully aware of it only when there is no sense of condemnation. Please follow this closely. I am going into it slowly, deliberately, so that our communication and understanding can be equal.
I am aware that I am lonely, empty, and I am watching that emptiness; but I cannot watch it if I condemn it. The very condemnation is a distraction from watching. Now, can I watch, be aware of it, without giving it a name? Do you understand? And when I do not give it a name, is the observer who watches it different from that which he watches? It is only when the watcher gives it a name that there is a division, isn't it? Do you follow? Goodness! I'll make it simpler.
When I say, `I am angry', the very naming of that sensation, that reaction, brings about a duality, does it not? But if I do not name it, then that very thing is myself. Do you understand? Look, I name a feeling because the mind is trained to recognize, to give a label; but if the mind doesn't give a label, then the separation, the division between the observer and the observed disappears. In other words, when naming ceases there is only a state, and in that state there is no separate entity to do something about it. The mind is no longer operating upon that which it wishes to understand, therefore there is a cessation of the activity of the mind which in its very nature is violent.
Please, this is not intellectual. Don't say it is too high-flown, too abstract, it is absurd, and all that. I am inquiring step by step into the anatomy of violence. Our social structure is based on violence; not only is there violence between nations, but individually we are at each other's throats, we are competitive, ruthless. Now, if I want to understand that whole problem, I must understand the activities of the mind in relation to this thing which I call emptiness; and the moment there is that understanding, I no longer want to be anything. Do you follow? It is the desire to be something that breeds enmity and violence. The idealist who wants to create a perfect Utopia is in his very nature violent. The man who is practising non-violence is a violent human being because he hasn't really understood the problem; he is dealing with it superficially.
So, I see that as long as the mind is operating in terms of ambition or non-ambition, it must create chaos, struggle, misery for itself and for others. And if the mind, going more deeply into the problem, understands the whole process of this urge to be something, then it must inevitably come to the point where it sees that it is seeking an escape from not being anything, which is a state of emptiness. And can I understand that emptiness? Can the mind go into it, taste of it, feel it out? Surely, the mind cannot experience and understand that extraordinary thing that we call emptiness, loneliness, as long as it is in any way condemning it, as long as it wants to reject, dominate, or go beyond it. The mind will reject, dominate that state as long as it is giving it a name; and recognizing, naming, is the very process of the mind.
After all, you cannot think without symbols, without ideas, without words. And can the mind cease to verbalize? Can it let that process come to an end and look at what it has called emptiness without giving it a name or creating an imaginative symbol? And when it does, then is the state which it has called emptiness different from itself? Surely it is not. Then there is only a state in which there is no verbalization, no naming, and therefore the whole activity of the mind which separates, which competes, which breeds antagonism, has come to an end. In that state there is quite a different move- ment taking place. It is no longer violent. There is a gentleness that cannot be understood by the mind which says, `I must be gentle'. All volition has totally ceased, for will is also the outcome of violence.
Question: What you say seems so foreign and Oriental. Is such a teaching as yours applicable to our Western civilization which is based on efficiency and progress, and which is raising the standard of living throughout the world?
Krishnamurti: Do you think thought is Oriental and Occidental? Manners may vary. I may eat with my hands in India, another with chop-sticks in China, and here you eat in still a different way; but what makes the Oriental outlook different from the Western outlook? Is there a difference? If I were born in America and said the same things that I am saying now, would you say it is Oriental? Perhaps you would say it is mystical, impractical, or eccentric. But the problems are the same, whether in India, in Japan, or here. We are human beings, not Asiatics and Americans, Russians and Germans, Communists and Capitalists. We all have the same human problems.
Now, what I am saying is applicable, surely, both here and in India. Violence is as much your problem as it is a problem in India. The problem of relationship, of love, of beauty, the problem of bringing about a state of mind in which there will be peace, of creating a society which will not be destructive of itself as well as of others - all that is obviously the concern of each one of us, whether we live in the East or in the West. Here you have the problem of the building up of an army, which is an indication of the deterioration of any society, because the very basis of the army is authority, nationalism, security; and it is exactly the same problem in India, in Japan, in Asia. So this arbitrary division of thought as Oriental and Occidental does not exist for one who is really inquiring. The man who is conditioned by an Asiatic outlook or philosophy, and who tells you how to live according to that conditioning, is obviously dividing thought as Oriental and Occidental. But we are talking of something entirely different, which is to free the mind from all conditioning, not shape it according to an Oriental philosophy, which is too childish.
What we are trying to do is to investigate together the extraordinary complexity of our lives, and to find out if we can really look at these complex problems very simply; but one cannot look at these problems very simply unless one understands oneself. The self is an extraordinarily complex being, with innumerable contradictory desires. We are everlastingly at war within ourselves, and this inner conflict precipitates itself into outer activities. To understand the self, the conscious as well as the unconscious, is an enormous task, and one can only understand it from day to day, from moment to moment. It is a book that never ends, therefore it is not something to be concluded.
So, if one can listen to what is being said, not as an American, a European, or an Oriental, but as a human being who is directly concerned with all these problems, then together we shall create a different world; then we shall be really religious people. Religion is the search for truth, and for the religious person there is no nationality, no country, no philosophy; he does not follow anybody, therefore he is really a revolutionary in the most profound sense of the word.
Question: Is the release we experience in various forms of self-expression an illusion, or is this sense of fulfilment related to the creativeness of which you speak?
Krishnamurti: Is there such a thing as self-fulfilment at all? We have accepted that there is, have we not? If I am an artist, I must fulfil; if you are a writer, you must fulfil. We are all trying to fulfil ourselves in different ways, through family, through children, through husband or wife, through property, through ideas. If you are ambitious you must fulfil your ambition, otherwise you are thwarted, and in that very thwarting there is misery. We are all trying to fulfil ourselves, but we have never asked if there is such a thing as self-fulfilment at all. Surely, the man who is seeking fulfilment is hounded by frustration. That is simple enough, is it not? If I am all the time trying to fulfil through my son, through my wife, through an idea, through action, there is always the shadow of frustration and fear behind it. So if I want to understand fear, frustration, the agony of psychosomatic complexities and all the rest of it, I must question this whole idea that there is such a thing as fulfilling myself, which is the `me' trying to become something. May not the `me' be an illusion, though a reality in the sense that it is operative in action? To the man who is ambitious, competitive, acquisitive, envious, the `me' is not illusory, it is a very real thing. But to a man who begins to inquire into this whole problem, who really wants to understand what is peace, not the peace of terror, the peace of politicians, nor the peace of self-satisfaction after gathering something which one has longed for, but the peace in which there is no contention, no struggle to be anything - to such a man there comes the experience of being totally nothing, and in that state there is a creativity which is timeless. What we call creativeness is a process of learning a technique and expressing it, but I am talking of something entirely different, of a mind in which the self is totally absent.
Question: Does the creativeness of which you speak confine itself to the ecstasy of personal atonement, or might it also liberate one's power to make use of one's own and other men's scientific achievements for the helping of man?
Krishnamurti: Such questions - if this happens, then what will follow? - are obviously put by people who are listening very superficially. As I said, the action of a man who is seeking, and for whom reality comes into being, will be different from that of the man who has had a glimpse of this state and tries to express it. After all, most of us are educated in some kind of technique: painting engineering, medicine, and so on. That is obviously necessary, but merely learning the mechanics of a particular profession is not going to release this creative thing. Creative reality - call it God, truth, or what you like - comes into being, not through a technique, but only when the mind has understood itself. And do you know how difficult it is to understand oneself? It is difficult because we are diletantes, we are not really interested. But if you are really aware, if you give your whole attention to understanding yourself, then you will find an indestructible treasure. You don't have to read a single book about philosophy, psychology, analysis, and all the rest of it, because you are the total content of all humanity, and without understanding yourself, you will go on creating innumerable problems, endless miseries. To understand oneself requires, not impetuous urges, conclusions, but great patience. One must go slowly, millimeter by millimeter, never missing a step - which doesn't mean that you must everlastingly keep awake. You can't. It does imply that you must watch, and drop what you have watched, let it go and pick it up again, so that the mind does not become a mere accumulation of what it has learnt but is capable of watching each thing anew. When the mind is capable of looking at itself and understanding itself, then there is that creativeness of reality, and such a mind can use technique without causing misery.
Question: What is the significance of dreams, and how can one interpret them for oneself?
Krishnamurti: I would like to go into this question rather deeply and not just deal with it superficially, and I hope you are sufficiently interested to follow it step by step.
Most of us dream. There are nightmares from overeating, or from eating the wrong things, but I am not talking of such dreams. I am talking of dreams that have a psychological significance. There are various states in dreaming, are there not? You dream, wake up, and then you try to find the meaning of what you have dreamt, you interpret it. The interpretation depends on your knowledge, on your conditioning, on what you have learnt from various philosophers, psychologists, and so on. And if you misinterpret, your whole conclusion will be wrong. Then one may dream, and as one is dreaming the interpretation is going on at the same time, so that one wakes up with clarity; one has understood the dream and it is no longer influencing one. I do not know if that has happened to you
So the problem is, not how to interpret dreams, but why we dream at all. Do you understand? If you interpret your dreams according to any psychologist, then the interpretation depends on his particular conditioning; and if you try to interpret them for yourself, your interpretation is shaped by your own conditioning. In either case the interpretation may be wrong, and any conclusion or action based upon it may therefore prove to be entirely false. So the problem is, not how to interpret dreams, but why do you dream at all? If you could solve that problem, then interpretation would not be necessary. If you could really understand the whole process of dreaming, then it would become a very simple issue.
Why do we dream? Please, let us think out together, not according to some authority who has written a book about it. Leave all those things completely aside, if you can, and let us think it out together very simply. Why do we dream? What do we mean by dreaming? You go to bed, fall asleep, and while you are asleep, action is going on, taking the form of various symbols or scenes; and on waking you say, `Yes, that is the dream I have had.'
Now, what has happened? Please follow this, it is very simple. When you are awake during the day, the superficial mind is occupied with many things, with your job, with quarrels, with children, with money, with going to the market, with washing dishes - you know, it is occupied with dozens of things. But the superficial mind is not the whole mind: there is also the unconscious, is there not? You don't have to read a book to find out that there is an unconscious. Our hidden motives, our instinctual responses, our racial urges, our inherited contradictions, beliefs - they are all there in the unconscious. The unconscious obviously wants to tell the superficial mind something, and as the superficial mind is quiet when it is asleep, the unconscious tries to tell it. The unconscious is also in movement all the time, only it has no opportunity to express anything during the day, so it projects various symbols when the conscious mind is asleep, and then we say, `I have had a dream'. It is not complex if you can go into it. Now, I do not want to occupy myself everlastingly with the interpretation of dreams, which is like being occupied with the kitchen, with God, with drink, with women, or what you will. I want to find out why I dream, and whether it is possible not to dream at all. The psychologists may say it is impossible not to dream, but leave the experts to their expertness and let us find out. (Laughter). No, no, please don't laugh it off. Why are there dreams? And is it possible for dreams to come to an end without suppressing or trying to go beyond dreaming, so that in sleep the mind is totally still? I want to find out, so that is my first inquiry.
Why do I dream? I dream because my conscious mind is occupied during the day with so many things. But can the conscious mind be open during the day to all the unconscious intimations and promptings? Do you understand? Can the superficial mind be so alert during the day that it is aware of the unconscious motives, the glimpses of the things that are hidden, without trying to suppress them, change them, do something about them? If you can be merely aware, not critically, but choicelessly, of this whole conflict; if you can be open so that the unconscious gives its hints from moment to moment during the day, while you are on the bus or riding in a car, while you are sitting at table or talking to friends; if you can just watch how you look at somebody, the manner of your speech, the way you treat people who are not of your own quality, then you will find, as you observe deeper, more profoundly, that there is the cessation of dreaming altogether. Then there is no need for intimations, hints from the unconscious during sleep to tell you what you should or should not do, because the whole thing is being revealed as you are living from day to day.
So, we have come to a very interesting point, which is this. During the daytime the mind is extraordinarily alert, watching without judging, without condemning; and when the whole process of consciousness has been uncovered, examined and understood, then you will find that in sleep there is a total quietness, and that, being totally quiet, the mind can go to depths which it is not possible for the waking consciousness to touch at any time. Do you understand? I am afraid not. I shall explain again, and I hope you don't mind being a little late.
You see, our search is for happiness, for peace, for God, for truth, and so on; there is a constant struggle to adjust, to love, to be kind, to be generous, to put away this and acquire that. If we are at all aware, we know that to be a fact; there is this total activity of turmoil, of struggle, of adjustment, going on all the time, and a mind in that state can obviously never find anything new. But if I am aware during the day of the various thoughts and motives that arise, if I am aware that I am ambitious, condemning, judging, criticizing, and see the whole of that activity, then what happens? My mind is no longer struggling, it is no longer pushing, there is not that turmoil created by the urge to find. So the mind is completely quiet, not only the superficial mind, but the whole content of consciousness; and in that state of complete quietness in which there is no movement to find, no effort to be or not to be, the mind can touch depths which it can never possibly touch when it is trying to find something. That is why it is very important to be aware without condemnation, to look without criticism, without judgment. And you can do this all day long, off and on, so that the mind is no longer an instrument of struggle when it sleeps, is no longer catching intimations from the unconscious through symbols and trying to interpret them, is no longer inventing the astral plane and all that nonsense. Being free from all conditioning, the mind in sleep is then capable of penetrating into depths which the waking consciousness can never reach; and when you awake you will find there is a newness totally unexperienced before. It is like shedding the past and being born anew.
August 27, 1955
Ojai 7th Public Talk 27th August 1955
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