Banaras 1st Public Talk 11th December 1955
If we could go into the question of what is teaching and learning, I think it might be of significance; because after all, you have gathered here to learn something, have you not? When you attend a talk, it is generally to gather information, to learn something of which you may not yet be aware. So I think it is important to discuss what it is that we are learning and what it is that is being taught, and I hope at the end of this little talk that we can go into the matter together so that it becomes clear to each one of us what it is that we are trying to do when we attend a meeting of this kind.
Are you here to learn something from the speaker? You may come with the idea that you are going to learn something which is being taught; but if that is not the intention of the speaker at all, then there is no direct communication between the speaker and the audience, and therefore you will go away feeling rather disappointed and asking yourself what you have got from it.
In order to prevent that entirely, we must discuss this question of learning and teaching, and I hope you will go into it with me. It is important to unravel this idea that we are learning Something, for I think a great deal or mischief lies in this conception of learning.
Through learning does one perceive directly something which may be true, real, something other than the formulations of the mind? Do you follow what I mean? Is there direct perception through learning, through knowledge, or do we perceive directly only when there is no barrier of learning, when there is no knowledge?
What do you mean by learning? You want to find happiness, reality, serenity, freedom - that is what most of you are groping after. Being discontented, dissatisfied with things, with relationships, with ideas, you are seeking something beyond, and you go to a swami, a guru, or X, who you think has this quality you are seeking. You want to learn how to arrive at this extraordinary integration of the totality of human consciousness, so you come here as you go to any religious teacher, with the intention to learn. After all, that is the intention of the majority of the people who are here, and if you will kindly pay attention to what is being said, I am sure it will be worth while.
Now, can you be taught to have direct perception? Can there be this totality of integration, this clarity of perception through knowledge, through learning, through a method? Will the learning of a technique or the following of a particular system lead to it? With the majority of us, learning is the acquiring of a new technique, substituting the new for the old. I hope I am making myself clear in this matter.
There are various methods with which you are quite familiar, one or other of which you practise in the hope of directly perceiving something which may be called reality, that state which has no becoming but is only being. Similarly, you have come here to learn, have you not? You want to find out what method the speaker will offer to reveal this extraordinary state. You want to learn how to approach this state step by step through the practice of certain forms of meditation, through the cultivation of virtue, self-discipline, and so on. But I do not think that any method will bring about clear perception; on the contrary.
Method implies time, does it not? When you practise a method you must have time to bridge the gap between what is and what should be. Time is necessary to travel the distance created by the mind between the fact and the dissolution of the fact, which is the end to be achieved. Our whole ideology is based on this sense of achievement through time, so we begin to acquire, to learn, and therefore we rely on the master, the guru, the teacher, because he is going to help us to get there.
So, is perception or direct experience of that reality a matter of time? Is there a gap that must be bridged over by the process of knowledge? If there is, then knowledge becomes extraordinarily important. Then the more you know, the more you practise, the more you discipline yourself, and so on, the greater your capacity to build this bridge to reach reality. We have taken it for granted that time is necessary. That is, if I am violent I say time is necessary for me to be in a state of non-violence; I must have time to practise non-violence, to control, discipline the mind. We have accepted this idea and it may be an illusion, it may be totally false. Perception may be immediate, not in time. I think it is not a matter of time at all - if I may use the phrase `I think', not to convey an opinion, but an actual fact. Either one perceives, or one does not perceive. There is no gradual process of learning to perceive. It is the absence of experience, which is based on knowledge, that gives perception.
Is this all too difficult or too abstract? Let me put the problem differently.
Our activities, our pursuits are self-centred. To use an ordinary word, our action, our thought is selfish, it is concerned with the `me', and we read or hear that the self is a barrier and that it is therefore necessary for the self to cease - not the higher or the lower self, but the self, the mind which is ambitious, which is afraid, which is cunning in the devious pursuits of its own greed and dependence, the mind which is the result of time. That mind is self-concerned; and can that self-concern be washed away immediately, or must it be peeled off layer after layer through a gradual process of knowledge, experience, and the continuation of time? Do you understand the problem, sirs?
Please, we are going to discuss this matter when I have talked a little while longer, if I may; because after all, we are here to experience, not to learn, and I want to differentiate between learning and experiencing. You can experience what you learn, but such experience is conditioned by what you have learned. You can learn something and then experience it, which is fairly obvious. I can read about the life of the Christ and get very emotional, very thrilled by it all, and then experience what I have read. I can read the Gita, conjure up all kinds of ideas, and experience them. Both conscious reading and unconscious learning bring about certain forms of experience. You may not have read a single book, but because you are a Hindu, conditioned by centuries of Hinduism, consciously or unconsciously the mind has become the repository of certain traditions and beliefs which may produce experiences to which you attach tremendous importance; but actually, when you examine these experiences, they are nothing but the reaction of a conditioned mind.
Now, what we are trying to find out in this talk, and in the coming talks that are to be held here, is whether there can be direct experience stripped of all knowledge, of all learning, so that it is true and not merely the reaction of one's conditioning as a Hindu, a Buddhist, a Christian, or as a member of some other silly sect. Perception cannot be true as long as it is based on a method, because the method obviously produces its own experience. If I believe in Christianity, or in some other religion, and I practise a method which will lead me to truth according to that belief, surely the experience it produces has no validity at all. It is an experience based on my own conviction, on my own pettiness, on my conditioned mind. What is experienced is merely the outcome of that particular method whereas what I am talking about is something entirely different.
If we see that the method is false, an illusion, the product of time, and that time cannot lead to direct experience, then that very perception is the liberation from time. Our relationship is then entirely different. Do you follow, Sirs? We are not here to learn a new method or technique, a new approach to life, and all that business. We are here to strip the mind of all illusion and perceive directly, and that requires astonishing attention to what is being said, not a casual communication with each other as if you were attending just another talk. What matters is to free the mind from knowledge and from the method, the practice based on that knowledge, which can only lead to the thing we crave for. That is why it is very important to understand what I am saying, to see the illusion the mind has created as time through which to acquire, to learn, to arrive, to gain.
Don't immediately say that reality, God, the Atman is within us, and all the rest of it. It is not. That is your idea, your superstition, your conditioned way of thinking. You say that God is within us, and the Communist, who has been differently trained from childhood, says that there is no God at all, that what you are saying is nonsense. You are conditioned to believe in one way, and he in another, so you are both the same. Whereas, the whole concern of this talk is to find out if the mind can strip itself immediately of this belief, this knowledge, this conditioning, so that there is direct perception. One may live a thousand lives and practise self-discipline, one may sacrifice, subjugate, meditate, but this will never lead to direct perception, which can take place only in freedom, not through control, subjugation, discipline; and there can be freedom only when the mind is immediately aware of its conditioning, which brings about the cessation of that conditioning.
Now, can we discuss this?
Questioner: We are normally so closely identified with our conditioning that we are not aware of our conditioning at all.
Questioner: There is a ceaseless movement with which we are totally identified and from which we are constantly trying to run away, and the nervous exhaustion born of this conflict brings about dullness of body and mind. Would it be right to say that a certain alertness of both body and mind is absolutely essential if we are to pursue the investigation which you have laid before us?
Krishnamurti: Obviously, sir. If I want to run a race I must have the proper diet; if I want to do anything very efficiently I must eat the right food, not overload the stomach, get the proper amount of exercise, and so on. My mind and body must be extraordinarily alert.
Questioner: This alertness does not come to us unless we have lived thoughtfully the previous day. The moment we sit down in serious thought it is necessary that we should sit properly, otherwise the mind will wander and we shall not be able to think strenuously. When you say that direct perception cannot come through any form of discipline, but only when there is the utmost freedom, our minds immediately tend to slouch into a kind of slothfulness. I see it happening to myself. While it is obvious that such things as discipline, correct posture, and regulated breathing, are not going to give us direct experience, they do bring about a certain alertness of body in which the mind is neither slothful nor is it chasing about without knowing what it is running after. Unless one is able to live in this state of alertness, which is a normal condition of the mind, anything that you are talking about is Greek.
Krishnamurti: I understand, sir, but I think the problem is somewhat different. One may acquire the correct posture of body, breathe rightly, and all the rest of it, but that has relatively little significance in regard to what we are talking about.
Let me put it differently. If I see that I hate, is it possible for me to love immediately, or must hate be gradually washed away so that I can love eventually? That is the problem. Do you follow, sir? Is it possible for the mind to transform itself immediately and be in a state of love?
Questioner: If I may refer to your previous talk about memory, it is concealed that a great deal of our mentation is a purely mechanical response of memory, and through identification most of us are constantly getting lost in our loves and hates without being aware of it. Even when we are aware of it, is that awareness not also mechanical, the result of effort? Is this relevant to what you are saying, or not?
Krishnamurti: I am not sure it is relevant. The problem is this. One is aware that one is ambitious, and being sufficiently alert, intelligent, or watchful, one sees how absurd, how destructive it is. Ambition, spiritual ambition included, obviously implies a state in which there is no love. Wanting to be somebody spiritually, wanting to be non-violent, is still ambition. Perceiving all that, is it possible for one to wipe away ambition instantly and not go through this everlasting struggle of investigation, analysis, discipline, idealization, and all the rest of it? Can the mind wipe away ambition instantly and be in the other state? Is this possible? Don't agree, sirs, it is not a matter of agreement or disagreement. Have you thought about it?
Questioner: Our minds are always trying to modify our conditioning.
Krishnamurti: Just stick to my point, if it is a problem to you. Or am I making it a problem to you, and therefore it is not really your problem? What is your response?
Questioner: We should like to know how to do it.
Krishnamurti: The gentleman here asks how to do it, and that is the whole thing. First please look at the question itself, the `how.' I am ambitious and I want to be in a state of love; therefore I must wipe away ambition, and how am I to do it? Please follow this. The very question involves time, does it not? The moment you ask `how', you have introduced the problem of time - time to bridge the gap, time to arrive at that state called love - and therefore you can never arrive at it. Do you understand, sirs?
Questioner: You have talked about the state of direct perception. Is it not legitimate to inquire into that state? Perception involves three factors, the seer, the seeing, and the object seen. That is how we apprehend perception. Are you talking of a faculty apart from this?
Krishnamurti: I also am quite good at all this kind of stuff! What is the perceiver, and is the perceiver separate from the object of his perception? Is the thinker apart from the thought? That is what you are saying, is it not? But that is not our problem for the moment. Don't misunderstand me, I am not trying to...
Questioner: You used the words `direct perception'.
Krishnamurti: We can change the words, they are not important. Let me put it differently.
I am aware that I am ambitious, cruel, stupid, what you will, and it is generally accepted, and supported by the sacred books, the rituals, the belief in Masters, in evolution, and all the rest of it, that through a slow, gradual process of effort I shall transcend what I am and come to something beyond. I see what is involved in that: the maker of effort, the effort, and the object towards which he is making the effort, which is all a process of mentation. Seeing this, I say to myself, `Is it possible for me to drop ambition completely and be in that state which may be called love?' I am not going to describe what that state is. My problem is, I am violent; and is it possible for me to drop my violence completely, instantly?
Questioner: Is the possibility a matter of chance or of effort?
Krishnamurti: Just look at it, sir. If there is effort you are back in the old field of gradualness. If it is merely chance, a matter of good luck, then it has no meaning. If I may say so, I don't think you are really putting the question to yourself. I am aggressive, ambitious, and I see that the whole rotten society around me is also ambitious and aggressive in different degrees. It is all very tawdry, stupid, vain, and yet I am caught in it; and is it possible to drop ambition completely, to leave it and never touch it again? Do you follow my question, sir? But this is not my question, it is your question if you have ever tackled this problem. Or do you say, `I am ambitious and I will get rid of ambition slowly, tomorrow or in my next life, through discipline, through using the right mantram, practising right awakening,' and the whole rigmarole of it? Is this your problem, sir? If it is not, I am not going to foist it on you. But if it is your problem, what will you do with it?
Sir, look. Most of us have no love, whatever that quality is. We may have a temporary feeling which we call love, but which is almost akin to hate, it is not that extraordinary thing. Perhaps some of us may have this flowering, this nourishing, creative thing, but most of us are in a state of confusion and sorrow. Now, can one simply drop all this and be the other without going through the tremendous complications of trying to become something, without arguing about whether the perceiver is apart from the object perceived, and so on?
Questioner: Again it will involve time.
Krishnamurti: What will you do, Sir?
Krishnamurti: Sir, what is actually happening to you now? Either we talk theoretically, abstractly, in order to pass an afternoon discussing together, or else we really want to find out, to experience and not just keep on everlastingly verbalizing. What is the actual response to this problem on the part of each one of us? If we can discuss, verbalize what is actually taking place in response to the problem, it will have significance, but merely to spin a lot of words, theories, is of no value.
Questioner: This whole discussion is nothing but a verbal one.
Krishnamurti: What does it mean to you? Leave the others alone. Please, sir, I am not attacking you, I am not pushing you into a corner; but when this problem is put to you, what is your response?
Questioner: Being is being. It cannot be described by any words.
Krishnamurti: I understand that, sir. But here is a very grave problem involving a complete revolution in thinking; it means scrapping all leaders, all gurus, all methods, does it not? And what happens when a problem of this kind is put to one?
That is, when we are aware that we hate, and we want to be free from hate, what do we generally do? We try to find a method of getting rid of it from a book, from a guru, and so on. Now, does one see that the practice of a method is an illusion, or does one say that a method is necessary? That is the first question, obviously. What do you feel, sir? Not that you are being compelled by me to say there must be no method; that would be another illusion, a mere repetition of words, or a pose, which would have no meaning at all. But if you actually see that any practice of a method to get rid of hate is an illusion, and therefore has no validity at all, then your looking at hate will have undergone a total transformation, will it not?
When we look at hate now we say, `How am I to get rid of it?' But if we can look at hate without the `how', then we shall have quite a different reaction to that which we perceive. So we must know what our response is to this question. Do you understand, sir?
Please, would you kindly listen to find out first, and not ask how to get rid of hate. I am not concerned with how to get rid of it. That is a very trivial matter. The problem is this. Being aware that we hate, we now say, `How am I to get rid of it, what am I to do to be free of this venom?' The moment that reaction arises in us, how to be free, we have introduced several factors which have no validity at all. One of those factors is the process of gradually wearing down hate over a period of time; another is the making of effort to achieve a result; and still another is depending on somebody to tell us how to do it. These are all self-centred activities which are also a form of hate. I don't know if you are following all this.
So, does one still think in terms of how to get rid of hate? That is the issue - not how to be free, or what happens when one is free, but does one still think in terms of `how'?
Questioner: Then the `how' is not so important.
Krishnamurti: What is actually happening to you, sir? What really takes place when you are confronted with this question? If you are very honest with yourself you will see that you are still thinking in terms of `how', which reveals that the mind still wants to achieve a state, does it not? And achievement is the process of time. A scientist who is experimenting to find something, for example, obviously needs time; but is hate to be dissolved through time? The yogis, the swamis, the Gita, the Mahatmas - all of them say that hate is to be dissolved through time, but they may all be wrong and probably they are. Why should they not be? And I want to find out if there is a different way of looking at this problem instead of accepting the traditional approach, which I see invariably degenerates into mediocrity. Merely to accept tradition is stupid. Even if ten thousand people say that something is true, it does not mean they are right. So my problem is: is it possible to be free of hate now, not in the future?
Questioner: If one may ask a direct question, what is the purpose of your talks?
Krishnamurti What is the purpose of talking? To communicate, is it not? Otherwise one would not talk. Now, what is it that I am trying to communicate to you? I am trying to communicate to you the fact that a certain widely accepted way of thinking is illusory and has no basis at all. But to communicate there must be someone to listen, someone who says, `I am really listening to you'. Are you, sir, listening to me? Yes? And what do you mean by listening? I am not trying to corner you. Do you really ever listen to anything, or do you listen only partially? If your mind is still concerned with the `how', you are not listening. You can listen only when you give complete attention, and you are not giving complete attention as long as you are thinking that there must be a method, because then your mind is not free to look at what is being said. There is complete attention only when one says, `He may be totally wrong, he may be talking nonsense, but at least I am going to find out what it is he is trying to convey'. And are you doing that? That is a very difficult thing in itself, is it not? Because to give complete attention is to know love, it is to have the total feeling that one is going to find out what another is saying without acceptance or rejection - which does not mean that I am going to become your authority. Do you give attention in that way?
Questioner: Is it possible, sir?
Krishnamurti: If it is not possible, there is no communication. That is the difficulty. Sir, look. If you are telling me something and I want to find out what it is you are trying to convey, I must listen to you, must I not? I cannot be thinking to myself that you are talking the same old stuff, that you are this or that, or that it is time to go. I must pay complete attention to what you are saying and have no verbal or other barrier in my mind. Do we listen in that way?
Questioner: Is complete attention a state of mind different from the ordinary state of attention?
Krishnamurti: You see, you are not listening at all to what I am talking about. You want to know what complete attention is. I can describe it, but what does that matter? The thing of first importance is, are you listening? You see how difficult it is for most of us really to inquire, to find out, to listen. Not that you must listen especially to me, because whether you listen to me or not does not matter to me; but since you have taken the trouble to come here, I say for God's sake listen, not only to me, but to the working of the machinery of your own mind, which is now confronted with a problem. The problem is, can hate be dissolved immediately? To find out how you respond to that question, has validity. If you say, `Yes, I am listening', but your intention is to find a method to get rid of hate, then you are not looking at the problem because you are only concerned with the `how'. But in psychological matters, is there ever a `how'? Do you follow, sirs? This is a very complex problem, so don't just say `yes' or `no'. In technical processes, in building, cooking, putting together the jet plane, washing dishes efficiently, and so on, there is a `how', and the more alert you are the more efficient the `how' becomes; but in psychological matters, is there a `how' at all? Is there a gradual process of evolution, change, or only immediate transformation?
Questioner: Then what is to be done with the psychological problem?
Krishnamurti: Sir, look at the problem. I shall have to stop now. You cannot absorb more than an hour of this kind of talk.
There is the problem of dying. We are all dying; and can the mind be in a state in which there is no death? It is essentially the same problem, only I am using a different set of words. The mind is aware that it is going to die, so it turns to various doctrines, to knowledge, to experiment, it believes in reincarnation, it reads the Upanishads, and so on, all of which is based on the desire to continue. And can I find out directly for myself if there is a state in which there is no death, and not depend on some bearded gentleman to tell me what there is after death? This is the same problem as being ambitious, violent, greedy, envious, and whether it is possible to drop all that completely - which means, really, finding out if one is pursuing a method. Are you pursuing a method to help you to dissolve hate? Most of you have accepted as a fact that a method is necessary, and as I am now questioning the factual nature of that which you have accepted, you are resisting what I am saying. But if through questioning, through looking at the problem, you yourself are aware that the practice of a method is a total illusion, then your way of looking at hate will have undergone a tremendous change, and this perception of illusion obviously does not come about through effort.
Sirs, please, we are going to meet, I don't know how often, and instead of my lecturing can't we for a change go into this matter as two human beings, as friends who are really listening to the problem and trying to find out what is true? We are not opposing each other, nor are you accepting what I say, because in this search there is no authority, there is no master and shishya, no guru and all that nonsense. Here we are all equal, because in trying to find out what is true there is real equality. Please, sirs, listen to what I am telling you. It is only when you are not seeing reality that there is this phoney division of the matter and the disciple. Surely, where there is love there is no inequality. There must be love when we seek, and we are not seeking when we treat another as a disciple or as a guru. For the inquiry into truth there must be the cessation of all knowledge. Where there is love there is equality, not the man who is high and the man who is low.
Banaras 1st Public Talk 11th December 1955
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