Bombay 2nd Public Talk 7th March 1956
We were discussing last Sunday the question of the individual's freeing himself from all the limitations imposed upon him by society, and from the conditioning of religion; because, it is only when he is free from his conditioning that the individual can be creative. I mean by creativeness the instant of being liberated from time, which is the only state that can bring about the right kind of social transformation and the total well-being of man.
I do not think we realize the full significance of individual freedom from the collective, nor do we see its importance. And is it possible for the individual to emerge from the collective? After all, though we have different names, private bank-accounts, separate houses, distinctive personal qualities, and so on, we are really not individuals, we are merely the result of the collective. Century upon century of traditional values, of beliefs and dogmas, either conscious or stored away in the unconscious, guide our path and compel the mind, which we think is an individual. But the mind is a result of the totality of these compulsions, these urges and desires, and though a separate name is given to it as Mr. X., it has no real individuality; and I do not think we realize how essential it is that the individual should emerge from this total conditioning of man. It is in the instant of being liberated from the collective that there is the creative individual, and the releasing of this creativity is the fundamental issue, because it is only then that one can find out if there is a timeless reality, a state which may be called God. Mere assertion that there is or is not such a state, has no value at all; what has value is direct experience uncontaminated by the past.
As I was explaining last time we met, liberation must be at the beginning, not at the end. Freedom must come first, not last, and there can be freedom only when the mind begins right at the start to liberate itself from its own conditioning. So it is important for each one of us to bring about that freedom in ourselves, and to demand it for our children through right education, and so on, which is what I would like to discuss this evening.
Now, we are obviously not free as long as we are following another. There must be freedom from the teacher, from the guru, which implies, does it not?, that one must become a light unto oneself, and not depend for that light on anyone. And can we really experience the unburdening of the mind, the freeing of the mind from the leader, from the teacher, from the guru? Can we actually experience that state as we are discussing it now, so that the mind does not depend upon another for its guidance?
All your so-called religious teachings create an ideal which you follow, and which again is another form of teacher. And surely, this total freedom from the concept of a leader, a teacher, from following in any form, is essential; because, following a teacher implies the accumulation of knowledge, and there can be liberation only when there is the total renunciation of knowledge. After all, it is knowledge that we are actually seeking in everyday life, is it not? We want knowledge to do things, knowledge to act, knowledge which will guide us towards the goal, towards success, achievement; and that very knowledge becomes the binding factor. Now, can the mind free itself from knowledge? I think this is an important question to consider, so let us investigate and not brush it aside as impossible, or merely assert that it can be done.
All following implies the accumulation of knowledge, does it not? And where there is the accumulation of knowledge, there must be imitation. After all, when you are asked a familiar question, your response is immediate. When you are asked where you live, what is your job, your name, and so on, memory responds instantaneously because you are familiar with all that. But if a more complex question is asked, there is hesitation, which implies that the mind is searching in the storehouse of memory for the correct answer. And if a question is asked of which you know practically nothing at all, you refer to a book, or search more deeply in that part of consciousness which is memory. So you are always being guided by memory. Memory must exist, otherwise you would not know how to get back to your house, how to do your job, how to build a bridge, and so on. We learn a multitude of necessary things, and obviously such knowledge is not to be forgotten. But I am talking of a totally different kind of knowledge - the knowledge that the psyche accumulates in order to guard itself in the future and achieve whatever it wants to achieve psychologically, spiritually. It is this knowledge that makes us self-centred, because the mind uses it as a means to its own continuity, which is the expansion of the `me', and it is this knowledge that must be totally renounced. That is the only real renunciation - not giving up a little property, a house, or a bit of land, and putting on a loincloth.
So there is this accumulated knowledge on which the psyche builds and sustains itself; and can the mind, which is a result of the past, renounce all that? Surely, until the mind puts all that aside, it can never find out what is new, it can never know that instant of timelessness which is creativity. You see, what we need in this world is not more physicists, scientists, engineers, bureaucrats, politicians, but individuals who have felt this creativity, for they are the truly religious people - which means that they do not belong to any society, to any group, to any classification. That is why it is very important to understand this whole process of the accumulation of knowledge, by which I mean identification and the sense of evaluation. Can the mind be free to observe without evaluation, without judgment? Surely, its evaluations, its comparisons, its condemnations, are all based on knowledge, and such a mind is incapable of understanding what is true.
If you observe the process of your own thinking, you will see that the mind is only concerned with accumulating more and more knowledge, and therefore there is never a moment of freedom to explore; and I think it is important to understand, which is actually to experience on the instant, this state of freedom without the continuity of the past, and not merely assert that the mind can or cannot be free. This will be fairly simple if we can listen to exactly what is being said; because it is a thing to be experienced, to be felt, and not to be argued about.
After all, the mind is the result of the past, of many yesterdays, which is fairly obvious; it is the residue of the known - the known being the experienced, the word, the symbol, the name, the whole process of recognition. Surely, such a mind is incapable of discovering or experiencing the unknown. It can speculate, but its speculation will be based on the known, on what it has read. The mind can experience that state only when knowledge - by which I mean the memory of the many experiences, the whole process of recognition which is the self, the `me' - has come to an end.
Now, if you can not only listen to what is being said, but actually put aside everything you have known - the conclusions, the evaluations, the determinations, the ideals - , then you will find that there comes a state which has no continuity as memory, but which on the instant is the totality of being. It is this moment that is the highest, the supreme, and that must be experienced; but it can be experienced only when the mind is completely still through understanding the totality of its own structure. It is through self-knowledge that there is quiescence of the mind, not through discipline, not through compulsion; and in that total stillness you will find there is a moment unrelated to the past, an instant in which all creation takes place. It is this creativity that is essential, for it releases the mind from the collective, and makes for individuality.
The collective is the mind which is conditioned by society, by innumerable influences, by the values and beliefs which the multitude hold and the few discard, only to add another belief. Seeing all this, is it possible for the mind, without effort, to renounce the past? Until it does, there must be the following of tradition, whether it is the tradition of yesterday, or of a thousand yesterdays; and a mind that follows tradition is imitative, it is dependent on a teacher, and therefore it maintains inequality, not only at the physical level, but at the psychological level as well. To such a mind, creativity is merely a word without any significance. To bring about a different state, a different culture, a different way of life, there must be the release of the individual, of this inner creativity, which will then produce its own society, its own values.
Question: Day follows day in this futile journey of existence. What does it all mean? Has life any significance?
Krishnamurti: Most of us ask this question, do we not? Most of us are confused; and when we ask if life has any significance, we want to be assured that it has, or we want to be told the purpose, the goal of life.
Now, has life a goal, a purpose? And what is the state of the mind that asks such a question? Surely, this is much more important to find out than if life has significance. After all, what is life? Can it be comprehended by the mind? Life is sorrow and joy, the smiles, the tears, and the endless struggle; it is the extraordinary depth and beauty of everything and of nothing. Life is immense, it cannot be comprehended by a little mind; and it is the little mind that asks this question. Because the little mind is confused, as most of us are, it wants to know what is the purpose of life. Being confused politically, economically, and also spiritually, inwardly, we want a directive, we want to be told what to do; and when we ask, the answer we receive is invariably confused, because the confused mind projects or translates the answer.
So the question is not what is the purpose, the significance of life - because you cannot hold the wind in your fist, nor put the vastness of life in a frame and worship it. But what you can do is to see the state of confusion you are in, and find out how to tackle it. Once we understand our own confusion, we shall never ask what is the significance of life, for then we shall be living, we shall not be bound by the tyrannical pattern of a particular society, whether communist or capitalist; and that very living will find its own answer.
A confused mind seeking clarity will only find further confusion. That is so, is it not? If I am confused and I seek a way, a directive, the way or the directive will also be confused. It is only a clear mind that can find the way, if there is a way - not a confused mind. Surely, that much is simple and obvious.
Now, if I realize that it is futile to seek a directive as long as I am confused, will I go on seeking it? Or will I refuse to go to anybody to ask for a directive, because I see that my choice of a guru, of a politician, of a book, or of certain values, being based on my own confusion, must also be confused? So I think it is essential to realize the totality of one's own confusion, not theoretically, but as an actual experience.
The fact is that you are confused, only you are frightened to acknowledge it; you are nervous, apprehensive, because if you admit you are confused, you will not know what to do; so you get carried away by immediate action. But if you become aware of the totality of your own confusion, what happens? Knowing that any movement of a confused mind can only create further confusion, don't you stop? Then all seeking ceases; and when a confused mind ceases to seek, confusion also ceases, and there is a new beginning. It is quite simple; but the difficulty is to acknowledge to oneself that one is confused.
So, are you experiencing, actually and not merely verbally, this state of confusion in which you are caught? If you are, then you will not ask anybody what the significance of life is. If you really see your own confusion, actually experience it as a fact, a reality, you are bound to stop asking, demanding, searching; and that very act of stopping is the beginning of an entirely new kind of inquiry. Then the mind will discover the extraordinary significance of life without being told.
At present we want to be led out of our confusion by another; but no one can lead us out of our confusion. As long as choice exists, there must be confusion. Choice indicates confusion; yet we are very proud of that choice, which we call free will. It is only the mind that does not choose, but sees directly without interpretation, without being influenced - it is only such a mind that is not confused, and can therefore proceed to discover and explore the unknowable.
Question: Is there any way to build good will? Can you tell us how to live together in peace rather than in this bitter antagonism that exists between us?
Krishnamurti: Surely, peace and good will are very difficult to build. You may construct a bridge, or work in an office together, because you have a boss over you, somebody to tell you what to do; but real co-operation cannot be compelled, nor does it come into being by following the blueprint laid down by an architect. Peace and good will can be built only when we feel that this earth is ours - not that of the communists, the socialists, or the capitalists, but yours and mine. It is our earth to enrich, to share together, and not to divide nationalistically, racially, or according to the beliefs, the creeds and dogma; of the various organized religions.
Please listen to all this, sins, it is not just a tirade of words. If you really want to build good will and live together in peace, you must remove all class differences and religious barriers - the barriers of dogma, tradition, and belief. You cannot look to government legislation to bring about this peace of good will, because the peace of the politicians is not the same as that of a religious man; they are two entirely different things. It is a matter of actually feeling peace and good will every day, of being really good, and not being ashamed of that word, and of not getting caught in organizations which are supposed to bring peace, but which in fact destroy it through the pursuit of their own vested interests. When there is this feeling of peace and good will within each one of us, it will create its own word. But unfortunately, most of us are not concerned with building this feeling together. What brings us together mostly is not love, not sympathy, not compassion, but hatred - identifying ourselves with one group in opposition to another. When our particular group is threatened by another in what is called war, it brings us together; and we separate again when the threat is over - which is being proven from day to day.
So what is necessary is not the ideal of peace and good will, but the actual facing of the fact that you are violent. When you call yourselves Maharashtrians, Gujarathis, or who knows what else, you are violent, because you have separated yourselves with a word; and that word stimulates antagonism, it builds a barrier between you and somebody else. But we are all human beings with essentially the same troubles, worries, miseries, suffering; and what matters, surely, is to realize this obvious fact, to put away easily, happily, our nationalism, our petty little organizations and communities, and be simply human. But most of us would rather spend our days speculating about God, discussing the Gita, and all the rest of that stuff learnt from books, which has no meaning at all; therefore our antagonism continues. What has meaning is relationship; and if together we would build peace and good will, we must cease to be merely idealistic, and actually shed the absurd stupidities of nationalism, provincialism, strip ourselves of beliefs and vanities, and begin anew, freely and happily.
This is not a talk, or an answer, to encourage you to do these things. An intelligent man will act out of his own understanding. It is only the stupid man who seeks encouragement; and if he is encouraged, he will still be stupid. But if he knows he is stupid, then he can do something about it. If he is aware of his own pettiness, jealousy, violence, and sees that to pursue ideals is another form of stupidity, then he can bring about a transformation in himself. If I know I am arrogant, I can deal with it, or not, as the case may be. But the man who is arrogant and pretends to be humble, or who pursues the ideal of humility, is stupid, because he is escaping from the fact into unreality. Non-arrogance is an unreal state for the man who is arrogant; but we are brought up with this division in ourselves of the fact and the ideal, and therefore we are hypocritical. Whereas, to know that one is arrogant, and to face that fact, is the beginning of the end of arrogance.
In the same way, if we really wish to build peace and good will together, there must be love - not the ideal love, but just love, kindliness, compassion, which means breaking away from a particular community and shedding all our national, racial, and religious prejudices. We are human beings, living together on this earth, this earth which is ours; and to feel the truth of that, one must be extraordinarily humble. To feel anything deeply, there must be humility; but humility ceases when we are pursuing the ideal.
Question: You say that, do what we will, the state of reality can never come into being through our own efforts, and that even the desire for it is a hindrance. Then what can we do which will not create an obstacle?
Krishnamurti: Now, you are not listening to me, and I am not replying; but together let us inquire into this problem. The problem is, how can we experience the real, the unknown, if the mind cannot capture it through its own effort, striving? So we have to understand the mind, and why we make effort.
If we did not make effort at the physical level, we would not survive. If there were not the effort of working at a job, eating the right kind of food, taking exercise, and so on, the body would disintegrate. That is an obvious fact. So we make effort in order to survive physically.
Now, similarly, we make effort in order to survive psychologically; that is, in order to achieve what we call reality. We think that reality is a state to be attained through discipline, control, suppression, through various forms of compulsion, and we force the mind to conform to a pattern in the hope of arriving at that state. All this implies, does it not?, that the mind is continually seeking security; being afraid of uncertainty, it wants to find certainty - a certainty which is permanent, and which it calls reality, God, truth, or what you will. That is what most of us are concerned with. We want a state in which there will be no disturbance of any kind, and which will never come to an end, a permanent state which we call peace; and the mind is making a constant effort to capture that state, to enter into it. So we have to understand the process that is involved in this effort.
As I said, just as we make effort to survive physically, so also we make effort to continue as the `me'. Do you understand? As long as I want to survive spiritually, I must make an effort towards the attainment of that which I call reality. Now, what is the `me' which is making this effort? What are you? Surely, you are a name attached to a bundle of memories, experiences; you are an accumulation of hidden motives and outward pursuits, of various qualities, passions, fears, virtues. All that is the `you', is it not? And that `you', you want to continue in a direction which will lead to reality; so you make an effort, you meditate, you practise some form of discipline. Surely, only when the mind ceases to make this effort and is completely still without being induced or compelled to be still; only when it does not want anything, and is therefore not seeking any experience - only then is there a possibility of the coming into being of the unknown.
The mind, after all, is the result of the known, and any effort which the mind makes must be within the field of the known; therefore it cannot make an effort towards the unknown. No movement in the field of the known can ever lead to the unknown. This again is very simple and clear. The mind is still only when it has totally renounced the known; in that stillness there is no effort, and only then is it possible for the unknown to come into being.
Bombay 2nd Public Talk 7th March 1956
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