New Delhi 1956
New Delhi 2nd Public Talk 17th October 1956
It seems to me that it is very important to understand the totality of all problems, and not merely resolve one problem after another; but most of us are inclined, I think, to solve each problem on its own particular level and not to have a total, comprehensive view of the whole problem of existence. What matters, surely, is to see the whole and not be caught up in the particular, for in understanding the whole, the particular will be resolved and understood. Most of us are concerned with a particular problem, economic, social, or religious, and we do not seem to be aware of the whole. Though the particular is important, if we could see the whole and not get lost in the particular, then I think we should be able to resolve the many disturbing issues that confront us.
We all have many problems, have we not? Our existence is fraught with innumerable contradictory issues; and how are ordinary human beings like you and me to resolve this enormous complex of problems? We have the economic problem, the problem of our relationship with each other, the problem of war and peace, the problem of death, the problem of whether there is God, truth, the problem of social reformation, the problem of what system to follow, the Communist, the Socialist, or the Capitalist, and so on.
Now, how do you and I approach these many problems? Do we look at the problems of life as separate from the totality of existence, or do we consider the totality of existence and then deal with the particular? Do you understand what I mean?
Our life consists of political activity, religious activity, the activity of a job, and the personal activity of self-centred action; we are concerned with what leader we should follow, what authority we should obey, which teacher we should imitate, and so on. That is our life, and without understanding the totality of it, most of us try to deal with each issue separately, hoping thereby to solve the whole problem. The political leader is concerned with one issue, the religious leader with another, while the social reformer is concerned with the amelioration of society, he wants to abolish the caste system, and all the rest of it. There are innumerable problems, but I don't think any problem can be solved by itself, because all problems are interrelated. Most of us regard education, political reformation, and the religious life, for example, as separate problems, unrelated to each other, and therefore our confusion grows. The politician is only concerned with legislation, the so-called religious person is only concerned with the pursuit of reality, God, and the social worker is only concerned with the reformation of society. To me this fragmentary outlook, with its isolated activity, is most dangerous because it merely creates further misery - which is exactly what is happening throughout the world.
Now, seeing this whole process and being aware of its significance, how is each one of us to understand the totality of existence and then apply our understanding to the particular? What makes a great painter? Surely, a great painter is one who first sees the whole and then paints the details. Similarly, can each one of us see the totality of existence and not merely be concerned with the particular? The totality of existence includes all our particular idiosyncrasies, our particular vanities, our social relationships, our conditioning by a particular religion, culture, or political system, and if we do not understand the totality, merely dealing with a particular issue will not solve any of our problems. I think it should be very clear to anyone who is at all serious that no problem can be solved on its own level, but must be approached through the understanding of the totality.
What does it mean to understand the totality? It means, surely, that I must understand the totality of my own being, because I am not different from society. I am the product of society, as society is the projection of myself; and to bring about a fundamental transformation in society I must totally transform myself. It is only through being concerned the total transformation of myself that I am capable of dealing with society. It is now the fashion to be concerned with the reformation of society, as though society were something different from ourselves. But you and I have created society by our ambition, by our cruelty, by our stupidity, by our pursuit of something which we think is God; so the individual problem is the problem of the world. Each one of us is intimately related to the world, to society, and to solve the problem of society we must understand the creator of the problem, which is you, which is me.
To understand the totality of action, then, I must understand the whole structure of my own being, the conscious as well as the unconscious; I must understand the ways of my thought and feeling. Without bringing about a basic revolution in myself there is no possibility of creating a new society, and this should be fairly obvious, at least to anyone who thinks about these problems fundamentally. And how are you and I as individuals to understand and bring about this transformation in ourselves? Do you understand the problem? The problem is not which party to join, what legislation to support, which leader to follow, which guru to imitate, but how am I - who am composed of all these fragmentary views and contradictions - to bring about a complete revolution in myself? To know what I am matters infinitely, because my action reflects the contradiction in myself and therefore creates a contradiction in society. This does not mean emphasis on individual salvation, on the individual and his attainment; on the contrary, to find out what we are is to inquire whether we are individuals at all. Do you understand?
Most of us think we are individuals, that we are capable of thinking independently and therefore acting freely; but is that so? Are you an individual? You have a particular name, a private bank account, certain features and qualities which distinguish you from someone else; but are you an individual in the sense that your mind is completely uncontaminated by society? Or is your mind merely the product of society, of a particular culture? - in which case you are not an individual at all, though your many activities, reflections and memories make you think you are an individual. Do you understand all this?
We think we are individuals; but are we? When you say you are a Hindu, a Moslem, a Buddhist, or a Christian, you are repeating what you have been told from childhood; and the repetition of what you have been told does not constitute individuality. To be truly individual is not to be the result of the collective; but you are the result of the collective because you merely repeat the things which society has taught you. You may think you have an individual soul, but that belief is merely the imprint of a particular culture.
I think it is very important to understand this one thing. You see, truth, reality, God, or what name you will can only be experienced by a mind that is completely alone; and the mind is not alone as long as it is contaminated by society, put together by so-called knowledge, by a particular culture. Only the individual who has really understood the full significance of truth, is truly religious, and such an individual, being in a state of total revolution, will have a revolutionary effect on society. That is why it is very important to find out if the mind can ever be free to think independently.
Can thinking ever be independent? As long as the mind is conditioned, surely, there can be no freedom in thinking. And your mind is conditioned, is it not? As a Hindu you are shaped by many centuries of tradition - the Brahmin, the untouchable, or what you will - , which means that you are the product of the society in which you have been brought up; your mind is conditioned by certain beliefs, information, ideals which have been given to you, and with that background you proceed to think. But unless one is free of the background completely, there is no possibility of thinking independently. Until I totally cease to be a Hindu it is not possible for me to discover what is true, and I think it is very important to realize this. A conditioned mind, a mind that is put together by society, by time, is incapable of finding the timeless.
So there must be this sense of individuality which comes only when the mind is uncontaminated by society, that is, when it is no longer thinking in terms of the Hindu, the Christian, the Buddhist, and so on. A mind that is constantly freeing itself from the memories, the traditions, the values which society has imposed upon it, is an individual mind, and only such a mind is capable of inquiring into what is true. As long as the mind is conditioned, shaped by society, by economic and religious influences, it is never free, and it is only the free mind that can discover what is new. And truth is something totally new; God must be something which has never been experienced before. That is why a mind that is conditioned, that is shaped by authority, by tradition, by religious books, can never find out if there is a reality or not.
The totality of this revolution lies in the mind's discovery of how it is conditioned, and freeing itself from that conditioning. After all, a mind that is ambitious, envious, at whatever level, political, religious or social, is incapable of understanding what is true. For most of us it is very difficult to be free of ambition, because ambition is the very essence of the self, the `me; and the mind that seeks to attain a so-called spiritual state, to reach the other shore, is as ambitious as the mind that wants a good position in society. A total revolution is necessary if we are to bring about a completely different kind of world, and a total revolution is possible only when the mind of each one of us is not bound by society, that is, when it is no longer the result of the collective and is therefore capable of stepping out of the whole structure of society.
Sirs, I have been handed some questions. Please bear in mind that we are going to investigate the problem and find the answer together. Don't wait for me to give an answer to the question, but let us together explore the problem. Though I may describe and explain, you are watching the problem operating in yourself; and that observation, that very awareness and understanding of the problem in yourself, will resolve the problem.
Question: People well versed in the Hindu scriptures say that sadhana is essential for mukti. Vinoba Bhaveji has said that what you speak of as freedom cannot be the same as mukti because you do not seem to believe in sadhana.
Krishnamurti: Now, sir, what is important in this question? Not what Vinoba Bhaveji says, or what I say, or what is written in the scriptures, but to find out for yourself what is true. Sadhana, I am told, means the method, the system, the practice towards an end; and the question is, is sadhana necessary or not? So please understand that we are discussing, not what X or Y has said, but whether in fact a practice with an end in view leads to freedom, to reality.
Most of us think that by doing certain things - practising yoga, meditating, disciplining, suppressing, denying, torturing oneself - the mind will be led to reality, to God. That is what you have been brought up on; but I say that no method, no system can lead you to reality, because you will become a prisoner of that system, and it is only the free mind that can discover what is true. Besides, truth has no fixed abode, it is not static, it is a living thing which is in constant movement, and a path can only lead to that which is fixed, which is static. The practising of any method or system merely produces the result which that system offers. Do you understand?
Sirs, I am not trying to convince you of the truth of what I am saying, but if you see the truth of this for yourself, you will be free of the system which you hope will lead you to truth. The moment you see that no system can lead you to truth, you are free of systems.
First of all, you think that truth, reality, God, or what you will, is a fixed point, and that to get there all you have to do is diligently to practise a certain discipline every day, make your mind conform to a certain pattern. That is what your books, your leaders, your swamis and yogis all say; but they may be totally wrong, including the Gita. So you have to find out; and how will you find out? You must begin, surely, by abandoning all authority. That means you cannot have any fear. And then what happens? You begin to inquire into what is implied by a practice, a method. Surely, a practice, method or discipline implies the suppression of your own thoughts to conform to a particular pattern which you think will lead you to reality.
Does all this interest you, or are you going to sleep? You see, what I am saying goes entirely opposite to everything that you believe, and obviously most of you want to continue to think along the old lines; because what I am saying means real revolution, not the economic or social kind, but the fundamental revolution that comes into being when the whole structure of authority is questioned - the authority, not only of the guru, but also of tradition and of your own experience.
So what are we discussing? We are trying to find out the truth or falseness of the common belief, which includes the ideas of your various gurus, that certain practices are necessary to reach moksha, to reach freedom. If you examine the whole process very carefully you will see that by practising a method your mind is not made free, but merely conforms itself to the method and so becomes a slave to that method and to what it will produce. I think that much is very clear if you once see it. To be creative the mind must be free, and not conform to a pattern or a framework which you think will lead you to the real.
Sirs, another factor involved in all this is the question of discipline. Can discipline free the mind? Or to be free must the mind, through intense alertness, understand the implication of discipline and thereby be free of discipline? Discipline implies suppression in order to achieve a result of which you know nothing. What you `know' of moksha, and all the rest of it, is only what you have been told, and in order to gain what you think is truth you practise disciplines; but can truth ever be known to a mind that is ambitious, envious, cruel? Why do you not concern yourself with freeing the mind from envy, to take that as a simple example. And can you free the mind from envy by discipline?
Do you understand, sirs? Have you ever tried freeing the mind from envy by compelling it to be non-envious? When you do that, what happens? The mind that is forced not to be envious is a dead mind, is it not? It has built a wall around itself, therefore it is an insensitive mind. You may be unworldly and possess only a loincloth, but you are still envious inwardly because you want to get somewhere in the so-called spiritual sense. If you go into it very deeply you will find that the mind can never be free of envy through any form of discipline, but only when it understands the whole process of envy - which means studying envy, not condemning it or comparing it with something else. Envy comes into being when there is comparison, when you want to be better than X, more this or more that. As long as the mind is thinking in terms of the `more', there must be envy; and when you discipline yourself not to be envious you are still demanding the `more', therefore you are still envious. If you understand this very clearly, you will see that truth is not somewhere in the distance; it is not over there, separated from you by a gap an interval of time. When you create such a gap you must have time to bridge it, you must perform various disciplines to achieve what you call truth.
So sadhana of any kind is unnecessary, and the very perception that sadhana is unnecessary brings a profound understanding of the ways of the mind. The mind has a continual craving to be certain. It wants a result, it wants to be reassured, it wants to reach an end which will be permanent, secure; and so we do these things in order to find comfort, in order to be gratified, in order to feel that we have arrived, all of which is the process of the self, the `me'. If you understand this, not merely verbally or intellectually, but really see the truth of it, then there is no distance between what is and the truth. But to see the truth of it, you must begin by putting away all authority - the authority of the book, however good, however religious, the authority of the gurus, of all those who think they have arrived. The man who says he knows, does not know, because all that he can know is the past, not truth.
To be free of authority you must understand fear, and fear will exist as long as the mind is pursuing security, comfort, gratification, power, position, whether here or in the so-called spiritual world. If you really see this, then what is the necessity for any discipline? If you understand something to be poisonous, surely you leave it alone; there is no temptation, there is no conflict, you don't have to discipline yourself not to touch it. You just leave it alone. In the same way, if you understand the poison of ambition, envy, you just drop it, you don't have to practise a discipline to be free of it. But to understand that ambition is poison you must give your whole attention to it, and you cannot give your whole attention to it if you are afraid, or if you are seeking a comforting result.
The question, then, is not which is the right sadhana, or whether there should be any sadhana at all, but can the mind free itself from fear? Fear comes into being as long as the mind is trying to become something. If you see the truth of this, then no discipline is necessary. But to see the truth you need a mind that is unafraid, that is not anxious, not covetous, that is not seeking position, power, prestige, either in this world or in the next. Actually you are seeking these things, and you also want to reach truth or happiness, so there is a conflict; and you want to know how to get rid of the conflict without giving up either this or that.
So, to understand what is true or what is false there must be freedom from fear, and you cannot discipline your mind to be free from fear. You must see for yourself that ambition, covetousness, violence, greed, and all the rest of it, is poison, and then you will leave it alone. That means going totally against society, against many things that you have maintained as being essential to life.
Question: What is habit? There are certain needs which are fundamental, and others which are based on the psychological memory of pleasure. Does this mean that one should indulge, or not indulge, depending on whether the need is fundamental or based on memory?
Krishnamurti: Sirs, this is a very interesting and complex question, because a great deal is involved in it. If you will, kindly follow the description which I am going to give, but also watch your own minds through the explanation. Do you understand what I mean? I am describing or explaining something, but the explanation will remain merely verbal and therefore useless if you don't observe your own habits and become aware of how they function.
Now, what do we mean by habit? Let us go slowly, step by step. It is a very complex problem, demanding a great deal of attention, and if you don't follow the sequence you will miss the whole significance of it. What do we mean by habit? We are not seeking a definition, but the content of that word. A person takes a cup of coffee every morning, for example, because without it he feels he will have a headache. That action has become a habit, based on what he considers a necessity; that is, the stimulation of coffee has become a necessity. That much is fairly simple and clear. It is like smoking. Though the first cigarette may have nauseated you, smoking gradually becomes pleasurable and you keep on repeating the act. That is one form of habit.
Then there is the process of eating. It is essential for my body to have food; and does eating become a habit? It becomes a habit only when I demand that food shall have such and such a taste based on pleasure. I must have pickles, I must have rice, I must have this or that, which means that my tongue is dictating the habit of eating based on pleasure.
Similarly, there is the habit of sex and all that is implied in it. Glandular secretion takes place, which is a function of the body, and it must have an outlet. Then what happens? The mind stores up as memory the pleasure of the sexual act. Now, is glandular secretion a habit, or does habit arise only when the mind derives pleasure from resuscitating the memory of the sexual act and thereby becomes a slave to that memory? Are you following all this?
Surely, habit is the repetition of a pleasure based on the memory of yesterday. Please follow this, sirs, because if you follow alertly, watchfully, not just my words, but your own mind, you will see how the mind creates habit through the demand for pleasure. Habit is not the natural demand of hunger, for example, but the demand for pleasure and the repetition of that pleasure based on memory. A body that is hungry needs food, but habit arises only when it demands that the food shall have a particular taste which is the repetition of pleasure it has had before. So habit is the recollection of a pleasure which the mind has had and wants the constant repetition of. All right? Or is this too complex? It does not matter, sirs. You come with me, let us look at it together.
The mind is the result of habit, it only knows the memories of a thousand yesterdays, and every act based on that background becomes a habit. Now, follow this. The mind establishes a habit based on the memory and repetition of a particular pleasure. Then society, your guru, or sacred book, says that the habit is very wrong, so you have the opposite: you must be celibate, you must be this or that. Hence there is a conflict between the fact, which is the habit, and what you think you should be; so you go to somebody to tell you how to get rid of that conflict, thereby creating another problem. You had one conflict, now you have two conflicts - and that is our life, a series of never-ending conflicts. The mind is always being frustrated, it is miserable, fearful, and such a mind wants something beyond itself. It is impossible.
The mind seeks the repetition of a particular pleasure, sexual or whatever it is, and as long as it demands that pleasure it functions in the groove of habit. That is a fact. Then the mind says, "I must be free from this habit", so it is always resisting, fighting, and it seeks to cultivate another habit which will not be like this one. So what has. happened? The mind is in conflict, it wants a certain pleasure and at the same time it is pushing away that which it wants. I am not saying it must or must not yield to pleasure; that is not the problem. We will see it presently.
I see a lovely sunset, with billowing clouds lighted by the sun and Mars riding on top. There is great delight, for it is a beautiful thing to behold. That is pleasure, is it not? Now, why do we say that watching a cloud is all right, and that certain other forms of pleasure are wrong? When we deny pleasure in one field and maintain it in another we are becoming insensitive. Do you understand? It is like the mind that says, "I must have only beautiful things around me, therefore I am going to close the window and not see the dirty village". Life is both the ugly and the beautiful, but we only want one and not the other; and the denial of the ugly makes us insensitive.
So, when you are caught in one habit and resist that habit in order to have some other habit which you think is better, you are cultivating insensitivity. Habit is based on pleasure and the repetition of that pleasure; but if you want to destroy pleasure, which is what the swamis, the yogis and the whole lot of them do, then you must not live at all, because pleasure is part of life. When you see a cloud, a smile, a tear, when you watch a child, a woman, or a man, all that is life, and if you deny any part of life you become insensitive. A man who is sensitive has no habit. Please follow this. If you say, "I must have no pleasure", then you must also deny love. No? That is what you have done. When the mind is caught in habit and is therefore insensitive, how can there be love? - just love, not the godly love and the physical love. Do you understand what I mean? I am talking of love, which is to love a human being, a flower, an animal, and not to think of yourself and your pleasures, your vanities, your ambitions. The mind must be completely sensitive to love; it must be vulnerable to love. But how can the mind be vulnerable to love if it has habits, good or bad?
Follow this, sirs, just see the truth of it for yourselves. Surely, a mind that is insensitive cannot know what beauty is. How can it? And if it is insensitive to beauty, there is no austerity. A yogi, swami, or mahatma who has only one loincloth and practises all kinds of austerities, is not austere. Austerity is to be sensitive to beauty, to love. You cannot be austere if you are not simple. And simplicity is not a matter of the clothes you wear or don't wear - that is merely immature thinking. To be simple is to be inwardly without ambition, without resistance, which means being completely vulnerable, totally sensitive. You cannot be sensitive if there is conflict; therefore a man who is denying, resisting, struggling to cultivate good habit as opposed to bad habit is not sensitive. Such a mind will never know what love is because it is only concerned with its own advancement, with its own ideas, however noble. A man who does not love, does not know what it is to be austere; therefore he does not know what it is to be simple.
So, if you understand the totality of all this, you will see that a mind that is in conflict, that is making an effort to become something, can never be sensitive; and such a mind, whatever it may do, however much it may try to bring reformation to the world, can only create more harm, more mischief. It is only the mind that is sensitive, that knows what it is to love and is therefore free of ambition, of envy, of the desire for power, position, prestige - it is only such a mind that can do good in the world.
October 17 1956
New Delhi 1956
New Delhi 2nd Public Talk 17th October 1956
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