New Delhi 1956
New Delhi 4th Public Talk 24th October 1956
I think it would be a waste of time, and this a useless gathering, if we were to treat what has been said, and what is going to be said, as mere intellectual amusement. To rely on any form of stimulation invariably makes the mind heavy, dull, incapable of swift thought, and if we are merely using the talks as a different kind of stimulant, then I think it would be better if these meetings had not taken place at all. On the other hand, if we can examine profoundly the ways of our thinking in daily life and begin to understand the process of our own minds, then perhaps these meetings will be worth while.
Though we may repeat certain words which have deep significance, most of us live very superficially; we live in a verbal world, a world of superficial actions and emotions. Our minds are shallow, petty, narrow, and one of the vital problems of life is how to make such a mind deep, rich and full. The mind that is burdened with knowledge is not a rich mind, but only the mind that has delved deeply into itself and discovered its own innumerable recesses, its secret ideas, motives, and is capable of penetrating, going beyond thought.
I am using the word `mind' to mean not only the superficial mind of everyday activity, but also the unconscious mind, the mind which has many hidden compulsions and motives, the mind that is pursuing its secret fulfilments, that is aware of its frustrations, its capacities, its limitations, the mind that is ever seeking, ever probing. I am talking about the totality of the mind, the conscious as well as the unconscious. We know very little of that totality, because most of us only function in the upper layers of our consciousness; we are wholly occupied with our job, with the routine of life, with beliefs, dogmas, and the easy repetition of prayers, all of which the superficial mind clings to because it is convenient, profitable, and with that we are satisfied.
Now, if we can go much more profoundly into the whole process of the mind, delve deeply into the unconscious, then perhaps we shall be able to find out for ourselves the full extent and limitation of the power of thinking. The unconscious is surely not a mystery, it is not a thing that we must learn about from psychologists, or from people who have studied philosophy. It is part of our daily existence and is constantly indicating something, giving hints, only our conscious mind is so occupied, so busy with its own trivial problems, that it has no time or attention to receive these intimations; but the hidden mind is there. It is no more sacred or holy than the conscious mind, because both are part of the total process of our consciousness, and to really go beyond the limitations of this consciousness, it seems to me that we must understand its ways.
Most of us think that struggle, conflict, various sorrows and frustrations have to be gone through, that the mind must be disciplined, that certain things have to be conquered or put aside in order to arrive at a stage which is beyond the mind; but I do not think it is possible to go beyond the mind in that way. To find out what is beyond the mind, one must go into it very deeply and understand the ways of the mind; because the mind that has not completely understood itself projects ideas, illusions which assume a false reality. Until I understand the ways of my mind, the ways of the self, any urge to seek is based on the desires, the motives of the mind. So, without really understanding the ways of the mind, it is impossible to find out what is true. I may say that there is an Atman, an over-soul, a timeless reality, but it will be a mere repetition based on my conditioning, my belief, which has no validity. Until I understand the whole field of my thought, the total content of my mind, it is not possible to go beyond; and one must go beyond, because without discovering something totally new, life becomes very repetitive, very shallow, uncreative.
So, how is the mind to understand itself? Is there within the field of the mind an entity who is superior to the mind? Do you understand, sirs? Is there within the process of thought an entity who is above and beyond thought, and who can therefore control thought? Or is the thing that we have called the Atman, the sublime, the soul, merely an invention of thought and therefore still within the field of thought? I think it is very important to understand this; because if there is a super-entity, an outside agent who is beyond our whole process of thinking, then it is no good our thinking about it, because it is not within the field of thought. We can think about something which we already know and are able to recognize; but to find that which is beyond the mind, thought must come to an end.
Most of us believe, do we not?, that there is something beyond the mind, an observer who is watching not only the mind but the things of the mind, who is controlling, shaping, disciplining thought. Until we question whether there is such an entity beyond the mind, beyond the field of thought, we will look to that entity as a means of guiding our life and shaping our conduct. Now, is there such an entity as the Atman, the soul, or what you will, which is shaping, guiding, helping us to live a sane, balanced life? Or is that entity within the field of our own thinking an invention of our own thought, and therefore not real? The mind is the product of time, of innumerable experiences, it is the result of many conditionings. The Communist does not believe in an Atman, a soul, because he has been conditioned to believe otherwise, as you have been conditioned to believe that there is a soul, an Atman. You start with a postulate, an assertion, as he also does, both resulting from a mind which is conditioned. Until one really sees this fact and deeply realizes its significance, the mind is incapable of going beyond itself - or, to put it differently, thought can never be still, the mind can never be completely quiet, because there is always the observer and the observed; there is always the experiencer who is wishing for greater experience, so our life becomes the endless series of struggles which it actually is.
When you have an experience which is pleasurable, you want to repeat it, and when the experience is painful, you as the experiencer want to put away the pain. The thinker is inviting pleasure and discarding pain, so there is a constant battle going on within, which is obvious when you look into yourself. But you have the idea that the thinker, the observer, the watcher exists above and beyond thinking. You believe, because you have read in your religious books, that the Atman or soul exists and is watching thought. But if you look very closely you will see that where there is no thinking there is no thinker; where there is no demand for more and more experience, and no gathering of experience, there is no experiencer. We have stipulated that there is an entity who is beyond all this. But that entity is still the result of thinking and so still within the field of time; therefore it is not timeless, nor something divine.
After all, what is the mind? Please, sirs, do not merely listen to my words, to my explanations or descriptions, but watch your own mind in operation. I am not giving positive directions, because, as I explained, any positive thinking is really thoughtlessness. Whereas, if you can think negatively, Which is to observe your own mind without directing, without telling it what to do - because the director, the entity who says, "This is right, that is wrong", is still part of the mind - , if you can merely watch your mind as you would observe a flower, without demanding anything, without translating what you see, then you will discover that this very observation brings clarification, because the mind is not then seeking a result, it is not concerned with reward or punishment; it just wants to observe, to know what is true. And you cannot know what is true if there is a director who is already shaped by the past, by a particular conditioning. So please listen to find out for yourself; and you can find out for yourself only when you watch your own mind, that is, when the mind watches itself.
Now, what is the mind? It is not only a series of responses to the various challenges which are always impinging upon us, but also a series of memories, conscious or unconscious, which are constantly shaping the present according to the conditioning of the past to conform to a future pattern. Watch yourself, sirs, don't merely listen to my words and repeat them. Watch yourself and you will see that your mind is a series of desires, and the urge to fulfil those desires, in which are involved fear and frustration. I want something, I can't get it, so I am frustrated, unhappy. You love me, I don't love you, therefore you feel frustrated, and so on and on.
The mind is also a series of ideas related to the past and to our desires; that is the mind thinks in terms of progress. I am this, I want to be that, and I need time to arrive. Being envious, I say I must have time to arrive at the state of non-envy, which is what we call progress, evolution. But is it? Please watch your own mind in operation. Can thought progress towards truth, reality, God, or can it only move from the known to the known? And is thinking independent of memory, or is it merely the repetition of the background which is memory?
All this is the content of the mind, the mind being both the conscious and the unconscious. In the unconscious are stored up the racial memories as well as the individual experiences which I have not understood; and all these memories, the collective and the individual, impinge on the mind in that process which we call thinking, do they not? Desire, fear, frustration, wanting to act wanting to improve, trying to fulfil oneself through some ambition, thinking that there is an Atman, a super-soul, or that there is none - all that is the mind.
Now, if you do not understand the totality of the `me', that is, if the mind does not understand the totality of itself, its activity will always be within the field of its own making. Unless the mind breaks away from its conditioning, the conscious as well as the unconscious, there is no real inquiry, because your search will be according to your conditioning, and your experiences according to your background. The experiences of a man who has visions of Christ, Krishna, this or that, are obviously based on his background, his tradition. So a mind that is really seeking what is true, that wants to find out if there is truth, if there is reality, if there is God, must be free of its background; and without discovering what is true, our life becomes a repetitive pattern, modified by circumstances perhaps, but still a repetitive pattern, which we call progress, evolution.
Now, let us go a little further. Being aware of this totality of itself, the mind realizes that any effort it makes to alter itself is still part of the same pattern, however modified. Do you understand? The mind that seeks freedom, for example, is a mind which has created the idea of freedom and is pursuing it. Knowing only bondage, it says, "I must be free", and then struggles to be free. So we have always thought that effort is necessary to be free; but if we realize that effort exists only when the mind has separated itself as the maker of effort, as the watcher, as the thinker apart from the bondage, then effort is seen to be futile. All right, sirs?
Let me put it much more simply. My mind is in bondage to a tradition, and I want to be free of it, because I see how absurd it is for the mind to be enslaved by something. But the moment I have said, "The mind must be free", what has happened? I have created effort, have I not? And the effort is according to the new pattern of what I want to be.
Let us look at it differently. If there is no watcher apart from the watched, if there is no observer apart from the observed, how can there be effort? There is effort only as long as there is a watcher who is trying to alter the thing watched. But if you understand that the watcher is the watched - which is not an intellectual formula; it is a tremendous experience to know that there is no thinker apart from thought - , then you will find that there is no effort at all. Then quite a different process comes into being, quite a different way of looking at what you call envy, or whatever it is that is watched. As long as there is an observer who is making an effort to reach a certain state, there must be conflict, and it is not through conflict that there is understanding.
Now, this total process is the mind; and when the mind understands its total process, it becomes quiet, utterly still, because there is no desire to be or not to be. Such a mind is not made still, or induced to be still, but it becomes still because it has totally understood the content of itself. Then only is it possible to find out for yourself whether there is reality or not. Until your mind has come to that state, your assertions that there is or is not reality, God, or the Atman, have no meaning whatsoever. They are merely the repetitions of a mind that is conditioned like a gramophone record to repeat a phrase over and over again.
So, self-knowledge is essential, but it is not to be found in books; self-knowledge arises from watching ourselves in the mirror of relationship, which reveals the whole operation of the mind. It is only when we have understood the totality of the mind that there is stillness.
Question: In the process of thinking, one has to draw on one's knowledge and experience. Are you not doing the same? Then why do you condemn knowledge and experience?
Krishnamurti: Well, sirs, this is a very interesting question, because if we can go into it really carefully it will be very revealing.
Words are necessary for communication. If I talked in the Chinese language, for example, you would not understand. So words which have a common meaning for you and me are a means of communication. These words are stored up in the mind as memory. That is one fact.
Another fact is that most of us have experiences of innumerable kinds stored up as memory, and from this background of memory there is a response. If you did not know where you lived, there would obviously be something very wrong with you. Knowledge is a series of experiences, not only of the individual but also of the collective. Scientific knowledge, the knowledge based on your own experiences, the experiences arising from your particular conditioning - all this has been stored up in the mind as memory. That is the background, is it not? And most of us function from that background. That is, if I have been brought up as a Hindu, if that is my tradition, my background, and I meet a Moslem, my reaction is immediate; I don't like him, though I may be tolerant because I am civilized. So when I meet someone new I respond according to my conditioning, my prejudices, as he responds according to his. That is our state, is it not?
Now, the questioner asks, "Why do you condemn knowledge and experience?" I am not condemning. I must have knowledge to go where I live, or to build a bridge, or to communicate certain things to you. I must have knowledge not to burn myself. To keep on burning myself would be stupid, neurotic. What I am saying is that experience based on knowledge, on one's background, is merely the continuation of that background, and therefore there is no new experience. Surely that is simple. If I am translating every challenge in terms of my conditioning, there is no new experience. I can respond to the challenge anew only when my mind has understood and freed itself from the background. If the mind is to discover anything new, it cannot depend on knowledge, which is based on conditioning, memory, experience, and so on. So what has happened? The questioner wants to know if I am not doing that very thing when I am speaking. I am depending on words to communicate, obviously. But there is something more implied in the question, which is: "Are you not speaking from the knowledge of some past experience which you have had?" I will explain what I mean.
Let us say I was happy yesterday. There was a lovely sunset, and the dark hills outlined against the setting sun, with a single tree and many birds; it was an extraordinarily beautiful thing to behold, to feel. Now, in speaking to you of that sunset, am I living in the memory of it, or am I free of that memory and am merely describing the experience without the emotional content? Do you understand what I am talking about? No?
Sirs, this is very interesting, and you will find out something if you watch your own mind and not just listen to my words. Your life is based on past experience, and your past experiences are shaping your present thinking. Now, is it possible to be in a state of experiencing, and not in a state of having had experience? Do you understand the difference? They are two entirely different states: the state of experiencing and the state of having had experience. Experiencing is a living process, whereas the other is not, it is the memory of an experience which is over. "From which state do you talk?" That is what the questioner wants to know. I am doing all the thinking, am I not?
Now, what is the actual fact with most of us? Don't bother with me for the time being. What is the fact with you? You are thinking, and your thought is based on past experience, which is what you call knowledge. So your mind is living in the past; it is living on experience that you have had, or on experience that you hope to have, based on your conditioning, on your knowledge. Are you ever aware of the other state, the state of experiencing? Or are you only aware of the experience when it is over? Do you follow?
Look, sirs, when you are happy, are you aware that you are happy? When something delights you, are you aware that you are delighted? The moment you know that you are happy, happiness is gone. The moment you are aware that you are virtuous, virtue has obviously ceased to be; therefore the cultivation of virtue is a self-centred activity, and not virtue at all.
So the questioner wants to know whether I speak from a past experience which is remembered and communicated through words, or whether experiencing and communicating are going on simultaneously. Is that clear?
To put it differently, the word `love' can be communicated. You and I both know that word. Now, if you have had the taste of love, you can speak of that experience from the past; but if you are living, experiencing love, you can communicate it, and that is a state entirely different from the other, which is to experience and then communicate. If you understand this, if you really see the falseness of the one and the truth of the other, then your mind is in a state of continual experiencing, which is not to experience a thing and then communicate it. Reality is something which is living, it cannot be recognized through experience and then communicated through words. When you are feeling something intensely, living it, communication has meaning, but it has no meaning when you have had an experience and repeat that experience from memory.
Sirs, when you repeat the word `Atman', when you quote the Gita, the Upanishads, and other sacred books, the mind is merely a repetitive machine; but if the mind sees the futility of all that and is free - not free from something, but free - , then it is in a state of experiencing which never ceases. Do you understand, sirs? There is always the state of experiencing, therefore the mind is always fresh, young, innocent; and only such a mind can understand that which is immeasurable.
Question: We find the need for discipline even in our daily living. Is not discipline necessary for the proper education of the young?
Krishnamurti: Sir, what do we mean by discipline? Don't be on the defensive, I am not attacking you; don't put me in the position of the prosecutor, with you as the defendant. We are trying to understand. What do we mean by discipline? Does it not mean conforming to a pattern which society has laid down, or which you have established for yourself? That is one form of discipline. Discipline also means suppression. I have a certain feeling, but the guru, the authority says, "No, you must suppress it". Discipline also means creating a pattern for my action in order to achieve my ambition, does it not? I want to be the biggest something, so I discipline myself according to my ambition.
Now, what happens when you suppress, conform, adjust yourself to a pattern? What has happened to a mind that has forced itself to fit into a mould? Obviously it is a dead mind, it is not a living mind. As we build barriers to keep the river from overflowing its banks and inundating the land, so the mind is held in a particular pattern. To hold the mind in a pattern we need discipline, and so we say discipline is essential even in our daily life.
Do you follow, sirs? I am just investigating the implications of discipline. What you suppress remains in the unconscious and keeps on acting in various ways. Through discipline you merely push it further down, thereby giving it greater vitality to repeat in different directions. All this is implied in the discipline which you think is necessary. You say, "If I do not discipline myself, I shall lead a chaotic, miserable and stupid life", but you are leading a chaotic, miserable and stupid life as it is. Similarly the educator says, "We must discipline the child, because look what has happened to students in universities all over India". But is discipline what is needed in our life, or is it the understanding of the whole process of discipline? - which will bring its own order, an order not imposed by society or by ambition. Order is obviously essential in life, but not order according to a tradition.
Now, the questioner asks, "Is not discipline necessary for the proper education of the young?" What do you mean by education? When you say that you must educate the child, what do you mean by that? Essentially you mean that he must be taught to conform to society, he must learn a technique so that he can get a job and be capable of earning a livelihood. Is not that what you are all concerned with? And you also teach him about so-called religion - or, if you are a Communist, you want him to accept Communism, and so on and on. The governments throughout the world want the educated to be efficient, to be trained to kill in the name of the country, to be capable of building dams, or to possess other engineering and technical capacities; and you also are concerned with that. You want the student to fit himself into the pattern of society, to conform to tradition and be able to earn a livelihood; so you are really not concerned with the child at all, are you? You are only concerned with what he should be, and the government is also concerned with that; and to make him what he should be is what we call education, is it not?
Seeing this whole process, you say, "How are we to educate the child differently, creatively, without inventing new patterns, new ways of conditioning?" Before going into that, we have first to find out if you are an educator, if you are a parent who really loves his child - and I doubt that you do love your child. If you loved your child you would not want him to fit into this rotten society; on the contrary, you would help him to be free so that he could create a new society with totally different values. If you really loved your child you would stop all wars, and you would not think in terms of hierarchical authority.
If you deeply understood all this and really meant it, what would you do as an educator, as a parent? Life is a series of influences, you cannot avoid them. Every book, every newspaper, everything that you read, hear or see is being imprinted on your mind, which is shaped by these influences, and you choose one influence as opposed to another depending on your tradition, your environment, your society. So the child is conditioned from the very beginning by the many influences about him, and the wise educator will obviously point all this out, helping the child to be aware of these influences and to be free of them without creating a new conditioning which he thinks is nobler. No system, no method, will help the child to be free from influence. The parent as well as the teacher has to be very watchful not to be caught in any influence, which means that he must have a very alert mind; but neither the parent nor the teacher has an alert mind. Most of us think that we shall have an alert mind by creating a new method, a new system, and we look to the system, the method, the technique to help us to be free - which is an impossibility. Only when the mind of the educator, of the parent, understands the whole process of discipline, with all its implications, is it possible to help the child to be free. Freedom is not at the end but at the beginning.
I have spoken for an hour and five minutes. There is one more question. Can you bear it if I go into it?
Audience: Yes, sir.
Krishnamurti: Which means that you are merely listening to my words and not watching your own mind. If you were watching your own mind and had observed all the things implied in what you have heard, you would be exhausted, obviously, because your mind is not accustomed to being acutely watchful, alert. I am not criticizing you, sirs; I would not be so impudent, and I mean it. But when you say, "Please go on", it indicates a great deal, because if you took one question like discipline, or what is experience, and went completely into it, followed it to the very end, you would not need to ask any other question, for you would have found the totality of all questions and all answers. But unfortunately, most of us ask many questions, hoping that by putting many parts together we shall come to the whole. The whole is not understood through the part. The whole must be seen immediately.
I think that is enough for this evening.
October 24, 1956
New Delhi 1956
New Delhi 4th Public Talk 24th October 1956
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