Bombay 4th Public Talk 20th February 1957
I wonder what most of us are seeking. And when we do find what we seek, is it totally satisfactory, or is there always the shadow of frustration in that which we have sought out? And is it possible to learn from everything, from our sorrows and joys, so that our minds are made fresh and are capable of learning infinitely more?
Most of us listen to be told what to do, or to conform to a new pattern, or we listen merely to gather further information. If we are here with any such attitude, then the process of listening will have very little significance in what we are trying to do in these talks. And I am afraid most of us are only concerned with that: we want to be told, we are listening in order to be taught; and a mind that merely wants to be told is obviously incapable of learning.
I think there is a process of learning which is not related to wanting to be taught. Being confused, most of us want to find someone who will help us not to be confused, and therefore we are merely learning or acquiring knowledge in order to conform to a particular pattern; and it seems to me that all such forms of learning must invariably lead not only to further confusion, but also to deterioration of the mind. I think there is a different kind of learning, a learning which is an inquiry into ourselves and in which there is no teacher and no taught, neither the disciple nor the guru. When you begin to inquire into the operation of your own mind, when you observe your own thinking, your daily activities and feelings, you cannot be taught because there is no one to teach you. You cannot base your inquiry on any authority, on any assumption, on any previous knowledge. If you do, then you are merely conforming to the pattern of what you already know, and therefore you are no longer learning about yourself.
I think it is very important to learn about oneself, because it is only then that the mind can be emptied of the old; and unless the mind is emptied of the old there can be no new impulse. It is this new, creative impulse that is essential if the individual is to bring about a different world, a different relationship, a different structure of morality. And it is only through totally emptying the mind of the old that the new impulse can come into being, give it whatever name you like: the impulse of reality, the grace of God, the feeling of something completely new, unpremeditated, something which has never been thought of, which has not been put together by the mind. Without that extraordinarily creative impulse of reality, do what you will to clear up the confusion and bring order in the social structure, it can only lead to further misery. I think this is fairly obvious when one observes the political and social events that are taking place in the world.
So it is important, it seems to me, that the mind be emptied of all knowledge, because knowledge is invariably of the past; and as long as the mind is burdened with the residue of the past, of our personal or collective experiences, there can be no learning.
There is a learning which begins with self-knowledge, a learning which comes with awareness of your everyday activities: what you do, what you think, what your relationship with another is, how your mind responds to every incident and challenge of your daily life. If you are not aware of your response to every challenge in life, there is no self-knowledge. You can know yourself as you are only in relation to something, in relation to people, to ideas and to things. If you assume anything about yourself, if you postulate that you are the Atman, or the higher self, for example, and start from that, which is obviously a form of conclusion, your mind is incapable of learning.
When the mind is burdened with a conclusion, a formulation, there is the cessation of inquiry. And it is essential to inquire, not merely as it is being done by certain specialists in the scientific or psychological field, but to inquire into oneself and to know the totality of one's being, the operation of one's own mind at the conscious and also at the unconscious level in all the activities of one's daily existence: how one functions, what one's responses are when one goes to the office, rides in the bus, when one talks with one's children, with one's wife or husband, and so on. Unless the mind is aware of the totality of itself, not as it should be but as it actually is; unless it is aware of its conclusions, its assumptions, its ideals, its conformity, there is no possibility of the coming into being of this new, creative impulse of reality.
You may know the superficial layers of your mind; but to know the unconscious motives, drives, fears, the hidden residue of tradition, of racial inheritance - to be aware of all that and to give it close attention is very hard work, it demands a great deal of energy. Most of us are unwilling to give close attention to these things, we have not the patience to go into ourselves step by step, inch by inch, so that we begin to know all the subtleties, the intricate movements of the mind. But it is only the mind which has understood itself in its totality and is therefore incapable of self-deception - it is only such a mind that can free itself of its past and go beyond its own movements within the field of time. This is not very difficult, but it requires a great deal of hard work.
You work a great deal when you go to the office, you have to work to earn your livelihood, or to do anything else in life. You have been trained to work hard in the commercial world, and you are also willing to work hard in the so-called spiritual world if there is a reward at the end of it. If you are promised a seat in heaven, or if you believe that you can achieve bliss, an everlasting peace, you will work hard to get it; but that is merely an action of greed.
Now, there is a different way of working, which is to inquire into ourselves and to know exactly what is going on within the field of the mind, not in order to gain some reward, but for the very simple reason that there can obviously be no end to misery in the world as long as the mind does not understand itself. And after all, the world in which we live is not the enormous world of political activities, of scientific research, and so on; it is the little world of the family, the world of relationship between two people at home or in the office, between husband and wife, parents and children, teacher and pupil, lawyer and client, policeman and citizen. That is the little world we all live in; but we want to escape from that world of relationship and go out into an extraordinary world which we have imagined and which does not really exist at all. If we do not understand the world of relationship and bring about a fundamental transformation there, we cannot possibly create a new culture, a different civilization, a peaceful world. So it must start with ourselves. The world demands an immense, a radical change, but it must begin with you and me; and we cannot bring about a real change in ourselves if we do not know the totality of our world of thoughts, of feelings, of actions, if we are not aware of ourselves from moment to moment. And you will see, if you are so aware, that the mind begins to free itself from all influences of the past. After all, the mind is now the result of the past, and all thinking is a projection of the past, it is simply a response of the past to challenge; so merely to think of creating a new world will never bring a new world into being.
Most people, when they are confused, disturbed, want to return to the past, they seek to revive the old religion, to re-establish the ancient customs, to bring back the form of worship practised by their ancestors, and all the rest of it. But what is necessary, surely, is to find out whether the mind that is the result of the past, the mind that is confused, disturbed, groping, seeking - whether such a mind can learn without turning to a guru, whether it can undertake the journey on which there is no guide. Because it is possible to go on this journey only when there is the light which comes through the understanding of yourself, and that light cannot be given to you by another; no Master, no guru can give it to you, nor will you find it in the Gita, or in any other book. You have to find that light within yourself, which means that you must inquire into yourself, and this inquiry is hard work. No one can lead you, no one can teach you how to inquire into yourself. One can point out that such inquiry is essential, but the actual process of inquiring must begin with your own self-observation.
A mind that would understand that which is true, that which is real, that which is good, or that which is beyond the measure of the mind - give it whatever name you like - , must be empty, but not be aware that it is empty. I hope you see the difference between the two. If I am aware that I am virtuous, I am no longer virtuous, if I am aware that I am humble, humility has ceased. Surely that is obvious. In the same way, if the mind is aware that it is empty, it is no longer empty, because there is always the observer who is experiencing emptiness.
So, is it possible for the mind to be free of the observer, of the censor? After all, the observer, the censor, the watcher, the thinker, is the self, the `me' that is always wanting more and more experience. I have had all the experiences that this world can give me, with its pleasure and pain, its ambition, greed, envy, and I am dissatisfied, frustrated, shallow. So I want further experience on another level which I call the spiritual world; but the experiencer continues, the watcher remains. The watcher, the thinker, the experiencer may cultivate virtue, he may discipline himself and try to lead what he considers to be a moral life; but he remains. And can that experiencer, that self, totally cease? Because only then is it possible for the mind to empty itself and for the new, the truth, the creative reality to come into being.
To put it very simply, is it possible for me to forget myself? Don't say "Yes" or "No". We do not know what it means. The sacred books say so-and-so, but all that is mere words, and words are not reality. What is important is for the mind to find out whether that which has been put together - the experiencer, the thinker, the watcher, the `I' - can disappear, dissolve itself. There must be no other entity who dissolves it. I hope I am making myself clear. If the mind says, "The `I' must be dissolved in order to arrive at that extraordinary state which the sacred books promise", then there is the action of will, there is an entity who wants to arrive; so the `I' still remains.
Now, is it possible for the mind to free itself of the observer, of the watcher, of the experiencer, without any motive? Obviously, if there is a motive, that very motive is the essence of the `me', of the experiencer. Can you forget yourself entirely without any compulsion, without any desire for reward or fear of punishment - just forget yourself? I do not know if you have tried it. Has such a thought even occurred to you, has it ever come to your mind? And when such a thought does arise, you immediately say, "If I forget myself, how can I live in this world, where everybody is struggling to push me aside and get ahead?" To have a right answer to that question you must first know how to live without the `me', without the experiencer, without the self-centred activity which is the creator of sorrow, the very essence of confusion and misery. So is it possible, while living in this world with all its complex relationships, with all its travail, to abandon oneself completely and be free of the things which go to make up the `me'?
You see, sirs and ladies, this is an inquiry, it is not an answer from me. You will have to find out for yourself, and that requires enormous investigation, hard work - much harder work than earning a livelihood, which is mere routine. It requires astonishing vigilance, constant watchfulness, a ceaseless inquiry into every movement of thought. And the moment you begin to inquire into the process of thinking, which is to isolate each thought and think it through to the end, you will see how arduous it is; it is not a lazy man's pleasure. And it is essential to do this, because it is only the mind that has emptied itself of all its old recognitions, its old distractions, its conflicts and self-contradictions - it is only such a mind that has the new, the creative impulse of reality. The mind then creates its own action, it brings into being a different activity altogether, without which mere social reform, however necessary, however beneficial, cannot possibly bring about a peaceful and happy world.
As human beings we are all capable of inquiry, of discovery, and this whole process is meditation. Meditation is inquiry into the very being of the meditator. You cannot meditate without self-knowledge, without being aware of the ways of your own mind, from the superficial responses to the most complex subtleties of thought. I am sure it is not really difficult to know, to be aware of oneself; but it is difficult for most of us because we are so afraid to inquire, to grope, to search out. Our fear is not of the unknown, but of letting go of the known. It is only when the mind allows the known to fade away that there is complete freedom from the known, and only then is it possible for the new impulse to come into being.
Question: In your last talk you finally conceded the essential need of discipline, but you complicated the issue by saying that this necessary discipline was the discipline of total attention. Please explain.
Krishnamurti: I was pointing out in my last talk, if I remember rightly, that the discipline of suppression, sublimation, or substitution, is no discipline at all; it is merely conformity to a pattern, a mechanical process based essentially on fear and respectability. I was also pointing out that there is an altogether different kind of discipline which is not related to fear at all, a discipline of total attention.
Now, what do we mean by attention? Do we ever attend to anything? Please, sirs, follow this a little bit. Do we ever attend to anything, listen to anything, observe anything? Or is our attention, our observation, our listening merely a process of resistance? I hear that crow, and I resist it in order to listen to something else; I resist the shouting of those children because I want to listen to what is being said. This resistance is partial attention, and partial attention is no attention at all. Surely that is obvious, is it not? What is the state of my mind when it is resisting a noise because it wants to listen to something? There is a conflict going on within the mind, the conflict which invariably arises through resistance; and where there is conflict there is no attention. I think that is fairly clear. Where there is any form of resistance, there is conflict, and a mind in conflict is incapable of paying attention.
Now, is it possible for the mind to be free of resistance, of conflict? How does conflict arise? It arises when one desire is opposed by another, when there is tension between two desires. That again is fairly clear.
Please, sirs, I am explaining, and if you are merely listening to the explanations, then you are missing the whole significance of what is being said. But if, as you listen, you watch your own mind, observe your own ways of thinking, then you will see it all very clearly, and that very clarity of perception will bring about attention, you will not have to make an effort to attend. The moment you make an effort to attend, that effort implies resistance, and there can be no attention when there is resistance. Resistance, conflict, arises when there are opposing desires, the tension of wanting and not wanting.
So the mind has to understand the whole process of desire, and not identify itself with one desire in opposition to another, or try to make one desire conform to another, however noble, significant, or worthwhile it may be. All desire is contradictory in itself, and therefore desire is the very root of resistance. So, can the mind understand desire? Does the mind know what desire is? The mind knows desire for something, desire for a woman, desire for a man; it knows desire in terms of wanting this or rejecting that. Now, I am asking you a question: Does the mind know what desire is? Is the mind aware of its own state when it is desiring? And is there desire without the object of desire, Without the thing that creates desire?
I see something beautiful, and there is sensation, contact, from which arises the desire to possess; so desire is a reaction. And is there desire which is not a reaction? Can the mind experience what desire is in itself? I hope you are following this.
Look, sirs, does the mind know what it is to love? Do you know the quality, the sense of love - not what you love, not the object but the feeling itself? Or is that feeling always associated with the object? And if there is no object, does the feeling exist independent of the object? If the feeling is dependent on the object, if it arises only through awareness of the object, then, though we call it love, it is obviously not love, but merely the sensation which that object produces, and therefore a source of conflict.
Now, please inquire with me, think with me, feel with me. Is it possible for the mind to have the feeling of love without the object or independent of the object? Is it possible for the mind to attend without the object of attention?
I am afraid I am making this a little bit complicated; but the thing itself is complicated, and if you do not follow it, I am sorry. You will have to inquire into all this for yourself, and not just say, "Discipline is discipline; why do you bother so much about it?" The discipline you have known is merely a mechanical habit, it has no vitality, it is destructive, disintegrating. And that is what is happening to most of you - through so-called discipline you are destroying the vitality of thought, of independent inquiry, of full attention.
I say there is a discipline which is not related to this horror of conformity, and that is the discipline of attention. But there is no attention when there is resistance, conflict. And can the mind be free of conflict? To inquire into that, the mind has to find out what creates conflict. The cause of conflict is the desire for an object, that is, when it is the object which creates the desire. That is fairly clear. What do we do when the object creates the desire? We discipline ourselves against the object, do we not? We become hermits, sannyasis; we resist, suppress, control, which only creates more and more conflict. And that is what we call being austere - which is a most immature way of thinking.
The next question is: Is it possible for the mind to see the object without the arising of desire? Can it just look at the object and not suppress its own reaction? Because the whole of living is reaction, is it not? To see the beauty of a tree, of the earth, of the clear sky, of the sea, of a bird on the wing; to see the faces which smile and the tears of sorrow - to see and feel all that, is living, and to shut yourself off from any of it through discipline, through resistance, is to make life very shallow, dull and stupid.
So, is it possible for the mind to see everything, the beautiful and the ugly, without the arising of desire? And when the mind is not caught up with the object of desire, is there no feeling? Please inquire for yourself. Is there no feeling without the object? Is there no love without the object? Is there no listening without the speaker? And if your mind can so listen, can so love, can so feel, then you will find that an extraordinary freedom from the past comes into being which is total attention. Then you don't have to make an effort to discipline yourself, because that total attention is its own discipline.
I do not know if you have noticed that when the mind gives its whole attention to something, the watcher is not, the experiencer does not exist. Do you understand, sirs? If I listen to those crows totally, without resistance, if I listen with full attention, in that attention there is no watcher, no experiencer, no entity who is listening; there is only complete attention, complete listening, complete life without a shadow. Such attention brings its own discipline which is much more subtle, much more arduous and much more strict than the stupid discipline of fear and conformity.
The state of complete attention is austerity, and it is only in that state that the mind can abandon itself; and only then is it possible for the mind to receive the creative impulse of reality. Merely to resist a desire only tortures the mind and creates the conflict of duality with all its philosophical speculations about reality. Whereas, if your mind is capable of giving total attention to something - to your children, to your wife or husband, to a bird, to a tree, to your everyday tasks - , then you will find that there is no contradiction, no resistance. Resistance arises, contradiction comes into being only when there is the entity who is watching evaluating, judging, condemning, and that entity is the self, the `me'. Conformity at any time is not moral; but there is a discipline which is not the outcome of fear, of respectability, of conformity to social morality, and this discipline comes when the mind is capable of giving total attention in which there is no contradiction or distraction. It is not a question of how the mind is to avoid being distracted, because in giving total attention there is no distraction.
Sirs, you all do as every child does when he plays with a toy. The child is completely lost in the toy, it is absorbing him; but that is not attention, because the toy is important. Similarly, you sit in front of a picture and let the picture absorb you - which is what you call meditation. The image, the chant, the shloka, the mantra absorbs you; but that is not attention. In that there is conflict, because the image, the word, or the symbol becomes all-important. If you see the truth of this, you will find that an attention comes which has no object. Such attention is not a gift, it is merely attention without effort, without an object, and therefore without a shadow. It is the object of attention that casts the shadow of contradiction in the mind which is attending. Attention without an object is a state of complete emptiness; the mind is capable of listening completely because it is not resisting.
Question: Day follows day, with old age and death coming inexorably nearer. I listen to you, but the anguish of the approaching end does not diminish. Teach me to face old age and death with equanimity.
Krishnamurti: What do you mean by old age? Going bald, losing one's teeth? The physical organism inevitably wears itself out through long use. Is that old age? Or is old age the deterioration of the mind? You may be very young, healthy, strong, and yet be old because your mind is already on the path of deterioration.
So what do we mean by old age? Surely we are not talking of the gradual wearing out of the body through use and decay. We do not mean that. We mean the state of the mind which has grown old because it has no innocence. Do you understand, sir? The mind is old when it is not fresh, when it is always thinking in terms of the past and using the present as a passage to the future. It is such a mind that is not young. And can such a mind be made new, innocent, fresh? Can it renew itself from moment to moment so that it never grows old? Surely that is our problem, not how to stop the aging of the body, which is of course impossible. New drugs may be invented which will keep you going fifty years longer; but then what? However young you may be, the process of deterioration already exists in the functioning of the mind. So is it possible for the mind not to deteriorate?
What are the factors of deterioration? That is the problem. And can the mind be kept fresh, innocent? It is only the innocent mind that can learn, not the mind that is burdened with knowledge and is therefore already old. So, how is the mind to be made new, fresh, innocent? Do you understand, sir?
This mind is the result of time, of many yesterdays, of all the conflicts, impressions, contradictions, hopes and fears of the past; it is the outcome of innumerable wants, of pleasure and pain, of vital ambitions and fearful frustrations. And how is this mind - which has been put together through time, through experience, through conditioning - to be made new?
Whether the physical organism is young or old, the mind is old because it is already fixed, moulded, it functions in a routine, in a wheel of fear; and how is such a mind to be made new, innocent? Surely, only by dying to the past, to everything it has known. Do you understand, sir? Is it possible to die to `my house', `my family', `my God', `my nationality', `my belief', `my tradition', to all the impressions, compulsions, influences that have made me, and yet be aware of my family, of the beauty of a tree, the beauty of a flower, of the sunset of the sky?
After all, what are you? You are the memories of your joy, of your ambitions and frustrations, of the little property you own; you are the memory or recognition of your wife or husband, of your children, and the anticipation of what you are going to achieve; you are a bundle of tensions, of contradictions, of innumerable impressions. All that is the `you'. Whether you believe in God or in no-God, it is still within the field of memory, of the known, of thought. And is it possible to die to all that immediately? To wait for death to come and then ask, "Is there life after death?" is merely to continue the mind which has grown old.
So, is it possible for the mind to cease, to put an end without any cause to the deteriorating factor, which is conflict, the process of recognition as `mine' and `yours'? Sir, try it. Live for one day, one hour, as though you were going to die, actually going to die the next hour. If you knew you were about to die, what would you do? You would gather your family together, put your money, your little property in order, and draw up a will; and then, as death approached, you would have to understand all that you had been. If you were merely frightened because you were dying, you would be dying for nothing; but you would not be frightened if you said, "I have lived a dull, ambitious, envious, stupid life, and now I am going to wipe all that totally from my memory, I am going to forget the past and live in this hour completely". Sir, if you can live one hour as completely as that, you can live completely for the rest of your life. But to die is hard work - not to die through disease and old age, that is not hard work at all. That is inevitable, it is what we are all going to do, and you cushion yourself against it in innumerable ways. But if you die so that you are living fully in this hour, you will find there is an enormous vitality, a tremendous attention to everything because this is the only hour you are living. You look at this spring of life because you will never see it again; you see the smile, the tears, you feel the earth, you feel the quality of a tree, you feel the love that has no continuity and no object. Then you will find that in this total attention the `me' is not, and that the mind, being empty, can renew itself. Then the mind is fresh, innocent, and such a mind lives eternally beyond time.
February 20, 1957
Bombay 4th Public Talk 20th February 1957
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