Bombay 5th Public Talk 24th February 1957
As life is so complicated, it seems to me that one must approach it with great simplicity. Life is a vast complex of struggle, of misery, of passing joys and, perhaps for some, the pleasurable continuity of a satisfaction they have known. Confronted with this extraordinarily intricate process which we call existence, surely we must approach it very simply; because it is the simple mind that really understands the problem, not the sophisticated mind, not the mind that is burdened with knowledge. If we want to understand something very complex we must approach it very simply, and therein lies our difficulty; because we always approach our problems with assertions, with assumptions or conclusions, and so we are never free to approach them with the humility they demand.
And may I point out that this talk will be utterly futile if we listen to what is being said merely on the verbal or intellectual level, because mere verbal or intellectual listening has no significance when we are confronted with immense problems. So let us try to listen, for the time being at least, not just on the verbal level, or with certain conclusions at which the mind may have arrived, but with a sense of humility so that you and I can explore together this whole problem of knowledge.
The undoing of knowledge is the fundamental revolution; the undoing of knowledge is the beginning of humility. Only the mind that is humble can understand what is true and what is false, and is therefore capable of eschewing the false and pursuing that which is true. But most of us approach life with knowledge - knowledge being what we have learnt, what we have been taught, and what we have gathered in the incidents and accidents of life. This knowledge becomes our background, our conditioning; it shapes our thoughts, it makes us conform to the pattern of what has been. If we would understand anything, we must approach it with humility; and it is knowledge that makes us un-humble. I wonder if you have noticed that when you know, you have ceased to examine what is. When you already know, you are not living at all. It is the mind that is undoing what it has gathered, that is actually and not merely intellectually dissipating what it has known - it is only such a mind that is capable of understanding. And for most of us, knowledge becomes the authority, the guide which keeps us within the sanctuary of society, within the frontiers of respectability. Knowledge is the centre from which we judge, evaluate, from which we condemn, accept or reject.
Now, is it possible for the mind to free itself from knowledge? Can that self-centre, which is essentially the accumulation of knowledge, be dissolved, so that the mind is really humble, innocent, and therefore capable of perceiving what is truth?
After all, what is it that we know? We know only facts, or what we have been taught about facts. When I examine and ask myself, "What is it that I really know?", I see that I actually know only what has been taught me, a technique, a profession, plus the information which I have acquired in the everyday relationship, of challenge and response. Apart from that, what do I know, what do you know? What we know is obviously what we have been taught, or what we have gathered from books and from environmental influences. This accumulation of what we have acquired or been taught reacts to the environment, thereby further strengthening the background of what we call knowledge.
So, can the mind, which has been put together through knowledge, undo what it has gathered and thereby remove authority altogether? Because it is the authority of knowledge that gives us arrogance, vanity, and there is humility only when that authority is removed, not theoretically but actually, so that I can approach this whole complex process of existence with a mind that does not know. And is it possible for the mind to free itself from that which it has known?
We can see that there is a great deal of tyranny in the world, and that tyranny is spreading; there is compulsion, there is misery, both physically and inwardly, and the constant threat of war; and with such a world there must obviously be some kind of radical change in our thinking. But most of us regard action as more important than thought; we want to know what to do about all these complex problems, and we are more concerned with right action than with the process of thinking which will produce right action.
Now, the process of thinking obviously cannot be made new as long as one starts thinking from any assumption, from any conclusion. So I must ask myself, as you must ask yourself, whether it is possible for the mind to undo the knowledge it has gathered; because knowledge becomes authority, which produces arrogance, and with that arrogance and vanity we consciously or unconsciously look at life, and therefore we never approach anything with humility. I know because I have learnt, I have experienced, I have gathered, or I guide my thought and activity in terms of some ideology to which I conform. So gradually I build up this whole process of authority in myself: the authority of the experiencer, of the one who knows. And my problem is: Can I who have gathered so much knowledge, who have learnt so much, who have had so many experiences - can I undo all that? Because there is no possibility of a radical change without the undoing of knowledge. The very undoing of knowledge is the beginning of such a change, is it not?
What do we mean by `change'? Is change merely a movement from the knowledge I have accumulated to other fields of knowing, to new assumptions and ideologies projected from the past? This is generally what we mean by `change', is it not? When I say I must change, I think in terms of changing to something I already know. When I say I must be good, I have an idea, a formulation, a concept of what it is to be good. But that is not the flowering of goodness. The flowering of goodness comes only when I understand the process and the accumulation of knowledge, and in the undoing of what I know. Then there is the possibility of a revolution, a radical change. But merely to move from the known to the known is no change at all.
I hope I am making myself clear; because you and I do need to change radically, in a tremendous, revolutionary way. It is an obvious fact that we cannot go on as we are. The crisis and the appalling things that are taking place in the world demand that the individual approach all these problems from a totally different point of view, with a totally different heart and mind. That is why I must understand how to bring about in myself this radical change. And I see that I can change only when I am undoing what I have known. The disentangling of the mind from knowledge is in itself a radical change, because then the mind is humble; and that very humility brings about an action which is totally new. As long as the mind is acquiring, comparing, thinking in terms of the `more', it is obviously incapable of action which is new. And can I who am envious, acquisitive, change completely, so that my mind is no longer acquiring, comparing, competing? To put it differently, can my mind empty itself, and in that very process of emptying itself discover the action which is new?
So, is it possible to bring about a fundamental change which is not the outcome of an action of will, which is not merely the result of influence, pressure? Change based on influence, pressure, on an action of will, is no change at all. That is obvious if you s go into it. And if I feel the necessity of a complete, radical change within myself, I must surely inquire into the process of knowledge, which forms the centre from which all experience takes place. Do you understand? There is a centre in each one of us which is the result of experience, of knowledge, of memory, and according to that centre we act, we `change', and the very undoing of that centre, the very dissolution of that `me', of that self, of that process of accumulation brings about a radical change. But that demands the hard work which is involved in self-knowledge.
I must know myself as I am, not as I think I should be; I must know myself as the centre from which I am acting, from which I am thinking, the centre which is made up of accumulated knowledge, of assumptions, of past experience, all of which is preventing an inward revolution, a radical transformation of myself. And as we have so many complexities in the world at the present time, with so many superficial changes going on, it is necessary that there should be this radical change in the individual; for it is only the individual, and not the collective, that can bring about a new world.
Looking at all this, is it possible for you and me as two individuals to change, not superficially but radically, so that there is the dissolution of that centre from which all vanity, all sense of authority springs, that centre which actively accumulates, that centre which is made up of knowledge, experience, memory?
This is a question that cannot be answered verbally. I put it only in order to awaken your thinking, your inquiry, so that you will start on the journey alone. Because you cannot start on this journey with the help of another, you cannot have a guru to tell you what to do, what to seek. If you are told, then you are no longer on this journey. But can you not start on this journey of inquiry alone, without the accumulation of knowledge which prevents further inquiry? In order to inquire, the mind must be free of knowledge. If there is any pressure behind the inquiry, then the inquiry is not straight, it becomes crooked, and that is why it is so essential to have a mind that is really humble, a mind that says, "I do not know, I will inquire", and that never gathers in the process of inquiring. The moment you gather you have a centre, and that centre always influences your inquiry.
So, can the mind inquire without accumulating, without gathering, without emphasizing the centre through the authority of knowledge? And if it can, then what is the state of such a mind? Do you understand? What is the state of the mind that is really inquiring? Surely, its state is that of emptiness.
I do not know if you have ever experienced what it is to be completely alone, without any pressure, without any motive or influence, without the idea of the past and the future. To be completely alone is entirely different from loneliness. There is loneliness when the centre of accumulation feels cut off in its relations with another. I am not talking of that feeling of loneliness. I am talking of the aloneness in which the mind is not contaminated because it has understood the process of contamination, which is accumulation. And when the mind is totally alone because through self-knowledge it has understood the centre of accumulation, then you will find that, being empty, uninfluenced, the mind is capable of action which is not related to ambition, to envy, or to any of the conflicts that we know. Such a mind, being indifferent in the sense that it is not seeking a result, is capable of living with compassion. But such a state of mind is not to be acquired, it is not to be developed. It comes into being through self-knowledge, through knowing yourself - not some enormous, greater self, but the little self that is envious, greedy, petty, angry, vicious. What is necessary is.to know the whole of that mind which is your little self. To go very far you must begin very near, and the near is you, the `you' that you must understand. And as you begin to understand, you will see that there is a dissolution of knowledge, so that the mind becomes totally alert, aware, empty, without that centre; and only such a mind is capable of receiving that which is truth.
Question: I am a student. Before I heard you I was keen about my studies and making a good career for myself. But now it all seems so futile, and I have completely lost interest in my studies and in a career. What you Jay seems very attractive, but it is impossible to attain. All this has left me very confused. What am I to do?
Krishnamurti: Sir, have I made you confused? Have I made you see that what you are doing is futile? If I have been the cause of your confusion, then you are not confused, because when I go away you will revert to your former confusion or your clarity. But if this questioner is serious, then what has actually taken place is that by listening to what has been said here he has awakened himself to his own activities; he now sees that what he is doing, studying to build up a career for the future, is rather empty, without much significance. So he says, "What am I to do?" He is confused, not because I have made him confused, but because by listening he has become aware of the world situation, and of his own condition and relationship with the world. He has become aware of the futility, the uselessness of all this business of building up a future career. He has become aware of it, I have not made him aware.
Sir, I think this is the first thing to realize: that by listening, by watching, by observing your own activities, you have made this discovery for yourself; therefore it is yours, not mine. If it were mine, I would take it away with me when I go. But this is something that cannot be taken away by another because it has been realized by you. You have watched yourself in action, you have observed your own life, and you now see that to build up a career for the future is a futile thing. So, being confused, you say, "What am I to do?"
What are you to do, actually? You have to go on with your studies, have you not? That is obvious, because you have to have some kind of profession, a right means of livelihood. Do you understand? Please do listen to this, sirs. You have to earn a livelihood through a right means. And law is obviously not a right means, because it maintains society as it is, a society which is based on acquisitiveness, on greed, on envy, on authority and exploitation, and which is therefore in turmoil within itself. So law is not the profession for a man who is at all serious in religious matters; nor can he become a policeman or a soldier. Soldiering is obviously a or a soldier. Soldiering is obviously a profession of killing, and there is no difference between defence and offence. A soldier is prepared to kill, and the function of a general is to prepare for war.
So, if those three are not right professions, then what are you to do? You have to think it out, have you not? You have to find out for yourself what you really want to do, and not rely on your father, on your grandmother, on some professor, or on anybody else to tell you what to do. And what does it mean to find out what you really want to do? It means finding out what you love to do, does it not? When you love what you are doing, you are not ambitious, you are not greedy, you are not seeking fame, because that very love of what you are doing is totally sufficient in itself. In that love there is no frustration, because you are no longer seeking fulfilment.
But you see, all this demands a great deal of thinking, a great deal of inquiry, meditation, and unfortunately the pressure of the world is very strong - the world being your parents, your grandparents, the society around you. They all want you to be a successful man, they want you to fit into the established pattern, so they educate you to conform. But the whole structure of society is based on acquisitiveness, on envy, on ruthless self-assertion, on the aggressive activity of each one of us; and if you see for yourself, actually and not theoretically, that such a society must inevitably rot from within, then you will find your own way of action through doing what you love to do. It may produce a conflict with the present society - and why not? A religious man, or the man who is seeking truth, is in revolt against the society which is based essentially on respectability, acquisitiveness and the ambitious search for power. He is not in conflict with society, but society is in conflict with him. Society can never accept him. Society can only make him a saint and worship him - and thereby destroy him.
So the student who has been listening is now confused. But if he does not escape from that confusion by running off to a cinema, by going to a temple, by reading a book, or by turning to a guru, and realizes how his confusion has arisen; if he faces that confusion and in the process of inquiry does not conform to the pattern of society, then he will be a truly religious man. And such religious men are necessary, for it is they who will bring about a new world.
Question: To you the observation of thought or feeling within consciousness seems to be a state of complete objectivity. How is this possible? Can you separate a thought or a feeling from the matrix of thought?
Krishnamurti: Let me explain the question as far as I understand it. Thought is part of consciousness; thinking, feeling, is part of the mind. What we think and feel - the contradictions, the tensions, the ambitions, the greed, the aspirations, the desire to be powerful, the fulfilment and frustration - is all within the field which we call consciousness. Consciousness is like a single piece of cloth; and the questioner asks me, "How can you separate one thought or one feeling from this complex field of consciousness and examine it objectively, go right to the end of it without any distortion? Is that possible?"
Now, you will find out whether it is possible or not by listening to what I am going to explain. The explanation is merely verbal; but we are going into the problem together, and this is meditation, real meditation, and therefore it is hard work. It requires enormous attention to separate one thought, or one feeling, and pursue it till it is understood, dissolved, without letting any other thought or feeling, any other pressure interfere. And can we do it? It is like following a single thread in a large piece of cloth from the beginning right through to the end of it. Have you ever tried it? To follow that thread demands not only visual attention, but the attention of your mind and heart, of your whole being, otherwise you will lose it. And what we are now going to do is like that, it requires hard work, close attention - not the attention of narrowness, not the concentration which is exclusion, but an objectivity of following in which there is an awareness of everything. I do not know if you follow all this. No, I am afraid you don't.
Sirs, I am going to approach it in another way. There is a feeling, and a feeling is a thought as well as a desire. Desire, feeling and thought are not separate units, they are interrelated, and therefore they are extraordinarily vital. They are a living thing, and my attention must be equally living, vital, to follow them.
So, can I look at a desire, at a thought, at a feeling, and go to the very end of it? Let us take the desire, the feeling, the thought which we term `envy'. Envy is not merely the jealousy you feel because your neighbour is more beautiful than you are, or has a bigger house. That is only part of envy. Envy is the desire for the `more', for more knowledge, more experience; it is the sense of comparison which says, "I am this and I must become that". Envy is the feeling of becoming: becoming virtuous, becoming noble, becoming a saint, achieving enlightenment. All that is envy.
Now, we are going to follow envy as you would follow a thread in the cloth. Envy is in operation, it is a living thing so I must pay complete attention, not only at the superficial, conscious level, but also at the unconscious level; because the unconscious, with all its traditional and racial inheritance, is based on envy. I have been taught to achieve, to fulfil, to become, and all that is part of envy. So, can I folLow envy step by step in myself, objectively, and see what its relationship is to the whole? And can I also examine it by itself?
I hope this is not too difficult or abstract. It is not, really, because if the mind is to be free of envy, it has to go through all this. And the mind must be free of envy, because if it is envious there can be no understanding of truth. The understanding of truth requires humility, and as long as the mind is envious, as long as it wants to become a governor, an executive, a banker, a Master, or what you will, it is not humble.
So, can your mind, which is the matrix in which all thought-feeling is held, separate the one feeling of envy and pursue it? You know what it is to be envious. I have described it, and it is what you are. Though you may not acknowledge it, though you may find excuses for it, you are envious. That is obvious. And can you pursue that feeling of envy right to the end? We are going to do it as I talk, so please follow this.
I am fully conversant with the fact that I am envious; there is no excuse. I do not justify or condemn it. There it is. It is as factual as this microphone and is observed as objectively. So my mind has separated that feeling, that desire which it has termed `envy', and is capable of watching it in action. That is, my mind is aware of its envy when it sees a car, or a beautiful person, or a man who is erudite; therefore it is able to observe the absurdity of becoming and follow all the implications of envy.
Now, can my mind be without comparison? Can it function without the thought of the `more' and yet not vegetate? Most of us say, "If I do not compete, learn, struggle to become something, I shall vegetate, I shall go to pieces, disintegrate". But my question now is: Can my mind be without envy, without the struggle to become something, and yet be extraordinarily active, very alert?
I see how my mind has always operated on this thought, this feeling, this desire which it calls envy. My mind invariably approaches it with condemnation or justification. But I now see that if I want to understand something, there must be no condemnation, no justification; so condemnation and justification have ceased. I also see that by naming the feeling, giving it the term `envy', I am condemning it, because that very word `envy' is condemnatory.
So, can my mind separate the word from the feeling? Is that possible? Because the moment the mind has a feeling, that feeling is immediately named. If you observe you will see that the feeling and the naming are almost simultaneous. And the real part of meditation is for the mind to separate the word from the feeling - which is hard work, it demands close attention - so that the feeling remains without the verbalization.
You verbalize a feeling in order to recognize it, and for various other reasons. Naming it establishes the feeling in the mind, which is the process of recognition; therefore, by recognition, the new feeling has become the old feeling. A feeling is always new, but we verbalize it in order to establish it in the old, in order to recollect and communicate it. But we won't go into all that now.
So I now have the feeling, the desire, the thought which is called `envy', separated from the matrix of all thoughts. I see the implications of envy, both inwardly and socially. Then I see how extraordinarily difficult it is for the mind to free the naming from the feeling, because they are practically simultaneous. So, is it possible for the mind to separate the word from the feeling? And if it is, then what happens to the feeling when this is done? If the mind no longer identifies that feeling with a word, the feeling does not remain; then there is a totally different kind of movement in that feeling.
Most of us know a feeling only through the process of verbalization and recognition. By recognition we either put an end to that feeling, or we give it a continuity. If it is a pleasurable feeling we say, "How nice, I want more of it; but if it is ugly we condemn it. Whereas, if we do not name either the pleasurable feeling or the ugly feeling, then there is only the feeling - and that is essential, because it is by pursuing the pleasurable and denying the ugly that the mind becomes insensitive, incapable of feeling. And it is this feeling, this impulse which is not related to verbalization, that is new.
I wonder if you have ever noticed that every feeling is new if you do not term it? It is the naming of the feeling that makes the feeling old, and then you have destroyed the impulse. The impulse is the new, but it is made old by recognizing, by naming.
Sirs, as I said, this is a very difficult thing to do. When you go home, experiment by taking a piece of cloth and seeing if you can follow one thread to the end; follow it not merely visually, but with all your attention. Try it and you will see how very difficult it is.
Similarly, it is extraordinarily hard work for the mind to follow one thought, one feeling, one desire right to the end without distortion, without any deviation; because, as I was explaining earlier in the talk, it is knowledge as the word that destroys the new. The word, which is knowledge, is the old; and the moment you recognize a feeling, you have already made it into the old, because to recognize is to name it. You cannot recognize something unless you have already known it. When there is a feeling, the mind immediately labels it, and so makes that feeling into the old. But if you do not name it - and not to name a feeling is astonishingly difficult, it is really hard work and demands great attention, meditation, tremendous alertness - , then you will see that the feeling is entirely new, it is not to be recognized; and a feeling which is new has its own movement, its own activity. So the mind is capable of separating one thought, one feeling one desire, from the matrix of consciousness.
February 24, 1957
Bombay 5th Public Talk 24th February 1957
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