New Delhi 1961
New Delhi 6th Public Talk 20th January 1961
The last few times that we have met here we have been discussing the question of action - what is action? - because it seems to us that it is a very vital question to be understood and thereby to be carried out in life. We have divided life, haven't we?, into various categories of action, the political, the religious, the economic, the social, the individual and the collective. And it seems to me, in so dividing life, we are never acting totally, we can never act totally. We act in fragments invariably leading to contradiction. And it is this contradiction, both in society and in the individual, that leads to all kinds of complex miseries and frustrations. These contradictions help us to avoid facing realities and escape to some illusory ideas, God, truth, behaviour and all the rest of it. And it seems to me that it is very important to understand what an action is which is total, which is comprehensive, which is not broken up into fragments. And to understand that total action we have to investigate, not verbally or intellectually but actually, and see how the mind that is broken up into fragments, functions at one level vigorously, efficiently and lives at other levels in a state of chaos, misery, travail and so on.
And as we were saying the day before yesterday, the action of which we are mostly aware, is that of dependence - dependence on another, on society, on a job which gives satisfaction and thereby also invites misery. And if one goes into this question of dependence, one sees how extraordinarily we depend on belief psychologically, inwardly, for our happiness, for our sustenance, for our inward sense of well-being. I do not know if we have not noticed in ourselves and in others that our action is essentially very deeply based on this dependence. We depend on another for our happiness and, in our relationships, this dependence obviously does breed a certain kind of action which inevitably breeds fear. And it is this fear that is the motive for most of our action, the desire to be secure in our relationships; and thereby we bring about a necessity, don't we?, of belonging to something. Most of us want to be committed to something. I do not know if we have investigated this extraordinary urge to belong to something, belong to some society, to some association, belong to a group, belong to a particular ideological structure, belong to a country, belong to a certain class. And I do not know if you have not noticed this: the so-called intellectual is so committed and, after having been committed to one form of activity, finds it futile, joins another and keeps on moving from one to another - which is called seeking - and thereby the very urge becomes the action which is the outcome of an urge to belong, to commit oneself to something.
Sir, this discussion this morning, it seems to me, would be utterly futile if we merely remain at the verbal level - that is, if we merely discuss intellectually or verbally and not go into the problem deeply within ourselves to find out why we belong to something, why we are committed as a Hindu, as a Buddhist, as a Communist, or committed to the urge to belong which is very indicative of the fact that most of us cannot stand alone. We are either Catholics, or one of the hundred things you know. We are committed not only to outward organizations but to ideas, to ideals, to examples, to a certain pattern of thought and action. We have to be aware of this commitment and to find out what lies behind it psychologically, inwardly. And it seems to me, unless we go into that whole question of what is the impulse that makes us commit ourselves to a certain course of action, a certain pattern of thinking, certain ways of activity, we will never come upon that feeling of living totally which very living is action. And that is one of the problems.
The other problem is surely, is it not? that in understanding action we must comprehend also function and status. Most of us use function to gain status. We use function to be something, to become something psychologically, inwardly. We use the very doing of something efficiently in order to achieve prestige, position and power. So, to us action is not important, the function of doing something is not important but what it is going to give us. Now we are going to get prestige, power, position - that is for us important. And as we were saying the other day, power, the feeling of dominance, the feeling of importance, which obviously is contrary to humility, this sense of power, is evil. Whether it is exercised by the politician, by the guru, by the wife over the husband, by the husband over the wife, or by the master over the servant, the sense of power is obviously the most evil thing on earth. And we are so little aware of it. I do not know if you have not noticed all these things, what importance we give, not to the function but to the status which is derived from function. You know the way you treat an important man, the tremendous respect, and the garlands you put round his neck. So all this surely involves the understanding and the awareness of one's own thinking, of an inward perception of one's behaviour and motive, the urges, the compulsions that lie behind action; this obviously involves, does it not?, the awareness of every movement of thought and the motive behind our thought, the root from which thought, as a tree, grows. Until we are aware of this whole process of the structure of thought, action must inevitably be broken up, and therefore there can never be a total action; and so we live in a state of contradiction all our life.
So, perhaps, this morning we could profitably discuss not only function and status and the urge to commit oneself to something, to belong to something, but also go into this question of knowledge and the freedom from knowledge which is essential to discover the unknowable. Could we go into all that, this morning, could we discuss that, would that be of interest to you?
This is not a matter of agreement or disagreement. We are trying to investigate, we are trying to find out, we are trying to explore. And a mind that is merely assenting or disagreeing or agreeing is not exploring, it is just hearing certain words and is not self-examining.
You know, Sir, the problem of knowledge is very interesting, and so is the question of knowing. Is there a knowing, when we are pursuing knowledge? Most of us read a great deal. The more intellectual we are, the greater the capacity to read and to correlate, to argue, theorize. And knowledge seems to me to be a great hindrance to knowing. The machines, the calculators, the electronic brains have great knowledge, all stored up in them; they are capable of doing astonishing calculations in a split second. They can tell you the history of any country, if the electronic brain has been informed about that country sufficiently. They can compose, they can write poems, they can paint. A monkey in America has painted pictures and some of these pictures are hung in museums. We are all experts in technique, all the result of knowledge. The specialist, obviously specializes in a particular technique, as a doctor, an engineer, a scientist. Is that specialist capable of creation? I do not mean inventing. Invention is entirely different from creation. And is the mind which is so burdened with knowledge capable of creation? Will the technique of the bureaucrat, of the man who is capable of functioning mechanically at a certain level, make him capable of this sense of creative being, creative reality, creative living? Sirs, this may not be your question. I think this is the question that is confronting the rest of the world. Because, in the world there is increase of knowledge, of facts, how to do things better, greater insistency on capacity, and being a perfect functionary, based on knowledge obviously; and so human beings are becoming more and more mechanical. Is that the way of realizing or unfolding human freedom? Is that the way to discover something which is not measured by the mind, the unnameable, the unknowable, to discover that thing which man has been seeking for centuries and centuries, millenniums? Can that be discovered through knowledge, through a system, a method, through yoga, through a path, or through the various philosophical ideas? For me, knowledge has nothing whatever to do with the other. And to discover the other, for the other to be, for the other to come, there must be an innocency of the mind, surely. And the mind is not innocent when it is crowded with knowledge. And yet, knowledge is worshipped as well as the man who has astonishing capacity, gift, talent. So, I think, it is essential to find out whether knowledge is essential, and to free the mind from knowledge so that it can move, it can fly, it can be in a state of innocency.
Knowledge is necessary for function, to do something efficiently, thoroughly, completely, well. Knowledge is essential to be a first class carpenter. To work in a garden, you must know something about soil, about the plant, how to do this and that; to be a good administrator you must know, you must have the experience, knowledge as an engineer or this or that. And surely the calamity comes when function is used to acquire a status. Perhaps, if we understand that, we could differentiate and keep clearly the limitations of knowledge and spill over from knowledge to freedom, if I can so put it, then there is the freedom from status. I am not sure whether I am making the issue clear. To go from here to your home, knowledge is essential. Knowledge is essential to communicate. I know English and you know English. If I spoke in French or Italian you would not know it. Knowledge is essential to do your job. But that very knowledge we use to acquire position, power. And it seems to me the beauty of the abandonment of the world is the abandonment of status. The man who gives up the world - which is symbolized by putting on a robe, or joining a monastery, or eating one meal a day - has not given up the world at all; it is a farce; he is still pursuing power, power over himself, power over others, the urge to be, to become, to arrive. So, is it possible to see the importance and the necessity of functioning perfectly, capably, and not let that function take us willingly or unwillingly into the paths of destructive usages of that function?
Sir, it is no good your merely listening to me hearing some words. I feel that you have to perceive the truth of the fact that function in itself is right, true, good, noble but when it is used for status, it becomes evil because it leads to power, and the pursuit of power is an action that is destructive. Sir, if I see something, if I see a cobra, a poisonous snake, the very perception is action, isn't it? If I see a bottle marked "poison", that very seeing stops all action towards that poison. To see something false as false is complete action. You don't have to say, "What am I to do?" So, attention, not concentration, mere attention is the thing that is going to resolve.
Sir, I see very clearly for myself that humility is absolutely essential. A mind that is burdened with knowledge is never, can never be humble. And there is humility which is not cultivated. The humility that is cultivated is the most stupid form of vanity. And there is humility when I see the truth that function as knowledge is essential, and therefore it is not dependent on anybody. But when that function is utilized to become or to achieve, or to usurp a position, power, then status becomes evil. I see all that very clearly - not merely verbally, intellectually, but as I see a nail on the road, as I see very clearly my face in a mirror. I cannot alter it, it is a fact as it is. In the same way, to perceive this thing, to see it - that very seeing does something. And for us the seeing is the difficulty, not the how or what to do after the seeing; because, we are so committed to knowledge, to use function in order to achieve power. After all the clerk is bored with his job and yet he does his best to get on to the next rung of the ladder and he is climbing. He wants success, more money, more - you know all the rest of it. And the whole structure of society is based on achievement and acquisition.
Question: Status comes automatically if one functions effectively. Status, in that case is not evil because it is got without pursuing it.
Krishnamurti Look, how clever we have become! If status comes to me without my asking, it is perfectly good. Is it? How cunning our minds are, isn't it so? One has to pursue function and, even if status comes, one has to avoid status like poison.
Question: Would not that be a reaction, Sir?
Krishnamurti: No, Sir. For most of us action is reaction, and this reaction expresses itself in competition as the good and the bad, the big man and the little man, the example and the follower - all contradictions and competition and achievement. So, when I use the word `avoid', it is not a reaction. I am using the word `avoid' in the ordinary dictionary sense of the word `avoid'. That is not a reaction. When you see something poisonous, you avoid it; it is not a reaction.
We want position, consciously or unconsciously, we want to be somebodies. Now, Sir, take this town, appalling, flying with flags and power. We want to be in the centre of the show and to be invited to the grand fair. Because you are a good functionary, you are a respectable citizen, you fit into the framework of this appalling structure of power and acquisition. But if you saw the real brutality of all this, not the loveliness of a blue sky, but the brutality, the harshness, the acquisitiveness, the demand for power and the worship of power, if you actually felt this, then status is nothing to you, even to accept it or to reject it, you are out of this.
Question: Sir, we have to function in some sphere or another in society, and that requires more and more knowledge relating to that sphere. Then, how can it be said that more and more knowledge takes us away from knowing?
Krishnamurti: I need knowledge to function. I need more and more knowledge to function as a scientist or as an engineer properly, fully. Now, where does that knowledge interfere with knowing? Knowing is in the active present, isn't it? Knowledge is in the past. And most of our knowing is an additive process - that is, we add to what we already know and that we call increasing the knowledge. That is what we do. That is how we function, add, add, add to what we already know; and that gives us capacity and that capacity gives us status. That gives us efficiency to which society adds status.
Question: Suppose I don't care for that status?
Krishnamurti: No, Sir. It is no use supposing. I know it is very nice to say, "Suppose" and to proceed theoretically. But actually one has to see the deadliness of function which leads to status and also to see what is knowledge and knowing. Knowing is always in the active present. Knowing, the verb itself, going, loving, doing, thinking is always active in the present. Now, if you are merely using the knowing as an additive process to the past as knowledge then surely there is no knowing, it is merely adding. To know something, for knowing, your mind must be fresh all the time, mustn't it? It must be a movement, mustn't it? But when the movement as knowing becomes knowledge, it ceases to be a movement. Sir, don't accept my word for this. This is a psychological, inward fact. Now, can I function always in the state of knowing, not with knowledge? Please think about it. Don't accept or reject it, but go into it.
Always I have to function; but that involves a much more complex problem, which is that of education. Society demands certain forms of functionaries - engineers, scientists, specialists in arms, and bureaucrats. Therefore society and government are concerned with the cultivation of those particular faculties which will be helpful to society, to organize society; and they say, "Educate". But they are not concerned with the total education. Now, is not education the total development of man, not only of a particular function? The total development of man includes function. But mere pursuit of a function and not the total development leads obviously to contradiction in oneself, in society, as well as in the individual. So one has to begin again all anew to see if there cannot be a way of education, a school where education is given so that the mind is aware totally and not merely in one direction.
So, Sir, to go back to this question which is, psychologically, very interesting - which is: knowledge and knowing whether the mind can function, be active in a function, knowing all the time, not active merely mechanically with knowledge.
Question: Sir, in the process of doing, there is recognition and recognition becomes knowledge. Krishnamurti: Knowledge implies recognition. Doesn't it? I know you, Sir, because I have seen you half a dozen times. And the memory interferes with our meeting, with my seeing you. Now I have already the memory, the prejudices, the imprints which block, which prevent my seeing you now. Can I not look at you now without the impediment of all that? Now can I not look at you in the active present without thought, though I have thought?
Sir, let us take a much closer example. Can I look at my wife, anew, without all the thousand yesterdays, without the many yesterdays of rankle, bitterness, quarrels, jealousies, anxieties, images, emotional, sexual urges? Or is it not possible? Don't agree, Sir. It is not a matter of agreement or disagreement.
Can I look at somebody with whom I am living, with whom I live day after day, without all the recollections and reminiscences and remembrances? Though I have lived with that person for many days, can I look at him anew? Is that possible? Can I look at something without the past interfering with it? There is the past, I cannot help it. I lived yesterday. I cannot deny yesterday. But can I die to yesterday and look? Let us put it round the other way, Sir. Is there sensitivity? If there is no sensitivity, there is the blunting all the time, the becoming dull. To see anything, there must be sensitivity. To see the squalor, the beauty, the dirt and all the poverty, the beauty of the skies, the flowers, there must be sensitivity. Now, to see beauty or ugliness and not make it mechanical, you must see it afresh each time. Sir, if I remember yesterday's sunset and the beauty of it, I cannot see the sunset of today. That is a psychological fact. Now can I look at the sunset today, though I have seen the sunset of yesterday? This means a constant movement - moving, moving - without establishment, without being fixed. Sir, the psychological pleasure, the glory of yesterday, the remembrance of yesterday prevents the glory of today.
Sir, let us put the problem differently. How is the mind to be very young, fresh? I don't know if you have ever thought about it. And it is only the young mind that is revolutionary, that sees, that is always in a state of determining, not in a state of determined action. So, how is a mind to be, to remain, young in that sense?
Question: Forget yesterday.
Krishnamurti: Oh, no, you cannot forget that. You want your house, you cannot forget brutality, your ways, your habits, the brutality of society - it is there at your door nagging all the time. You cannot forget it. But you can see how the mind is made dull, stupid, by this incessant storing up. Sir, that is why I brought in the issue of commitment. If we are not committed to something in some form or other, we are lost human beings. If you don't call yourself a Hindu, a Christian or a Buddhist or a Communist or a Fascist, you will be completely lost; and therefore, to bring about a collective action, you join something, you belong to something with all the implications of power, position, prestige and all the ugliness of all that. So, really what we want is not freedom but security, security in knowledge which is recognizable by you and by society. Why need I put on a sannyasi robe, if I have abandoned the world in the sense: I do not want power in any form? What is the point of it? But I put on that robe essentially for recognition, though inwardly I may be boiling over.
So, Sir, I think we must honestly, but not verbally and cheaply, tackle this problem of security, why the mind demands security in so many ways - in my relationships with my wife, with my child, in my relationship with society, ideas, ideations and in function as power, position, status, in committing myself to something. Why is there this urge for security? I wish, Sir, you would go into it and not merely listen to what I am saying, because you have to live with yourself. Why this urge for security - for social welfare, for the welfare of society from the womb to the tomb? The feeling of security is the most destructive thing on God's earth, the feeling that I have achieved, the feeling that I know, the idea that there is a permanent soul, a permanent Atman, Brahman. Why this constant demand? That is why we have methods, systems of yoga, systems of meditation and all the other absurdities. If we could tackle this urge for security, the compulsion that makes the mind demand security, then we shall understand this whole thing.
Question: Sir, it is fear of the unknown.
Krishnamurti: Yes, Sir, fear of the unknown: fear of not having a job, fear of public opinion, fear of death, living, thinking, every form of fear - therefore, you want to be secure. Now, what do you mean by `fear'? Do examine it, Sir. Don't give me or yourself a verbal explanation. What is the significance, what lies behind that word "fear", what do you mean by fear? What is the nature of fear, not the content of fear, the thing itself, not a description of it? Sir, take a very simple thing. I am afraid of what my wife or husband, or my neighbour says. Now I want to find out not the explanations for that fear but the nature, the quality of that fear, what it means to be afraid. Now, what does it mean? What is the nature of the mind that says, "I am afraid"? Sir, how do you find out the nature of something? I want to find out the nature of fear. What do I do? First of all, I must cease to give verbal explanations, mustn't I? I must look at fear. To know what fear is, I must look at it, I must not say, "It is red, blue, it is purple, it is not nice". I must look at it, which means, I must cease to give an opinion, or the description of the content of fear. Can I so look at fear?
Look, Sir, I am afraid of death. I want to understand the nature of the fear which says, "I am afraid of death". Now, how do I look at it? I only know it, because of something else, isn't it? I only know fear because of the effect. I only know fear through words, through the effects, through the influence that it is going to bring, or may bring, or may not bring - which means: I look at the thing with an opinion, with a conclusion. Can my mind look at fear without opinions and conclusions? Our mind is made up of conclusions, opinions, judgments and evaluations, isn't it? When I say I am thinking, the thinking process is that. Now, can I look at something without that process? Don't say no, don't deny or accept it. Can you look, can I look at something without this mental intellectualism going on? Sir, look, I want to know all about death - to know, to experience, not just say, "I am afraid of death, what am I to do?" What do I do? I have never experienced death before. I have seen dead bodies being carried away. I have seen my relations die. I know there is death inevitably. But while living, functioning alive, feeling, I want to know what it means, not at the last moment when something is being carried away. I want to know now, how to die. If you are going to lose your job, you will at once put your mind to that, you will have sleepless nights till you find a way out.
I want to find out what it means to die. I cannot take a drug and die; then I will be unconscious. So, how do I proceed? Sir, death is inevitable, at the end of fifty or sixty years, death is inevitable. I don't want to wait till that. I want to find out, to know what death means, so that in the very knowing, fear is gone. How do I set about it? You have been taught escapes, but not to find out how to die.
You know, Sir, what it means to die. Don't you? Have you died to anything, to any pleasure, to any pain? Just to die to a pleasure - this means, what? I drink; and it gives me a certain relief, a certain pleasure, a certain dulling or a certain quickening effect. Can I die to that - die, in which no effort is involved? Because, the moment I exercise effort to die to something, it is merely a continuity of that something.
Sir, let us come a little nearer. You have insulted me, or you have flattered me. You have looked at me, you have not greeted me, you are jealous of me. Can I die to that memory without effort? What, Sir? That is a dying, isn't it? You cannot bargain with death, you understand? You cannot say to death, "Please let me have a few days more". So, in the same way, can you die to memory? Perhaps you can die to some pain; but can you equally die to pleasure, can you? Sir, just try that a little bit; then you will know what it is to die to yesterday, yesterday being memory. You follow? I want to know what it is to die, to die to this demand for continuity, to die to this incessant urge for security, to die to the thing which I call fear, to die to something. If I die to these, then I will know what death is; then the mind will know what it is to be in a state where it has passed through death and is not contaminated by its pain.
So, the problem, Sir, is this: a mind that is not innocent can never receive that which is innocent. God, Truth, or whatever the thing that is not nameable - the Immeasurable - that cannot be without an innocent mind, without a mind that is dead to all the things of society, dead to power, position, prestige, dead to knowledge. After all, power, position, prestige is what we call living. For us, that is life; for us, that is action. You have to die to that action, and you cannot do it because that is what you want. Sir, to die to the things which we call living, is the very living. If you go down that street and see the power, those flags which are the measures of power, and if you die to all that, it means that you die to your own demand for power which has created all this horror.
Question: It is some sort of total annihilation.
Krishnamurti: Why not? What is living but total annihilation? Is the way you live now really living? Sir, we want to gain heaven without going through anything; we want to be mediocre human beings, completely comfortable and secure, and have our drinks and our sex and our power, and also have that thing which we call heaven.
So, Sirs, to sum up: to be alone, which is not a philosophy of loneliness, is obviously to be in a state of revolution against the whole set-up of society - not only this society, but the Communist society, the Fascist, every form of society as organized brutality, organized power. And that means an extraordinary perception of the effects of power. Sir, have you noticed those soldiers rehearsing? They are not human beings any more, they are machines, they are your sons and my sons, standing there in the sun. This is happening here, in America, in Russia, and everywhere - not only at the governmental level but also at the monastic level, belonging to monasteries, to orders, to groups, who employ this astonishing power. And it is only such a mind that can be alone. And aloneness is not something to be cultivated. You see this? When you see all this, you are out; and no Governor or President is going to invite you to dinner. Out of that aloneness there is humility. It is this aloneness that knows love - not power. The ambitious man, religious or ordinary, will never know what love is. So, if one sees all this, then one has this quality of total living and therefore total action. This comes through self-knowledge.
Belief in God is detrimental to the experiencing of that Reality. If I believe God is this or that, it is a detriment, and I cannot experience that at all. To experience, my mind must be clean, swept, purged of all these - which means, my mind must be totally in a state in which no influence of any kind has touched it. And from that state, action is total, and therefore all action in that state is good and has an extraordinary capacity, because it is not a contradictory, conflicting action. Sir, don't you know this: when you love to do something - not because somebody tells you, not because you have some reward - you do it most efficiently? You give your body, your mind, your whole being to it, when you love something.
January 20, 1961
New Delhi 1961
New Delhi 6th Public Talk 20th January 1961
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