London 6th Public Talk 14th May 1961
We have been talking about complete freedom from fear; and obviously it is really necessary to be free of it, because fear creates so many illusions, so many forms of self-deception. A mind which is in any way bound to fear, consciously or unconsciously, can never find out what is true or what is false. Without being free from fear, virtue has very little meaning; And I would like to discuss with you what virtue is - if there is such a thing at all or whether it is merely a social convention which has nothing whatever to do with reality. I think one must approach the subject with an understanding of the necessity for the mind to be free of fear. When there is no fear at all, is there virtue? Is morality, virtue, merely a social convention, changing from time to time? For most of us, virtue is a quality, a morality which is the outcome of resistance, conflict; but I feel that virtue may have quite a different meaning if we can uncover its significance.
We can brush aside all the social morality, which is more or less necessary - like keeping the room in order, having clean clothes-; but apart from those things virtue or morality is, for most of us, a cloak of respectability. The mind that conforms, the mind that obeys, that is pursuing authority, convention, is obviously not a free mind; it is a puny, narrow, limited mind. So we have to ask whether the mind can ever be free from all forms of imitation. And to understand this problem one has really to wipe away from one's mind every form of fear. Social morality is essentially based on authority and imitation. So, if we may, let us for the moment consider whether the mind can understand the limitations of imitation, of conformity to a pattern. And is it ever possible for the mind to uncondition itself?
It seems to me that goodness, the flowering of goodness, can never take place when the mind is merely respectable, conforming to the social pattern, to an ideological or a religious pattern, whether imposed from outside or cultivated from within. So the question is: why does one follow? Why does one follow not only the social pattern but the pattern one has set up for oneself through experience, through the constant repetition of certain ideas, certain forms of behaviour? There is the authority of the book, the authority of someone who says he knows, the authority of the church, and the authority of the law: and where is one to draw the line as to where there can be no following and where there must be following?
The following of the law is obviously necessary in the sense of keeping to the right or left side of the road, depending on the country you are in, and so on; but when does authority become detrimental, in fact evil?
In going into all this one can see, can one not?, that most of us are seeking power. Socially, politically, economically, religiously, we are seeking power; the power that knowledge gives, the power that a technique gives; the extraordinary power one feels when one has complete control over one's body; the power which asceticism gives. Surely all that is an imitative process; it is conforming to a pattern in order to derive a certain power, position, vitality. So it seems to me that without understanding the whole anatomy of power, the urge, the desire for it, the mind can never be in that state of humility which is not the humility man has invented.
So, why does one follow at all? Why are you following me, the speaker, if you are following? And are you following, or are you listening? Those are two different states altogether, are they not? You are following if you want to achieve, to arrive or to gain something which you think the speaker is offering. But if the speaker is offering something then he is really a propagandist; he is not a truth-seeker. And if you are following someone it obviously means that you are afraid, uncertain: you want to be encouraged, to be told how to arrive, succeed.
Whereas if you actually listen - which is entirely different from following authority or seeking power - then you are listening to discover what is true and what is false, and that discovery does not depend on opinion, on knowledge. Now how do you discover what is false and what is true if you are listening? Obviously, a mind that is merely arguing within itself or with a person who is stating certain things is not discovering what is true or false. One is not listening at all when that listening merely provokes a reaction - a reaction according to one's knowledge, experience, opinion, education which is one's conditioning. Also you are not listening why you are making an effort to find out what the other person is saying; because your whole concern then is taken up with the effort. But if all those states could be set aside, then there is the state of listening which is attention.
Attention is not at all the same as concentration. Concentration is bringing the mind to focus on a particular point through the process of excluding. Whereas attention is full comprehension. There is attention when you are not only listening to the speaker but when you are listening also to the church music going on next door and to the traffic outside; when the mind is totally attentive, without a frontier and therefore without a centre. Such a mind is listening; and such a mind sees what is true and what is false immediately, without reaction, without any form of deduction, induction or other tricks of the mind. It is actually listening, and therefore in that very act of listening there is a revolution, there is a fundamental transformation.
That attention, for me, is virtue; it is only in that attention that simple goodness flowers, the goodness that is not the product of education, society and all the intellectual trimmings of influence. And perhaps, also, such attention is love. Love is not a virtue, as we know virtue. And where there is such love there is no sin; then one can do what one will; then one is beyond the clutches of society and all the horrors of respectability.
So, one must find out for oneself why one follows, why one accepts this tyranny of authority - the authority of the priest, the authority of the printed word, the Bible, the Indian scriptures, and all the rest of it. Can one reject completely the authority of society? I do not mean the rejection brought about by the beatniks of the world; that is merely a reaction. But can one really see that this outward conformity to a pattern is futile, destructive to the mind that wants to find out what is true, what is real? And if one rejects the outer authority, is it possible also to reject the inner, the authority of experience? Can one put away experience? For most of us, experience is the guidance of knowledge. We say, `I know from experience' or `Experience tells me I must do this', and experience becomes one's inward authority. And perhaps that is far more destructive, far more evil than outward authority. It is the authority of one's conditioning and leads to every form of illusion. The Christian sees visions of Christ, and the Hindu sees visions of his own gods, each be - cause of his own conditioning. And the very seeing of those visions, the very experiencing of those illusions, makes him highly respected, and he becomes a saint.
Now, can the mind entirely wipe away the conditioning of centuries? After all, conditioning is of the past. The reactions, the knowledge, the beliefs, the traditions of many thousands of yesterdays have gone to shape the mind. And can it all be wiped away? Do please seriously consider this and not just brush it aside by saying, `It is not possible' or `If it is possible, how am I to do it?' The `how' does not exist. The `how' implies `in the meantime', and a mind that is concerned with `in the meantime' is really postponing. You may think that though the mind can be brainwashed to become a Communist or a Capitalist or whatever it is - which merely implies a different form of conditioning - it is impossible to be free from all conditioning. You see, I do not know if you are following all this. I do not know whether you are conscious of your own conditioning, what it implies, and whether it is possible to be free or not. You see, conditioning is the very root of fear; and where there is fear there is no virtue.
To go into this really profoundly requires a great deal of intelligence, and I mean by intelligence the understanding of all influence and being free of it. Influence is the cause of conditioning. You have been brought up to believe in God, in Christ, repeating things day after day; whereas in India they brush all that aside because they have been brought up with their own saints and gods. So the question is: can the mind, which has been influenced by the heavy weight of tradition for centuries upon centuries, put it all aside without any effort? Can you walk out of it all, out of all this background, as freely as you can walk out of this hall? And is not this background the mind itself? The story of the mind is the mind. I do not know if I am making myself clear.
The mind is the background. The mind is tradition. The mind is the result of time. And seeing the hopelessness of its own activities, it finally says there is the grace of God which it must wait for, accept, receive - that is another form of influence-; and such a mind is not an intelligent mind.
So what is one to do? I am sure you must have gone through all this. You must have experimented with it: not to accept, not to rely on authority, not to allow yourself to be influenced. You must have realized that the mind itself cannot do anything. It is its own slave; it has created its own conditioning; and any reaction to that conditioning merely furthers the conditioning. Every movement, every thought, every action that is going on within the mind is still within the limited field of its own values. If one has - not theoretically, not intellectually, not verbally, but actually - gone into it as far as that, then what happens? I hope you understand the issue. The issue is that for the mind that would discover what is true and if there is such a thing as the immeasurable, the unnameable, all authority must cease - the authority of the law as well as the authority of experience. This does not mean I will drive on the wrong side of the road. It means that the mind rejects the authority of all experience, which is knowledge, which is the word, and that it rejects the extraordinarily subtle forms of influence, the `waiting to receive', the expectations. Then the mind is a really intelligent mind.
To go into oneself so deeply, thoroughly, is quite an arduous work. To apply oneself to anything requires energy, not effort. And if one has gone as far as that, then is there anything left of the mind as we know it? And is it not necessary to arrive at that state? Because that, surely, is the only creative state. Writing a poem, painting pictures, putting up a building and all the rest of it - surely, that cannot be called creative in the true sense of the word.
You see, one feels that creation, the thing that we name as God, or truth, or whatever you like to call it, is not for the select few. It is not for those who merely have capacity, a gift, like Michael Angelo, Beethoven, or the modern architects, poets and artists. I feel it is possible for everyone - that extraordinary feeling of immensity, of something that has no barrier, no frontier, which cannot be measured by the mind or put into words. I feel it is possible for everybody. But it is not a result. It comes into being, I think, when the mind starts with the nearest thing, which is itself - not when it goes after the farthest thing, the unimaginable, the unknown. Self-knowing, the understanding of oneself is to open it up; go into it, see what it is, do not seek something outside. The mind is a really extraordinary thing. As we know it, it is the result of time; and time is authority - the authority of the good and the bad, of what must be done and what must not be done, the tradition, the influences, the conditioning.
So can the mind, your mind - I am not being personal - can your mind uncover its conditioning totally, both the conscious and the unconscious, and walk out of it? The `walk out' is only a verbal expression. But when the mind sees itself as conditioned and understands the whole works of it, the whole machinery of it, then, at one stroke, the mind is on the other side.
Question: Does one perceive one's conditioning through the provocations, the challenges of life?
Krishnamurti: Do you really see anything through a provocation? If you react to a provocation, would you call that seeing?
Question: I suggest that the type of awareness or heightened perception which you are talking about is sometimes experienced when one is witnessing an accident.
Krishnamurti: Does the sudden freezing, narrowing down of attention, make you see - `see' in the sense that we are discussing? We are talking about conditioning and the perceiving of that conditioning. What does this perception mean? Are you trying to see your conditioning just because I say that if your mind is conditioned you cannot see what is true? Do you hope that out of seeing your conditioning there will be eternal bliss, and all the rest of it? You know, experience is an extraordinary thing. Either you try to experience because somebody is telling you about something, or else you are actually experiencing the thing itself, for yourself. Nobody has to tell you about hunger or envy or anger. The discovery of your conditioning because somebody tells you about it, is not your discovery. I do not know if you are following this. Take a very simple thing. Nationalism is a form of conditioning. The nationalistic mind is a provincial mind, a mediocre mind. Do you see the truth, the fact of that for yourself? Or do you say, `It may be so. I must find out. Quite possibly he is right'.
I will put it differently. I see very clearly that to belong to any organized religion is very destructive to the discovery of God, or whatever name you like to give it. The mind cannot commit itself to any form of organized thought, belief or dogma, I see that very clearly, nobody has to tell me. For me it is so and I say it. Then, because I have a certain reputation etc., you say to yourself, `I must give it up'. Then you are caught: wanting to belong and yet something telling you not to belong. So it is not your experience. In direct perception there is no conflict. A mind that sees the actuality of something, whether it is false or whether it is true, is perceiving immediately, without any conflict, without any cause, without seeking any result. So the quality of perception is quite different from the imitative experience of copying, which has an ulterior motive.
So, we have been talking of fear, authority, virtue and conditioning. Does one see like fact of one's own conditioning, the fact? And when you do see it, do you see totally, or only the part of the whole? Do you see the whole volume, or only one page of the volume? If you are not seeing the totality but only one page, then there will be a battle, a war within yourself.
Question: How does one know if one is seeing the whole volume or only a page?
Krishnamurti: Do you want to be made certain that you see the whole and not the part? If you want to be assured, are you not seeking authority? It is a wrong question, if you will pardon my saying so. The question is: is it possible to see the whole?
Question: May I suggest that to find the correct answer you must ask no question and expect no answers.
Krishnamurti: Is not that quoting Zen Buddhism? You see, sir, trying to find out for oneself is much more vital, real, than reading a book. Question: We all have moments when there is an awareness of everything, and then one wants to trap it and keep it continuously
Krishnamurti: Can you capture understanding? And can you keep it continuously? What has continuity is not the real, it is merely a habit. We all say, `I must have this thing continuously, I must have your love, your affection for all time'. We say that to the husband, the wife; and we say it to God. What has continuity is not new; it is not the state of creation. It is only when there is the dying to each minute that there is the new.
Let us get back to the point. What is the state of the mind that sees the whole, the total? Please do not try to answer. You are trying to find out for yourself Do you ever see anything totally? Take a tree, I know it is a very simple, common thing; but do you see the totality of the tree, the tree-ness, if I may use such a word? When you see a river, is it only `the Thames', or do you see the totality of all rivers, the river-ness?
You see, sirs, I want to find out now, before I leave this hall, what it means to see totally, and whether I have seen anything totally. And we are talking of something and perhaps we do not even know what it means. Have you ever watched a flower - not just given it a name and passed it by, but watched it - , which means seeing, listening, feeling with all your being? Surely, to watch, to see a flower, the river, the person, the trees, the conditioning, implies, does it not?, being aware without a centre, without the word.
Look: when one is angry, lustful, in that there is no centre, is there? At the very moment of anger there is no centre, is there? You are completely the anger. Is that not so? And the next minute comes the centre which says, `I should not have been angry. Silly of me.'
Question: Is not that anger a state of self-centredness?
Krishnamurti: Please, I do not think that you see this. In the actual state of anger there is no condemnatory reaction of calling it self-centred; that comes after. We are asking whether the mind can see the totality of its own conditioning - the conscious, the unconscious influences of tradition, values, beliefs, dogmas, nationalism, the word `British', this whole thing?
Question: I should say that we never see anything.
Krishnamurti: You are probably quite right, sir. But we are asking the question now.
Question: We can only feel totally.
Krishnamurti: And when you do feel totally, is there a centre which says, `I feel totally'? Please do not answer. Please follow this right through. It is very important to be free of this conditioning, obviously, because every way you look at it, it is so utterly stupid. To be conditioned as a Catholic, as a protestant, as a Hindu, as a Communist, or this or that; to be conditioned by a label, a word, and all the content behind the label and the word - it is so silly. Now, can the mind wipe it all away with one stroke? You see, virtue lies in that perception. The only virtuous man is the man who sees the totality of his conditioning and wipes it away. The rest are not virtuous at all; they are merely playing about with the toys of so-called civilization.
This means, really, can the mind be totally attentive? Can you be completely aware with all your senses, with all your body, with all your mind? Even if you are so aware for a fleeting second, then you will never ask, `How am I to be totally aware? Is it possible?' You see, I feel we miss so much beauty and love and such a profound sense of immensity when we surround ourselves with all our words, quarrels, beliefs, dogmas and all such things. We do not kick them out; and so we are slaves to time.
May 14, 1961
London 6th Public Talk 14th May 1961
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