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Saanen 1961

Saanen 2nd Public Talk 27th July 1961

I think it is very important, especially. during these discussions, to find out how to listen. Very few of us listen: we merely hear. We hear superficially, as we hear that noise outside in the street, and that hearing enters the brain very little. What we only superficially hear we throw off on the least provocation. But there is a different kind of listening in which the brain is alert without effort, interested, serious, wanting to find out what is true and what is false, not putting forward any opinion, any judgment and not translating or comparing what is said with what it already knows. For example, it is the latest fashion now to be interested in Zen; that is the craze. And if during these talks you try to compare what is being said with what you have read, in that process you are not listening at all, are you? You are merely comparing, and this comparison is a form of laziness. Whereas, if you listen, without the intermediary of what you have learnt or heard or read, then you are listening directly and responding directly without any prejudice. You are seeing the truth or the falseness of what is being said, and that is much more important than merely comparing, evaluating, judging.

So I hope you will not mind if I keep repeating that it is very difficult to learn the art of listening - it is as difficult as seeing. And both seeing and listening are necessary.

We were saying the last time that there is a great deal of chaos in the world. Outwardly there is poverty, starvation and corruption; and inwardly also there is confusion, sorrow and poverty of being. There is contradiction in the world. The politicians are declaring for peace and preparing for war; there is talk of the unity of man and at the same time a breaking up of it. And out of this chaos, disorder, we all want order. We have a passion for order. As we have a passion for keeping our rooms clean, orderly, so we have a passion to bring about orderliness in the world. I wonder if we have thought at all deeply about that word, what it implies. We want order inwardly, we want to be without contradiction, without a struggle, without confusion, so that there is no sense of disharmony and struggle; and so we turn to spiritual leaders to give us order, or join groups, or follow a certain set of ideas, disciplines. So we set up authorities; we want to be told what to do. We try to bring about order through conformity, imitation.

In the same way also we want to have outward order, in politics, in the world of business. Therefore there are dictators, tyrants, totalitarian governments which promise total order, where you are not allowed to think at all. You are told what to think in the same way as you are told what to think when you belong to a church or to a group which believes in a certain set of ideas. The tyranny of the church is as brutal as the tyranny of governments. But we like it because we want order at any price. And we have order. War does bring about an extraordinary order in the State. Everybody co-operates to destroy each other.

So this obsession for order must be understood. Does the subjection of one's own confusion to authority, inward or outward, bring about order? Do you understand the question?

I am confused, I do not know what to do. My life is narrow, petty, confused, miserable, I am in a state of contradiction, and I do not know what to do. So I go to someone, a teacher, a guru, a saint, a saviour; and probably some of you also come here with that attitude. So, out of your confusion you choose your leader, and when you act out of confusion your choice only breeds further confusion. You give yourself over to authority - which means that you do not want to think at all, you do not want to find out for yourself what is true and what is false. To discover what is true and what is false is arduous work; you have to be on your toes, you have to be alert. But most of us are lazy, dull, not deeply serious, we would rather be told what to do; and so we have the saints, the saviours, the teachers for our conduct inwardly; and outwardly there are the governments, the tyrants, the generals, the politicians, the specialists. And we hope that by following them gradually all our troubles will be over and thereby we shall have order.

Surely, the word `order' implies all that, does it not? Now, does the demand for order bring about order? Do please consider this, because I want to go into it. I think authority and power of any kind is destructive. Power in any form is evil. And yet we are so eager to accept that evil, because we are confused; because we do not know, we want to be told.

So I think from the very beginning of these talks we should understand that the speaker has no authority of any kind; nor are you, who are listening, followers of what is being said. We are trying to investigate to find out, together. If you have come with the idea that you will be told what to do, you will go away empty-handed.

For me, what is important is to see that there is disorder, outwardly and inwardly, and that the demand for order is merely the demand for security, safety, certainty. And unfortunately there is no security, either outwardly or inwardly. The banks may fail, there may be war, there is death, the stock markets may collapse - anything might happen, and frightful things are happening. So the demand for order is the demand for security, safety; and that is what we all want, whether we are old or young. We do not care so much about inward security because we do not know how to set about getting it; but at least we hope we can have outward security through good banks, good governments, through a tradition which will continue indefinitely. So the mind gradually becomes satisfied, dull, safe, tradition-bound, and such a mind obviously can never find out what is true or what is false; it is incapable of meeting the tremendous challenge of existence.

I hope you are not being mesmerized by my words, but that you are listening so that you actually discover for yourselves whether there is such a thing as security or not. That is an enormous problem. To live in an outward world in which there is no security, and to live in an inward world in which there is no tradition, no yesterday or tomorrow means that either one becomes unbalanced, totally insane, or one becomes extraordinarily alive and sane.

It is not a matter of choice. You cannot choose between security and insecurity; but one can see the fact that there is no security inwardly, psychologically. No relationship is secure; and however much you may cling to a certain doctrine, a belief, with it always goes doubt, suspicion and therefore fear. Such an enquiry is necessary when there is a passion for order.

The opposite is not true either: that one must live in disorder, in chaos. That is only a reaction. You know that we live and act through reaction. All our actions are reactions. I do not know if you have noticed it. And if we see that order is not possible, then invariably we think that there must be the opposite, disorder, the reaction to order. But if one sees the truth that the demand for order implies all that we have just indicated, then out of that discovery of what is true, real order comes. Am I making myself clear? I will put it differently.

Peace, surely, is not the state where there is no war. Peace is something different. It is not the interval between two wars. To find out what peace is one must be totally free of violence. To be free of violence demands a tremendous enquiry into violence. It means to actually see that in violence is implied competition, ambition, the desire for success, being tremendously efficient, disciplining yourself, and following certain ideas and ideals. Obviously, forcing the mind to conform - whether the pattern is noble or ignoble is irrelevant - implies violence.

We say that if we do not conform there will be chaos, but such a statement is a reaction, is it not? Violence is not a superficial thing; to fathom it requires a great deal of enquiry. Anger, jealousy, hate, envy are all expressions of violence. To be free of violence is to be in peace, not to be in a state of disorder. That is why the knowing of oneself is not just a matter of casually looking into things for one morning and forgetting about it for the rest of the week. It is a very serious matter.

So, to understand order is much more important than the reaction of saying `If there is no order there will be chaos', as though the world we are living in were marvellous, beautiful, lovely, without chaos or misery! One has only to look at oneself to see how poor one is, inwardly. We are without affection, without sympathy, without love, ugly, and so easily persuaded; and there is all this seeking of company, never being able to be alone.

So it is important to see the totality of order, not just take little bits of it which suit you. And it is very difficult to see something totally - as you see the total tree. I have talked a little bit about order, authority and conformity; and if you can see the totality of that, then you will see that the brain, the mind, is free from this demand for order, and therefore free from following - whether it is the following of a national hero, the legend and all that absurdity, or whether it is your particular teacher, guru, saint and all the rest of it.

Now, what is `seeing totally'? First of all, what is seeing? Is it only the word? Please follow this a little carefully, if you do not mind. When you say, `I see', what do you mean? Do not answer me, please, but just go with me. I am not setting myself up as your authority, and you are not my followers. I have not got any, thank God! We are together enquiring into this question of seeing, because it is very important, as you will discover for yourselves.

When you say, `I see that tree', do you actually see it, or are you merely satisfied with the words `I see'? Do think about it. Let us take it slowly. Do you say, `That's an oak, a pine, an elm', whatever it may be, and pass it by? If so, it indicates that you are not seeing the tree, because you are caught in the word. It is only when you understand that the word is not important, and can set aside the symbol, the term, the name, that you can look. It is a very arduous thing, to look, because it means that the name, the word, with all the remembrances, the reminiscences associated with the word, must be put aside. You do not look at me. You have certain ideas about me; I have a certain reputation and all that, and that is preventing you from seeing. If you can strip the mind of all that absurdity, then you can see; and that seeing is entirely different from the seeing through the word.

Now, can you look at your gods, your favourite pleasures, your feelings of nobility, of spirituality and all that business - stripped of the word? That is very arduous and very few people are willing really to look. Such seeing is total, because it is no longer associated with the word and the memories, the feelings the word evokes. So, seeing something totally implies that there is no division, that there is no reaction to what is being seen: there is merely the seeing. And the seeing of the fact in itself brings about a series of actions which are dissociated from the word, the memory, the opinions and ideas. This is not an intellectual feat, though it may sound to be one. Being intellectual or being emotional is rather stupid. But to see fear totally frees the mind from fear.

Now, we do not see anything totally because we are always looking at things through the brain. This does not mean that the brain should not be used; on the contrary we must use our brain to its highest capacity. But it is the function of the brain to break up things; it has been educated to observe in parts, to learn in parts, not totally. To be aware of the world, of the earth totally, implies no sense of nationality, no traditions, no gods, no churches, no dividing up of the land and breaking up of the earth into coloured maps. And seeing mankind as human beings, implies no segregation as Europeans, Americans, Russians, Chinese or Indians. But the brain refuses to see totally the earth and the man upon it, because the brain has been conditioned through centuries of education, tradition and propaganda. So the brain, with all its mechanical habits, its animal instincts, its urge to remain in safety, in security, can never see anything totally. And yet it is the brain which dominates us; it is the brain that is functioning all the time.

Please do not jump to the idea that there must be something besides the brain, that there must be a spirit in us which we must get into touch with, and all that nonsense. I am going step by step; so please follow it, if you will.

So the brain is conditioned - through habit, through propaganda, through education, through all the daily influences, the pettiness of life, and through its own everlasting chatter. And with that brain we look. That brain, when it listens to what is being said, when it looks at a tree, at a picture, when it reads a poem or listens to a concert, is always partial; it always reacts in terms of `I like' and `I dislike', what is profitable and what is not profitable. It is the function of the brain to react, otherwise you would be destroyed overnight. So it is the brain, with all its reactions, memories, urges, and compulsions - conscious as well as unconscious - which looks, sees, listens and feels. But the brain, being in itself partial, in itself the product of time and space, of all education - which we have described - , cannot see totally. It is always comparing, judging, evaluating. But it is the function of the brain to react and to evaluate; so, to see things totally the brain must be in abeyance, quiet. I hope I am explaining myself clearly.

So, the total seeing of something can only take place when the brain is highly sensitive, highly responsive to reason, to doubt, to questioning, and yet recognizes the limitations of reasoning, doubting, questioning, and therefore does not allow itself to interfere with what is being seen. If you really want to discover something other than the product of the brain, the brain must first go to its limit, questioning, arguing, discussing, wanting to find out and knowing its own limited, partial existence; and that very experience of knowing the limitation, quietens the mind, the brain. Then there is total seeing.

When one can see the totality of order - with all the implications which we have more or less gone into - then one will see that out of that total comprehension comes a wholly different kind of order. Surely, the right order can only come when there is the destruction of the mind that demands order for its own satisfaction, security. When the brain has shattered its own creation, destroyed the soil in which it breeds all kinds of fancies, illusions, desires, wishes, then out of that destruction there is a love which creates its own order.

Question: I think more creative activity in the classroom would help to uncondition the mind.

Krishnamurti: We must understand what we mean by creativity. You see, we use the word `creative' so sloppily, so easily. A painter, a poet, an inventor, a teacher in a classroom - they all say they are creative. Do you know when you are creative, and can you use creativity in a classroom? It is like this - a painter has a moment of lucidity in which he sees, experiences; and then he puts it on the canvas. Please follow this a little. And in expressing it on the canvas he begins to find that he has lost that moment of lucidity; and when he cannot recapture it he goes after it through drink, through women, entertainment, amusement, hoping it will come back. And when he has abandoned all that and is walking quietly by some stream or in a lane, suddenly he has the same feeling again, which he once more expresses on the canvas. And the expression becomes a marketable thing; it is sold. And he becomes ambitious, he wants to produce, he wants to create more.

Now an ambitious man, a man who wants popularity, fame - whether in the schoolroom, or in the business world, or through invention, or art - is he creative? Directly he wants to do something with `creativeness', directly he becomes ambitious to utilize it, help others with it, and so on; in that moment has he not destroyed all creativeness? You see, we want to put creativity, or God, or whatever it is, to use; we want to make profit out of it; and I am afraid it cannot be done. You may have a capacity, a gift in a certain direction; but do not call it creative action, creative thinking. No thinking is creative, because thinking is merely a reaction. And can creation be a reaction?

Question: How can one see the totality of fear?

Krishnamurti: I am afraid we cannot go into that now because we have to stop, but we shall take it up during the course of our talks. You see, what is important is to understand what is meant by `seeing totally' not just seeing one thing totally, like fear, love, hate, this or that. In wanting to see fear totally you are wanting to get rid of fear, are you not? And the very desire to `get rid of' or `to gain' prevents the total seeing. You know, all this implies a great deal of self-knowing - knowing everything about yourself, every corner of yourself. When you look at your face in the mirror you know it very well, every curve, every line, every angle; and in the same way one must know very deeply about oneself, not only the conscious self but the hidden layers of the unconscious.

There is only one thing which I want to convey this morning, if I may: not ideas, not feeling, not some extraordinary` spiritual' thing, but how important it is to see totally. And to see totally implies seeing without judgment, without condemnation, without evaluation. It also implies that the brain is not reacting to what it sees, but merely observes in that state in which there is no thinker as separate from the thing observed. That is enormously difficult, so do not think you will get it by just playing with words. It means understanding the whole question of contradiction, because we are in a state of contradiction.

July 27, 1961


Saanen 1961

Saanen 2nd Public Talk 27th July 1961

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