Saanen 4th Public Talk 1st August 1961
We were saying the last time we met that seriousness is that urge, that intention to go to the very end of things and discover the essence; and if there is not that compulsive energy which drives one to discover what is true, then I am afraid these talks will have very little significance. It seems a pity to talk on a lovely morning like this, but I would like to go into the question of humility and learning.
By humility I do not mean, of course, that pretentious vanity which cloaks itself under the name of humility. Humility is not a virtue; because anything that is cultivated, dragged out of one, disciplined, controlled, is a false thing. It is not a thing to be sown and reaped; it must come into being. And humility is not the subjugation of that desire which seeks fulfilment in success. Nor is it the religious humility of the monks, the saints, the priests, or which cultivated austerity brings about. It is something entirely different. To actually experience it, I think one has to go to the very end, so that every corner of one's mind, all the dark, secret, hidden places of one's own heart and mind, ar I exposed to this humility, soaked in it. And if we would uncover the very I essence of humility, I think we have to consider what is learning.
Do we ever learn? Is not all our learn any mechanical? Learning, to us, is an additive process, is it not? The additive process forms a centre, the `me', and that centre experiences; and the experience becomes memory, is memory; and that memory colours all further experience. Now, is learning an accumulative process, as knowledge is? And if there is the accumulative process of experience, knowledge, being and becoming, is there then humility? If the mind is crammed full with knowledge, experience, memory, it cannot possibly receive the new. So is not the total emptying of the mind necessary for that which is timeless to come into being? And does that not mean the total complete sense of humility, a state when the mind is not becoming, not accumulating, no longer seeking or learning?
I wonder if one has learnt anything? One has gathered; one has had many experiences, there have been many incidents which have left their mark and been stored up as remembrances. I can learn a new language, learn a new way of exploring the heavens; but those are all accumulative, mechanical processes which we call learning. Now, this mechanical process of learning leaves a centre, does it not? And this centre, which accumulates knowledge, experiences, resists, desires to be free, asserts, accepts and discards, is always in battle, in conflict. And it is this centre that is always accumulating and emptying itself; there is the positive movement of acquiring and the negative movement of denying. This process we call learning.
If you will forgive me for saying so, I am sure some of you are trying to learn something from the speaker. But you are not going to learn anything from me, because you can only learn something which is mechanical, like ideas. We are not dealing with ideas; we are not dealing with the description of something else; we are concerned with the fact, with `what is'. And to understand what is is not a mechanical process, it is not a process of looking at something in order to gather, not a process by means of which you can add to the centre or diminish it. It is from this centre, accumulated through the centuries, conditioned by society, by religion, by experiences, by education, that we are always trying to change. Functioning from this centre we try to change our qualities, change our way of thinking, implant a new set of ideas and discard the old. So this centre is always trying to reform itself, or to destroy itself in order to get something more; and that is what we are doing all the time.
Do please listen to this. This centre is what we call the ego, the self, or whatever name you like to give it. The name is irrelevant, but the fact is important, which is `what is'. And in this process of change, there is violence. All change implies violence, and through violence there can be nothing new. When one says, `I must control myself, I must subjugate myself' - which means conforming to a pattern - , it implies violence. The saints, the leaders, the teachers, the prophets - all talk about changing and controlling. And obviously the process of the centre disciplining itself to conform to a pattern implies violence. And when we talk about nonviolence, it means the same thing.
So change implies, does it not?, violence within the field of time - `I am this and I am going to force myself to be that'. The `that' is in the distance: the ideal, the example, the norm. In this process of trying to turn violence into peace is the whole conflict of the opposites. So when we say, `I must learn all about myself', we are still caught in the accumulative process which only strengthens the centre. So, can one see, not merely verbally, intellectually but actually experience the fact that where there is a centre which demands change - in which is involved violence - , there can never be peace.
So, for me, there is no learning; there is only seeing. Seeing is not accumulative; it is not a process of gathering-in or of denying. Seeing `what is is destructive', and in destruction there is peace, not violence. Violence, revolution, or change exists in the process of accumulating, maintaining the centre. But when one sees the whole of that process totally, completely, with all one's being, then the fact, that which is, is completely destructive; and what is destruction is creation.
So humility is the state of that mind which has discarded completely all the accumulative process and its opposite, and is from moment to moment aware of what is. Therefore it has no opinion, no judgment; and such a mind knows what freedom is. A mind caught in violence has no freedom; and a mind that is seeking freedom can never be free, because to it freedom is a further accumulation.
Humility implies total destruction, not of outward, social things, but complete destruction of the centre, of oneself, of one's own ideas, experiences, knowledge, traditions - completely emptying the mind of everything that it has known. Therefore such a mind is no longer thinking in terms of change. It is really a marvellous thing, if one can feel that. You see, that is a part of meditation.
So, first we must thoroughly understand the process of change; because that is what most of us want - to change. The world is changing very rapidly in outward things. They are going to the moon, inventing rockets and all that; values are changing; Coca-Cola has spread throughout the world; the ancient civilizations are toppling over. The rapidity of change is greater than the fact of change. All the ancient gods, the traditions, the saviours, the Masters - they are all going or gone. A few people hold on to them, building a wall of defence around themselves, but everything is going. And the mind is not concerned with destruction, it is not concerned with creation, it is only concerned with defending itself, always seeking a further shelter, a new refuge. So if you go very deeply and seriously into the question of humility, you are bound to question this whole process of learning - the learning at the word-level which prevents one from seeing things as they actually are. A mind that is no longer concerned with change has no fear, and is therefore free. And it seems to me that a mind which has understood the thing we have been talking about - such a mind is absolutely essential. Then it is no longer trying to change itself into another pattern, no longer exposing itself to further experiences, no longer asking and demanding, because such a mind is free; therefore it can be quiet, still; and then, perhaps, that which is nameless can come into being. So humility is essential, but not of the artificial, cultivated kind. You see, one must be without capacity, without gift; one must be as nothing, inwardly. And I think that if one sees this, without trying to learn how to be as nothing - which is too stupid and silly - , then the seeing is the experiencing of it; and then perchance the other thing can come into being.
Can we talk about this - about this thing only; not how we are going to change the world, or what some great politician is going to do next?
Question: Is understanding a capacity?
Krishnamurti: Is understanding a capacity, something to be cultivated, to be slowly nurtured? Capacity implies a process of time; and do I understand something through time, through many days? Or do I understand something, see it immediately? Do I understand that being a nationalist, identifying oneself with a particular group, sect or belief, is actually stupid? Do I see completely the whole significance of belonging, committing oneself to something? You know, we all want to belong to a particular group, society, race or family, name; we want to commit ourselves to a form of action - Communist, Socialist, religious or moral. And why is this? There are several things involved in it, are there not? We like to act `co-operatively' together. That may be all right at a certain level; but to be inwardly committed to something surely prevents one from understanding and pursuing enlightenment. Does the seeing of that take time? It takes time because I am lazy, because I have committed myself and I am afraid that if I withdraw from commitments it will create trouble. So I say, `I'll take time to think it over'. A lazy mind prevents itself from seeing directly, clearly, actually. Surely, to see oneself being stupid does not require time? I can see it; nobody has to tell me about it. But when I want to change it, when I want to become clever, when I want to be more this and less that, then it implies time and it implies violence. But to see that I am stupid, to really see it and be completely in it not only demands understanding, but the very seeing, of itself, destroys everything that I have built in and around myself. And that is what I am afraid of.
So, to see that I am stupid, narrow, petty-minded, bourgeois, mediocre; and to live with that, without trying to change it, without trying to polish it and give it a new name, a new title and all the rest of it; to watch all its movements, its pretences, to see the stupidity of trying to become clever - all that does not require time, it does not require capacity. It requires seriousness to go to the very end of it.
You know, sirs, we do act immediately, feel immediately, see immediately when there is danger. All our instincts, our senses are fully awake, and we don't talk about time.
Question: One seems to see the stupidity of desire and be free of it, but then it comes in again.
Krishnamurti: I have never said that a free mind has no desire. After all, what is wrong with desire? The problem comes in when it creates conflict, when I want that lovely car which I cannot have. But to see the car, the beauty of its line, the colour, the speed it can do, what is wrong with it? Is that desire to watch it, look at it, wrong? Desire only becomes urgent, compulsive when I want to possess that thing. We see that to be a slave to anything, to tobacco, to drink, to a particular way of thinking implies desire, and that the effort to break away from the pattern also implies desire, and so we say we must come to a state where there is no desire. See how we shape life by our pettiness! And therefore our life becomes a mediocre affair, full of unknown fears and dark corners. But if we understand all that we have been talking about by seeing it actually, then I think desire has quite a different meaning.
Question: Is it possible to distinguish between being identified with what we see and to live with what we see?
Krishnamurti: Why do we want to be identified with anything? In order a become something bigger, nobler, more worthwhile, is it not? We want to have significance to life because life has no significance for us. Why should one identify oneself with the family, the friend, an idea, a country? Why not brush all identification away and live with `what is' all the time, which is always changing, never still?
Question: If one does not identify oneself with things then I suppose one can live outside it all?
Krishnamurti: The fact is, is it not; that we live within our own narrow circle, with our petty jealousies, our vanities, our stupidities. That is our life; and we have to face that and not identify ourselves with the gods, the mountains and so on. It is much more arduous, it demands greater intensity and intelligence to live with them That is, without trying to change it, than it does to live with Jesus - which is merely an escape.
Question: In discovering, there is joy and pleasure; and is not discovering learning?
Krishnamurti: Do we discover our sorrow and live with it in joy and delight? One can discover the beauties of the earth, and revel in them, or discover the stupidities of the politician and reject them; but to discover the whole significance of sorrow is quite a different thing, is it not? It means I have to discover the sorrow of myself and the sorrow of the world. Studying the book of sorrow learning about it, means that you are trying to learn what to do and what not to do, so that you can safeguard yourself. Do please let us talk about this; I am not an authority. I do not think you can learn about sorrow. Then learning becomes mechanical. But a mind that sees the danger of mechanical gathering ceases to learn; it observes, it sees, it perceives, which is entirely different from learning. To be with sorrow, to live with it, without accepting or justifying, to know its movement as a living thing, requires a great deal of energy and insight.
Question: It seems to me that one of the first things is to know what the mind is made up of?
Krishnamurti: What is the mind made up of? The brain, the senses, capacity, judgment, doubt, superstition, fear; there is the mind which divides itself up, which denies, which longs, which has aspirations, which seeks security, permanency, this whole consciousness which is inherited, and which has implanted upon it the present, with its education, experiences and so on; surely all that is the mind. It is the centre that is seeing, evolving, changing, struggling, suffering; it is the thinker and the thought, with the thinker always trying to control thought.
And is it possible for the mind to empty itself of all this? You cannot say `Yes' or `No'. All that one can do is to find out whether it is possible or not to see the frontiers of consciousness and their limitations, whether it is necessary to have a frontier, and whether it is possible to go beyond all that.
A serious mind knows its own limitations, is aware of its own mediocrity, stupidity, anger, jealousies, ambitions; and having understood them it remains quiet, not seeking, not wanting, not groping after anything more. Only such a mind has brought about order within itself and is therefore still; and only such a mind can perhaps receive something which is not a product of the mind.
Question: To know oneself requires a certain effort.
Krishnamurti: I wonder! Sirs, aren't you making efforts already? We are always making an effort to be something, to acquire, to do something. Does seeing require effort? I am interested in looking at that mountain and the green slope, just in looking at it; and does that require effort? It requires effort when I am not interested, when I am told I must look. And if I am not interested and not forced to look, why bother about it?
Question: How does one get the energy for all this?
Krishnamurti: I said that to live with `what is' requires energy; and the question is: how does one get energy? Please enquire into it. You get energy when you have no conflict, when there is no contradiction in your mind, no struggle, no violence, when you are not being torn in opposite directions by innumerable desires. You dissipate that energy by worshipping success, by wanting to be something, wanting to be famous, wanting to fulfil - you know the innumerable things we do, which produce contradiction. We dissipate our energy in going to the psychiatrist, to the churches, in the innumerable escapes we pursue. If there is no contradiction, if there is no fear of the gods, of the ultimate or of your neighbour, of what another says, then you have energy, not in meagre quantity but abundantly. And you must have that energy, that passion to pursue to the very end every thought, every feeling, every hint, every intimation.
August 1, 1961
Saanen 4th Public Talk 1st August 1961
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