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Paris 1961

Paris 1st Public Talk 5th September 1961

It is always difficult, I think, to communicate with another about serious things, and more especially is it so at these meetings where you speak French and I, unfortunately, must speak in English. But I think we shall be able to communicate with each other sufficiently clearly if we do not remain merely at the verbal level. Words are meant to communicate, to convey something, and the words in themselves are not significant. But most of us, I am afraid, remain at the verbal level and therefore communication becomes much more difficult, because what we want to talk about is also at the intellectual and emotional level. We want to communicate with each other comprehensively, as a whole; and for that we need a total approach - verbally, emotionally and intellectually. So let us take the journey together, go along together, and look at our problems comprehensively, though that is extremely difficult.

First of all, the speaker is not talking as a Hindu and he does not represent the Orient - though he may have been born in a certain place and have a certain passport. Our problems are human problems, and as such they have no frontiers; they are neither Hindu, French, Russian nor American. We are trying to understand the whole human problem, and I am using the word `understand' in a very definite way. The mere use of words does not give understanding, nor is understanding a matter of agreement or disagreement. If we want to understand what is being said we must consider it without prejudice, neither doubting nor accepting, but actually listening.

Now, in listening, which is quite an art, there must be a certain sense of quietness of the brain. With most of us our brains are incessantly active, ever responding to the challenge of a word, an idea or an image; and this constant process of responding to a challenge does not bring about understanding. What brings about understanding is to have a brain that is very quiet. The brain, after all, is the instrument which thinks, which reacts; it is the storehouse of memory, the result of time and experience, and there can be no understanding if that instrument is all the time agitated, reacting, comparing what is being said with what it has already stored up. Listening, if I may say so, is not a process of agreeing, condemning or interpreting, but of looking at a fact totally, comprehensively. For that the brain must be quiet but also very much alive, capable of following rightly and reasonably, not sentimentally or emotionally. Only then can we approach the problems of human existence as a total process and not fragmentarily.

As most of us know, the politicians of the world, unfortunately, are ruling our affairs. Probably, our very lives depend upon a few politicians - French, English, Russian, American or Indian-; and that is a very sad thing. But it is a fact. And the politician is only concerned with the immediacy of things - with his country, his position, his policy, his nationalistic ideals. And as a result there are the immediate problems of war, of the conflict between East and West, Communism fighting Capitalism and Socialism against any other form of autocracy, so that the immediate pressing problem is of war and peace, and how to manipulate our lives so as not to be crushed by these enormous historical processes.

But I think it would be a very great pity if we merely concern ourselves with the immediate - with the French position in Algiers, with what is going to happen in Berlin, whether there is going to be a war and how we are to get through to survive. Those are the problems which are being pressed on us by the newspapers, by propaganda; but I think it is far more important to consider what is going to happen to the human brain, the human mind. If we are only concerned with present events and not with the totality of the development of the human mind and brain, then our problems will only increase and multiply.

We can see, can we not?, that our minds, our brains have become mechanical. We are influenced in every direction. Whatever we read leaves its imprint, and all propaganda leaves its mark; thought is ever repetitive and so the brain and the mind have become mechanical, like a machine. We function in our jobs mechanically, our relationships with each other are mechanical, and our values are merely traditional. The electronic computers are much the same as the mind of man, only we are a little more inventive, as we have made them; but they function as we function, through reaction, repetition and memory. And all we seem to ask is how to make the mechanism, which is rooted in habit and tradition, run more smoothly, without any disturbance; and perhaps that will be the end of human life. All this implies, does it not?, no freedom, but only a search for security. The prosperous demand security; and the poor of Asia with barely a meal a day - they also want security. And the response of the human mind to all this misery is merely mechanical, habitual, indifferent.

So the urgent question, surely, is: how to free the brain and the mind? Because if there is no freedom there is no creativeness. There is mechanical invention, going to the moon, finding out new means of locomotion and so on; but that is not creation, that is invention. There is creation only when there is freedom. Freedom is not just a word; the word is entirely different from the actual state. Nor can freedom be made into an ideal, for the ideal is merely a postponement. So what I want to discuss during these talks is whether it is possible to free the mind and the brain. Just to say that it is possible, or that it is not, is idle; but what we can do is to find out for ourselves, through experiment, through self-knowing, through enquiry, through intense search. And that demands the capacity to reason, to feel, to break with tradition and to shatter all the walls which one has built up as security. If you are not prepared to do that, from the very first talk to the last, then I think you are wasting your time to come here. The problems that confront us are very serious; they are the problems of fear, death, ambition, authority, meditation and so on. Every problem must be tackled factually - not emotionally, intellectually or sentimentally. And it requires precise thinking, great energy, so as to be able to pursue each enquiry to the very end and discover the essence of things. That seems to be essential.

If we observe, not only the outside events in the world.but also what is happening inwardly in ourselves, we find, do we not?, that we are slaves to certain ideas, slaves to authority. For centuries we have been shaped through propaganda to be Christians, Buddhists, Communists, or whatever it is. But to find out the truth, surely, we must not belong to any religion at all. It is a very difficult thing not to commit oneself to any pattern of action or thought at all. I do not know if you have ever tried not belonging to anything, if you have denied completely the traditional acceptance of God - which does not mean becoming an atheist, which is as silly as believing, but to deny the influence of the Church with all its propaganda of two thousand years.

Nor is it easy to deny that you are a Frenchman, a Hindu, a Russian or an American; perhaps that is even more difficult. It is fairly easy to deny something if you know where the denial is leading you; that is merely going from one prison to another. But if you deny all prisons, not knowing where it is going to lead you, then you stand alone. And it seems to me that it is absolutely essential to stand completely alone, uninfluenced; for then only can we find out for ourselves what is true - not only in this world of daily existence but also beyond the values of this world, beyond thought and feeling, beyond measure. Then only shall we know if there is a reality which is beyond space and time, and that discovery is creation. But to find out what is true there must be this sense of aloneness, of freedom. You cannot travel far if you are bound to something - to your country, your traditions, your habitual ways of thought. It is like being tied to a peg.

So, if you want to find out what is true you must break all links and enquire not only into the outside, your relationship with things and people, but also inwardly, which is the knowing of oneself; not only superficially in the waking consciousness but also in the unconscious, in the hidden recesses of the brain and mind. That requires constant observation; and if you will so observe, you will see that there is no real division as between the outside and the inside; for thought, like a tide, flows both outward and inward. It is all the one process of self-knowing. You cannot just reject the outer, for you are not something apart from the world. The world problem is your problem, and the outer and inner are the two sides of the same coin. The hermits, the monks and the so-called religious people who reject the world are merely escaping, with all their disciplines and superstitions, into their own illusions.

We can see that outwardly we are not free. In our jobs, our religions, our countries, in our relationship with our wives, our husbands, our children, in our idea; beliefs and political activities, we are not free. Inwardly too, we are not free, because we do not know what our motives are, our urges, our compulsions, the unconscious demands. So there is freedom neither outwardly nor inwardly, and that is a fact. But we have to see that fact first, and most of us refuse to see it; we gloss over it, cover it up with words, with ideas, and so on. The fact is that psychologically as well as outwardly we want security. Outwardly we want to be sure of our job, our position, our prestige, our relationships; and inwardly we want the same security; and if one stronghold is broken up we go to another.

So realizing this extraordinarily complex situation in which the brain and mind function, how is it possible to break through it all? I hope I am conveying the impasse to which we have come. The question is : do we ever really face the fact? The fact is that the brain and the mind seek security in any form, and where there is this urge for security there is fear. We never really face the fact; we either say it is inevitable or else ask how to get rid of fear. Whereas if we can come face to face with the fact, without trying to escape, interpret or transform it, then the fact acts of itself.

I do not know if psychologically you have gone that far, experimented that far, for it seems to me that most of us do not realize to what depths our minds, our brains have become mechanical, and we have not asked ourselves whether it is possible to face that fact completely, with intensity.

Please let us be very clear that I am not trying to convince you of anything; that would be too immature. We are not doing propaganda here - we can leave that to the politicians, the Churches and the other people who sell things. We are not selling new ideas because ideas have no meaning; we can play with them intellectually, but they do not lead anywhere. What is significant, what has vitality is to face a fact; and the fact is that the mind, our whole being, has for centuries been made mechanical. All thought is mechanical; and to realize that fact and go beyond one must first see that it is so.

Now, how does one come into contact, emotionally, with a fact? Intellectually I may say that I know I drink and that it is very bad to drink - physically, emotionally and psychologically - and yet I still keep on drinking. But to come into contact emotionally with the fact is quite a different thing. Then the emotional contact with the fact has an action of its own. You know how, if you are driving a car for a long time, you get sleepy and you say, `I must wake up', but go on driving. Then later, as you pass dangerously close to another car, there is suddenly an immediate emotional contact, and you at once wake up and draw to one side and have a rest. Have you ever suddenly seen a fact in the same way, come into contact with it totally, completely? Have you ever actually seen a flower? I doubt it, because we do not really look at a flower; what we do is immediately to categorize it, give it a name, call it `a rose', smell it, say how beautiful it is and put it aside as the already known. The naming, the classification, the opinion, the judgment, the choice - all those things prevent you from really looking at it.

In the same way, emotionally to come into contact with a fact there must be no naming, no putting it into a category, no judgment; there must be the cessation of all thinking, all reaction. Then only can you look. Do try, sometimes, to look at a flower, a child, a star, a tree or what you will, without all the process of thinking, and then you will see much more. Then there is no screen of words between you and the fact and therefore there is an immediate contact with it. To evaluate, to condemn, to approve, to put into a category, has been our training for centuries; and to be aware of all this process is the beginning of seeing a fact.

At present the whole of our life is bound by time and space, and the immediate problems swamp us. Our jobs, our relationships, the problems of jealousy, fear, death, old age and so on - these things fill our lives. Is the mind, the brain, capable of breaking through it all? I say it is, because I have experimented with it, gone into the very depths of it, broken through it. But you cannot possibly accept what the speaker says, because acceptance has no value. The only thing that has value is for you also to take the journey; but for that there must be freedom at the very beginning, there must be the demand to find out - not to accept, not to doubt, but to find out. Then you will see, as you go deeply into the question, that the mind can be free; and it is only such a free mind that can discover what is true.

Perhaps some of you would like to ask questions on what we have been saying. You know, to discuss, to ask questions is quite difficult. To ask the right question you must know your problem. Most of us do not know our problems; we skim on the surface but we do not tackle the actual problem, and so we ask wrong questions. If we can discuss rightly then I think it will be quite a fun; one learns much more by playing with the right problem than in being deadly serious about superficial things, as most people are.

Question: How is one to come into contact with a fact emotionally?

Krishnamurti: To be in direct contact with something demands a total approach which is not merely intellectual, emotional or sentimental. It requires a total comprehension.

Question: Must one not be attentive to the dual process that is going on within us all the time, and is that not self-knowledge?

Krishnamurti: We have used the words `attentive', `duality' and self-knowledge'. Let us look at those three words, one by one, because if we do not understand these three words we shall not be able to communicate with each other.

Now, what does it mean to be `attentive'? Do please listen to this because I am not just being cynical; I want to be clear that we both understand the words we use. You may have one meaning and I another. For me, when one gives full attention, in that there is no concentration, no exclusion. You know how a schoolboy who wants to look out of the window is forced to look at his book; but that is not attention. Attention is seeing what is taking place outside the window and also what is in front of you. To observe, without exclusion, is quite a difficult thing to do. Then what do you mean by `dual process'? We know there is a dual process, the good and the bad, hate and love, and so on; and to be attentive to these is very difficult, is it not? And why do we establish this dual process? Does it exist in actuality, or is it an invention of the brain in order to escape from the fact? I am violent, let us say, or jealous, and it bothers me, I do not like it; so I say I must not be jealous, violent - which is an escape from the fact, is it not? The ideal is an invention of the brain in order to escape from' what is; and so there is duality. But if I completely face the fact that I am jealous then there is no duality. Facing the fact implies that I go into the whole issue of violence and jealousy; and either I find that I like it, in which case the conflict must continue, or else I see the full implications of it and am free of the conflict.

Then what do we mean by `self-knowledge'? What does `knowing oneself' mean? Do I know myself? Is the self a static thing, or is it a thing that is always changing? Can I know myself? Do I know my wife, my husband, my child, or do I know only the picture which my mind has created? After all, I cannot know a living thing, I cannot reduce a living thing to a formula; all that I can do is to follow it, wherever it may lead; and if I follow it I can never say I know it. So the knowing of the self is the following self, following all the thoughts, the feelings, the motives, and never for a moment saying, `I know it'. You can only know something which is static, dead.

So, you see the difficulty of the three words involved in this question - `attention', `duality' and `knowing oneself'. If you can understand all these words and can go further, beyond them, then you will know the full significance of facing a fact.

Question: Is there a means to quieten the mind?

Krishnamurti: First of all, when you ask that question do you realize that your mind is agitated? Are you aware that your mind is never quiet, constantly chattering? That is a fact. The mind is ceaselessly talking, either about something or talking to itself; it is active all the time. Why does one ask that question? Please think it out with me. If it is because you are partially aware of the chattering and want to escape from it, then you might as well take a drug, a pill to send the mind to sleep. But if you are enquiring and really want to find out why the mind chatters, then the problem is entirely different. The one is an escape, the other is to follow chattering right to the end.

Now why does the mind chatter? By `chattering' we mean, do we not?, that it is always occupied with something - with the radio, with its problems, its job, its visions, its emotions, its myths. Now why is it occupied, and what would happen if it were not occupied? Have you ever tried not being occupied? If you have, you will find that the moment the brain is not occupied there is fear. Because it means that you are alone. If you find yourself with no occupation, the experience is very painful, is it not? Have you ever been alone? I doubt it. You may be walking alone, sitting in the bus alone, or alone in your room, but your mind is always occupied, your thoughts are ever with you. The cessation of occupation is to discover that you are completely alone, isolated, and it is a fearsome thing; and so the mind goes on chattering, chattering, chattering.

September 5, 1961


Paris 1961

Paris 1st Public Talk 5th September 1961

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