Paris 3rd Public Talk 10th September 1961
It seems to me that most of us want some kind of peace. The politicians talk a great deal about it; all over the world that is their pet jargon, their pet word. Also each one of us wants peace. But it seems to me that the kind of peace which human beings want is more an escape; we want to find some state into which the mind can retreat, and we have never considered whether it is possible actually to break through our conflicts and thereby come to real peace. So I would like to talk about conflict, because it seems to me that if conflict could be done away with - fundamentally, deeply, inwardly, beyond the level of the conscious mind - , then perhaps we would have peace.
The peace I am talking about is not the peace which the mind and the brain seek; it is something entirely different. I think it will be a very disturbing factor, that peace, because it is very creative and therefore very destructive. To come to that comprehension of peace it seems to me essential that we understand conflict, because without going fundamentally, basically, radically into the problem of conflict we cannot have peace either outwardly or inwardly, however much we may seek it, long for it.
To talk over something with each other - not as a speaker and an audience, which is an absurd relationship - demands that you and I think and feel on the same level and investigate from the same point of view. If you and I could together go into this question of conflict, with tremendous eagerness and vitality, then perhaps we shall come upon a peace which is entirely different from the kind of peace which most of us try to find.
Conflict exists when there is a problem, does it not? A problem implies a conflict; a conflict of adjustment, of trying to understand, of trying to get rid of something, to find an answer. And most of us have problems of many kinds - social, economic, problems of relationship, of the conflict of ideas and so on. And those problems remain unresolved, do they not? We never really think them through to the very end and free ourselves of them; but we go on day after day, month after month throughout life, carrying every kind of problem as a burden in our mind and heart. We seem unable to enjoy life, to be simple, because everything we touch - love, God, relationships or what you will - becomes reduced in the end to an ugly, disturbing problem. If I am attached to a person, it becomes a problem and then I want to know how to detach myself. And if I love, I see that in that love there is jealousy, anxiety and fear. And not being able to resolve our problems we carry them along with us, feeling incapable of coming upon a solution.
Then there is competition, which gives rise also to problems. Competition is imitation, trying to be like somebody else. There is the pattern of Jesus, the pattern of the hero, the saint, the neighbour who is better off, and there is the inward pattern which you have established for yourself and which you try to follow, to live by. So competition awakens many problems.
There is also the urge for fulfilment. Each one wants to fulfil in one way or another - through the family, the wife, the husband or the child. And if one goes a little beyond that, there is the desire to fulfil socially, by writing a book, by somehow becoming famous. And when there is this urge to fulfil, to become something, there is also frustration, and with frustration comes sorrow. Then arises the problem of how to avoid sorrow and yet be able to fulfil. And so we are caught in this vicious circle so that everything becomes a problem, a conflict.
And we have accepted conflict as inevitable; it is even considered respectable and necessary for evolution, for growth, for becoming something. We feel that if there is no competition, no conflict, we should stagnate, deteriorate; so mentally, and emotionally we are always sharpening ourselves, fighting, being everlastingly in conflict with ourselves, our neighbours and the world. This is no exaggeration; it is a fact. And I think we all know what a terrific burden this conflict is.
So it seems to me that the urgent question is whether you see the real importance of being free from conflict - but not in order to achieve something else. Is it at all possible to be free, per se, for itself, so that the mind is no longer in conflict under any circumstances whatsoever? At present we do not know whether it is possible or not. All we know is that we are in conflict, and we know the pain of it, the feeling of guilt, despair, the hopelessness and bitterness of modern existence; that is all we know.
So how is one to find out, not verbally, intellectually or merely emotionally, but actually discover, if it is possible to be free? How does one set about it? Surely, without completely understanding this conflict at all the different levels of consciousness, we cannot possibly be free from it and understand what truth is. A mind in conflict is a confused mind. And the greater the tension of conflict the greater is the productivity of action. You must have noticed how the writers, the speakers, the so-called intellectuals, are forever producing theories, philosophies, explanations. If they have got any talent at all, then the greater the tension and frustration the more they produce; and the world calls them great authors, great speakers, great religious leaders, and so on.
Now if one observes closely, one can surely see that conflict distorts, perverts; it is in its essence confusion and is destructive to the mind. If one can really see this - without saying that the conflict of competition is inevitable, that the social structure is built on it and you must have it, and so on - , then I think our attitude to the problem would be entirely different. I think that is the first thing: to see not intellectually, verbally, but actually to be in contact with that fact. From the moment we are born to the moment we die there is this incessant battle within and without; and can we actually see the fact that this conflict is unintelligent? What is it that gives one the energy, the vitality to come into emotional contact with a fact?
You see, for centuries we have been educated to live in conflict, to accept it or to find some way to escape from it. And as you know there are endless escapes - taking to drink, to women, to churches, to God, becoming terribly intellectual, full of knowledge, turning on the radio, overeating. And we also know that none of these escapes solves the problem of conflict; they only increase it. But do we deliberately confront the fact that there is no escape of any kind? I think our primary difficulty is that we have established so many escapes that we have made ourselves incapable of seeing the fact directly.
So one has to go deeply into the question of these conscious and unconscious escapes. I think it is fairly simple to find out the conscious escapes. You are conscious, are you not?, when you turn on the radio, or when you go to church on Sunday, having led a brutal, ambitious, envious, ugly life all the week. But it is much more difficult to find out what the hidden unconscious escapes are.
I would like to go a little into this whole problem of consciousness. Consciousness, in its totality, is put together through time, is it not? It is the result of thousands of years of experience; it is made up of the racial, the cultural, the social influences of the past and carried through to the family, the individual through education and so on. The totality of all that is consciousness; and if you will examine your own mind, you will find that in consciousness there is always a duality, the observer and the observed. I hope this is not too difficult. This is not a psychological class nor an analytical, intellectual amusement. We are talking about an actual living experience which you and I must deliberately go into if we are not to remain merely at the verbal level.
There must be conflict in the totality of consciousness so long as there is a division in consciousness as the thinker and the thought. This division entails contradiction; and where there is contradiction there must be conflict. We know, do we not?, that we are in contradiction, both outwardly and inwardly. Outwardly there is contradiction in our actions, wanting to live in a certain way and being caught up in activities of a different kind; and inwardly there is contradiction in our thoughts, feelings and desires. Feeling, thought, desire, will and the word make up the totality of our consciousness, and in that totality there is contradiction, because there is always a division in it - the censor, the observer, who is always watching, waiting, changing, suppressing, and the feeling or thought which is operated upon.
If one has gone into this problem oneself - not through books, philosophies and reading all the things other people have said, which are all empty words, but gone into it very deeply, insistently, without choice, without denial or acceptance - , then one is bound to discover the fact that the totality of consciousness is in itself a state of contradiction, because there is always the thinker operating on the thought, and this gives rise to endless problems.
So the question arises as to whether this division in consciousness is inevitable. Is there a separate thinker at all, or has thought created `the thinker' in order to have a centre of permanency from which to think and feel?
You see, if one wants to understand conflict one has to go into all this. It is not enough just to say, `I want to escape from conflict'. If that is all we want, we may as well take a drug, a tranquillizer, which is fairly simple and cheap. But if one wants to go into it really profoundly, and totally eradicate all sources of conflict, one must investigate the totality of consciousness - all the dark corners of one's mind and heart, the secret recesses where contradiction lurks. And one can understand profoundly only when one begins to enquire as to why there is this division between the thinker and the thought. You must ask if there is a thinker at all, or only thought. And if there is only thought, why is there this centre from which all thought comes?
One can see, can one not?, why thought has created a centre as the `me', the self, the ego; the name one gives to it is irrelevant so long as one recognizes that there is a centre from which all thought arises. Thought craves permanency; and seeing that its expressions are impermanent it creates a centre as the `self'. Then the contradiction arises.
To actually see all this - not merely take it in verbally - one must first of all totally deny all the escapes; cut off, like a surgeon, every form of escape. That requires intense awareness in which there is no choice, no clinging on to the pleasurable escapes and avoiding the painful ones. It requires energy, constant watchfulness because the brain has so accustomed itself to escaping that the escape has become more important than the actual fact from which it is running away. But only when there is a total denial of all escapes is one able to confront, to face the conflict.
Then, when one has gone so far, when one has physically, emotionally, and intellectually denied every form of escape, then what happens? Then is there a problem? Surely, it is the escape which creates the problem. When you are no longer competing with your neighbour, no longer trying to fulfil, no longer trying to change what you are into something else, then is there conflict? Then you are able to face the fact actually of what you are, whatever it is. Then there is no judgment as good or bad. Then you are what you are. And the fact itself acts; there is no `you' acting upon the fact.
All this is really quite interesting if you actually go into it. Take jealousy. Most of us are jealous, envious, either acutely or lazily. When you actually see that you are jealous, without denying it, condemning it, then what happens? Then is jealousy merely a word, or a fact? I hope you are following this, because, you see, the word has an extraordinary importance for most of us. The word `God', the word' Communist', the word `Negro' have an immense emotional, neurological content. In the same way, the word `jealousy' is already weighted. Now, when the word is put aside, then there is a feeling that remains. That is the fact, not the word. And to look at the feeling without the word requires freedom from all condemnation and justification.
Sometime, when you are jealous, angry, or more especially when you are enjoying yourself about something, see if you can distinguish the word from the feeling, whether the word is all-important, or the feeling. Then you will discover that in looking at the fact without the word there is an action which is not an intellectual process; the fact itself is operating, and therefore there is no contradiction, no conflict.
It is really quite extraordinary to discover for oneself that there is only thinking and not the thinker. Then you will find that one can live in this world without contradiction, because then one needs very little. If one needs a great deal - sexually, emotionally, psychologically, or intellectually - there is dependence on another; and the moment there is dependence there is contradiction and conflict. When the mind frees itself from conflict, out of this freedom there comes a totally different kind of movement. The word `peace' as we know it does not apply to it, because for us the word has many different kinds of meanings, depending on the kind of person who uses it - whether a politician or a priest or some one else. It is not the peace that is promised in heaven after you are dead; it is not found in any church, in any idea, or in the worship of any god. It comes into being when there is the total cessation of all inward conflict; and that is possible only when there is no need. There is no need, then, even for God. There is only an immeasurable movement which cannot be corrupted by any action.
Question: How is it possible, without destroying or suppressing desire, to give it freedom; and does looking at desire without condemnation make it disappear?
Krishnamurti: First of all, we have an idea that desire is wrong because it produces various forms of conflict and contradiction. There are many desires within one, tearing at each other in different directions. That is a fact; we have desires and they do create conflict. The question is: how to live with desire intensely without destroying it? If one yields to desire, when one fulfils a desire, in that very yielding there is also the pain of frustration. I do not want to take an example, because explaining through a particular example perverts the understanding of the totality of desire.
One has first to see very clearly that every form of condemnation of desire is merely an avoidance of the understanding of it. If that fact is seen clearly, then the question arises as to what one is to do with desire. There it is, burning. Up to now we have condemned it, or accepted it, or enjoyed it; and in the very enjoyment of it there is pain. In the suppression, in the control of it there is also pain. But if one does not condemn or evaluate, then it is there, burning; and what is one to do? Now, does one ever come to that state? Because in that state you are the desire; there is no longer `you and desire' as two separate things. What always happens is, is it not?, that we want to make the painful desires disappear and to hold on to the pleasurable ones. I say that is an altogether wrong approach. I say, `Can you look at desire without condemning, without judging, without choosing between the various desires?' Have you ever done it? I doubt it.
To understand the significance of desire, to live with it, to understand it, actually to look at it without judgment of any kind - that needs immense patience, inwardly. I do not think you have ever done it. But if you will try it you will find that then there is no contradiction, no conflict. Then desire has quite a different meaning. Then desire may be life.
But so long as we are saying, `Desire is wrong' or `Desire is right', `Should I yield?' or `Should I not yield?' - in that whole process you are creating a division between yourself and desire, and therefore there is bound to be conflict. What gives understanding is to go into yourself quietly, to go deeply into yourself enquiring, searching out why you are condemning, what you are seeking. Then out of that inward enquiry, in which there is no choice at all, you will discover that you can live with desire and it has quite a different meaning. To live with anything you need energy, vitality; and there is no energy left when you are all the time condemning and judging. To live with desire is to discover a state in which there is no contradiction at all. That means that then there is love, without jealousy, without hatred, without any form of corruption; and that is a really marvellous thing to find out for oneself.
Question: What did you mean when you said the other day that we must be disturbed.
Krishnamurti; Please do not regard me as an authority; that would be dreadful. But you can see for yourself that the desire not to be disturbed is one of our main demands. And it may be that the mind, the brain, when it stops its incessant chattering, will discover that there is a great disturbance within. You can see for yourself that your mind is occupied all the time - with the wife, the husband, with sex, with nationality, with God, with where you are to get the next meal, and so on. And have you ever tried to find out why it is occupied, and what would happen if it were not occupied? Then you are confronted with something which you have never thought about; and that may be an extraordinarily disturbing fact. And it is. This constant occupation of the mind may merely be an escape from the fact of tremendous loneliness, emptiness. And you have to face that disturbance, and go into it.
September 10, 1961
Paris 3rd Public Talk 10th September 1961
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