London 3rd Public Talk 10th June 1962
This morning we are going to discuss, and we ought to be very clear what we mean by discussion. I feel it will be worth while if we can, in exchanging words, see clearly the pattern of our own thinking; that is, if we can expose ourselves, not to another, but to ourselves, and see what we actually are and what is inwardly taking place. To be worth while, a discussion should serve as a mirror in which we see ourselves clearly, in detail, without distortion, taking in the whole picture and not merely looking at one particular fragment. This is quite an arduous task, because most of us distort what we see either through seeking pleasure or. avoiding pain; but in this discussion, and in the one to follow, next Sunday, I hope we can see ourselves in full measure. It would be a pity, I think, if we were merely to remain at the verbal or intellectual level and not go very deeply - which most of us are apt to do. Because we do tend to think in fragments; we rarely do anything totally, with our whole being. We function at different levels, not as a total human being who is inwardly aware of all the implications of his own thought and feeling. So let us see if we cannot go beyond the verbal level, the mere intellectual exchange, and penetrate deeply into the unconscious. If we can do that, then I think this kind of gathering will be eminently useful.
Questioner: You speak of seeing or hearing a fact without distortion, regardless of whether that fact is pleasant or unpleasant. Is this a gradual process of investigation and therefore a matter of time, or is it an immediate perception?
Krishnamurti: You know, the more civilization seems to advance outwardly - increasing prosperity, going to the moon, exploring Venus or Mars, and so on - the more complex our human problems are becoming. I do not mean the problems of outward living: where one should live, what kind of job one should have, how much money one should earn, and all the rest of it. Those things are fairly easy to manipulate or work out. I am talking about our psychological problems, which are much more acute and much deeper - or perhaps they have always been acute and deep, but now one is becoming more aware of them. Some of us, having arranged our outward circumstances more or less conveniently, are perhaps turning inward; but I doubt it. Nevertheless, there are these psychological problems. And, if I may say so, to the problems we already have we shouldn't add yet another problem by making an extraordinary issue out of what it means to see or hear something without distortion.
To listen is not only to listen to the speaker, but also to your neighbour, to your wife or husband, to a bird. To see a flower is to see it both botanically and non-botanically. To listen is to be aware of the incessant propaganda of the church, of the State, of the newspaper, of the advertiser - to hear all this without being influenced one way or the other. Most of us are very easily influenced; our whole psychological structure is based on influence, on propaganda. We are British, Catholic, Protestant, American, Hindu, and so on - the result of thousands of years of propaganda. We are influenced by the food we eat the climate we live in, the clothes we wear, the books and newspapers we read. The radio, the television - everything influences us incredibly; and this influence is either conscious or unconscious. In America I believe they have tried various experiments in subliminal propaganda, which is aimed directly at the unconscious without the conscious mind being aware of it. For a fraction of a second they flash, repeatedly, on the cinema or television screen an advertisement which the conscious mind doesn't take in, but which the unconscious sees and remembers; and the next time you go into a shop, you tend to buy what they have advertised.
Actually we are the result of many influences; and intelligence, it seems to me, is that quality which enables the mind to be aware of every influence, or as many as possible, and to walk through them all without becoming entangled in them, without being twisted or impregnated by them. To be constantly aware of influence and throw it off - this, I feel, is the very essence of intelligence.
What is important is to listen to propaganda, to what is being said now, and see directly for yourself what is true and what is false; but this you cannot do according to your evaluations, your likes and dislikes, which are merely the response of your cultural conditioning. Surely, to see truly is to see the fact as it is; and this seeing is an immediate thing, it is not a question of time.
Most of us think that understanding comes about slowly, through comparative evaluation, do we not? But is understanding comparative, gradual?
Or is it immediate? Surely, I understand something now, or I don't understand it at all. I may say to myself, "I will gradually understand what is being said; understanding of it will come at some future time". But will the future bring understanding? Unless there is now a radical change in my outlook, in my approach, in my listening, the future will not help me. If I don't throw off immediately my conditioning, my prejudices, my evaluations, my likes and dislikes, they will still be there tomorrow.
If I may say so, I think it is a lazy mind that has this idea of gradualism, that says, "Eventually I will understand, but not now". I am not talking about the acquisition of knowledge. That does take time. To master a language, to study mathematics, to learn about machinery, and so on - all that will take time. But to see the fact that one is acquisitive - this perception is immediate. And to listen to something without distortion is also immediate - to listen, not just to the speaker, but to everything, without interpretation, without the interference of the mechanical process of thought. If you have tried this you will know that it is very - I was going to use the word `difficult'. But it isn't difficult in the accepted sense of the word. It requires tremendous energy.
You know, to live with something very ugly, to live in an ugly street without a tree, to go by bus to your office every day through the noise, the smell, the filth of a big city - to live with all that and not be corrupted or made insensitive by it, one must have a great deal of energy. Equally, to live with something very beautiful, with a mountain, with a tree, with a beautiful face, and not get used to it - that also requires a great deal of energy.
In the same way, to listen, to see without distortion, you need great energy of attention; but attention isn't a process of concentration, controlling the mind and bringing it back when it wanders off. It isn't that at all. And I hope all my talking about it isn't making it into a problem. If it becomes a problem, then please just drop it. God knows, we have enough problems without adding this to all the existing ones.
Questioner: By seeing and listening to facts as they are, one may succeed in disentangling oneself from various problems and cations. But behind all this there is still the desire for that permanency which may be called God.
Krishnamurti: I wonder why we want permanency? Surely, the desire for permanency is a reaction to conflict. We are in a constant state of wanting and not wanting, coming and going, hope and despair. A battle is going on within us all the time, and we want some peace, a place of refuge, a God who will give us complete rest from this battle of longing to fulfil and not fulfilling, of loving and not being loved in return, and so on. So our desire for permanency is a reaction to conflict. We will discuss presently whether there is such a thing as permanency; but first we must be clear that we want permanency, an enduring peace, only because we are in conflict. If there were no conflict in us at all, then we wouldn't seek a state of permanent peace.
Now, the question is whether or not the mind can be free from conflict of every kind. Is it possible for you and me to be totally free from conflict? Or is life inevitably a perpetual struggle from the moment we are born till we die? Struggle, contradiction, the conflict of the opposites - if we accept all this as inevitable, then the problem is how to make the conflict as mild and refined as possible. This is what most cultures try to do. So we must be very clear as to whether we are merely trying to refine the conflict, or whether we want to eliminate conflict altogether. We are talking of the psychological conflict in each one of us which later projects itself as conflict in the world between groups, races and nations.
To me, mere refinement of the conflict within does not solve the problem, because conflict continues; and conflict is always very destructive. However subtle and refined it may be, however learned, sophisticated, analyzed or reasoned away, conflict makes the mind dull, stupid. It makes the mind incapable of going beyond itself. I think that is fairly clear without further explanation.
So the question is: how are you to be totally free from conflict? Not that you should seek a method or a system, for then you get caught in the system, and again begins the conflict between what you are and what you should be.
Is it possible to eliminate conflict altogether? That is the question. To me, the elimination of conflict is absolutely essential. Not that I am a lazy person, or temperamentally inactive, but I see what conflict does. Outwardly one can see very well what conflict does: the competition between the various commercial and political groups, leading to devastating wars between this country and that country. And inwardly it is much worse, because it is the inner conflict that projects the outer. Where there is inner conflict there is a tension which may produce certain artistic activities. It may express itself as surrealism, or objectivism, or non-objectivism; or you may write a book - or end up in an asylum.
Now, we have been educated from childhood to compete. Our examinations are competitive, and in school we try to get better marks than somebody else - you know the whole process. We have been brought up on all that: psychologically always wanting more, using function to acquire status. And one can see what it does to the mind. It really makes the mind old, insensitive, dull. An ambitious man is everlastingly in conflict, he doesn't know a moment of peace; he can never know what love is. And we are encouraged to be ambitious from the start. Conflict is firmly rooted in us at different levels, superficial and very deep.
So, is it possible to live in this world, psychologically and therefore outwardly, without any conflict at all? Please don't say it is possible or impossible; you don't know. I say it is possible, for me it is a fact, but it isn't a fact for you; therefore you have to find out.
Is it possible to eliminate conflict, not partially or in small fragments, but totally? That is, can the mind be free of the past and not say, "I am going to be something tomorrow"? To end conflict implies the complete cessation of this whole motive or intention of arriving somewhere, achieving something: achieving fame, virtue, pursuing the ideal, putting away anger in order to be more peaceful, and so on.
All this is not just child's play. It requires a great deal of understanding, perception.
Psychologically to end conflict is to be nothing; and most of us cannot face being nothing, literally being nothing. But after all, what are you? What are all the V.I.P.'s, the very important people? Strip them of their titles, their positions, their decorations and all that rubbish, and they are nothing. And I am afraid we ordinary people also are trying in various ways to become something; but inwardly we are absolutely nothing. And why not be nothing? Be nothing - which does not mean trying to become nothing, because that only creates another problem.
You know, this is a very serious thing, it is not just a matter of exchanging a few words and listening to a few ideas. To be really nothing implies tremendous inward meditation - real meditation. But we won't discuss that for the moment.
What matters is to be nothing immediately, and not try to maintain that state; because if you are nothing, you are nothing. You don't have to maintain it. It is the idea that you must achieve or maintain a certain state that creates conflict, for then you are back again in the struggle to become something.
Then there is the question of whether there is anything permanent. Is there anything permanent? What do we mean by permanency? This building will last perhaps a hundred years unless it is destroyed by fire, by a bomb, by this or that. Do we want such permanence psychologically? Do we want the perpetuation of what we are, with all our struggles, with our mediocrity, our pettiness, our despairs, anguish, guilt? You say, "That is only on the surface, we must go beyond it; and going beyond it is to find something permanent". So you project the idea of the soul as being something permanent; you have ideas about heaven, about Jesus, and you believe in God. But is there anything permanent? As one looks into the matter, investigates it, understands it, does one not find that there is nothing permanent, outwardly or inwardly? Biologically you are changing every day, every minute; every seven years your blood undergoes a change. But psychologically, intellectually, you cling to certain ideas, and no bomb can destroy those ideas. You are British, Catholic, or what you will, and that you remain for the rest of your life; nothing can shake it. So that is permanency, is it not? And if that permanency is merely a reaction to contradiction, to conflict, as in fact it is, then what? If everything is actually in flux, in movement, if life is flowing ceaselessly, then how can a mind which has been nurtured on time, on recognition, and which clings to permanency - how can such a mind know the timeless, that which has no limits, no borders, and cannot be recognized?
You see, for those of us who are religious in the conventional sense, God is a permanent entity who exists from everlasting to everlasting. And if we are not religiously inclined, we invent substitutes: the State, an ideology, a utopian something or other. Whether in Moscow or in Rome it is essentially the same thing.
Now, is it not possible psychologically to step out of time and not think in terms of permanency or impermanency? Can one not live in the sense of being so completely attentive, so completely out of time as tomorrow and yesterday, that all the agonies of longing, all the memories and anticipations are dead?
You see, to a very serious problem like this there is no answer as `yes' or `no'. There is only a process of inquiry, which reveals what is true and what is false. That revelation, that perception is much more important than finding an answer. There is no answer to any psychological problem. There are answers to mechanical problems. But a psychological problem you have to investigate, you have to go into it very deeply for yourself; and as you look, as you investigate, as you perceive, the problem disappears. It is no longer a burden, you are out of it. The whole process of thinking as we know it, comes to an end; and then, perhaps, there is something totally new.
Questioner: After all this talk about permanency and conflict, I have nothing to take away with me.
Krishnamurti: Sir, this isn't merchandise, it is not something you can buy. We are looking together at the same problem, trying to see it as totally as possible. You are not listening to me in order to learn from me. You are listening to find out about yourself. Self-knowledge, self-knowing is far more important than carrying home the idea of another and living with that idea. If what we just now discussed about conflict and permanency was not a self-revelatory, self-understanding process, if the explanation remained merely verbal, then you have discovered nothing, and naturally you go away saying, "What was that man talking about?" But if, in listening, you have been observing the whole process of your own thinking, your own feeling, your own effort, then you will have opened the door to something immense.
Questioner: Supposing one were to achieve this freedom from all conflict of which you speak, if one did not devote oneself to social work, animal welfare, and so on, what would one do with one's spare time and energy?
Krishnamurti: You know, one must put the right question to get the right answer. If one puts a wrong question, it will bring about a wrong answer. Now, is this the right question?
If I have no conflict at all, I will have an astonishing amount of energy. That is a fact, is it not? Most of our energy is dissipated in conflict, in the ceaseless battle with ourselves and with our neighbours. If that conflict comes to an end, what happens to one's greatly increased energy? Obviously, one will find out for oneself when conflict comes to an end - if it ever does.
Now, what do we mean by energy? We know the energy created by conflict. An ambitious man drives himself, he keeps on struggling to achieve his goal, and that brings a certain quality of energy, a ruthlessness - you all know the sort of thing involved in ambition. But when ambition totally ceases - which is not a state of apathy or indifference - , there is an energy that has nothing to do with the energy of conflict. The energy of conflict, of competition, of hate, is obviously not comparable to the energy of affection; for affection or love is not the opposite of hate. When there is the abundant energy that comes with freedom from all conflict, one may still go to the office and attend to business affairs; or one may expend that energy in a totally different way.
I will tell you something: most of us are insensitive; or we are sensitive to beauty, and struggle to put away ugliness. But if there is no conflict between beauty and ugliness, if there is just the state of being sensitive - which is also an expression of energy - , then everything becomes alive. Every colour is a burning, furious colour, it is not just red, blue, or white. Every thought, every feeling is burnt out. And if this energy is not tied to any particular form or demand, as energy generally is - my wife, my house, my children, my job, my country, my belief - , then energy is total stillness. In this stillness there is a tremendous movement which is not from here to there. It is not a movement of time; and that, I feel, is creation, that is God, or whatever name you like to give to it. But for total stillness to come into being, every form of struggle, every form of conflict, every desire to become something, every demand for more experience - all that must come to an end.
But what is the good of my talking about it? You see, for me this is not a speculative thing; but if I talk about something of which you do not know, it will naturally become speculative for you, and therefore unreal.
Questioner: It seems to me that the moment the `I' enters the picture, there is a problem. This `I' then gets to work to try to solve the problem - which is nonsense. Is not the `I' the only problem?
Krishnamurti: Yes, sir, obviously it is. As long as there is a centre, there is a circumference, which is psychological time. And the question is: seeing all the chaotic demands created by the `I' - my country, my religion, my family, my insurance, my mortgage, my this and my that - in which every human being is caught, is it possible to live in this world and wipe out the `I', not theoretically but actually, like operating on a cancer? Is it possible to live in a particular country, to hold a job, to have a wife or husband and children, to have a house, and at the same time have no centre? To dance through life without pain - is such a thing possible?
Questioner: Is not habit part of the problem? One tends to perpetuate all these demands through habit.
Krishnamurti: Obviously. Habit is mechanical, and our thinking is habitual. If we are British, we will be British for the rest of our lives. If we are Catholics, we habitually think in terms of the Saviour, the Mass, the Confession. If we are Hindus, for the rest of our lives we will be slaves to Hinduism. Going to the office day after day, looking habitually at the same faces, repeating the same pleasures, smoking, drinking, sex - the terrible tyranny of habit. Habit is in essence a bundle of memories, which is the `I'.
Now, living in this world, is it possible to drop that bundle completely? Again, please don't say it is, or it is not. You have to investigate, you have to be aware of it, you have to go into it - not with despair, and not in the hope of ending it, but simply to uncover it. I say it can be done, and it must be done, otherwise life is so sordid. You may be able to write poems, you may be a famous man, you may have a good job, a nice house, a lovely wife, talented children, and all the rest of the business; but until there is freedom from the `I', you are still within the man-made prison and are not capable of going beyond.
Sir, you may put any number of questions, but we come back to the same thing over and over again, which is your own capacity to look, to listen, to find out. And this capacity is not something to be nurtured, developed, because the moment you set about developing something, it becomes a habit; it becomes a form of knowledge to which you will always refer. So the thing is really very subtle; it demands total attention all the time. Now, wait a minute. When I say `all the time', I do not mean that total attention must be a continuous process without a break. It doesn't matter if you drop it; if you do, then pick it up from time to time and find out why you dropped it, so that your mind is active, alert, alive.
Questioner: When there is no `I', what is it that looks and listens?
Krishnamurti: You see, this becomes a theoretical question. When you die to everything you have known, when all your yesterdays and all your tomorrows are gone, and also the present in the sense of psychological time, then what is there? How can I answer you? Verbally I can say there is something immense, something tremendously alive; but that will have no meaning at all. I think the question really is: is it possible to eliminate the `I'? If you go deeply into that, you will answer your own question.
Questioner: I am contaminated by society. How am I to be free of that contamination?
Krishnamurti: Surely, the question is not how to be free of that contamination, for then you merely create another conflict, another problem. The `I' is not contaminated by society; it is the contamination. The `I' is a thing that has been put together through conflict, through envy, through ambition and the desire for power, through agony, guilt, despair. And is it possible for that `I' to dissolve itself without conflict?
These are not theoretical or theological questions. If one is at all serious about understanding oneself one sees that any effort to dissolve the `I' has a motive; it is the result of a reaction, and therefore still part of the `I'. So what is to be done? One can see the fact and not do a thing about it. The fact is that every thought, every feeling is the result of society with its ambitions, its envies, its greeds; and this whole process is the `I'. The very act of seeing this process in its entirety, is its dissipation; you do not have to make an effort to dissipate it. To see something poisonous is to leave it alone.
Questioner: Would you then say that effort is destructive?
Krishnamurti: That is what I have been saying all morning.
I wonder why it is so difficult to understand something very simple. If two people insist upon quarrelling, there can obviously be no peace between them. Similarly, the nations of the world may sign peace treaties and all the rest of it; but they can't live together in peace as long as they are nationalistic and bent upon maintaining their sovereign governments, or as long as they take pride in being Frenchmen, Englishmen, and all that nonsense. To wipe all that away doesn't require effort. It is just a matter of seeing how stupid it is, and how absurdly limited and petty our minds are. Pettiness may try to alter, to bring about a tremendous revolution in itself; but how can it? Any `revolution' it brings about will be as shallow and stupid as itself. But when you just see your own pettiness, your own stupidity, there is then a totally different action which is not instigated by any demand or urge on your part. That is why a negative approach is so important. I am speaking of a negative approach which is not the opposite of the positive. It is negation. Do you understand? When we say `no', that `no' is a reaction, it is the opposite of `yes'. But there is a denial, a saying `no', which is not a reaction at all.
I hope you also are working, and are not merely listening to the speaker. Questioner: I find it impossible to be aware all the time.
Krishnamurti: Don't be aware all the time. Just be aware in little bits. Please, there is no being aware all the time - that is a dreadful idea. It is a nightmare, this terrible desire for continuity. Just be aware for one minute, for one second, and in that one second of awareness you can see the whole universe. That is not a poetic phrase. We see things in a flash, in a single moment; but having seen something, we want to capture, to hold it, give it continuity. That is not being aware at all. When you say, "I must be aware all the time", you have made a problem of it, and then you should really find out why you want to be aware all the time - see the greed it implies, the desire to acquire. And to say, "Well, I am aware all the time" means nothing.
Is love, like marriage, for ever and ever? Are marriages for ever and ever? You know better than I do. Is love for ever and ever, or is it something totally stripped of time?
It is quarter past twelve. Perhaps we can discuss this on another occasion.
Questioner: As you say, it is quarter past twelve, and that chronological time binds us. Wouldn't it be possible to have an organization where we could meet every day and carry on?
Krishnamurti: If you want to, sir, have an organization. I am out of it. If you want to meet with several others, meet. You don't have to ask my permission. But it is true that we are bound by chronological time. You have to catch a bus, go to lunch, you have to keep an appointment this afternoon, you have to see people, and so on. I have to leave this country on such-and-such a date. We are bound by the watch, by chronological time. That is obvious. But I am not talking about that, as I explained very carefully at the beginning. I am talking about being free of psychological time.
June 10, 1962
London 3rd Public Talk 10th June 1962
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