Saanen 1st Public Talk 22nd July 1962
From the very beginning I think we should be quite clear what is the intention of these gatherings. Many outward changes are taking place in the world, there are many pressures, many demands, innumerable problems, and it seems to me that, to meet the situation, there must be a complete transformation of the psyche. I mean by that word `psyche' the mind, the whole process of our thinking - our attitudes, our values, our habits, the many beliefs and dogmas that we have cultivated for centuries. All this, I feel, must be completely transformed if we are to meet the urgent problems of life, and that is what I propose to talk about during these meetings - how to bring about this radical change, this transformation of the mind.
So these talks are very serious, they are not merely an amusement for a Sunday morning or any other morning. If you are at all serious, and I hope you are, then you will listen completely, not just taking in a little part here and there; you will listen to the totality of what is being said, and then you and I will be able to explore together how to bring about this radical revolution in ourselves. By that word `serious, I mean the intention to pursue a particular subject to the very end whether you like it or not, to explore totally a particular aspect of life. We are not going to discuss outward problems such as the Common Market, how to stop the atom bomb, whether we should go to the moon, and so on; but I think those outward problems will be understood if we can understand the inward problems. It seems to me also that the outward problem is not so very different from the inward problem. When one comes to think of it, there is really no difference, at least no line of demarcation between the outer and the inner. Living is like a tide that goes out and comes in. To concentrate on the inward process of one's own being will have very little meaning if we do not understand the outward process as well. The outward activities of the mind correspond to the inward activities, and to concentrate on one while neglecting the other will not lead us very far.
As I said, these talks are very serious, they are not a form of entertainment, and certainly it is not our purpose merely to exchange ideas. Ideas, concepts are organized thought, and they have very little significance in bringing about a radical revolution in the mind. Ideas don't change a human being, they merely alter the pattern of existence. Most of us indulge in ideas, accepting new ideas and discarding old ones, or exchanging one belief for another; but such exchange, such substitution is I merely a superficial adjustment, it does not bring about radical transformation.
Therefore we are not going to indulge in ideas, in formulas, in concepts. We are going to deal, not with myths, but with psychological facts, with our own fears, hopes, despairs. And we are capable of meeting these psychological facts only when we know how to listen to them, how to observe them without condemnation or interpretation. So I think it is important to understand what we mean by listening, by observing, and I would like to go into that a little bit this morning.
Transformation is not brought about by the action of will, or by desire, which is another form of will; it cannot come about through effort, which is again the outcome of an urge, of a motive, of a compulsion. Nor can this transformation, this inner revolution take place as the result of any influence or pressure, or by mere adjustment. It can only come about effortlessly - and I will go into that later on. But as this is the first talk it must obviously be an introductory affair, and it is important to begin by understanding what we mean by listening.
I do not know if you have ever actually listened to anything. Try listening to that stream that is flowing by without giving it a name, without giving it a significance, without letting it interfere with your attention - merely listen to it. You can listen only when there is no motive which makes you listen. If you have a motive, then the motive is important, not the act of listening. You are listening in order to get or to achieve something, in order to arrive somewhere, so your attention is divided; therefore you are not listening.
Do please pay a little attention to this issue, because if you don't fully comprehend it I am afraid you will totally miss the whole meaning of these talks.
To me, any form of effort to bring about an inner revolution, perverts or denies that very revolution. Transformation can come about only when there is no effort of any kind; and that is why it is very important to understand what it means to listen.
You cannot listen if you are comparing what you hear with what you already know. Then you are merely interpreting; and where there is interpretation there is no listening. If are condemning what you hear because you think it should be different, or because you hold certain opinions, you are not listening. And you are certainly not listening if you are following an established authority, substituting one authority for
So the act of listening is extraordinarily difficult, because we are conditioned to accept or to deny what we hear, to condemn it, or to compare it with what we already know. There is almost no unconditioned listening. When I say something, your natural or rather your conditioned response is to accept or to deny it, or to say that you know it already, or that it is in such-and-such a book, or that such-and-such a person has said it. In other words, your mind is occupied with its own activity; and when that activity is going on, you are not listening.
Surely, this is all very logical, rational and sane, isn't it? We are not talking about something mysterious.
Now, the act of listening completely to something that is factual - to listen to it without opinion, without judgment, without condemnation, without any interference of the word - is extremely arduous. It requires total attention, and so also does the act of seeing. I wonder if ever see anything at all - a tree, a mountain, a river, the face of one's wife or husband, of a child, or of a passer-by? I question it; because words, ideas, formulas interfere with what we are seeing. You say, "What a lovely mountain!", and that very expression prevents you from looking - which is again a psychological fact. To see something completely your mind must be quiet, without the interference of ideas. The next time you observe a flower, notice how difficult it is to look at it non-botanically - particularly if you happen to know something about botany. You know the species, you know all the varieties of that flower, and to look at it without any interference of the word, without the intrusion of your knowledge, of your likes and dislikes, is again very arduous. The mind is always so busy, so distracted; it is constantly chattering, never seeing, never listening. But when the mind is quiet, to listen and to see does not require effort. If you are actually listening to what is being said now, and therefore understanding what is being said, you will find that your listening is without effort.
Inward or psychological revolution implies a complete transformation, not only of the conscious mind, but of the unconscious as well. You can easily change the outward pattern of your existence, or the way you think. You may cease to belong to any church at all, or you may leave one church and join another. You may or may not belong to a particular political or religious group. All that can be changed very easily by circumstances, by your fear, by your wanting greater reward, and so on. The superficial mind can easily he changed, but it is much more difficult to bring about a change in the unconscious - and that is where our difficulty lies. And the unconscious cannot be changed through volition, through desire, through will. It must be approached negatively.
To approach the total consciousness negatively implies the act of listening; it implies seeing facts without the interference of opinion, judgment, or condemnation. In other words, there must be negative thinking. Most of us are accustomed through training and experience to conform, to obey, to follow established moral, ethical, ideological authorities. But what we are discussing here demands that there be no authority of any kind; because the moment you begin to explore, there is no authority. Each moment is a discovery. And how can a mind discover if it is bound by authority, by its own previous experiences? So negative thinking implies the uncovering of one's own assertive, dogmatic beliefs and experiences, one's own anxieties, hopes and fears; it implies seeing all these things negatively, that is, not with the desire to alter or to go beyond them, but merely observing them without evaluation.
To observe without evaluation is to observe without the word. I do not know if you have ever tried looking at something without the word, the symbol. The relationship of words to what they describe constitutes thought, which is the response of memory; and to look at a fact without words is to look at it without the intervention of thought.
You try it sometime. As you go out this morning, look at the green valley, at those snowcapped mountains, or listen to that river, without a thought - which doesn't mean that you are asleep. It doesn`t mean that you look at them with a blank mind. On the contrary, to look at something without the intervention of thought, you have to be totally aware. And this is an arduous task, because we are so conditioned from childhood to judge, to evaluate. We are conditioned by words. We say of a person that he is a Communist, or a Catholic, or an Englishman, or an American, or a Swiss, and through that screen of words we look and listen; so we never see, we never hear.
That is why it is so important to be free of our slavery to words. Take the word `God'. We have to be completely free of that word, especially when we consider ourselves to be religious or spiritual; for the word is not the thing. The word `God' is obviously not God; and to understand what that extraordinary something is, one must be free of the word - which means being inwardly free of all the influences and associations of that word. This in turn implies neither believing nor disbelieving; it implies not belonging to any religion, to any organized system of thought. Only then is there a possibility of finding out for ourselves whether there is something beyond the word, beyond the measure of the mind.
So these talks are a grave matter; they require your whole attention in the discovery of yourself, not tomorrow, not the next minute, but at the moment you are listening, in the immediate present. Without understanding the mechanism, the whole process of one's own mind, nne cannot go very far; and we have to take a journey into the timeless. To do this we must begin very near with ourselves. That is why it is so important to be aware of the operations of one's own mind, which is the beginning of self-knowledge. Without knowing yourself you have no basis for further inquiry; and to know yourself demands, not an accumulative process of knowledge, but the knowing of yourself from moment to moment. You have to see yourself as you are from moment to moment without interpreting what you see and without accumulating knowledge about yourself; you have to observe with choiceless awareness.
That is why I say that these talks demand a gravity of purpose on your part. They demand that you come regularly or not at all, because you cannot understand the whole thing by casually listening to one talk. You wouldn't go to a mathematician and ask him to teach you the whole universe of mathematics in a few minutes. That would be too absurd, utterly immature. Similarly, if you are at all serious in this matter, you will attend the talks regularly, and you will pay attention - effortless attention. By effortless attention I mean a state of attention in which you do not merely listen to what the speaker is saying, but through the words of the speaker you discover your own process of thinking, which is to come upon the facts within yourself.
The increase of prosperity and scientific knowledge in the world is not going to bring greater happiness. It may bring more of the physical necessities, and I hope it will. It may bring greater comfort and convenience, more bathrooms, better clothes, more refrigerators, more cars. But those things do not solve our fundamental human problems, which are much deeper, much more imminent and within ourselves. And the purpose of these talks is to explore our problems together, because here there is no authority. I am not trying to influence you to think in a particular way, which would be childish, immature, because then it becomes merely a matter of propaganda.
May I suggest that while you are listening you do not take notes, but actually listen and that you remain fairly quiet immediately before and after these talks. At the first meeting we naturally greet each other and talk; but do not let us sit here afterwards everlastingly talking, which merely indicates the restlessness of one's own mind. What matters is to be aware of all this without effort: to observe effortlessly the fact that you chatter, the fact that you are jealous, the fact that you are frustrated and want fame through expressing yourself in poetry, in pictures, in music, in thought. To be factually and choicelessly aware of all that in yourself, to observe it without effort - it is in this state of effortless awareness that there is a total revolution. And only the mind that is in total revolution from moment to moment, not achieving a total revolution - only such a mind can discover whether there is or is not something immeasurable.
Perhaps some of you wish to ask some questions, and we shall see what comes out of it. It is very easy to ask wrong questions, but to put the right question is one of the most difficult things to do. It demands a perceptive mind. The question must reflect an actual problem which you have, something with which you are battling. If you put the right question, then we two can join together in finding the right answer. But a human problem really has no answer. Mechanical problems have answers. When a car goes wrong, when an engine misfires, there is a mechanical answer to the problem, whereas most of our human problems have no answers at all But unfortunately, when we have a problem, most of us want an answer - that is, we want to escape from the problem, and so we ask a question.
Now, if you merely want to escape from your problem, whatever it is, please don't put a question. But if you really want to understand any human, psychological problem, then we can study it together; we can explore together its subtleties and variations, its nuances and complexities. In the exploration of the problem you will begin to understand the problem, and that is the only way to resolve it. I am afraid I have made it rather difficult for you to put a question. That was not my intention. But really to explore any human problem, we must meet at the same level, at the same time - which is, after all, what may be called love. surely, there is love only when you meet another at the same level, at the same time - that is, when you meet that person totally, completely. To explore our human problems we must psychologically meet in that way. If you are expecting an answer from me, and I feel there is no answer except in understanding the problem, we won't meet, and you will go away saying, "That man is silly, he can't answer a straight question, he avoids it".
So it seems to me that what is important during these talks is to look at the problem together - which doesn;t mean agreement or disagreement. Merely to agree or disagree is too utterly school-boyish. This is not a political meeting. We arc trying to see things as they actually are within ourselves, and this demands observation not agreement or disagreement.
Questioner: How can this mental exploration of a problem bring about an understanding which cannot be based on mere intellection?
Krishnamurti: Let us find out what we mean by exploration, and what we mean by understanding. Will mental exploration bring about understanding? Please don't agree or disagree. We are, examining the question. The exchange of ideas, opinions, formulas - will that bring about understanding? What do we mean by understanding? How does the state of understanding come into being? I will go into it a little bit, and perhaps we may meet.
In the state of understanding, surely, there is no barrier between the fact and yourself. When you understand something, your whole attention is given to it. Attention is not fragmentary, as the mental process is. When you examine something mentally, it is a fragmentary process, a separative process; but when you understand, in that understanding your mind, your emotions, your body, your whole being is involved. You are quiet, and out of that quietness you say, "I understand".
Understanding obviously does not come through fragmentation; and most of us think in terms of fragmentation, all our relationships in life are fragmentary. With one part of ourselves we are politicians, with another part we are religious, with a third part we are business-people, and so on. Psychologically we are all broken up, and with these fragments of ourselves we look at life. And then we say, "Intellectually I understand, but I cannot act".
So, mental examination or exploration is fragmentary, superficial, and it does not bring about understanding. Intellectually we agree, for example, that it is immature to have the world broken up into conflicting nationalities and religious groups, but at heart we are still English, German, Hindu, Christian, and so on. Our difficulty is to bring about a direct emotional contact with the fact, and this demands that we approach the fact negatively, that is, without any obsession of opinion.
There is a vast difference, then, between the mental examination of a fact and the understanding of that fact. Mental examination of the fact leads nowhere. But the understanding born of approaching the fact negatively, without opinion or interpretation - this understanding of the fact gives tremendous energy to deal with the fact. I will go much more into it during the coming talks, because probably most of us do lack this energy. We have plenty of physical energy - at least I hope so; but to deal with a psychological fact requires astonishing energy of a different kind, and that energy is denied when you approach the fact through habit - the habit of association, the habit of words, the habit of thought. So the fact remains, and the intellect is separated from the fact. This naturally creates a contradiction, a conflict, and therefore a dissipation of energy.
July 22, 1962
Saanen 1st Public Talk 22nd July 1962
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