Saanen 1st Public Talk 7th July 1963
As there are going to be ten talks, I think we should lay the right foundation at the first talk, not only verbally, but also, if possible, in a different and more significant way. This different way will require the active occupation of all of us, and not just a passive listening to what is being said, which is really not of very great significance. But if as we listen we can deliberately and seriously examine our own hearts and minds and proceed to lay the right foundation in ourselves, then these meetings will have a great deal of significance.
Now, I would like, if I may, to explain what I mean by that word `serious'. Most of us think we are serious, that is, given to the deliberate consideration of life's problems - and to some extent we are, otherwise we would not be here. You have spent a lot of money, energy and time, and have put up with the unpleasantness of travel in order to come here, so you must be somewhat serious; but let us find out together what we mean by that word.
You know, a petty mind, a mind that is shallow, can also become very serious; but when it becomes serious it is rather absurd. I do not know if you have ever noticed that empty-minded people are often very serious. They use a lot of words, they put on a lot of airs, and for such a mind everything becomes a problem to be studied, analyzed, gone into; but it still remains a very shallow mind. Then there is the mind that has read a great deal, that can cleverly argue, analyze, that is able to quote from a great store of information. As you know very well, that type of mind is cunning, sharp, capable, but I would not call it a serious mind, any more than I would the shallow mind that attempt to be serious. There is also the mind that is sentimental, emotional, easily stirred to a superficial kind of feeling which is called devotion; but, to me, such a mind is not serious either.
By a serious mind I mean a mind that is deeply religious. A religious mind can be intellectual, it can argue, discuss, but it has its foundation at quite a different level altogether. A religious mind is not one that belongs to any particular society, group or organized religion. Such people are not serious at all, though they may become monks and nuns and go to church every day, or three times a day, or whatever it is they do. I am not being dogmatic or intolerant, but you will see as we go along how necessary, how imperative it is to have a mind that is not merely seeking; because a mind that is seeking is always in conflict. I will go into all this during these ten talks.
What is important is to have a mind that is trying - or rather, I would prefer not to use the word `try', because that is a bourgeois word, if I may say so without implying condemnation. I do not give to the word `bourgeois' the meaning that the communists give. I mean only that it is an ordinary, dull mind which says, "I will try". Seriousness is not a question of trying, it is a question of being.
I call that mind serious which is constantly looking, observing, being aware of itself and others, watching its own gestures, words, the way it talks, the way it walks; and which is also aware of the things around it, the pressures, the strains, the influence of environment, of the culture in which it has been brought up, and of all its own conditioning. Such a mind, being totally aware, I call a serious mind. Only such a mind can deliberately consider and give its energy to discover something more than the things which have been put together by man - something which may be called God, or what you will. So I feel that to be really serious is absolutely necessary during these three weeks if we are to arrive at an understanding of the things we are talking about. As I said, most of us think we are serious; but I'm afraid that the quality we regard as seriousness must be completely changed, because in the sense in which I am using the word, we are not serious. Many of you have heard me repeatedly, fortunately or unfortunately, for the last forty years, and had you been serious you would have been completely transformed. And the world needs such a transformation, a complete mutation of the mind. But that mutation cannot take place by any deliberate practice, or by adhering to a series of cunning theological or practical ideas. The transformation to which I am referring is not brought about by idea - `idea' being a rationalized, logical conclusion, a system of organized words and thoughts. However much one may organize thought and act upon it, through that thought and that action the mutation cannot take place. It is something totally different, it is a completely different quality, and about this I am going to talk during these several meetings.
Now, one of the principal questions which one has to put to oneself is this: how far, or to what depth can the mind penetrate into itself? That is the quality of seriousness, because it implies aware of the whole structure of one's own psychological being, with its urges, its compulsions, its desire to fulfil and its frustrations, its miseries, strains and anxieties, its struggles, sorrows, and the innumerable problems that it has. The mind that perpetually has problems is not a serious mind at all; but the mind that understands each problem as it arises and dissolves it immediately so that it is not carried over to the next day - such a mind is serious.
But unfortunately we are educated wrongly. We are never really serious except when some crisis arises, when some dreadful demand is made upon us, or we receive some terrible blow. Then we do try to be serious, we try to do something - but then it is too late. Please believe me, I am not being cynical, I am merely pointing out facts.
What are most of us interested in? If we have money, we turn to so-called spiritual things, or to intellectual amusements, or we discuss art, or take up a painting to express ourselves. If we have no money, our time is taken up day after day with earning it, and we are caught in that misery, in the endless routine and boredom of it. Most of us are trained to function mechanically in some job, year in and year out. We have responsibilities, a wife and children to provide for, and caught up in this mad world we try to be serious, we try to become religious; we go to church, we join this religious organization or that - or perhaps we hear about these meetings and because we have holidays we turn up here. But none of that will bring about this extraordinary transformation of the mind.
The world is in a state of crisis, and there is disintegration, degeneration. We are caught up in this wave of degeneration, and we seem to be utterly incapable of stepping out of it. Now, if these talks are to be of any value, of any significance whatever, we must discuss what to do, how to step out of this wave of degeneration. Most of us are getting old; those who have heard me, fortunately or unfortunately, for the past thirty or forty years are obviously much older than they were when they first began to listen. They have physically degenerated, and mentally - well, they know whether they have degenerated or not. And during these talks, and during the questions and answers afterwards, I would like us to discover for ourselves, without any shadow of doubt, the extraordinary energy which arises spontaneously and which will naturally and inevitably push us out of this wave of degeneration. Not that we are going to become any younger physically - that is one of those absurd, fanciful, romantic ideas. I am talking of an inward state of mind that does not degenerate.
Degeneration comes when there is conflict of any kind, and it is conflict that makes you a so-called individual. Through conflict you develop character, and within the psychological structure of the present society you have conflict and so you do have character. There, character is resistance. To leave the world and become a monk you need character. But we are not talking of character, which is comparatively easy to acquire. We are talking of a mind that is completely free from conflict; and it is only such a mind mind that is totally free from conflict of every kind, conscious as well as unconscious - that has no problem. If any problem arises, it can face that problem and dissolve it immediately. Such a mind is individual in the true sense of the word; it is unique. And it seems to me extraordinarily important that we should be such individuals; but we are not.
By individuality I mean a mind that is completely alone. Though it has been through a thousand experiences, known a thousand memories, lived a thousand years, such a mind has faced itself and is no longer a slave to the psychological structure of society. It is alone - by which I do not mean that it is isolated. There is a vast difference between the two. The mind that isolates itself becomes neurotic. The isolated mind has identified itself with a particular idea or belief, that is, with a particular form of psychological comfort; and the more it isolates itself in this way, the more it hopes to be free of conflict. But the very process of isolation is conflict, is resistance. We will discuss this as we go along; but we are talking now about the mind which has become an individual through being aware of its own processes and understanding the structure, the psyche of itself, the conscious as well as the unconscious. It is possible to go beyond the unconscious; but this is not the moment to go into detail as to what the unconscious is, and how to go beyond it. What we are doing this morning is laying the foundation for further inquiry.
Now, only a mind that is completely alone can find reality. And there is a reality - not a theoretical reality, not something invented by the Christians or the Hindus, or experienced by a few saints according to their particular conditioning, but a reality, an immensity which can be discovered only by a mind that has seen through its own ways and understood itself.
You know, it is an extraordinary thing to find out for oneself what it means to understand something immediately, without a lot of words; to see a fact as a fact, completely, without argumentation. From that act of seeing one can argue, discuss, go into detail; but one first has to have that astonishing intensity of seeing, because it is the very act of seeing - seeing without thought - that brings about transformation. This may sound rather absurd, but it is not, as you will find when we go into it later.
We look at everything, we listen to everything, as you are listening now. You hear only words, and the words produce certain reactions, conscious or unconscious; and those reactions interpret what you hear. You already know what the speaker is talking about because you have heard him for thirty years; or you have read a great deal, not only about what he is saying, but about other things as well. From that background the words bring forth a response, and that response prevents you from listening, prevents you from seeing. I wonder if you have ever noticed, when you suddenly see something beautiful - a majestic mountain, or a swift-running river, or a lovely smile on a child's face - how you look at it, how you see it. At the first moment of seeing it, there is no thought - the thing is too marvellous for words. But a second later the verbalization takes place, and you begin to interpret, translate, you go back to your memory. All such action prevents seeing, prevents listening.
Now, even though you have heard me umpteen times, can we, as we go along in these talks three times a week, find out for ourselves what is this act of seeing, this act of listening? If we can do that, everything else follows, because that very act brings about a transformation. But to see, to listen, the mind must be completely and spontaneously quiet - not forced, not drilled into quietness. It is only a really quiet mind that can listen, that can see, not a mind that has innumerable problems. When the mind realizes that it cannot see because it has many problems, that very knowing that it cannot see brings about the act of seeing.
All this demands an extraordinary attention. When you can pay undivided attention, not just intellectual or verbal attention, but when your whole being - body, mind and emotion - is attentive, you are then in a state of the highest sensitivity; and it is only such a mind that is virtuous.
Please do listen to this. The man who strives after virtue is not a virtuous man. The man who struggles to be good, kindly, is not good or kindly, because goodness, kindliness, or love becomes only when the mind is so completely attentive that it has no conflict.
I hope we are going to understand all these things as we go along together for the next three weeks. Perhaps you will now ask questions relevant to what I have been talking about this morning, and we can discuss some of them.
Questioner: Is not the deterioration of the mind that is going on in each one of us, the result of distraction?
Krishnamurti: Now, sir, why are we distracted? And why shouldn't we be distracted? As I am talking, is it distraction to listen to that stream, to listen to the birds, to see the green leaves shining in the sun? Surely, it becomes a distraction only when you want to put everything aside in order to concentrate on what I am saying. Distraction implies conflict, doesn't it? You want to pay attention to what I am saying, but your mind wanders off to the bird, to the river, to the train, to the leaf. You object to this wandering off, you want to stop it, to bring the mind back, and so it becomes a distraction, a conflict. Whereas, if you can listen to the stream and at the same time listen to what is being said, there is no distraction, no contradiction. Being attentive, you are not fighting off distraction. The moment you fight distraction, you have conflict and therefore deterioration.
So, for a mind that is aware, there is no distraction. Experiment with me as I am talking. Listen to that stream, be aware of the bird that is singing, notice the leaf - if you can see it, as I can from here - that is shining in the sun, see all these people who are wearing different colours, looking in different directions, listening in different ways, and do not fret over the botheration of these flies. Then you will find there is no distraction at all, and so the mind is extraordinarily alert. But a mind that is constantly fighting off distraction because it wants to concentrate on something, is in conflict, and therefore in a state of deterioration.
Questioner: Is it ever possible for the brain to be quiet?
Krishnamurti: This is really quite an enormous problem, because the brain is the result of time; it comes into being through association, through nervous responses, and it has accumulated for centuries a background of memory or instinctive knowledge from which it reacts. This is a fact, it is not my speculative explanation. The human brain has grown from that of the monkey, through the primitive to the so-called civilized man. It has learned, it has gathered tremendous experience. It knows when there is danger, it pursues pleasure and tries to avoid pain. It has innumerable desires, ambitions, drives, demands, all pulling in different directions.
Now, the question is, in view of all that, is it possible for the brain, which has accumulated an extraordinary amount of experience as memory, and which is neurologically sensitive, constantly listening, watching, feeling, interpreting - is it possible for such a brain to be completely quiet? Can it be alive, sensitive, yet completely still? I say it can, not theoretically, but actually; and it is only then that the mind, the brain is capable of meditation. The act of meditation is a most marvellous thing - but I won't go into that this morning.
So the questioner asks,is it possible for the brain to be quiet - the brain which is so highly developed, with an enormous background of memory from which it constantly reacts? Being the outcome of association, experience, memory, the result of time, can the brain ever be still? Most people are in a state of conflict, they are torn apart by innumerable desires: the desire to fulfil themselves through painting writing, through doing this or that. They want to be known, to become somebody in this monstrous, stupid world. And is such a brain - which is both the conscious and the unconscious - capable of being totally silent? If so, then how is it to jump from one state to the other? We will discuss this problem as we go along.
Questioner: When one looks at a flower through association and memory, one immediately names it, one says it is a rose or a violet. Since this verbalization takes place so instantaneously, what can one do about it?
Krishnamurti: Have you understood the question? Please, I am not being patronizing, but have you all understood the question? Yes? All right.
Now, doesn't this also happen to, you? When you look at a flower, don't you immediately say it is a violet, it is this, it is that? When you look at a woman, at a man, at a friend, you say it is so-and-so, don't you? And when this naming process takes place, it prevents you from listening with a fresh mind to what that person is saying; or you are not really looking at the flower, because your mind is caught up in a word, with all its past associations. So what is actually going on? We will analyze it a little bit and you will see.
When you see a certain flower, your immediate reaction is to say that it is a daffodil, because through time, through education, that particular flower has come to be associated in your mind with the word `daffodil', and your memory responds instantly with that term. So what has happened? You have given to what you see a name, you say it is a daffodil; and through naming it you have further fixed that image, with all its associations, in your memory. This process of naming prevents you from looking at the flower non-botanically, that is, without the background of your botanical knowledge. Do you follow?
Now, is it possible to look without naming? Can one look at another human being without saying he is a German, he is a Russian, he is a communist, he is a capitalist, he is a Hindu, he is a negro, he is this, he is that? Surely, to look without naming, one has to be free of words. Your mind is a slave to words, because you cannot think without words. For any form of communication, you must use words, and every word has its associations, its shades of meaning, But you can't just ignore the word and look. You have to be aware in yourself of this extraordinary process of naming, of associating, you have to see the immense value we have given to words through education and memory. To perceive that whole process and to be free of it, requires an extraordinary alertness. If you try - not `try', but if you do it, you will find out. It is meaningless to `try' something. Either you do it, or you don't.
Questioner: When we see a flower, or a tree, there are generally two states of mind, one following the other. For a second or two we are not conscious of looking, we just look, but a moment later we begin to translate it we see in terms of our established ideas; we want to find out if it can be photographed, and so on.
Krishnamurti: Quite right, sir. You look at that mountain, which is so immense, so magnificent, and the very beauty of it knocks out your consciousness and keeps it quiet for a second. Then you come out of that shock, and the whole process of memory comes into operation.
This question requires a great deal of consideration. During the first second or two, your consciousness is quiet as the result of an influence; the beauty of the tree, of the mountain, has overpowered you and made you quiet. But is that real quietness? Is that not a process which is going on in the world all the time? If you go to church, attend the Mass, the beauty, the pageantry of it makes you feel tremendously holy, awed, inspired, and you are quiet. But is that not a process of drugging the mind? Please follow this.
If something external, through the influence of its beauty, its majesty, its pomp, forces the mind to be quiet, is such a mind alert? Or is the alert mind one that is already silent when it sees the mountain; and, not having been made silent by the beauty of what it sees, it does not get caught up in verbalization? Such a mind observes without naming, it is in a state of silence all the time - but I won't use the words `all the time' because you will misunderstand them. That is what you want - you want to achieve this state and be in it all the time, which is so utterly childish.
First see the problem, the beauty of the problem. We are for a moment made silent by an incident: by a motor car accident, by seeing a majestic mountain or a beautiful tree, by the death of someone we love. And then begins the verbalizing process of naming, associating, of saying, `I am in sorrow', `How beautiful',`How terrible', `What a lovely thing that is'. You all know these two states: the state of enforced silence, followed by the state of perpetual verbalization. So the problem arises: how to achieve that state in which the mind can look without naming, that silence which is not brought about by somebody's greatness, or by the overwhelming grandeur of a mountain? I don't know if you have understood the problem.
Questioner: What is the relationship of the individual to society?
Krishnamurti: What is the relationship of the individual - the real individual about whom I have been talking - to society? And what is our present relationship - the relationship of the so-called individual - to society? And what do we mean by relationship?
Let us begin with relationship. What do we mean by that word? To be related is to be in contact, to have communion with another who understands me and whom I understand; it is to have companionship, friendship with another. Whether it is a relationship between wife and husband, between parent and child, or the relationship of the individual to society, we mean by that word a sense of communication, a sense of contact, little or great, superficial or profound. I think that is what we generally mean by relationship.
Now, are we related to anyone? Are you related to your wife or husband? Please question it, don't merely assume that you are. To be related to someone, we must be in contact with that person, not just physically, but emotionally, intellectually - at all levels. And are we? I am afraid we are not.
Our attitudes, our activities, our self-expressions, our pride, isolate us; and from that state of isolation we try to establish a relationship with another, with society. This is a fact, it is not my invention. We would like to be related, but we are not. In the process of what we call relationship, which is society, we think we are individuals because we have a name, a family, a bank account; our faces are different, we dress differently, and so on. All this gives us a peculiar sense of individuality. But are we really individuals, or merely the conditioned product of a particular society, of certain environmental influences?
To be an individual is to be unique, inwardly apart, quiet, alone. A mind that is alone has freed itself from all its conditioning. And what is its relationship to the mind which is conditioned? What is the relationship of a mind that is free to a mind that is not? Can there be a relationship between them? If you see and I do not, what is our relationship? You may help me, you may guide me, you may tell me this, that or the other; but we can have a relationship, in the true sense of the word, only when we both see, that is, when we can communicate immediately on the same level at the same time. Surely, it is only then that there is a possibility of communion - which is love, is it not?
July 7, 1963
Saanen 1st Public Talk 7th July 1963
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