Saanen 9th Public Talk 25th July 1963
One observes that in modern civilization, where everything is being highly organized, there is less and less freedom in action. We are losing spontaneity and passion in action. For most of us, action has become routine. Whether it is going to the office every day, washing dishes in the kitchen, writing, painting, or what you will, our action is becoming more and more canalized, shaped according to a series of patterns; and when everything we do is thus reduced to a routine, there is obviously no questioning of action, no inquiry into action at all. The question of what is the right thing to do does arise when we have problems; but then we merely try to analyze our problems, or we grope about, hoping to find a solution. That is the only action we know. But it seems to me there is a completely different kind of action, which is really inaction, and I would like, if I can, to go into it rather deeply this morning.
We never ask ourselves or try to find out what action is, apart from our routine response to the everyday demands of society, or apart from our efforts to solve some particularly urgent problem. Within this narrow field we do try to find out what is the right thing to do. But I think there is a wider field of inquiry and a greater depth of search to find out what action is; and if we could find that out, then our limited actions in response to the demands of a particular society, whether capitalistic or socialistic, would have a much greater significance. So, what is action? We are not trying to find out what one should do under a particular set of circumstances - that will be answered a little later. If we restrict ourselves to the question of what to do with regard to a given issue, then action becomes superficial, limited, and not very significant. The question is not what to do, but rather: what is action?
For most of us, action has various motives, or it is an approximation to some ideal. Our behaviour is guided by a concept, by a formula, by an idea, so there is a gap between action and the idea. This gap, this division, breeds conflict, and thereby we lose energy; and without energy there is no real action. Action demands the energy of freedom, of spontaneity; and if action is conditioned, limited by an idea, shaped according to a formula or a rationalized system of thought, then action loses its own momentum, its spontaneous drive.
I hope that I shall be able to explain what I mean as we go along. I am not talking theoretically. As I have often pointed out, I am not indulging in theories, in mere ideas. In all these talks we are concerned with facts, with action.
Now, as long as action is limited, confined by an idea, that action not only creates conflict and thereby loses energy, but it lacks the spontaneity that is so productive of energy. We know only the limited energy that is generated in us by conflict, by competition, by friction. Our response to challenge depends upon a concept, an idea, a formulation, which means that our response is limited - and thereby, it seems to me, we lose the extraordinary vitality of action.
To put it differently, if you observe yourself you will see that there is a concept, an image, an idea according to which you are living. You are always approximating your action to that idea, thereby creating friction, conflict, and losing energy. But to think very clearly, to be highly sensitive, to feel passionately about anything, one needs tremendous energy. So it seems to me that the problem for most of us is that we lack energy inwardly, though outwardly we may be very active - going to the office, doing things at home, and all the rest of it. Inwardly we have not enough energy to tackle a problem directly and resolve it instantly. We carry the problem over from day to day, and thereby we become burdened with problems.
Now, is it possible to act without idea? That is, can one live completely in the present? As we saw the other day, to live completely in the present, to give one's whole attention to the present, is to die to the past. This demands an awareness not only of the conscious movements of the mind, but also of its unconscious movements. One has to be aware of all one's thoughts and feelings, of all one's actions, not according to an idea or a formula, but be simply aware of them without interpretation, and thereby live so totally in the present that action is immediate and not an approximation to some idea or ideal.
If you are at all aware of the workings of your own mind, you will know that you are constantly observing with a conclusion, and according to that conclusion you approve, condemn, interpret, or try to modify what you see. Now, if there is no conclusion, no interpretation, but pure observation, then that very observation is action without idea. After all, the cultivation of thought, however necessary, is not love. Love, it seems to me, is direct action, not a thought-out, ideational action.
I wonder if I am communicating what I want to convey?
You see, each one of us is in need of a total mutation; there must be a complete transformation deep down, at the very root of our consciousness, otherwise we are mere automatons living in a shoddy, superficial world with all its conflicts, sorrows, miseries, and responding only to the most superficial demands and urges. To bring about this fundamental inward revolution, one must inquire into action; one must find out if there is an action which is not dictated by circumstances, by ambition, by social demands, by reformatory ideals, by nationalistic or other pressures. To find out if there is such an action, it seems to me that one must go very deeply into oneself - so deeply that the mind is no longer operating according to ideas, conclusions, memories, and is therefore capable of living in that total present which in itself modifies the very nature of action.
I am afraid I am not conveying this at all.
What is communion? I want to convey something to you which I feel is very important; and if it is to be conveyed, there must obviously be co-operation between us, between the listener and the speaker. So, how do you co-operate? How do you listen to what is being said? Do you listen merely to capture the idea, the significance of words? Or are you listening and at the same time observing your own reactions and responses, both conscious and unconscious? That is, are you listening in the active present, or merely approximating your thought to what is being said? I want to say something, which is this: one can live completely in the present, without a fixed idea, without any preconceived thought, and this living completely in the present gives the tremendous energy which is necessary to bring about a total revolution in the mind. This is what I want to convey, and not just in words. I want to convey it in such a way that you feel the reality of it, so that, when you leave here, a mutation, a tremendous revolution will have taken place.
As I was saying the other day, for most of us thought has become tremendously important - thought being idea, whether rational or irrational, neurotic or so-called normal. Thought guides our lives, shapes our ends, and controls our actions. Now, to the speaker, what we call thought has no importance whatsoever, because it is merely the response of memory, the voice of tradition, of the accumulated experiences of the past; and the past cannot meet the everchanging present. To meet the present, the mind must be totally devoid of thought, so that there is observation without idea; and it is this observation without idea which gives the tremendous energy for mutation to take place. That is, the mind must be empty of all the things that memory has put into it. We need memory in order to function, to operate, to do things; we must have the past as knowledge but without letting it interfere in any way with the present, which is action, which is energy.
Now, you have listened to what has just been said. And how have you listened to it? Have you listened and observed so that you see the fact for yourself? Or have you merely listened with the idea that you must live in the present and capture its significance? Either one sees the fact; or one has an idea about the fact and then interprets the fact according to that idea.
You see, in our lives there is very little love; we actually do not know what it means. We know the so-called love that brings with it jealousy, envy, anger, confusion, misery. We all know that well enough. But we do not really know what it means to be in a state of love, do we? We may love somebody in particular, but we do not know that extraordinarily vital, clear state of being which is love. Most of us have very little love in our hearts, and that is why we demand it of another. Being without love, we generally find release along a fixed avenue of self-fulfilment, either sexual, or intellectual, or in some neurotic way; so our problems increase and become more and more acute.
Now, I am talking of a mind that has no problem at all - or rather, when a problem arises, it understands and deals with it immediately, so that there is no residue and the problem does not leave a mark. That is action; that is living in the present. We are going to have problems all the time, problems of various kinds; and as each problem arises, can we not deal with it so completely that it does not leave a mark - the memory of something we have learnt and with which we approach a new problem? If we approach the new problem with a memory, we cannot resolve that problem. What I am trying to convey is that there is an action in which idea is in no way involved, and therefore that action is direct and not the result of a mechanical memory. Such action releases tremendous energy; and you need tremendous energy to find out what is true, to discover what is beyond the measures which man has established for himself, beyond the things built by the mind.
Let me put the question differently. Most of us lead a very shallow life, and for a time we are satisfied to live in this petty, narrow way. Then, realizing that we are living superficially, we feel discontented and try to find a way to become deep. But a shallow mind trying to become deep is still shallow. A petty mind may try to find God, but it will still be petty, and its God will also be petty. Now, how to transform completely the dull, shallow, stupid mind, so that it is totally alive? - that is the question.
The appalling conditions in the world demand that you have a new, fresh mind, because otherwise the problems are going to increase. There will be more bloodshed, more wars, more confusion, more competition, more so-called progress and slavery to things. If your mind is not fresh, it is going to be caught by circumstances. Not only that, but you also need a fresh, young mind to find out if there is something beyond the measurable, beyond the thing; put together by society, beyond the beliefs and dogmas invented by the priests. For that you need tremendous energy - an energy which is not the outcome of conflict, an energy that has no motive. And you can awaken that destructive, liberating, clarifying energy only when you have understood and resolved in yourself every form of conflict. Conflict comes to an end when there is self-knowing - knowing the totality of your own consciousness. We have gone into that - how to inquire into oneself - so I will not repeat it now.
Without love we live in sorrow and misery, in everlasting conflict. And surely love has no conflict. You may say, "That is merely an idea, an ideal, a theoretically perfect state; but it is not. Love comes into being when we really begin to understand the totality of ourselves. So what is important is to discover for oneself that one is caught in words, in ideas. We are slaves to formulas, to concepts, and the perception of that fact alters the very nature of action. In the mutation of action there is passion, which is energy; and when it has this energy, which is part of love, part of creation, the mind can enter into something which it has not conceived or formulated, something unknown.
Can we perhaps discuss this?
Questioner: To be aware one must meditate, and meditation implies complete harmony of thought and feeling. If one is incapable of that complete harmony, how can one be aware?
Krishnamurti: When you speak of being `aware', what do you mean by that word? I am aware of you, and you are aware of me. I see many faces, many colours; I see the tent, I hear the noise of the river and the song of a bird; through that gap I see the fluttering of a leaf in the wind, and so on. I am aware of all that, and of my reactions to all that. I am also aware that these reactions arise according to my conditioning, my memories, my accumulated knowledge. I see that I interpret everything I hear in terms of like or dislike, according to my particular prejudices. I am totally aware of my conscious and unconscious motives, demands, urges. By using the word 'aware', the speaker means to include all that, but perhaps the Questioner does not.
Questioner: If one is neurotic or mad, one cannot be aware.
Krishnamurti: Obviously. Now, wait a minute. Are you speaking for someone else who is neurotic, or do you realize that you are yourself neurotic? No, please don't laugh it off. This is a very serious question I have put to you. If one is aware that one is neurotic - and to be aware of it is a very difficult thing to do - , then one is already coming out of one's neuroticism. But most of us are not aware of our peculiarities, of our slightly unbalanced states, of our exaggerations, idiosyncrasies and fixations. To be aware of them requires constant attention, and most of us have neither the energy, the time, nor the inclination to observe ourselves. We would rather go to an analyst, to somebody who will do the job for us, and thereby we complicate our lives still more. So, if you are neurotic, as most of us are, then to bring about a change you must be aware of yourself, not only superficially but deeply. You must watch every word, all the things that you feel and think, go into yourself profoundly. Then perhaps, out of that awareness, there comes meditation. But we have gone into that, and I won't go into it again.
Questioner: When a mother gives birth to a child, she takes care of it immediately. In this action is there not love, even though the woman may not have an innocent mind?
Krishnamurti: Sir, don't you want to find out for yourself what action is? Don't you want to find out what it means to live totally in the present? Don't you want to strip yourself of all the false things that society and environrnent have imposed upon you and discover what is truth, what is the meaning of this whole business of living. That demands a great deal of inquiry, which most of us are apparently unwilling to undertake, and therefore we ask questions that I am afraid are rather irrelevant.
Sir, you know what is going on in the world: the threats of war, the hectic competition, the senseless brutalities. What is your response to all that? Don't you want to find out how to act in relation to all that? Or are we all so concerned with our own selves that we have no time for the bigger questions. Perhaps you have an answer for all this which you have been given by some authority, and therefore you are able to respond - but only verbally, not profoundly, not from your heart and mind, from your own depth. That is why this morning I have talked about action. A human being has to act, his very living is action, but that action has led us to a great deal of misery, corruption, confusion; therefore we have to find a completely different way of acting, a different way of living. We cannot merely live according to some definition, according to the ideas of Marx, Lenin, or any other authority. We have to tear all this down and find out for ourselves what is true.
Questioner: To think clearly, to observe directly, you say we need space in the mind - space between oneself and what one sees. Most of us have no such space, our minds are crowded with ideas, cluttered up with memories. How are we to come by that space?
Krishnamurti: We have already talked about this so much! I wonder with what urgency, with what intensity we live! The world as it is demands the clarifying action of an uncluttered mind, a mind that is not neurotic, a mind that has no fixed point from which it starts to think. First of all, do you see the necessity of such a mind? And if you see the necessity of such a mind how are you going to get it? Can anybody give it to you? Surely, you have to work furiously, you have to give all your energy to it. But you see, most of us have not that energy because we are so afraid. We are afraid for our own little securities, for our own little back garden, and that fear deprives us of any energy we have. So you have to tackle all that; you have to strip yourself of all fear. We have discussed this during these nine talks; and as I have said, when you see that your mind is clouded, fearful, that very act of seeing brings about an action which will destroy fear.
Questioner: Is there a difference between observing oneself. and observing something outside?
Krishnamurti: When we say `outside' and `inside`, what do we mean by those words? Outside there are the mountains, the trees, the river, the people. Inside are my private thoughts hopes. fears, reactions; and also there is the thinker who observes, judges, condemns, evaluates. So there is the psychological division of the thinker and the thought, or the experiencer and the thing experienced, which is one aspect of the `inside' and the `outside; and there is the more obvious division of the objective world outside and the subjective world inside. My wife is outside, and I am inside - the `I' being my ambition, my greed, my bestiality, my cruelty, my love, and all the rest of it. Now, how do you observe the outside, and how do you observe the inside? Do you observe with a mind which merely reacts, that is with a mind which says, "That is good, this is bad", "That is a mountain, this is a tree"? Or do you observe without thought, without idea?
Perhaps I can make it a little clearer by putting it differently.
When you see a flower, do you observe it botanically, or non-botanically? That is, do you give the flower a name, or do you merely observe it without giving it a name? Do you see the difference?
Let us go into it a little bit more. By our circumstances, by our upbringing, by our education and so on, most of us are made dull; we are half asleep and we meed to be challenged, otherwise we fall completely asleep. Now, being challenged, I am forced to observe. Generally I observe very little. I observe only the things that are immediately around me, the things with which I am directly concerned. But the challenge of the outside world - society, economic problems, the problems of relationship, death, and so on and so on - shakes me out of my lethargy, my dullness, my laziness, and I become a little more awake, intelligent, sensitive. I begin to question myself, to inquire, to search, to grope, to ask, to demand, so I no longer need an outside challenge; and for the man who does not need an outside challenge, there is no division between the outside and the inside. He is in a state of inquiry, a state of revolution; he is constantly observing, questioning everything around him and within himself. Then if he goes still farther, he becomes a light unto himself; he is completely awake, and therefore needs no challenge at all. But that is far away for most of us
We say there is the outside and the inside; but is there actually such a division psychologically? Or is it like the tide that goes out and comes in? If you have listened to that question and gone into it yourself to find out the truth of the matter, then how do you look at the mountain, at the tree, at your wife, your children, at your neighbour, at ideas? What is your relationship with the quarrelling, the mischief that is going on in the world? Are you a part of it? Are you the result of society, of your environment? Or have you understood and moved away from it? If you have, then you are already something entirely different; there is a mutation taking place that gives you a clarity, an urgency, a sense of love without motive.
Questioner: Is spontaneous action right action?
Krishnamurti; Do you know how difficult it is to be really spontaneous? When we are so conditioned by society, when we live on memory, on the past, how can we possibly be spontaneous? Surely, to do something spontaneously is to act without motive, without calculation, without any self-interested feeling. It is not self-centred action. You just do it out of the fullness of your being. But to be really spontaneous requires stripping yourself completely of the past. It is only the innocent mind that can be spontaneous.
July 25, 1963
Saanen 9th Public Talk 25th July 1963
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