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Madras 1964 (1)

Madras 4th Public Talk 22nd January 1964

It seems to me that one of the major problems that confronts each one of us is an utter lack of intense feeling. We have a certain emotional, sustained excitement about activities - what should be done or what should not be done. But we are rather warm about things that really do not matter at all. And it seems to me that there is lack of passion - not for a particular end to be achieved, not for some objective to be gained. I am talking of the sense of an intense, strong feeling.

Most of us have petty minds - small, narrow minds fixed in a petty groove - that run along very smoothly unless there is some kind of an accident; and then there is trouble, and afterwards they get back under another routine. The petty mind cannot face problems. It has innumerable problems, the whole problem of living. And it invariably translates these extraordinarily significant problems of life into its own petty, narrow, limited understanding and tries to twist this enormous stream of existence, the stream of life, into its own petty, little channels. And that is what we are confronted with, now - probably always. But it is much more so now, as the challenge is much greater and demands a response equally intense, equally strong, equally living.

This sense of passion is not a thing that you cultivate easily by taking some kind of a drug, getting into a hypnotic state about some ideals and so on. This passion comes naturally - it must. I am using the word `passion' purposely. For most of us, passion is employed only with regard to one thing, sex; or you suffer passionately and try to resolve that suffering. But I am using the word `passion' in the sense of a state of mind, a state of being, a state of your inward core - if there is such a thing - that feels very strongly, that is highly sensitive - sensitive alike to dirt, to squalor, to poverty, and to enormous riches and corruption, to the beauty of a tree, of a bird, to the flow of water, and to a pond that has the evening sky reflected upon it. To feel all this intensely, strongly, is necessary. Because without passion life becomes empty, shallow, and without much meaning. If you cannot see the beauty of a tree and love that tree, if you cannot care for it intensely, you are not living. I am using the words `you are not living' deliberately, because, in this country probably, religion is utterly divorced from beauty.

Without being sensitive to this extraordinary beauty of life, the beauty of a face, the line of a building, the shape of a tree, a bird on the wing and the morning song - if one is not aware of all that, if one does not feel all that very strongly, obviously, life, which is co-operation and relationship, has no meaning at all; then one merely functions mechanically. So, I would like to talk about that, this evening.

That passion is not devotion, is not sentimentality; it has nothing to do with sensation. The moment passion has a motive, or is aroused by a motive, or is for something, it becomes pleasure and pain. Please see this; I do not have to go into details, because I want to go further into this thing. If passion is aroused sexually or for some purpose, if passion has a cause, if it has an end in view, then in that so-called passion there is frustration, there is pain, there is the demand for the continuity of pleasure and therefore the fear of not having it, and the avoidance of pain. So, a passion with a motive, or a passion which is aroused, invariably ends in despair, pain, frustration, anxiety.

We are talking about passion without a motive - which is quite a different thing. Whether it exists or not is for you to find out; but we know that passion aroused ends in despair, in anxiety, in pain, or in the demand fora particular form of pleasure. And in that there is conflict, there is contradiction, there is a constant demand. We are talking of a passion that is without motive. There is such a passion. It has nothing to do with personal gain or loss, or all the petty little demands of a particular pleasure and the avoidance of pain. Without that passion you cannot possibly co-operate; and co-operation is life, which is relationship. Such co-operation is not for an idea; you co-operate not because the State drives you, not for a reward, not for the avoidance of a punishment, not for working for some economic ideal, a utopia; you co-operate not for working together because of some ideal - all those, for us, are not conducive to co-operation.

I am talking of the spirit of co-operation. If we do not co-operate, there cannot be relationship. Life demands that you and I co-operate, do things together, work together, feel together, live together, see things together. And this `togetherness' must be at the same time, of the same intensity, at the same level; otherwise, there is no togetherness. And if one observes more and more this rather sad and destructive world, the mind is becoming mechanical, routine-bound, technologically held in a narrow groove. And therefore, gradually, the sense of intensity, the sense of feeling strongly about anything fades away. And if you cannot feel strongly, obviously the mind is insensitive, dull, fearful and all the rest of it.

So, the passion we are talking about, is a state of being. It is really quite extraordinary, if you go into it; it is not tinged with suffering, it has no self-pity, it has no sense of fear. And to understand it, we must understand desire. Especially all those people who have been brought up on religious ideas, religious sanctions in a particular society where apparently the so-called religion plays an important part, think that to realize what they call God, the mind must be without desire; they consider that desirelessness, to be without desire, is one of the primary, important things. Probably you know all the books talking about this, all the shlokas and all the rest of the business. We have killed all passion successfully, except in one direction - sexually. And, we have tamed desire. Society, religion, living together - we have made of all that a thing that has no vitality, because we have the idea that a man, a being, a human entity, that has got strong feelings verging on an intense desire, cannot possibly understand that which is so-called God.

What is wrong with desire? You all have it, either very strongly or in a weak, dull manner; everybody has desire of some kind or another. What is wrong with it? Why do we so easily agree to subjugate, to destroy, to pervert, to suppress desire? Because apparently desire brings conflict - the desire to have wealth, to have a position, to have fame, all the rest of it. And to achieve fame, to have possessions, to feel very strongly, implies conflict, disturbance; and we do not want to be disturbed. That is all what we are seeking essentially, deeply - not to be disturbed. But when we are disturbed, we try to find a way out of it, and settle back in a comforting state where nothing will disturb us.

So, for us, desire is a disturbance. Please follow this. These are all psychological facts - it is not a matter of whether you accept it or do not accept it, whether you agree or disagree. These are facts, not my facts. Desire then becomes a thing that must be controlled, that must be suppressed; and so all our effort goes into this: that, at any price, we are not to be disturbed, and that anything that disturbs must be suppressed, sublimated, or put aside.

Please, as we said the other day, as we keep repeating at every talk, what is important is not to hear the words, but actually to listen. There is a great beauty in listening. This evening, there was a bird outside the window, a kingfisher. It had a large beak, brilliant feathers, intensely blue in colour. It was calling; another bird of a similar kind, a kingfisher, far away, was answering. Just to listen to it; not to say, "That is a kingfisher", "How beautiful!" or "How ugly!", "I wish that crow would stop cawing!" - I do not know if you have listened with that state of mind. Just listening, where there is no profit, where there is no utilitarian purpose, when you are not getting something, when you are not avoiding something. Or seeing the sunset, that brilliant glow of an evening, that Venus clear and the slip of a young moon - just to look at it and to feel it very strongly.

And if you do listen in that happy manner, with an ease, without any strain, then that very act of listening is a miracle. It is a miracle, because in that action, in that moment, you comprehend all the act of listening, understanding, seeing; and you have broken down the walls, and there is space between you and the world and the thing you are listening to. And you must have this space, to observe, to see, to listen; the wider, the deeper that space, the more beauty the more depth, there is. A different quality comes into being when there is this space between you and the thing that you are listening to.

I am not being poetical, sentimental or romantic. But we do not know how to listen, just to listen - to the wife, or to the husband, who is nagging or quarrelling or angry, who is bullying. If you just listen, you understand a great deal; then the heavens are wide open. Do it sometimes; do not try it, but do it; and you will find out for yourself.

In the same way, I hope you are listening. Because what we are talking about is something beyond the mere word. The word is not the thing. The word `passion' is not passion. To feel that and to be caught in it without any volition or directive or purpose, to listen to this thing called desire, to listen to your own desires which you have, plenty of them, weak or strong - when you do that, you will see what a tremendous damage you do when you suppress desire, when you distort it, when you want to fulfil it, when you want to do something about it, when you have an opinion about it.

Most people have lost this passion. Probably one has had it once in one's youth

to become a rich man, to have fame and to live a bourgeois or a respectable life; perhaps a vague muttering of that. And society - which is what you are - suppresses that. And so one has to adjust oneself to you who are dead, who are respectable, who have not even a spark of passion; and then one becomes a part of you, and thereby loses this passion.

To understand this whole problem of desire, we must understand effort. Because from the moment we go to school till we die, we are making effort; our mind, our psyche, is a battleground. There is never a moment of quietness, ease, freedom; we are always battling, striving, pushing, gathering, avoiding, accumulating - this is what is our life! I am not describing something which is not. Our life is a constant effort. I do not know if you have not noticed that when you do not make an effort - which does not mean you stagnate, which does not mean you go to sleep - , when your whole being is without effort, then you see things very clearly, very sharply, with a vitality, with an energy, with a passion.

And we make effort because we are driven by two or more contrary desires. We are always opposing one desire by another desire, the desire to have and the desire not to have - if you are at all caught! But if you have one desire, then there is no problem. You pursue that one desire ruthlessly, logically or illogically, and with all the things entailed - pain, pleasure. But most of us, being a little civilized - not too much civilized - , have these contrary desires, and so there is a battle.

There is this religious sanction that you must be without desire - the pattern, the ideal laid down by this teacher or that teacher, by this guru or that guru, repeating, repeating. There is that pattern established in the consciousness through centuries of propaganda which you call religion. And also there is the desire, your own instinctual desire of everyday demands, pressures, strains. So there is a contradiction between the two. And you have to suppress the one and accept the other, or deny the other and pursue the one that you have - all that implies effort.

For me, every act of volition, that is, every act of desire - and desire is a reaction - must entail effort and contradiction, and therefore implies a mind broken, torn between innumerable desires. For example, you see something, a car, a beautiful car; you touch it sensationally; then you have the desire to possess it. Or you may have any other form of desire - you can observe for yourself how desire comes into being. When any desire arises in you, you are also aware of the traditional desire to suppress it - which is deeply rooted in all people. But as the desire arises, you have to be aware of it, to understand it, to listen to all the promptings - to listen; not to deny it, not to suppress it, not to put it aside, not to run away from it. You cannot run away from desires.

All the saints and all the yogis are driven, torn by desire. When they put on their loincloth and ashes, they think they lead a very simple life. Not a bit of it - inside they are boiling, of which they are conscious or unconscious; and they do not know what to do. And so they make their life and their society with their saints an ugly, brutal, venomous thing full of hatred. Because, if you do not understand desire, you create enmity, you have antagonisms. And no amount of preaching brotherhood has any meaning at all, if you do not understand this extraordinarily simple thing called desire. If you deny desire, if you say, "I have had an experience with that desire and I must no longer have it", then you are merely comparing it, the living desire, with something which you already had - which has become a memory which is going to control - and you are caught again in the battle.

But as each desire arises - it does not matter if it is for a most simple thing - you have to watch it coming, living flowering, getting new vitality. And if you do not suppress it, if you do not compare it, if your past memory of that particular experience does not dominate it, and if you can look at it with that space, then you will see that particular desire is being transformed into an intensity of feeling without an object, into a feeling. But for most of us will is necessary, or at least we think will is necessary. Will is the cord twisted of many desires. And the moment you have the will to do or the will to deny, you are in a state of resistance. And, therefore, you are back again in a state of conflict.

What we are talking about is a mind that is mature, that has understood conflict. A mind that has understood conflict, that has understood this whole question of desire with all its problems, that has matured - only such a mind can understand what is real, what is true. No other mind, not the mind that has suppressed desire, can understand what is real. Because to understand what is true, you must have passion. Passion is this extraordinary thing that drives you, not aroused, not pushed by some desire. That is a flame, and without that you cannot bring about a change in the world, because the world is full of problems.

And, as you are a part of the world, you are full of problems - the little quarrels with your wives, with your husbands; the brutality, the problem of starvation in this country, in the East, in Asia; the problems of war; the thing called peace; the problem of co-operation. There are problems: you cannot avoid them. They are there every minute; consciously or unconsciously, they are impinging on your mind. Either you understand them as they arise, as you are conscious of them - that is, you resolve them immediately - or you carry them over for the next day. The carrying over for the next day is the real problem - not whether you solve the problem or not. Because when you carry them over for the next day, that is what makes the mind dull, stupid; you give time for the problem to take root in your mind. Therefore, you give strain, stress to the brain cells, and the brain cells get tired. A brain that is tired cannot possibly understand. You need a fresh mind each day. So you have to understand problems - not carry them over.

And to understand a problem, the first thing is: not to say, "I must resolve it, I must find an answer, I must find a way out of it; how am I to find the right answer to it?", not to worry like a dog with a bone. That is all what you do; and the more you worry, the more you think you are serious! Please observe your own minds, your own life, not what the speaker is saying. And to resolve problems - to resolve them, not to carry them over - you have to look at them; you have to be sensitive enough to observe the implications, the meaning, the inwardness of a problem. That means you have to listen to it - to listen to all the whispers, to all the significance of a problem, not merely verbally but to see, to feel, to touch the problem with your eyes, with your nose, with your ears, with your whole being. That means not to be caught in the word which points to the problem. I do not know if you understand that the word is not the problem. The word `tree' is not the tree. But, for most of us, the word is important, not the thing behind the word; the symbol has much more significance than the fact.

So a mind has to be alert, alive, watching, listening to every problem. The problem is there, and you cannot deny a problem. A problem means a response to a challenge, and you respond either totally, completely, or inadequately. The inadequate response to the challenge creates the problem. You are not all the time awake, you cannot be aware, you cannot be sensitive all the twenty four hours of the day; so, your responses are inadequate, and this creates the problem; and then you do not meet the problem immediately. To meet completely the immediate problem - the thought, the feeling - is not to try to solve it, not to run away from it, not to compare it, not to say, "This is the way to solve it" - all the murmurings, the stupid things the mind and the brain go through hoping to understand the problem. To meet it completely is to listen to it, to be sensitive. And you cannot be sensitive if you are running away, if you are suppressing, if you have an answer to the problem.

So we begin to see that the mind has to be alert and sensitive. I am using the word `mind' as the interplay between the brain and the thing that controls the brain; the mind is not only the nerves, the brain cells but that which is both beyond and made up of the cells - the total thing. The mind which most of us have is so burdened, heavy with innumerable problems, and every day we add more to them. And so our whole being becomes dull, and we lose all sensitivity. And when we are not sensitive, we make effort. Please see the vicious circle that we are caught in.

So, the understanding of desire is necessary. You have `to understand desire', not `to be without desire'. If you kill desire, you are paralysed. When you look at that sunset in front of you, the very looking is a delight, if you are at all sensitive. That is also desire - the delight. And if you cannot see that sunset and delight in it, you are not sensitive. If you cannot see a rich man in a big car and delight in that - not because you want it but you are just delighted to see a man in a big car - , or if you cannot see a poor, unwashed, dirty, uneducated human being in despair, and feel enormous pity, affection, love, you are not sensitive. How can you then find reality, if you have not this sensitivity and feeling?

So you have to understand desire. And to understand every prompting of desire, you must have space, and not try to fill the space by your own thoughts or memories, or how to achieve, or how to destroy that desire. Then out of that understanding comes love. Most of us do not have love, we do not know what it means. We know pleasure, we know pain. We know the inconsistency of pleasure and, probably, the continuous pain. And we know the pleasure of sex and the pleasure of achieving fame, position, prestige, and the pleasure of having tremendous control over one's own body as the ascetics do, keeping a record: we know all these. We are everlastingly talking about love; but we do not know what it means, because we have not understood desire which is the beginning of love.

Without love there is no morality - there is conformity to a pattern, a social or a so-called religious pattern. Without love there is no virtue. Love is something spontaneous, real, alive. And virtue is not a thing that you beget by constant practice; it is something spontaneous, akin to love. Virtue is not a memory according to which you function as a virtuous human being. If you have no love, you are not virtuous. You may go to the temple, you may lead a most respectable family life, you may have the social moralities; but you are not virtuous. Because your heart is barren, empty, dull, stupid, because you have not understood desire. Therefore life becomes an endless battleground, and effort ends always in death. Effort always ends in death, because that is all you know.

So, a man who would understand desire, has to understand, has to listen to every prompting of the mind and the heart, to every mood, to every change of thought and feeling, has to watch it; he has to become sensitive, become alive to it. You cannot become alive to desire, if you condemn it or compare it. You must care for desire, because it will give you an enormous understanding. And out of that understanding there is sensitivity. You are then sensitive not only physically to beauty, to the dirt, to the stars, to a smiling face or to tears, but also to all the mutterings, the whispers that are in your minds, the secret hopes and fears.

And out of this listening, watching, comes passion, this passion which is akin to love. And it is only this state that can co-operate. And also it is only this state that can, because it can co-operate, know also when not to co-operate. Therefore, out of this depth of understanding, watching, the mind becomes efficient, clear, full of vitality, vigour; and it is only such a mind that can journey very far.

January 22, 1964


Madras 1964 (1)

Madras 4th Public Talk 22nd January 1964

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