Saanen 4th Public Talk 19th July 1964
There is, I consider, a vast difference between change and mutation. Mere change will not lead anywhere. One can become superficially adaptable, very clever at adjusting oneself to the different environments and circumstances of society, and to various forms of inward and outward pressure; but mutation demands a quite different state of mind, and this morning I would like to point out the difference between these two.
Change is alteration, reform, the substitution of one thing for another. Change implies an act of will, conscious or unconscious. And considering the confusion, the starvation, the oppression, the utter misery that exists throughout undeveloped Asia, there must obviously be a radical, revolutionary change. There must be not only a physical or economic change, but also a psychological change - a change at all levels of our being, outward as well as inward, in order to bring about a better existence for man. I think this is fairly obvious and even the most conservative accept it. But even though we accept this obvious fact, I am afraid that most of us have not gone very far into the question of what is implied in change. Does adjustment, substitution, reform, go to any great depth, or is it merely a superficial polishing, a cleansing of morality in human relationship? I think we ought to understand pretty deeply and thoroughly what is involved in this process of change, before we go into the question of mutation. Though change is necessary, to me it is always superficial. I mean by change a movement brought about by desire or will, an initiative focussed in a particular direction, towards a well-defined attitude or action. All change obviously has behind it a motive. The motive may be personal or collective, it may be manifest or ulterior; it may be a kindly, generous motive, or a motive of fear, despair; but whatever the nature of the motive, at whatever level, the initiative or movement springing from that motive does produce a certain change. I think this is fairly clear. Most of us are very susceptible, individually and collectively, to modifying our attitudes under influence, under pressure, and again when there is a new invention of some kind which directly or indirectly affects our life. We can be made to change our thoughts, orient them in a different direction, by a newspaper article, or by the propagation of an idea. Organized religion insists on educating us from childhood in a certain form of belief, thereby conditioning the mind, and for the rest of our life any change that we make is generally within the modified limits of that belief.
So, very few of us change, except with a motive. The motive may be altruistic or personal, limited or wide; it may be the fear of losing a reward, or of not attaining some promised future state. One sacrifices oneself for the collective, for the State, for an ideology, or for a particular form of belief in God. All this involves a certain change, brought about consciously or unconsciously.
Now, what we call change is a modified continuity of what has been, and in this so-called change we have become very clever. We are constantly making new discoveries in physics, science, mathematics, inventing new things, preparing to go to the moon, and so on and so on. In certain areas we are becoming extraordinarily knowledgeable, very well informed; and this kind of change implies having the capacity to adjust oneself to the new environment, to the new pressures which it creates. But is that all? One perceives the implications of this superficial form of change. Yet one knows, inwardly, deeply, that there must be a radical change - a change not brought about through any motive or as the result of any pressure. One realizes that there must be a mutation at the very root of the mind itself, otherwise we are just a lot of clever monkeys with extraordinary capacities - we are not really human beings at all.
So, realizing all this deeply within oneself, what is one to do? One sees that there must be a revolutionary change, a complete mutation at the very root of our being, otherwise our problems, both economic and social, will inevitably increase and become more and more critical. One needs a new, fresh mind - and for this there must be, right through one's consciousness, a mutation which is not brought about by an act of will, and which therefore has no motive.
I do not know if I am making myself clear.
Seeing the necessity of a change, one can exercise will to bring it about - will being desire strengthened in a particular direction by determination and initiated by thought, by fear, by revolt. But all such change - the change brought about by the action of desire, of will - is still limited. It is a modified continuity of what has been, as one can see from what is going on in the communist world, and also in the capitalist countries. So there must be an extraordinary revolution, a psychological revolution in the human being, in man himself; but if he has an aim, if his revolution is planned, then it is still within the limits of the known, and therefore it is not a change at all.
Look. I can change myself, I can force myself to think differently, to adopt a different set of beliefs; I can stop a particular habit, get rid of nationalism, reform my thinking, brainwash myself instead of being brainwashed by a party or a church. Such changes in myself are fairly easy to make; but I see the utter futility of all that, because it is superficial and does not lead to a great depth of understanding from which one can live, be, and function. So what is one to do?
Do you understand my question? I hope I have made it clear.
If I make an effort to change, that effort has a motive, which means that desire initiates a movement in a particular direction. There is the action of will, and therefore any chance which is brought about is merely a modification - it is really not a change at all.
I see very clearly that I must change, and that the change must come about without effort. Any effort to change defeats itself, because it implies the action of desire, of will, according to a pre-established pattern, formula, or concept. So what is one to do?
I do not know if you feel the same way I do about all this - how extraordinarily interesting it is, not only intellectually, but as a vital factor in one's own life. For millions of years man has been making a ceaseless effort to change, yet he is still caught in misery, in despair, in fear, with only an occasional flash of joy and delight. And how is this entity, who has been so heavily conditioned for so long, to throw off his burden without effort ? That is the question we are asking ourselves. But the throwing off of the burden must not become another problem; because, as I pointed out the other day, a problem is something we do not understand, something we have not the capacity to go to the very end of and finish with.
To bring about this mutation - not `bring about', those are the wrong words. There must be a mutation, and this mutation must take place now. If you introduce time as a factor in mutation, then time creates the problem. There is no tomorrow, there is no time at all for me to change in - time being thought. It is now or never. Do you understand?
I see the necessity of this radical change in me as a human being, as part of the whole human race; and I also see that time, which is thought, must not be a factor in it at all. Thought cannot resolve this problem. I have exercised thought for thousands upon thousands of years, yet I have not changed. I carry on with my habits, with my greed, with my envy, with my fears, and I am still caught up in the whole competitive pattern of existence. It is thought that has created the pattern; and thought cannot under any circumstances alter this pattern without creating another - thought being time. So I cannot look to thought, to time, to bring about a mutation, a radical change. There can be no exercising of will, no allowing of thought to guide the change.
Then what have I left? I see that desire, which is will, cannot bring about a real mutation in myself. Man has played with that for centuries, and it has produced no fundamental change in him. He has also used thought as an instrument to bring about a change within himself - thought as time, thought as tomorrow, with all its demands, inventions, pressures, influences - and again there has been no radical transformation. So what is one to do?
Now, if one has understood the whole structure and movement of the will, then the will does not operate at all; and if one sees that the use of thought, or time, as an instrument of change, is merely a postponement, then the thought process comes to an and. But what do we mean when we say that we see or understand something? Is understanding merely intellectual, verbal, or does it mean seeing something as a fact? I may say that I understand - but the word is not the thing. The intellectual understanding of a problem is not the resolution of that problem. When we comprehend something only verbally, which is what we call intellectual understanding, the word becomes enormously important; but when there is real understanding, the word is not important at ill, it is merely a means of communication. There is a direct contact with the reality, with the fact. If we see as a fact the futility of will, and also the futility of thought, or time, in bringing about this radical transformation, then the mind - having rejected the whole structure of will, of thought - has no instrument with which to initiate action.
Now, so far you and I have been in communication with each other verbally, and perhaps we have also established between us a certain communion. But before we proceed any further, I think it is important to understand what we mean by communion. If you have ever walked by yourself among the trees of a forest, or along the banks of a stream, and felt the quietness, the sense of living completely with everything - with the rocks, with the flowers, with the stream, with the trees, with the sky - then you will know what communion is. The `you' - with its thoughts, its anxieties, its pleasures, memories recollections despairs - has completely ceased. There is no `you' as an observer apart from the thing observed; there is only that state of complete communion. And that, I hope, is what we have established, here. It is not a hypnotic state - the speaker is not hypnotizing you into it. He has very carefully, verbally, explained certain things. But there is something more which cannot be explained verbally. Up to a point you can be informed by the words which the speaker uses, but at the same time you have to remember that the word is not the thing, and that the word must not be allowed to interfere with your own direct perception of the fact. When you commune with a tree - if you ever do - your mind is not occupied with the particular species of that tree, or with whether it is useful or not. You are directly in communion with the tree. Similarly, we must establish this state of communion between you and the speaker, because what comes next is one of the most difficult things to talk about.
As I said, the action of will, the action of thought as time, and the movement that is initiated by any influence or pressure whatsoever, has come to an end. Therefore the mind - which has non-verbally observed and understood all this - is completely, quiet. It is not the initiator of any movement, conscious or unconscious. Again, this is something that must be gone into before I can go a little further.
Consciously you may not want to act in any particular direction, because you have observed the futility of every kind of calculated change, from that of the communist to that of the most reactionary conservative. You see how silly it all is. But inwardly, unconsciously, there is the tremendous weight of the past pushing you in a certain direction. You are conditioned as a European, as a Christian, as a scientist, as a mathematician, as an artist, as a technician; and there is the tradition of a thousand years, very carefully exploited by the church, which has instilled in the unconscious certain beliefs and dogmas. You may consciously reject all that, but unconsciously the weight of it is still there. You are-still a Christian, an Englishman, a German, an Italian, a Frenchman; you are still swayed by national, economic and family interests, and by the traditions of the race to which you belong; and when it is a race that is very, very old, its influence is much deeper.
Now, how is one to wipe all that away? How is the unconscious to be cleansed immediately of the past? The analysts think that the unconscious can be partially or even completely cleansed through analysis - through investigation, exploration, confession, the interpretation of dreams, and so on - so that at least you become a `normal' human being, able to adjust yourself to the present environment. But in analysis there is always the analyzer and the analyzed, an observer who is interpreting the thing observed, which is a duality, a source of conflict.
So I see that mere analysis of the unconscious will not lead anywhere. It may help me to be a little less neurotic, a little kinder to my wife, to my neighbour, or some superficial thing like that; but that is not what we are talking about. I see that the analytical process - which involves time, interpretation, the movement of thought as the observer analyzing the thing observed - cannot free the unconscious; therefore I reject the analytical process completely. The moment I perceive the fact that analysis cannot under any circumstances clear away the burden of the unconscious, I am out of analysis. I no longer analyze. So what has taken place? Because there is no longer an analyzer separated from the thing that he analyzes, he is that thing. He is not an entity apart from it. Then one finds that the unconscious is of very little importance. Do you follow?
I have pointed out how trivial the conscious is, with its superficial activities, its ceaseless chatter, and so on; and the unconscious is also very trivial. The unconscious, like the conscious, becomes important only when thought gives it continuity. Thought has its place, it is useful in technological matters, and all that; but thought is utterly futile in bringing about this radical transformation. When I see how thought gives continuity, there is an end to continuity as the thinker.
I hope you are following all this - it requires very close attention.
The conscious, or the unconscious, has very little importance. It has importance only when thought gives it continuity. When you perceive the truth that the whole process of thinking is a response of the past, and that it cannot possibly meet the tremendous demand of mutation, then both the conscious and the unconscious become unimportant, and the mind is no longer influenced or driven by either of them. Therefore it is no longer initiating any movement; it is completely quiet, still, silent. Though the mind is aware that there must be a change, a revolution, a complete transformation at the root of one's being, yet it does not initiate any movement in any direction; and in that total awareness, in that complete silence, mutation has already taken place. So mutation can take place only in a non-directive way, when the mind is not initiating any movement and is therefore completely still. In that stillness there is mutation, because the root of one's being is exposed and it withers away. That is the only real revolution, not the economic or social kind, and it cannot be brought about by will, or by thought. It is only in that state of mutation that you can perceive something beyond the measure of words, something that is supreme, beyond all theology and all recognition.
I hope you have not been put to sleep ! Perhaps you will be good enough to ask some questions.
Questioner: As far as I have experienced, thinking condemns me to isolation, because it prevents me from communing with the things around me, and it also prevents me from going to the roots of myself. Therefore I should like to ask: Why do human beings think? What is the function of human thinking? And why do we so greatly exaggerate the importance of thinking?
Krishnamurti: I thought we had gone beyond all that. All right, sir, let me explain.
Merely listening to an explanation is not seeing the fact, and we cannot commune with each other through the explanation unless you and I both see the fact and leave the fact alone, which is not to interfere with it. Then we are also in communion with the fact. But if you interpret the fact in one way, and I in another, then we are not in communion, either with the fact or with each other.
Now, how does thought arise - the thought that isolates, that does not give love, which is the only means of communion? And how can this thought come to an end? Thought - the whole mechanism of thought - has to be understood, and the very understanding of it, is the ending of it. I will go into it, if I may.
Thought arises as a reaction when there is a challenge. If there were no challenge, you would not think. The challenge may take the form of a question, however trivial or however great, and according to that question you respond. In the time interval between the question and the response, the thought process begins, does it not? If you ask me about something with which I am very familiar, my response is immediate. If you ask me where I live, for example, there is no time interval because I do not have to think about it, and to your question I respond immediately. But if your question is a little more complex, there is a time interval - during which I am looking into memory - between your question and my reply. You may ask me what is the distance between the earth and the moon, and I say, "By jove, do I know anything about that? Yes, I do" - and then I reply. In between your question and my reply there is an interval of time in which memory has come into operation and provided the answer. So when I am challenged my response may be immediate, or it may take a certain length of time. If you ask me a question about which I know nothing at all, the interval is much longer. I say, "I don't know, but I will find out", and not having found the answer among all the things that I remember, I turn to someone else to tell me, or I look it up in a book. Again, during this much longer interval the thought process is going on. With these three phases we are quite familiar.
Now, there is a fourth phase, which perhaps you don't know, or have never articulated, and it is this. You ask me a question, and I actually don't know the answer. My memory doesn't recollect it, and I am not waiting for anybody to tell me. I have no answer, and no expectation. I really don't know. There is no time interval, and therefore no thought, because the mind is not looking, not searching, not expecting. That state is actually a complete negation, it is freedom from everything the mind has known. And it is only in that state that the new can be understood - the new being the supreme, or whatever other word you care to give to it. In that state the whole process of thinking has come to an end; there is neither the observer nor the observed, neither the experiencer nor the thing that is experienced. All experience has ceased, and in that total silence there is a complete mutation.
July 19, 1964
Saanen 4th Public Talk 19th July 1964
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