Saanen 7th Public Talk 26th July 1964
I would like to continue from where we left off the other day. I think it is very important to understand the whole question of action; and I am using that word, not in any abstract sense, or merely as an idea. I mean the actual fact of action, of doing something. Whether you are digging in a garden, going to the office, looking at a tree, following the movement of a river, or just walking along a road without thought, quietly observing things - whatever you are doing, it is part of action. And with most of us, action breeds conflict. Our action, however so-called profound or however superficial, becomes repetitive, tiresome, boring, a mere activity without much significance. So I think it is very important to understand what action is. To do anything - to walk, to speak, to, look, to think, to feel - demands energy; and energy is dissipated when, inherent in the expression of that energy, there is conflict. As we can observe, all our activities, at whatever level, engender some kind of conflict; they create within us a sense of effort, a certain resistance, denial, defence. And is it at all possible to act without conflict, without resistance - and even without effort ? That is what I would like to talk about, if I may, this morning.
One sees what is happening in the world. The computers, the electronic brains and various forms of automation are going to give man more and more leisure, and that leisure is going to be monopolized by organized religion and by organized entertainment. I do not know if there is much difference between the two, but for the moment we will keep them separate. When man has a great deal of leisure he has more energy - much more energy - and society demands that he utilize that energy rightly, not antisocially. To control the antisocial feeling, he is going to lose himself either in organized religion, or in entertainment of every kind. Or he will lose himself in literature, in art, in music - which is another form of entertainment. As a result, man will become more and more superficial. He may read all the books in the world and try to understand the intricacies of theology, of philosophy, of science; he may become familiar with certain facts and truths in literature, but it will still be an external thing, just as the various forms of religion and entertainment are. The organized religions assert that they are seeking the inward things of life, but they demand belief, dogma, ritual, conformity, as we all know.
Now, unless we are very much aware of all these conditions that are inherent I in modern civilization, our energies will be consumed by them, and our action will therefore remain very superficial; and because of that superficiality we shall continue to have conflict within ourselves as well as with other people, with society. In every form of human endeavour - artistic, scientific, mathematical, industrial - and in one's relationship with one's wife or husband, with one's children, with one's neighbour, there will continue to be conflict; and conflict is a waste of energy. To bring about the cessation of conflict, and thereby the conservation of energy, one has to understand for oneself what action is; and without that understanding our life will become more and more outward, and we shall be more and more inwardly empty. This is not a point to be discussed or doubted, it is not a matter of my opinion against your opinion. These are actual facts. So, first of all, what is action as we know it now? All our action has a subtle or obvious motive, has it not? Either we are pursuing a reward, or acting nut of fear, or trying to gain something. Our action is always an adjustment to a pattern, to an idea, or it is an approximation to some ideal. Conformity, adjustment, approximation, resistance, denial - that is all we know of action, and it implies a series of conflicts.
As I was saying the other day, to commune about something with which we are not deeply related, is always rather difficult. I want to commune with you about a slate of mind which is the complete antithesis of this conflict which we now call action. There is a total action, an action without conflict, and I want to tell you something about it - not that you should accept it, or reject it, or be hypnotized by it. You know, one of the most difficult things to do is to sit on a platform talking while others listen - if you do listen at all - and establish the right relationship between the listener and the speaker. You are not here to be mesmerized by a lot of words, nor do I want to influence you in any way whatsoever. I am not doing propaganda for an idea, and it is not my purpose to instruct you. As I have often pointed out, there is neither the teacher nor the taught, there is only a state of learning; and you and I cannot possibly learn if you arc waiting to be instructed, to be told what to do. We are not dealing with opinions. I have no opinions. What I am trying to do is just to state certain facts, and you can look at them, examine them for yourself, or not. This means that you and I have to establish the right relationship so that there is a communion which is not merely intellectual, but the total perception of a fact at which we are both looking. We are not communing with each other, but rather we are both communing with the fact, and therefore the fact becomes much more important than you and I. It is the fact, and our mutual perception of the fact, that alone can create the right ambience or atmosphere, and this is bound to affect us profoundly. So it seems to me that to listen to something - to that stream, or to the whisper of those trees, or to one's own thoughts and feelings - becomes extraordinarily important when we are considering the fact itself, and not an idea or an opinion about the fact.
We all know that our action breeds conflict. All action that is based on an idea, a concept, a formula, or that approximates itself to an ideal, must inevitably breed conflict. That is obvious. If I act according to a formula, a pattern, a concept, then I am always divided between the fact of what I am, and what I think I should do about that fact; so there is never a complete action. There is always an approximation to an idea, or to an ideal, and hence conflict is inherent in all action as we know it - which is a waste of energy and brings about deterioration of the mind. Please observe the state and the activity of your own mind and you will see that this is true.
Now, I am asking myself: is there action without idea and therefore without conflict? Or to put it differently: must action always breed effort, struggle, conflict? For example, I am talking, which is a form of action. Surely, in this action there is conflict only if I am trying to assert myself, trying to be somebody, trying to convince you. So it is tremendously important to find out for oneself whether there is a possIbility of living and doing things without the slightest conflict - that is, whether there can be action in which the mind remains intact, without deterioration, without any form of distortion. And there is bound to be distortion if the mind is in any way influenced, or if it is caught in conflict, which is a waste of energy. To find out the truth of this matter is of real interest to me, and it must also be to you; because what we are trying to do here is to see if it is possible to live without sorrow, without despair, without fear, without any form of activity that brings about deterioration of the mind. If it is possible, then what happens to such a mind? What happens to a mind that is never touched by society, that has no fear, that is not greedy, envious, ambitious, seeking power?
To find out, we have to begin by being aware of our present state of mind, with all its conflicts, miseries, frustrations, perversions, deterioration, despair. We have to be aware of ourselves completely, and thereby gather energy; and the very gathering of that energy is the action which will cleanse the mind of all the rubbish that man has collected through the centuries.
So we are not interested in action for its own sake; we want to find out if there is an action which does not breed contradiction in any form. As we have seen, ideas, concepts, formulas, patterns, methods, dogmas, ideals - it is these that create the contradiction in action. And is it possible to live without idea - that is, without a pattern, without an ideal, without a concept or a belief? Surely, it is very important to find out the truth of this matter for oneself; because one can see very well that love is not an idea, a pattern, or a concept. Most of us have a concept of love, but that concept is obviously not love. Either we love, or we do not love. Is it possible to live in this world and go to the office, cook, wash dishes, drive a car, and do all the other daily things of life which at present have become repetitive and breed conflict - is it possible to do all these things, to live and to act, without any ideation, and thereby free action from all contradiction?
I wonder if you have ever walked along a crowded street, or a lonely road, and just looked at things without thought? There is a state of observation without the interference of thought. Though you are aware of everything about you, and you recognize the person, the mountain, the tree, or the oncoming car, yet the mind is not functioning in the usual pattern of act thought. I don't knox, if this has ever happened to you. Do try it sometime when you are driving or walking. Just look without thought; observe without the reaction which breeds thought. Though you recognize colour and we form, though you see the stream, the car, the goat, the bus, there is no reaction, but merely negative observation; and that very state of so-called negative observation, is action. Such a mind can utilize knowledge in carrying out what it has to do, but it is free of thought in the sense that it is not is functioning in terms of reaction. With the such a mind - a mind that is attentive without reaction - you can go to the office, and all the rest of it.
Most of us are everlastingly thinking about ourselves from morning till night, and we function within the pattern and of that self-centred activity. All such free activity, which is a reaction, is bound to lead to various forms of conflict and deterioration. And is it possible not to function within that pattern, and yet to live in this world? I don't mean living off by yourself in some mountain cave, and all that kind of thing; but is it possible to live in this world and to function as a total human being from a state of emptiness - if you will misunderstand my use of that word? Whether you paint, or write poems, or go to an office, or talk, can you always have inwardly an empty space, and through that empty space, work? For when there is this empty space, action does not breed contradiction.
I think this is a very important thing to discover - and you have to discover it for yourself, because it cannot be taught or explained. To discover it, you must first understand how all self-centred action breeds conflict, and then ask yourself whether the mind can ever be content with such action. It may be momentarily satisfied; but when you perceive that, in all such action, conflict is inevitable, you are already trying to find out if there is another kind of action, an action which does not lead to conflict; and then you are bound to come upon the fact that there is.
So the question arises: why is it that we are always seeking satisfaction? In all our relationships, and in whatever we do, there is always the desire to fulfil, the desire to be gratified and to remain with that gratification. What we call discontent arises only when things do not gratify us - and such discontent merely breeds another series of reactions.
Now, it seems to me that a man who is very serious and who sees all this - the way human beings have lived for thousands of years in utter confusion and misery, with never a complete action - must find out for himself whether he is able to function from a mind that is uncontaminated by society; and he can find that out only when he is free from society. I am talking about freedom from the psychological structure of society, which is greed, envy, ambition, and the pursuit of self-importance. When that whole psychological structure has been understood and put aside, one is free from society. One may still go to the office, one may buy a pair of trousers, and all the rest of it; but one is free from the psychological structure which so distorts the mind.
So one comes to a point where one discovers for oneself that complete freedom from the psychological structure of society, is complete inaction; and that complete inaction is total action, which does not breed contradiction and therefore deterioration.
I have said what I wanted to say this morning, and perhaps we can now discuss it, or you can ask questions about it.
Questioner: Can we go to our jobs and work without competition?
Krishnamurti: Can one not, sir? Can you go to the office and keep your job without competing? It is not for me to say that you can or cannot, or that you must, and so on. But you see what competition does, how it breeds antagonism, fear, a ruthless pursuit of your ,own demands, not only within yourself, but outwardly in the world. You see all that, and you ask yourself if it is possible to live in this world without competition. That means living without comparing; it means doing something which you really love to do, which interests you tremendously. Or, if you are caught in a job which you don't like because you have responsibilities, it means finding out how to do that job efficiently without competing. And that demands a great deal of attention, does it not? You have to be tremendously aware of every thought, of every feeling within yourself, otherwise you will merely be imposing upon yourself the idea that you must not compete - and then that becomes another problem. But you can be.aware of all the implications of competition; you can see the truth of it, how it brings conflict, incessant struggle; you ,san perceive that competition inevitably leads man - though there may be a great deal of so-called progress and ,competitive efficiency - to antagonism, to lack of affection. If you see all this, then out of that perception you will act either competitively or not competitively at all.
Questioner: I do not believe that repetitive action is necessarily boring.
Krishnamurti: You know, they are finding out that a man who works in a factory doing the same thing over and over again is not a very productive entity, and I am told that in America they are now experimenting with letting the workers in certain factories learn as they go along. The result is that their work is not so repetitive, and therefore they are producing much more. Even when you take a great deal of pleasure in doing something, if you keep on endlessly repeating that action, it becomes very routine and rather tiresome.
Questioner: What about the artist?
Krishnamurti: If the artist is merely repeating, surely he has ceased to be an artist. I think we are confusing the two words `repetition' and `creation', aren't we? What is creation?
Questioner: A man who makes good shoes that are creative.
Krishnamurti: Making good shoes, baking bread, bearing children, writing poems, and all the rest of it - is that creation? Don't please agree or disagree. Wait just a minute.
Questioner: I don't see how one can live in an empty space.
Krishnamurti: Madam, I think we have misunderstood each other. I am sorry. It is possibly due to my choice of words, which is perhaps not as good as it should be, and probably you do not understand exactly what I mean by emptiness. But we are now talking about creation.
You know, I have heard that in a certain university they teach what they call creative writing and creative painting. Can creativity be taught? Will the continuous practice of something bring about the creative spirit? You may learn from a master the technique of playing the violin, but from technique you obviously cannot have genius. Whereas, if one has that creative spirit, it will produce the technique - but not the other way round. Most of us think that by acquiring the technique we shall find the other. Take a very simple example - though all examples are defective. What is the simple life? The simple life, we say, is to have very few possessions, to eat very little, and to refrain from doing this and doing that. In Asia a man who wears a loincloth, who lives by himself and eats only one meal a day, is considered to be living a very simple life - but inwardly he may be in a volcanic turmoil, burning with his desires, his passions, his ambitions. The simple life of such a man is outward show which everyone can recognize and say, "What a simple man he is!" That is the actual state of most saints: outwardly they are very simple, but inwardly they are ambitious, disciplining the mind, forcing themselves to conform to a certain pattern, and all the rest of it. So it seems to me that simplicity is first from within, not from without. In the same way, creation cannot come about through expression. One has to be in that state of creation, and not seek it through expression. To be in the state of creation is the discovery of the supreme, and that can happen only when there is no activity of the self in any direction.
To return to what that lady said about emptiness. Most of us, though we are outwardly related to each other, live in isolation - and that isolation is not what I am talking about. Emptiness is something entirely different from isolation. There must be emptiness between you and me in order for us to see each other; there must be space through which I can hear what you are saying, and you can hear what I am saying Similarly, there must be space in the mind; that is, the mind must not be crowded with so many things that there is no space left at all. Only when there is space within the mind, which means that the mind is not crowded with self-centred activity - only then is it possible to know what it is to live. But to live in isolation - that is not possible.
Questioner: Will you speak more about energy?
Krishnamurti: To do anything at all, however small, requires energy, does it not? To get up and go out of this tent, to think, to eat, to drive a car - action of every kind demands energy. And for most of us, when we are doing something, there is a form of resistance which dissipates energy - unless what we are doing happens to give us pleasure, in which case there is no conflict, no resistance in the continuity of energy.
As I was saying earlier, one needs energy to be completely attentive, and in that energy there is no resistance as long as there is no distraction. But the moment there is a distraction - that is; the moment you want to concentrate on something, and at the same time you want to look out of the window - there is a resistance, a conflict. Now, the looking out of the window is just as important as any other looking - and when once you see the truth of this then there is no distraction and no-conflict.
To have physical energy, you must obviously eat the right kind of food, have the right amount of rest, and so on. That is something you can experiment with for yourself, and we need not discuss it. Then there is psychological energy, which dissipates itself in various ways. To have that psychological energy, the mind seeks stimulation. Going to church, watching football games, reading literature, listening to music, attending meetings like this one - all these things stimulate you; and if what you want is to be stimulated, it means that you are psychologically dependent. Every form of seeking stimulation implies dependence on something, whether it is a drink, a drug, a speaker, or going to church; and surely dependence on stimulation in any form not only dulls the mind, but also makes for the dissipation of energy. So, to conserve one's energy, every form of dependence on stimulation must disappear; and for the disappearance of that dependence, one has to be aware of it. Whether one depends for stimulation on one's wife or husband, on a book, on one's work in the once, on going to cinemas - whatever may be the particular forms of stimulation one seeks, one has first of all to be aware of them. Merely to accept stimulations and live with them, dissipates energy and deteriorates the mind. But if one becomes aware of stimulations and finds out their whole significance in one's life, one can thereby be free of them. Through self-awareness - which is not self-condemnation, and all the rest of it, but just being choicelessly aware of oneself - one learns about every form of influence, every form of dependence, every form of stimulation; and that very movement of learning gives one the energy to free oneself from all dependence on stimulation.
July 26, 1964
Saanen 7th Public Talk 26th July 1964
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