Paris 5th Public Talk 30th May 1965
The word is never the thing it represents; the word is not action. But most of us live in words, in images, in symbols, and therefore action doesn't bring about energy; and we dissipate whatever energy we have through contradiction within ourselves. We seldom realize that energy, or the passion of energy, comes through action; that action is energy. It is not that one must have energy first in order to act; but when one realizes that the word is not the thing, is not the act, and therefore begins to understand the structure, the meaning, the significance of the word, then there is action - and it is this action that brings about the passionate, sustained energy which has nothing whatsoever to do with enthusiasm. We cannot have the action which brings about energy as long as there is contradiction within ourselves; and most of us, consciously or unconsciously, do have many forms of self-contradiction, some of which we are aware of, and others of which we are unaware. Our whole life is caught up in this state of contradiction, and therefore there is no clear, direct action, which alone can bring about energy. And energy is necessary, not only physical energy, but also a sustained, passionate energy which enables the mind to go right through any one action completely. So it seems to me very important to understand the nature of this contradiction: the contradiction between the word and the act, the contradiction between the conscious intentions and pursuits on the one hand, and the unconscious urges, the hidden demands, the secret desires and pursuits, on the other. This contradiction, in various forms, exists in all our activities, in all the desires and pursuits of human existence.
I think most of us are aware of this contradiction within ourselves, if we are at all conscious of our own activities, of our own thoughts and state of being. Therefore one tries to bring about an integration within oneself; and I think such an act of attempted integration is sheer folly. You cannot integrate the opposites; you cannot possibly integrate love and hate. Either you hate, or you love - there can be no combination of both, no integration of the opposites. So I think we should be very clear, at least for this morning, that the attempt to bring about integration within oneself has no meaning at all. What has meaning is the understanding of contradiction, and therefore being free of it.
To be free of contradiction, one has first to be aware of it; and perhaps some of us are not aware of it. We just carry on. And when we are aware of this extraordinary contradiction, which exists not only in our outward life, but also very deeply within us, what happens? We find no solution for it, no freedom from it, so either we turn to what we call God, to the whole structure of belief, dogma, ritual and authority which generally goes by the name of religion; or we take life as it comes and give it no significance at all - which is what many modern writers are trying to do. They have denied the whole structure of the church, of organized religion - which any intelligent man must do, for it has no meaning whatsoever; but then they are forced to face their own contradictions, their own hates, hopes, frustrations, their utter helplessness, and so they say, "This life has no meaning, let's make the best of it", and they invent a philosophy of despair. So there are these two extremes, which are in contradiction with each other.
Now, I feel it is possible totally to eradicate all contradiction - but not by an act of will, because will again breeds contradiction in itself. Will is in essence contradiction. I think one has to understand this fact very deeply, because we are brought up to exercise every form of will; we are taught to overcome, to deny, to assert, to determine. And if one observes the nature of will, one sees that will is in itself a form of resistance, and therefore it is inherently a state of contradiction.
So, living in this world, carrying on with one's job, one's family, going through the whole business of modern life, is it at all possible to live without any contradiction whatsoever, at any level of one's being, either outwardly or within the skin? Is it possible to have no contradiction at all, and therefore to act in such a way that action itself is energy? If one observes oneself, one sees that the more physically active one is, the more energy one has. It is not the other way around; it is not that you must have energy to act. On the contrary: the more you act, the more energy there is, biologically as well as psychologically. Action itself is energy - it's not a matter of action and then energy, or energy and then action. It's not idea first, and then action. Idea never gives this sustained energy, though it may give a stimulation, a momentary enthusiasm. It is action which brings about the energy from which further action derives.
To understand the contradiction in our life, one has to go into it very deeply - and that is our difficulty. We want to be told what to do; we want to conform to a pattern, or follow somebody, hoping thereby to sublimate, deny or suppress every form of contradiction - all of which is very superficial. So, to go into this question of contradiction, one must penetrate much deeper. You know, the dePth is not comparable to the surface. The surface is one thing, but the depth is another. Most of us live on the surface, and therefore, when we try to move inward, we merely go through the motions; there is an activity which we call going inward, and that in itself breeds a contradiction. I hope I am making myself clear.
When I use the words `to go deeply', I do not mean going from the outside to the inside. If you do that, then there is immediately a contradiction between the outer and the inner. To go deeply is to understand contradiction - and it is necessary to understand contradiction if we are to bring about peace, not only within ourselves, but in the society of which we are a part. We must have peace, not war and peace. Peace now is only an interval between two wars. To understand this extraordinary state of contradiction, which is very complex and very subtle, we cannot just deal with it outwardly, or try to patch up the symptoms, but one has to go to the very root of it.
The root of contradiction is the division between the thinker and the thought. For most of us there is a wide gap between the observer and the observed, between the thinker and the thought, between the centre which experiences and the thing which is experienced; and it is this interval, gap, or time-lag which is the real source of contradiction.
I hope that you are not merely listening to the words - which is not an act of listening - but are using the words of the speaker to discover for yourself this wide gap between idea and action, this actual state of division between the thinker and the thought, with the thinker trying to control, dominate, change, or suppress thought, trying to be peaceful. As long as there is a thinker, a censor of the good and the bad, there must be this constant division which the thinker creates and which obviously gives nourishment to contradiction. This is a fact which you must discover for yourself, and not merely accept because someone else tells you it is so; and the very act of discovery is the beginning of that energy with which you can approach the root problem of contradiction. There is a vast difference between being told what it is like to be hungry, and the actual hunger which you know for yourself. Similarly, if you merely accept this division between the thinker and the thought because you are told it exists, then it will have no revealing vitality. But if you discover the division for yourself, if you see it as an actual fact, then that very perception of the fact brings the energy that is necessary to deal with this contradiction.
I hope it is fairly clear so far.
You see, when there is a great contradiction in the mind, it brings about a certain tension. The greater the tension, and the greater your capacity to express yourself - as a writer, as an artist, as a politician - the more misery you create, not only for yourself, but for the public also. I do not know if you have observed this fact. Being in a state of contradiction, if one has the capacity to write, or to paint, or if one is unfortunately a politician, then one creates greater misery for man and also for oneself.
So one has to understand the enormous depth and the significance of contradiction, and thereby be completely free of it, because otherwise there is no love. All that we know of love is a state of contradiction, with its jealousy, hate, antagonism. Love is not the sensual pleasure which we call love, nor is it the so-called love that goes with hate, envy, ambition. An ambitious man can never know what love is, obviously. When an ambitious man, a man who is competitive, talks about peace, it has no meaning. There is peace only when your mind is non-competitive, non-comparing, and therefore there is no contradiction within yourself. So, to bring about a different structure of society, a different social existence, one must inevitably understand the nature and the significance of this contradiction within oneself.
Most of us are trying to fulfil ourselves, whether through painting, through writing, through doing this or that, or through the family - which is again an indication of contradiction. Then you will say, "Mustn't man express himself? Isn't it his nature to do so?" But surely we are putting the cart before the horse, aren't we? Why this extraordinary insistence on expression? You may or may not express yourself; but if you insist on expressing yourself objectively - in painting, in writing a poem or a book, in a gesture, or what you will - then that very insistence is an indication of contradiction.
So, as I was pointing out, the root of contradiction is this division between the thinker and the thought; and the two cannot be integrated. But if you observe the structure of the thinker, you will see that the thinker is not when thought is not. It is thought that breeds. the thinker, the experiencer, the entity who creates time and is the source of fear.
Most of us have many forms of fear. Please watch your own fears as we are talking about it; deeply inside, see your own secret fears. Obviously, there is the ultimate fear of death. Being afraid of death we try to escape from it through belief, through such ideas as resurrection, reincarnation, and so on and on. Either you rationalize death, or you have a belief; and both rationalization and belief are an avoidance of death, an escape from it, and that creates a contradiction.
We regard death as something opposite to living. But to understand death, we must understand life, which means that we must examine our life and find out what it is. What is our life - not theoretically or hypothetically, not as it should be, but what is it actually? It is a series of memories, a bundle of accumulated experiences, of misery and pain, of joy and despair; it is the agony and longing of loneliness, the turmoil of the good and the bad, of health and disease. That is what we call our life, and that is all we know. Our life is endless conflict, endless misery and confusion. I am not exaggerating. This is the actual fact, and we do not know how to solve it, how to understand it. We do not know how to go beyond this misery, how to end sorrow; so we escape either through religion, or through the assertion that life has no meaning at all, no significance whatsoever, therefore let us live for today.
So one has to understand life totally to free oneself from all this misery - and it is possible to do that. Then living is not different from dying. Then there is not this gap, this wide interval of time created by the thinker, in which the thinker is always breeding fear. To understand what living is, is to die every day, without argument, to all your misery, to all your problems, to all your pleasures. That is what is going to happen when you die physically. You die without argument; you can't discuss with death. Similarly, one must die to sorrow. But we never die to sorrow, because we do not know what real joy is, nor have we the capacity or the understanding to end suffering; and we prefer to be in sorrow, with all its self-pity, commiseration, and so on and so on, rather than to enter into something we do not know.
Please observe these facts for yourself. I am not trying to impose anything on you, the listener. We are neither agreeing nor disagreeing. We are just observing the facts, the actual what is; and that very observation of what is, brings the energy which is action.
So one has to understand the nature of self-contradiction, and one can understand it only when one observes the whole structure of the thinker with his thoughts, with his hopes, with his despairs - the thinker who is creating a.constant contradiction between himself, as the censor, and the thing in himself which he observes. Therefore to observe what is, requires great seriousness, not a flippancy of observation. It is only the serious person who is living; the superficial person is not really living at all. He may have wealth, property, position, but he knows nothing of life. He knows only the surface of life. To understand this whole structure of oneself, one must come to it, not with a determination to change, not with an effort to be different, but merely with a willingness to observe what is. Then there is no contradiction, because the observer is no longer acting as a censor, as one who condemns, who denies, who says what is right and what is wrong, what is good and what is bad. This doesn't mean that you live a most superficial life. On the contrary, to come to that point when there is no censor you have to understand your whole conditioning. It is not just a matter of assertion. To understand it, you have to work at it; and then you will see that the mind becomes merely an observer. Such a mind is no longer in a state of contradiction, and therefore it has tremendous energy. That energy is love, passion - not physical passion, that is fairly easy, fairly common, that is the lust everybody knows. What I am talking about is the passion which has no cause and therefore no contradiction, no motive and therefore no end. Where there is love, there is also death; the two cannot be separated, because love has no ambition.
Please, I am stating these things, but they will have value for you, actual meaning, only if this contradiction totally comes to an end.
Love and death must be, for creation to be. Do you know what creation is? Not the expression of capacity - that is very simple to understand. You may express yourself as a writer, as a poet, as an artist, but that is not creation. Creation is something entirely different. You know, creation can come about only when there is energy which has never been contaminated by will, which is not the result of effort - that energy which action itself brings. At present all our activity is more or less self-centred - it is centred upon ourselves in relation to various things; and this self-centred activity, which is the activity of the thinker, invariably breeds contradictions. Being in a state of contradiction, the mind demands some form of expression: I must escape, I must write, I must do this or that. The man who is in a state of self-contradiction, which is a state of self-centred activity, and who happens to be a painter, an artist, a musician, may call what he does creation, but it is not. Creation must be, and is, something totally different.
Now, as I have said, the mind which is untouched by contradiction, having understood the whole structure of it, conscious as well as unconscious, is completely still; because any movement is a dissipation of energy. It is only when the mind is completely still with tremendous energy, that there is an explosion; and that explosion is creation, which may or may not express itself. A mind that is afraid, ambitious, greedy, envious, jealous, competitive - such a mind can never have this energy which is brought about by action without a motive; nor can it ever know what love is, obviously. Where there is love, there is a constant dying to all the memories of every day's experience, and therefore love and death always go together. Love is always fresh, new, young, innocent, uncontaminated by the past, because it dies to every day's past. Love and death exist in this tremendous energy, when this energy is completely quiet. Then there is creation - or call it by whatever name you will. The name has very little importance. Unless this transformation comes about in each human being - who is part of society, who is society itself - there cannot be a new society.
Questioner: Will it not take time for the individual human being to come to this transformation?
Krishnamurti: No, it is not a question of time. Through time you will never come to anything. Time will only breed disorder.
Questioner: What do you mean by self-knowledge?
Krishnamurti: I think I have made it sufficiently clear, sir, but let me explain it once more.
We have always used time as a means of achievement: I am this, and I will become that. There is an interval between what is and what should be. We say that to achieve what should be, takes time; one needs many days, many years, or many incarnations, as they believe in the East. So we use time as a means of achieving the `what I will be'. The `what I will be' is a projection of what I am; or it is the opposite of what I am, a contradiction of what is. So between what is and what should be there is a time interval, and during that interval many other factors come into play. The what should be isn't a static thing, because there are other factors all the time operating. All kinds of influences, pressures, changes are happening in the interval, and therefore the what should be is always altering; and the what is is also undergoing a tremendous change. So the what should be is not important at all; the ideal, the end, the purpose, the hoped-for achievement, has no meaning, because it is fictitious. It has no reality, it is nothing but an idea. What has reality is what is. I am miserable, I am suffering, I am confused - that is the only significant factor, and to understand what is, time will not help. Time is merely an avoidance, a postponement, an escape into unreality. To understand what is, there must be no hypothesis, no looking to the future. But you see, that means we have to apply ourselves to the problem, to the what is, immediately, with our whole being - and that is something we don't want to do. We say, "I will do it tomorrow". We are frightened, miserable, unhappy, jealous, but we don't say, "I want to end jealousy immediately". We want to find out how to end it eventually, and therefore time becomes a means of escape from what is. But time will never change what is, and: therefore time brings disorder, not order. This is so simple.
To understand all this, is self-knowing. Self-knowing is not something extraordinary, it is the perception of what is actually going on. I am in misery, I am anxious, frustrated, in despair - don't you know all these things? So what happens? I use tomorrow, the what should be, as a means of escaping from what is, or I look to the past. I am not healthy today, I am ill, but I have been healthy in the past, so my mind goes back in memory to the state which I called health and says, "I wish I could be healthy again". Therefore there is a strain, there is an effort, there is the pressure of past remembrances. Whereas, if I do not bring in past remembrances at all, but see the actual fact that I am ill, and not let thought - with its memories of how good it was when I was healthy - interfere with the organism, then the organism brings into play its own curative powers.
Again, to understand all this is part of self-knowing - it is self-knowing. It is not an imposed self-knowledge, but you understand for yourself this process of thought, of thinking, the whole structure of your own being. And self-knowing is not a matter of time. I don't say, "I will understand myself little by little, day after day; self-knowing will come gradually". It never comes gradually. You have to see the self, the `me', with all its struggles, completely; and it can only be seen completely now, not tomorrow. To see it completely you must give your whole energy to it.
Questioner: What is the relationship between action and meditation?
Krishnamurti: What is action for most of us? Action is based on an idea, on comparative values. We say, "I should do this", so the only action we know is a contradiction between the idea and the act. That much is clear, isn't it? I won't go into detail, we have not the time, but that is what is actually taking place. I have an idea brought about through experience, through thought, through knowledge or information, through fear and escapes, and I approximate my action to that idea. That is the only action we know. Now, action without idea, action which does not create contradiction and is not the result of contradiction - to understand the nature of such action is part of meditation.
I do not know to what extent you are familiar with that word `meditation'. In the East it is a very familiar word, and being very familiar, it is also very traditional. Meditation, there, is a thing that you can practise. You discipline, control, you shape your thought according to a pattern. There is a set of rules for it: the way you sit, the way you breathe, the way you move. There are various systems of meditation, and if you follow this or that system they say you will get results. Of course you will get results. That is fairly obvious, isn't it? If I do something over and over and over again, day after day, month in and month out, I am bound to get a result; but the result is a projection of a mind which is petty, small, stuPid. The mind is conforming to a pattern, therefore there is no freedom, and such meditation is no meditation at all. It is merely conformity to a pattern, through which you hope to achieve peace, God, or whatever else it is you are after. A petty, bourgeois, frustrated little mind may sit down to `meditate; it may practise discipline, control, and shape its activity according to a pattern; but it will always remain petty, and its `God' will be equally petty. When once you see the truth of that for yourself, you reject that whole approach to meditation, and in the very rejecting of it, you are free from this old idea that you must conform to what has been established. Being free, enormously free, for you there is no longer any contradiction in action; there is no conformity to an idea, or to the pattern which has been established by tradition, by the sayings and the habits of innumerable people. When you are free of all that because you understand it, then you begin to meditate; and meditation is one of the most marvellous things if you know how to do it - not `how', but if you do it.
Meditation requires the total understanding of the self, and therefore freedom from the psychological structure of society. This means that you are no longer ambitious, greedy, envious, trying to achieve, trying to become, and hence there is no effort; therefore the mind is completely still, not made still by discipline, control, breathing, and all the rest of those stupid little tricks, nor by drugs. Then the mind becomes extraordinarily active and quiet. To be active and quiet the mind must be silent, it must be full of energy and yet empty.
But you say that most of us want experience. Of course, and that is why people try to meditate. They have had all the usual physical, intellectual and emotional experiences, and they want more, so they take drugs. There are several drugs on the market to give you a stimulus and enable you to have certain unusual experiences. Now, one has to understand the nature of experience. If you had no experiences at all, you would go to sleep. If there were no pressure on you, if you were not being pushed around by society, by books, by every form of influence, you would go to sleep immediately, because what you want is safety, comfort, security. Having had all the ordinary kinds of experience, you are fed up, bored with it, and being fairly sensitive and subtle, you now want wider, deeper experience; but it is still the same movement.
Now, when you understand the whole nature of experience, you no longer pursue the outward stimuli which give you experiences. Having rejected all that, you then have an inward stimulus, which creates its own experience. That is why in what they call meditation many people see visions - and they love to see visions, and experience all the other childish things which are the result of their own conditioning. When you have understood all this, it is only then that the mind is still, quiet. In that silence there is no experiencing at all, because such a mind is alive, clear, it is a light unto itself; being totally awake, it is beyond all experience; and all of this is meditation.
May 30, 1965
Paris 5th Public Talk 30th May 1965
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