Saanen 7th Public Talk 25th July 1965
In an extraordinarily changing world, in a world of scientific revolutions, economic pressures and impending wars, it seems to me that our own lives must undergo a tremendous change. The change that is needed is not merely outward, it is not just a matter of acquiring more and better food, clothing and shelter, but it is necessary to find out what one actually needs apart from food, clothing and shelter. Life in the modern world is becoming very, very complicated, and one must therefore make one's own human life extraordinarily simple; and that simplicity demands a great deal of intelligence. As a human being living in this changing world, where there is every kind of pressure, anxiety, trouble, sorrow, it seems to mc that one has to find out for oneself what one actually needs.
Now, confronted with this question, each person will say what his needs are according to his particular temperament, economic position, social prestige, and so on. But I think that to find out what one needs, one must have peace. It is not that one first finds out what one needs, but rather one must first have peace. Most of us want peace outwardly, in all our relationships; but I think peace begins somewhere else, not outwardly, and without peace, nothing can flourish, nothing can blossom.
Peace is not an escape from the world, from our everyday activities, but rather one has to find out, while actually living in this world, what peace is. As a human being living in a confusing, contradictory, suffering world, how deeply does one demand peace? `Surely, the manner of our life, the way of our conduct, the nature of our daily activities, will spontaneously bring about peace, if we want peace. But I am afraid very few of us want peace; and when we do want peace, what we really want is security, comfort, a state of not being disturbed at all. Obviously we cannot go on as we are, with the way we think, the way we act; we cannot possibly go on in the way we are going now. Either there is going to be a terrific crash, or human beings will awaken to a different way of thinking, a different way of living.
And that is what I would like to talk about this morning. As human beings totally related to all other human beings, and living in the actual world of everyday events, can we discover for ourselves a different way of living, a different way of thinking, acting? To find that out, one must inquire into the actual state in which we as human beings are now living; one must be conscious of the everyday movement of one's own life - not as a theory, not as a concept, but as an actual fact. And one not only has to be conscious of that, but also has to end sorrow; because a mind in sorrow cannot think clearly, cannot see clearly. The ending of sorrow is the beginning of wisdom, and it is only in wisdom that a new thing is born.
So one must inquire very deeply into the ending of sorrow; because if we can end sorrow, we have solved all our problems. For most of us, if we are at all awake to anything in life, that is the one central demand: how to end sorrow, so that a new beginning can be made. I think that is a fundamental question which one has to ask oneself. Is it at all possible for a human being to end sorrow altogether, and not escape from the world of actuality, from the world of daily activities? Can one be totally free of sorrow, and not just escape from sorrow through drugs; through religious beliefs, through philosophical concepts, or through some kind of mystical bent of one's own mind that gives one complete satisfaction - for that too is an escape from actuality ?
So, living in this world, living our daily life of relationship, we must find out whether it is possible completely to end sorrow. Consciously we can rationalize sorrow, we can see the causes of it; but mere rationalization does not bring sorrow to an end. Sorrow is grief, uncertainty, the feeling of complete loneliness. There is the sorrow of death, the sorrow of not being able to fulfil oneself, the sorrow of not being recognized, the sorrow of loving and not being loved in return. There are innumerable forms of sorrow; and it seems to me that without understanding sorrow there is no end to conflict, to misery, to the everyday travail of corruption and deterioration.
This is one of the fundamental questions, it seems to me, that one has to ask oneself and find an answer to. There is conscious sorrow, and there is also unconscious sorrow, the sorrow that seems to have no basis, no immediate cause. Most of us know conscious f sorrow, and we also know how to deal with it. Either we run away from it through religious belief, or we rationalize it, or we take some kind of drug, whether intellectual or physical; or we bemuse ourselves with words, with amusements, with superficial entertainment. We do all this, and yet we cannot get away from conscious sorrow.
Then there is the unconscious sorrow which we have inherited through the centuries. Man has always sought to overcome this extraordinary thing called sorrow, grief,misery; but even when we are superficially happy and have everything we want, deep down in the unconscious there are still the roots of sorrow. So when we talk about the ending of sorrow, we mean the ending of all sorrow, both conscious and unconscious.
To end sorrow one must have a very clear, very simple mind. Simplicity is not a mere idea. To be simple demands a great deal of intelligence and sensitivity. We think that to be simple is to return to nature, or to have only one or two articles of clothing, or to eat very few meals and have only just enough shelter. We are familiar with all the outward show of simplicity, but I do not know if we have ever really thought about this matter at all. What does it mean to be very clear, very simple?
Now, let us differentiate here between what we mean by simplicity, and what is generally regarded as being simple. Nowadays more and more facts are being accumulated. There is a computer-like acquiring of information, knowledge, and with this knowledge we hope to arrive at a better understanding of life, a greater expansion of wisdom. But the more knowledge one has, the less simple life becomes.
Please, you and I are both learning; and to learn, one must listen. Listening is learning. There is not first listening and then learning, or first listening and then acting. Listening is action. If you and I know how to listen to human events, to all that is taking place in the world, to the philosophies, the dogmatisms, the rituals, the religions, the television - if we know how to listen to all that, then the very act of listening is doing; and that, I think, is the art of listening. If you can listen to the train that goes by, to that rushing water, to your neighbour, to the radio, to yourself; if you can listen to what is going on in the world, the misery, the confusion, the extraordinary conflict between man and man - listen to it totally, completely, and not translate it in terms of your own knowledge, in terms of the information gathered by your own petty little mind - then perhaps that very listening is acting. And that is what we need: action. But to act you must have simplicity" and simplicity is not derived from the complexity of knowledge. Simplicity comes with great sensitivity, and with the understanding of sorrow. What is sorrow? Why do we suffer, not only physically, organically, but inwardly, psychologically? Why do we suffer, and what does this suffering mean? Apparently very few human beings have escaped from this suffering - escaped in the sense that they have I brought suffering to an end. Throughout the history of the world, probably only one or two have gone beyond this ache. And unless we human beings find out for ourselves how to end sorrow, all our lives will be dull, empty, confused, conflicting, and we shall everlastingly be making effort to do or not to do something. So we must find out, learn what sorrow actually is, and not interpret it in any way, not search for the cause of it. We know the cause of sorrow. Someone dies, and you feel terribly lonely, miserable, full of self-pity; so death brings sorrow. Or there is sorrow because you have not been able to fulfil yourself in life, you have not become known, important, famous. You want to do certain things, but you are not able to do them because you are physically incapacitated in some way, so again there is sorrow. Or you use time as a means of end-gaining, and in that process of time there is sorrow. So we all know that the mere search for the cause of sorrow, does not end sorrow. I know why I suffer, and you know why you suffer, but that knowledge does not bring sorrow to an end. So either one becomes cynical, bitter, hard, or one escapes from sorrow, or one just lives with it, and therefore the mind becomes more and more dull, insensitive.
Knowing all this, what is one to do? You understand my question? It is very important to answer this question, because a mind that is worn out by sorrow, conscious or unconscious, is a dull mind, an insensitive mind, it is a mind that is incapable of learning. And life itself is a movement of learning. It is not a process of acquiring knowledge from which you subsequently act: learning is action, and in acting you are learning. But if you acquire knowledge or information with which to shape action, or have a formula from which you act, then there is bound to be conflict, and that conflict also is sorrow.
This is one of the major problems of life; and how is one to resolve it intelligently, sanely, completely? To answer this question, not just verbally, but actually, and therefore to end sorrow, one must have great inward peace.
Now, what do we mean by the word `peace'? Most of us want peace in terms of our own pleasure. Please listen to what is being said - listen to it neither agreeing nor disagreeing, but;s you would listen to that water rushing by. It rained a great deal last night, and that river is swift, rich, full of silt. You can't alter it. It is there, running, and you can only listen to it; and the more you listen, the more sensitive you become to all the noises, to the murmurings, to the quietness, to the solitude, to the immensity of life. In the same way, listen now to what is being said, and discover as we go along.
You know, we all want peace: peace in our relationships, in our work, in our surroundings; peace inwardly and outwardly. But for most of us peace means being completely satisfied, accepting things as they are and remaining with them. We don't want to be disturbed. But life is always disturbing us. There is the war going on in Vietnam, there is war in our hearts. The armies and the generals are preparing for war in every part of the world, though they talk of peace. The politicians talk of peace, and yet they are seeking power, position, national prestige. We want peace in terms of our own pleasure; but pleasure and peace cannot go together, because pleasure prevents the mind from seeing the actual, the factual, the what is. So to understand peace one first has to understand pleasure.
We translate what we call peace in terms of our own pleasure; and therefore, without understanding the whole structure of pleasure, we cannot possibly have peace. And one must have peace. That is, one must have peace in the sense of having immense space inwardly, space without limitation. Peace means space in which there is no centre to create a boundary. This is very difficult to go into and to understand. Peace is a state of mind which gives no boundary to space. And to understand peace, we must understand what pleasure is, because it is pleasure that creates the image, that centre which projects a limited space around itself. It is pleasure that dictates the terms and translates the values of every act. Please observe yourselves, see your oZ,n conscious and unconscious ways of thinking and feeling, your self-created values.
So what is pleasure, and why does the mind cling to pleasure? The animal avoids pain and wants only pleasure - and there is a great deal of the animal in each one of us. If we observe ourselves, we will see that we don't want anything but continuous pleasure in different forms. We want excitement, amusement, knowledge, information, prestige, fulfilment; we want to be known, to carry out what we think is right, trying in the process to control others. The cycle or the wheel of pleasure - that is what dictates our values, our standards, our activities, our relationships. What is pleasure? It is sensation - the sensation which is pleasurable, and from which there is desire. And what gives continuity to desire? There is perception or seeing, sensation, contact, and desire.
Are you following me? Please watch this. It is nothing mysterious that we are talking about, it is a very simple fact. You see a fine car, or a beautiful woman, or a splendid house, or a precious jewel, or a man who has great power in the world - whatever it is - and you want that too. You see something so-called beautiful, attractive, and from the perceiving, the seeing of it, there is sensation, followed by contact and desire. That is the cycle, is it not? And then the question is: what gives a continuity to that moment of desire? Because if I understand what gives continuity to desire, then perhaps I shall know how to deal with desire, how to come to grips with it and not merely suppress, control, or try to destroy it.
So the mind knows how desire arises, That much is clear. But what gives desire a continuity? Surely it is thought. When there is perception of a car, followed by sensation, contact and desire, if thought does not give continuity to that desire, the desire ends, docs it not? We see, then, that desire is given continuity by thought. The more I think about that car, the more the desire to possess it is strengthened - which is the desire for pleasure. So without understanding the machinery of thinking I cannot possibly understand the nature of pleasure, or of peace. Therefore I must understand the machinery of thinking.
Please, we are trying to find out what peace is, because without peace our life is dreadfully confused, miserable, anxious, as we know all too well. And to find out what peace is, we must not only understand sorrow, but we must also understand what is pleasure, what is desire, and what is thinking. We cannot skip any phase of it, we have to. understand the process as a whole, and not in fragments.
So we are now inquiring into what thinking is. Putting it very simply, thinking is obviously the response of knowledge and experience as memory. The computer stores up a great deal of information on its electronic tape, and when you ask it an appropriate question it will give you the right answer. Similarly, a great deal of inherited and acquired knowledge has been stored up. in the human brain as memory, and when it is challenged it responds. according to its stored-up knowledge, according to the memory of its various. activities and experiences. Whether memory is conscious or unconscious, it is always conditioned. Like the computer, it cannot go beyond itself, beyond the information that has been given to it. We as human beings cannot go beyond ourselves because we are conditioned; we are tethered to our knowledge, to our information, to our experience, to our past. It is the past that responds to any question, and that response is what we call thought. The response may take a long, or a very short time, and this process is fairly simple and clear. A familiar question may be answered immediately, whereas a question which is not at all familiar will take a greater length of time - the interval between the question and the answer will be greater.
So what we call thought is always conditioned. The more one thinks about pleasure, and avoids pain, the more the values and images of desire take root in the mind. Surely that is very simple. Yet it is right and natural to respond to what one sees. When you see a beautiful car, for example, you respond, and that response must exist, otherwise you are blind, or paralysed, or insensitive. But why should one think about it? If you want the car and have the means, you get it. If you don't have the means, why should you keep on creating in your mind the image of pleasure? So one begins to see that desire is not a thing to be abhorred, controlled, or suppressed, but rather one must understand how it comes into being, and what gives it continuity. When we understand this whole picture, then desire has quite a different meaning. Then desire no longer tortures the mind.
Now, if that much is clear, then one sees that what we call thought is the origin of conflict. Our thought being the response of the past, it meets the challenge of the present inadequately, and therefore there is conflict. Then we say that thought must be controlled but that very control of thought only increases our conflict with life, which, like that stream, is constantly moving. So thought does not bring about understanding of life; thought does not free the mind from sorrow; thought will never bring about peace. Thought is the response of the past, and therefore thought must always be limited, conditioned. As long as the mind is translating all the activities of life in terms of thought, and as long as thought is creating action, it will only breed more conflict, more misery.
Then what is peace? Is peace to be sought through thought, through the pleasure of organized idea? Obviously not. Peace is a state of mind in which the image, or the idea, or the pleasure of organized idea, does not arise.
Please, we are asking the mind to do a most extraordinary thing a thing which it has never done before. We are used to having a series of thoughts, conclusions, formulas, from which we act. But I say such a process will not bring about peace at all. What brings about peace is to understand the total machinery of thought, pleasure, and idea. When that machinery is completely understood, then there is a quietness with which thought does not interfere. Then there is no thought except when thought has to act.
I wonder if I am making myself clear? No, please don't nod your heads in agreement, because this is one of the most difficult things to understand. We are trying to find out how to end sorrow. You are not agreeing or disagreeing with my words or ideas. We are trying to find out how a human being, who has lived in sorrow for two million years or more, can end sorrow; because without the ending of sorrow, there is no light, no clarity, no intelligence. Man may be very clever; he may go to the moon, photograph Mars, invent new machinery, new techniques to kill and to preserve; but as long as there is sorrow, there is no ending to conflict, to misery, to confusion. That is why we are inquiring into sorrow and trying to find out whether one can actually be free of sorrow.
As I said, without understanding the nature of thought, the nature of pleasure as organized idea, there is no peace. We have to live in this world, which is becoming more and more complex, more and more tyrannical. The radio, the television, the newspapers, the politicians, the priests, the organized religions with their beliefs, dogmas, rituals, are all conditioning us, and the propaganda is becoming more and more cunning. Psychologically they know all the tricks, how to control the mind of man. So one has to be aware of all these processes, aware of these innumerable influences that are always impinging upon us,and be free of them. And that is where simplicity begins. It is not a cunning mind, not an informed mind, but only a very simple mind that sees directly, without distortion; and there will be distortion as long as there is in the mind the image of pleasure.
The simple mind is an austere mind. Do you know what it means to be austere? An austere mind is generally understood to be one that is harshly self-disciplined, controlled, suppressed, a mind that ruthlessly conforms to a pattern. But such a mind is neither simple nor austere; it is really a frightened mind, and because it is frightened, it conforms. Its conformity is called austerity; but we are talking of an austerity in which there is no conformity of any kind at all. We are using the word `austere', not in the sense of being disciplined according to a pattern, but in the sense of being aware of all the implications of pleasure, and of the image or the centre. That very awareness brings about a spontaneous discipline - which is the austerity I am talking about.
You cannot be austere if you are not passionate. You know, for most of us passion is translated as lust, or we talk about having a passion for work, a passion to express oneself, or a passion to become something. But I am using the word in the sense of intensity. There is a gathering in of energy, which becomes tremendously intense - and that is passion. Without this passion, there is no austerity, and therefore no simplicity. You must have tremendous passion to be simple; and with that passion, with that intensity, you can approach sorrow. You cannot resolve or end sorrow without passion, without great energy; and energy is. dissipated when there is conflict, that is, when you say, "I must not suffer", or try to find the cause of sorrow, or try to escape from sorrow. You need all your energy, all your attention to face sorrow. There is a state of intense, passionate attention which, while not conforming, is highly disciplined, and is, therefore extraordinarily austere. In that state your mind is very simple, and therefore you can meet this thing which is called sorrow. Then the mind will discover for itself that sorrow has an end, and therefore despair, frustration, loneliness - all these things also come to an end. It is only when there is the ending of sorrow that there is freedom, and it is only when the mind is free that it is both wise and active.
Questioner: Is there any difference between individual suffering, and the suffering of mankind?
Krishnamurti: Is your suffering as an individual different from my suffering, or from the suffering of a man in Asia, in America, or in Russia? The circumstances, the incidents may vary, but in essence another man's suffering is the same as mine and yours, isn't it?` Suffering is suffering, surely, not yours or mine. Pleasure is not your pleasure, or my pleasure: it is pleasure. When you are hungry, it is not your hunger only, it is the hunger of the whole of Asia too. When you are driven by ambition, when you are ruthless, it is the same ruthlessness that drives the politician, the man in power, whether he is in Asia, in America, or in Russia.
You see, that is what we object to. We don't see that we are all one humanity, caught in different spheres of life, in different areas. When you love somebody, it is not your love. If it is, it becomes tyrannical, possessive, jealous, anxious, brutal. Similarly, suffering is suffering, it is not yours or mine. I am not just making it impersonal, I am not making it something abstract. When one suffers, one suffers.-When a man has no food, no clothing, no shelter, he is suffering, whether he lives in Asia, or in the West. The people who ;re now being killed or wounded - the Vietnamese and the Americans - are suffering. To understand this suffering - which is neither yours nor mine, which is not impersonal or abstract, but actual and which we all have - requires great deal of penetration, insight. And the ending of this suffering will naturally bring about peace, not only within but outside.
I think we should stop now, because I have talked for over an hour. But if you have really listened, then that very act of listening is the act of doing. To listen is to act. If you have listened this morning really deeply, listened with full attention, with clarity, then you will see that sorrow will never touch you again - which doesn't mean that you don't love. When we have ended sorrow, then perhaps we shall know what love is. But without ending sorrow, love becomes tyranny, love becomes pain, love becomes a thing that has no meaning at all, except as memory, as pleasure.
July 25, 1965
Saanen 7th Public Talk 25th July 1965
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