Paris 4th Public Talk 26th May 1966
I think it would be very good if we could find out what we are seeking and why we are seeking. What is it that we are all after? What is it all about? What does each one of us deeply crave - asking, seeking, demanding? If we can find out what it is that we are seeking and why we are seeking, then perhaps we can go into this question of search, into this question of seeking. Man, apparently, has always sought something beyond himself, something beyond his daily routine, boredom, despair and anxiety, something that will be completely satisfying, that will give a certain deep, abiding significance to his rather superficial, chaotic, miserable life. We seek something beyond us because we lead very superficial lives, lives, that have very little meaning, lives that are mechanical, routine. We demand something mysterious, a quality of otherness. We are everlastingly seeking, through books, through following some one, establishing ideologies, beliefs, dogmas in the hope of reaching, attaining, gaining something that is not put together by thought, that has some deep meaning in life. Because we are superficial, shallow, insufficient in ourselves, we stretch our hands, our minds beyond the limitations of our own thinking, or we seek to escape from this wide and deep loneliness, this sense of solitude, this sense of isolation. We want to escape from ourselves, because we see that we are so small, so petty that there is very little meaning to life. We know what we are, so why bother about it? Why be tragic or dramatic or anything about it? It is a shallow affair anyhow. Let us see if we can't leave this self-centred activity and isolation, and escape into something which cannot be measured in terms of time.
I think that is what most of us are, if we look deeply into ourselves. If we are religious, addicted to some kind of sect, or if we have some particular pet idiosyncrasy that gives a particularly satisfying experience, we want to extend that experience, widen it, deepen it, make it more real. Most of us are always seeking, either to escape from the daily routine and boredom or to escape from the insufficiency of emptiness, from a sense of isolation, or we want something more, something we do not have that will make our lives rich, full, sufficient. If we examine our own behaviour, our own thinking, I think we will find that we are all wanting something. The more mysterious it is, the more it has a quality of otherness, something that is extraordinarily mysterious and occult, hidden, the more we pursue it. We want some authority to guide us to that untrodden realm, so we very easily accept authority and follow either blindly or rationally, giving various explanations as to why we follow. We remain constantly seeking, demanding wider and deeper experiences, because the experiences we know are not very significant. We know they are sensuous, pleasurable, rather empty and shallow, so we eagerly listen to anyone who will offer something beyond all this. We are willing to accept their words, their direction, their statements. We are always following, we are always the "yes"-sayers, those who say " Yes" to everything; we are not "no"-sayers.
I would like this evening, if I may, to talk about this urge in man to seek something beyond himself, as he tries to identify himself with that something through various methods, systems, dogmas, beliefs; various systems of meditation, trying to capture - at least in words - that which cannot be captured by thought. Let us talk over together this question of seeking, why we seek, why we demand a variety of experiences and ultimately an experience that will quench our thirst, that will put an end to our own miserable, shallow existence.
To really go into it we must first find out what we mean by experience, and why we ask for greater experiences. The latest drug is LSD, of which you have probably heard, and which perhaps - although I hope not - some of you have taken. There is this tremendous urge for greater experience, for something that will lighten, give breadth and depth to our life, and that drug is sweeping all over the world. In ancient India they used to have it, only under a different name. It surely is the result of a demand for more intense life, a greater sensitivity, and in that sensitivity you see things differently.
Let us talk over together this demand, this longing for something, for some experience which will enrich our days with beauty, with love, with clarity. Surely experience is always recognizable. When we experience something, a pleasure, something we think is original, that experience is recognizable. We recognize it. We say, " That was a marvellous experience; this happened and that happened". We saw things more clearly. It was an experience that gave us a tremendous sense of joy, vitality. An experience is always something we can recognize. When we can recognize it, it is already known, and therefore it is not something new.
I recognize someone because I met him last year or yesterday. The image of yesterday. The image of that person has remained in the memory, conscious or unconscious, and when I meet that person again that memory responds. Similarly, when I have an experience of any kind, trivial or what is called "sublime" - and there are no sublime experiences at all, because all experiences, whether petty or grand, are in the picture of thought as memory - I want to recognize it. My mind through words describes it, has sensations about it, so it is always something from the image to the known. Otherwise I won't call it experience. It's like a very sensitive person taking one of these drugs which obviously will heighten sensitivity. He sees or experiences or has a vision of something which he is able to recognize because it is already established in his mind; otherwise he could not recognize it, and would never call it an " experience".
Please investigate what is being said; don't just casually listen, because we are going to go into something a little later which demands the understanding of experience. We are going to talk about meditation, which is one of the most extraordinary things, if one knows what it is to have a meditative mind. It's like a man who is blind and does not see colour, a man with a dull mind. If we don't know what it is to meditate, we lead a very narrow, limited life, however clever, however erudite we may be, whatever books or paintings we may produce. We remain within a very small circle of knowledge, and knowledge is always limited. To understand this question of meditation we must go into the question of experience and also we must enquire why we seek and what we are seeking.
Deeply our life is a confusion, a mess; a misery, an agony. The more sensitive we are, the more the despair, the anxiety, the guilt feeling, and naturally we want to escape from it because we haven't found an answer; we don't know how to get out of this confusion. We want to go to some other realm, to another dimension. We escape through music, through art, through literature, but it is just an escape; it has no reality in comparison with what we are seeking. All escapes are similar, whether through the door of a church, through God or a Saviour, through the door of drink or of various drugs. We must not only understand what and why we are seeking, but we must also understand this demand for deep, abiding experience, because it is only the mind that does not seek at all, that does not demand any experience in any form, that can enter into a realm, into a dimension that is totally new. That is what we are going into this evening, I hope.
Our lives are shallow, insufficient in themselves, and we want something else, a greater, deeper experience. Also, we are astonishingly isolated. All our activity, all our thinking, all our behaviour leads to this isolation, this loneliness, and we want to escape from it. Without understanding this isolation, not intellectually, not verbally or rationally, but by coming directly into contact with what we are actually seeking, coming into contact with this sense of loneliness, without resolving that, totally, all meditation, all search, all so-called spiritual, religious activities have no meaning whatsoever, because they are all escapes, from what we are. It is like a shallow, dull, petty, little mind thinking about God. If there is such a thing, the mind and its God will still remain petty.
The question arises, whether it is possible for a mind so heavily conditioned, so caught up in the daily travail and conflict of life, to be so wide and deeply awake that there is no seeking no searching for experience. When one is awake, when one has light in oneself, there is no seeking. One does not want any more experiences. It's only the man in darkness who is always searching for light. Is it possible to be so intensely awake, so highly sensitive, physically, intellectually, in every way, that there is not a dull spot in the mind? Then only is there no seeking; then only is there no urge for more experience.
Is it possible? Most of us live on sensations, sensuous sensations, and thought gives pleasure to them. By thinking about those sensations we derive great pleasure, and where there is pleasure there is pain. We must understand this process, how thought breeds time, pleasure and pain; how thought, having created it all, tries to escape from it; and how the very escape breeds conflict. I am in sorrow and I would like to be happy. I would like to end sorrow. Thought has created sorrow and thought hopes to find an end to sorrow. In that dual state thought creates conflict for itself.
Most of us are faced with this sense of isolation and loneliness, a sense of void. Though one may have a family group or whatever it is, one knows this sense, this deep anxiety about nothing. Can one be free of it; can one really go beyond it; not escaping from it; not trying to fill that isolation, that loneliness, that emptiness with knowledge, with experience, with all kinds of words? You all know the things that one does to fill this void in oneself. Can one go beyond it? To understand and be free of anything one must come into contact with it. As we were saying the other day, one has an image about death and that image, created by thought, brings fear of death. In the same way one has an image of this emptiness, of this loneliness and that image prevents a direct contact with the fact of loneliness.
If you would look at a flower, look at it. You can only look at it if there is no image of that flower in your mind, if you don't name it, if thought is not operating when you are looking at the flower, thought as knowledge of the species or the colour of that flower. Then you are directly, immediately in contact with that thing. When there is such contact, there is no observer. The observer is the image-maker, who prevents coming into direct contact with a fact, with a flower, with death, or with that thing which we call loneliness.
Please, actually go through with what is being said. Listen so that you see the thing directly, are directly in contact. If you are in contact with anything, with your wife, with your children, with the sky, with the clouds, with any fact, the moment thought interferes with it you lose contact. Thought springs from memory. Memory is the image, and from there you look and therefore there is a separation between the observer and the observed.
You have to understand this very deeply. It is this separation of the observer from the observed that makes the observer want more experience, more sensations, and so he is everlastingly pursuing, seeking. It has to be completely and totally understood that as long as there is an observer, the one that is seeking experience, the censor, the entity that evaluates, judges, condemns, there is no immediate contact with what is. When you have pain, physical pain, there is direct perception; there is not the observer who is feeling the pain; there is only pain. Because there is no observer there is immediate action. There is not the idea and then action, but there is only action when there is pain, because there is a direct physical contact. The pain is you; there is pain. As long as this is not completely understood, realized, explored and felt deeply, as long as it is not wholly grasped, not intellectually, not verbally, that the observer is the observed, all life becomes conflict, a contradiction between opposing desires, the "what should be" and the "what is". You can do this only if you are aware whether you are looking at it as an observer, when you look at a flower or a cloud or anything. If the entity is observing through his knowledge, there is no contact with the object. A mind that is in conflict of any kind, at any level, conscious or unconscious, is a tortured mind, whatever it sees is distorted. Please do understand this very simple truth or fact, that whatever it sees must be distorted as long as there is conflict, conflict of ambition, fear, the agony of separation and all the rest of it. A mind in conflict is a distorted mind. This conflict can only end when the observer ceases to be, when there is only the observed. Then virtue, that is, behaviour has a quite different meaning. Virtue is order, not the virtue of social order, for society is disorderly. However much it may implant the idea of morality in the mind, society is immoral, because it engenders conflict; it creates human beings who are ambitious, greedy, envious, seeking power, position, prestige. Without this order deeply within oneself, thought will create disorder which,it will call virtue.
Order is not a matter of time; it isn't, "I will be orderly, virtuous, day after tomorrow". Either we are or we are not. In the interval between what is and what we think should be, disorder comes into being, disorder being conflict. Out of conflict there can be no virtue, no morality. I say to, myself, "I am angry; I will get over it; I'll practise patience, love and all the rest of it". That is, I'll gradually come to that state where I'm not angry. That process, the idea of gradual achievement, breeds not only conflict but also this disorderly, anxious, destructive existence. Time as a process of realizing is always disorderly. Of course it takes time to acquire knowledge, to go to the moon, to learn a new language, but when we use time as a Means to overcome some peculiar tendency of our own, then such usage of time, which is really using thinking to bring about a change, brings with it not only conflict but also a deep sense of indolence.
When you see something dangerous you act immediately! There is no time interval; the idea is not separate from the action, action is the idea. A mind that is virtuous in this sense in which the speaker is using that word does not perceive through effort, but through direct perception. When you see the fact non-verbally there is immediate action. A man who is vain and proud may try to cultivate humility, but humility cannot be cultivated, any more than you can cultivate love. If he faces that fact of pride, non-verbally, actually comes into contact with it - and this is only possible when there is not a separate observer who says, " I am proud", but the observer is the observed - then there is a direct contact with the fact. To come into contact with the fact, energy is needed, and that energy comes into being when the observer is non-existent.
Having done this, you can begin to understand what meditation is, because the understanding of the observer and the observed is part of meditation. Unfortunately the East has supplied various systems of meditation; they think they are experts at this. There are the various schools of meditation which have certain practices, breathing in certain ways, sitting in certain positions. They say " Practise, practise, try, struggle, dominate, control; eventually you will get somewhere". Obviously you will get somewhere, but it will not be worth getting. What you will get is the projection of your own thinking, and this has no validity whatsoever.
It is a very complex question. One has to completely deny authority in any form, whether external authority or the authority of one's own experience and knowledge. One needs a very subtle, quick mind, a mind that can reason, that is healthy, not neurotic. All neuroses take place when there is self-centred activity, when there is this observer wanting to express himself in various activities, because he creates conflict in himself. All this is part of meditation. It demands awareness to observe what is without interpretation, to look without judgment, without choice, and therefore to act, not in terms of ideas, but to act as one does when one sees a precipice, a danger - immediate action! That immediate action, when one observes, when one perceives, in which no time is involved, brings about virtue, order.
Have you ever seen a monkey at close quarters? There are plenty of them in India. If you have seen one, you have noticed how restless it is, scratching itself, chattering, in endless movement. So is our mind. It is a chattering mind, a mind that is vagrant, that wanders all over the place, chattering like a monkey. One realizes that and says, " I must control it", and one begins to concentrate. One doesn't realize that the entity that is concentrating, the entity that demands control or exerts domination is still the entity that is like the monkey.
The observer is the observed! Therefore, concentration - please listen - concentration leads merely to isolation, exclusion. Any schoolboy knows how to concentrate, or any man interested in something can concentrate. He puts on blinkers, creates a wall around himself and observes, acts. Such concentration, being exclusion, creates conflict; but there is an awareness which is not concentration, in which one can concentrate without exclusion. Awareness is something really quite simple, so simple that you don't even think about it. As you enter a hall like this, you are aware of the colour, the shape of the pillars, the dimensions of the room and so on and so on and so on. You are aware, and then you begin to distinguish, criticize, give a name to the various colours. Such verbal differentiation is called distraction, but there is no distraction at all. There is only distraction when you try to concentrate on something; then everything else is a distraction. But there is no such thing as distraction when you are aware of everything that is going on. If you are aware, there is no distraction at all. From this awareness comes attention. When you give your whole attention, your nerves, body, mind, heart, everything is attentive! You are attentive when there is danger. In the attention, if you observe it, the mind is extraordinarily quiet. It is only in silence that you can perceive anything; it is only in silence that there is perception, seeing.
If you look at that microphone attentively, look at it totally, your mind is very quiet; it doesn't need concentrating, exclusion, an effort. This silence of the mind is necessary. It is not something to be achieved, not something put together by thought, for such silence is sterile, dead. A man through prayer can achieve a certain quality of silence; through repetition of words you can bring about a quietness of the mind, but this is so immature. It's not silence at all, the mind has drugged itself; but where there is attention there is silence.
It is the function of the brain to receive and react. The brain is always active; the cells are conditioned through centuries of certain patterns of behaviour. When one is conditioned as a Christian and one hears the word " Christian", the brain cells react to that word very quickly, instantly. Is it possible for the brain cells themselves - which have been so highly trained to react instantly according to their pattern of behaviour, thought and all the rest of it - is it possible for those brain cells to function, without agitation, without all the turmoil that ordinarily goes on when one hears a word like " death"?
Silence is not merely a quality, a verbal quality, a verbal statement to be realized, but the silence of a mind that has understood the whole process of what we have talked about this evening. Then there is a silence from which all action takes place, when one has gone into it very deeply, and has done it actually, not theoretically, has responded immediately to the fact of what one is. It is only this silence that can see something totally new, something in which thought has no place whatsoever, because thought is the response of the old. Thought always functions within the field of the known. Only a silent mind, one which is actually completely empty of the known, can perceive whatever is new. It perceives, not as the observer perceiving something outside of itself, there is only perception. Only such a mind can come upon something that has no word, that has no measure in terms of time.
It is very easy to ask a question, but it is more difficult to ask a right question. In the very asking of the right question you have the answer. So, it is very important to find out how to put the right question. This doesn't mean that I am trying to stop you from asking questions. To put the right question you need tremendous awareness, attention, but if you were to ask yourselves the right question, out of that attention the answer is there. You don't have to ask anybody. You don't have to follow anybody! So I hope you'll ask the right questions.
Questioner: Attention is transformed, is greater at the moment when the observer becomes the observed....
Krishnamurti: Oh, no! The observer doesn't become the observed.
Questioner: He observes it in himself.
Krishnamurti: No sir. Look, sir. There is the observer who says, " I'm frightened", "I'm greedy", "I'm envious", "I'm anxious", "I'm guilty". The feeling and the observer are two different states. This is fairly simple, isn't it? The entity who says he is frightened, the observer who says, "I'm frightened" - to him fear is different from the observer. There it is. You can observe, see it for yourself. At the actual moment of great pain you don't say anything. You are the pain! There's not you and the pain. Then later on, a few seconds or a few minutes later comes the thinker who says, " By Jove, I must do something about it". Now, the entity, the observer is not different from the fear. The fear is the observer. It doesn't mean that the observer becomes the fear or identifies himself with the fear; there is only fear! If you are so aware that the observer is not, but only fear, then you will see that fear is not something to be got rid of or conquered. When the observer is not, fear is not.
Questioner: If there is no observer, who is aware?
Krishnamurti: Look at the flower. There are no flowers here! Look at the speaker, which you have been doing all evening. Look at the speaker without the observer. Can you look; can you see the speaker who is sitting on the platform, without the observer with his thoughts, with his imagination, with the images he has built about the speaker? Can you? Don't say "no" or "yes". Can you look at your wife or your husband without the image of the husband or of the wife, which is the observer?
Questioner: Can we not integrate the two?
Krishnamurti: Oh, no! It is not a question of integration. Please don't bring in words. It is not integration. That's a dreadful word.
Questioner: One can observe the speaker but the instant the thing is within it is a different matter.
Krishnamurti: It is fairly easy to observe, see the speaker, or the flower; it is something outside. But to look at fear, at our own petty little demands for self-expression is something else. If you observe, the question then is, who is aware of what is observed? Isn't that it? I'm not talking of identity. What does " identify" mean? I identify myself with my family, with my wife, with my country, with the book I'm writing or with the picture I am painting. I identify with something. I am different and I identify with something which is not me, or I identify myself with myself, which is the image of myself. The word implies a dual state. The question is this, sir, if there is no observer - no, the difficulty is that the moment you say, "if there is no observer", the if maintains that it is not an actual fact; it's a condition. If I am healthy; but I am not; I am ill. wait!
Questioner: The word in itself is an idea.
Krishnamurti: No, no! It is not an idea! We are trying to avoid phrases, words that have a content of the future and are therefore unreal. What the fact is, what is, not what should be is what interests us. When you put the question, " If there is no observer, who is it that observes?", you are putting the wrong question. You should never put the question " if there is no observer". A very healthy man doesn't ask what he will do if he is healthy; he is healthy. He doesn't even know that he is healthy. It's only the ill person, the person who is in conflict that demands, that is seeking, asking, wanting. He is always unhealthy. He can put that if question, what will happen if I achieve freedom? But it is a wrong question. You will find out what will happen when you're free, but to put the question while you are still a prisoner has no meaning. In the same way, to put the question, " What is aware when there is no observer?", has no meaning. It becomes intellectual, verbal, theoretical.
Questioner: If you are in the state of mind where you are completely attentive, does it mean coming into reality?
Krishnamurti:I am sorry; such questions have no meaning. Be in that state and find out! That has much more validity, much more vitality and energy than saying, " If this happens, what will happen?". That's a dissipation of energy, and therefore a wrong question. That doesn't mean that I want to choke off your questions.
Questioner: Is there such a thing as memory of awareness?
Krishnamurti: No, sir; you are aware or you are not. Don't complicate a thing that is so very simple. That's one of our peculiarities; we want to complicate things, because our minds are so cunning. We want to play with things; we don't see things simply, and to see the fact, the truth of what is the mind must be extraordinarily simple, uncluttered. Because after all this simplicity is innocence, and innocence is not a memory. It isn't that you were innocent and you're going to come back to it. Only a mind that is aware, very simply, very quietly, without effort, without determination, without direction - only such a mind is innocent; only such a mind can perceive what is real.
May 26, 1966
Paris 4th Public Talk 26th May 1966
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