New York 1966
New York 2nd Public Talk 28th September 1966
As human beings we do not seem to be able to solve our problems totally. We move from one problem to another endlessly. Man has tried every way to escape from these problems, to avoid them or to find some excuse for not resolving them. We probably do not have the capacity, the energy, the drive to resolve them, and we have built a network of escapes so cunningly that we do not even know that we are escaping from the main issue. It seems to me that there must be a total change, a total revolution in the mind, not a modified continuity, but a total psychological mutation, so that the mind is entirely free from all the bondage of time, so that it can go beyond the structure of thought, not into some metaphysical region, but rather into a timeless dimension where the mind is no longer caught in its own structure, in its own problems. We see the absolute necessity of complete change. We have tried so many ways, including LSD, beliefs, dogmas, joining various sects, going through various disciplines of meditation. The mind, at the end of all this, remains just the same: petty, narrow, limited, anxious, but it has had a period of enlightenment, a period of clarity. That's what most of us are doing: pursuing a vision, a clarity, something that is not entirely the product of thought, but we come back again and again to this confusion. There seems to be no freedom. As we were saying the other day, is it possible for man to be totally free, psychologically? We don't know what that freedom means. We can only build an image, or an idea, a conclusion as to what freedom should be or should not be. To actually experience it, to actually come upon it requires a great deal of examination, a great deal of penetration into our process of thinking.
This evening I would like to go into whether it is possible for man, for a human being to have entire freedom from all fear, from all effort, from every form of anxiety. It must be unconscious in the sense that it is not deliberately brought about. To understand this question we must examine what change is. Our minds are bound, conditioned by society, by our experience, by our heredity, by all the influences that man is heir to. Can a human being put all that aside and discover for himself a state of mind where there is a quality which has not been touched by time at all? After all, that is what we are all seeking. Most of us are tired of the daily experiences of life, its boredom, its pettiness; and we are seeking something through experience, something much greater. We call it God, a vision or whatever name we can give it - the name doesn't matter.
How can a mind that has been so conditioned by everyday experience, by knowledge, by social and economic influences, by the culture in which that mind lives - how can such a mind bring about a total revolution, a mutation in itself? Because if it is not possible, then we are condemned to sorrow, to anxiety, to guilt, to despair. It's a valid question, and we must find a right answer, not a verbal answer, not a conclusion, not an ideation, but actually find the answer to that question and live in that.
We have to go into the question of what change is, who the entity is that's going to change and who is going to be conscious or aware that it has changed. The word "change" implies a movement from what has been to what will be. There is a time sequence: what was, what is and what should be. And in this time interval, from what is to what should be, there is effort to achieve the what should be. What should be is already preconceived, predetermined by what has been. So the movement from what has been to what should be is no movement at all; it is merely a continuity of what has been.
I think it would be worth while if we could treat this, not as a talk to which you are listening and with which you are agreeing or disagreeing, but rather as the means you can use to actually observe the whole process of your own thinking, the process of your own reactions. We are not trying to have group analysis, but rather to investigate factually what is being said. If you are investigating what is being said, then you are actually listening, not coming to any conclusion of agreement or disagreement. It really is a matter of examining yourself as a total human being, not as an American, or an Indian, and all the rest of that silly nonsense. You are actually observing the total movement of your own mind. If you do that, it has enormous significance. The speaker is only a mirror in which, or through which you are observing the whole content, the movement of yourself. The speaker doesn't matter at all. What is important is to observe, to be completely aware, without any choice - just to observe what's going on. Then you are bound to find out for yourself the meaning and the structure of change.
We must change. There is a great deal of the animal in us: aggression, violence, greed, ambition, the search for success, the effort to dominate. Can those remains of the animal be totally eradicated so that the mind is no longer violent, no longer aggressive? Unless the mind is at complete peace, or completely still, it is not possible to discover anything new. Without that discovering, without the mind being transformed, we shall merely live in the time process of imitation, continuing with what has been, living always in the past. The past is not only the immediate, but the immediate is the past.
What does one mean by change? That is an imperative necessity, because our life is pretty shoddy, empty, rather dull and stupid, without meaning. Going to the office every day for the next forty years, breeding a few children, seeking everlasting amusement, either through the church or the football field, to a mature man all that really has very little meaning. We know that, but we don't know what to do; we don't know how to change, how to put an end to the time process. Let's go into it together. First we must be very clear that there is no authority, that the speaker is not the authority. Therefore the relationship between you and the speaker changes entirely. We are both investigating, examining, and therefore both of us are partaking of what is being said, like taking a journey together. Therefore your responsibility is much greater than that of the speaker. We can go into this, take this journey, only when we are very, very serious; because it entails a great deal of attention, energy, clarity. For most of us change implies a movement toward what is known. It isn't an actual change, but a continuity of what has been, in a modified pattern. All sociological revolutions are based on that. There is the idea of what should be, what a society should be, and the revolutionists try to bring about that idea in action; that they call revolution. There is society, with its classes, and they want to bring about a totally different structure of society. They have the pattern of what should be, and that's no change at all. It's merely a reaction; and reaction is always imitative.
When we talk about change, it is not change or mutation from what has been to what should be. I hope you are observing your own process of your thinking and are aware not only of the necessity of change, but also of your conditioning, the limitations, the fears, the anxieties, the utter loneliness and boredom of life. We are asking ourselves whether that structure can be totally demolished and a new state of mind come into being. That state of mind is not to be preconceived; if it is, it's merely a concept, an idea; and an idea is never real.
We have this field in which we live, an actual fact. How can a mutation take place in that fact? We only know effort to bring about any change, through pleasure or through pain, through reward or through punishment. To understand change in the sense which we are talking about, in the sense of mutation, with a totally different mind happening, we have to go into the question of pleasure. If we do not understand the structure of pleasure, change then will merely depend on pleasure and pain, on a reward or a punishment.
What we all want is pleasure, more and more pleasure, either physical pleasure through sex, through possessions, through luxury, and so on, which can easily be transcended, which can easily be understood and set aside, or the psychological pleasure on which all our values are based: moral, ethical spiritual. All our relationship is based on that - the relationship between two images, not two human beings, but the two images that human beings have created about each other.
The animal wants only pleasure. And as I said, there is a great deal of the animal in us. Unless one understands the nature and the structure of pleasure, change or mutation is merely a form of the continuity of pleasure, in which there is always pain.
What is pleasure? Why does the mind constantly seek this thing called pleasure? By pleasure I mean feeling superior, psychologically, feeling anger, violence and the opposite, non-violence. Each opposite contains its own opposite; therefore non-violence is not non-violence at all. Violence gives a great deal of pleasure. There is a great deal of pleasure in acquiring, in dominating, and psychologically in the feeling of having a capacity, the feeling of achievement, the feeling that one is entirely different from someone else. On this pleasure principle our relationships are based; on this principle our ethical and moral values are built. The ultimate pleasure is not only sex, but the idea that one has discovered God, something totally new. We are making constant efforts to achieve that ultimate pleasure. We change the patterns of our relationships. I don't like my wife; I find various excuses and choose another wife; and this is the way we live, in constant battle, in endless strife. We never consider what pleasure is, whether there is an actual state such as pleasure, psychologically, or we have conceived, formulated pleasure through thought, and we want to achieve that pleasure; so pleasure may be the product of thinking.
We must understand this very deeply, see the whole structure very, very clearly, not get rid of pleasure - that's too immature. That is what the monks throughout the world have done. We are using the word "understand" non-intellectually, non-emotionally, in the sense of seeing something very clearly as it is, not as we would like it to be, not interpreting it in a certain temperamental fashion. Then, when we understand something, it isn't that an individual mind has understood it, but rather there is a total awareness of that fact. It would be rather absurd and not quite honest to say to ourselves, "I'm not seeking pleasure". Everyone is.
To understand it, we must not only go into this question of thinking, but into the structure of memory. This morning, very early, on the reservoir there was not a breath of air, and there was perfect reflection of all the trees, the light and the towers, without a movement. It was a beautiful sight, and it has given me great pleasure. The mind has stored that memory as pleasure, and wants that pleasure to be repeated; because memory is already a dead thing. The pleasure is in thinking about that light on the water this morning; and the thinking is the response of memory, which has been stored up through the experience of this morning. Thought proceeds from that experience to gather more pleasure from what it experienced yesterday, or this morning. You have flattered me; I have enjoyed it, and I want more of it. I think about it. (Laughter.)
Please don't laugh it away. Look at it. Go into it. That's why we avoid talking about death. We want to repeat all the experiences of youth. Pleasure comes into being through an experience in which there has been a delight. That experience is gone, but the memory of it remains. Then the memory responds. and, through thinking, wants more of it. It is making constant effort. This is simple. Thought, thinking over something which has given pleasure, keeps on thinking about it, as sex, achievement, and so on. Of course it's much more complex than that, but there is not enough time to go into all the complexity of it; one can watch it; one can be aware of it; one can see it for oneself.
The problem then is: is it possible to experience, and not have that experience leave a memory; and therefore there is no thinking about it? It's over.
Man has lived for so many millennia, thousands upon thousands of years, and he is the residue of all time; he is the result of endless time. Unless he puts an end to time, he is caught in this wheel, the wheel of thought, experience and pleasure. We can't do anything about it. If we do actually say, "I must end pleasure" - which we won't - we do it out of desire for further pleasure. We must understand and go into this question of action. Here is an issue, a great problem. All religions have tried, and vainly, to say that any form of pleasure is the same. The monasteries are full of these monks who deny, suppress pleasure. Pleasure is related to desire, so these people say, "Be without desire", which is absolutely impossible.
How is it possible for an action to take place with regard to the structure of pleasure, an action which is not taken by the desire for a greater pleasure? Action is the doing, the having done, or future action. All our actions, if you observe very closely, are based on an idea: an idea which has been formulated, and according to that idea, according to that image, according to that authority, experience, I act. To us, idea, the ideal, the prototype is much more important than the action itself. We are always trying to approximate any action according to the pattern. If we want to discover anything new in action, we must be free of the pattern.
The culture in which one lives has imposed certain patterns of behaviour, certain patterns of thought, certain patterns of morality. The more ancient that particular culture is, the more conditioned the mind becomes. There is that pattern, and the mind is always imitating, following, adjusting itself to that pattern. This process is called action. If it is purely technological activity, then it's merely copying, repeating, adding some more to what has been. Why do we act with an idea? Why is ideation so terribly important? I have to do something; but why should I have an idea about it? I must find out why I have a formula, why I have an example, an authority. Isn't it because I am incapable, or do not want to face the fact, the what is?
I'm in sorrow. Psychologically I'm terribly disturbed; and I have an idea about it: what I should do, what I should not do, how it should be changed. That idea, that formula, that concept prevents me from looking at the fact of what is. Ideation and the formula are escapes from what is. There is immediate action when there is great danger. Then you have no idea. You don't formulate an idea and then act according to that idea.
The mind has become lazy, indolent through a formula which has given it a means of escape from action with regard to what is. Seeing for ourselves the whole structure of what has been said, not because it has been pointed out to us, is it possible to face the fact: the fact that we are violent, as an example? We are violent human beings, and we have chosen violence as the way of life, war and all the rest of it. Though we talk everlastingly, especially in the East, of non-violence, we are not non-violent people; we are violent people. The idea of non-violence is an idea, which can be used politically. That's a different meaning, but it is an idea, and not a fact. Because the human being is incapable of meeting the fact of violence, he has invented the ideal of non-violence, which prevents him from dealing with the fact.
After all, the fact is that I'm violent; I'm angry. What is the need of an idea? It is not the idea of being angry; it's the actual fact of being angry that is important, like the actual fact of being hungry. There's no idea about being hungry. The idea then comes as to what you should eat, and then according to the dictates of pleasure, you eat. There is only action with regard to what is when there is no idea of what should be done about that which confronts you, which is what is.
There is the question of fear. There are various different forms of fear, which we shan't go into now. There is the actual fear of fear; and I've never met fear. I know what fear is; I have ideas about it: what I should do, how I should treat it, how I should run away from it, but I am never actually in contact with fear. The ideation process is essentially the observer, the censor. I am afraid. Can I deal with it totally, so that the mind is free completely of fear, not with regard to a certain aspect of life, but in the total field of existence, so that the mind is completely free? Inevitably the question arises: if I am not afraid, won't I have an accident, physically? We're not talking of physical, self-protective existence, but rather the fear which thought has created with regard to existence. Can the mind face that fact, without the formula of what it should or should not do? And who is the entity who faces that fact?
Let's put the question differently. You're there, and the speaker is sitting on this platform. You are the observer, and the observed is the speaker. You have your own temperament, your own worries, your own tendencies, ambitions, greeds and fears. That is the observer watching the observed, as you would watch a tree, which is objective. You, the observer, are watching fear. You say, "I'm afraid". The "I" is different from the observed. Fear is something outside of you, and you, who are the observer, want to do something about that fear. This is what we are all doing. But is the observer different from the observed? The observer is afraid, and he says, "I am different from the observed". But the observer is the observed. There is no difference between the observer and the observed. He is afraid as well as the observed.
For instance, one is afraid of death; and death is something totally different from the observer. And one never inquires into what is the observer. What is the observer, the "you"? who is afraid? Being afraid, of course he has all kinds of neurotic ideas. Who is the observer, with regard to fear? The observer is the known, with his experiences, with his knowledge, with his conditioning, with his pleasures, his memories - all that is the observer. The observer is afraid of death, because the observer is going to die. What is the observer? Again, ideas, formulas, memories - already dead. So, the observer the observed.
This is real meditation, not all the phony stuff that goes under the name of meditation. This requires a great deal of attention; it requires a great deal of energy to discover this, discover it, not be told. When you discover this, you will find that change through will, through effort, through desire, through the fear of sorrow disappears totally; because then action takes place, not action through an idea. Action is change, and total action is mutation.
When we are talking about change, we have to understand what pleasure is, not deny it. We also have to understand this whole accumulation of memory, which is always the known. You may take any drug, any exercise, do anything to escape from the known. The escape is merely a reaction, an avoidance of the known, and therefore you fall into the pattern of another known. That's what is taking place. You may take LSD. They do it remarkably well in the East, much better than you do it here, because they have been doing it for centuries; because they think that through that way they are going to escape from this shoddy, miserable existence of life. But I'm afraid you can't do it, because the mind is conditioned, and a conditioned mind cannot experience the real under any circumstances, give it whatever chemical you want. It must be free of its conditioning - the conditioning of society, the influence, the urges, the competition, the greed, the desire for power, position and prestige. A petty, little mind, a shallow, little mind can take a drug - it is called LSD here, another thing in India, and in other parts of the world they have got it by other names - but it still remains a petty, little mind. We are talking about a total change, a mutation in the mind itself.
This is a problem of great awareness, not of some spiritual, absurd, mystical state, but awareness of your words, of your talk, of what you do, of what you think; to be aware of it, so that you begin to discover for yourself the whole movement of your mind, and your mind is the mind of every other human being in the world. You don't have to read philosophy or psychology to discover the process of your own mind. It is there; you have to learn how to look, and to look you must be aware, not only of the outward things, but inward movements. The outward is the inward movement; there is no outward and inward. It's a constant movement of interaction. You have to be aware of that, not learn how to be aware by going to a monastery and watching to be aware, but by watching every day when you get into a bus, into a tramcar, or whatever it is. That demands a great deal of attention; and attention means energy. You begin to discover how that energy is dissipated by endless absurd talk, so you begin, through awareness, just to be aware without any choice, any like or dislike, without any condemnation - just to observe; to observe how you walk, how you talk, how you treat people. Without any formula, that very watching brings tremendous energy. You don't have to take drugs to have more energy. You dissipate energy by likes and dislikes. Then you will see for yourself that a mutation has taken place, without your wanting it. Questioner: When you use the two words "what is", is it metaphysical, is it something abstract, is it intellectual?
Krishnamurti: When we say "what is", we know what it is. When I have a toothache, that is what is. When I'm afraid, that's what is. When I'm hungry and have a great appetite for many things, that's what is. When I'm ambitious, competing with someone and talking about love and brotherhood - which is sheer nonsense when I'm ambitious - the what is is the ambition. The idea that there should be peace in the world is an ideation, which has no reality. There is no peace in the world because as a human being I'm aggressive, competitive, ambitious, dividing myself into different groups, sociologically, morally and spiritually. I belong to this religion and you belong to that religion. So the what is is very simple.
Questioner: When the pleasure is not named, what remains is energy.
Krishnamurti: Have you observed your pleasure? Have you observed what the content of your pleasure is, how that pleasure arises, what is implied in that pleasure? Look, sir; make it very simple.
There is the visual perception of a woman, a beautiful car, or something or other. The perception evokes, stimulates sensation, and from that sensation there is desire. I think about that desire, which gives me pleasure. We will find out what remains when we've understood pleasure.
Questioner: If I see a woman without thought.....
Krishnamurti: The gentleman wants to know what happens. (Laughter.) Go to bed! It is very important to understand the question that we are discussing. Can you observe something without pleasure, without pain? Can you observe anything? And when you do, what takes place? Unless you are blind or paralysed, you have reactions, surely. You may have controlled those reactions, suppressed them, denied them, avoided them; but there is a reaction. And you must have that reaction, otherwise you're dead. That reaction becomes desire, and the more you think about that desire, the more it gives you either pain or pleasure. If it is painful you try to avoid thinking about it, but if it is pleasurable, you think about it. You can't say, "Well, I won't have pleasure". You have to understand the whole machinery of this very complex process, both physiological and psychological. To observe very clearly demands a clear perception.
Sir, have you ever watched a flower?
Questioner: For a long time I have not been able to be clear about idea and action. If I am hungry and if I don't have the idea of choosing between milk and bread, how can I make that choice?
Krishnamurti: Sir, you have to make a choice of different dentists and different doctors, don't you? There is choice when you choose a coat or a dress. But is there any other choice at all? Is there choice when you see something very clearly? For instance, when you see nationalism, which is rampant in the world, when you see what it entails, what is involved in it, the limitation, the quarrels, the battles, the pride and all the ugly business involved, which is poison, then, if you realize that it's poison, it drops away. There is no action; there is no choice. Choice exists only when there is confusion. When the mind is not confused, there is no choice. There is direct perception.
We are using very simple words. There is no jargon behind these words. When we use the word "pleasure", we mean the ordinary dictionary meaning of that word.
Questioner: Is it possible to arrive at direct perception and to come to action in the way that you have described?
Krishnamurti: It isn't that I have described action. This is what we do; this is what takes place every day of our lives.
Questioner: I didn't hear the question.
Krishnamurti: Let me repeat again something. To ask the right question is very important - not to me, not to the speaker. And to ask the right question there must be a great deal of scepticism, and not the absurd scepticism of an immature mind. To ask the right question, there must be no acceptance, no authority; and to ask the right question is one of the most difficult things to do, because we have never asked a right question. We have asked many, many, many questions; but to ask the right question implies that there is no person who is going to answer that question. To ask the right question implies that the mind is free from all authority and comparison; therefore it is in a position to ask - and in the very asking of that question is the answer.
Questioner: What is spontaneous action, free from conditioning?
Krishnamurti: First of all, there is no spontaneous action as long as there is conditioning. The moment there is freedom from conditioning - please, sir, you are dealing with this as though it was one of the easiest things to get rid of our conditioning. Good God! (Laughter.) You'll find out what is implied if you go into it. Take a person who has been conditioned for ten thousand years as a Hindu, can he just throw it off? To be free of conditioning is not a matter of time. It isn't a gradual process. When you know you are conditioned, and observe it, the very awareness of that fact is the ending of the fact. Then you'll find out that there is no action at all. You're just moving. There is no question of spontaneity. It is only the man in bondage who is always talking about spontaneity.
Questioner: At the start of your talk tonight, you asked if it is possible for man to be totally free without returning to his confusion, and I think that you answered "yes'. At the end of your talk you spoke about moving along the path of discovery, which implies that there will be moments of experiencing what is, and moments of not experiencing what is.
Krishnamurti: Most of us are unaware that we are confused. When we are committed to a particular formula - communist, Catholic, Hindu or whatever it is - or the latest fashion in thought, we think we are clear of confusion. We are not, and confusion can only cease when there is no movement of the observer. There are moments when we think we are not confused and we think we are very clear; the next moment we are confused. We think that we have solved a problem completely, and that very same problem arises another day. We are caught in confusion; and out of this confusion we listen; we seek a leader, political, religious, psychological or whatever it may be. What we choose is born out of confusion, and therefore what we choose is also confused. It is really a quite complex problem, and I hope we can go into it next time. September 28, 1966
New York 1966
New York 2nd Public Talk 28th September 1966
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