Ojai 4th Public Talk 6th November 1966
This morning I would like to go into several problems, and to really grapple with them. To go very deeply and extensively in comprehension about hem, one needs a great deal of energy; not only physical energy, but psychological energy. Generally one has, if one is fairly healthy, sufficient physical energy, impetus, to investigate; but it's much more difficult, it seems to me, to have psychological energy, the energy that will pursue the issue to its very end, and not be distracted on its way. To have this energy in abundance, one must understand the nature of conflict and effort. One is so much used to this conditioning of effort. All our life, from childhood till we die, we are making constant effort, struggle; and where there is struggle, obviously, there is distortion; where there is effort, there is no clarity of examination. Where there is effort there is a strain; there is a desire to achieve an end, which precludes every form of investigation, every form of understanding, delving deeply. As we said yesterday, the desire to achieve is essentially based on comfort, pleasure, satisfaction, gratification. What we are going to deal with this morning does not need any kind of effort at all; effort exists only when there is contradiction - contradiction within, though there is contradiction without which can be understood; tolerated, and perhaps gone beyond. But there is this inward contradiction of various competing, contradictory desires; and it is these contradictory desires that bring about conflict; the wanting and not-wanting, what is and what should be; the what is trying to conform to a pattern of what should bee, and so there is always conflict. Apparently that's part of our daily existence, from getting up in the morning, going to the office, struggling till we go back to bed, and from the moment we are born till we die, there is this constant effort and battle; and to make effort to get rid of effort is still further effort.
Please, as we said yesterday, it's no good merely hearing a lot of words and ideas. What we are concerned with is the understanding of the whole process of life, with all its complexity, with its aggressions and miseries, with its sorrows and confusions and agonies. To understand this vast field of life, which is a constant movement, one must not only hear the words, but also go beyond the words; because words, the explanations, are not the fact. But most of us are caught in words. To us, words are extraordinarily important. Like the word "socialist" is something extraordinary to an American, or to a communist. The word has become so extraordinarily important that we see the word first, and then the fact afterwards. What is actual is what is, not the word; and to go beyond the word, one must also realize, it seems to me, how slavish the mind is to words. Thought is expressed in words. Without words, is there thinking? And without the word, is there comprehension? To understand something totally, to see the whole process of life, one must be free of the word - the word, the symbol, the idea, the conclusion. Then one can look; then one can listen, and that act of listening is really a miracle. Perhaps it's the greatest miracle: when one can listen totally, without any defence, without any barrier, neither agreeing nor disagreeing - which doesn't mean that the mind isn't open. On the contrary. The mind is extraordinarily alert then.
As we were saying, the word is not the fact, and that's a very difficult thing to realize. The symbol is never the reality. The things that we are going to discuss this morning, as I said, need no effort at all. What is needed is a total perception of the whole process of life, and to perceive this whole phenomenon of life, one needs energy. That energy is denied when there is this drive, this effort to achieve something.
It's only when the cup is empty that it can be filled. It is only when the mind and heart are totally empty that they can comprehend; then they can live. But to be so completely empty is not a negative phenomenon. On the contrary, it is the highest form of intelligence. It is the highest form of love to be so completely empty that there is not a scratch of memory, not a word, not a conclusion that distorts perception. What we are going to discuss or talk over together this morning demands a quality of mind that has no fear of any kind. So one has first to understand fear, because what we are going to discuss, talk over together, is this problem of death. But to understand it, to go very deeply into it, the mind must be extraordinarily subtle, sensitive, alert, full of attention. And to understand this enormous problem which has faced man from the beginning of time, one has to be free of fear.
There are so many forms of fear: fear of darkness, fear of what somebody says, fear of being hurt, fear of insecurity, fear of loneliness, and the ultimate fear, which is death. And fear, as we said, is always in relation to something; it doesn't exist by itself. I'm afraid of you or you're afraid of me; or I'm afraid of an idea; or I have committed myself to a certain activity in which I find great comfort and security, and I'm frightened that that security should be destroyed, that comfort should be taken away - that comfort in relationship, in a job, or in ideals.
There are many forms of fear, and fear is essentially the result of time. One is not afraid of the immediate; one is afraid of what will happen, or what has happened. Please examine what is being said. Not that you must agree with the speaker, which would be rather absurd, but rather use what the speaker is saying to inform yourself of your conditioning, of your ways of thought and your ways of thinking.
Fear is the product of thought. Fear in every form is thought in action with regard to the past through the present and to the future. I am afraid of what will happen, and I'm afraid of something which I have done in the past which I want to cover up. So thought, fear is the movement of time; and it's very important, if we would be free of fear, to understand this movement of time, which is essentially the process of thinking. The now, the actual, living present, is the result of yesterday and a thousand yesterdays; so there is no actual now, or the moment. But the moment, the actuality, the what is, is the result of yesterday; and that yesterday is the result of many, many, many yesterdays; and the now is the product of yesterday, which is going to move to the future, to tomorrow. And fear is this movement of time, which is the product of thought. When I am confronted with something dangerous immediately, there is no fear. I act; perhaps foolishly, ignorantly, but there is action. But give time, an interval; then thought comes into operation; then I'm afraid.
Look: this is not a mass psychoanalysis. We're not analysing each other, but I'm sure each one of us has various kinds of fears. Take one of them; bring: it out into the open - don't please, don't confess it to me! - bring it out into the open and look at it. And how you look at it matters immensely. We are going to go into it step by step.
As I said, how you look at it is very important. First, do you look at it as, though it were something outside of you,. a something which is not you, but something which is placed outside? There is. the observer, and fear is something outside of you. Right? There is this duality, this contradiction: I am not afraid, but there is fear, which I must overcome. I must do something about that thing which I call fear. So the observer is different from the thing observed; and is there a difference?' There is no difference, if you examine.. The observer is the observed. Please follow this step by step. The observer who has fear says there is fear. That fear is something external to the observer.. But for the observer to recognize that it. is fear, he must have already known it;. and therefore the observer is the observed. I don't want to go much more into it, because that's enough for the time being.
Hence, as the observer, the thinker, is the thought and the observed, any form of effort to be rid of fear is the creation of another observer. Right? And therefore he's caught in that vicious circle. I hope we are going together!
The observer is the center of accumulated memory, experience, knowledge, information; the censor, and so on. He, or it, is aware outside of himself of something which he calls fear; and he is making constant effort to run away, or translate, or transcend, or suppress, that fear. The more the tension between the observer and the fact of fear, the greater the effort, the greater the desire to escape, to run away, to cover up; and if you cannot run away, one becomes neurotic, because the tension becomes so intense; and to live in that intense darkness of fear is a state of neurosis. But, as we said, when the observer is the observed, not an idea but the fact, then there is no effort at all, because then there is no contradiction. I am fear. And what can I do?, please follow this. The observer has always acted as though the observed is something different from himself; then he could act. But when he realizes that the observer is the observed, all action ceases on his part, and therefore all effort; and therefore there is no fear at all.
This requires a great deal of inward inquiry, inward observation, step by step without coming to any conclusion. Therefore the mind must be extraordinarily alert and sensitive and swift. And when there is no fear because the observer is the thing which he has externalized as fear, which he is himself, then there is no longer this action which was positive, that is, doing something about fear. Then the observer is the observed. In that state there is complete inaction; and that complete inaction is the highest form of action.
So there is no effort at all. It is only the dull mind, the mind that's committed, the mind that is achieving-not-achieving, that is in constant battle, struggle; that makes an effort; and this effort, the struggle, is considered the positive way of life. It is the most mischievous way of life. And in this total inaction, when the observer realizes that he is the observed, then in that total inaction there is an action which is not of effort. Let's leave it there for the moment. I hope you understand some of it.
Then let's proceed to examine this question of what death is. There are three things one has to understand: living, love and death. They all go together. You cannot separate death From love and living. To us, living as it is, is a torture, a misery, a meaningless existence. The more clever, the more sensitive, the more intellectually, emotionally one is alive, the more it has no meaning at all. And seeing that it has no meaning, we invent a meaning, we project a meaning, and according to that meaning, try to live - which is not living at all. So one has to understand what living is. Living is not this battle between human beings; it is not this battle of competition, of races, of ambition, and all the rest of it. I don't have to go into all the details of it. We all know what life is, the torture, the sorrow, the endless misery and confusion; and that's what we call living. And love, as we know, is hedged about with jealousy, with suspicion, aggression, violence; and so we don't know what that is, either. And obviously we don't know what death is, because we are frightened of it; we don't talk about it. We talk a great deal about living, a great deal about love; but death is something to be avoided, to be put away. Don't talk about it. And if we do talk about it, we rationalize it; or, out of our fears we invent beliefs that give us comfort, such as resurrection, reincarnation and innumerable forms of escape from that enormous and mysterious fact which we call death. Various religions throughout the world have given hope; really, essentially a false hope to man. People in the ancient civilizations lived to die. To them death was far more important than living. But this present generation, this present civilization is concerned with living, and not with the other; and this living is a torture, with an occasional bright spot of affection, love and beauty. So, without understanding living, and without understanding love, there is no possibility of understanding what death is. To understand it, not intellectually, not emotionally, nor escape from this fact that must really be, is the most immense thing, because it is something that has to be understood, felt. Now, we are going to go into that.
Again, the word is not the thing; the explanation which we are going into is not; if it doesn't happen, if you don't do it actually, then it has no meaning at all. If you merely treat it as an idea, then it has no value. There are so many ideas, so many books published every week, thousands and thousands. Don't add another idea to what you already have. As we said, it is only the mind that is empty that can see, that can act totally.
First of all, there is the fact of physical death. The body, by constant usage and strain, and so on, gives up, dies, comes to an end; through accident, through disease, through modern life. And one may physically find various medicines, or diets, and so on, that can give it another fifty years more; but there is the inevitable end. Like all organisms, it must come to an end; and it would be good to keep it healthy as long as possible, if you can. But there is a much deeper fact, deeper issue involved in death, and that is the psychological ending. The "me", the accumulated experience as a human being, with all the knowledge, with all the accumulated information, every form of memory, treasured, cherished, and despised, put away - all that is the center which is the "me", the ego, the person, and it is that center, the psychological center, that one is afraid of losing. I don't know if you have ever examined what that center is; not only what we have said about tradition, racial inheritance, education, and all the rest of it. That center is nothing divine and all the rest of the things man has invented through the centuries, as the Atman, the Higher Self, the soul - all those are a repetition in different words of an idea that there is something supreme in each one of us. And the communists would say, "What tommyrot all that is!". Those who believe in all that hold on to it tremendously; as though it was something everlasting. When you examine it, it is just an idea, a thought, a memory, a bundle of experiences with all its reactions.
Please, we are going into it very slowly. Don't say I am an atheist, or this, or that - all that silly stuff. We are just examining it.
That center is the result of time, and that center creates the space round itself, like all centers do. This microphone exists in space, and it creates a space round itself; which is fairly simple. And there as the center as the "me", which. has created a space round itself That space can extend widely, can be expanded, but still, where there is a center there is always a frontier; and within that frontier there can be no freedom at all. Though one can expand this consciousness with a center through various forms of mental tricks and drugs and so on, in that space created by the center there is no freedom. Death to most of us is the losing of that center, isn't it? - losing the things that I have known;. my family, my friends, all the things that I have accumulated, which is the known. The center is the known, and death is something which I don't know at all. What I'm frightened of is losing the known - is not the unknown. And losing the known means that I'm completely lonely; I'm completely alone, in a void; and that's what I am afraid of That's what each one is afraid of. And being afraid of that, we take to various forms of escape, a whole network of. escapes; and the more romantically spiritual you are - I don't know whatever that word "spiritual" means - the more romantically spiritual you are, the more fantastic your ideas.
Now, is it possible to end that center each day; not having accumulated, then giving it up, but to die to that center every day, every minute? That is, that center is the accumulation of experience, knowledge; and life is a process of experience, a challenge and a response; and the more inadequate that response, the greater the conflict. Unless one is highly enlightened, intelligent and sensitive, man is kept awake through experience, through challenge. And you must receive every experience and not retain a shadow of it afterwards. Am I making myself clear? You have an experience, a pleasant or an unpleasant experience, dangerous or pleasurable; and you must receive that experience, understand it, and die to it immediately, so that there is no memory as a center which retains that experience. We often do this naturally. But to be aware so intensely, without any choice, that every experience is totally assimilated, understood and dissolved, requires a great deal of energy, which means attention; to die every day to every pleasure, to every thought, to every form of accumulation, so that with the dying the mind is made fresh and the heart renews itself, so that life doesn't become a torture.
Dying every day to everything that we know is to love; otherwise one cannot love. Love is not something to be cultivated. Like humility; the moment you cultivate humility, it's a cloak of vanity. And it's only when you die to everything, to every experience that you have had, that you are living. Then living is a movement, fresh, new, innocent, every minute of the day fresh; and to die to the past is to live totally at altogether a different dimension.
Perhaps, if you are interested, we might by questioning go more deeply into it, or one can put into words in a different way what we have discussed or talked over together this morning.
Questioner: What then is the faculty which has the power to observe the mind?
Krishnamurti: Sir, first of all, if one realizes that the observer is the observed - which is one of the most extraordinary things when you realize it - then in that state of attention there is no observer at all, or the observed. Now, let me go into it a little bit.
Look at that oak tree; actually look at it. You are the observer, and the oak is the observed. There is a space between you and the thing, which is the tree. In that interval of space is time. Right? The time that has to be covered to see that object. And that object is always static; and what is static, when observed, is time.
Now, the observer is watching the tree; and in that interval of space there are all kinds of ideas: "It's an oak tree", "I like", "I don't like" "I wish it was in my garden", "I wish it was this or that", and ten different things, which actually prevent me from seeing the fact of that tree, the totality of it, because my attention is distracted by the words, by the name, by the botanical knowledge of that tree which I have. That distraction prevents me from actually looking at the tree. When you no longer name, when thought is no longer functioning as knowledge about that tree, then is there a space between you and the tree? Then, if you go into it very deeply and observe all this, the observer is the observed - which is not that the observer identifies himself with the tree. Of course, the identification of the observer with the tree is absolutely silly; it is not a fact. You don't become the tree.
Questioner: Don't you observe the vacuum?
Krishnamurti: Sir, sir, sir, do examine it, sir; don t ask; examine this fact. Look at a flower. Have you ever looked at a flower? Or have you looked at it, given it a name, and passed it by? Or you say, "How beautiful; let me smell it". All these are distractive actions which prevent you from looking at that flower. Like human beings who have known each other never look; they have the images of each other, and these images are in relationship. And, to observe very closely - and that is one of the most arduous things - that doesn't need effort at all; just to sit of an afternoon, whenever you have time and leisure to look at anything, to look at a flower, to look at yourself, to look at all the movement of your thought and your feelings and your reactions; just to observe without any choice, which is the beginning of self-knowing. And without self-knowing, man is caught everlastingly in confusion and misery. When the observer is the observed - that can only be when there is total attention, not fragmentary attention. And that attention may be a second, or a minute; but the urge to maintain that attention becomes inattention.
To ask who is the observer, or what that state of mind is when there is no observer, when the observer is the observed, to put it into words what that state is, is to deny that state. One cannot communicate with another about something the other has not known, has not found. And if it is possible to communicate, and if it is communicated - which is not possible - then you want to achieve it; and then you say, "Tell me the method to get at it"; and then you are lost.
Questioner: Sir, what prevents me from seeing the tree is "me", and I feel I have to be willing to give up the "me", give it up, let it go, before there's the tree. Isn't that what you're saying?
Krishnamurti: Who is the thing that's going to give it up?
Questioner: The "me".
Krishnamurti: Sir, the "me" cannot give itself up. All that it can do is to be quiet; and it cannot be quiet without understanding the whole structure and the meaning of the "me". Either that structure and the meaning can be understood totally, immediately, or not at all; and that's the only way; there is no other way. If you say, "I will practise; I will gradually work at it till the 'me' dies", then you have fallen into a different kind of trap, which is the same "me".
Questioner: If I attend to a tree in the way that you described, so that the observer is the observed, the tree is still there.
Krishnamurti: Of course, sir.
Questioner: If I attend to my fear in the same way, won't my fear also still be there?
Krishnamurti: No, you see first of all, I don't want to get rid of my fear; I want to understand it. To understand something, I must care for it; I must love it; I must be careful with it; and if I say, "I must get rid of it", I've already acted most foolishly. Because I have to understand the structure and the nature of fear; and to understand it, I must look at it; and I cannot look at it if I say I must, if I want to get rid of it, or suppress it, or sublimate it. I must actually look at it, come into contact with it, not through a word, but with the fact, with what actually is.
Questioner: You said that when the mind is empty and the heart is empty, you can really understand. But how to make the heart empty?
Krishnamurti: How can the mind, which is so crowded, so everlastingly chattering, how can that mind be emptied? I'm afraid there is no way. Any method is the most impractical way. I know we think that by following a method, it will help us to clarify the mind. On the contrary. The method produces its own results, but does not free the mind from its own accumulated traditions, knowledge. That's why, sir, we said at the beginning that what is important is to listen. And to listen needs attention, care, a certain quality of affection in which there is communion; and then you will find that without an effort it has come into being.
Questioner: In aloneness sometimes there is clarity, but in living with people, chaos. Can you tell me something about this?
Krishnamurti: "When one is alone at times there is clarity. It is only when one gets together with people that one becomes confused", the questioner says. I'm afraid one cannot always live by oneself; and to live by oneself requires the greatest form of intelligence. To live by oneself is comparatively easy. There you can develop your particular idiosyncrasies, characteristics, tendencies, and crystallize and become rather heavy in all that. But to live alone requires immense sensitivity and intelligence. Sensitivity - to be very sensitive is to be intelligent; and in that state there is clarity. "And is it not possible", the questioner asks, "to live in this world with people, in the office, and so on, with that aloneness, with that clarity?". Obviously it is possible. But you see, you want someone to give it all to you; take a pill, and all the thing is solved. So you see, sir, we are so used to being told what to do that we worship authority, and we have lost all capacity in the world, all intention to find things for ourselves. In what we are talking about there is no teacher, there is no method, there is no practice; there is only perception of what is; and when there is that perception, then the problem is resolved.
Questioner: Of what significance is hope and faith to living?
Krishnamurti: I hope you won't think me harsh if I say there is no significance at all. We have had hope; we have had faith - faith in church, faith in politics, faith in leaders, faith in gurus, because we have wanted to achieve a state of bliss, of happiness. and so on. And hope has nourished this faith. And when one observes through history, through our life, all that hope and faith have no meaning at all, because what is important is what we are; actually what we are - not what we think we are, or what we think we should be, but actually what is. If we know how to look at what is, that will bring about a tremendous transformation.
Questioner: If one is able at times to have clarity, yet lave in the family, how does one keep one's sons from each other's throats? There must be a way of helping the young to live at peace; the same with nations.
Krishnamurti: The questioner says, "How is one to educate children?". The educator must first be educated. And modern education gives such terrific importance to technology, to acquiring knowledge, and neglecting the whole field of life; cultivating one tiny little part, and that's what's called education; and neglecting the whole field of love and thought and death and anxiety. Is it possible to educate in a different way, so that one is concerned with the whole of life? That's only possible when the educator is also concerned; such an educator is a rare entity, in the family or in the school.
I think that's enough, isn't it?
Ojai 4th Public Talk 6th November 1966
Texts and talks of Jiddu Krishnamurti. Krishnamurti quotes. Books about
J Krishnamurti. Philosophy.