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Amsterdam, talks in Europe 1967

Talks in Europe 1967 3rd Public Talk Amsterdam 24th May 1967

WE WERE TALKING about fear, how to meet it and how to go beyond it completely. I think we should also consider a wider and deeper issue. which is, whether it is at all possible totally to renew the mind - the mind which has lived forty million years and during that time gathered many kinds of experiences and conditioned itself - whether it is at all possible for such a mind totally to become young, fresh. It seems to me this is an important issue that we should talk over together. Because as one observes, through repetition, imitation, conformity, the mind begins to deteriorate, begins to weaken, and has not got the same stamina and clarity as formerly. It gets more confused; there are more and more conflicts; and so the mind loses its elasticity, its freshness, its youthful capacity for decision. The question is whether it is at all possible for the mind to renew itself. Perhaps many of us have not asked such a question and I think we should discuss it, go into it, this evening.

For us thought, the whole mechanism of thought, is very important. And perhaps the very act of thinking may be the cause of deterioration, the cause of a mind losing its capacity to see very clearly, to act directly, and perhaps be able to understand the nature of love. So before we begin to go into this question of what is the central factor of the deterioration of the mind (which may be the whole mechanism of thought), we should consider not only the nature of the mind but also the brain. And whether it is possible for the very brain cells themselves to function not self-protectively, not in self- centred action, but face much wider, deeper issues.

So we have to ask what is thinking. Because I feel thought is always old, never new; thought is never free. Thought can never bring about a radical revolution in the structure, in the nature of the mind. We have to examine closely what is the nature of thinking. And as we said the other day, we are exploring together, taking a journey together, therefore there is no authority. There is no follower and no teacher. Each one of us has to be the teacher and the follower, that is one has to learn, not from books, not from another, but rather in understanding the process of our own thinking. And to understand that deeply, and to come upon the truth of it, we must put aside every form of authority, every form of agreement or disagreement; because when you examine something, opinions about it, which are based on agreement or disagreement, must entirely cease. We are dealing with facts and not with opinion, which only leads to dialectical argument, which has no value at all. Whereas, we have to understand how we think and what is the nature of thinking. Because, as I said, thought is always old, thought can never be free, thought is always limited and is always of the past.

In understanding thought perhaps we shall understand the nature of time, and we may come upon that sense of love and beauty. For without love and beauty there is no truth. But to understand what love is, and what beauty is, we must go into this question of thought. What is thinking? When one asks that question - `what is thinking?' - what actually takes place. Either one responds to it immediately, giving an answer; or there is an interval between the question and the answer. In that interval one is looking for an answer, looking in the storehouse of knowledge trying to find out what is the answer. So between the question and the answer there is an interval of time, and in that interval we are searching, asking, examining, hoping to find it. When you are asked a question which is familiar the response is immediate. When you are asked a question that is a little more difficult there is a time interval. And when one asks a question that cannot be answered by words, which is not to be found in any knowledge, then one says `I don't know'. I hope that when you are hearing these statements you are listening, not merely to words, but actually going through the whole process of discovery for yourself; and you cannot discover through another. One has to find out for oneself, and then it will be authentic, it will be real. You know, there is a great deal of difference between learning and accumulating knowledge. It is fairly easy to accumulate knowledge; you apply it, you repeat and through that constant repetition and association you accumulate knowledge from which you act. But learning is something entirely different. There is learning but there is no sense of accumulation. What we generally do is to accumulate and then act, which is the idea and approximating action to that idea. Whereas learning is in the very act of doing. It isn't that one has learnt and then acts, but rather in the very movement of acting is the learning. And therefore there is learning all the time, because life is action, life is relationship in action. When one has accumulated knowledge and, having learnt, acts, then the quality of learning changes completely.

So, to listen is quite an art, as we said the other day. We never listen; we listen to the opinions that we have gathered, we interpret what is being said according to our memory, according to our likes and dislikes, and inclination and tendency; which all prevents actual listening.

To find out what thinking is, not according to some philosopher, not according to the ancients, but actuality to find it for oneself, one has to observe how thought arises. This, please, is important to understand because we are going to go into the question not only of time, love and beauty, but also we are going to find out the truth about death. It is a very complex thing that we are attempting to do this evening. Unless we understand the whole mechanism of thinking, when we deal with time it will lead to a great deal of misunderstanding. But if one observes closely, attentively, thought is the response of the past, the response of memory (memory being the accumulation of experience, knowledge acquired, inherited, conditioned; and this background, this memory, when challenged responds in thought. This is fairly simple, obvious. But because we always respond from the past (the past as thought and action) the mind is incapable of renewing itself; we live, function and act from the past. We are the result of the past. Your thinking, your feeling is the outcome of this accumulated memory and so we never know actually what the present moment is. It is only in the totality of the movement of the present that there is the renewal of the mind. But when the mind is functioning, acting, living through imagination, through thought, through various forms of going back to the past, it is incapable of living in that complete fullness of the present. In that present only is there a renewal. So one observes that thought must always be in the past, thought is always the old, and when the old controls, shapes action, then in that action there can never be anything new.

You understand what is happening in the world, the younger generation is revolting against the old order in various forms. It takes different forms in America, in England, in Europe. But that revolt is against the established order, and in that revolt they hope to find a new way of living. But as long as thought functions, however much it may revolt, it will still be the same pattern at a different level. So thought is not the way to bring about order, order in the human being and in society. As society now is, it is in disorder, it is anarchic, because it creates wars, it divides itself into nationalities, into classes, into various forms of religion, all of which brings about disorder. The social structure is put together by man, man who himself is in disorder, because he is in conflict, his life is a battlefield. And he thinks that order can only be brought about by thought, intellect, reason; reason being the clarity with which one thinks, logically. But thought in itself is everlastingly the old. Therefore thought cannot possibly bring about a new order. And I think this is very important to understand; not because the speaker says so - the speaker has no value at all - what has value is the truth of what he is saying.

Thought has created time, not time by the watch, chronological time, but psychological time. Thought has created time, the future, the tomorrow, `I will be', `I should be'. Please use the words of the speaker as a mirror to observe yourself. There is not only time as the past, psychologically, there is also time as the present and time as tomorrow; the past, present and future. It is a movement, divided by thought as yesterday, with all the accumulation of a million yesterdays, moving into the present, which is today, meeting different conditions, different experiences, and passing through the present to tomorrow, the future.

This movement of time, psychologically, is the movement of thought. I was happy yesterday and am rather miserable today and I hope tomorrow I will be happy again. I have had a marvellous experience looking at a sunset, the light on the water, the trees with the birds singing, and that remains in my mind as memory, and tomorrow I want it again repeated. So thought, through pleasure, creates the past, the present and the future. One can see it oneself, very simply: all the delights of youth, the pleasures that one has had, and the repetition of those pleasures in the present and the demand of it for the future, all based on thought. Thought creates, breeds, puts together the psychological structure of time. And so thought breeds sorrow; because thought is always pursuing pleasure and avoiding pain. Thought not only engenders sorrow but sustains it. And so one finds thought is time and sorrow. Being in sorrow we say to ourselves that we must find a way out, which is again the whole process of thinking set into motion.

I do not know if you have ever considered the nature of pleasure. There has been a delightful experience yesterday, you think about it, and thought strengthens that delight and gives it nourishment and continuity. Thought is doing this all the time. So thought not only breeds psychological time, but also sorrow. And man has lived with sorrow, as with violence, for millions of years, and has always sought a way out, either to escape from the world through monasteries, through identification of himself with what he calls God, the Saviour, ideals and so on; but he has never been able to solve it, has never been able to go beyond it, because he is always functioning within the boundaries of thought. So, one asks oneself whether thought can end. Thought must function at a certain level, obviously. Technically it must function when you hear the words spoken in English; it is the accumulation of the knowledge of the English language and you repeat it; the way to your house, your office and so on, there thought must function rationally, sanely, healthily, logically. But that logical thinking is perverted by self-centred activity. And we are asking whether it is at all possible for thought to function at a different level altogether. You know there is, in the human mind, the old brain and the new brain. The brain that has been developed through millions of years, the animal brain always self-protective, always on the defensive. And is it possible for that old brain to be quiet, give an interval between the old and the new? It is this interval which is the timeless, in which thought cannot possibly enter.

Our question is concerned (but not only) with daily living - with all its miseries, turmoil, anxieties, uncertainty, sense of guilt, despair, the hopeless battle without any meaning whatsoever - which we call life. What is the meaning of going to the office every day for forty years, the utter boredom, the loneliness of existence, the repetitive nature of it? The intellectual people invent a significance to life, the more clever they are the brighter the significance. And that's what we call living: a battlefield. And there is death, the unknown, something one doesn't know anything about, but one is afraid of it. We cling to life as the known and are afraid of the unknown. Being afraid we invent various theories, beliefs: the whole of the East believes in reincarnation, to be born anew next life, it gives them hope as in the Christian world there is the resurrection, again a hope. That is, between living and death there is time. Time, that interval between what actually is and something which we call death, of which we are afraid. This interval between life and death is brought about by thought. Of course there is actual dying: the physical organism, through disease, accident, through usage, dies. But there is fear of death and the sorrow of death as a psychological ending. So there is not only the fear of physical dying, but also the fear of losing all the things that one has learnt, the memories, the experiences, the affections, the family, the hopes, the works, the character, ali that one has developed, cultivated, nourished - fear of their coming to an end. We cling to life, life being this extraordinary battle from the moment we are born to the moment we die. That is all we know of life, in which there are moments of great joy, but that joy is at rare intervals and becomes a memory. So our life, as we live it is total disorder. All our relationship, human or otherwise, is a conflict. And that is all we know of life. To that we cling desperately. And we are afraid of something which we call death, of which we know nothing.

Can one find out what it means actually to die, not biologically, physiologically, but psychologically, which is a much deeper issue? Because it is only in dying that there is a renewal and not a continuity. That which has continuity is repetitive, it is of time. It is only when time comes to an end that something new takes place. So the question is: the life we know, which is turmoil, disorder, anarchy, can that come to an end totally? - because that is what we call death, the ending. Can there be a dying to all one's memories, not only to the ugly memories, but to the memories that one has cherished, that one keeps very carefully locked up? To die every day, to every problem, to every pleasure, and not carry over to tomorrow any problem at all; so that the mind always remains tremendously attentive, active, clear. That is only possible when one dies every day to all the psychological accumulations.

I do not know if you have ever tried to die to a pleasure, without any argument, without any sense of sacrifice, just to completely drop it. If you have, then you will know what it feels like to die, to end a pleasure before the next pleasure begins. In that interval, between the dying of the old and the beginning of thought, the demand for a different kind of pleasure, in that interval is the renewal of mind. And this is very important to understand because society, as it is, is always in disintegration. In society there is no order, there is no virtue, its morality is conditional, changing, and we, as human beings, have created that social order which is disorder, because in ourselves we are in disorder. Order cannot be brought about by thought, through time, through a gradual process. Virtue is not a thing to be cultivated, it is not a thing of habit. Such virtue is of time, is the produce of thought and therefore such virtue is not virtue, it is merely cultivation of a habit, as a means of defence. But when one understands the nature of thought and time, then out of that comes virtue with its own discipline. For discipline is order, but not the discipline of imitation, of conformity, obedience to certain sanctions of society, or to the priest. Discipline comes when thought is understood. You know, there is a discipline which comes when you have to do a thing for itself. And discipline which is merely conformity to a pattern, whether it is noble or otherwise, is not discipline at all; it only breeds disorder, chaos. But to understand order, which is virtue, one has to understand the nature of thinking. And the understanding or thinking demands discipline. To observe anything very closely, to give attention, to watch something - a bird, an insect, a leaf fluttering in the breeze - that watching is only for an instant, that watching demands tremendous discipline, otherwise you are incapable of looking.

So one sees that order within the skin, within the mind, being, can never be the product of thought. Thought can create habits, conformity, obedience, and that, as one observes, only leads to greater disorder, to greater confusion and misery. And order, which is virtue, is quite a different thing. It is necessary to understand this whole process of thought, how one thinks, why one thinks, just to observe it. If you give your attention to it completely, not merely intellectually or emotionally, but totally, in that totality of attention here is immediate comprehension, and therefore immediate action. And when one sees what the nature of thought is, then one begins to find out what love is. Love is not desire or pleasure. But for us, for most people, love is pleasure and desire. So what is the truth of love? What does it mean? Obviously the word is not the thing. The word microphone is not the microphone. But we are caught in the word, in the symbol, in the imagination of what we think or what we are told that love is. So one must be free of the word, of the symbol, to find out the nature of that extraordinary thing which we call love. Since love is not desire nor pleasure, how does one come upon it? Obviously one cannot cultivate it, that is too immature: to identify oneself with an image which is said to be love, as the Christians do, or as they do in the Orient in their own way. So how does one come upon that thing? To come upon it one has to find out what beauty is.

What is beauty? Does beauty lie in the object, in the architecture, in the tree, in the face of a beautiful person, the light on the water? Does it lie outside, or is it something that is not dependant on the observer and the observed? And how does that take place in which there is neither the observer nor the observed? I do not know if you have ever looked at a mountain, or a tree in Spring, or water flowing by. You must have observed it and you say how beautiful it is and we think we have understood beauty. Surely beauty is something when there is total abandonment of oneself; when there is no observer at all; when you completely abandon your own ideas, your own feelings, die to everything that you have known. That is, total self-abandonment takes place; say for example, when you observe a mountain, with its snow, light, depth, beauty and majesty, that very thing drives away all thought for a moment, a second, you are stunned by that sight and then the mind becomes completely quiet. In that state you feel something which cannot be put into words but which is the nature of beauty. There the mountain, the river or the flower by the wayside, drives away for a second all your thoughts, all your worries, all your impressions. And can one die to everything that one has thought of oneself, all one's pleasures, one's worries, on the instant, which is the total abandonment of oneself? That demands great austerity. Not the austerity of the priest, nor of the monk, nor of the saint; their austerity is very harsh, it is meaningless, it is an ugly thing. We are not talking of such austerity. Austerity comes only when the mind understands the nature of that interval between the observer and the observed, and is no longer sustaining the observer through thought. That brings about an extraordinary quality of sensitivity. And a mind that is not sensitive, alert, can never know what love is.

And is there a moment when death is no longer a fear, when life is no longer a battle? Is there ever such a moment when time has stopped, when thought is totally in abeyance There is such a moment and that moment is love. And with, out love, do what you will, build marvellous buildings, go to the moon, wipe out poverty, do away with wars because they are not profitable - do what you will - without that love there can be no order. But we don't want order. We have lived in such disorder for so many centuries we are afraid of order. If we want order, which is peace, we will live peacefully. That means no nationality, no belief, no dogma, no competition, no division of people; but we don't want all those things because we are so used to live a life of battle. And we say, if there is no strife we shan't make progress, we shan't be active. We would rather cling to the thing known though it breeds disorder, chaos and misery, than bring about order and peace.

Perhaps some of you might like to ask questions? To find out the right answer you must know why you ask a question. Why do we ask questions? What kind of answer do we want? An answer which is very disturbing we will reject; an answer that cuts right across the way of our life, nobody wants. We want an answer that is comforting, satisfying to our self-pity (in sorrow there is a great deal of self-pity). So when we ask a question we must find out from where it springs. And we MUST ask questions, we must doubt everything. We cannot possibly accept, obey, (I am not saying that you mustn't obey the policeman) but psychologically we do accept, follow, obey and therefore we never find out what truth is. Truth can only be found by asking the right question, not of another, but of ourselves. If you put the right question you will find the answer in it.

Question: Sir, is the feeling of responsibility part of the order, the discipline you were talking about?

Krishnamurti: The feeling that one has of responsibility, is that part of the order we have been speaking about at this meeting? Can it be? I wonder what we mean by that word responsible. To me that is a very ugly word. But what do we mean by that word responsible? Responsible for my husband, for my children, responsible to the country, responsible to the Government, responsible to the God that man has invented. I wonder why we use that word at all. Are you responsible when you love? Or are you only responsible when you have duty and you cease to love? When do we use that word? Do investigate the meaning of that word. I am responsible to my wife, my husband, to my country; take those three. What does that word mean when I say I am responsible?

Question: Sir, I cannot understand why you do not antagonize these people because when I say these things it always does, I can only imagine that the trappings of respectability with which you are surrounded is overawing them...

Krishnamurti: But Sir, we are answering that lady's question first.

Question: Oh, I thought that question was already forgotten about.

Krishnamurti: No, I am sorry we haven't answered it. Sir to the lady it is important. It may not be important to you but to that person it is important. The lady asks - what is responsibility, does that bring about order, is that part of that order we are discussing? We will answer your question afterwards, Sir.

We were saying that responsibility is part of the respectability which we worship. And is seems to me where there respectability there is no order, we are only concerned with being a perfect bourgeois. Please Sir just listen; does love have responsibility and will it use that word? When you say I am responsible to God, whatever that may mean, that God is the projection of your own imagination, it is a projection of yourself, identified, clothed in certain forms of respectability, of what you consider to be holy. But it is still your projection. And you are responsible to that God, that is, responsible to yourself, to what you have projected. And in that respectability, in that responsibility, is there any affection? When you do something out of duty is there any love in it? When a soldier is sent abroad to kill because of his responsibility for his country, is there any love? So order can only come about when there is love, when there is real affection, when there is compassion.

Your question was Sir, if I understood it rightly; why do people get angry with me?

Question: No. I said why do people NOT get angry with you. That is something quite different from what you were saying,

Krishnamurti: All right Sir, I'll repeat it.

Question: Although I have only asked a question I have already made a woman here angry and some people behind me angry.

Krishnamurti: All right Sir, but that's...

Question: I make them angrier than you do...

Krishnamurti: Yes Sir; why do not those of you who are listening get angry with me for saying these things? I am also surprised. (Laughter) Please, Sir, when people hear that their Gods are false, why don't they get angry with the speaker? When the speaker says thought is very old, don't depend on thought, it has no meaning, why don't you get irritated? Why do you listen? Because, you see, what we are saying denies everything that man has put together, it cuts at the very root of the social order that we worship, that we cling to. Perhaps when you hear what is being said, because you are sitting quietly, not because you respect the speaker - that has nothing whatever to do with it - perhaps you see the truth of what is being said. And you can't get angry with truth - it is SO. It is raining and you can't get angry with rain. In the same way perhaps, when you listen, you see what the speaker is saying is true and there is no occasion for you to get angry - it is so. One gets angry only when personalities, when harshness enters into the business. When there is a certain sense of compassion, attention and care, then I don't see why we should get angry with anything.

24th May 1967


Amsterdam, talks in Europe 1967

Talks in Europe 1967 3rd Public Talk Amsterdam 24th May 1967

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