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Talks with American Students. New School For Social Research, New York

Talks with American Students, Chapter 10 2nd Talk at New School for Social Research, New York 3rd October, 1968

We can communicate with each other fairly easily, accepting certain words with their dictionary meaning, listening to what is being said intellectually and agreeing or disagreeing; Verbal communication is necessary, otherwise we cannot understand each other. But further understanding depends on each other's intention to understand the word, for we may not want to understand each other in case we might have a great deal of trouble; or we might want to understand only partially, intellectually, without fully comprehending the problem - then we shall not act.

Communication becomes quite an interesting problem; the speaker may want to tell you something but you must be willing to listen, not only with the intellect but also with your heart, with your feeling - then there is a possibility of really, completely, understanding each other. But communion is quite a different matter. It is not something mysterious or mystical - as the churches throughout the world make out. Communion with each other is only possible when we have established between ourselves complete verbal understanding knowing very well that the word is not the thing, the description is not the described - then the world `communion has a deep, full and wide meaning. When two people commune with each other, verbal expression may not be necessary at all, they understand each other immediately.

It seems to me, that in these talks, it is very important to establish this process: to communicate with each other as deeply and widely as possible and also to be in communion with each other. And that is only possible when you and the speaker are both intent, sane, with an intensity that is capable of meeting what is being said with all your mind and heart and in which there is no opinion, judgment, evaluation. After all, communion is only possible when there is some kind of affection. Have you not noticed - you must have - that when two people really love each other (which is quite a different problem and quite a difficult thing) there is established a communion; there is no need to say anything, there is instant comprehension and action. As we are going to discuss and talk over together many of the issues of life, we must naturally, if we want to understand each other, establish communion as well as communication. They must co-exist all the time so that one listens - not only with the critical capacity, with instant examination, seeing the truth or the falsehood of what is being said, neither accepting nor rejecting - but with the mind free to communicate and at the same time having this communion, so that you and I see the thing instantly and the perception is the instant action. That is what communion between two people means; there are no barriers, there is no sense of resistance or yielding, but of being subtly open to each other; then, I think, a different kind of action comes into being.

As we were saying the other day, our life is fragmented, broken up; you are an artist and you are nothing else; you are a specialist in a particular field and you know all about that and nothing else; you are a husband, with many problems in the office - as a lawyer, engineer, business man - you return home and you become the husband again, a relationship in which there is a cleavage, a broken state. Our cultures are different, our education is different; our temperaments, tendencies, our conditioning - though fundamentally the same - vary, as Catholic, Protestant, Communist, Capitalist, or as a business man or a scientist, a professor and so on. All our life is broken up and each field, as one observes, has its own activity, its own customs, its opposition to another field. If one could observe the facts in one,s life one would see that one is brutal, violent, vicious and yet at home one may be kind and not want to hurt; one has a particular affection and at the same time one is afraid; one has ideals and concepts, which contradict one's daily life; one has innumerable beliefs and superstitions, which are at variance with daily existence. We can observe these obvious facts, we all live in fragments, in different fields of activity, all in contradiction with each other - perhaps occasionally touching each other.

When one observes the various activities of the different fields of one's life, one must inevitably ask if it is at all possible to bring them all together, to unify them, to bring about an integration so that whatever you do at home or at the office, whatever you do, is consistent, not contradictory and therefore not painful. That is: is there an action that is true and complete in all fields? I do not know if you have thought about this problem at all, as to whether it is at all possible to integrate, to bring together, to bring into harmony the contradictory actions, desires, purposes and drives of one's life. After all, one's life, as it is lived, is a series of contradictions and where there is contradiction there is pain, there is struggle, there is sorrow, misery.

We are going to explore together - and that is as much your responsibility as the speaker's - to find out if there is an action which is always total, complete, covering all the fields. Any idea of bringing about an integration of two contradictory activities is obviously absurd; hate and love, those two you cannot integrate; you cannot possibly integrate, or bring into harmony, ambition and gentleness, quietness; you cannot possibly integrate violence and non-violence.

In putting aside the idea of integrating the various contradictions we see, nevertheless, that in it is involved the question of who is the integrator? Who is the integrator that is going to bring together, bring into harmony, the contradictory drives, the contradictory demands, desires, the opposing elements? Who is it? For most of us, it is thought. Thought sees these contradictions and says, `they must be brought together', `I must somehow bring about harmony in all these fields' - and it seems that thought is our only instrument. Thought says to itself, `seeing all these contradictions, seeing the struggles and pains', thought says `perhaps I can bring out great harmony, a great quietness'. But surely thought has corrected these contradictions. Thought, which is the response of memory, the response of accumulated knowledge, that very thought is a fragment. Thought is always a fragment because thought is the outcome of the past and the past is a fragment of the total time. Thought, thinking about tomorrow, makes the division between the past and the future. So thought, whatever it does, must be fragmentary, must always bring about division. And thought is obviously the `observer' who says there are these various contradictory entities in me and I must act non-fragmentarily in order to live completely. Therefore the very `observer' is the cause of fragmentation.

It is essential to understand these matters because for us thought is so tremendously important; and obviously, to think rationally, clearly, is necessary. But to wage war, to build an army, to divide the world into spheres of influence, into nationalities, into religious organized beliefs - all these divisions thought has produced. And yet thought says, `unity is necessary, so it begins to organize various political groups, with their ideologies, or says there must be one world government. Thought, observing this fact of contradiction, within and without, proceeds to try to bring about an organized life in which it is intended that there be no contradiction; which implies conforming to a pattern of activity, to a principle, to an ideology - to follow, to obey, to imitate. Again, in that, there is a contradiction between `what is' and `what should be'. And that is the only action we know; an action that is always produced by thought and that is always in contradiction.

Please do not merely - if I may suggest - listen verbally; but using the speaker as a mirror, actual observe this fact in your own life, the fact that we are slaves to thought; and the cleverer, more cunning it is, the greater value that slavery has - at least in the world. To go to the moon you must have organized thought; to kill another, thought must work at the highest speed. And thought has invented the innumerable ideologies and thereby brought about contradiction, division, separation; and that is the only action we know - the product of thought.

Now, the question is: is there another kind of action that has nothing whatsoever to do with thought? - an action which is logical, consistent, true, complete and has the quality of death and love - knowing that thought is always old, that thought cannot possibly produce an action which is completely new, for it is the response of the past, it can never be new, it can never be free. Is this clear? If it is clear that thought has brought about this division between man and man throughout the world and that however cleverly organized the world is by thought, it cannot possibly bring about the unity of man, then we have to find if there is an action which is not the product of thought. We must understand this, for when we talk over together the question of fear - which was suggested the other day - we must understand the whole process of thinking - completely.

Why are we slaves to thought? In certain fields of life one must think intensely, very clearly, rationally, logically, completely; otherwise all science would come to an end, all knowledge would cease. So we see that thought is necessary at certain levels and at other levels is detrimental. A mind that is conditioned by the culture of society, by education, by all the activities of daily life, is encouraged to think and to function in the field of thought. And we are asking a ques- tion which is quite contrary to our accustomed way of life. Now, how are we going to find out whether there is such action at all? - otherwise one must everlastingly live in this contradiction and misery. Because life is action, and although people may have made a division between activists and contemplatives and so on, yet the whole process of living is action - whether you go to the market, whether you read, whatever you do, it is action, and in that action there is contradiction. Is there an action that is always new and therefore always innocent, always fresh and young and alive, vital? If so, how are we going to find it? First of all, I am not telling you the way to do it - that would destroy your discovery; if I did and if you followed it, you would be just continuing thought, imitation, conformity and all the ugly business involved in it.

One must see very clearly how thought begins, what the origin of thinking is, what thought does in daily life, one must see how it separates every activity; one must be sensitive - please follow this - be sensitive to the activities of thought; that is, be aware - not resist thinking - but be aware of how thought is operating and thereby become sensitive to the whole structure and nature of thinking. Watch, be aware, be sensitive to thinking, to thought, without any condemnation or judgment - observe. And in that observation, in that awareness, form no conclusions, because the moment you have a conclusion you have ceased to be sensitive, you have already reached a point from which division takes place.

I do not know if you are following all this?

After all, Sirs, to be aware of the colour of the shirt of the person who is sitting next to you, you must be somewhat sensitive and open. Most of us are not keen observers, we do not even know how to look; we are insensitive because we are wrapped up in our own problems, in our own miseries, in our own anxiety and guilt, our demands, sex and a dozen things. Where there is the continuity of a problem the mind must become dull. So one of the implications in this awareness is to end every problem, every psychological problem, instantly. Is that possible at all? A `problem' implies something which you have not been able to solve, psychologically - we are not talking about the technological problems - the psychological problems which one has, which one carries from day to day, never examining, never questioning, over which we never become deeply concerned or involved. Is it possible to end these psychological problems the moment they arise? - otherwise the mind gets weighed down by one problem after another, it becomes very dull and insensitive and therefore watchfulness, alertness, this intent awareness without any choice, is not possible. Awareness means also, as we said, the highest form of sensitivity, which is intelligence. Intelligence has nothing whatsoever to do with knowledge; you may not read a single book yet be extraordinarily intelligent, because you are aware of what is going on in the world and you are highly sensitive to all the movements of your thoughts and feelings.

Where there is a sensitivity, which is the highest form of intelligence, when the mind has reached such a height of sensitivity, then what is action? - knowing that thought divides, limits. Then, that deep quality of the mind which has become highly sensitive, because it has observed the whole structure and nature of thought, is extraordinarily and extremely intelligent and this intelligence is complete action. Right? Has the speaker been able to convey this state? - not only verbally, but has he been able to communicate, commune over this fact, that thought is not intelligence? Thought, because it is always old, can never have this quality of intelligence which is always new, fresh; this intelligence which never divides so that there is an action which is never contradictory. Questioner: Can you speak on fear?

Krishnamurti: Unless we understand the nature and the structure of thought we shall not be able to end fear. Thought produces fear - as well as pleasure - right? When you s&e something that gives you pleasure - a woman's face, a sunset, a child's laughter - you think about it. The thinking about that fact - which for a few seconds has given you delight - is the development of pleasure.

I see a car, I see a woman, I see a lovely picture or tapestry; at the moment of seeing what takes place? Obviously - unless one is colorblind or whatever one lacks - one reacts. That reaction is either neurologically painful or pleasurable. Then thought - follow this step by step - then thought says; `What a lovely thing that was" or"What a marvellous feeling I had; thinking about it gives a continuity to that pleasure which you had for a few seconds; you think tomorrow about the pleasure that you had yesterday - look at the whole sexual act and image of it, the act, the pleasure and the thinking about it. So thought produces, nourishes, or gives continuity to a particular incident that has at the moment given you a delight - that is fairly obvious. And equally, thought produces or gives continuity to fear. I am afraid of what is going to happen tomorrow. Thought creates the image of what might happen tomorrow and is afraid of it. We will go into that a little more deeply, another day. What we are concerned with this afternoon is the understanding of this whole nature of thought. Until we are really familiar - not with other people's thought, not with the speaker's thought - with our own thinking, seeing how it comes into being, the nature of it, the subtlety of it, the structure, the design, the form, the content, we will not be able to deal with this question of fear. It is possible to end fear; it is possible, but only when you understand this extraordinary thing called thought - which we worship. So, one must discover for oneself the origin of thought in oneself, the beginning of it (not a million years ago; as it begins, capture it and look, see where it has come into being. Then a deeper problem arises, as to whether the mind can ever be quiet, can ever be completely silent? - empty of all thought but extraordinarily alert. That is one of our major problems in life: seeing that thought has produced such havoc in the world, dividing the world into nationalities, into religions, into cultures, into all kinds of brutality, with all the saviours, churches, gods and the ideologies - all inventions of conceptual thought - can one break away from it? - for that is the only virtuous act, because in that there is complete freedom - (which freedom creates its own discipline). One has to go into oneself, exploring, being aware - not neurotically, not introspectively or analytically - observing the content of oneself as it flowers. I do not know if you have ever observed anger, at the moment it is taking place, giving it space so that it flowers, so as to learn all about it.

Questioner: May I infer from what you have said that there is something, some quality in man, that would be found immediately and rightly if the mind and its past did not get in the way?

Krishnamurti: How would you answer that question? He asks: is there something beyond, in the human being, which comes into flower if thought subsides? How do you answer it? Please be careful. If you say `yes', it may be your prejudice, it may be your hope; and your hope will then invent and that invention you will call intuition; and if you say `there is no such thing', you are again in the same position. Both the positive assertion that there is, or that there is not, become unintelligent. All that one can do is to find out; to find out, to explore, to discover, not accepting any authority - there are too many authorities in the world all saying `yes', `yes', or `no', `no'. And the `yes' people have led us up the garden path as well as the `no' people. All that one can do is to find out; and when there is the understanding of oneself there comes into being the greatest form of meditation. Now is the understanding of oneself a slow process? - taking time, days, years; or do you understand yourself completely, on the instant? Do you see the problem? If you take time, gradually, step by step, learning about yourself, then see what that means? Every examination of yourself, each minute, must be complete, otherwise you carry it over and in that interval other problems arise. I do not know if you see all this? Either you learn, observe, know yourself through analysis (which is completely impossible because while you are analysing yourself there is an interval between the analyser and the analysed, the space in which there is contradiction, resistance and pain) or you see yourself completely, wholly, immediately. The latter is the only problem, the former is not a problem for the analytical process is no way.

Our question is: is it possible to see oneself completely, wholly, the whole thing, all the recesses, secret hiding places, completely? Is it possible to see the whole structure of the `me', the `self', the `centre' - the centre that divides, that has so many tendencies, that has contradictory desires, purposes, anxieties, guilt, and fear - to see the whole thing instantly - for the very seeing of it instantly is the ending of it. To understand that, whether it is possible to see the whole structure of the `me', the `self', one must learn the art of seeing; just to be able to see, just to listen, without any agitation, without any conclusion, without any justification - just to listen. Have you ever listened in that way - to anybody? That means to listen with your heart, with your mind, with your nerves, with your whole being, not only now, but to every politician in the world, to your wife, to your children, listen to the wind among the trees - listen. In that listening there is great attention and in attention there is no frontier. Then you do not have to take any drugs to expand your consciousness and play all those tricks upon yourself.

Questioner: Could you go into the implications of change?

Krishnamurti: I must make it very brief. First of all, in this world, in the modern technological world, change is fantastic, So there it is, technological change. But there must be a total revolution psychologically and therefore socially. A man who has ten children, living in a slum, what chance has he to uncondition his mind and all the rest of it? None whatever! There must be a social change; but psychologically, inwardly, there arise two problems. Psychologically, there must be complete revolution, because as we are we are too greedy, envious, anxious, fearful, sorrow-laden - you know all that - psychologically we are that. That must change. There must be complete freedom from all that - complete freedom and therefore complete change in the structure of the very core of our being, our thinking and feeling. That is one problem. The other problem is whether there is change at all. Or is there an eternal mode, which is timeless, which we do not know, which we call change? I won't go into this for the moment, it is too complex.

Our major problem is: is it possible to bring about a change in one's life so that when one leaves this hall one is a new human being, innocent, fresh, clear, untouched by the contagion of time? - not as an idea, not as a hope, not as something ideological, but actually.

All this is implied in that word `change', not merely an economic, social revolution, which does not lead anywhere ultimately - we have had Communist revolutions, other kinds of revolutions, they are coming back to the same old pattern. And one asks oneself whether change is dependent on circumstance, on the pressure of society, time and culture, or is there change without constraint and motive at all? That is obviously the only change and it means that one has to go into the whole question of motives. To put it very simply: can one die to the past? Is the mind innocent and vulnerable enough? I do not know if you have ever tried to die to a particular pleasure, just to end it without argument, without fighting it, without resisting it, just to say `it's over'. Have you ever tried? We want to die to a particular sorrow but never to a particular pleasure - but sorrow and pleasure go together.

3rd October 1968


Talks with American Students. New School For Social Research, New York

Talks with American Students, Chapter 10 2nd Talk at New School for Social Research, New York 3rd October, 1968

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