Talks with American Students. New School For Social Research, New York
Talks with American Students, Chapter 11 4th Talk at New School for Social Research, New York 8th October, 1968
I am afraid most of us are not very serious people; we are inclined to allow others to think for us, to tell us what to do; and that brings about a state of conformity, obedience and acceptance. I think it would be a great mistake if we allowed ourselves to agree or disagree with what is being said. We are here to explore together, to investigate and to consider together the many human problems that we have; just as the other day when we went into the question of fear and whether it is at all possible for human beings - who have lived always with fear, with anxiety, with sorrow - to be utterly free of it. But we have to consider fear from another angle; also we are going to talk about time, love and death. To understand what love or death is, we have to comprehend - not intellectually, not verbally - the whole structure and nature of time.
Most of us live in conflict; our daily life, as one observes, is a battlefield, a constant struggle, a constant effort, a constant expenditure of energy to overcome, to resist, or to yield. In this there is the question of the opposites, resisting or yielding; in both resisting and yielding there is conflict. Our life is a series of conflicts and a mind that is in conflict, in struggle, obviously is a tortured mind, a mind that cannot possibly see very clearly, a mind that cannot possibly understand completely the whole problems of life and whether it is at all possible to live in this world without any effort or any conflict.
One sees that any form of struggle - in which is implied violence - distorts the mind. One asks oneself if it is at all possible to live without effort and conflict, that is, to live completely and totally at peace, not only within but also without. To go into it, to talk over this question together, one has to consider the whole problem of duality, of the opposites, and whether there is any need for this duality, psychologically, at all. We live in a corridor of opposites, constantly being pulled in one direction or driven in the opposite direction, torn by different opposing desires, contradictions. Is it possible to live without the struggle of the opposites and, psychologically, is there an opposite at all? Or, is there only `what is' and not `what should be'? Is there only the active present and not the verbal or psychological future, which creates the opposite? If there are no opposites inwardly, psychologically, inside the skin as it were, then we eliminate conflict altogether, then there is only `what is'.
Is it possible to see and live with `what is' and not with the contradiction of `what is', not with the opposite of `what is' which brings about struggle, conflict, contradiction? Is this possible? It is really quite an interesting problem; we have to understand this question, because we have divided life into living and dying, hate and love, courage and fear, goodness as opposed to evil and so on - endless opposites.
The opposites breed time. There are obviously two kinds of time; chronological time and psychological time. There is psychological time, as not being or becoming - I am this, I will be that, I am violent and I shall be non-violent. The division between `what is' and `what should be' is the way of time. In that is involved becoming. I am violent and to become non-violent, to become peaceful, I must have time. The non-violence is the opposite of violence and this division breeds conflict, the conflict between myself as I am and as I should be. In that is involved the whole process of psychological time. And is there really psychological time at all? Obviously there is time by the watch, you have to have time to catch a bus, train and so on; but is there any other kind of time at all? - for that time breeds fear. That is to say, I am vicious and hateful inwardly, I am psychologically ugly and thought projects the ideology of the non-violence that is to be attained, an ideology of perfection and so on. So thought involves time; and thought breeds fear. Thought breeds the fear of tomorrow - of what might happen; thought maintains the past as `has been' and puts together the various possibilities of `what will be'. Thought is afraid of the past as well as the future. Thought is time, and time psychologically, is this division between `what has been', `what is' and `what should be'.
We are dealing with the possibility of living so completely, so total in the active present, that there is only the present and nothing else. And to find that, one must not only investigate the whole question of psychological time, but the way thought uses time as a means of achievement and how thereby it breeds fear.
We were asking: is there the opposite, the ideal? Or, is that merely a projectIon of thought, as a non-actual opposite of `what is; and does it not do this because it does not know how to deal with `what is'? How does one unravel it and how does one understand the present?
Thought breeds the future as the ideal, and, as we said the other day, all ideals are idiotic, they have no meaning whatsoever, they have led man into all kinds of wars, inhumanities, division of people, hatred, various forms of suppression in the name of the State, or in the name of God and so on. Unfortunately, we have many ideals; they are the opposite of `what is'. And because we do not know how to deal with and how to understand and go beyond `what is', we resort to the escapes of `what should be'.
Now, can we live with `what is' and go beyond it, not inventing an opposite and thereby increasing the conflict, the misery, the struggle? One is violent, brutal, aggressive, ambitious, envious - that is the fact, that is `what is', that is the actuality - and all the opposites which man has invented have no reality whatsoever. Can the mind live with that - without the opposite - and understand `what is' and go beyond it? Because to understand the question of love and death - which is one of the most essential problems of life - one must naturally live with `what is' - actually. Can I look at myself, as I am, with my hates, anxieties, fears - all the innumerable tortures the human mind goes through - live with myself, understand myself and go beyond, without any effort? It is only possible when we eliminate altogether the opposites. Am I making myself clear?
Krishnamurti: Sirs, perhaps when you say `yes' or `we understand', you may mean verbally, intellectually we understand. Intellectual understanding is not understanding at all. It is like understanding a series of words because the speaker happens to speak English, therefore as you speak English also, you understand the words, verbally; but that is not understanding. Understanding implies - does it not? - the instant seeing as perception and action. It is as when you see a dangerous thing, you act instantly, there is no verbal intellectual argument. Here we have a very complex problem; all these problems are interrelated and complex, and they become much more complex when we deal with them intellectually, verbally. As we said, the word is not the thing, the description of the thing is not the thing described. What we have done is to describe and if we merely intellectually accept the description - the series of words which are merely conceptual - then there is no understanding and therefore no action. Action comes with understanding; they are simultaneous, instantaneous - you do not say, `I understand' first, and then act. The very understanding is the doing. To understand is to live with `what is; which does not mean to be contented with `what is', on the contrary. To understand is to live completely with - let us take, for example - brutality or violence, which are spreading throughout the world.
Human beings are violent, in the family, in the office, everywhere in their actions they are violent, they are self-centred, egotistical. So there is violence; merely to indulge in an ideology of non-violence is obviously absurd and hypocritical.
Be aware that one is violent in different ways - sexually, in thought, in action; live with it, understand it completely. And you can understand it only when there is no escape from it through an ideology, through an opposite. If there is no opposite, how can you know that you are violent? Does not that question arise naturally in your mind? No? How do I know I am violent if I have not been conditioned to a concept of non-violence? Is violence conceptual or actual?
Is violence a word, a concept, or is it an actuality? When I am angry, the word `anger' is not the feeling itself. Is the feeling itself conceptual, ideal? Certainly not, it is `what is'. Can I, can the mind, look at that state of violence, not escaping from it to the opposite, can it live with it, understand it totally? That means that the `observer, is not different from the thing observed, as is the thinker who says `I am angry'. As long as there is this division between the thinker and that which is thought about, the experiencer and the experienced, the observer and the observed and so on, there must be duality. To eliminate conflict totally, altogether, means to live completely at peace within oneself, and therefore outwardly. That is only possible when there are no opposites, no comparisons, actively being aware of `what is', the division between the observer and the observed eliminated.
If you are really concerned to eliminate war, anger, violence and hatred in the world - and every human being who is thoughtful, serious, must be concerned with this - if you are, how will you absolve yourself from this antagonism, hatred, violence? It is a very serious problem and one has to apply oneself, work hard, to find out the truth of it. Psychologically, if there is tomorrow (and this is not a philosophical idea) if there is tomorrow, as psychological time, there must be fear and therefore violence. To be free of tomorrow is to live only in the active present; which means one must understand the whole machinery of thought, as the past and the future - thought which breeds fear, as it breeds pleasure. Unless you, as a human being, solve this problem you are inevitably contributing to hatred, to war, to violence.
I wonder what love is for most of us? Is love pleasure, desire, jealousy, self-concern? It is one of the most important problems of life and we must go into it rather deeply; we must enquire whether the human mind, including the heart and so on, can ever know what love is? Must it always live with hatred, jealousy, ambition, competition, and thereby eliminate altogether the thing called love? We asked: is love pleasure? Obviously in the western world pleasure plays an extraordinarily important part in life - not that it does not in the Orient also - but here it is so violently exaggerated and identified with sex. So when one asks this question: is love pleasure and therefore desire? We must also ask: what is pleasure, how does it come about? How does it happen that the mind is always seeking pleasure, like an animal, avoiding every form of danger, always seeking various forms of enjoyment, delight? That is not to say that we should not seek pleasure, that we should not enjoy looking at a sunset, the light on the water, a bird on the wing; the very look brings a delight if you are at all aware and sensitive - we cannot deny that. We are not saying that pleasure is something ugly, to be put aside. But we are enquiring into the nature of pleasure; because pleasure, for most of us, is identified with love, love of God, love of the country, love of your wife or husband, love of the family and so on.
What is pleasure? You see a sunset and it delights you; the colour, the clarity, the beauty, the depth of light and the shadows in that sensory perception are instantaneous and In that there is great delight, great happiness; then, remembering other sunsets, other pleasures, thought thinks about the present sunset and gives continuity to that delight, which becomes the pleasure. Do please observe it, do not learn something as though in a classroom; watch this in yourself, in your daily life. You had an experience yesterday, it was painful or pleasurable; if it was painful you want to avoid it, put it aside; thought says, `that is not pleasant, that is painful' and tries to avoid it; but if it was pleasurable, thought gives continuity to it by thinking about it. But thought, thinking about something dangerous, gives a continuity to fear. So thought breeds both pleasure and fear. This is clear enough.
Is thought love? Can you think about love? If you do, you think about it in terms of past pleasures, sexually or otherwise. So is love pleasure, bred by thought? If love is pleasure then thought is love - please follow this - thought, which is the response to the past, of memory, of knowledge, of experience, the past; thought is the response of the past and so love is then of the past. And that is all we know. When we talk of love, that is all we mean, a thing of the past, a thing that we have experienced as pleasure, sexually or otherwise. That is what we call love, in which there is pain, jealousy, possession, domination - all the conflict of relationship - and that is all we know. And when the so-called spiritual person talks about love, he talks about an ideology - love of God (I do not know what that means at all - do you?) - another invention, another worship of an ideology.
Is love or compassion a product of thought and therefore something that can be cultivated? Is it something that is rooted in the past and therefore never innocent, never vulnerable, fresh, young - something always held in the past? When you say `I love my wife' or `my husband', `my country', `God' - whatever you love - when you say `I love', you mean you love the image, the idea that you have built through time about another. Is that love? Or is love something entirely different, of a different dimension altogether? To find out something which is true you must deny that which is false, completely. In the denial, in the understanding of what is false, is the truth. Truth is not the opposite of the false; but it lies in completely understanding what is false, in putting it totally aside; in that is the truth. That is, to utterly abandon with your heart and mind, all jealousy, envy, brutality and the sense of domination and possession in which is what we call love - in denying all that, putting it completely aside, then the real thing is, you do not have to seek it, then it blossoms like a flower; without it, organize, legislate, do what you will, there will be no peace in the world.
To understand what death is one must know what living is. Is death the opposite of living? To us it is. Hence the battle, the struggle, the pain, the sorrow between living and dying. Perhaps, if we could understand what living is, then it may be that the very living is dying. We will go into that.
If you observe your daily life - and that of your friends and of your neighbours, of the world, of the human being - you see that what is called living is full of sorrow, full of struggle, frustration, anxiety - with occasional flashes of joy and an ecstasy that have nothing whatsoever to do with pleasure. Our life as it is, at home, in the office, everywhere, is a battlefield - we are not exaggerating, we are merely stating the fact as it is. When you look at your own life, the daily life that you lead, when you look at it objectively - not sentimentally, not emotionally - you actually see that it is hypocrisy, double talk, pretension, struggle, endless sorrows and frustrations, loneliness, despair, brutality - you see that that is our life. And, of course, there is always God to escape to, organized belief which you call religion - which is not religion at all but merely custom and habit and propaganda. So that is our life, that is what we call living. Then there is death old age, disease pain; that which we call death we want to put away, avoid and we cling to the things that we know, that we call life, everyday life. What we cling to is the sorrow, the anxiety, the pain, the misery, the confusion, the battle - but is that living? We have accepted it as part of our life as we accept so many things. We are more `yes-sayers' than `no-sayers'. We accept this living, this sorrow, with the occasional joy which soon becomes a memory and therefore again the repetitive continuing of that joy - which becomes another problem. So our life is a series of problems, frustrations, despair and hopes. And naturally we are afraid, naturally fear comes into being when we say all this must end. Being afraid, we invent theories such as that of reincarnation. The whole of Asia believes in reincarnation, to be born in a next life, to have a better chance, to be reincarnated differently; if you believe in that, it means that you must live now righteously, it means that you must live this life so completely, so enthusiastically, so virtuously, so beautifully, that in the next life all that you have done now will bear fruit. But people who believe in reincarnation do not do that. It is just a theory, a lovely concept, something that will give comfort to their petty little souls. And the Christian world has its own form of escape - the resurrection and all the rest of it - and if you do not believe in all that, you rationalize death.
So our question is: is there a way of living differently, not in this stupid corrupt way? Is there a way of living so that there is no sorrow at all - no loneliness, no frustration, no anxiety, despair - not as an idea, not as a concept, but actually to live in this world without comparison, without measure and therefore freely? Which means, really, one has to be so tremendously aware of one's own movement of thought, one's words and actions, that one's mind is never captured by the opposite; there fore it is always living In the present; it means understanding the past, and the movement of the past through the present to the future. It means dying every day to everything that one has accumulated psychologically. Try sometime - do, if you will - to die to your particular pleasure instantly, completely, and see what happens. It is only in dying that something new can come into being. That which has continuity - however modified by time, by pressure - is that which has been; in that there is nothing new. It is only when there is an ending that there is a new energy, a bliss, an ecstasy which is not pleasure.
Questioner: I would say, if one has no pleasure, then one only has pain.
Krishnamurti: If one has pain all the time, what is one to do? You mean physical pain?
Questioner: Well, I would say, psychosomatic pain.
Krishnamurti: Psychosomatic pain - how does that pain come into being? What is the nature of pain? There is physical pain (toothache and acute disease) purely organic pain. Then there is the pain caused psychologically by various incidents: I am hurt, somebody has said brutal things, I feel lonely, I am lost, confused, there has been the death of the person whom I thought I loved, or my wife has run away, left me; all these contribute to pain, to sorrow, which affect the physical organism, as psychosomatic pain. And you say `How am I, constantly being in psychosomatic pain, how am I to be free of it?' First of all, any person who gives advice of this sort to another is foolish. So we are not giving advice. We are exploring to find out why the psyche, the inward nature of man, why it should suffer. I recognize there is physical pain; either I put up with it or I try to do something about it. But why should there be psychological pain? My wife looks at another and I am jealous. Why am I jealous? Is it because I suddenly find myself lonely, suddenly lose that which I have possessed, that which has given me pleasure, sexual or otherwise, comfort and so on? Also, it makes me face myself, see what I am, which I do not like to do; I see how petty, anxious and possessive I am. I do not like to observe what I am and therefore I get annoyed with the person who has caused this. Also it reveals to me how extraordinarily dependent I am. Seeing that, the actuality, not the image about myself, but the actual state of myself, is not a very pleasant thing. I will not accept `what is' and I would like to go back to,what was,. So I am jealous, angry, resentful and all the rest of it. So the family becomes an ugly thing.
The psychological pain comes only when I am unwilling to understand myself as I am, to face myself, to live with myself in my loneliness, not escape from it, to be completely lonely. And all my activity, my thought, breeds this loneliness because I am self-centred; I am thinking about myself all the time, my activity is isolating me in the name of the family, in the name of God, in the name of business and so on, psychologically my thinking is isolating. Loneliness is the result and to find out and to go beyond it I have to live with it, understand it, not say `It is ugly, it is painful, it is this or that' - I have to live with it. I do not know if you have lived with anything so completely. If you have, then you will see that that which you so live with becomes extraordinarily beautiful.
You know, there is the question: what is beauty? I wonder why all the museums in the world are filled with people. Museums, music, paintings, books - why have they all become so extraordinarily important? Have you ever considered it? Somebody paints a picture and you say `How beautiful it is'. If you have the money you buy it and hang it up in your house and you call that beauty. Probably you never look at a tree; or you go with an organized group to the woods to look at trees - you are told how to look at a tree! You go to college to become sensitive, to learn what it is to be sensitive. How sad it all is, isn't it? All this means that one has completely lost touch with nature. It indicates that one has externalized everything. When there is great prosperity, without austerity, then there is the emptying of the inward state, therefore you have to go to museums, concerts, exhibitions - be entertained. And is all that beauty? Beauty goes with love and love comes into being only when there is dying. Love is something always new, innocent and fresh; it does not exist for a mind that is full of problems, intellectual concepts and struggles. Inwardly, one must live extraordinarily simply.
8th October, 1965
Talks with American Students. New School For Social Research, New York
Talks with American Students, Chapter 11 4th Talk at New School for Social Research, New York 8th October, 1968
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