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Network of Thought

Longer, Unedited Versions

Amsterdam 2nd Public Talk 20th September 1981

I am afraid this is the last talk. Like two friends sitting in the park on a lovely day talking about life, talking about their problems, investigating seriously the very nature of their existence and asking themselves seriously why life has become such a great problem; why, though intellectually you are very sophisticated, yet our daily life is such a grind, without any meaning, except survival, which again is rather doubtful, why life, everyday existence, has become such a torture. One may go to church, follow some leader politically or religiously, but the daily life is always a turmoil, though there are certain periods which are occasionally joyful, happy, but there is always a cloud of darkness about our life. And these two friends talking together, as we are, you and the speaker, we are talking over together in a friendly manner, perhaps with affection, with care, with concern, whether it is at all possible to live a life, our daily life without a single problem. And though we are highly educated, have certain careers, specialized, yet we have these unresolved struggles, pain, suffering, joy and sometimes a great feeling of not being totally selfish. And together, if we can this morning, go into this question why human beings live as we do live - go to the office from nine o'clock until five or six for the next fifty years; or be occupied all the time, not only with our own problems, but also the brain, the mind is constantly occupied, there is never a quietness, there is never peace, there is always this occupation with something or other. And that is our life. That is our daily, monotonous rather lonely insufficient life. And we try to escape from it through religion, through various forms of entertainment.

At the end of the day we are still where we were for the last thousand and thousand years. We seem to have changed very little psychologically, inwardly. And our problems increase, and always there is the fear of old age, disease, some accident that will put us out. So this is our existence, from childhood until we die, either voluntarily or involuntarily die. And we don't seem to have been able to solve that problem also, the problem of living and the problem of dying. Specially as one grows older one remembers all the things that have been; the times of pleasure, the times of pain, the times of sorrow, the times of tears. But always there is this unknown thing called death of which most of us are frightened. And as two friends sitting in the park on a bench, not in this hall with all this light and so on, which is rather ugly, but sitting on a bench in the park with sunlight, and the dappling light, the sun coming through the leaves, the ducks on the canal and the beauty of the earth, talking over together. And that's what we are going to do, talking over together as two friends who have had a long life, a long serious life with all the troubles; the troubles of sex, loneliness, despair, depression, anxiety, uncertainty, a sense of meaninglessness to all this. And there is always at the end of all this, death.

And in talking about it, either we intellectually approach it; that is, rationalize it, say it is inevitable, don't be frightened, or escape through some form of belief, the hereafter as the Asiatics believe, reincarnation, or if you are highly intellectual this is the end of all things, end of all our existence, our experiences, our memories, tender, delightful, plentiful. And also with it goes the great pain and the suffering. What does it all mean, this life which is really, if one examines very closely, rather meaningless? One can intellectually, verbally construct a meaning to life, but the way we live has very little meaning actually.

So there is thing called living and dying. That is all we know. Everything apart from that becomes a theory, a speculation; or a pursuit of a belief in which one finds some kind of security, hope. But those beliefs are also very shallow, rather meaningless, as all beliefs are. Or you have ideals projected by thought, and struggle to achieve those ideals. This is our life; whether we are very young, full of vitality, fun, a sense that one can do almost anything, but even then with youth, middle age and old age, there is always this question of death, dying. Can we, this morning, talk over together this? Please, as we pointed out yesterday, we are thinking about it together. You are not merely, if one may point out, listening to a series of words, to some ideas, but rather together, I mean together, investigate this whole problem of living and dying. And either one does it with one's heart, with one's whole mind, or partially, superficially, and so with very little meaning.

So first of all we should look: our brains never act fully, completely, we only use a very small part of our brain. That part is the structure of thought. That part being in itself a part and therefore incomplete, as thought is incomplete, so the brain functions within a very narrow area, depending on our senses, which again our senses are partial, never all the senses free, awakened. I do not know if you have not experimented with watching something with all your senses; watching the sea, the birds and the moonlight at night on a green lawn; if you have not watched partially or with all your senses fully awakened. The two states are entirely different. When you watch something partially you are establishing more the separative, egotistic attitude and living. But when you watch that moonlight on the water making a silvery path with all your senses, that is, with your mind, with your heart, with your nerves, giving all your attention to that observation, then you will see for yourself that there is no centre from which you are observing.

So can we observe what is living, the actuality, and what does it mean to die - together? Our life, daily life, is a process of remembrances. Our brain, mind is entirely memory. Right? Are we together in it? You see the difficulty is that I am not sure that we are understanding each other. I don't know how much English you know, and that is not an insulting statement, whether we understand English completely, what the speaker is saying. Or you are partially listening, partially understanding English, and so attention wandering off and so one looks rather dazed from here! The language that the speaker is using is very ordinary non-specialized language. It is simple English. So I hope we understand each other.

We are saying we are - we, our ego, our personality, our whole structure - entirely put together as memory, we are memory. Right? Please this is subject to investigation, don't accept it. Observe it, listen. The speaker is saying, the you, the ego, the me, is altogether memory. There is no spot or space in which there is clarity. Or you can believe, hope, have faith that there is something in you which is uncontaminated, which is god, which is a spark of that which is timeless, you can believe all that. But that belief is merely illusory; all beliefs are. But the fact is that our whole existence, we are entirely memory, a remembrance. There is no spot or space inwardly which is not memory. You can investigate this, if you have time, perhaps not this morning because we have a lot to cover, but if you are enquiring seriously into yourself you will see that the 'me', the ego, is all memory, remembrances. And that is our life. We function, live from memory. And for us death is the ending of that memory. Right?

Am I speaking to myself, or are we all together in this? You see the speaker is used to talking in the open, under trees, or in a vast tent without these glaring lights; and one can then have an intimate communication with each other. As a matter of fact there is only you and me talking together, not all this enormous audience in a vast hall, but you and I sitting on the banks of a river, on a bench, talking over this thing together. And one is saying to the other, we are nothing but memory, and it is to that memory that we are attached: my house, my property, my experience, my relationship, the office I go to, the factory, the skill I like being able to gather during a certain period of time; I am all that. And to that, thought is attached. That's what we call living. And this attachment, with all its problems, because when you are attached there is fear of losing, we are attached because we are lonely, deep abiding loneliness which is suffocating, isolating, depressing. And the more we are attached to another, which is again memory, the other is a memory - my wife, my husband, my children, are physically different from me, psychologically the memory of my wife, I am attached to that, to the name, to the form, my existence is attachment to that memory which I have gathered all my life. Where there is attachment I recognize, observe there is corruption. When I am attached to a belief, hoping in that attachment to that belief there will be certain security, both psychologically as well as physically, that attachment not only prevents further examination, but I am frightened to examine even when I am greatly attached to something - to a person, to an idea, to an experience. So corruption exists where there is an attachment. And one's whole life is a movement within the field of the known. This is obvious. And death means the ending of the known. Right? Ending of the physical organism, ending of all the memory of which I am. I am nothing but memory, memory being the known. And I am frightened to let all that go, which means death. I think that is fairly clear, at least verbally. Intellectually you can accept that. Logically, sanely, that is a fact.

So the question is: why human beings throughout the world, though they believe, some of them, in the Asiatic world, in the rebirth of themselves in the next life; the next life being much more dignified, more prosperous, better houses, better position. So those who believe in reincarnation, that is, the soul, the ego, the 'me', which is a bundle of memories being born next life; the next life is a better life because if I behave rightly now, conduct myself righteously, live a life without violence, without greed and so on, the next life I will have a better life, better position. But that is, the next life, a belief in reincarnation, is just a belief because those who have this strong belief don't live a righteous life today. Right? You are following all this? It is just an idea that the next life will be marvellous. The beauty of the next life must correspond to the beauty of the present life. But the present life is so tortuous, so demanding, so complex, we forget the belief and struggle, deceit, hypocrisy, every form of vulgarity and so on. That is one aspect of death, that is, believing in something next life.

But those who do not accept such theory, though they are trained to compile evidence of reincarnation, which is rather absurd too - you understand all this - because what is it that is going to reincarnate? What is it that has continuity? You understand my question? Are we talking together? What is it that has continuity in life, in our daily life? It is the remembrance of yesterday's experience, pleasures, fears, anxieties and there is that continuity right through life unless we break it and move away from that current. Right?

Now the question is: is it possible while one is ling, with all the turmoil, with that energy, capacity, to end, say for example, attachment? Because that is what is going to happen when you die. You may be attached to your wife, to your husband, to your property - not to property, that is dangerous - we are attached to some belief, belief in god. That belief is merely a projection, or an invention of thought, but we are attached to it because it gives a certain feeling of security however illusory it is, we are attached to that. Death means the ending of that attachment. Now while living can we end voluntarily, easily, without any effort, that form of attachment? Which means dying to something we have known. You follow? Can we do this? Because that is living and dying together, not separated by a hundred years, or fifty years, waiting for some disease to push us off. But living with all our vitality, energy, intellectual capacity, with the greater feeling, to end certain conclusions, certain idiosyncrasies, experiences, attachments, hurts, to end it. That is, while living also living with death. You understand this? Are we meeting each other? So that death is not something far away, death is not something that is at the end of one's life, through some accident, disease, old age, but rather living, to all the things of memory, ending that, which is death. That means death is not separate from living.

Also, as we said yesterday, we should consider together, sitting on the banks of a river on a bench, water flowing, clear, not muddied, polluted water, seeing all the movement of the waves pursuing each other down the river, we also as two friends sitting there, talk together about what is religion. Why has religion played such a great part in our lives from the ancient of times until today? What is a religious mind like? What does the world 'religion' actually mean? Because historically, not that one has read a great deal about it but one has observed how civilizations disappear, to be reborn again with a different religion, religions have brought about new civilizations, new culture; not the technological world, not the computers, the submarines, the war materials; nor the businessman, nor the economists; but religious people throughout the world have brought about a tremendous change. So one must enquire together what we mean by that world 'religion'. What is its significance, whether it is mere superstition, illogical, meaningless? Or there is something far greater, something much more infinitely beautiful. And to find that is it not necessary - we are talking over together as two friends - is it not necessary to be free of all the things thought has invented as religion? You understand my question? I want to find out what is the significance of religion. What is the depth of it? What is its end? Because man has always sought something beyond the physical existence. He has always looked, searched, asked, suffered, tortured himself to find out if there is something which is not of time, which is not of thought, which is not belief or faith. And to find that out one must be absolutely free, otherwise if you are anchored to a particular form of belief that very belief will prevent investigation into what is eternal, if there is such a thing as eternity which is beyond all time, beyond all measure. So one must be free, if one is serious in the enquiry into what is religion, one must be free of all the things that thought has invented, put together about that which is considered religious. That is, all the things that Hinduism has invented, with its superstitions, with its beliefs, with its images, and the ancient literature as the Upanishads and so on, one must be completely free of all that. If one is attached to all that then it is impossible, naturally, to discover that which is original. You understand the problem?

That is, if my mind, my brain is conditioned by the Hindu superstition, beliefs, dogmas, idolatry, with all the ancient tradition, my mind then is anchored to that, therefore it cannot move, it is not free. Therefore one must be free completely from all that - being a Hindu. Right? Similarly, one must be free totally from all the inventions of thought, as the rituals, dogmas, beliefs, symbols, the saviours and so on of Christianity. That may be rather difficult, that is coming near home. Or if you go to Ceylon or the Tibetan, the North, Buddhism, with all their idolatry, as the idolatry of Christianity, they too have this problem: being attached as security to the things thought has invented. So all religions, whether Christianity, Muslim, Islam, Hinduism, or Buddhism, they are the movement of thought continued through time, through literature, through symbols, through things made by the hand or by the mind, all that is considered religious in the modern world. To the speaker that is not religion. To the speaker it is a form of illusion, comforting, satisfying, romantic, sentimental but not actual, because religion must affect life, the way we live, that is the significance of life. Because only when there is order, as we talked about yesterday, in our life.

Order is something that is totally disassociated with disorder. We live in disorder, that is, in conflict, contradiction, say one thing, do another, think one thing and act another, that is contradiction. Where there is contradiction which is division, there must be disorder. And a religious mind is completely without disorder. That is the foundation of religious life, not all the nonsense that is going on with the gurus with their idiocies.

You know it is a most extraordinary thing: many gurus have come to see the speaker; many of them because they think I attack the gurus. You understand? They want to persuade me not to attack. They say, what you are saying and what you are living is the absolute truth, but not for us, because we must help those people who are not as fully advanced as you are. You see the game they play. You understand? So one wonders why the Western world, or some of the Western people go to India, follow these gurus, get initiated - whatever that may mean - put on different robes and think they are terribly religious. But strip them of their robes, stop them and enquire into their life, they are just like you and me.

So the idea of going somewhere to find enlightenment, changing your name to some Sanskrit name, seems so strangely absurd and romantic without any reality, but thousands are doing it. Probably it is a form of amusement without much meaning. I am - the speaker is not attacking. Please let's understand: we are not attacking anything, we are just observing; observing the absurdity of the human mind, how easily we are caught, we are so gullible.

So a religious mind is a very factual mind, it deals with facts. That is, facts being what is actually happening, with the world outside, and the world inside. The world outside is the expression of the world inside, there is no division between the outer and the inner - that is too long to go into. So a religious life is a life of order, diligence, dealing with what is actually within oneself, without any illusion so that one leads an orderly, righteous life. When that is established, unshakably then we can begin to enquire what is meditation.

Perhaps that word did not exist about twenty years ago, or thirty years ago in the Western world. The Eastern gurus have brought it over here. There is the Tibetan meditation, Zen meditation, the Hindu meditation, the particular meditation of a particular guru, the meditation of yoga, sitting cross legged, breathing, you know, all that. All that is called meditation. We are not denigrating the people who do all this. We are just pointing out how absurd meditation has become. The Christian world believe in contemplation, giving themselves over to the will of god, grace and so on. They have the same thing in the Asiatic world, only they use different words in Sanskrit, but it is the same thing: man seeking some kind of everlasting security, happiness, peace, not finding it on earth, hoping it exists somewhere or other, the desperate search for something imperishable. This has been the search of man from time beyond measure. The ancient Egyptians, the ancient Hindus, Buddhists and so on, and some of the Christians, have followed this.

So to enquire together, to go into, deeply into, what is meditation and whether there is anything called sacred, holy: not the thing that thought has invented as being holy, that is not holy. What thought creates is not holy, is not sacred because it is based on knowledge, and knowledge being incomplete, and whatever thought invents, how can that be sacred. But we worship that which thought has invented all over the world.

So together, having established, some partially, others completely, totally, order in their life, in their behaviour, in which there is no contradiction whatsoever, having established that, and rejected, totally rejected, all the various forms of meditation, their systems, their practices because when you practise you are repeating over and over and over again, like a pianist when he practises he may be practising the wrong note. You understand? So it is easy to conform to a pattern, to obey something somebody has said that will help you to reach the highest state of whatever it is. So you practise, you accept systems because you want to get something other than 'what is'.

Now we are saying quite the contrary. There is no system, no practice; but the clarity of perception of a mind that is free, which has no direction, no choice, but free to observe. Most meditations have this problem, which is controlling thought. The one who practises is different from that which he is practising. I hope you are following all this, if it interests you. So most meditation, whether the Zen, the Hindu, the Buddhist, the Christian, or the latest guru, is to control your thought because through control you centralize, you bring all your energy to a particular point. That is, concentrate. Which is, there is a controller different from the controlled. Are you following all this? Which is, the controller is the past, which is still thought, still memory, and that which he is controlling is still thought, which is wandering off, so there is conflict. You are sitting quietly and thought goes off, you want to concentrate, like a schoolboy looking out of the window and the teacher says, "Don't look out of the window, concentrate on your book". And we do the same thing. So one has to learn the fact, the controller is the controlled. Is that clear? Must all this be explained, step by step? That is - I'll explain, please.

The controller, the thinker, the experiencer, we think is different from the controlled, from the movement of thought, from the experiencer and the experience, we think these two are different movements. But if you observe closely, the thinker is the thought. Thought has made the thinker separate from thought, which then he says, I must control. You are following all this? This is so logical, so sane. So when the controller is the controlled, then you remove totally conflict. Conflict exists only when there is division. Right? Between you and the Germans, between the Israelis and the Arabs. Where there is nationalistic, or economic, or social division there must be conflict. So inwardly where there is the division between the observer, the one who witnesses, the one who experiences is different from that which he experiences, there must be conflict. And our life is conflict because we live with this division. But this division is fallacious, is not real, it has become our habit, our culture, to control. We never see the controller is the controlled. Right? Do you get all this?

So when one realizes that, not verbally, not idealistically, not as a utopian state for which you have to struggle, but to observe it actually in one's life that the controller is the controlled, the thinker is the thought, then the whole pattern of our thinking undergoes a radical change because there is no conflict. And that is absolutely necessary if you are meditating because meditation demands a mind that is highly compassionate. And therefore highly intelligent, the intelligence which is born out of love, not out of cunning thought.

So meditation means the establishment of order in our daily life, in which there is no contradiction. Then rejecting totally all the systems, meditations, all that, because the mind must be completely free, without direction, and also it means a mind that is completely silent. Is that possible? Because we are chattering endlessly; the moment you leave this place I know you will start chattering. So our minds are everlastingly occupied, chattering, thinking, struggling, and so there is no space. Space is necessary to have silence. For a mind that is practising, struggling, wanting to be silent is never silent. But when it sees that silence is absolutely necessary, not the silence projected by thought, not the silence between two notes, between two noises, between two wars, but the silence of order. And when there is that absolute silence, not cultivated silence, which is what must meditations try to do, cultivate silence; that is, cultivate thought which is never silent. I don't know if you see the absurdity of it. So when there is that silence then one discovers - sorry, one doesn't discover - in that silence truth, which has no path to it, exists. Truth then is timeless, sacred, incorruptible. That is meditation, that is a religious mind.

Network of Thought

Longer, Unedited Versions

Amsterdam 2nd Public Talk 20th September 1981

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