The Impossible Question
Part 2, Public Dialogues Saanen 1970
Impossible Question Part II Chapter 1 1st Public Dialogue Saanen 2nd August 1970
Krishnamurti: We are going to have seven discussions here, in which each one of us shares. It is not merely a matter of hearing a few words from each other and holding onto our opinions and judgments; but in discussing, in talking things over together, we will begin to find out for ourselves how we think, from what point of view we look at life, how formulas and conclusions sway or control our minds. During these seven discussions we can go into many problems, taking each morning a particular subject and going into it as completely and as thoroughly as possible so that both of us understand it entirely, not only verbally, intellectually (which of course is not understanding) and go beyond it. So what shall we take this morning?
Questioner (1): Shall we talk about the roots and origin of thought?
Questioner(2): Could we go into the difference between the mind and the brain?
Questioner (3): Can one find a system of meditation in oneself or is it a method?
Questioner (4): Do we make the right use of our personal faculties and capacities?
Questioner (5): Could you say something about relationship between people?
Questioner (6): Could we discuss letting go and giving up all conditioning?
Questioner (7): What is enlightenment?
Questioner (8): Why is it so difficult for us to attain a state of bliss based on truth and beauty? Krishnamurti: Can we put all these questions together? I think if we could discuss what self-knowledge is, wouldn't all these questions be answered? Such questions as: what is meditation - is it a system? What is the difference between the mind and the brain? Why is it so difficult to attain or understand what is enlightenment? Why is it that most of us have to struggle in various forms? Could we take self-knowing in which all this would be included? Is there a method or system by which one can know oneself? Is there a way of finding out for oneself the answer to all the questions that we have put this morning without asking anybody? That is possible only if I know for myself the mechanism of thought, how the brain works, how the mind is caught in conditioning, how it is attached, how it wants to free itself. There is a constant struggle within oneself and also outwardly. So to answer all the questions that one puts to oneself and to solve the problems that exist outwardly, is it not important to understand oneself? Could we discuss this?
First of all how do I observe myself? Do I look at myself according to what authorities, the specialists, the psychologists have said, which has obviously conditioned my mind? I may not like Freud, Jung, Adler and the more recent psychologists and analysts, but as their very statements have penetrated into my mind, I am looking at myself with their eyes. Can I look at myself objectively without any emotional reaction, just to see what I am? And to see what I am, is analysis necessary?
All these questions are involved when I say that I must know myself; without knowing myself completely I have no basis for any action. If I don't know myself and am confused, whatever action I take must lead to further confusion. So I must know myself. I must profoundly find out the structure of my nature. I have to see the scaffold of my activities, the patterns in which I function, the lines which I follow, the directions which I have established for myself or society. I have to understand this drive which makes me do things consistently or contradictorily. To understand all these problems about whether there is a God, whether there is truth, what meditation is, who is the meditator which is much more important than meditation I must know myself completely. Do you see the importance of knowing for yourself what you are? Because without knowing yourself, whatever you do will be done in ignorance, therefore in illusion, in contradiction: so there will be confusion, sorrow and all the rest of it. Is that clear? One must know oneself not only at the conscious level but in the deep layers of oneself. This must be clear and you must know it for yourself not because I say so.
Now, how shall I know myself? What is the procedure? Shall I follow the authorities, the specialists who apparently have investigated and have come to certain conclusions which later psychologists or philosophers may alter or strengthen? Don't say `No'. If I don't, how shall I understand myself? All the investigations of the past philosophers and teachers - the Indian mind has gone into this at great depth as well as of the modern ones is imprinted on my mind, consciously or unconsciously. So shall I follow because I am just beginning and they have gone ahead of me and then go further than they have gone? Or won't I follow anybody but look at myself? If I can look at myself as `what is', then I am looking at myself who is the result of all the sayings of these philosophers, teachers and saviours. Therefore I don't have to follow anybody. Is this clear? Do see this, please, don't come back to it later.
My mind is the result of what they have said. It has not only been accepted; these things have flowed in like a wave, not only from the present but also from the past and through a great many teachers. I am the result of all that. So all that I have to do is to observe myself, read the book which is myself. How am I to read, how am I to observe so clearly that there is no impediment? I may have coloured glasses, I may have certain prejudices, certain conclusions which will prevent me from looking at myself and seeing all that is implied in looking at myself. So what shall I do? As I am conditioned I cannot look at myself in complete freedom, therefore I must be aware of my conditioning. So I have to ask: What is it to be aware?
Now let's proceed. I cannot look at myself wholly in freedom because my mind isn't free. I have a dozen opinions and conclusions, an infinite number of experiences, I have had an education all that is part of my conditioning; therefore I must be aware of these conditionings which are part of me. So first I must know, I must understand, what it means to be aware. What does it mean to you to be aware? The other day the speaker said `Don't take notes, please' you heard that and several people went on taking notes. Is that to be aware?
Questioner: I know already that I can't be aware for more than two minutes and then disorder begins.
Krishnamurti: We will come to whether this awareness can be extended or is only possible for a very short period. But before we answer that question let's find out what it means to be aware. Am I aware of the noise of that stream? Am I aware of all the different colours the men and women wear in this tent? Am I aware of the structure and shape of the tent? Am I aware of the space around the tent, the hills, the trees, the clouds, the heat - am I objectively, outwardly aware of all these things? How are you aware?
Questioner: We are aware inwardly and outwardly at the same time.
Krishnamurti: Please go step by step. Are you aware of this tent, of the various colours of the people's dresses, are you aware of the hills, the trees, the meadows? Are you aware in the sense of being conscious of it? You are aren't you?
Questioner: When I put my attention on it I am aware of it.
Krishnamurti: When you put your attention on it you are aware. Therefore you are not aware when you are inattentive. So only when you pay attention, are you aware. Please follow this closely.
Questioner: When I pay attention to one thing, I am absorbed, I cannot pay attention to the other things around me.
Krishnamurti: You become absorbed in one particular thing and the rest fades away. Are you aware that when you are looking attentively at the tent, the trees, the mountains, that you are shaping into words what you see? You say, `That's a tree, that's a cloud, that's a tent, I like this colour, I don't like that colour' - right? Please take a little trouble over this - don't get bored. Because if you go into this very deeply, when you leave the tent you will see something for yourself. So when you watch, are you aware of your reactions?
Questioner: It seems as if attention expands.
Krishnamurti: I am asking something and you reply to some-
thing else. I am aware of that dress. My reaction says, `How nice' or `How ugly'. I am asking: when you look at that red colour are you aware of your reactions? Not of a dozen reactions, but of that particular reaction when you see a red colour? Why not? Isn't that part of awareness?
Questioner: When you put a name to a thing you are not aware.
Krishnamurti: I am going to find out Sir, what it means. You don't bite into this! I want to be aware and I know I am not aware. Occasionally I am attentive, but most of the time I am half asleep. I am thinking about something else whilst I am looking at a tree or a colour. As I have said, I want to know myself completely because I see that if I don't know myself I have no basis to do anything. So I must know myself. How do I become aware, how do I observe myself? In observing I shall learn. So learning is part of awareness. Am I going to learn about myself according to somebody else? - according to the philosophers, the teachers, the saviours, the priests? Is that learning? If I learn according to what others have said I have stopped learning about myself, haven't I? So the first thing is, I have to learn about myself. Now what does this learning about myself mean? Investigate it, go into it, find out what it means to learn about oneself.
Questioner: Seeing my reaction.
Krishnamurti: No, Madame, I don't mean that. What does it mean to learn?
Questioner: It seems that one desperately looks for a practical system to come to such an awareness. At one time I thought we could try to educate ourselves by writing down all our thoughts and afterwards when reading them, see them like a film. Maybe in this way we could learn something.
Krishnamurti: The questioner says, we see the reason for knowing ourselves, we are desperate to find out how to do this, but out of this desperation we want a system, to find some method, because we don't know what to do with ourselves. So we want somebody to tell us, `Do these things and you will know yourself'.
Now Sirs, please do listen to me. Here I am: I am the result of the society, of the culture in which I live, of religions, the business world, the economic world, the climate, the food - I am the result of all that, of the infinite past and of the present. I want to know myself, that is, I want to learn about myself. What does the word `learn' mean? See the difficulty in this. I don't know German, which means I have to learn the meaning of words, memorize the verbs, and learn the syntax. That is, I have to accumulate knowledge of words and all the rest of it and then I may be able to speak German. I accumulate and then act, verbally or in any other way; there learning meant accumulation. Now what happens if I learn about myself? I see something about myself and I say, `I have learnt that'. I have seen `that is so', I have learnt about it. That has left a residue of knowledge and with that knowledge I examine the next incident. And that again adds further accumulation. So the more I observe myself and learn about myself, the more I am accumulating knowledge about myself. Right?
Questioner: I am changing.
Krishnamurti: I am accumulating knowledge and in the process I am changing. But I am accumulating knowledge and experience by observing. Now what happens? With that knowledge I look at myself. So knowledge is preventing fresh observation. I don't know if you see this? For instance you have said something to hurt me. That is my knowledge, and the next time I see you, that knowledge of having been hurt comes forward to meet you. The past comes to meet the present. So knowledge is the past and with the eyes of the past I am looking at the present - do you understand? Now, to learn about myself, to look at myself, there must be freedom from past knowledge. That is, the learning about myself must be constantly fresh. Do you see the difficulty?
Questioner: I would say there are constants in life which don't change.
Krishnamurti: We'll come to the problem of change later. I am watching, I want to learn about myself. `Myself' is movement, `myself' is not static, it's living, active, going in different directions. So if I learn with the mind and the brain that is the past, that prevents me from learning about myself. If you once see that, then the next question is: how is the mind to free itself from the past so as to learn about itself, which is constantly new? See the beauty of it, the excitement of it!
I want to learn about myself and `myself' is a living thing, not something dead. I think this way one day, and the next day I want something else; this is a living constant, moving thing. And to observe, to learn about it, the mind must be free. Therefore if it is burdened with the past it cannot observe. So what is it to do?
Questioner: It is not a question of amnesia, but of being free from the effects of the past.
Krishnamurti: Yes Sir, that is what we mean. Now what shall I do? I see this happen: I see that red colour and I say, `I don't like it'. That is, the past responds. The past acts immediately and therefore stops learning. So what is one to do?
Questioner: One must forget how to think - not have thoughts.
Krishnamurti: You are not following what I am saying. You have come to a conclusion when you say `not to have thoughts'. You are not really learning.
Questioner: We have to empty ourselves.
Krishnamurti: That is another conclusion. How do you empty yourself? Who is the entity that is going to empty the mind?
Questioner: You have to empty that too. You must empty everything.
Krishnamurti: Who is going to empty it? You see Sir, you are not listening to what is being said - if you will forgive me for saying so. I said I want to learn about myself. I cannot learn about myself if the past interferes. Learning implies the active present of the word to learn; `learning' means active in the present; and that is not possible when the mind, when the brain, is burdened with all the past. Now tell me what to do.'
Questioner: I have to be attentive.
Krishnamurti: You see! How am I to be attentive?
Questioner: I have to live in the present.
Krishnamurti: How am I to live in the present when my past is burdening me?
Questioner: By being aware of the process that is taking place.
Krishnamurti: Which means what? To be aware that the past is interfering and therefore preventing the brain from learning? Go slowly, Sir. Are you aware of this movement as we are talking? Then, if you are aware of it as we are talking, what takes place? Don't guess! Don't say `should be', `should not be' that has no meaning. What is actually taking place when you are aware of this movement, which is the past interfering with the present and therefore preventing learning in the sense we are using that word? When you are aware of this whole process going on what takes place then?
Questioner: You see yourself as the effect of the past.
Krishnamurti: We see that is a fact. We have asked what is the outcome, what happens when you are aware that you are the effect of the past and that is preventing you from learning in the present? Don't guess. What takes place in you, when you are aware of this process?
Questioner (1): The movement stops.
Questioner (2): There is no more thought.
Questioner (3): There is fear. Krishnamurti: One says there is no more thought, another says there is silence, yet another says there is fear.
Questioner: There seems to be nothing but the present.
Krishnamurti: Now which of these statements is true?
Questioner: We arc confused.
Krishnamurti: That's right, we are confused.
Questioner (1): You are aware.
Questioner (2): You learn.
Questioner (3): I feel that there is a contradiction which has to be destroyed by direct action.
Krishnamurti: Look Sirs, I beg of you, don't come to any conclusion, because conclusions will prevent you from learning. And if you say, `Direct action must happen' that is a conclusion. We are learning. I see that I am the effect of the past. The past may be yesterday or the last second that has left a mark as knowledge. That knowledge, which is the past, is preventing me from learning in the present; it is a momentum, it is happening all the time. Now when I am aware of this movement, what takes place? I don't want your conclusions. If I accept your conclusions, you will be the new philosopher! I don't want any new philosopher! I want to learn; therefore what I have to see is what actually takes place when the brain is aware of this movement. Can the brain be aware of this movement or is it frightened to be aware of something new?
Questioner: The movement will stop.
Krishnamurti: Then what? Have I learnt? Is there a learning?
Questioner: If I am quiet enough I think I can see what I perceive and what comes out from myself. Krishnamurti: Yes Sir, please do observe this. I want to learn about this movement; to learn I must have curiosity. If I merely come to a conclusion my curiosity stops. So there must be curiosity to learn; there must be passion, and there must be energy. Without this I can't learn. If I have fear I have no passion. So I have to leave that alone and ask: why am I frightened to learn about something that may be new? I have to investigate fear. I have left the momentum of the past and am now going to learn about fear. Are you following all this? Now, why am I frightened?
Questioner: We are afraid to lose the image of ourselves.
Krishnamurti: I am afraid to lose the image which I have built about myself - who is full of knowledge, who is a dead entity. No Sir. Don't give me the explanation. I realize I am frightened - why? Is it because I see that I am dead? I am living in the past and I don't know what it means to observe and live in the present; therefore this is something totally new and I am frightened to do anything new. Which means what? That my brain and my mind have followed the old pattern, the old method, the old way of thinking, living and working. But to learn, the mind must be free from the past - we have established that as the truth. Now, look what has happened. I have established the fact as truth that there is no learning if the past interferes. And also I realize that I am frightened. So there is a contradiction between the realization that to learn, the mind must be free of the past, and that at the same time I am frightened to do so. In this there is duality. I see, and I am afraid to see.
Questioner: Are we always afraid to see new things?
Krishnamurti: Aren't we? Aren't we afraid of change?
Questioner: The new is the unknown. We are afraid of the
unknown. Krishnamurti: So we cling to the old and this will inevitably breed fear because life is changing; there are social upheavals, there is rioting, there are wars. So there is fear. Now how am I to learn about fear? We have moved away from the previous movement; now we want to learn about the movement of fear.
What is the movement of fear? Are you aware that you are afraid? Are you aware that you have fears?
Questioner: Not always.
Krishnamurti; Sir, do you know now, are you aware of your fears now? You can resuscitate them, bring them out and say, `I am afraid of what people might say about me'. So are you aware that you are frightened about death, about losing money, about losing your wife? Are you aware of those fears? Also of physical fears - that you might have pain tomorrow and so on. If you are aware, what is the movement in it? What takes place when you are aware that you are afraid?
Questioner: I try to get rid of it.
Krishnamurti: When you try to get rid of it, what takes place?
Questioner: You repress it.
Krishnamurti: Either you repress it or escape from it; there is a conflict between fear and wanting to get rid of it - isn't there? So there is either repression or escape; and in trying to get rid of it there is conflict which only increases fear.
Questioner: May I ask a question? Isn't the `me' the brain itself? The brain gets tired of always seeking new experiences and wants relaxation.
Krishnamurti: Are you saying that the brain itself is frightened to let go and is the cause of fear? Look Sir, I want to learn about fear; that means I must be curious, I must be passionate. First of all I must be curious and I cannot be curious if I form a conclusion. So to learn about fear I mustn't be distracted by running away from it; there mustn't be a movement of repression, which again means a distraction from fear. There mustn't be the feeling `I must get rid of it'. If I have these feelings I cannot learn. Now have I these feelings when I see there is fear? I am not saying you shouldn't have these feelings - they are there. If I am aware of them what shall I do? My fears are so strong that I want to run away from them. And the very movement away from them breeds more fear - are you following all this? Do I see the truth and the fact that moving away from fear increases fear? Therefore there is no movement away from it - right?
Questioner: I don't understand this, because I feel that if I have a fear and I move away from it, I am moving towards something that is going to end that fear, towards something that will see me through it.
Krishnamurti: What are you afraid of?
Krishnamurti: You are afraid of losing money, not of money. The more the merrier! But you are afraid of losing it - right? Therefore what do you do? You make quite sure that your money is well placed, but the fear continues. It may not be safe in this changing world, the bank may go bankrupt and so on. Even though you have plenty of money there is always this fear. Running away from that fear doesn't solve it, nor suppressing it, saying, `I won't think about it: for the next second you are thinking about it. So running away from it, avoiding it, doing anything about it continues fear. That is a fact. Now we have established two facts: that to learn there must be curiosity and there must be no pressure of the past. And to learn about fear there must be no running away from fear. That is a fact; that is the truth. Therefore you don't run away. Now when I don't run away from it what takes place? Questioner: I stop being identified with it.
Krishnamurti: Is that what learning is? You have stopped.
Questioner: I don't know what you mean.
Krishnamurti: Stopping is not learning. Because of the desire not to have fear, you want to escape from it. Just see the subtlety of it. I am afraid, and I want to learn about it. I don't know what is going to happen, I want to learn the movement of fear. So what takes place? I am not running away, I am not suppressing, I am not avoiding it: I want to learn about it.
Questioner: I think about how to get rid of it.
Krishnamurti: If you want to get rid of it as I have just explained who is the person who is going to get rid of it? You want to get rid of it, which means you resist it therefore fear increases. If you don't see the fact of that, I am sorry I can't help you.
Questioner: We must accept fear.
Krishnamurti: I don't accept fear who is the entity who is accepting fear?
Questioner: If one cannot escape, one must accept.
Krishnamurti: To escape from it, to avoid it, to pick up a novel and read what other people are doing, to look at television, go to the temple or to church all that is still avoidance of fear, and any avoidance of it only increases and strengthens fear. That is a fact. After establishing that fact I won't run away, I won't suppress. I am learning not running away. Therefore what takes place when there's an awareness of fear?
Questioner: Understanding of the process of fear.
Krishnamurti,We are doing it. I am understanding the process, I am watching it, I am learning about it. I am afraid and I am not running away from it now what takes place?
Questioner: You are face to face with fear.
Krishnamurti: What takes place then?
Questioner: There is no movement in any direction.
Krishnamurti: Don't you ask this question? Please just listen to me for two minutes. I am not running away, I am not suppressing, I am not avoiding, I am not resisting it. There it is, I am watching it. The natural question arising out of that is: who is watching this fear? Please don't guess. When you say, `I am watching fear, I am learning about fear', who is the entity that is watching it?
Questioner: Fear itself.
Krishnamurti: Is fear itself watching itself? Please don't guess. Don't come to any conclusion, find out. The mind isn't escaping from fear, not building a wall against fear through courage and all the rest of it. What takes place when I watch? I ask myself naturally: who is watching the thing called fear? Don't answer me please. I have raised the question, not you. Sir, find out who is watching this fear: another fragment of me?
Questioner: The entity who is watching cannot be the result of the past, it must be fresh something that happens at this moment
Krishnamurti: I am not talking about whether the watching is the result of the past. I am watching, I am aware of fear, I am aware that I am frightened of losing money, of becoming ill, of my wife leaving me and God knows what else. And I want to learn about it, therefore I am watching and my natural question is: who is watching this fear?
Questioner: My image of myself.
Krishnamurti: When I ask the question: `who is watching', what takes place? in the very question there is a division, isn't there? That is a fact. When I say, `Who is watching,' it means the thing is there and I am watching, therefore there is a division. Now why is there a division? You answer me this, don't guess, don't repeat what somebody else has said, including myself. Find out why this division exists at the moment when you ask the question: `who is watching'? Find out.
Questioner: There is a desire on my part to watch.
Krishnamurti: Which means the desire says, `Watch in order to escape' - you follow? You said before, `I have understood that I mustn't escape', and now you find that desire is making you escape subtly; therefore you are still watching fear as an outsider. See the importance of this. You are watching with an intention to get rid of fear. And we said a few minutes ago, to try to get rid of fear means first censoring fear. So your watching implies trying to get rid of fear; therefore there is a division which only strengthens fear. So I am again asking the question: who is watching fear?
Questioner: Isn't there also another point: who is asking the question `who is watching fear'?
Krishnamurti: I am asking that question Sir.
Questioner: But who is asking the question?
Krishnamurti: The same thing, only you push it further back. Now please listen: this is the most practical way of going about it. You will see if you follow this very carefully that the mind will be free of fear, but you are not doing it.
I am frightened of losing money and therefore what do I do? I escape by avoiding thinking about it. So I realize how silly it is to avoid it, because the more I resist it the more I am afraid. I am watching it and the question arises: who is watching it? Is it the desire that wants to get rid of it, go beyond it, be free of it, that is watching? It is. And I know watching it that way only divides and therefore strengthens fear. So I see the truth of that, therefore desire to get rid of it has gone - you follow me? It's like seeing a poisonous snake: the desire to touch it is finished with. The desire to take drugs is finished when I see the real danger of them; I won't touch them. As long as I don't see the danger of it, I'll go on. In the same way, as long as I don't see that running away from fear strengthens fear, I'll go on running away. The moment I see it I won't run. Then what happens?
Questioner: How can a person look who is afraid of being involved? One is scared.
Krishnamurti: I am pointing it out to you. The moment you are scared of looking at fear, you won't learn about it, and if you want to learn about fear, don't be scared. It is as simple as that. If I don't know how to swim I won't plunge into the river. When I know that fear cannot possibly be ended if I am afraid to look and if I really want to look - I'll say, `I don't care, I'll look'.
Questioner: It was said, it is desire to get away from fear thaI constantly breeds more fear. When I'm afraid I want to get away from it, so what I always do is to let it be relative so that I can identify with it, so that I can unify myself.
Krishnamurti: You see that! It is all these tricks that we are playing on ourselves. Do listen Sir. Who is saying all this? You make an effort to identify yourself with fear.
Questioner: I am that fear.
Krishnamurti: Ah! Wait. If you are that fear, as you say you are, then what happens?
Questioner: When I come to terms with it, it begins to diminish. Krishnamurti: No. Not coming to terms! When you say that you are fear, fear is not something separate from you. What takes place? I am brown. I am afraid to be brown, but I say, 'Yes, I am brown' and that's the end of it, isn't it? I am not running away from it. What takes place then?
Krishnamurti: Do I accept it? On the contrary, I forget that I am brown. You don't even know all this, you are just guessing. I want to learn about myself. I must know myself completely, passionately, because that is the foundation of all action; without that I'll lead a life of utter confusion. To learn about myself I cannot follow anybody. If I follow anybody I am not learning. Learning implies that the past does not interfere, because `myself' is something extraordinary, vital, moving, dynamic; so I must look at it afresh with a new mind. There is no new mind if the past is always operating. That is a fact, I see that. Then in seeing that I realize I am frightened. I don't know what will happen. So I want to learn about fear - you follow? I am moving all the time in the movement of learning. I want to know about myself and I realize something - a profound truth. I am going to learn about fear, which means I mustn't run away from it at any price. I mustn't have a subtle form of desire to run away from it. So what happens to a mind that is capable of looking at fear without division? The division being, trying to get rid of it, subtle forms of escape, suppression and so on; what happens to the mind when it is confronted with fear and there is no question of running away from it? Please find out, give your mind to it.
2nd August, 1970
The Impossible Question
Part 2, Public Dialogues Saanen 1970
Impossible Question Part II Chapter 1 1st Public Dialogue Saanen 2nd August 1970
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