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The Impossible Question

Part 2, Public Dialogues Saanen 1970

Impossible Question Part II Chapter 3 3rd Public Dialogue Saanen 4th August 1970

Krishnamurti: Yesterday we were talking about dependency, its attachments and fear. I think this may be an important issue in our life, so we should really go into it rather deeply. After all, one can see that freedom cannot possibly exist when there is any form of dependency. There is physiological and psychological dependence, the biological dependence on food, clothes and shelter, which is a natural dependency. But there is an attachment that arises through the biological necessity, like having a house to which one is psychologically attached; or one is attached to certain forms of food, or to compulsive eating, because of other factors of fear which have not been discovered, - and so on.

There are physical dependencies of which one can fairly easily be aware, like depending on smoking, on drugs, on drink, on various forms of physical stimulations on which one depends psychologically. Then there are the psychological dependencies. One has to watch this very carefully, because they flow into each other, they are interrelated. There is dependence on a person, or a belief, or on an established relationship, on a psychological habit of thought. I think one can be aware of all this fairly easily. And because there is dependence and attachment, both physical or psychological, the fear of losing that to which one is attached brings about fear.

One may depend on belief, or on an experience, or on a conclusion attached to a particular prejudice; how deeply does this attachment go? I do not know if you have observed it in yourself. We were watching it all throughout the day, to find out if there is any form of attachment coming here regularly, living in a particular chalet going to one country after another, talking addressing people, being looked up to, criticized, exposed. If one has watched throughout the day one discovers naturally how deeply one is attached to something, or to someone, or not at all. If there is any form of attachment - it doesn't matter what it is - to a book, to a particular diet, to a particular pattern of thought, to a certain social responsibility - such attachment invariably breeds fear. And a mind that is frightened, though it may not know it is because it is attached, obviously is not free and must therefore live in a constant state of conflict.

One may have a particular gift, like a musician, who is tremendously attached to his instrument or to the cultivation of his voice. And when the instrument or the voice fails, he is completely lost, his days are ended. He may insure his hands or his fiddle, or he can become a conductor, but he knows through attachment the inevitable darkness of fear is waiting.

I wonder if each one of us - if we are at all serious - has gone into this question, because freedom means freedom from all attachment and therefore from all dependency. A mind that is attached is not objective, not clear, cannot think sanely and observe directly.

There are the superficial, psychological attachments and there are deep layers in which there may be some form of attachment. How do you discover those? How does the mind, which may consciously observe its many attachments and realize the nature of those attachments, see the truth and the implications of that truth? It may have other forms of hidden attachments. How are you going to uncover those concealed, secret attachments? A mind that is attached goes through the conflict of realizing it must be detached, otherwise it suffers pain and then gets attached to something else and so on. This is our life. I find I am attached to my wife and I may see all the consequences of it, Being attached to her I realize there must inevitably be fear involved in it. Therefore there is the conflict of detachment and the trial of relationship, the conflict in relationship. That is fairly easy to observe clearly and expose to oneself.

Our question is, how deeply is one attached to some form of tradition in the hidden recesses of one's mind, whatever it is. Please follow, because you will see freedom implies complete freedom from all this, otherwise there must be fear. And a mind that is burdened with fear is incapable of understanding, of seeing things as they are and going beyond them.

How does one observe the hidden attachments? I may be stubborn, thinking I am not attached; I may have come to the conclusion that I am not depending on anything. That conclusion makes for stubbornness. But if one is learning, seeking, watching, then in that act of learning there is no conclusion. Most of us are attached to some form of conclusion and according to that conclusion we function. Can the mind be free from forming conclusions? - all the time, not just occasionally.

`I like long hair, I don't like long hair', `I like this, I don't like that'. Intellectually, or through some experience, you have come to a way of thinking, whatever it is. Can the mind act without conclusion? That is one point. Secondly can the mind reveal to itself the hidden attachments, patterns and dependencies? And thirdly, seeing the nature and structure of attachment, can the mind move within a way of life which is not isolating but highly active and yet not fixed at any point. We'll go into it.

First of all, are we aware that we are biologically, physically and psychologically attached. Are you aware that you are physically attached to things? And are you also aware of the implications of those attachments? If you are attached to smoking, see how extraordinarily difficult it is to give it up. For the people who smoke - to whom it has become a habit it is incredibly difficult; not only does it act as a stimulant, a social habit, but there is the attachment to it. Is one aware of the attachment to drinks, to drugs, to various forms of stimuli? If you are, can you drop it instantly? Suppose I am attached to whiskey and I am aware of that. It has become a tremendous habit, the body demands it, it has got used to it, it can't do without it. And you have come to the conclusion that you mustn't drink, it is bad for you, the doctors have asked you to cut it down. But the body and the mind have fallen into the habit of it. Watching this habit, can the mind drop it completely, immediately? See what is involved in it. The body demands it because it has got into the habit, and the mind has said, `I must give it up'. So there is a battle between the bodily demands and the decision of the mind. What are you going to do? Instead of whiskey, take your own habits; perhaps you don't drink whiskey, but you have other physiological habits, like frowning, watching with your mouth open, fiddling with your fingers. Please, Sir, let's discuss this. The body is attached to drink and the mind says, `I must be free of it; and also you realize that when there is conflict between the body and the mind it becomes a problem, a struggle. What will you do? Please, Sirs, come on! You must be extraordinarily free of all habits, if you can't discuss this!

Questioner: Either you stop it or you go on drinking.

Krishnamurti: What do you actually do? Please don't play with this, because if you once understand it, you will see how extraordinarily vital it becomes, how important it becomes to act, to be without any form of effort, which means, without any distortion.

Questioner: I realize that I am my habit.

Krishnamurti: Yes. Then what will you do? I realize I am my habit, my habit is me.

Questioner (1): Must we not go to the roots of these habits?

Questioner (2): We must begin by stopping resistance to it.

Krishnamurti: Sir, may I say something? Don't let's theorize, don't let's speculate. Don't tell me what to do, but let us find out, let us learn not only how to look, but how from that very looking action takes place.

I have a particular habit of scratching my head, fiddling with my fingers, watching things with my mouth open, very physical things. Now how do I bring it to an end without the least effort? We are discussing habits to which we are attached, consciously or unconsciously. I am taking the most trivial habits, like scratching my head, or pulling my ears, or fiddling with my fingers. How does the mind stop it without any kind of effort, knowing that effort implies duality, implies resistance, condemnation, a desire to go beyond it - when I either suppress or escape, verbally or non-verbally. So bearing all that in mind, understanding those facts, how do I stop a physical habit without effort?

Questioner: You observe it in its entirely.

Krishnamurti: Wait, Sir, that statement may answer all our questions. You observe it in its entirety. What does that mean? Not just one habit, like scratching, or fiddling with your fingers, but the whole mechanism of habits. The whole of it, not a fragment of it. Now, how does the mind watch the whole of the habits in which it lives?

Questioner: With passive awareness or passive observation.

Krishnamurti: You are quoting the speaker. I'm afraid that won't do. Don't quote anybody, Sir!

Questioner: Is it the mind forming the habit?

Krishnamurti: Do look, Sir, that question is really quite important, if you go into it. Can the mind watch, not only a particular little habit, but be aware of this whole mechanism of forming habits. Please don't say yes, don't come to any con- clusion. Look what is implied in this question. There are not only small habits like fiddling with one's fingers, but also sexual habits, habits of patterns of thought, various activities. I think this, I conclude this, and that has become a habit. I live in habits, my whole life is a structure of habits. How is the mind to be aware of the entire mechanism of habit?

One has a thousand and one habits, the way you brush your teeth, comb your hair, the way you read, the way you walk. One of the habits is wanting to become famous, wanting to become important. How is the mind to become aware of all these habits? Is it to become aware of one habit after another? Do you know how long that would take? I could spend the rest of my days watching each habit and yet not solve it. I'm going to learn about it, I'm going to find out, I'm not going to leave it. I am asking, is it possible for the mind to see the whole network of habits? How is it to do it? Don't guess, don't come to a conclusion, don't offer an explanation - I'm not interested, it doesn't mean a thing to say, `Go and do something'. I want to learn about it now. What do I do?

Questioner: Can one be aware of the waste of energy in pursuing a particular pattern of habit - or many patterns - and thereby liberate oneself?

Krishnamurti: I've come to all of you and I say: Please help me to find this out. I'm hungry, don't give me a menu, but give me food! I am asking: what will you do?

Questioner: Understand one habit, totally, then possibly one could discard all habits.

Krishnamurti: How do I watch one habit, which is twiddling my fingers, and see all the other habits? Is that possible with such a small affair? I know I do it because of tension. I can,t get on with my wife, and so I develop this peculiar habit, or I do it because I am nervous, shy, or this or that. But I want to learn about the whole network of habits. Am I to do it bit by bit, or is there a way of looking at this whole network instantly? Please answer me.

Questioner: The structure of habits consists of two parts....

Krishnamurti: There are two parts, the habits, and the observer who is concerned with those habits. And the observer is also a habit. So both are habits. I fiddle with my fingers and the observation comes from an entity which is also the result of habits. Obviously! So it is all habits. Please, Sirs, how will you help me, teach me, to learn about it?

Questioner: My whole life is habit, my mind is a habit, it is the state of mind that I have to change.

Krishnamurti: Who is the `I' that is going to change it? The `I' is also a habit, the `I' is a series of words and memories and knowledge, which is the past, which is a habit.

Questioner: As we are all caught in habits, we obviously don't know.

Krishnamurti: Therefore why don't you say, `I don't know', instead of throwing in a lot of words? If you don't know, then let's learn together. But first be clear that you don't know; and don't quote anybody. Are we in the position to say, `I really don't know'?

Questioner: But why do we have these habits?

Krishnamurti: It's fairly simple. If I have a dozen habits, get up every morning at eight o'clock, go to the office, come back home at six o'clock, take a drink, and so on, I don't have to think very much, be alive very much. The mind likes to function in grooves, in habits: it is safe, secure. That doesn't need a great deal of explanation. Now how is the mind to observe this whole network of habits? Questioner: Maybe we can pay attention every moment, as far as our energies allow.

Krishnamurti: You see, that is just an idea. I am not interested. Sir, you made a statement, which was: can the mind see the whole structure and nature of the mechanism of habit and when it sees the totality, there may be a different action. That's what we are enquiring into - may I go into it now? We are going to find out together.

How is the mind, including the brain, to see something totally? not only habit, but see anything totally. We see things fragmentarily, don't we? Business, family, community, individuals, my opinion and your opinion, my God, your God we see everything in fragments. Isn't that a fact? Are you aware of it? If the seeing is fragmentary, then you cannot see the totality. If I see life in fragments because my mind is conditioned, then obviously it cannot see the totality of the human being. If I separate myself through my ambition, through my particular prejudices, I cannot see the whole. Am I aware that I am looking at life partially - the `me' and the `not-me', `we' and`they'? Do I look at life that way? If I do, then obviously I can't see anything totally. Then arises my question: how is the mind, which is so caught up in this habit of a fragmentary outlook and activity, to see the whole? Obviously it can't. If I am concerned with my particular fulfilment, ambition, competition and my desire to achieve, I can't see the whole of mankind. So what am I to do? Wanting to fulfil, wanting to be somebody, wanting to achieve something is a habit: a social habit as well as a habit that gives me pleasure. When I go down the street people look at me and say, `There he goes'. That gives me great pleasure. As long as the mind is operating in that field of fragmentation, obviously it can't see the whole. Now my question is: what is the mind to do, functioning in fragments and realizing that it cannot possibly see the whole? Is it to break down every fragment, understand every fragment? That would take a long time. Are you waiting for an answer from the speaker?

Questioner: There must be total silence.

Krishnamurti: Oh, he is quoting somebody.

Questioner: If we could see all our habits right now, as they ar are really happening and see the process which is preventing us from seeing this actually now...

Krishnamurti: We are doing that, aren't we? You don't go any further, you go back over and over again. I am caught in a habit now; I fiddle with my fingers, I listen to what is being said with my mouth open and I see that it is habit; my question is: can I understand this whole machinery of habit now. You don't pay attention. Look, Sir, a mind that is in fragments cannot possibly see the whole. So I take one habit and through learning about that one habit, I see the whole mechanism of all habits. What habit shall I take?

Questioner: Smoking....

Krishnamurti: All right. I am not analysing: do you understand the difference between analysis and observation? Analysis implies the one who analyses and the thing to be analysed. The thing to be analysed is smoking and to analyse that, there must be an analyser. The difference between analysis and observation is this: observation is seeing directly, without analysis, seeing without the observer, seeing the red, pink, or black dress as it is, without saying I don't like it. Do you follow? In seeing there is no observer. I see the colour red and there is no like or dislike, there is observation. Analysis implies, `I don't like red because my mother who quarrelled with my father...' taking it back to my childhood. So analysis implies an analyser. Please realize that there is a division between the analyser and the thing analysed. In observation there is no division. There is obser- vation without the censor, without saying, `I like', `I don't like',`this is beautiful',`this is not beautiful', `this is mine', `this is not mine'. You have to do this, not just theorize about it, then you'll find out.

As I said, we are not analysing, we are merely observing the habit of smoking. In observing, what is revealed? not your interpretation of what it shows. Do you see the difference? There is no interpretation, there is no translation, no justification, no condemnation. What does the habit of smoking reveal?

Questioner: It reveals that you are drawing smoke into your lungs.

Krishnamurti: That is one fact. Second, what does it tell you? It is going to tell you the history of smoking, if you don't interpret. If you can listen, if you can watch smoking, the picture is going to tell you all it wants.

Now what does it tell you? - that you are drawing a lot of smoke into your lungs? What else?

Questioner: That you are dependent.

Krishnamurti: Is shows you that you are dependent on a weed.

Questioner: That inside you are empty.

Krishnamurti: That is your translation. What does it tell you?

Questioner: I see that it is just a mechanical thing, I don't think much about it I just do it.

Krishnamurti: It tells you that you are doing something mechanically. It tells you that when you first smoked it made you sick; it was not pleasant, but as other people did it, so you did it. Now it has become a habit.

Questioner: Doesn't it tell you that it tranquilizes you to a certain extent? Krishnamurti: It tells you that it puts you to sleep, helps you to drug your self, it quietens your nerves, cuts your appetite, so that you don't get fat.

Questioner: It tells you are bored with life.

Krishnamurti: It tells you that it makes you relax when you meet others and feel nervous. It has told you a lot.

Questioner: It tells me that I am inattentive.

Krishnamurti: That is your translation - it is not telling you that you are inattentive.

Questioner: It gives me a certain satisfaction, especially after supper.

Krishnamurti: Yes, it helps you, it is telling you all this. And why are you doing it? Just listen, Sir - don't answer me so quickly please. Why are you accepting all that it has revealed to you? Television tells you what to do, what kind of soap to buy and all the rest of it. You have all seen those commercials! You are being told all the time - why do you accept it? The sacred books tell you what you should do and what you should not do. Why do you accept the propaganda of churches or politicians?

Questioner: Because it is easier to follow a system.

Krishnamurti: Why do you follow it? Is it for the sake of security? To feel companionship with others? To be like the rest of the people? Which means, you are frightened not to be like other people. You want to be like everybody else, because in that there is perfect safety. If you are a non-Catholic in a Catholic country you find it very difficult. If you are in a Communist country and don't follow the party-line, you'll find it difficult. Now look what the picture of that weed has revealed and why I am caught in the habit. It is the interrelationship between the cigarette and me. This is habit, this is the way my whole mind is working: I do something because it is safe. I get into a habit - trivial or important because I don't have to think about it any more. So my mind feels that it is safe to function in habits. I see the whole mechanism of this habit-formation. Through the one habit of smoking, I have discovered the whole pattern; I have discovered the machinery that is producing habits.

Questioner: I didn't quite understand how through listening to one habit you can see the whole mechanism of habit.

Krishnamurti: I've shown it to you, Sir. Habit implies functioning mechanically and from the observation of the mechanical habit of smoking, I see how the mind functions in habits.

Questioner: But are all habits mechanical?

Krishnamurti: They must be - the moment you use the word habit, it must be mechanical.

Questioner: Aren't there deeper dependencies than just mechanical habits?

Krishnamurti: The moment we use the word habit, it implies mechanical repetition - establishing a habit which means doing the same thing over and over again. So there is no good or bad habit: we are concerned only with habit.

Questioner: If I have the habit of power, or the habit of comfort for instance, or the habit of property, isn't that something deeper than just a mechanical habit?

Krishnamurti: The habit of power, the demand for power, position, domination, aggression, violence - all that is implied in the desire for power. To do what one wants to do, like a child, or like a grown-up man; that has become a habit.

Questioner: Or wanting security...

Krishnamurti: I said it gives you safety and so on. In examining that one habit I have seen that all the other habits are based on that. Since habits are mechanical, repetitive, when I say, `I would like to be a great man', then I become caught because in that habit I find security and I pursue that. Deep down - we are not discussing good or bad habits, only habit - all habits are mechanical. Anything that I do repetitively, which is doing something from yesterday to today to tomorrow, must be function a little more smoothly, but it is still habit, is still repetitive - that's obvious.

Questioner: Would you say that certain creative efforts are habits?

Krishnamurti: Let's answer that question. Would you say creativeness is a habit?

Questioner: Creativity implies freshness. One can't make an effort to be creative.

Krishnamurti: Are you saying all this because you are creative or are you just guessing at it? One has to ask what you mean by creativeness. This is a tremendous question - and you brush it aside. You paint a picture; either you do it because you love painting, or because it brings you money, or you want to find some original way of painting and so on. What does it mean to be creative? A man who writes a poem because he can't get on with his wife or with society, is he creative? The man who is attached to his violin and makes a lot of money out of it, is he creative? And the man who is in great tension in himself, and out of that tension produces plays of which the world says,`How marvellous' - would you call that creative? The man who drinks and out of that writes a marvellous poem full of rhythm - is he creative?

Questioner: How can you judge?

Krishnamurti: I am not judging.

Questioner: But that is the question you pose. If I say someone is or isn't creative, I am judging.

Krishnamurti: I am not judging, Sir, I am asking, I am learning, I look at all the people who write books, who write poems or plays, who play the violin. I see this in front of me, I don't say: this is good, this is bad; I say: what is creativeness? The moment I say, `This is right' I am finished, then I can't learn. And I want to learn, I want to find out what it means to be creative.

Questioner: Perhaps it is to have an innocent universality...

Krishnamurti: I don't know perhaps I want to find out, I want to learn.

Questioner: It is to be alive.

Krishnamurti: I go to a museum and see all those pictures, admire them, compare them and I say, `What marvellously creative people they are'. So I want to find out what it is to be creative. Must I write a poem, paint a picture, write a play, to be creative? Which means, does creativeness demand expression? Please listen carefully. Is the woman who bakes bread in a hot kitchen creative?

Questioner: We generally call these activities creative.

Krishnamurti: I am questioning it. I don't say they are not - I don't know. I want to learn. Questioner: If I make bread and I have never done it before - I'm creative.

Krishnamurti: I am asking you, Sir, what is creativeness.

Questioner: We are creative at this moment.

Krishnamurti: No, no. Observing all the things man has called creative I ask myself, what is creativeness? Must it have an expression? - like baking bread, painting a picture, writing a play, making money. Does it demand expression?

Questioner: Yes, I think we are being creative now.

Krishnamurti: That is not my point. My point is, whether you are creative or merely listening to somebody who points out all this.

Questioner: I think you create when you observe uncritically.

Krishnamurti: Not `I think'. You see, Sir, I passionately want to find out.

Questioner: The moment you see that you are attached, in that very moment you see and act. That is the moment of creation.

Krishnamurti: Therefore you are saying, seeing is acting and at that moment there is creation. That is a definition.

Questioner: Is not creativity one's harmony with Nature.

Krishnamurti: Are you in harmony with nature? You miss the point. I want to find out, I am hungry, I have observed all the great painters, I have seen all the great plays and so on. I ask what is creation? What is it to be creative? Do not give a definition, I want to learn! Questioner: Doing something new is creative.

Krishnamurti: What does that mean? Something totally new and fresh, without a decision? That means the past must end. Has it ended with you? Or are you just talking about creation as you talk about a book. If you are, I don't want to play a part in it. I want to learn, I am passionate, I want to shed tears over it! One can live creatively without doing any of these things, neither baking bread, painting a picture, or writing a poem. You can only do that when the mind is non-fragmentary, when there is no fear, when the mind is free of all the implications of the past, when the mind is free of the known.

Questioner: For me, creativity isn't a thing, it's a movement.

Krishnamurti: Not for you, Sir, nor for me - you are all making it personal. It is not an opinion. I am hungry and you feed me with a lot of words. Which means, you are not hungry. Yesterday, after talking about attachment, I was watching it; the mind was watching all day, whether it was attached to anything, to sitting on a platform, talking, wanting to tell people, writing something, or being attached to a person, to ideas, to a chair. One has to find out and in finding out one discovers enormous things, the beauty of freedom and the love that comes out of that freedom. When we are talking of creation, it means a mind that has no aggression.

So to find out about the machinery, the network of habit, one has to be aware, go into it, let it flow through you, like that river which is moving. Let this enquiry carry you all day and you will discover enormous things.

4th August 1970.

The Impossible Question

Part 2, Public Dialogues Saanen 1970

Impossible Question Part II Chapter 3 3rd Public Dialogue Saanen 4th August 1970

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