The Impossible Question
Part 2, Public Dialogues Saanen 1970
Impossible Question Part II Chapter 4 4th Public Dialogue Saanen 5th August 1970
Krishnamurti: We have been talking about attachment, which inevitably leads to fear. And we talked about the various forms of fear; both the conscious and the unconscious fear one has. We are asking whether one can see the whole network of fears and escapes without analysis but rather observe them without any analytical process at all. I think we ought to go into this matter very deeply because a mind that is not free from fear and the different forms of escape from that fear will inevitably be crippled, made unintelligent, even though it may follow various systems of meditation and so on, which is utterly childish and immature, as long as there is not complete freedom from fear.
So could we go into it much more deeply and find out and learn about the mind? Not only about the superficial layers but also penetrate the deep, hidden layers of the mind in which there are fears. As most people are attached to something or other, that attachment indicates an escape from one's own loneliness, one's own frustrations, emptiness and shallowness. Now when one is aware of this whole movement of fear which is a movement away from the fact of emptiness - can one see this total process as a whole and not partially? That is what we are talking about.
To see something whole, the fragmentary process of the mind that seeks success must come to an end. `I want to be free from fear in order to achieve something else', or `I will follow certain systems of meditation in order to arrive at enlightenment; `I will discipline, control, shape myself in order to see something most extraordinary.' Such a way of thinking, living and acting is fragmentary. I don't know if we see all that clearly.
Can we look at the network of fear from which our whole being runs away, and the various escapes from it? Can we see these complicated, very subtle forms of escapes which are the very nature of fear? Can we see that to act from any form of conclusion is fragmentary, because it stops further learning; you may have started to learn, but the moment there is a conclusion from that learning it becomes fragmentary. What makes for fragmentation? We have discussed fear when we find ourselves attached to something and the cultivation of detachment in order to overcome fear. That is fragmentary thinking. What is it that makes for fragmentation in our life? Please Sirs, don't draw any conclusions from what you hear. I really want to communicate with you to tell you that one can become completely, r, totally and utterly free of fear; not only of the biological, physical fears, but of the deep down psychological fears.
Fear is a form of fragmentation. Attachment is a form of fragmentation. And seeing attachment, the attempt to be detached is a movement in fragmentation. I am attached to my family; then I discover that causes pain or pleasure. If it is painful I want to detach myself from it and fight attachment. So it is a movement in fragmentation and therefore there is no resolution in that fragmentation. What is the basis, the mechanism, of this fragmentation in life? Not only inwardly but outwardly - this breaking up into different nationalities, religions, practices? Through one of these fragments one hopes to arrive at a synthesis, at a completeness, at enlightenment whatever you like to call it. That is, through fragmentation you hope to achieve non-fragmentary mind. Is that possible? The yogis, the rishis and the various gurus promise all these things. So one has to find out why fragmentation comes into being, what its mechanism is. Not conclude verbally or intellectually, what the process of it is, but actually see the whole mechanism of it non-analytically. I don't know if I am conveying this to you? If I am not, please let's stop and discuss it.
Questioner: These wise men, these rishis as you call them, aren't they enlightened men?
Krishnamurti: What do you think? You are asking my opinion? Only fools give opinions! (Laughter) How do you know who is enlightened? You never ask that. I may sit on the platform and say I am the wisest, most enlightened, most divine human being, but how do you know? This is what is happening in the world. A man comes and makes these assertions, says do certain things and you will have enlightenment. `I have got it, I will give it to you.' How do you know whether he is enlightened? Why do you bother about who is enlightened or who is not enlightened?
Questioner: You can experience yourself if you do certain things, you can have a method.
Krishnamurti: No, Sir, there is no method. We are not showing you a method at all, we are learning. Learning is not a method; you can learn through a method, but it only conditions the mind to that particular system. If you are learning, you observe. If you observe that one system conditions the mind and makes it mechanical, then all systems are the same; you learn what a system does. Through some system you can have a most extraordinary experience, but it is still a very limited experience this is so obvious.
Questioner: Couldn't it be that to start off with, you could use a system, just to get an idea of it, even if it is only partial, and then from there go on to get the big thing.
Krishnamurti: Wouldn't it be helpful to begin with the crutches and later on throw them off? Our question is, why do you hold on to any strings when you can observe, learn from watching yourself the whole phenomenon of existence and go beyond it? Sir, you want to be helped; if I may point out most respectfully that is the greatest impediment. You have the idea somebody can teach you, therefore you begin right off with a fragmentation; this division is a fragmentation - you and the teacher, you and the enlightened being - obviously there is a division.
Questioner: But aren't you teaching?
Krishnamurti: Am I? From the beginning the speaker has said there is no teacher and no disciple. He has been saying this for forty-five years, not out of foolishness or as a reaction, but because he perceived the truth that nobody can teach enlightenment to another through any system, nor through meditation, nor through any discipline. One saw that forty-five years ago. And you ask: are you a teacher or not? I've shown it to you. A teacher implies one who has accumulated knowledge and transmits it to another; like a professor and a student. We are not in that relationship here at all. We are learning together, we have made that very clear. All communication means learning together, creating together, watching together. If that is understood then our communication is entirely different. But if you have a feeling that because the speaker sits on the platform he knows better, he is the enlightened one, I say: please don't attribute things to the person who is sitting on the platform. You know nothing about enlightenment. If you knew it or if you understood it, lived it, you wouldn't be here. It is one of the most extraordinary things to find out, to learn about; not `to be taught' - you don't pay a hundred dollars to be taught this. Just to think - paying money to learn the truth! What are you all doing?
So, Sirs, we are trying to find out, to learn what is implied in fragmentation. The teacher and the disciple - that is a fragmentation. The higher self and the lower self, the soul and the body, this constant division.
Questioner: Thought is only capable of giving attention to one thing at a time. Are you saying that thought is the cause of fragmentation? If thought can only give attention to that and discard all the rest, then thought must breed fragmentation; the very process of thinking is fragmentation.
Krishnamurti: We are going to learn about it - please don,t draw a conclusion. I am asking why we live in fragmentation, how does it happen? And what is behind the demand for this fragmentation? Let's take a very simple fact. You are the teacher and I am the disciple; why is there this division between you and me? Do I want to learn, or do I want to follow the authority which you represent, which you have invested in yourself? You say you know, you are enlightened. And I want to have that, I am greedy, I want something that will give me happiness. So I follow you, the teacher, as the disciple; fragmentation exists when I follow you. I have never asked why I follow you. What is the reason, what is the basis of accepting you as my authority? You may be a crazy neurotic, you may have had some little experiences which you have blown up to be a tremendous thing, and I am incapable of judging because you fascinate me by your beard or your eyes, or whatever it is, and I just follow. Whereas I want to learn, I won't accept you as the authority, because the moment you become the authority you have already brought about fragmentation. Please do see that.
It doesn't matter whether it is the spiritual, or the political, or the military authority. The moment there is the assumption of authority - the assumption that you know and I don't know - there is fragmentation. And that will inevitably lead to conflict between you, the teacher, and me. Is this clear? So that means I will never follow anybody. Questioner: If he does good to you, Sir, why shouldn't you do it? Isn't it better to have something fragmentary than nothing?
Krishnamurti: The teacher tells me something and I do it and in the doing of it I have great delight, great pleasure; I have understood. What is implied in that? My craving for experience, my craving to understand - not myself, but what the guru is saying. If the guru said, `Understand yourself" that is far more important than anything else. Don't try to understand me, but understand yourself. You would rather follow than understand yourself! So why is there this fragmentation?
Questioner: Because we are made of fragmentary processes, our faculties are fragmentary. Each faculty has a partial activity.
Krishnamurti: You have a faculty for engineering. Why should fragmentation arise from that faculty? I have a faculty for playing the piano. Why should that bring about a fragmentation? Aren't you putting the cart before the horse? Is it the faculty that brings about fragmentation, or is the mind broken up and using one of the fragments, one of the faculties and therefore further strengthening the division? Do you understand what I am saying?
I want to learn about this fragmentation. If I could once solve that, my action would be altogether different, it would be non-fragmentary; so I must find out. I am not going to come to any conclusion or start with any conclusion. There is fragmentation - the teacher and the disciple, the authority, the follower, the man who says he is enlightened, the man who says, `I don,t know', the Communist, the Socialist why? How does it happen? If I could really understand it, learn all about it, I would be finished with it. Then my relationship with another will be entirely different, then my activities will be total each time. So I must learn about it. What do you say, Sirs?
Questioner: We live in expectation and desire. Krishnamurti: We live in expectation, and that very expectation is a form of fragmentation. What are you expecting? Is that the real reason for fragmentation? It is one of the effects of fragmentation, like wanting success. Is wanting success the effect of my fragmentation? That is tremendously important. I want success - through painting or writing, through this or that. So what is the basis of this fragmentation?
Questioner: It is because each of our faculties is limited, our view is limited, our senses and our intelligence are limited; one has not the possibility of seeing the whole at once.
Krishnamurti: My view is in one direction only, if I had eyes at the back of my head I would see the whole thing. Is that what we are discussing? And saying my view is limited? Of course my physical view is limited, I can't see the whole Alpine range - perhaps I could if I went up in an aeroplane. But surely that is not what we are discussing? We are discussing why the mind, the brain, divides.
Questioner: It is not possible to think of the whole world at once.
Krishnamurti: So you are saying, fragmentation exists as long as there is thought, which cannot think about the whole thing at once; that is the cause of fragmentation.
Questioner: Yes, our communication with other people is also fragmentary; right now we are thinking about self-knowledge and not about mountain climbing. You can't put everything together.
Krishnamurti: Now let's be clear what we are talking about. Not climbing the mountain - as you point out, Sir - or having eyes at the back of the head. But we are talking of our mind, of our ways of thinking, looking, listening, coming to conclusions. Why is there this process which inevitably brings about fragmentation? That is what we are discussing.
Questioner: Discussing all this is already fragmentary.
Krishnamurti: So discussing this very issue is a fragmentation. But we are asking why this fragmentation exists. Why can't I communicate with you completely and you convey to me completely? Let's find out, let's go into this slowly. What is the process, the mechanism, the cause of this fragmentation?
Questioner: Because we cling to our ideas about ourselves and to our ideas about certain things.
Krishnamurti: Yes, we cling to a conclusion, and that is the reason of fragmentation. Why do we cling to a conclusion?
Questioner: I still think it is due to communication. For instance, at school you receive lessons in French and English and Geography. From the beginning education is fragmentary.
Krishnamurti: You are saying, our education is fragmentary and therefore our mind is already conditioned from childhood by this fragmentation.
Questioner: The process of thinking is to form conclusions; you can't think without forming a conclusion.
Krishnamurti: So you are all saying, in more or less different words, that thought is the source of all fragmentation.
Questioner: Thought is a fragment of ourselves.
Krishnamurti: Yes, thought, which is thinking, is fragmentary. It is a fragment of ourselves. Questioner: The result of all our thinking our conclusions, must result in further fragmentation.
Krishnamurti: That's right, Sir. So you are saying to me, who am learning as you are learning, that thought is the source of all fragmentation. Find out, don't say yes or no. Thought is the result, or the response of memory and memory is the past. And that memory of the past is always divided - obviously. The past, today and tomorrow; the past experience, the present experience and the future. The past that says, `I haven't learnt, I don't know, and I am going to learn from you'. Isn't that the of cause of fragmentation? What do you say, Sirs?
Questioner: You already said so when you were speaking about time. The awareness of time is taking our attention away from the present so it divides.
Krishnamurti: Time divides surely. What is time? Find out, Sir. There is chronological time: I have to go to the station to catch a train which goes at a certain time. And there is time as achievement, as success, as `you know', `I don't know', `I'm going to learn'. All that involves psychological time. That is, thought says, `I am going to learn step by step'. Gradually I am to climb all the steps and eventually come to that marvellous state; so there is a division created by thought which wants success. The success not being money this time, but enlightenment or faith.
So are you saying that thought is the mechanism that brings about this fragmentation? The thought that has said, `You are a Hindu', `You are a Catholic', `You are brown', `You are black', and `You are pink'. Thought has conditioned the values of a particular society and culture, which says everybody who does not belong to that culture is a barbarian. This is all clear, isn't it? If thought is responsible for this fragmentation, what are you going to do about it? I have to earn a livelihood - I have to in order to live, I have a family. And also there is `me', with my problems, with my ambitions, with my successes.
So there is the livelihood, there is the family, there is the function and the desire to derive status from that functioning and the me - all fragmented. Now what am I to do? I see thought is responsible for all this. Is that so or not? We are learning if the speaker is wrong, tell him, find out!
Questioner: But we are thinking all the time, we are thinking at this very moment.
Krishnamurti: Wait, we are going to find out. That is the whole point. We are thinking and we say, `I have to earn a livelihood, there is the family, enjoyment, success, wanting to find enlightenment, the guru, authority, all that,. And there is me muddling through all this. And you tell me that thought is responsible for this. I have thoughts which have brought about a certain culture and that culture has conditioned me. Thought has done this and thought also has to earn a livelihood. Thought says you must earn money for your family, for your children. So thought is responsible for it. Are you sure you are right? Don't say afterwards it is not like that be quite sure, learn.
Questioner: One has the feeling that there is something even behind thought.
Krishnamurti: We'll come to that. First see what we are dealing with. But you can't come to what is behind thought without understanding the whole machinery of thought; otherwise you'll be merely escaping from thought. Now is that the truth not your truth or my truth, not my personal opinion or your opinion is it the fact, that thought divides? Thought divides the living now and dying tomorrow. I will die tomorrow, but thought says, `You'll die', `You'll get frightened!' Or thought says, `That was a marvellous pleasure, I must have more of it'. And thought says, `I am frightened of what I have done, be careful, don't let it occur again don't let it be discovered'. So thought is breeding fear, pain and pleasure. Thought divides. That is the truth, whether you see it or not. So knowing thought brings about fragmentation and therefore sustains division - what are you going to do?
Questioner: Does thought itself divide, or is it the way we use our thoughts?
Krishnamurti: Who is the `we'? Who is the `I' that uses thought which divides?
Don't come to any conclusion, first listen to what the speaker is saying. Livelihood has to be earned so thought must be employed there. I come back home and thought says, `my family', `my responsibility'. Or it says, `I have great pleasure in sex', `I am in great pain my wife may run away'. Thought is in operation all the time, breeding fragmentation - the teacher, the disciple, the success. What are you going to do, knowing that thought brings about fragmentation, which means fear, which means conflict? Fragmentation means that there will be no peace whatsoever. You may talk about peace, join an organization that promises peace, but there will be no peace as long as there is fragmentation by thought. So faced with that fact, what is going to happen?
Questioner: I identify myself with the thought.
Krishnamurti: Who is the `I' who identifies itself with thought? Has not thought created the `I'? The `I' being my experiences, my knowledge, my success - which is all the product of thought. And if you say it is the higher self, God, it is still thought; you have thought about God. So what will you do?
Questioner: Thought must end. Krishnamurti: How is it to end? Listen, Sir, thought must operate when you do something mechanical, even to drive a car. You say thought must end altogether. Then you can't earn a livelihood, you can't go home, you won't be able to speak. Sir, watch yourself, find out, learn about this! Thought must be used and thought also sees that it breeds fragmentation. So what is thought to do?
Questioner: It seems that we come to this point in almost every discussion. My question is: is that a question that can be answered?
Krishnamurti: We're going to find out.
Questioner: I become afraid, because I see the deadlock of it.
Krishnamurti: Now knowing that you don't know what to do, will you learn Sir?
Questioner: If it is possible.
Krishnamurti: Why do you say `if it is possible'? My question is not whether it is possible or not, but I said, `Will you learn about this?' To learn - what does it imply? Curiosity doesn't it? Don't disagree casually. Are you eager, passionate to learn about this? Because this may solve all our problems. Therefore you must be intense, curious, passionate to find out. Are you? Or are you going to say, `I am going to wait, so far I have functioned with conclusions, I'll form another conclusion and act from that'.
If you want to learn, these three things are absolutely necessary: curiosity, eagerness and you must have energy; that energy gives you the passion to find out, to learn. Do you have these things? Or do you just want to talk about this casually?
Questioner: Is it one-pointedness? Krishnamurti: No Sir, learning is not one-pointed learning. Learning means to have a mind that wants to learn, that wants to find out; like a child that says, `I want to know what the mountain is made of'.
Questioner: I may become attached to learning.
Krishnamurti: Sir, why do you translate what has been said into your own words? I said one must have a great deal of energy, one must be curious to find out, and one must be persistent; not just one minute be full of curiosity and the next say, `Sorry, I'm too tired, I'm bored, I want to go out and smoke'. Then you can't learn.
Questioner: I have a need for certainty. I am afraid if I have no certainty.
Krishnamurti: Listen to that question: `I will learn if it guarantees me complete certainty for the rest of my life'.
Questioner: This fragmentation gives me a feeling of security and I need this illusion.
Krishnamurti: And you come along and disturb my security! I am therefore frightened, I don't want to learn. This is what you are all doing! I have found great delight in writing a book and I know I function from fragmentation, but that book gives me fame, money, position. Don't talk to me, the house is burning, but don't disturb me!
Let's proceed from this. If thought is the source of all fragmentation and yet thought has to be used, what is to take place? How is thought not to function and yet to function?
Thought is responsible for fragmentation and all conclusions are fragmentations. Please see that. `I must be secure', `I am frightened of uncertainty'. But there may be a way of living which will give you physical security - which is what you want - yet psychological freedom. That freedom will bring about complete physical security, but you don't see this; so we are going to learn.
If thought is responsible for fragmentation and yet thought must function in order to survive, then what is thought to do? Do you understand my question? If you don't understand it, please let's go into this question itself. I must use thought to go from here to where I live, to earn money, to go to my job and function there properly. And yet thought itself sees that it is the cause of fragmentation and therefore conflict. Thought sees it must function, and thought sees itself bringing about fragmentation.
Questioner: Is seeing the fragmentation actually a linkage between the fragments?
Krishnamurti: No Sir, it is not a linkage, you cannot put fragments together and make them a whole. The many spokes of the wheel don't make the wheel it's how you put the spokes together that makes the wheel.
Questioner: As we have to use thought, and as we don't want fragmentation, can't we just become conscious of the tendency of thought to produce this fragmentation?
Krishnamurti: If you are conscious that thought brings about fragmentation, the very consciousness of this whole precess brings about a different quality altogether. Is that what you are saying? Is that what is happening to you? Be careful Sir, go very slowly into this. Thought must be exercised, and thought also realizes that it breeds fragmentation and therefore conflict and fear and all the misery in the world. Yet thought itself you are suggesting - must be conscious of this whole process. Now see what happens. We said thought is the basis of fragmentation; therefore when thought becomes conscious of itself and how it breeds fragmentation, thought divides itself into this and into that.
Questioner: We must use thought and must be conscious of the sort of thought which is causing fragmentation.
Krishnamurti: Go into this slowly. What do you mean by that word `conscious'?
Questioner: To see.
Krishnamurti: What do you mean by `seeing'? Do you see this process mechanically? Because you have heard the words, you have intellectually understood, and you see with the intention of applying these words and the intellectual conclusion to seeing. Be careful, don't say `no'. Are you seeing with a conclusion or are you merely seeing? Have you understood?
Questioner: At the point where you were asking this question, were you yourself actually asking the question? Because it seems to me, that if there is a question at this point, it is again a fragmentation.
Krishnamurti: The lady suggests, if you are asking the question, then you are again beginning a fragmentation.
Questioner: And if so, what has this whole investigation been? What validity has it had?
Krishnamurti: I'll explain it to you. You come to this point and ask the question. And the lady says, `Who is asking this question?' Is it thought that is asking the question? If it is, then it is again a fragmentation. I am asking it because you are not learning. Therefore I am going to find out. I have this picture - the mind sees that much - how thought has fragmented; thought must function and sees this. If you really see this completely, there is no more question. You can only see this if there is no conclusion, no desire to solve it, to go beyond it. Only when you see this whole mechanism of thought completely how it operates, how it functions, what is behind all this - then the problem is solved. Then you are functioning all the time non-fragmentarily; even though you go to the office, it is a non-fragmentary action if you see the whole of it. If you don't then you divide into the office, the family, the you, the me. Now, do you see the whole of it?
Questioner: Sir, are you suggesting it is possible to carry on a non-dualistic life and still function in society?
Krishnamurti: I am showing it to you, Sir, if you see this whole mechanism of thought, not just one part of it, the whole nature and structure and the movement of it.
Questioner: How can you learn it more quickly?
Krishnamurti: By listening now! You see, again there is the desire to achieve! That means you are not listening at all; your eyes, your ears, are fixed on getting somewhere.
So, Sir, my question then is, asking as a friend, do you see this whole thing? And the friend says: `You must see it, otherwise you're going to live a terrible, miserable existence you'll have wars, you'll have such sorrow - for God's sake see this!, And why don't you? What is preventing you? Your ambition? Your laziness? The innumerable conclusions that you have?
Now, who is going to answer it?
Questioner (1): Why answer it? Just do it.
Questioner (2): I know I have conclusions, but I can't get rid of them, they go on. Questioner (3): How can we ever be secure?
Krishnamurti: It is the same old question. Tell me how to be secure; that is the everlasting question of man.
Questioner: Maybe it is good to become more aware that we are living now and not yesterday or last year. A lot of our attention is taken away by living in the past and dreaming of the future.
Krishnamurti: Can you live in the present? Which means living a life that has no time.
Questioner: Physically, I am alive.
Krishnamurti: I am asking you, Sir, can one live in the present? To live in the present there must be no time, no past, no future, no success, no ambition. Can you do it?
Questioner: Just a bit. (Laughter) The very process of building something, let's say a house, means there must be a programme.
Krishnamurti: Of course, Sir. To build a house you must have an architect, the architect makes a design, and the contractor builds according to that plan. In the same way, we want a plan. You are the architect, give me the plan and I will function according to that plan.
Questioner: I wasn't saying that. I said we want to build a house which is a concrete thing to do. We must plan certain things...
Krishnamurti: So you use thought.
Questioner: So we cannot live only in the present. Krishnamurti: I never said that, Sir. When you look at this question really carefully, you will never ask, `How am I to live in the present?'. If you see the nature and the structure of thought very clearly, then you will find that you can function from a state of mind that is always free from all thought, and yet use thought. That is real meditation, Sir, not all the phoney stuff.
Now the mind is so crowded with the known, which is the product of thought. The mind is filled with past knowledge, past experience, the whole of memory which is part of the brain - it is filled with the known. I may translate the known in terms of the future or in terms of the present, but it is always from the known. It is this known that divides, `knowing the past', `I don't know', `I shall know'. This past, with all its reservoir of memory says, `Do this, don't do that', `This will give you certainty, that will give you uncertainty'.
So when this whole mind, including the brain, is empty of the known, then you will use the known when it is necessary, but functioning always from the unknown - from the mind that is free of the known. Sir, this happens, it's not as difficult as it sounds. If you have a problem, you think about it for a day or two, you mull it over, and you get tired of it, you don't know what to do, you go to sleep. The next morning, if you are sensitive, you have found the answer. That is, you have tried to answer this problem in terms of what is beneficial, what is successful, what will bring you certainty, in terms of the known, which is thought. And after exercising every thought, thought says, `I'm tired'. And next morning you've found the answer. That is, you have exercised the mind, used thought to its fullest extent, and dropped it. Then you see something totally new. But if you keep on exercising thought all the time, form conclusion after conclusion - which is the known - then obviously, you never see anything new.
This demands a tremendous inward awareness, an inward sense of order; not disorder, but order. Questioner: Is there not a method of procedure?
Krishnamurti: Look, Sir - I get up, walk a few paces and go down the steps. Is that a method of procedure? I just get up and do it naturally, I don't invent a method first and follow it - I see it. You can't reduce everything to a method!
Questioner: Can you ever empty this storehouse of impressions which you have had?
Krishnamurti: You've put a wrong question. It is a wrong question because you say `Can you ever'. Who is the `you' and what do you mean by `ever'? Which means: is it possible?
Sirs, look, we never put the impossible question - we are always putting the question of what is possible. If you put an impossible question, your mind then has to find the answer in terms of the impossible - not of what is possible. All the great scientific discoveries are based on this, the impossible. It was impossible to go to the moon. But if you say, `It is possible' then you drop it. Because it was impossible, three hundred thousand people co-operated and worked at it, night and day - they put their mind to it and went to the moon. But we never put the impossible question! The impossible question is this: can the mind empty itself of the known? - itself, not you empty the mind. That is an impossible question. If you put it with tremendous earnestness, with seriousness, with passion, you'll find out. But if you say, `Oh, it is possible', then you are stuck.
5th August 1970.
The Impossible Question
Part 2, Public Dialogues Saanen 1970
Impossible Question Part II Chapter 4 4th Public Dialogue Saanen 5th August 1970
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