Tuesday, July 26, 1966
This morning I want to go into something rather intricate. It may appear difficult, but it is really quite simple. The importance of it lies not in doing something, asking oneself what can be done about something, or searching out a way to achieve something, but in the act of listening. All communication, even at the verbal level, lies in just listening, not in trying to find out what the speaker is saying, not in making a tremendous effort to understand, to grapple with the problem of what is being said. Listening is an art, and if one can listen with effortless attention, without any decision to listen, without any purposive attention, but as one would listen to that river passing by, then the very act of listening is a total action in itself. One's mind is so complex, one's intentions, one's motives are so contradictory and hidden that one loses all simplicity. It requires a very simple mind, not a mind that is unbalanced, but a very clear mind, like a pool, like a lake that is so clear and the water so limpid that there is not a ripple, and one can see the very bottom of the lake, with all the pebbles, the fish, the weeds, and the living things that live under the water.
If one can so observe and listen, one has to do nothing else. One does not have to exercise intellectual arguments; one needs no conviction, no faith, nor any endeavor to be serious, but one needs merely to see the totality of existence as a whole, to see the whole sky, not through any window, not through a specialized mind that looks at the sky and knows all its composition, the nature of its being. A specialized mind cannot see the total, cannot perceive the whole of life – love, death, hate, wars, acquisitiveness, the constant battle within oneself and outside, the ambition, the power – as a total emptiness, a total movement. If one could so see, listen to the whole movement of life, all problems would cease, all relationships would have a totally different meaning, existence would have a quite different depth.
Why is it that you look at life in fragments? I am asking not for you to answer, or to try to find out. The speaker is going to do all that, in as much detail as possible. All that you have to do this morning, if I may suggest, is just to listen. Listen for forty or forty-five minutes, if you have that interest, that seriousness, that intention, that vitality, and that energy. Listen, and afterwards perhaps you will be good enough to ask questions and then we can go into it more, but I suggest that you listen very easily, happily. It is a lovely morning. The mountains are very clear and the meadow is sparkling; every tree, every living thing is full of life and beauty.
To see all this there must be no fragmentary, specialized outlook. Why is it that we look at life in fragments? Why is it that we have broken up life, this vast stream of existence into compartments, into classified series of fragments? Why have we broken up this marvelous world, physical world into nationalities, into dogmas, into political, religious, social, and economic worlds? Our relationships are broken up. The husband, the wife, the son, the family, the group, the community, the nations are all working separately. Why do we have the division of love and jealousy, of God and the devil, of the good and the bad? Everything is broken up, and our own minds, our own hearts are divided, fragmented, and through this fragmentation we never see the whole, although we try in every way to integrate these fragments into a whole. Nothing can be integrated. You cannot integrate white and black, hate and love, or goodness and jealousy. As they cannot ever be integrated, we need a quite different approach to the whole problem. To understand or to observe life as a whole, not divided into fragments, there must be no center, no « me » who is looking out, no experiencer. The observer, the nationalist, the man who believes or doesn't believe, the communist – each one has a center in varying degrees and depths, clever or not, dull and stupid or highly intellectual, very learned or very ignorant. As long as this center exists there must be fragmentation, as life and death, love and hate, and all the rest. Please just listen and not ask how to get rid of the center. You can't get rid of it. How can you get rid of the whole of life? You can't! The more you make an effort to get rid of it, the stronger that center gets. We see this fragmentation taking place, and we also know, through observation, through clear thinking, why we do this. We are conditioned from childhood to think in a certain way. A man who is a mathematician, a scientist, has taken a particular line, and everything else is secondary. He has broken life up, made life into fragments. Life is a contradiction until we can see for ourselves the whole of life, the whole of human beings, the whole of the world, like these mountains, streams, and valleys. As long as the mind is fragmented, broken up, specialized, as long as a man says, « This is my line and I'm going to follow it, » or « This is the way for me to fulfill, to become, and I'm going to pursue it, » there is misery and more suffering. Each one of us has this center from which we look, from which we judge, evaluate, and strive with tremendous effort. Life is broken up and this breaking up of life, which is caused by the center, is time. If we look at the whole of existence without the center, there is no time. That is a most mysterious thing.
Time is one of the most complex things to understand. It is fairly simple to understand it intellectually, but to see the meaning of it, to understand the nature of time, the significance of time, the depth of time, we must not only understand chronological time by the watch in our pocket or on our wrist, but also we must understand and observe the psychological thing which creates time as yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Time is a movement, a total thing, and if we break it up into yesterday, today, and tomorrow we are caught in the bondage of time. Then we develop theories of gradualism, or of immediacy, the « now. » There is the gradual theory, that gradually human beings will become more benevolent, more kind, more this and more that. We see the utter hopelessness of dependence upon a future life – the future being the tomorrow – upon the gain that will take place in a few months, years, or centuries. That again is a fragmentation of time. In all that we are caught, and therefore we do not understand the extraordinary movement of time without fragmentation. There is actually only time by the watch and no other time. That train goes by precisely at this time every day, and if you would catch it you must be at the station at the time it leaves. Otherwise you will miss it. Chronological time has to be observed exactly. The observation of time by the watch is not a contradiction, is not a fragmentation of that other time.
Time which is not of the watch is invented by memory, by experience, or by the center that says, « I will be something. » There is the question of death and its postponement by avoiding it, pushing it away. Thought makes for the fragmentation of time which, except chronological time, does not actually exist. We do not understand that extraordinary movement of time in which there is no fragmentation because we are always thinking of what I was, what I am, and what I will be. All that is the fragmentation of psychological time, and you cannot do anything about it, except listen. You cannot say, « I will get rid of time and live in the present because it is only the present that matters. » Actually, what does « the present » mean? The present is only the result of the past, but there is an actual present if there is no fragmentation of time. I hope you see the beauty of this.
Time for us becomes of enormous importance, not chronological time, not going to the office every day, taking the train, the bus, keeping an appointment. All that is very trivial. We have to do it, but what is important is psychological time, which we break up into yesterday, today, and tomorrow. We are always living in the past. « Now » is the past because the « now » is the continuation of memory, the recognition of what has been, which cannot be altered, and what is going on at the present time. Either we live in the memory of youth, in the remembrance of things that have been, or we live in the image of tomorrow. We live lives of gradual decay, of gradual withering. With the coming on of senility the brain cells become weaker and weaker, lose all their energy, vitality, and force. Therein lies the great sorrow. As we grow older, memory disappears and we become senile, which is the repetition of what has been. That is how we are living. Though we are very active, we are senile. In the present, in the moment of action we are always living in the past, with its influence, its pressures, its strain, its vitality. All the knowledge which we have acquired and stored up through enormous struggle, through time, is knowledge of the past. Knowledge can never be of the present. From that past knowledge we act, and that action is what we call « the present. » That action is always engendering decay.
We are acting in the image, in the symbol, in the idea of the past; and that is the fragmentation of life. We invent philosophies, theories of the present; we live only in the present and make the best of it. Nothing else matters. Such living in the present is a despair because time which has been divided into the past, the present, and the future only brings about despair. Knowing despair, we say, « It doesn't matter; let's try and live in the now, in the present, because everything is meaningless. All action, all life, all existence, all relationship, everything must end in the division of time and therefore in despair, in decay, in trouble. » Please do listen, because we can't do anything about it. That is the beauty of what will take place if we do nothing but listen. This doesn't mean that we are going to accept what is being said; there is neither acceptance nor denial. It is stupid for anyone to say, « I am living in the present. » It doesn't mean a thing. It is equally stupid to say, « I deny the past. » We can deny the past, but we are the result of the past. Our whole functioning is from the past. Our beliefs, our dogmas, our symbols, the particular line we are trying to follow, whatever it is, is still the result of the past, which is time. We have broken up time into the past, the present, and the future. This naturally breeds fear, fear of life which is not of time, and the movement of time which is not broken up into yesterday, today, and tomorrow. That movement of time can be perceived totally only when there is no fragmentation, when there is no center from which we look at life.
Beauty is not of time, but what does have time is the expression of a particularization of what we feel in terms of time. Beauty, like love, cannot be divided into yesterday, today, and tomorrow. When we divide it, there are all the problems that are involved in the relationship which we call love – jealousy, envy, domination, the feeling of possessiveness. When beauty is not the result of fragmentation of time, painting, music, and all the modern gimmicks and tricks have no meaning whatsoever. Anything that is the expression of time, of the period, of this modern revolt, denies beauty. Beauty cannot be translated in terms of time. It can only be understood, lived, known when there is total silence. We cannot see the beauty of the mountain and the clear blue sky when the mind is chattering endlessly, when the mind is occupied with problems. We can see that beauty only in total silence, and that silence cannot be achieved through time, through saying, « I will be silent tomorrow; I will practice certain methods, » and all that childish rubbish. Silence comes about in all its totality, depth, beauty, and vigor only when the fragmentation of life ceases right from the beginning.
A silent mind is a timeless mind, and from that silence one can act. It is a silent mind because it has no time. It is always in the present, always in the now. As one cannot act positively through will to break down the bondage of time, one cannot do anything. If one does anything, one is caught in time. One must really understand that one cannot do a thing. This does not mean that one becomes lazy, slack, that one leads a life of stupidity, a meaningless existence. One sees the totality of life, the extraordinary complexity of existence, and realizes that one can't do anything. What can one do about that noise? One can either resist it or listen to it and move with the noise.
If one realizes that one cannot positively or in any way do anything about the fragmented life that one leads, the fragmented life of contradiction which is the lot of human beings; if one actually sees the reality of it, not intellectually, argumentatively, or verbally; if one realizes totally that one can do nothing about one's life, with its sorrows, pleasures, joys, miseries, conflicts, ambitions, competition, with the search for power and position, with all the fragments of one's existence – then time as yesterday, with all its memories, experience, and knowledge comes totally to an end. Out of that ending of time there is beauty, not what you see, not the mountain, not the picture, not the brook – those are all fragmentations – but the beauty which is born unsought, without premeditation. That beauty comes only when there is no time, or when time is not broken up. Out of that beauty comes silence. A mind that is not silent and a heart that is not quiet are always in conflict and misery. Do what one will, it will always bring misery upon oneself and upon others. If one has listened easily, quietly, not being mesmerized by the speaker, then one comes upon it darkly, unknowingly, and there it is. It may last a single second, a minute, a day, or a century; that doesn't matter. When one wants to grasp it, when one says, « I must have it the whole of my life, » then one is fragmented; then one begins again the fragmentation, the contradiction, the anger, the jealousy, and all the rest. To see the totality of existence, time as past, present, and future must come to an end.
Can we talk it over together? Can we discuss, not how to achieve this enormous quality of beauty, but how to see, to observe the way our life is fragmented and broken up? If we see the fragments and see that we cannot do a thing, that we cannot integrate them, since all action is fragmentary as long as there is a center, and the center is the result of the fragmentation of time – if we can observe it, expose ourselves to it, then perhaps we shall come upon something that is not made by time, time as yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Then time has a stop. Time as fragments comes to an end. If we can this morning really see our lives, how we have broken them up, then perhaps something can come about – not out of the unconscious, for there is no such thing. There is only consciousness, which we have divided into the unconscious and the conscious. From that division all the fragmentation and the misery of fragmentation begin.
Questioner: Do you see all things as beauty?
Krishnamurti: I wonder what the questioner means. Can you see as beauty someone being killed, war, burning, suffering, dirt on the road, the squalor of poverty? Why do you ask that question? Is it because you want to see everything as beauty – the wife and the husband that nag and quarrel, anger, jealousy? Do you want to see all that as beauty and have a lovely image, a sense of mystical nonsense? Sir, you must see things as they are, see facts as facts, and not have the opinions about the facts. You must see factually, with no pretense, the ugliness, the brutality, the horror, the tremendous things that are going on in this world. All the churches, with their dogmas, crosses, and signs are unreal. They are symbols and the symbol is never the real. When I recognize that the symbol is not the real, then the symbol has no meaning. Have I not answered your question, sir?
Comment:Yes, with some qualification.
Krishnamurti: Qualification of what? Look, sir, have you understood what I said? A mind that is no longer thinking in terms of yesterday, today, or tomorrow, a mind that is not fragmented, broken up, will know what beauty is. Then you won't ask me, « Do you think all life is beauty? » First find out for yourself why your mind is broken up, why your life is specialized as the husband and all that business. In finding out, ask questions. Begin to find out, and out of that beginning ask tremendous questions.
Comment:The trouble with all of us is that words are so shallow. The words we use have no meaning. If we talk about certain things, we use certain expressions; the words just come.
Krishnamurti: Is that true? « My wife » or « my husband » are words, but they mean a tremendous lot, don't they? People are willing to kill for the words « my God » or « I am a communist. » An idea is just a rationalized word, an organized word, and for that we are willing to kill, to brutalize, to destroy ourselves. Don't say, sir, that words have very little meaning. If we realize that the word, the symbol, the expression is not the fact, as the word tree is not the tree, then we are not caught in words. Our thinking, our minds are full of words, conditioned by words, such as « I am an Englishman, a Frenchman. » For us words have extraordinary importance. We may call it shallow, but a word, an expression, a symbol has great meaning. But when we know that the word, the symbol, the expression has no real meaning, that only the fact has meaning, then we use words or expressions which no longer catch our mind. Sir, there was an effort to investigate the whole question of propaganda. A commission was formed and began its work. Do you know who stopped it? The church, the military, and the businessmen!
Questioner: In a little village there is a poisonous snake, and there is a woman, crying her heart out because the snake has bitten her baby and the baby is dead. I can kill the snake or I can leave it alone. What am I to do?
Krishnamurti: What do you do? Do you wait until you come to this tent to be told what to do? Or do you do something there? You act! If you are callous, indifferent, you don't do anything; if you are moved, you actually, immediately, do something. Sir, all our activity is based on the idea that we must help, that we must be good, that this is right, and that is wrong. All action is conditioned by an idea, by our country, by our culture, by the food we eat. All that conditions our actions because they are based on an idea. When we see that action is approximating itself to an idea and therefore it is not an action, then we will put away all idea and know what action is. It is very interesting to observe how we have broken up action: righteous, immoral, right, true, noble, ignoble, national action, action according to the church. If we understand the worthlessness of such action, then we act. We do not ask how to act, what to do; we act and that act is the most beautiful act at that moment.
Eighth Public Talk in Saanen
Tuesday, July 26, 1966
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