Sunday, May 29, 1966
This is the last talk. If I may, I would like to talk over with you this morning a rather complex problem, and I hope you will have the patience and the interest to go into it with me. Naturally one has to go into such a problem verbally, with words, with explanations, but the word and the explanation are not the thing; they never are. The symbol is never the reality, but apparently we get lost in symbols, in conclusions, and take them for reality and are easily satisfied by these conclusions and symbols. If we are going to enquire, to examine into something that needs a great deal of penetration, we must be extraordinarily sensitive to words, avoiding every form of conclusion, deduction. That word « intuition », which is often used, we must avoid totally.
I would like to talk over this morning what we mean by living. I know many of us put that question when we are in great trouble, when we have no special meaning for living and there is despair, a sense of deep frustration. Then we put that question with a motive, and when we have a motive the question is already answered. The answer would be, naturally, according to our motive, what we want it to be, what we want the living to be. To enquire into this very complex and rather subtle question, we must examine without motive, whatever happens, whatever the truth of the examination may be. Examination ceases the moment there is a motive, because the motive projects the answer in terms of our own experience, conclusions, conditioning. To examine this question, which is really quite interesting and needs a great deal of penetration, we must be free of all sense of motive.
That is going to be most difficult for most of us, because we generally ask questions for a purpose. We want to find out, either out of curiosity, which of course has very little meaning, or we want to find out because we are deeply troubled. We are in confusion, agony, deep suffering, and out of this suffering, agony and despair we put the question. When we do put such a question, if we ever do, we want an answer in terms of our own suffering; we want an answer which will resolve our particular suffering. So, we cheat ourselves and we cannot find what we mean by living.
To find out what the reality of it is, the real significance, the real meaning, the depth, the beauty, the fullness of it, we must enquire into several things. First, we must enquire what freedom is; then we must find out the nature of time and also what is meant by space. It seems to me that if we don't understand these we shall never find out for ourselves as human beings, not as local individuals, but as total human beings, what it means to live, what is meant by living. Living surely is always in the active present; the very word « living » means now. It does not mean living in the past or in the future, but in the present. To understand what that living in the present means we must enquire into the past. We can't just say, « Well, I will live in the present ». It means nothing to say, « The present is the only important thing », or to give to the present an extraordinary meaning intellectually, hypothetically, and if one is in despair to give to the present a philosophy born out of this despair. To understand the present, the living present, one must go into the question of time.
Time is a duration, a movement. It is always flowing from the past through the present to the future. The past is the knowledge, the experience, the conclusion, the tradition, the racial inheritance, and so on. That past, flowing through the present, not only conditions the present, but also brings about the future. What I was is modified in the present – as I am, and what I will be tomorrow. This whole process of yesterday, today and tomorrow – the conditioning of yesterday which is modified in the present, taking shape tomorrow – all that is consciousness, surely. All that is within the realm of the known; the known is time, both factually and psychologically. Factually, by the watch, chronologically, the arrangement for today was made yesterday, and tomorrow will be chronologically what I make it today. That's what we are doing all the time.
Psychologically it's much more complex. The whole psyche is made of time, is of time. The whole process of thinking is the result of the past, is the result of the known, as experience, knowledge, conclusions. All that is in the flow of time, and the whole of time is conditioned by consciousness. That consciousness is: I was, I am, I shall be modified, enlarged, extended, limited. The whole of that is consciousness, what we are, both the conscious and the unconscious. We seem to give a great deal of significance to the unconscious, but the unconscious is the past. It is as trivial as the present of a mind which is conditioned by a dozen yesterdays, or a thousand yesterdays. Both the conscious and the unconscious are very trivial. I don't see why such an enormous fuss is made over the unconscious, why there is this constant enquiry, analysis, trying to understand it. The unconscious is the residue of time, time being yesterday with all its traditions, knowledge, influence, conditioning, propaganda, racial inheritance, family influence. Time is a movement which this consciousness has created and in which it is caught, caught in what was yesterday. That yesterday, modified in the present, which will be tomorrow, is the whole process of thinking.
Please, this is not a matter of acceptance or agreement. If we examine it closely for ourselves, it is fairly obvious. We can go into it more in detail, verbally, intellectually, but the fact remains that all consciousness is conditioned, and conditioning is within the field of time. And so we ask ourselves, « Is there an end to time? ». If we are always functioning within this field of time, as yesterday, today and tomorrow, if all activity is modified by the past in the present and so has a continuity tomorrow, there is no freedom in the process; we will always be slaves to yesterday, to today and to what will be tomorrow. There is no freedom in that. We are caught in it, because we live in this division of time as yesterday, today and tomorrow; that's our life; that's what we call living.
Is it possible, not theoretically, not hypothetically or in a theological sense is it possible to be free of time? We'll answer that question, not verbally, but as we begin to examine the other part, which is: is it possible for a mind which has been conditioned for centuries upon centuries to free itself? It cannot be done by thought, because thought is the result of time and thought cannot free consciousness which is limited. There must be a different action altogether, which is not born out of will, the will being again yesterday, today and tomorrow – I was, I am, I will be. Is it possible to find out, not theoretically but actually, if time has a stop If it has not, there is no end to sorrow; there is no freedom for man, and if there is no freedom for man then he has no space at all.
We only know space visually, the distance from here to our house, the distance from this place to London, or to Mars, to the moon; space between, physical space. A man caught in a small space in a flat, living there for thirty years day in and day out, wants space, physical space. He goes out into the country, takes a holiday far away where there are open spaces, where he can see the limitless sky, the vast sea, deep forests, shadows and the movement of wind and bird and river. Physically he demands space. Living in a city or town, always walking on pavements and seeing the opposite window and chimney, he wants physical space, but he never wants psychological space. There he is satisfied to be a prisoner. He is caught; he is in the prison of his own ideas, conclusions, beliefs, dogmas; he is caught in the prison of his own self-centred activity as fulfilment and frustration; he is caught in the prison of his own talent.
He lives psychologically, inwardly, inside the skin, being always caught in a prison in which there is no space at all, Having no space, being a prisoner, he begins to think about freedom. It's like a prisoner held within four walls, wanting freedom; it's like a blind man trying to see colour. Without having psychological space, not being free psychologically, he has no space at all and therefore he is always a prisoner. There is surely space between two notes, and that's why one listens to music. There is an interval between two thoughts, which is space, and there is space for most of us because of the object. The object creates space around itself. This microphone has created a space around itself and it exists in the space of the four walls. Because he exists, the thinker, the me, the doer creates psychological space around himself. His apace is self-conceived, self-formulated, and therefore limited. He is never free.
Is this too difficult, or too abstract? Unless one goes into the question rather deeply within oneself – which is part of meditation – there is no freedom at all. There is a centre in each human being. that centre creates a space around itself, as these four walls create a space within them. This hall, because of the walls, has created a space, in which we exist, we sit, we talk. The centre, which is the me, has created a space around itself, and in that space, which is consciousness, it lives, functions, operates, changes and therefore it is never free. It is deeply worthwhile to go into this question because freedom can only exist where there is space, space not created by an object. If the space is created by the me, as the thinker, it is still creating walls around itself, in which it thinks it is free. Whatever it may do within that space created by the centre, there is no freedom. It's like a man condemned to live in a prison. He can alter the decorations, make himself a little more comfortable, paint the walls, do all kinds of things to make life more convenient, but within those physical walls he is never free.
Psychologically we have created walls around ourselves, walls of resistance, walls of hope, fear, greed, envy, ambition, desire for position, power, prestige. They are created by the thinker. The thinker has created the space around himself in which he lives, and there he is never free. Beauty is not only the thing that you see; that's a very small part. Beauty is not the result of thought, is not put together by thought. Like love, thought has no place where affection is. Where there is jealousy, envy, greed, ambition and pride, love is not. We all know that. But, to find out what it means to love, there must surely be freedom from all travail, all jealousy, all envy. Then we will know.
In the same way, to be free implies no psychological walls created by the centre. Freedom means space. Freedom also implies an end to time, not abstractly but actually. Freedom means to live completely today, because we have understood the whole structure, the nature, the meaning of the past. The past is the conscious as well as the unconscious. We have understood the whole of that. Because of that understanding there is the active present, which is living. Can this actually happen in our daily life? Can I go to the office without having psychological time, without being a prisoner to greed, envy and ambition? If I cannot, then I am a slave forever.
The routine, the boredom, the utter meaninglessness of spending one's life in a beastly little office or in a factory turning out cars or buttons or whatever it is for the rest of one's life is a dreadful phenomenon. Though automation and the science of cybernetics will improve man's condition, one will still have to live this life of routine which has no meaning. Because it has no meaning one tries to escape into all kinds of amusements, including the church. But if one is aware of this total process of living and sees the significance of time as thought, time comes to an end. This comes about not by volition, not by demand or because one wants it, but because one sees the whole meaning of time. One becomes aware of this consciousness, not as an observer, but by being aware, by being totally attentive.
As we were saying the other day, when there is total attention, when you attend completely to something, that is, when you give your body, your mind, your heart, everything that you have, completely in which there is no resistance, no thought, but complete attention – then you will find that there is no observer at all. Only in the state of inattention does the observer come into being. Inattention breeds the observer. But to be aware of inattention and to be attentive are two different states.
I'm afraid one can't go into it much more in detail. Perhaps this is not the occasion, but if man wants to be free – and he has to be free to find out, to live, time must have a stop; there must be space, not space between the observer and the observed but space in which there is no observer at all.
If you've ever looked at a flower, what takes place? First you name the flower. You say it belongs to a certain species. Then you say, « I like it » or « I don't like it », « How beautiful », « I wish I had it », and so on. Thought, past knowledge interferes with seeing. What you are seeing is not the flower but the conclusions, the likes and dislikes which you have. Can you look at the flower without the observer? That means to look without the knowledge, the pleasure, the naming and so on. Then when you look you will see that there is no observer who is looking; then you are directly in communion with that flower.
It's fairly easy to do that outwardly, but to do it inwardly, with your wife, with your children, with your neighbours, with your boss and all the rest of society – to look, not with the previous insults, information, flattery, but simply to look – then only can there be attention. When there is total attention there is silence. Then you can listen completely to anything, to the song of a bird, to what another says. In that silence you can listen to what is being said, to your own thoughts, demands, fears. You must listen completely, silently. When you do listen totally, that which you are afraid of ceases to be.
Living surely does not mean all the turmoil, the ache and the burden of yesterday, but it means that one has seen the full significance of yesterday. That one can perceive instantly. One can see the whole of it at a glance, the triviality of all the past. When one is totally aware of the past, then only is there freedom to live in the present. From there one can move, one can enter into a totally different dimension, but that becomes a theory, an idea if one is not free, because it is only in freedom that there is something new. Freedom demands energy, and only when there is an explosion of energy is there something new, which is beyond time.
Questioner: What part does evolution of the person play and what part comes back to nature?
Krishnamurti: By evolution we mean to become, to grow, to evolve, to attain – like the seed becomes the tree. Is there evolution? Is there free will to choose, to evolve, to become? Sir, what is the you that is going to become? You will become the master, the great teacher, the man who knows a tremendous lot, who has a better position in a few years time, more cars, better houses, better clothes, more knowledge. You will become more virtuous, more noble. You who are caught in this little misery of your life will gradually grow out of it, and attain bliss or heaven or whatever it is. That's what we are all brought up on; we are fed on that. If you make tremendous endeavours you'll eventually reach something which you call bliss, God or whatever that is.
You need time, many days, many months – in the Orient they say many lives – to attain the unattainable. Is that so? You mean to say that you want to live in this misery, sorrow, day after day, and gradually get rid of that suffering – in ten years time? If you have a violent toothache, will you say the same thing, « I will gradually get rid of it, or is there an end to sorrow on the instant, not in time, not in terms of duration? And what is it that continues? If you say, « Well, in ten years time or even tomorrow I will be happy; I will be something different from what I am today », what are you today? A set of ideas, memories, words, experiences, the result of propaganda, social influence, economic conditions, climate, clothes, food – you are the result of all that, a bundle of memories. That you want to perpetuate, and eventually you will grow into some beautiful God, or butterfly.
I'm afraid that way there is no end to sorrow. Evolution has not made man any more bright, intelligent, free. There have been in recorded human history for the past five thousand five hundred years nearly fifteen thousand wars, two and a half wars every year, and we still carry on with that game. There may be more and better communication, more leisure, better bathrooms, better cars, better clothes, better food, but is there any other progress? Surely, there must be an end to time for something new to take place. That which has continuity is never creative. It is only when time ends that creation takes place, and a mind that depends on yesterday, today and tomorrow as a means of achieving something lives in utter, hopeless despair.
Questioner: I have not quite understood what you mean by inward space.
Krishnamurti: Let's keep it very simple. We live in small flats more and more because it's convenient, and because space is very limited in cities with their factories and their centres of amusement, whether it's the amusement of the cinema or of the church. We want a little more space physically, but we don't want space inwardly. We are closed in by our concepts, by our opinions, by our judgments, by our knowledge, by our capacities. We are held tight and are never free. Freedom means space, both outwardly and inwardly. Outwardly we can go to the moon, into a garden, into the park, into the bois, but inwardly there is no bois. We escape into imagination and talk about God and all kinds of imaginary things, but actually we have built a wall around ourselves through our self-centred activity. We live in misery, conflict, anxiety, guilt. How can such a centre which has bred all this be free without space, which means to end all that? It cannot be ended gradually through time, through the evolutionary process. It must be ended immediately, as you act when you see a physical danger; there is instant action. But we do not see the immense danger of sorrow, of our petty little minds struggling to find something which is beyond time.
Questioner: If this radical change which you have been talking about for such a long time is so simple, how is it that nobody seems to get it?
Krishnamurti: The questioner says, « You've talked a jolly long time, for many years. Is there anyone who is free? ». How can anyone answer that question? It is not whether your neighbour is free, but whether you are free as a human being. It is not how to improve society which is corrupt. You are a part of society; society is not different from you. You are that; you and I have made that. Can a human being – you, I or another – be free? That freedom is not a matter of time. I think one of the greatest sorrows man has is to think that through time he will become something different. Time only breeds disorder. I wish you could see this simple fact. Look sir, they've preached non-violence in India for many, many decades because the preachers, the talkers, the doers, the do-gooders realized that violence must stop. Therefore they had the idiocy of an ideology which is called non-violence, and the ideal is over there. The actual fact is violence, which is here. The ideology has no value at all; what has value is the fact of violence. But if you have the ideology, then in the meantime you're sowing the seed of violence, and that's very pleasant for many people. But if you have no ideology at all, but only facts, you have the fact that man is violent, brutal. Is it possible to end it, not gradually, but immediately? I think it is possible only when you are totally aware of the fact that you are violent, without any excuse, without any explanation, but totally attentive to that fact. To be attentive you need tremendous energy, and one of the dissipations of energy is to think you can dissolve violence gradually.
Questioner: Is attention the result of self-discipline in the present?
Krishnamurti: That very question implies time. The root of the word « discipline » means « to learn ». The very act of learning leads to discipline; the very act of learning is discipline, not that you discipline yourself in order to learn, but learning is discipline. To learn, I must listen. I cannot listen if I'm frightened, if I'm anxious, if I want to get a job out of that learning. The doing is the learning, and the learning is discipline. Sir, if you have listened this morning, that very listening has brought about discipline. For most of us discipline means conformity to or following a pattern, control, suppression, imitation, obedience; all that implies conflict. As a soldier is disciplined to function automatically, we also want to function without deep awareness and just do things mechanically. But learning is doing. While doing, acting, you are learning, and that in itself brings its own discipline.
Questioner: In order to learn, one must be very much present and out of time.
Krishnamurti: All right. Learning is beyond time. Unless one does it, one indulges in theories. Please don't give explanations, but do it. Volumes have been written about all this, endless theories have been advanced, but the doer who sees it and acts is far beyond all the words, all the volumes, all the theories and all the gods.
Questioner: This state of complete attention, this total concentration of energy, is it permanent?
Krishnamurti: No, madam. How eager we are to have everything permanent! We want permanent relationships, don't we?, a permanent wife, a permanent husband, a permanent relationship with regard to ideas, action, everything. It must be permanent, which is mechanical – all the time being certain. Is there anything permanent in life, your ideas, your relationships, anything? Perhaps your house is permanent; even that may not be; there are earthquakes. Is there anything psychologically permanent, including your gods, your beliefs, your amusements? Surely, there is nothing permanent, and yet the mind demands permanency, security, because it's frightened to live in a state of uncertainty. To live in such a state requires a great deal of balance, understanding; otherwise one becomes neurotic. Only when the mind is not caught in the desire for permanency is it free, because there is nothing on God's earth, or inwardly, that is permanent. Even your soul is not permanent; it's an invention of the priests.
Fifth Public Talk in Paris
Sunday, May 29, 1966
© 2016 Copyright by Krishnamurti Foundations