Tuesday, July 19, 1966
I often wonder why you listen and I talk. Are we exchanging ideas, concepts, or are we taking a journey together, exploring, examining what we discover, so that it is not a case of speaker and listener? Is it that you want to be taught, either what to think or how to think, or do you want to gather information and data which you can add to what you have already collected during your lives? Perhaps it might help somewhat to overcome our various problems – and I am sure it would be rather interesting – if each one of us could find out why we listen to this particular speaker, what it is that we are groping after, what it is that we are seeking, and why we seek at all. If each one of us could discover for ourselves in the privacy of our own minds and hearts what it is that we are after, then perhaps the journey that we are taking together would have some significance. There must be in ourselves and therefore in society a radical mutation, a revolution in our whole way of thinking, living, acting. If that is not clear, then our journey together will have no meaning whatsoever.
We see how immature the political, the religious, the economic activity is that is going on all about us. There is only one political problem, the unity of mankind, and no one seems to bother about that. There is a great deal of talk about it, but to bring it to fruition there must be not only an economic change, a psychological change in the social structure, but also in the whole structure of the psyche, of the mind. That is what we are going to talk about this morning. We are going to inquire into what thinking is, what the mind is, what the whole of consciousness is. First of all let us be very clear that we are not dividing consciousness into various departments, fragments, as the conscious, the unconscious, and all the various interpretations of that. There is only one state, what we are, the whole of ourselves, of which we know so little, which we have not penetrated deeply – the whole of our psychological structure, our reactions, our limitations, our conditionings, our longings, our brutalities, our violence, and so-called love. Unless there is a great revolution in the whole structure of our being, our lives will always be immature; there will always be sorrow of some kind or other; there will always be conflict, misery, and confusion. Merely listening to some description, some explanation, some theory will in no way alter the fact of what we are.
Again, how is it possible to bring about a mutation in what we are? That is our whole concern. I am like you, like everyone else in the world. We are the products of environment, of the society in which we are born, of the religions, which have made such propaganda, brainwashed us to believe and not to believe. We are the result of all that, and to bring about a change within the limitation of that is no change at all. Change surely implies transcending, or going beyond this limitation. How is that possible? What are we to do? Learning is neither suffering nor pleasure. When you are learning there is no division as something which you like or don't like, which you resist or which you hold on to. You just learn, and it seems to me that one of our difficulties is that we don't see the importance of learning, discovering, finding out for ourselves. That is not possible when we are thinking in terms of pleasure and pain, resistance or repression. Learning is only possible if we can look at ourselves as we are, not according to some philosophy, or to some speculative, theological concept, but see what actually is. If we can put away all that, then we can examine what we actually are; and in that examination we are learning. There is no learning if we are merely accumulating. If we learn a language, accumulation is necessary as knowledge or as skill. But when we are learning about ourselves, the totality of ourselves, our reactions, the way we think and why we think that way, our motives, the various influences that we are prone to, the fears, the anxieties, the guilt, the sense of oppression – all that we are – if we cannot look at ourselves clearly, it is not possible to bring about a radical change at the very root of ourselves. As we said the other day, it is very important how we look at ourselves.
Have you ever tried to look at yourself? The « yourself is never constant; it is always in a flux, in a movement. If you look at it with a concept, with a fixed idea, then you are merely interpreting it according to pleasure and pain. But if you can forget, put away, slough off this concept of what you should be or ought to be and have not been, if there is no censor, then you can look at yourself. Then you can follow the movement of every thought, every feeling. This morning we are going to consider the nature of thinking. As a means of bringing about a change in ourselves, we have used thought: thought as desire, thought as will, thought pursuing an idea according to which we must conform, thought as time. Thought says, « I am this, or I have been this and I will be that. » Thought itself has become the instrument which hopes to bring about a revolution within – thought being the response of memory, which is the accumulation of centuries of experience of humanity, and of the particular individual.
We are that background – it is us – and to any challenge, to any questioning, to anything new, we respond according to that background, according to our conditioning. Can thought as will, as desire, as gaining, as losing bring about a revolution in us? If thought will not, then what will? We know what is meant by thought bringing about a revolution, a change. I say to myself, « I am this, » whatever it is – afraid, envious, greedy, pursuing my own personal satisfaction, functioning in a self-centered activity. I see that, and I say to myself, « I must change because it is too painful; it is too silly; it is too immature; there is pain. » I exercise will, suppression, control, discipline, which is the functioning of thought, and I see that I don't change at all. I move in another part of the same field. Perhaps I am less irritable, a little more this and a little less that, but thought has not revolutionized my psyche, my whole being. You must have noticed that, too. Thought only breeds more conflict, more pain, more pleasure, more struggle. So what will bring about a change, a revolution within this field?
When you ask that question of yourself, what is the answer? How do you answer it? You have struggled all your life. If you have enough money, you go to an analyst. If you haven't, you go to a priest. Or if you do neither, you watch yourself, control yourself, discipline yourself – you will do this, you will do that, ten different things. Yet out of that struggle there is no flowering; there is no beauty; there is no freedom; there is no peace. You end up in a dead end. You all know this if you have gone through this inquiry. Then what will bring a change? How will you answer that question? It would be very much worthwhile if each one would answer that question for himself, answer it and not wait for someone else to tell him. If you are waiting for someone else to tell you, you are not learning. As I said, we are taking a journey together. There is neither a teacher nor a follower; there is no authority; there is only the privacy, the solitude of your own inquiry and discovery. If you discover for yourself, then out of that discovery a new energy is born, a new resurgence. But if you are merely waiting for someone to tell you, then you are back again in the old rut that has very little meaning.
How do you answer this question? You are taking a road, going to some place, to your home. You ask someone and he tells you that you have taken the wrong road. You have walked a long, weary way, and you discover that the path or road doesn't lead to where you want to go. You make several inquiries, and you find for yourself that the road doesn't lead anywhere. Then what do you do? You stop, turn around, and take the other road, but first you stop. First you empty your mind, or rather the mind empties itself, of all the patterns, of all the formulas. It empties itself of all the strongholds of memory, and the very emptying of the whole being is the process of revolution. But no one can empty a mind that is so committed that is always occupied, that is never empty. A mind is empty that has listened, watched, observed all its movement, the total movement, which can be done in a flash. When you have observed it and have seen the futility of this everlasting thought as an instrument which can bring about a revolution, then naturally when you see all that, you turn your back on the old road. This can only take place when the mind, the whole psyche is completely empty. That emptiness is maturity, and out of it there is a totally different dimension of activity and living.
You have listened for about half an hour to what has been said, and where are you? Is there an idea, an idea being rationalized thought? Is there a coming to a conclusion and trying to agree or disagree with that conclusion, or to develop it? If you are doing that, it is still within the field of self-centered activity as thought, but if it is an actual learning, a thing that we are learning together – not accumulating and then according to that accumulation acting, but learning as you are going along – then you will see for yourself this act of maturity, which has nothing to do with physical age. This act of maturity is the mind which is not occupied at all, and therefore there is no problem.
The mind becomes the soil for a problem. The problem then takes root. After it has taken root we wonder how we are going to resolve the problem. If we meet the problem and resolve it instantly – not a mechanical problem, not a technological problem, not a problem of skill, but the human problem, the problem of our anxieties, despair, the ten different problems that we have – if we meet it instantly and not give an interval between the fact and what we should do about the fact, there is no soil in which any problem can take its root. Our minds, our hearts, our whole beings are full of unsolved problems because we never come into contact with any of them directly. We are frightened. To come into contact with anything, with nature, with the extraordinary beauty of a mountain, we must come very close to it. If we are at a distance or at a great height, all mountains look alike, flat, with one or two peaks sticking out, but when we come very close, then we begin to see that there are valleys, that there are waterfalls. We see the rock, with its shape, and the beauty of a line. When we are very near, we are very closely in contact with what we see. Unfortunately we never allow ourselves to come into close contact because we have isolated ourselves, repressed ourselves, and so ten different defenses exist that we have built up.
All these defenses, repressions, fears drop away on the instant – and we are using that word on purpose – immediately, when you come into contact with them directly. You can come into contact with them only when thought has been understood, when you have seen a certain importance of it in certain fields, when there is this emptiness of observation. You can only look when you are empty, when you are not occupied, when you are not committed. You cannot look at nature, at a tree or a flower, a mountain, a river, the sky, when your mind is full of thought, preoccupied, concerned; when the mind is tortured by its own pettiness, its own disease and anxiety.
What can you do actually about self-centered activity? One of the most difficult things to realize is that there is nothing you can do to bring about a change. When you are confronted with a problem, and you look at it completely silently, without any commitment, then you are immediately in contact with it, not as the observer and the observed, but with the fact of what is. Then you will see for yourselves that there is a tremendous change which is not brought about by thought, by pleasure, or by the avoidance of pain.
Questioner: Thought goes on and on and on, all the time, endlessly. How is it possible to put a stop to it?
Krishnamurti: If I say, « I don't know, » what will you do? I really do not know. Sir, listen carefully to what is being said. So many ways have been tried – going to a monastery; identifying ourselves with some image, theory, or concept; through discipline, meditation, forcing, suppressing, trying to put an end to thought. Man has tried everything that is possible, tortured himself in a thousand different ways because he realizes that to think is to be full of sorrow. How is it to be done? There are several things involved. The moment you make an effort to stop it, then it becomes a problem. There is a contradiction. You want to stop it, and it keeps on and on and on. That very contradiction breeds conflict; all contradictions breed conflict. So, what have you done? You have not ended thought but you have introduced a new problem, which is conflict. Any effort to stop thinking only feeds, gives more energy to, thinking. You know very well you have to think. You have to exercise every energy that you have to think clearly, spotlessly, to think sanely, rationally, logically. Yet you know that sane, rational, logical thinking does not stop thought. It goes on and on.
What are you to do? You know that any form of repression, any form of discipline, suppression, resistance, or conformity to an idea that you must stop thinking is a waste. You put all that aside. Have you? If you have, then what will you do? You will do absolutely nothing! First you think you must stop it. That is an idea and behind that there is a motive. You want to stop it because thought has not solved the problem. So can the mind – not just a part of it, a certain fragment of it, but the totality of the mind, in which is included the nerves, the brain, the feeling, everything – can the mind realize that it can do nothing about it; and then, will it go on? You will find it will not go on.
Comment:I must have looked at the problem the wrong way.
Krishnamurti: Sir, you have a problem, a mathematical problem, a personal problem; you have gone into it, investigated, searched out, talked it over, and you cannot find an answer. Then what happens? You just leave it, don't you? But it is very important to find out how you leave it. If you leave it out of despair, out of fear, out of some motive, then your mind is still occupied with the problem. But if you leave it alone because you have looked at it in every possible way, then you leave it completely alone, which means that your mind is no longer occupied with it, afraid of it, wanting to find an answer, wanting to escape from it. Then, if you leave it alone, out of nothingness the answer is there. Haven't you noticed this about trivial things? If you have a mathematical problem or a human problem with which you have wrestled without finding a solution, if you then say, « I cannot do anything more »; therefore, it matters very much how you say, « I can't do any more » – out of that you will find that suddenly thought comes to an end.
That introduces quite a different issue. Thought must be used. We all agree to that. Thought has its value, its importance, its place. Can a human being live in a state of mind which is so tremendously active that it is empty? A highly tuned drum is always empty inside and when you strike it, it gives the right tone. Is it possible for the mind to be so totally empty? I hope you understand what I am talking about. It is not just some vague, dreamy, mystical thing. It is only out of emptiness that you can see the beauty of life, the beauty of a tree. You cannot see if you are not empty – with no commitments, always learning, not accumulating, observing, awake, being aware without any choice, therefore giving tremendous attention. Have you ever noticed that when you are completely attentive, with your nerves, your mind, your heart, your ears, you understand? In that intense attention there is no thinking. It is only when you are inattentive that the whole circus begins.
Questioner: What is the difference between the process of thinking and thought?
Krishnamurti: Surely there is not much difference. Do not divide everything into such divisions. The process of thinking is that I ask you a question with which you are familiar, and if you are very familiar with the answer, your response is immediate; if you are not familiar with it there is a time interval, a lag between the question and the answer; memory is in operation; you are asking, looking, waiting. The whole of that process produces a thought, an answer. When you come to the point where you say that you really do not know how to stop thinking – you are not waiting for someone to tell you; you really do not know – then you have stopped thinking, haven't you? When you say, « I really do not know the answer to this question; for the first time I listen to it, » out of that innocency of not knowing, thought – which is not innocent – comes to an end.
Questioner: When you are talking, are you thinking?
Krishnamurti: Not very much, I'm afraid. Of course, as we are talking in English there is the memory of the language and the use of that language to communicate as clearly as possible; there is that thought, but the questioner wants to know, « Are you thinking in any way different from that; are you thinking when you are talking? » If you are thinking as you are talking, then you become repetitive. If you are not thinking but speaking out of that emptiness, then the words may be repetitive, but the context, the thing that is being said is fresh, is something new; it has a totally different vitality.
Questioner: There are wars. There is hatred The newspapers are full of the filth of brutality, political chicanery, and so on and on and on. Should we keep an open, empty mind and look at all that without judgment?
Krishnamurti: First of all, is that possible? There is a war going on in Vietnam. People on both sides are getting hurt and being killed. You are, let us say, an American or a Vietnamese. You have your reactions. You are a pacifist and you don't want to kill a thing, or you are a communist and you want your side to win. We are always taking sides, aren't we?
Comment:We should cut out taking sides.
Krishnamurti: No, no, no! Don't cut out anything. Don't say, « I must not take sides; I must be this and I must not be that, » but see what actually one is. One is nationalistic, one is committed to a certain pattern of life, as the American way of life or the Hindu way of life and goodness knows what else. One is committed as a communist, a socialist, a laborite, and with that background, with that conditioning one is bound to react. What is one to do? If the reaction is very strong, then one begins to hate the Vietnamese or the Americans, or one becomes a pacifist, or this or that. None of that is going to stop wars. Emphasis on Americanism or Tibetanism or whatever it is, is not going to stop wars. What will stop wars? That is the fundamental question. What will stop this hatred, this violence that is going on in America between the Negro and the white, in many places between the communist and the bourgeois? What will stop all this? It is recorded in history that man has had fifteen thousand wars in the last five thousand five hundred years. That means two and a half wars every year. Human beings are committed to a life of violence, ambition, greed, competition, the search for fame, the prestige of the nation. All that is violence. How can one, a human being – not an American, a Vietnamese, a communist, not the label, but as a human being, which is you and me, whether one lives here or there – how can one put an end to violence?
That is the question, not to take sides, this or that, but how can we end violence? It cannot be ended through an idea of nonviolence. This is rather difficult. Let us go into it. I am violent, as a human being. I am ambitious, greedy, envious, competitive, self-centered, by the very nature of my being. My very brain cells are the result of centuries of animalism, and I am violent. After reading history, after suffering, I say, « I must not be violent; violence does not lead anywhere. » I want to be free of violence, and I think that by having an ideal of nonviolence, I can use that ideal as a lever to get rid of my violence. It never takes place.
What will free us is not the ideal of nonviolence but the fact of violence, knowing the fact of what is, not the idea of what it should be, which has been tried many times. They have preached endlessly about nonviolence, in India and everywhere else; every religion has talked about nonviolence, saying, « Be kind; be gentle; don't hurt; love one another. » Religions have not produced peace; on the contrary, there have been religious wars. What can bring about an end to violence is looking at it, facing what is, which means no nationality.
Comment:War is the process of history.
Krishnamurti: Yes, madame. I know all this. India was overrun by the Chinese, and when we talked on this subject in India, they said, « What are you talking about? We are being attacked; therefore we must defend. An army is necessary. » We are back again. The movement of hate, of war, will go on unless all of us see that hate cannot possibly end through hate, through defense. If we went and talked to the Vietnamese about not hating, they would throw us in the river or shoot us because they would think we were pacifists. That is what we mean when we say that there must be a total revolution in the mind so that we are no longer Christians, Buddhists, Catholics, communists, Americans, Hindus, Germans, and Italians – we are human beings. The unity of man is what matters, not one country against another country.
Fifth Public Talk in Saanen
Tuesday, July 19, 1966
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