Wednesday, March 2, 1966
This is the last talk of this year. I think the more one observes the world's condition, the more clear it becomes that there must be a totally different kind of action. One sees in the world, including in India, the confusion, the great sorrow, the misery, the starvation, the general decline. One is aware of it, one knows it from reading newspapers, magazines, and books. But it remains on the intellectual level, because we do not seem to be able to do anything about it. Human beings are in despair; there is great sorrow in themselves, and frustration; and there is the chaos about one. The more you observe and go into it – not intellectually, not verbally, but actually discuss, observe, act, inquire, examine – the more you see how confused human beings are. They are lost. And there are those who think they are not lost because they belong to a particular group, a circle. The more they practice, the more they do certain things; the more they do social work, this or that, the more they are sure that the world is going to be changed by their particular little act.
The world is at war, and you think that by a particular prayer, a few of us – people gathered together and speaking certain words – can solve this enormous question which has remained unsolved for over five thousand years; and you keep on repeating them, though knowing that war can never be stopped that way. So each one belongs to a certain group, to a certain political party, to a religious sect, and so on, and remains in it more and more, holding on to the past, to what has been; and one is caught in it. One admits, when it is pointed out, that there is chaos, general decline, deterioration, outwardly and inwardly; and one realizes that man is lost. And without finding out why he is lost, why there is so much chaos and misery, without examining, without going into it very deeply, we answer superficially, saying that we are not following God, or we do not love; we give superficial, platitudinous answers that have no value at all.
And during these talks, if one has listened to them at all, one must have come to the question: Why this mess, why this confusion? If you inquire very deeply, you will find that man is lazy. The chaos is brought about through man's laziness, indifference, sluggishness, because he accepts. That is the easiest way to live – to accept; to adjust to the environment, to the conditions, to the culture in which he lives – just to accept. This acceptance breeds dreadful laziness. It is very important to understand that we, as human beings, are very lazy. We think we have solved the problem of living by a belief, by saying, « I believe in this or that. » That belief is essentially based on fear and therefore the incapacity to solve that problem of fear – which indicates deep-rooted laziness.
Please observe yourself. You fall into a pattern of thought and action, and there you remain, as that is the easiest way – you don't have to think; you have thought a little bit about it, perhaps, but now you do not have to think. You are that; you are carried along by outward events, or by the push of your own little group. That gives you a great deal of satisfaction, and you think you are doing extraordinarily good work; and you dare not question because that is very disturbing. You dare not question your religion, your community, your belief, the social structure, nationalism, war; but you accept. Please look into yourself. You are so lazy. This chaos is due to this laziness because you have ceased to question, ceased to doubt – because you accept.
Being conscious of this terrible mess that is going on outwardly and inwardly, we expect some outward event to bring about order; or we hope that some leader, a guru, this, or that will help us out – that way we have been living centuries upon centuries, looking to somebody else to solve our problems. To follow another is the essence of indolence. Somebody comes along; he has probably thought out a little bit and had one or two visions; he can do this or that; and he tells you what to do, and you are quite satisfied. What we really want in this world is satisfaction, comfort; and we want somebody to tell us what to do – which all indicate this deep-rooted laziness; we do not want to think out our problems, to look at them, to wipe out all the difficulties. This indolence prevents us not only from questioning, inquiring, and examining, but from dealing with a much deeper issue, which is: to find out what is action. The world is in chaos; we are in misery. All the solutions, the doctrines, the beliefs, the meditative circus that goes on in the name of meditation – none of these has solved a thing. And if we could find out for ourselves what is action, we have to act, to do something vital, energetic, forceful, to bring about a different mind, a different quality of existence.
So one has to go into the question of what is action. Not right action and wrong action, because if you approach action as right or wrong, you are already lost. People will tell you this is right action and that is wrong action, and you, already inclined to be lazy, do not want to inquire into it deeply. You accept it as right action because that person is a successful lawyer, and you follow it. So what we are going to do this evening, if we can, is to find out what is action. Please bear in mind that we are not thinking in terms of right or wrong action. There is only action – not right and wrong action; not action according to the Gita, the Bible, or the Koran; not according to the communist, the socialist, and so on. There is only action, which is living. One has to find out the way of life, how to live – not the method; if you have a method, a system, a practice, you have already encouraged this innate indolence. So one has to have a very sharp mind not to be caught in this trap of indolence which one is too willing to fall into.
Please listen to what is being said. How do you listen? When you listen, you listen to find out what the speaker is trying to say – to find out, not to oppose or agree. To find out for yourself means to listen, to inquire, to examine – not accepting, not saying, « I hope he will come^ to my point of view which is right. » One has to listen, and apparently that is one of the most difficult things to do. Most of us like to talk, like to express ourselves. Because we have so many opinions, ideas, which are not our own; they are somebody else's. We have accepted a lot of slogans, platitudes; we trot them out and think we have understood life. So you are listening – not to explanation, not to your own prejudices, idiosyncrasies, not to what you know already, but listening to find out.
To find out, your mind must be fairly quiet. As we said the other day, to learn about anything, two states are essential: a quiet mind and attention. That is the only way you listen to another – it does not matter if it is to your wife, to your children, to your boss, to the crows, or to the call of a bird. There must be quietness, there must be attention; and in that state you are listening. That means you are already active; you are no longer sluggish; you have already broken away from this habit of half-listening, half-agreeing, half-being serious, and therefore never penetrating deeply. So, if you would listen, listen not only to the speaker but to the noise of the world, listen to the cry of the human heart, listen to the chaos, listen to your own misery, the uncertainty, the cry of despair. If you knew how to listen, then you would solve the problem. When you listen to your agony, if you have any – and most human beings have agony – you will find the answer, you will be out of it. But you cannot listen to it if you say, « The answer must be according to my pleasure, according to my desire » – then you are not listening to it; you are only listening to the promptings of your own desire and pleasure.
Here, for this evening at least, please listen to find out. Because we are going into something which requires a great deal of attention, quiet inquiry, hesitant examination – not « tell me what to do, and I will do it. » Because everything is falling to pieces around us, and there must be an action of a totally different kind, an action not according to anybody, not even according to the speaker. We are going to find out for ourselves what is action, how to live – because living is action. We have made our living so chaotic, so miserable, so immature.
And to find out what is action, there must be a great deal of maturity – not in terms of time, not maturing like a fruit on a tree, taking six months. If you take six months to mature, you have already sown the seeds of misery, you have already planted hate and violence, which lead to war. So you have to mature immediately, and you will if you are capable of listening and therefore learning. Learning is not an additive process. Learning and adding, which becomes knowledge, and from that knowledge acting – that is what we do. We have experiences, beliefs, thoughts; and these experiences, thoughts, ideas have become knowledge; and on that stored knowledge we act; and therefore there is no learning at all. We are just adding, adding, adding. We have added to ourselves enormous knowledge for two million years, and yet we are at war, we hate; there is never a moment of peace, tranquillity; there is no ending of sorrow. Knowledge is necessary in the field of technology, in the field of skill. But if you have knowledge, which is idea, and if from that idea you act, you have already ceased to learn. So maturity is not in terms of time and evolution, but maturity comes when there is this act of learning. It is only a mature mind that can listen, that can be very attentive and be quiet. It is the immature mind that believes, that says, « This is right and that is wrong, » and pursues something illogically.
So we are going to learn together about action. You are going to think, listen. We are going to do that together, because it is your life. It is not my life; it is your life, your misery, your confusion. You have to find out what is action. What is action? To act, to do. All action is relationship. There is no isolated action. Action, as we know now, is the relationship of « doing » with « the idea. » Surely, the idea and the doing of that idea – that is excellent in the field of skill and technology; but it becomes an impediment to learn about relationship. Relationship is constantly changing. Your wife or your husband is never the same. But laziness, the desire for comfort and security, says, « I know her or him, she or he is that way, » and therefore you have fixed the poor woman or man. Therefore your relationship is according to an image, or according to an idea; and from that image or idea of relationship springs action. Please give your attention to this. That is all we know as action: « I believe, I have principles; this is right, that is wrong; this should be » – and we act according to that. Man is violent; that violence is shown in ambition, competition, a brutal expression of aggressiveness – which are all the responses of the animal – and in the so-called discipline, which is suppression, and all the rest of it; and from that we act. And so there is always conflict in action.
We say that action must conform to a pattern, right and wrong, according to principles, beliefs, the tradition, the environmental influence, and the culture in which one is brought up. So action, as far as we see, as far as our life is, is according to a particular image, a particular pattern, a particular formula. And that formula, that image, or that idea has not solved a thing in the world – politically, religiously, or economically – it has solved nothing. It has not solved any of our deep, human problems. And yet we keep on insisting that is the only way to act. We say, « How can we act without thinking, without having an idea, without following, day after day, a certain routine? » So we accept conflict as the way of life – conflict which is the result of our action, of our life, of our relationship, of our ideas, of our thoughts. You cannot dispute this fact: having an idea, a principle, a belief that you are a Hindu, and so on – according to that tradition, in that framework, you live and act; and when you do that, there is bound to be conflict. The idea, the « what should be », is different from the fact, the what is. That is simple. That is the way we have lived for millennia. Now, is there another way – a way of life which is action, which is relationship, but which is without conflict, which means without idea?
Listen to this. First see the problem. The word problem – what does it mean? It is a challenge. All challenges become problems because we do not know how to respond. Here is a problem – which is the world problem – something that is thrown at you, and you do not know any other way to respond to that problem except the old way; that is, conformity, imitativeness, repetition, establishing a habit; and from that repetitive, imitative, habitual way of life, you act. That habitual way of life is what you call « action, » and that has brought about untold misery and chaos in the human mind and heart.
So that is obvious. We can proceed from that. Don't say that it is not so, afterwards. Don't pretend to yourself that it is not a fact. If you analyze it, if you go into yourself very deeply, it can be very simply put: you have a pleasure, and you want the repetition of that pleasure – sexual or any other form of pleasure – and you keep on living with that pleasure, either in memory or in thought; and that pleasure, that thought, pushes you to an action; and in that action there is conflict, there is pain, there is misery; the habit has been established, and from that habit you act.
So is there another totally different way of living, which is action? That means you have listened very carefully and attentively to the way you have lived, and you know all the implications, not just patches of it. To listen totally implies that you see, you hear, the whole of the problem, not just one or two sketches of that problem. When you listen to those crows in the sense that your mind is quiet, attentive, not interpreting, not condemning, not resisting, you are listening totally. You are listening to the total sound – not of a crow, but to the total sound. And in the same way, if you can listen to the total problem of action with which you are very familiar, if you can listen totally to the problem, to the issue, to the way you live – that is, from idea there is action – then you have the energy to listen to something else. But if you have not listened totally to the present way of action, then you have not the energy to follow what is going to come.
After all, to find out anything you must have energy, and you need a great deal of energy to inquire into something totally new. And to have that energy, you must have listened to the old pattern of life, neither condemning nor approving. You must have listened to it totally – which means you have understood it, you have understood the futility of living that way. When you have listened to the futility of it, you are already out of it. Then you have – not intellectually but deeply – felt the uselessness of living that way and have listened to it completely, totally; then you have the energy to inquire. If you have not the energy, you cannot inquire. That is, when you deny that which has brought about this misery, this conflict – which we have gone into – that denial, that very negation of it is positive action.
I am going to go into that a little bit. We said, « Is there any other action in which there is no conflict, which is not a repetitive activity, a repetitive form of pleasure? » To find that out we must go into the question: What is love? Don't get sentimental, emotional, or devotional! We are going to inquire. Love is always negative – it must be. Love is not thought. Love is never contradictory – but thought is. Thought, which is a response of memory based on the animal instincts – that is, the machinery of thinking – is always contradictory. And when there is an action born of thought, that action which is contradictory brings conflict and misery. And in inquiring, in examining if there is any other activity which is not fraught with pain, with anxiety, with conflict, you must be in a state of negation. Do you understand? To inquire, to examine, you must be in a state of negation; otherwise, you cannot examine. You must be in a state of not-knowing; otherwise, how can you examine?
The way of life to which we are accustomed is what is called a positive way because you can feel it out, you can do it, day after day, repetitively, based on imitation, habit, following, obeying, being drilled by society or by yourself. All that is positive activity, in which there is conflict and misery. Please listen to all this. And when you deny that, the very process of denying, the very process of turning your back on it, is a state of negation because you do not know what comes next. Surely it is not complicated. Intellectually, it sounds complicated; but it is not. When you turn your back on something, you have finished with it.
Now we say that love is total negation. We don't know what it means. We don't know what love means. We know what pleasure is – pleasure, which we mistake for love. Where there is love, there is no pleasure. Pleasure is the result of thought – obviously. I look at something beautiful; thought comes in and begins to think about it; it creates an image. Please watch it in yourself. And that image gives you a great deal of pleasure over that scene, over that feeling; and thought gives to that pleasure sustenance and continuity. And in family life, that is what you call love; but, that has nothing to do whatever with love. You are only concerned with pleasure; and where there is pursuit of pleasure, there is imitative continuity in time – please listen to all this – whereas love has no continuity because love is not pleasure. And to understand what love is, to be in that state, there must be the negation of the positive. Right? Shall we go on with this?
Sirs, look! When you say you love somebody – your wife, your husband, your children – what is involved in it? Strip it of all words, of all sentiments, emotionalism, and look at it factually. What is involved in it when you say, « I love my wife, my husband, my children »? Essentially it is pleasure and security. We are not being cynical. These are facts. If you really loved your wife and your children – loved, not had the pleasure which you derive by belonging to a family, a narrow little group, sexually, and by furthering your own particular egotism – you would have a different kind of education; you would not want your son to be concerned only with technological studies; you would not help your son only to pass some stupid, little examination and get a job; but you would educate him to understand the whole process of living – not just one part, a segment, a fragment of this vast life. If you really loved your son, there would be no war; you would see to it. That means you would have no nationality, no separative religions, no castes – all that nonsense would go.
So, thought cannot under any circumstances bring about a state of love. Thought can only understand what is positive, not what is negative. That is, how can you, through thought, find out what love is? You cannot. You cannot cultivate love. You cannot say, « I practice, day after day, being generous, kind, tender, gentle, thinking about others » – that does not create love; that is still positive action by thought. So it is only when there is the absence of thinking that you can understand what it is to be negative – not through thought. Thought can only create a pattern and according to that pattern or formula act, and hence there is conflict. And to find out a way of living in which there is no conflict at all, at any time, you must understand this love which is total negation.
Sirs, how can you love, how can there be love, when there is self-centered activity, either of righteousness or smug respectability, or of ambition, greed, envy, competition – which are all positive processes of thought? How can you love? You can't because it is impossible. You can pretend, you can use the word love, you can be very emotional, sentimental, you can be very loyal – but that has nothing whatsoever to do with love. To understand what it is, you have to understand this positive thing called « thinking. » And so out of this negation, which is called love, there is action which is the most positive because it does not create conflict, because, after all, that is what we want in this world: to live in a world where there is no conflict, where there is actually peace, both outward and inward. You must have peace; otherwise, you are destroyed; it is only in peace that any goodness can flower; it is only in peace that you see beauty. If your mind is tortured, anxious, envious, if your mind is a battlefield, how can you see what is beautiful? Beauty is not thought. The thing that is created by thought is not beauty.
To find out an action which is not based on idea, concept, and formula, you must listen to the whole of that structure, see, understand that whole structure completely; and in the very understanding of it, you have turned away from it. Therefore, your mind then is in a state of negation, not bitterness, not cynicism, but it sees the futility of living that way; it actually sees it and ends it. When you end something, there is a beginning of the new. But we are afraid to end the old because the new we want to translate in terms of the old. You see that? If I realize that I do not really love my family – which means I am not responsible for it – then I am at liberty to chase another woman or another man, which is again the process of thinking. So thought is not the way out.
You can be very clever, erudite; but if you want to find a way of action that is totally different, that gives bliss to life, you must understand the whole machinery of thinking. And in the very understanding of what is positive – which is thought – you enter into a different dimension of action which is essentially love. That means – to inquire you must be free; otherwise, you cannot inquire, you cannot examine; and this chaos, mess in the world demands reexamination totally, not according to your terms, not according to your fancies, pleasures, idiosyncrasies, or the activities to which you have been committed. You have to think of the whole thing anew.
And the new can only be born in negation, not out of the positive assertion of what has been. And the new can only come into being when there is that total emptiness, which is real love. Then you will find out for yourself what action is in which there is no conflict at any time – and that is the rejuvenation that the mind needs. It is only when the mind has been made young through love, which is the total negation of the life of positive thought – not through sentimentality, not through devotion, not through following – that such a mind can build a new world, a new relationship. And it is only such a mind that can go beyond all limitations and enter into a totally different dimension.
And that dimension is something which no word, no thought, no experience can ever discover. It is only when you totally deny the past, which is thought, when you totally deny it every day of your life so that there is never a moment of accumulation – it is only then that you will find out for yourself a dimension which is bliss, which is not of time, which is something that lies beyond human thought.
Sixth Public Talk in Bombay
Wednesday, March 2, 1966
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