If you actually perceive the narrowness of the spirit and the increasing slavery of the mind, you will find that out of that perception comes energy. It is this energy, born of perception, that shatters the petty, respectable, fearful mind. Perception is the way of truth.
Krishnamurti in Bombay 1959, Talk 1
Video: Is It Possible To Be Completely Awake?
Is Perception a Matter of Time?
There are various methods with which you are familiar, one or other of which you practise in the hope of directly perceiving something which may be called reality, a state that has no becoming but is only being. Similarly, you want to find out what method the speaker will offer to reveal this extraordinary state. You want to learn how to approach this state step by step through the practice of certain forms of meditation, through the cultivation of virtue, self-discipline, and so on. But no method will bring about clear perception; on the contrary.
A method implies time, and when you practise a method you must have time to bridge the gap between what is and what should be. Time is necessary to travel the distance created by the mind between the fact and the dissolution of the fact, which is the end to be achieved. Our ideology is based on this sense of achievement through time, so we begin to acquire and learn, and therefore we rely on the master, guru or teacher because we think they are going to help us to get there.
We have taken it for granted that time is necessary.
So, is perception or direct experience of reality a matter of time? Is there a gap that must be bridged over by the process of knowledge? If there is, then knowledge becomes extraordinarily important. Then the more you know, the more you practise and the more you discipline yourself, the greater your capacity to build this bridge to try to reach reality. We have taken it for granted that time is necessary. If I am violent, I say time is necessary for me to be in a state of non-violence; I must have time to practise non-violence, to control and discipline the mind. We have accepted this idea, and it may be an illusion, it may be totally false. Perception is not a matter of time at all. Either one perceives or one does not perceive. There is no gradual process of learning to perceive. It is the absence of experience, which is based on knowledge, that gives perception.
I want to differentiate between learning and experiencing. You can experience what you learn, but such experience is conditioned by what you have learned. You can learn something and then experience it. I can read about the life of Christ and get emotional, thrilled by it, and then experience what I have read. I can read the Gita, conjure up all kinds of ideas and experience them. Conscious reading and unconscious learning bring about certain forms of experience. You may not have read a single book, but because you are conditioned by centuries of Hinduism, consciously or unconsciously the mind has become the repository of traditions and beliefs which may produce experiences to which you attach tremendous importance. But, when you examine these experiences, they are nothing but the reaction of a conditioned mind.
Can there be direct experience stripped of all knowledge and learning, so that it is true and not merely the reaction of one’s conditioning? Perception cannot be true as long as it is based on a method, because the method produces its own experience. If I believe in Christianity or some other religion, and I practise a method which promises to lead me to truth according to that belief, surely the experience it produces has no validity at all. It is an experience based on my conviction, pettiness and conditioned mind. What is experienced is merely the outcome of that method, whereas I am talking about something entirely different.
If we see that the method is false, an illusion, the product of time, and that time cannot lead to direct experience, then that very perception is the liberation from time. Our relationship is then entirely different. So we are not here to learn a new method, technique or approach to life. We are here to strip the mind of all illusion and perceive directly, and that requires astonishing attention to what is being said, not a casual communication as if you were attending just another talk. What matters is to free the mind from knowledge and from the method or practice based on that knowledge which can only lead to the thing we crave. So it is very important to see the illusion that the mind has created as time through which to acquire, learn, arrive or gain.
Do not immediately say that reality, God or the Atman is within us. It is not. That is your idea, your superstition, your conditioned way of thinking. You say that God is within us, and the communist, who has been trained differently from childhood, says that there is no God at all and that what you are saying is nonsense. You are conditioned to believe in one way, and he in another, so you are both the same. Whereas, the whole concern is to find out if the mind can strip itself immediately of belief, knowledge and conditioning so that there is direct perception. One may live a thousand lives and practise self-discipline, one may sacrifice, subjugate, meditate, but this will never lead to direct perception, which can take place only in freedom, not through control, subjugation or discipline. There can be freedom only when the mind is immediately aware of its conditioning, which brings about the cessation of that conditioning.
Krishnamurti in Benares 1955, Talk 1
Video: Is It Possible To Be Aware With All Your Senses Simultaneously?
Freedom Is Born of the Perception That Freedom Is Essential
Before we go more deeply into this question, it is necessary to be aware of how the mind has become a slave. For most of us, the mind is a slave to tradition, custom, habit and to our daily job to which we are addicted. Very few of us realise how slavish our minds are; and without perceiving what makes the mind slavish, without being aware of the nature of its slavery, we cannot understand what freedom is. Unless one is aware of how the mind is captured and held, which is to comprehend the totality of its slavishness, the mind can ever be free. One has to understand what is before one can perceive that which is other than what is.
It is very important to perceive how the mind becomes a slave.
So let us observe our minds; let us look at the totality of the mind, the unconscious as well as the conscious. The conscious mind is occupied with the everyday events of life; it is the mind that learns and adjusts, that acquires a technique. Most of us are occupied almost every day, earning a livelihood; and when the mind spends so much of its life in acquiring and practising a technique, naturally it becomes a slave to that technique. We are slaves to tradition, custom, knowledge, conclusions, beliefs, and the conditioned ways of our thinking. We accept this slavery as inevitable. We don’t inquire to find out whether we can function without being slaves. Having accepted the inevitability of earning a livelihood, we have also accepted as inevitable the mind’s slavishness and fears, and thus we tread the mill of everyday existence.
We have to live in this world – that is the only inevitable thing in life. The question is whether we can live in this world with freedom. Can we live in this world without being slaves, without the everlasting burden of fear, frustration and all the agony of sorrow? The limitations of the mind and the limitations of our thinking make us slaves. If we observe, we see that the margin of freedom for the individual is getting narrower. The politicians, the organised religions, the books we read, the knowledge and techniques we acquire, the traditions we are born into, the demands of our ambitions and desires, are all narrowing down the margin of freedom. I do not know to what extent and depth you are aware of this.
We are not talking about slavery as an abstraction, something which you hear about and then return to your old routine. On the contrary, it is very important to understand this problem for oneself, because it is only in freedom that there are love and creation; it is only in freedom that truth can be found. Do what it will, a slavish mind can never find truth; a slavish mind can never know the beauty and fullness of life. So it is very important to perceive how the mind, by its processes, by its addiction to tradition, custom, knowledge and belief, becomes a slave.
I wonder if you are aware of this problem. Are you concerned merely to exist somehow in this ugly, brutal world, muttering on the side about God and freedom, and cultivating some futile virtue which makes you respectable in the eyes of society? Are you concerned with human dignity? There can be no human dignity without freedom, and freedom is not easily come by. To be free, one must understand oneself; one must be aware of the movements of thought and feeling, the ways of one’s mind. I wonder if you are aware of yourself. Are you aware, not theoretically but actually, to what depth you are a slave? Or are you satisfied with explanations, saying to yourself that some degree of slavery is inevitable?
It is the perception of ‘what is’ that releases creative fire.
We are not concerned with what you should or should not do – that is not the problem. We are concerned with understanding the mind, and in understanding, there is no condemnation or demand for a pattern of action. You are merely observing, and observation is denied when you concern yourself with a pattern of action or merely explain the inevitability of a slavish life. What matters is to observe your mind without judgment – look at it, watch it, be conscious of the fact that your mind is a slave. That very perception releases energy, and it is this energy that is going to destroy the slavishness of the mind. But if you merely ask, ‘How am I to be free from my slavery to routine, from my fear and boredom in everyday existence?’ you will never release this energy. We are concerned only with perceiving what is, and it is the perception of what is that releases creative fire. You cannot perceive if you do not ask the right question, and a right question has no answer because it needs no answer. It is wrong questions that invariably have answers. The urgency behind the right question, the very instance of it, brings about perception. The perceiving mind is living, moving, full of energy, and only such a mind can understand what truth is.
When face to face with a problem of this kind, most of us invariably seek an answer or solution, the ‘what to do’. The ‘what to do’ is easy, leading to further misfortune and misery. Offering an answer or explanation is the way of politicians and organised religions. But we are not politicians, nor are we slavish to organised religions – we are now examining the ways of our minds, and for that, there must be no fear. To find out about oneself, what one thinks, what one is, the extraordinary depths and movements of the mind – to be aware of all that requires a certain freedom. To inquire into oneself also requires astonishing energy, because one has to travel an immeasurable distance.
To go into ourselves deeply, fully, a sense of freedom is necessary, not at the end but the very beginning. Do not ask how to arrive at that freedom. No system of meditation, no book, drug or psychological trick will give you freedom. Freedom is born of the perception that freedom is essential. The moment you perceive that freedom is essential, you are in a state of revolt, against this ugly world, against all orthodoxy, against tradition, against leadership, both political and religious. Revolt within the framework of the mind soon withers away, but there is a lasting revolt which comes into being when you perceive for yourself that freedom is essential.
To perceive the necessity of being free is an absolute necessity.
Most of us are not aware of ourselves. We have not given thought to the ways of our minds as we have given thought to our jobs. We have never really looked at ourselves, never wandered into the depths of ourselves without calculation and premeditation, without seeking something out of those depths. We have never taken the journey into ourselves without a purpose. The moment one has a motive or purpose, one is a slave to it – one cannot wander freely within oneself because one thinks in terms of change or self-improvement. One is tied to the post of self-improvement, which is a projection of one’s own narrow, petty mind.
Do please consider what I am saying, not merely verbally but observe your mind, the actuality of your inner state. As long as you are a slave, your speaking about God, truth or the things that you have learned from sacred books, has no meaning; it only perpetuates your slavery. But if your mind begins to perceive the necessity of freedom, it will create its own energy, which will then operate without your calculated efforts to be free of slavery. This perception, this constant awareness of what is, has its own will – if I can use that word will without confusing it with the will to which you are accustomed. I am talking of a perceptive state of mind which has its own action. That is, perception itself is action. I realise, as you must realise too, that the mind is a slave to habit, custom, tradition, and to all the memories with which it is burdened. Realising this, the mind also realises that it must be free because it is only in freedom that one can inquire and discover. To perceive the necessity of being free is an absolute necessity.
How is the slavish mind to be free? We are asking this question because we see that our lives are nothing but slavery. Going to the office day after day in utter boredom, being a slave to tradition, custom, fear, to one’s wife, husband or boss – that is one’s life. See the appalling pettiness and nauseating indignity of it. So we ask how we are to be free. Is that a right question? If it is, it will have no answer, because the question itself will open the door. If it is a wrong question, you will find – at least you will think you have found – ways and means of ‘solving’ the problem. But do what it will, the slavish mind can never free itself through any means, system or method. Whereas if you perceive completely, absolutely, that the mind must be free, that very perception brings an action which will set the mind free.
It is very important to understand this, and understanding is instantaneous. You do not understand tomorrow – there is no arrival at understanding after thinking it over. You either understand now, or you don’t understand at all. Understanding takes place when the mind is not cluttered up with motives, fears and the demand for an answer. The state of the mind that questions is much more important than the question itself. Any question that may be asked by a slavish mind, and the answer it receives, will still be within the limitations of its slavery. But a mind that realises the full extent of its slavery will have a totally different approach, and it is this totally different approach with which we are concerned. You can ask the right question only when you instantly see the absolute necessity of freedom. Life is wide, limitless; life is sorrow and a tremendous sense of joy. But our joys and sorrows are so small, and from that shallowness of mind we ask questions and find answers. So the problem is, surely, to free the mind totally so that it is in a state of awareness which has no border or frontier. How is the mind to discover that state? How is it to come to that freedom?
You either understand now, or you don’t understand at all.
I hope you are seriously putting these questions to yourselves. I am not putting it to you; I am not trying to influence you; I am merely pointing out the importance of asking oneself these questions. The verbal asking of a question by another has no meaning if you don’t put it to yourself with instance and urgency. The margin of freedom is growing narrower every day. The politicians, leaders, priests, newspapers and books you read, the knowledge you acquire and the beliefs you cling to, all this is making the margin of freedom more and more narrow. If you are aware of this process going on, if you actually perceive the narrowness of the spirit, the increasing slavery of the mind, you will find that out of perception comes energy. It is this energy, born of perception, that shatters the petty, respectable, fearful mind. Perception is the way of truth.
To perceive something is an astonishing experience. I don’t know if you have ever really perceived anything – a flower, a face, the sky or the sea. Of course, you see these things as you pass by, but I wonder whether you have ever taken the trouble actually to look at a flower. When you do look, what happens? You immediately name the flower, you are concerned with what species it belongs to, or you think, ‘What lovely colours it has. I would like to grow it in my garden, give it to someone or put it in my buttonhole.’ The moment you look at a flower, your mind begins chattering about it. Therefore you don’t perceive the flower. You perceive something only when your mind is silent, and there is no chattering of any kind. If you can look at the evening star over the sea without a movement of the mind, you really perceive the extraordinary beauty of it.
When you perceive beauty, do you not also experience a state of love? Surely, beauty and love are the same. Without love, there is no beauty; without beauty, there is no love. Beauty is in form, speech and conduct. If there is no love, conduct is empty; it is merely the product of society and culture, mechanical and lifeless. But when the mind perceives without the slightest flutter, then it is capable of looking into the total depth of itself; and such perception is timeless. You don’t have to do something to bring it about; there is no discipline, no method by which you can learn perceive.
Perception is instantaneous, timeless; there is no gradual approach to it.
Your minds are slaves to patterns, systems, methods and techniques. I am talking about something entirely different. Perception is instantaneous, timeless; there is no gradual approach to it. Perception takes place on the instant; it is a state of effortless attention. The mind is not making an effort, and so it does not create a border or frontier, it does not place a limitation on its own consciousness. Then life is not this terrible process of sorrow, struggle and unutterable boredom. Life is then an eternal movement, without beginning and end. But to be aware of that timeless state, to feel the tremendous depth and ecstasy of it, one must begin by understanding the slavish mind. Without understanding the one, you cannot have the other.
We want to escape from our slavery, and that is why we talk about religious things; that is why we read the scriptures; that is why we speculate, argue and discuss – which is all so vain and futile. Whereas, if you are aware that your mind is narrow, limited, slavish, petty – aware of it choicelessly – then you are in a state of perception. It is this perception that will bring the necessary energy to free the mind from its slavery. Then the mind has no centre from which it acts. The moment you have a centre, there must also be a circumference. To function from a centre, within a circumference, is slavery. But when the mind, being aware of the centre, also perceives the nature of the centre, that very perception is enough. To perceive the nature of the centre is the greatest thing you can do; it is the greatest action the mind can take. But that requires your complete attention. You know, when you love something without any motive, without any want, such love brings its own results, it finds its own way, and it is its own beauty.
So, what is important is to be aware of how one’s mind, in the very process of accumulation, becomes a slave. Do not ask, ‘How am I to be free from accumulation?’ – for then you are putting a wrong question. But if you really perceive for yourself that your mind is accumulating, that is enough. To perceive requires complete attention, and when you give your whole mind, your whole heart, your total being to something, there is no problem. It is partial attention, in which there is a withholding, that creates the problems and the miseries in our life.
Krishnamurti in Bombay 1959, Talk 1
Video: On Insight and Intuition
Perception Is Action
What is actually happening outwardly all over the world? Not the interpretation, explanation or causation of what is taking place, but what is actually taking place? If a madman were to arrange the affairs of the world, he couldn’t do better. Sociologically, economically and culturally, there is disintegration. Politicians have not been able to solve our problems. On the contrary, they are increasing them. Countries are divided – the affluent countries and the so-called undeveloped countries, with poverty, wars and conflict of every kind. The social morality is immorality. The religious organisations with their beliefs, rituals and dogmas are separating people. If you are a Hindu and I am a Muslim, we must be against each other. We may tolerate each other, but basically, inwardly, we are against each other. So where there is division, there must be conflict, not only outwardly but inwardly. You can see what is going on in this unfortunate world, and inwardly we are a mass of contradictions.
Observe what is actually going on, not what you would like it to be.
Do observe yourself, watch yourself, not what the speaker is saying. Listen to what the speaker is saying as a way of observing yourself. Look at yourself as though you are looking at yourself in a mirror. Observe what is actually going on, not what you would like it to be. You will see that there is great confusion, contradiction, conflict, sorrow, the pursuit of pleasure, ideological as well as sensuous, and an occasional flash of joy. That is actually what is taking place. Can all this be radically changed? Can there be an inward and therefore outward psychological revolution? We cannot possibly go on with our old habits, old traditions and old capacities of thinking. Our very structure of thought must change. Our very brain cells must undergo a transformation to bring about order, not only within ourselves but outwardly.
The mind has been put together through time. The brain cells, which have evolved through centuries upon centuries, have acquired tremendous knowledge and experience. These brain cells have produced this monstrous world, this world of war, injustice, poverty, misery, division culturally and religiously. Any reconstruction by thought is still within the same field. Thought has produced this division among people, for economic, social, cultural reasons, linguistically and ideologically. The intellect with its cunning reason has brought about this condition, both inwardly and outwardly. Your thought, the way you think, the way another thinks, as a Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, Muslim, communist or God knows what else, is conditioned by the past. That very same thought tries to find a way out of this confusion.
We have got to change. We cannot lazily go on as we are, satisfied with little things, accepting doctrines as truth, believing in something about which we know absolutely nothing, following somebody, hoping that they will lead us to enlightenment. All this is produced by thought, and thought is the response of memory. If you had no memory, you couldn’t think. Memory is knowledge, gathered experience, and thought is the response of the past. We try to solve the immense and complex problem of human relationship in terms of the past. We must negate everything that thought has put together. Otherwise, we cannot possibly find a new dimension. It is not a matter of agreement or disagreement. It is a matter of perception, seeing actually what is going on. So the question is, can the brain cells themselves, which contain memories, undergo radical mutation?
Is there an action of perception in which thought does not enter?
Thought has brought about great confusion, misery, wars, and thought also has produced extraordinary technological knowledge, which we must have. So there is a contradiction in the very functioning of thought: on one side it divides and separates, psychologically as well as outwardly; on the other, it has gathered extraordinary knowledge. Though it must function within the field of knowledge, can that very thought cease to create separation? Thought is old because memory is of yesterday. Thought is never free because it can only function within the field of knowledge. Is there a perception in which the very seeing is the acting?
We are second-hand human beings, and we are trying to find out a way of living that is timeless. Thought is time. We think in terms of time. We think of life as a process, getting from here to there. Now we are inquiring into a way of living in which time does not exist, except chronologically. We are concerned with change, a revolution, a total mutation of the very structure of the brain cells. Otherwise, we cannot produce a new culture, a new way of living, and live in a different dimension altogether. Is there an action of perception in which thought does not enter?
One has lived in the same old pattern, in a small corner of this vast field of life. In that corner, there is extraordinary division. That very corner creates division, and we are living in that state. One observes this, not through books or newspapers, not through what somebody else says, one actually observes this fact, and one asks if this can be radically changed. We think of change in terms of time: ‘I will be different tomorrow.’ We are caught in the verb ‘to be’: I have been, I am, I shall be. The verb ‘to be’ is time. If one is serious, meditative, deeply inquiring, one sees that time does not seem to bring about radical change. I will be tomorrow what I have been, modified, slightly different, but in the same movement of what has been. That is a process in time and in that there is no mutation or transformation. How is this mutation to take place, from which there will be a different way of living, a different culture, a different creation altogether? Can one perceive and act? Not perception then act later, which is still the function of thought.
What is it that prevents perception?
I see in myself a great deal of suffering, confusion, ambition, anger, violence. All the things that man has put together are in you and in me – the sexual and ideological pleasures, the fears and agonies, the competitive drive. That is what you are, what we are. Can that be changed instantly? We think there is a way of bringing about a radical change in that through time, that gradually I will evolve, gradually I will get rid of my anger: ‘I should become that.’ In the interval between what you are and what should be, is space and time. When you move from what is to what you should be, other factors come in, and so you never get to what should be. If I am violent and I say to myself, ‘I must not be violent next week,’ the ‘must not be violent’ implies time, and between now and next week I am sowing the seeds of violence. Therefore I have not stopped being violent. Therefore I ask myself, is there a perception which is freed from time, and therefore instant action? Is there perception of violence which will end that violence, not in a week but instantly? I want to see if violence can end instantly and not gradually. If it is gradually, it will never end.
Perception is action. As when you see a snake, you act instantly. There is no saying, ‘I will act later’ – there is an immediate response because there is a danger. What prevents the mind and the brain from this instant action of perception? What do you think prevents it? Why don’t you see that time is a barrier? Time does not bring freedom because time is thought. Time is putting things together horizontally or vertically. Time will not bring about a different perception of life at a different dimension. So, what is it that prevents perception? Why don’t you see things clearly and act instantly? You see that psychological division creates tremendous conflict. How do you see it, verbally or as an actual fact of danger? Intellectually I recognise that as long as I am a Hindu or whatever it is, that very fact must bring about division, and division is conflict. Intellectually I say, ‘Yes, that is so,’ and there I stop – no action comes from it. I don’t completely cease to be a Hindu. Which means all the tradition, conditioning and culture does not cease, because I intellectually hear the words without relating to danger. So, why is there no perception, as when there is a danger you perceive and act instantly? One who is serious wants to find a way of living in which there is no conflict at all, at the very root of one’s being. One has to find out, not merely intellectually or not verbally, but actually find out if there is an action which is not of time.
At the objective level, can you see something without an image, without knowledge, without thought coming in between the observer and the observed? Just to observe. Have you ever done it? You have observed through an image. Can you observe a tree, your neighbour, your wife or husband without the image? To observe your wife or husband may be a little more difficult than observing a tree! You can observe a tree fairly easily without the image, word or thought. When you observe the tree without the whole mechanism of thought coming into operation, the space between you and the tree, which is time, disappears. Which does not mean you become the tree or you identify yourself with the tree. You see the tree completely, not partially. Then there is only the tree, without the observer. Do it. Not try to do it – do it. That is, observe a flower, a cloud, a bird, the light on the water, the movement of the breeze among the leaves, without any image. Then you will see there is a relationship which has never existed before, between that which is observed and the observer, because then the observer comes totally to an end.
Perceive, act, and end there. Forget it.
Images are built through time. How is the image to come to an end? The image that one has built about oneself and the image that one has built about another, how are they to come to an end? If the image disappears, there is a totally different kind of relationship. The image is the past; the image is memory. Memory is the various markings on the brain cells which have taken place through a number of years, which is the conditioning of the brain cells. Can the image come to an end? Not through time, not gradually, but instantly. To answer that question, one has to go into what the machinery is that builds the image. Just observe it, don’t try to translate it and act upon it.
You tell me I am a fool. The word with its associations is seated in the brain cells. The word fool has its association, which is the memory, which is the old brain. The old brain’s response is of memory. When there is attention at the moment of insult, there is no operation of the machine. You call me a fool – if I am completely aware at that moment, the machinery has no fuel to act. At the moment of inattention, the machinery is in operation. At the moment of attention, you can say what you like; the machinery does not function. You can see this for yourself. When you call yourself a Hindu, at that moment when you are completely aware, you see all the significance and meaning of it – the division, conflict, battle, separation – and at that moment the machinery of Hinduism, which is the conditioning, comes to an end. At the moment of attention, all the conditioning disappears and all the image-building comes to an end. It is only when you are not attentive that the whole thing begins.
The next question is, can this attention endure, be sustained? Which means, can this attention continue all the time? That involves time. Therefore you are putting a wrong question. The moment you ask how it is to continue, you are inviting time. Therefore time is inattention. When you are completely attentive, there is no time. When there is this attention, and you have perceived and acted, forget it, it is over. That is, at that moment of attention you have seen and acted, but thought says, ‘How extraordinary, I wish I could continue that attention all the time,’ because I see a way of acting without conflict. And so thought wants to cultivate attention. Any form of cultivation implies time, but attention cannot be cultivated through time. Therefore perceive, act, and end there. Forget it. Begin again, so that the brain cells are fresh each time, not burdened with yesterday’s perception.
The mind then is always fresh, young and innocent, not carrying the burdens of yesterday. Innocence means a mind that can never be hurt, a mind that has no markings of ever being hurt. That is real innocence. Most of us are hurt from childhood and have scars on the brain. We struggle through these scars to find a state of mind in which there is no hurt. An innocent mind is a mind that has never been hurt. That means a mind that never carries hurt over to the next day, so there is no forgiveness or remembrance.