Can you listen, as the soil receives the seed, and see if the mind is capable of being free, empty? It can be empty only by understanding all its projections and activities, not off and on, but from day to day, from moment to moment. Then you will find the answer; then you will see that change comes without your asking, that the state of creative emptiness is not a thing to be cultivated – it is there, it comes darkly, without any invitation, and only in that state is there a possibility of renewal, newness and revolution.
From the book The Book of Life by J. Krishnamurti — Purchase here
Creativity and conditioning
As long as you are attempting to be creative within the field of your conditioning, you cannot be creative.
We are the result of society, we are the depositories of society, and we either conform to society or break away. Breaking away from society depends upon our background and conditioning; therefore, our breaking away does not indicate that we are free. It may be merely the reaction of the background to certain incidents. So, one who is creative merely in the accepted sense of the word may be disruptive without transforming in any fundamental way the respectable, exploiting society. Society is the outcome of our projections and intentions, and therefore we are not separate from society. Since one who goes against society is not necessarily a revolutionary, is it not important to understand what we mean by revolution? As long as we base revolution on an idea, it is not a revolution. A revolution based on belief, dogma or knowledge is no revolution at all but merely a modified continuation of the old. A reaction of the background against the conditioning influence of society is an escape, not a revolution.
There is a real revolution only when one understands the whole total process of oneself. As long as we accept the pattern of society, as long as we produce the influences which create a society based on violence, intolerance and static progress – as long as that process exists, society will try to control the individual. As long as you are attempting to be creative within the field of your conditioning, you cannot be creative. There is creativeness only when the mind is completely understood, and then the mind does not depend on mere expression. The expression is of secondary importance.
So, the important thing is to discover what it is to be creative. Creativity can be discovered and understood, the truth of it seen, only when I understand the whole total process of myself. As long as there is a projection of the mind, whether at the verbal or any other level, there cannot be a creative state. When every movement of thought is understood and comes to an end, then only is there creativeness.
Krishnamurti in Paris 1950, Talk 3
We want to be famous as a writer, poet, painter, politician, singer, or what you will. Why? Because we don’t love what we are doing. If you love to sing, paint or write poems, if you really love it you would not be concerned with whether you are famous or not. To want to be famous is tawdry, trivial, stupid, has no meaning, but because we don’t love what we are doing, we want to enrich ourselves with fame. Our present education is rotten because it teaches us to love success and not what we are doing. The result has become more important than the action.
It is good to hide your brilliance under a bushel, to be anonymous, to love what you are doing and not to show off. It is good to be kind without a name. That does not make you famous, it does not cause your photograph to appear in the newspapers. Politicians do not come to your door. You are just a creative human being living anonymously, and in that there is richness and great beauty.
From the book The Book of Life by J. Krishnamurti — Purchase here
VIDEO: What is true creativity?
A creatively empty mind
To find out, your mind must be in a state of creative experience, capable of discovering, which means it must be completely free from all knowledge. But your mind is crammed with knowledge, information, experience and memories, and with that mind you try to find out. It is only when the mind is creatively empty that it is capable of finding out whether there is an ultimate reality or not. But the mind is not creatively empty; it is acquiring, gathering, living on the past or the future, or trying to be focused on the immediate present. It is not in that state of creativeness in which a new thing can take place. As the mind is the result of time, it cannot possibly understand that which is timeless, eternal.
So, our job is to inquire not if there is an ultimate reality, but whether the mind can ever be free from time, which is memory. From this process of accumulation, the gathering of experiences, living on the past or in the future, can the mind be still? Stillness is not the outcome of discipline, of control. There is stillness only when the mind is silently aware of this whole complex problem, and it is such a mind that can understand if there is an ultimate reality or not.
From the book Collected Works Vol. 7 by J. Krishnamurti
A state of not knowing
It is important to consider the question of what is learning, and also to understand what is creativity. In the deepest and most profound sense, creativity and learning are closely related. To most of us, creativity means either painting a picture, writing a poem, having children, or enjoying the sunset on the river. But creativity is not the mere expression of a feeling or technique; creativity is something entirely different. It is a state of mind in which all thought has completely ceased, and which may be called reality, God, or what you will. This state of creativity comes into being when we understand what it is we call learning.
Do we learn anything? And what is it that we learn? Deeply, fundamentally, is there anything to know? Is it not important to ponder over this whole question of teaching and learning? Beyond all expression, beyond all verbal statement and explanation, beyond all the restless activity of the mind, is there anything to learn? And what do we mean by learning?
Creativity is not the mere expression of a feeling or technique.
Learning is the accumulation of experience; it is skill in action. One learns a language, a craft, a skill, one learns how to drive a car, how to draw, how to read, build a dynamo or sail a ship. Learning is also the accumulation of knowledge, knowledge of various philosophies, of science, and so on. Is there anything more to learn? Can one learn about oneself? Or is the understanding, the knowledge of oneself only from moment to moment and not from accumulation to accumulation? Must not the mind understand this whole process of accumulating knowledge, with its imitative capacity, and go beyond it?
What do we actually know? What we call knowledge is education imparted at different levels of our existence by society and religion, and with its help, we try to survive. In the process of survival, our lives are nightmares of ambition, corruption, competition and the struggle to be something; there is a constant battle, a conflict going on within ourselves and around us. Modern existence, based on self-survival, greed, jealousy, violence and war, is an everlasting struggle. That is our life, and we have learned how to survive within that culture of ambition, ruthlessness, belief, quarrels and fragmentary thought; we have learned how to manipulate our way through this chaos and mess. What is it that we have learned? We have learned various techniques, various forms of expression. We are gathering, and we express what we have gathered. One learns the technique of painting or of building a bridge, and from that learning comes expression. We are constantly accumulating knowledge and information. If we go beyond all that, what is it that we know? Do we know anything? We know the distance between the stars, how to build aeroplanes, how to split the atom, and so on, but apart from that, do we know anything at all? Do we know anything except technique, skills, facts? Must not the mind go beyond all knowledge, all learning?
Now, if without being mesmerised by words we can listen to the description of what lies behind this extraordinary struggle to acquire knowledge, learning, and let that struggle come to an end, then a totally different state will come into being, and we shall find out what is true creativity. We have acquired many forms of technique, we are familiar with the complex machinery of living, of survival, and we may have studied various philosophies and be capable of scholarly disputations with erudite people. But as long as one merely practices a technique or lives along the lines of any particular philosophy, one is living according to a pattern, and therefore there must be imitation and copying. Is it possible to experience that state in which there is no copying or imitation? To find out if such a thing is possible, we must begin by inquiring what it is that we know.
Must not the mind go beyond all knowledge, all learning?
Have you ever considered what it is that you know? You may be scholars, very clever people who have read, who have studied, and who have suffered in the battle of life, but what is it that you know? Do you actually know anything? You know how to survive, how to do a particular job, you know a certain technique and have acquired the skill which comes with experience. But beyond that, do you know anything at all? Can the mind ask that question and remain with it, without trying to justify itself or answer the question? The moment you have explanations, the moment you answer that question, you have already entered the field of the known. So, is it not important for the mind to inquire and remain in that state of inquiry, which is not to seek an answer but simply to see if you know anything at all beyond the knowledge which has already been accumulated?
All that we learn and all that we know is accumulation. It is the accumulative memory which acts; therefore it is imitation. Is it possible to find a state of being in which all knowledge has ceased and there is only that state of being? It is very important to find this out because we approach existence not with the unknown but always with the known. We translate experience in terms of the known, in terms of the past, and therefore living becomes a series of reactions based on the known. As the known is mere imitation, our lives become dull and empty.
We must come to the point where there is nothing to learn, for then the mind is free.
Is it possible for the mind to live in a state of not knowing? After all, what is it that we know? Everything that we know is based on experience, conformity and fear; we know in order to survive, and with that same mentality we approach the unknown, which is reality, God, or what you will. Can the mind be totally free of the known? This is an important question to ask oneself because we are always content with the known, and when you scratch the surface of the known there is nothing, there is emptiness, a void. It is very important for the mind to live completely in that void, in that silence, and from that void, that silence, to think, to express, to invite thought and thereby action. That is why we must understand what it means to learn. Beyond a certain point, we cannot learn anymore because there is nothing to learn, there is no teacher to teach, and we must come to that point, which means being completely free from all sense of becoming something, from all sense of the ‘more’. It is only when the mind is in that state of void in which there is no knowledge, in which there is no longer the experiencer who is learning, who is gathering, who is accumulating – it is only then that there is this creativity which can express itself through various skills and crafts without causing further misery.
What I am saying is not difficult. The difficulty is to ask the question and keep on asking it. If you are waiting for an answer to the question, you are not concerned with the question at all.
So, we must come to the point where there is nothing to learn, for then the mind is free from society, from all impositions, from this struggle for social recognition. It is only in that state of freedom from society that we can create a new culture, bring about a new civilisation. We may learn how to reform a society, how to adjust ourselves to the prison of a culture, and that is what most of us are occupied with; therefore our response to challenge is always limited, inadequate. Whereas if the mind is completely free from society, from every form of social conditioning, which means that it is a truly religious mind, then it is in a state of silence in which there is no acquisition of knowledge, no experiencer; and it is the action of such a mind that produces a new culture, a new civilisation.
Krishnamurti in Bombay (Mumbai) 1955, Talk 5
VIDEO: Cannot creativity include the activity of thought?
Constant renewal of creative being
Questioner: I am a writer and I am faced with periods of sterility when nothing seems to come. These periods begin and end without any apparent reason. What are their cause and cure?
Krishnamurti: The problem is not how to be creative all the time, but why there is insensitivity. Why are there moments of dullness in which creativity ceases? Creativeness comes into being; it cannot be invited, it cannot be artificially sustained. Why do these moments of dullness come? Insensitivity must come into being through dull thoughts, feelings and actions. How can there be sensitivity when there is greed, ruthlessness and envy? Envy, though it gives a certain activity to the mind as the search and the achievement of power, will inevitably make the mind and the heart dull. Without understanding the causes that bring about insensitivity, we cling to those states in which creativeness has been. We long for creativeness, which is another escape from what is. In the understanding of what is without creating an opposite, creativeness comes into being.
Insensitivity prevents creative being.
So, the problem is first to be aware of the causes of insensitivity, to be passively aware without choice, denial, justification or identification of those periods that are dull. In that alert, passive awareness, the cause of insensitivity is revealed. In just being aware of this cause without trying to overcome it, dullness begins to fade away. It is this period of silence in which there is no condemnation or justification – in this period of silent observation, the truth of that which is false is perceived. This perception of truth frees the mind from insensitivity.
But the painter, writer or sculptor has to live. He is not merely content with the expression of his joy, he wants a result, he wants recognition, and also he wants food, clothing and shelter. If he is merely content with food, clothing and shelter, his life will be comparatively easy, but like the rest of us, he uses these as a means of psychological expansion. So his heart becomes a process of self-expansion and thereby brings about strife and misery and that insensitivity which prevents creative being.
There is a constant renewal of creative being only when the ‘me’ and the ‘mine’ are absent. It is the ‘me’ that gives continuity and brings about insensitivity. Only in the constant ending of the ‘me’ is there renewal. Then only is there that state in which no dullness or insensitivity can exist.
Krishnamurti in Bombay (Mumbai) 1948, Talk 9
There can be no creativity if there is a motive
Questioner: To express something does not mean to be creative.
Krishnamurti: Therefore, what does creativeness mean? I exist and express myself – is that creativity? Or is creativity when the ‘I’ is not, the absence of the ’I’? When there is the absence of the ’I’, do you know that you are creative? When you are doing something with a motive behind it, of becoming popular, famous, having more money, that is not doing something which you really love to do. A musician who says, ’I love music,’ but is watching how many titled people there are in the audience, how much money he is going to make, he is not creative, he is not a musician; he is using music in order to become famous or to have money. So there can be no creativity if there is a motive behind it. See this for yourself.
So when we use these words, ’I must express myself,’ ‘I must be creative,’ ‘I must identify myself,’ it has no meaning. When you really see this, live that way, understand it, your mind is already free of the ‘me’.
Q: Is it valid to make things of beauty?
K: Valid for whom?
Q: For yourself.
K: What do you mean, ‘yourself’? Look at that tree, the shadow and the sunlight: that is beauty. How do you know what is beautiful? Because somebody told you? A famous artist has painted a picture, or a great poet has written about that light, the tree, the clouds, the shadows and the movement of the leaves, and you say, ‘He is a great man, I like that, it is beautiful.’ Is beauty something that comes to you through another? Is beauty something about which you have been told? What then is the sense of beauty? Not what is beautiful, but the sense of beauty? Does beauty lie in the building, the tree, the face of a person, in music, in a poem, in things outside? Or do the things you see become much more intensified because you have this sense of beauty, the feeling of beauty? Therefore when you see something extraordinary like that, you delight in it because in yourself you have this sense. How do you arrive at this, or happen to have this sense? How do you come by it? Can you come by it by training, through an image, through any amount of reading, studying, collecting paintings and having a lovely house? How does this happen? It happens when you are physically very sensitive, watching – sensitive not only about yourself but sensitive to others, to everything.
From the book Beginnings of Learning by J. Krishnamurti – Purchase here
VIDEO: The beauty of death as part of life
Creativity is of no time
If we can find out what the factors of deterioration are, perhaps we shall be able to set aside mediocrity and come to a realisation or feeling of what it is to be creative. Perhaps our major problem is that we are constantly living in the shadow of deterioration and decay. The circumstances, the various compulsions of life about us make us mediocre, closed in, ineffective, and there is soon deterioration, not only physical but much more importantly, psychologically. Perhaps if we can find out what it is that we are seeking, what it is that we are searching after, that we want, then we may be able to solve this problem of mediocrity and decay.
Why is it that most of us are so utterly, inwardly empty, miserable, always seeking, running after things, trying to find out, longing for something which we never seem able to get? If we can find out what it is that we are seeking, perhaps we shall be able to answer or to go beyond this psychological decay, the mediocrity of the mind.
We can see that at one level we are seeking comfort, physical wellbeing – to be comfortable, have money, have love, have and enjoy things, to travel. All these we want at the superficial level. If we go a little bit deeper, at another level we want happiness, freedom and the capacity to do things grandly, greatly, magnificently. If we go still deeper, we want to find out what there is beyond death, and what is love, to work for an ideal, for a perfect state. If we go deeper still, there is the desire to find out what is reality, what is God, what is this thing that is so creative, that is always new. And we are caught between these many layers. We would like to have all of them. We want to live in perfect relationship; we want to work collectively, to have the right vocation, and so on. We are constantly seeking something, even though we may not be fully aware of it. Perhaps we have never inquired into the matter and drift along, pushed by circumstances until death comes and there is the end of things, or perhaps the beginning of a new torture.
Creativity cannot be invited; it has to come to you.
So, we have never really sat down and looked into ourselves to find out what it is that we are searching after. I think if we can find that out, not merely at the superficial level but fundamentally, deeply, what it is we want, we shall be able to solve this question of mediocrity and decay. Because most of us are mediocre – we have nothing alive, new or creative in us. Anything we create is so empty, so tawdry, with such little significance. So, should we not find out what it is that we want? If we examine it, go into it, we find we want something permanent – permanent love, a state of permanent peace, a joy that can never vanish or fade, the realisation of some beauty, a perfection. We want, do we not, a state in which there is joy and permanency. That is what most of us are searching for, to find a permanent state, something that cannot be destroyed by the mind, circumstance or physical disease, something that is beyond the mind, a joy that does not depend on the body, a creativeness that is independent of the withering effect of the mind. That is what most of us want, do we not? Perhaps not when we are young, but as we grow old, more thoughtful and mature, we want something permanent. That is the direction of our striving.
Is there anything permanent? Though I want it, though in my longing, search and struggle I am constantly seeking that state which can never be destroyed, a state which is beyond the mind, is there really anything permanent which the mind can have? This demand for the permanency of experience and knowledge, for the continuity of a certain state, is that not one of the main factors of deterioration? Is there anything permanent? The mind is forever pursuing and seeking out a state which will be forever the same. If I have an experience which gives me joy, I want that state to continue forever; I do not want to be disturbed from it. So the mind clings to that experience.
So, if I want to find out, I must inquire if there is anything permanent at all. To find out if there is something which is beyond the mind, I must put aside in myself any demand for the continued state. Because to find creativity – not the mere writing of a poem or the painting of a picture, but creativity which is of no time, which is not the invention of the mind, not a mere capacity or gift, but that creativity which is ever renewing itself – must not the mind be capable of being enthusiastic and persistent in its inquiry? Most of us lose our enthusiasm as we grow older Not the superficial enthusiasm of certain actions or the enthusiasm that one has when one is searching with an end in view, when one is going to be rewarded, but that enthusiasm that is not dependent on the body, that enthusiasm which is constantly probing, inquiring, searching out, never satisfied.
It is only when the mind is free that it can receive that which is creative.
So, can one find out what is creativity or God or whatever name you like to give to it? That is the one factor that makes all things new. Though I may be living with death, when there is that creativity, death has quite a different significance. That creativity frees the mind from all mediocrity and deterioration. If that is the thing I am seeking, I have to be very clear so as not to create any illusion, to free the mind to discover. This means that the mind must be utterly still to find out. Creativity cannot be invited; it has to come to you, to the mind. God cannot be invited; it has to come. And it cannot come when the mind is not free. Freedom is not the outcome of discipline.
So, our problem is very complex. Unconsciously we are pursuing, demanding, longing for some permanent quality, permanent state. This desire for permanency and security brings about mediocrity and deterioration. We want psychological security, and by devious means and ways, we try to capture it. But if once we really understand that there is no such thing as psychological security, then there is no decay because then there is no resting place. When there is a constant ending, constant dying, then there is a constant renewal which is not continuous. Please, this is not something mystical. If you really listen to what I am saying, then you will experience something directly, which frees the mind from all this horror of trying to be secure in some corner. It is only when the mind is free that it can receive that which is creative.
Truth cannot be accumulated. What is accumulated is always being destroyed; it withers away. Truth can never wither because it can only be found from moment to moment in every thought, relationship, word, gesture, or in a smile or tears. If you and I can find that and live it – the very living is the finding of it – then we shall not become propagandists; we shall be creative human beings – not perfect human beings but creative human beings.
Krishnamurti in London 1953, Talk 3
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