Krishnamurti: Talk 6

Transcript of Talk 6 at Madras, 20 December 1953

For the past few weeks, we have been considering the problem of change. It seems to me one of the most difficult things in bringing about this change is the cessation of effort. Because, for us, change implies effort, does it not? We associate effort with change. To us, if we desire to bring about a change outwardly or inwardly, effort is implied, the action of the will. Is it possible to change at all radically, deeply, fundamentally without effort? Or, is there a radical revolution only when there is the cessation of effort? I would like to discuss this problem with you because it must have struck you, when you observe yourself and things about you, how from childhood we are taught that we must make an effort to change. That is all we know, and we have never enquired into the possibility of a change radically without effort. It seems to me that this point is very important. Kindly listen, not with any preconceived idea of what I am going to tell you this evening, not with a prejudiced experienced mind.

For most of us, change implies effort. I am this and, to become that, I must make an effort. In a school when we grow up and almost up to when we are dying, this process of constant effort is inculcated into us: we are conditioned with that idea, and that is all we know. We say there must be right effort, right endeavour, constant practice, constant control, discipline, shaping the mind by words, by explanations, by constant directive; and this continual effort is what we know, and with that we live. When we look into the process of effort more deeply, we see that is not effort, but only effort is involved. There is this whole problem of power, gaining power not only in ourselves but over nature and also over others. We see man – not the man here, you and I, but man generally – increasing his power over nature, flight, under water, calculating the distance between the various stars, the astonishing brain of the man that can invent the atomic bomb and the super nuclear bombs, the astonishing brain that has produced all these things. All that implies not only the learning of a technique and the perfection of a technique but also the constant application of the mind to find, to discover – the enormous persistency of curiosity. In that is implied the problem of power, power over water, power over nature, power over others, to shape the lives of others, to change circumstances; all these always imply effort, but not for the man who really invents, who really sees something and is creative. So we are concerned with enlarging our power, power over others specially, by every crooked means or by the so-called idealistic means which are also crooked, in order to achieve a position, prestige. All that implies power, power to change the economic conditions of man, power of idea, power of word, power of personality, to drive, to make people change. All that we know. With that we are much too familiar. Does that radically bring about a change in ourselves? That is the problem, is it not?

Until we can bring about a fundamental revolution at the core of our being, the mere conquering of outward circumstances may lead to various forms of convenience; but in the process there is a greater, more destructive element brought into being. So it seems to me that, unless we can radically, deep at the root, bring about a radical change, superficial changes however vital, necessary and immediate only cause further misery, further damage, further mischief. Every reform brings further misery, further problems. Again, with all that we are quite familiar. When we apply that process of power to ourselves we see that we want power over ourselves, which intoxicates us through asceticism or the extreme form of asceticism, the opposite of money, luxury, position, power, prestige and all the rest of it. We use virtue, love, the action of the will as a means of conquering ourselves, our idiosyncracies, and we think we are changing. But essentially when we go down to deeper layers, there it is still the same. When we are considering revolution, change, surely we are not concerned only with superficial changes which are necessary, but with the deeper issue – which is the revolution, total revolution, the integrated revolution of our whole being. Can that change be brought about by effort or must there be a cessation of all effort?

What does effort mean? With most of us, effort implies the action of the will, does it not? I hope you are following all this, because if you do not listen wisely, you will miss totally what I am going to say. If you listen wisely, you will directly experience what I am talking. Total revolution must be wholly unconscious, not voluntary, not brought about by any action of the will. Will is still the desire, still the `me’, the self, at whatever level you may place that will. The will of action is still the desire and therefore it is still the `me’, and when I suppress myself in order to be good in order to achieve, in order to become more noble, it is still desire, it is still the action of the will trying to transform itself, to put on a different clothing, it is still the will of the `me’ trying to achieve a result.

Please, if I may request, listen not merely to the verbal effect but also to the deeper significance of the words. Most of us do not listen at all. You are listening to my words, to my ideas, to what I am going to say, through your own interpretations, through your own experience; that is not listening, that is like looking through a dark glass; therefore you see nothing as it is. Similarly, we listen with a conclusion, with the previous knowledge, experience which is always translating what is being said; therefore, you are really not listening. The problem of listening is extraordinarily difficult because, consciously or unconsciously, we do not want to listen; because there is the fear of something happening, some new idea taking place unconsciously which will produce revolution. So, we only hear words without much significance. But if we can listen wisely – which is to listen without translation, without interpretation – then perhaps what I have said and what I will be presently saying will have a deeper significance.

It is very important to bring about a radical change, a revolution first, obviously, in ourselves – which is, in action, in relationship – which will produce a revolution in outward valuations. But the necessary and absolute revolution, a total and complete revolution, is not at all possible through the action of the will, because will is essentially a process of desire, and the action of the will is conditioned. That word `conditioning’ implies limited. I will change according to my conditioning, however wide, narrow, limited that conditioning may be. So my will to change is limited, according to my conditioning, according to my desire; and the change produced by the will of action is limited and therefore never radical. If we are concerned and if we have given thought to this problem at all, the change must be radical, not superficial, because the problems which we have at present are so great that they need to be tackled radically, not superficially, not as a Hindu, as a Catholic, Communist, Theosophist or something or other. They must be approached totally differently; and because we are not doing it, we are creating more problems and not less. So we are concerned not only with the reduction of the problems, with the resolution of the problems, but also with the radical transformation of man’s attitude, values and process of thinking. We must obviously find a way in which change comes into being without volition. You understand the problem? Please follow this because if you do not understand this, what will come after will have very little meaning.

We only know conscious effort, the conscious acquiring of a technique in order to produce a change. That is all we know. The conscious, active drive to change is born out of desire, and that desire is everlastingly conditioned; and if I change voluntarily or involuntarily from that basis, from that function, from whatever idea – however noble or ignoble, however brotherly or the opposite it is bound to produce more problems. We know this, we are aware of it. But, have we given serious thought to it at all? So, seeing that, how is it possible to bring about revolution basically, radically, without introducing the action of the will? You see the problem? I want to change; and my whole education, social environment, influence in which I have been educated, is acquisitiveness; our social structure and the religious upbringing is based on acquisition. Now, I see that, and I want to change but not superficially, not through any action of will. Because will is still the result of acquisition; and therefore when the will says “I will bring about action”, that action will produce a change; but that change will still be the acquisitiveness.

How am I to produce, to bring about a radical transformation without the action of the will? That is an important question to put to yourselves. I see that every action produced by the will is limited, and therefore productive of greater misery and greater problems. Yet there must be a radical change. Is the radical change possible without the action of will? Let us put the problem differently.

We use function to acquire status. I use office as a means of psychological power. I am an official, a teacher, an engineer which are all function – and I use that function as a means of acquiring position, prestige power – which is status. Most of us use, practically all of us use, function to acquire status, which is power. So there is conflict between the various functions because each one of us is seeking through function a psychological result. I hope you are following all this. So, in society, we are creating conflict, confusion and competition psychologically, using the function to acquire position. There must be function because otherwise we cannot live; the problem then is how not to acquire through function, status? So, we devise various means to control man, to limit him to function and not exude his desire towards status, position – which brings about calamity between each other. So, through various forms of social sanctions, religious edicts, the status which is the power is held, controlled, which again is the same problem; only that is in action. So when we are concerned with the problem of radical revolution, have we not to understand all these problems, all these issues and whether there is a possibility of change without the action of will? I say, change is possible without the action of will. That is the only change, none other is change, none other is revolution. But to understand that, it requires a great deal of insight, a great deal of meditation – not the meditation of shutting eyes, gazing at a picture or image, or an imaginary phrase; but the meditation that reveals this whole process of effort.

That is if you are really listening now to what I am saying, you will be meditating; you are meditating, because through that listening, that watchful observation of what I am saying and watching your own mind in operation, you see how in everything you do there is the effort to change – which is the `will of action’ – and as you listen very quietly, you see that the `will of action’ comes to an end. Therefore, with that very ending of the will to act, is the beginning of radical transformation. Please listen.

The action of will is the `me; and whatever clothes, whatever change, whatever hopes, failures, sorrows the `me’ has, the `me’ wants, it is still within the field of the `me’. So, in that, there is no revolution, and the `me’ is the action of the will. When the `me’ says `I must not be ambitious. I must not be envious’, the will that says `I must not’, wants to be something else negatively or positively. Therefore, it is still the `me’. If you have really understood it – that is, if you are listening to it – you will see that the will of action comes to an end; and with that ending, there is a radical transformation; then you are no longer concerned with the `me’ changing. For instance, I am envious; and I act upon envy in order to change it, to change what is. But if there is an understanding of that, there is the cessation of the will of action, then there is only the fact that I am envious. If there is no obstruction, no resistance, no judgment no condemnation, which are all the process of will, then that fact has no longer any significance, that fact does no longer affect the whole process of your thinking. So there is the cutting away, at the root, of the problem of acquisitiveness which no superficial, economic, communist or any other kind of revolution can bring about.

So, really this understanding demands a great deal of attention, self knowledge, self-knowledge being the observation of what you are in your relationship from moment to moment. Mere observation, not trying to change what is, is to see yourself in your relationship with your wife, your servant, your boss; is to see in a mirror what it is and not to bring the will of action upon it. Then you will find that a change comes into being unconsciously which is the radical revolution, which is not brought about by the conscious mind; and I assure you that the greatest miracle is to see and the thing ceasing to have any effect. So the mind becomes innocent, free; and it is only in such a free, innocent mind that reality can come into being. No search under the will of action can make the mind tranquil; the mind is tranquil only when it has understood the whole process of the will, the action of the will to be. The will to change comes to an end not through any form of compulsion but only when the mind really understands. When it is understood, there is an astonishing change, a revolution which is transcendental, which is not of the mind. It is only that revolution that can build a new house; and without that revolution, they labour in vain that build, they are mischief makers, they produce sorrow, they multiply problems. Therefore, it is very important for you and me to understand this whole problem of effort. Perhaps you would like to ask questions out of this talk. If not I have some written questions.

Question: How can a cessation of effort be brought about?

Krishnamurti: That is what I have been talking about.

Question: You advocate a small school for educating the young. But even in a small school, several teachers are necessary one for each subject. How can such a school be maintained in these days?

Krishnamurti: So, what is the function of a teacher? Is it merely to impart to the student a subject, a specialized knowledge, which means therefore, you must have innumerable teachers, one for each subject, for English, Mathematics, Geography, History, Physics and all the rest of it. That is, if each teacher imparts only his specialized knowledge, naturally you must have many teachers for a small school. If the teacher is merely a specialized entity, then he is not an educator, because he is only concerned with his subject and knows nothing else and therefore you must have many specialized human beings to teach the children. But even the teacher who has his own special knowledge – knowledge of his own subject – if he is intelligent can teach other subjects too, can he not?

Sirs, our difficulty in the modern world is we want immediate results, immediate success. We do not think in long terms, we think in short terms. We want our sons or daughters to pass the examination in order to get a job; that is all what we are concerned with. So we create an educational structure, where this specialist exists. But if we look at the long term – that is, see the implication of educating children – then the teacher is not only the giver of information on his subject but he must also be an intelligent fearless human being. So the problem is not the multiplication of many teachers to teach, but teachers themselves having the capacity, intelligence, so that they can partake in different subjects. After all, this is not very difficult; if you are sufficiently intelligent, you can teach not only mathematics but also history. But neither the teacher nor the parent nor the society is intelligent. We do not really love our children. If we did, we would take care of so many things, of their diet, of the kind of teacher, the kind of school; and we would all be concerned with the larger problem. What is the point of education if the educated need be in arms, become lawyers or policemen – which are ways of destruction. They are the people who perpetuate wars. So we educate children to die. So that problem must be tackled but not just verbally; and it is not for me just to say how to do it, how to run a school with a few teachers. It is your problem as a parent, and unfortunately you are not interested in it. So the teacher, the low-paid entity, who is kicked around, who is the least intelligent, has the greatest responsibility in any society. You have heard all this before; but you have never acted upon it because you are really not interested in your children, nor are you really interested in the whole problem of the freedom of the child. So, until you take the responsibility as a parent and see these things are worked out, no Government is going to work them out for you. The Government can only condition the children and make them more and more efficient either to run the industries or to join the army. So, the question is not how to have fewer teachers in a small school, but how to bring about in our relationship an intelligence which is not limited, which is not afraid, but which is really revolutionary, which is creative.

Question: Does not the mind need verbal preparation before direct perception is possible?

Krishnamurti: What is the mind? Please follow this. Listen to find out whether the mind can ever perceive directly anything true. The questioner wants to know whether the mind must not be prepared verbally to understand the words in order to perceive what is true. That is, does not the mind need verbal preparation before direct perception is possible?

Is perception, direct perception, made by the mind, the mind as it is? We have to find out what is the mind. The mind is memory, is it not?, the memory of all that you have learnt from childhood and all the experiences of the conditioning of the beliefs, dogmas, fears, hopes, longings. That is, the mind is thought is it not? Without thought there is no mind; and thought is based on the past the past being memory, the past being time, the past being experience. To express all that experience, all that memory, you need words to communicate. So, word, memory, experience, time, is mind – which is, essentially thinking, thinking based on memory, the memory of pain and pleasure, the memory of a mind that is ambitious, that seeks power, position, prestige, uses others. That is the mind we have. Now you say that I must perceive with that mind, and you ask if I must not be verbally prepared to see what is true.

What do we mean by preparation verbally? Learning new words, learning the significance of conditioning, a definition, a conclusion, learning new authorities instead of old authorities, the tradition? Some kind of verbal preparation is necessary, is it not? – not the conclusions, not a definition, but to know the meaning of words. Otherwise, you and I could not communicate. I want to tell you something; you want to tell me something; I translate what you are saying in terms of my conditioning, of my conclusion, of my tradition; then there is no possibility of communicating, you with me or I with you. But if I am prepared to put away all my conclusions and listen to the words which you are using, then I do not merely stick to the words but go behind and see the whole content beyond; such an insight requires consideration, it needs alertness, watchfulness. So a mind that is merely caught in thought, in words, in memory, can never perceive what is true; it is not still. The mind that is made still through your absurd meditations, compulsions, resistance, is not a still mind; it is a dead mind. But the mind that is really still is astonishingly active, alive, potent – not towards anything in particular. It is only such a mind which is verbally free, free from experience, from knowledge. Such a mind can perceive what is true, such a mind has direct perception which is beyond time.

The mind can only be silent when it has understood the process of time and that requires watchfulness, does it not? Must not such a mind be free, not from anything but be free? We only know freedom from something. A mind that is free from something is not a free mind; such freedom, the freedom from something, is only a reaction, and it is not freedom. A mind that is seeking freedom is never free. But the mind is free when it understands the fact, as it is, without translating, without condemning without judging; and being free, such a mind is an innocent mind, though it liveddays,years, having all the experiences. It is innocent because it is free, not from anything but in itself. It is only such a mind that can perceive that which is true, which is beyond time.

Question: What is meant by the love of God which is advocated by many books and teachers? Krishnamurti: I wonder what would happen if you had no books, no teacher. Would you be ignorant? Is there freedom from ignorance if you have the capacity to quote, to compare? Surely, mind which is thought ceases to function when it is caught in a conclusion, it is not active when it is held in a definition.

You want to know what the love of God is, as advocated by books and teachers. Now, suppose you do not have any advocate, would you want to know what love is – not the love of God because, for us, love of God is the hate of man? Sir, you laugh. But that is a fact. If you really love God and love man, you would not have all these absurd religions, all the innumerable rituals, temples. That is not love of God. Because you do not know what love is, you worship God. You put flowers, you sacrifice, you worship an engraved image, made by the hand or by the mind; and you call that love of God. That is not love, that is fear. Praying for success in this world and the world next is a sign of mediocrity. But the love of God is the love of man; the beginning is the love of man; because we do not know that, we turn to some mysterious thing called God and try to find out what that love is. You will never find it, because you do not love your neighbour, you do not know what love is, you do not love your children. Surely love must begin nearer and not far; and the difficulty with most of us is that we are too intellectual, too verbal, too conditioned in our thinking which we call intellectual.

We have cultivated the brain; we have never thought of the heart; we have filled out minds with words and we try to fill our heart with the word of love. So, surely to understand what love is – which is not merely the love of man to man or woman or child, but beyond all this – we must begin with that which is near, must we not? If I do not understand myself, my mind, how can I understand that which is far more complex, more extraordinary, more mysterious? We seek the mysterious and give it all kinds of significance. If we can understand the mystery of ourselves, then we will find that it leads to one of the most astonishing mysteries in life, to the greatest mystery which is God, which is truth. But that truth, that God, is not of the mind. It comes into being when I understand myself, when there is no hate, when there is no fear. It is only when there is the cessation of hate and not the transformation of hate into love, that there is a possibility of the mind being free from hate and fear then only it is possible to know what that love is which is not merely sensual – love of the senses. But that action implies self-knowledge and meditation.

Meditation of the heart is the beginning of wisdom. But to meditate, one requires essentially to understand the meditator which is you, the thinker. Therefore it is essential to have self-knowledge, to know yourself, in all your talks, in all your motives, in all your words, in your relationship, to know what you are from moment to moment. That is meditation, that is the beginning of meditation. Without that, do what you will – concentrate, go beyond, do all kinds of tricks – they are not meditation, they are escapes from reality, they lead to illusion. So, the beginning of meditation is self-knowledge, which is wisdom.