Part III, Chapter 2

From Krishnamurti’s Book BEYOND VIOLENCE

There are several things we should talk about, such as education, the significance of dreams, and whether it is at all possible, living in a world that has become so mechanical and imitative, for the mind ever to be free. We may approach the problem by going into the question of whether the mind can be free from all sense of conformity. We have to deal with the whole problem of existence, not one part of it, not only the technical side of life and the earning of a livelihood, but also we have to consider this whole question of how to transform society; whether this is possible through revolt, or if there is a different kind of inward revolution which will inevitably bring about a different kind of society. I think we should go into that and then come upon the question of meditation. Because – if you will forgive me for saying so – I do not think you know what is implied in meditation. Most of us have read about it or have been told what it is and we have tried to practise it. What the speaker has to say about meditation may be quite contrary to all that you know or practise or have experienced. One cannot search for truth; therefore one must understand the meaning of seeking. So it is a very complex question; meditation requires the highest form of sensitivity, a tremendous quality of silence, not induced, not disciplined, not cultivated. And that can only be, or come about, when we understand, psychologically, how to live, because our life as we live it daily, is in conflict; it is a series of conformities, controls, suppressions, and the revolt against all that.

There is the whole question of how to live a life without violence of any kind; for without really understanding and being free from violence, meditation is not possible. You can play with it, go to the Himalayas to learn how to breathe and sit properly, do a little bit of yoga and think you have learnt meditation, but that is all rather childish. To come upon that extraordinary thing called meditation, the mind must be completely free of all sense of violence. Therefore it may be worthwhile to talk about violence and see if the mind can actually be free of that; not go off romantically into some kind of stupor called meditation.

Volumes have been written as to why man is aggressive. Anthropologists give explanations and each expert puts it in his own way, contradicting or enlarging on what most of us know rationally: that human beings are violent. We think violence is merely a physical act, going to war and killing others. We have accepted war as the way of life. And accepting it, we do nothing about it. Casually or devotedly we may become pacifists in one part of our own life, but for the rest we are in conflict; we are ambitious, we are competitive, we make tremendous efforts; such effort implies conflict and therefore violence. Any form of conformity, any form of distortion – purposely or unconsciously – is violence. To discipline oneself according to a pattern, an ideal, a principle, is a form of violence. Any distortion, without understanding actually ‘what is’ and going beyond it, is a form of violence. And yet, is it at all possible to end violence in oneself without any conflict, any opposition?

We are used to a society, a morality, that is based on violence. We all know this. From childhood we are brought up to be violent, to imitate, to conform – consciously or unconsciously. We do not know how to get out of it. We say to ourselves it is impossible, man must be violent, but violence can be done with gloves on, politely and so on. So we must go into this question of violence, because without understanding violence and fear, how can there be love? Can the mind which has accepted conformity to a society, to a principle, to a social morality which is not moral at all, a mind that has been conditioned by religions to believe – accepting the idea of God, or rejecting it – can it free itself without any form of struggle, without any resistance? Violence begets more violence; resistance only creates other forms of distortion.

Without reading books or listening to professors or ‘saints’, one can observe one’s own mind. After all, that is the beginning of self-knowledge: to know oneself, not according to some psychologist or analyst, but by observing oneself. One can see how heavily the mind is conditioned – there is nationalism, racial and class differences, and all the rest of it. If one is aware of it one becomes conscious of this conditioning, this vast propaganda in the name of God, in the name of Communism or what you will, which has shaped us from childhood, during centuries upon centuries. Becoming aware of it, can the mind uncondition itself, free itself from all sense of conformity and therefore have freedom?

How is this to be done? How can I, or you, become aware, knowing one’s mind is solidly conditioned not only superficially but deep down? How is this conditioning to be broken down? If this is not possible we shall live everlastingly in conformity – even if there is a new pattern, a new structure of society or a new set of beliefs, new dogmas and new propagandas, it is still conformity. And if there is to be any kind of social change, there must be a different kind of education – so that children are not brought up to conform.

So there is this question: how is the mind to free itself from conditioning? I do not know if you have ever tried it, gone into it very deeply, not only at the conscious level but at the deeper layers of consciousness. Actually, is there a division between the two? Or is it one movement, in which we are only conscious of the superficial movement which has been educated to conform to the demands of a particular society or culture?

As we said the other day: we are not merely listening to a few sets of words, because that has no value at all. But by partaking in what is being said, sharing it, working together, you will find out for yourself how to observe this total movement, without separation, without division; because wherever there is any kind of division – racial, intellectual, emotional, or the division of the opposites, the ‘me’ and the ‘not me’, the higher self and the lower self and so on – it must inevitably bring about conflict. Conflict is a waste of energy and to understand all that we are discussing you need a great deal of energy.

The mind being so conditioned, how can it observe itself, without division into the observer and the thing observed? The space between the observer and the observed, the distance, the time interval, is a contradiction and the very essence of division. Therefore when the observer separates himself from the thing observed, he not only acts as a censor but brings about this duality and hence conflict

So can the mind observe itself without the division of the observer and the observed? Do you understand the problem? When you observe that you are jealous, envious – which is a very common factor – and are aware of it, there is always the observer who says ‘I must not be jealous.’ Or the observer gives a reason for being jealous, justifying it – is that not so? There is the observer and the thing observed; the former observes jealousy as something separate from himself which he tries to control, which he tries to get rid of; hence there is a conflict between the observer and the thing observed. The observer is one of the many fragments which we are.

Are we communicating with each other? Do you understand what we mean by communicating? It is sharing together, not just understanding verbally, intellectually seeing the point. There is no intellectual understanding of anything; especially when we are concerned with great fundamental human problems.

So when you really understand the truth, that division of any kind must inevitably breed conflict, you will see that it is a waste of energy and therefore causes distortion and violence and everything else that follows from conflict. When you really understand this – not verbally but actually – then you will see how to observe without the time interval and the space between the observer and the thing observed; you will see how to observe the conditioning, the violence, the oppression, the brutality, the appalling things that are going on in the world and in oneself. Are you doing it as we are talking? Do not say ‘yes’ because it is one of the most difficult things, to observe without the observer, without the verbaliser, without the entity that is full of knowledge which is the past, without that space between the observer and the thing observed. Do it – observe a tree, a cloud, the beauty of the spring, the new leaf – and you will see what an extraordinary thing it is. But then you will see that you have never seen the tree before, never!

When you observe, you are always observing with an image or through an image. You have an image, as knowledge, when you look at the tree or when you look at your wife or husband; you have the image of what she is or what he is, which has been built up for twenty, thirty or forty years. So one image looks at another image and these images have their own relationships; therefore there is no actual relationship. Do recognise this very simple fact, that we look at almost everything in life with an image, with a prejudice, with a preconceived idea. We never look with fresh eyes; our mind is never young.

So we must observe ourselves – who are part of violence – and the immense search for pleasure with its fears, with its frustrations, with the agony of loneliness, the lack of love, the despair. To observe this whole structure of oneself without the observer, to see it as it is without any distortion, without any judgment, condemnation or comparison – which are all the movement of the observer, of the ‘me’ and the ‘not-me – demands the highest form of discipline. We are using the word ‘discipline’ not in the sense of conformity or coercion – not as discipline brought about through reward and punishment. To observe anything – your wife, your neighbour or a cloud – one must have a mind that is very sensitive; this very observation brings about its own discipline, which is nonconformity. Therefore the highest form of discipline is no discipline.

So to observe the thing called violence without division, without the observer, to see the conditioning, the structure of belief, the opinions, the prejudices, is to see what you are; that is ‘what is’. When you observe it and there is a division, then you say, ‘It is impossible to change.’ Man has lived like this for millennia and you go on living in this way. Saying ‘It is not possible’ deprives one of energy. Only when you see what is possible in the highest form, then you have plenty of energy.

So one has to observe actually ‘what is’, not the image you have about ‘what is’, but what you actually are; never saying ‘it is ugly’ or ‘beautiful’. You know what you are only through comparison. You say, ‘I am dull’ compared to somebody who is very intelligent, very alive. Have you ever tried to live a life without comparing yourself with anybody or anything? What then are you? Then, what you are is ‘what is’. Then you can go beyond it, find out what truth is! So this whole question of freeing the mind from conditioning lies in how the mind observes.

I do not know if you have ever gone into the question of what love is, or have thought about it or enquired into it. Is love pleasure? Is love desire? Is love something to be cultivated, a thing made respectable by society? If it is pleasure, as it apparently is, from everything that one has observed – not only sexual pleasure but the moral pleasure, the pleasure of achievement, of success, the pleasure of becoming, of being somebody, implying competitiveness and conformity – is that love? An ambitious man, even the man who says, ‘I must find truth’, who pursues what he considers to be truth, can he know what love is?

Should we not intelligently enquire into this? – that is, seeing what it is not; through negation come to the positive. Denying what love is not. Jealousy is not love; the memory of a pleasure, sexual or otherwise, is not love; the cultivation of virtue, the constant effort of trying to be noble, is not love. And when you say, ‘I love you’, what does it mean? The image you have about him or her, the sexual pleasures and all the rest of it, the comfort, the companionship, never being alone and frightened to be alone, always wanting to be loved, to possess, to be possessed, to dominate, to assert, to be aggressive – is all that love? If you see the absurdity of it, not verbally but actually as it is, all the nonsense that one talks about love – love of one’s country, love of God – when you see all the sensuality of it – we are not condemning sex, we are observing it – when you actually observe it as it is, you see that your love of God is love out of fear, your weekend religion is fear. And to observe it totally, implies no division. Where there is no division there is goodness; you do not have to cultivate goodness. So can the mind – the mind including the brain, the whole structure – totally observe the thing that it calls love with all its mischief, with all its pettiness and its bourgeois mediocrity? To observe that, there must be the denial of everything that love is not.

You know, there is a great difference between joy and pleasure. You can cultivate pleasure, think about it a great deal and have more of it. You had pleasure yesterday and you can think about it, chew on it and you will want it repeated tomorrow. In pleasure there is a motive in which there is possessiveness, domination, conformity and all the rest of it. There is great pleasure in conformity – Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin and so on, made people conform, because there is great security and safety in it. So when you see all that, when you are free of it – actually, not verbally, never to be jealous, never to dominate or be possessed – when the mind has swept away all that, then you know what love is – you do not have to seek it.

When the mind has understood the meaning of the word love, then you are bound to ask: what is death? Because love and death go together. If the mind does not know how to die to the past, it does not know what love is. Love is not of time, it is not a thing to be remembered – you cannot remember joy and cultivate it; it comes uninvited.

So what is death? I do not know if you have observed death, not someone dying, but yourself dying. It is one of the most difficult things, not to identify yourself with something. Most of us identify ourselves with our furniture, with our house, with our wife or husband, with our government with our country, with the image that we have about ourselves, identifying with something greater – the greater may be a greater tribalism, which is the nation; or you identify yourself with a particular quality or image. Not to identify with your furniture, with your knowledge, with your experiences, with your techniques and your technological knowledge as a scientist or engineer, to end all identification, is a form of death. Do it sometime and you will find out what it means: not bitterness, not hopelessness, not a sense of despair, but an extraordinary feeling – a mind that is completely free to observe and therefore live.

Unfortunately we have divided life and death. What we are frightened of is ‘not to live’ – this ‘living’ which we call life. And when you actually examine what this living is, not theoretically, but observe it with your eyes and your ears, with everything you have, you see how shoddy it is, how small, petty, shallow; you may have a Rolls-Royce, a big house, a lovely garden, a title, a degree, but inwardly life is an everlasting battle, a constant struggle, with contradictions, opposing desires, multiple wants.

That is what we call living and to that we cling. Anything that puts an end to that – unless you are tremendously identified with your body – we call death; though the physical organism ends too. And being afraid of ending, we have all kinds of beliefs. They are all escapes – including reincarnation. What matters is how you live now, not what you will be in the next life. Then the question is whether the mind can live entirely without time. One must really understand this question of the past – the past as yesterday, through today, shaping tomorrow from what has been yesterday. Can that mind – which is the result of time, of evolution – be free of the past? – which is to die. It is only a mind that knows this, that can come upon this thing called meditation. Without understanding all this, to try to meditate is just childish imagination.

Truth is not ‘what is’, but the understanding of ‘what is’ opens the door to truth. If you do not actually understand ‘what is’, what you are, with your heart, with your mind, with your brain, with your feelings, you cannot understand what truth is.

Questioner: Whatever I hear you say in this Hall becomes so simple and easy to understand. But the moment I am outside I am at sea – and I do not know what to do when I am alone.

Krishnamurti: Sir, look: what the speaker has said is very clear. He is pointing out to you ‘what is’ – it is yours, it is not in this Hall, it does not lie with the speaker; the speaker is not making any propaganda, he does not want a thing from you, neither your flattery, nor your insults nor your applause. It is yours, your life, your misery, your despair; that you have to understand, not just here, because here you are being pushed into a corner, you are facing yourself perhaps for a few minutes. But when you leave the Hall, that is where the fun begins! We are not trying to influence you to act, to think, to do this or that – that would be propaganda. But if you have listened with your heart and with a mind that is aware – not influenced – if you have observed, then when you go outside it will go with you wherever you are because it is yours, you have understood.

Questioner: What is the role of the artist?

Krishnamurti: Are artists so very different from other human beings? Why do we divide life into the scientist, the artist, the housewife, the doctor? The artist may be a little more sensitive, may observe more, he may be more alive. But he also has his problems as a human being. He may produce marvellous pictures, or write lovely poems, or make things with his hands, but he is still a human being, anxious, frightened, jealous and ambitious. How can an ‘artist’ be ambitious? If he is, he is no longer an artist. The violinist or the pianist who uses his instrument to make money, to gain prestige – just think of it – is not a musician. Or the scientist who works for governments, for society, for war, is he a scientist? That man who is seeking knowledge and understanding has become corrupt like other human beings. He may be marvellous in his laboratory or he may express himself on a canvas most beautifully, but he is torn inside like the rest, he is petty, shoddy, anxious, frightened. Surely an artist, a human being, an individual, is a whole, indivisible, complete thing. Individual means undivided; but we are not, we are broken up, fragmented, human beings – the businessman, the artist, the doctor, the musician. And therefore we lead a life – Oh, I do not have to describe it, you know it.

Questioner: Sir, what is the criterion in choosing between various possibilities.

Krishnamurti: Why do you choose at all? When you see something very clearly, what is the need for choice? Do please listen to this. It is only a mind that is confused, uncertain, unclear, that chooses. I am not talking of choosing between red and black, but choosing psychologically. Unless you are confused, why should you choose? If you see something very clearly without any distortion, is there any need for choosing? There are no alternatives; alternatives exist when you have to choose between two physical roads – you may go one way or the other. But alternatives exist also in a mind that is divided in itself and is confused; therefore it is in conflict, therefore it is violent. It is the violent mind that says it will live peacefully and in its reaction it becomes violent. But when you see the whole nature of violence very clearly, from the most brutal to the most subtle form of violence, then you are free of it.

Questioner: When can you ever see it all?

Krishnamurti: Have you observed a tree totally?

Questioner: I do not know.

Krishnamurti: Sir, do it some time if you are interested in this kind of thing.

Questioner: I always thought I had, until the next time.

Krishnamurti; To go into it, let us being with the tree, which is the most objective thing. Observe it completely, which means without the observer, without the division – which does not mean you identify yourself with the tree, you do not become the tree, that would be too absurd. But to observe it implies to look at it without the division between you and the tree, without the space created by the observer with his knowledge, with his thoughts, with his prejudice about that tree; not when you are angry, jealous, or in despair, or full of a thing called hope – which is the opposite of despair, therefore it is not hope at all. When you observe it, see it without the division, without that space, then you can see the whole of it.

When you observe your wife, your friend, your husband or whatever you will, when you look without the image, which is the accumulation of the past, you will see what an extraordinary thing takes place. You have never seen anything like that before in your life. But to observe totally implies no division. People take L.S.D. and other drugs in order to destroy the space between the observer and the observed. I have not taken it; and once you start that game you are lost, you are everlastingly dependent on it and it brings its own mischief.

Questioner: What is the relationship between thought and reality?

Krishnamurti: What is thought in relationship to time, thought in relationship to what is measurable and what is immeasurable? What is thought? Thought is the response of memory – obviously. If you had no memory you would not be able to think at all, you would be in a state of amnesia. Thought is always old, thought is never free, thought can never be new. When thought is silent there may be a new discovery; but thought cannot possibly discover anything new. Is this clear? Please do not agree with me. When you ask a question and you are familiar with that question, your response is immediate. ‘What is your name’? – you reply immediately. ‘Where do you live’? – you reply instantly. But a more complex question takes time. In that interval thought is looking, trying to remember.

So thought in its desire to find what truth is, is always look- ing in terms of the past. That is the difficulty of search. When you seek, you must be able to recognise what you have found; and what you find in terms of your recognition is the past. So thought is time – obviously – this is so simple, is it not? You had an experience yesterday of great delight, you think about it and you want it repeated again tomorrow. Thought thinking about something that has brought pleasure, wants it tomorrow; therefore ‘tomorrow’ and ‘yesterday’ make the time interval in which you are going to get that pleasure, in which you are going to think about it. So thought is time. And thought can never be free because it is the response of the past. How can thought find out anything new? This is possible only when the mind is completely silent. Not because it wants to find something new, for then that silence is brought about by a motive and therefore it is not silence.

If you understand this you have understood the whole thing and even answered your question. You see, we are always using thought as a means of finding, of asking, of enquiring, looking. Do you mean to say thought can know what love is? Thought can know the pleasure of what it has called love and demand that pleasure again in the name of love. But thought, being the product of time, the product of measure, cannot possibly understand or come upon that thing which is not measurable. So then the question arises: how can you make thought silent? You cannot. Perhaps we will go into that another time.

Questioner: Do we need rules to live by?

Krishnamurti: Madame, you have not heard all that I have been saying during this talk! Who is going to lay down the rules? The Churches have done it, tyrannical governments have done it, or you yourself have laid down the rules for your own conduct, for your own behaviour. And you know what that means – a battle between what you think you should be and what you are. Which is more important: to understand what you should be, or what you are?

Questioner: What am I?

Krishnamurti: Let us find out. I have told you what you are – your country, your furniture, your images, your ambitions, your respectability, your race, your idiosyncrasies and prejudices, your obsessions – you know what you are! Through all that you want to find truth, God, reality. And because the mind does not know how to be free of all this you invent something, an outside agency, or give significance to life.

So when you understand the nature of thought – not verbally, but are actually aware of it – then when you have a prejudice, look at it and you will see that your religions are a prejudice, the identification with your country is a prejudice. We have so many opinions, so many prejudices; just observe one completely, with your heart, with your mind, with love – care for it, look at it. Do not say ‘I must not’ or ‘I must, – just look at it. And then you will see how to live without any prejudice. It is only a mind that is free from prejudice, from conflict, that can see what truth is.