Krishnamurti: Talk 10
Transcript of Talk 10, Bombay, 11 March 1953
I think it might be worthwhile if we went into the question of how quickly the mind deteriorates and what are the primary factors that make the mind dull, insensitive, quick to respond. I think it would be significant if we could go into this question why the mind deteriorates, because perhaps, in understanding that, we may be able to find out what is really a simple life.
We notice as we grow older that the mind, the instrument of understanding, the instrument with which we probe into any problem, to enquire, to question, to discover – that mind if misused, deteriorates, disintegrates; and it seems to me that one of the major factors of this deterioration of the mind is the process of choice.
All our life is based on choice. We choose at different levels of our existence. We choose between white and blue, between one flower and another flower, between certain psychological impulses of like and dislike, between certain ideas, beliefs; accepting some and discarding others. So our mental structure is based on this process of choice, this continuous effort at choosing, distinguishing, discarding, accepting, rejecting. And, in, that process, there is constant struggle, constant effort. There is never a direct comprehension, but always the tedious process of accumulation, of the capacity to distinguish which is really based on memory, on the accumulation of knowledge; and therefore, there is this constant effort made through choice.
Now, is not choice ambition? Our life is ambition. We want to be somebody, we want to be well-thought-of, want to achieve a result. If I am not wise, I want to become wise. If I am violent, I want to become non-violent. The becoming is the process of ambition. Whether I want to become the biggest politician or the most perfect saint, the ambition, the drive, the impulse of becoming is the process of choice, is the process of ambition which is essentially based on choice.
So, our life is a series of struggles, a movement from one ideological concept, formula, desire, to another, and in this process of becoming, in this process of struggle the mind deteriorates. The very nature of this deterioration is choice; and we think choice is necessary, choice from which springs ambition.
Now can we find a way of life which is not based on ambition, which is not of choice, which is a flowering in which the result, is not sought? All that we know of life is a series of struggles ending in result; and those results are being discarded for greater results. That is all we know.
In the case of the man who sits alone in a cave, in the very process of making himself perfect, there is choice, and that choice is ambition. The man who is violent tries to become non-violent; that very becoming is ambition. We are not trying to find out whether ambition is right or wrong whether it is essential to life, but whether it is conducive to a life of simplicity. I do not mean the simplicity of a few clothes, that is not a simple life. The putting on of a loin cloth does not indicate a man that is simple; on the contrary, it may be that, by the renunciation of the outer things, the mind becomes more ambitious; for it tries to hold on to its own ideal which it has projected and which it has created. So if we observe our own ways of thinking, should we not enquire into this question of ambition? What do we mean by it, and is it possible to live without ambition? We see that ambition breeds competition, whether in children, in school, or among the big politicians, all the way up, the trying to beat a record. This ambition produces certain industrial benefits: but in its wake, obviously there is the darkening of the mind, the technological conditioning, so that the mind loses its pliability, its simplicity and therefore is incapable of directly experiencing. Should we not enquire, not as a group but as individuals – you and I – should we not find out what this ambition means, whether we are at all aware of this ambition in our life?
When we offer ourselves to serve the country to do noble work, is there not in it the fundamental element of ambition, which is the way of choice? And is not therefore choice a corruptive influence in our life, because it prevents the flowering? The man who flowers is the man who is, who is not becoming.
Is there not a difference between the flowering mind and the becoming mind? The becoming mind is a mind that is always growing, becoming, enlarging, gathering experience as knowledge. We know that process fully well in our daily life, with all its results, with all its conflicts, its miseries and strife, but we do not know the life of flowering. And is there not a difference between the two which we have to discover – not by trying to demarcate, to separate, but to discover – in the process of our living? When we discover this, we may perhaps be able to set aside this ambition, the way of choice, and discover a flowering which is the way of life, which may be true action.
So if we merely say that we must not be ambitious, without the discovery of the flowering way of life, the mere killing of ambition destroys the mind also, because it is an action of the will which is the action of choice. So is it not essential for each one of us to find out in our lives the truth of ambition? We are all encouraged to be ambitious, our society is based on it, the strength of the drive towards a result. And in that ambition there are inequalities which legislation tries to level out, to alter. Perhaps that way, that approach to life is essentially wrong; and there might be another approach which is the flowering of life, which could express itself without accumulation. After all, we know when we are conscious of striving after something, of becoming something, that is ambition, the seeking of a result.
But there is an energy, a force in which there is a compulsion without the process of accumulation, without the background of the `me’, of the self, of the ego; that is the way of creativity. Without understanding that, without actually experiencing that, our life becomes very dull, our life becomes a series of endless conflicts in which there is no creativity, no happiness. And perhaps if we can understand – not by discarding ambition but by understanding the ways of ambition – by being open, by comprehending, by listening to the truth of ambition, perhaps we may come upon that creativity in which there is a continuous expression which is not the expression of self-fulfilment but is the expression of energy without the limitation of the `me’.
Question: In the worst of misery, most of us live on hope. Life without hope seems dreadful and inevitable; and yet, very often this hope is nothing but illusion. Can you tell us why hope is so indispensable to life?
Krishnamurti: Is it not the very nature of the mind to create illusion? Is not the very process of thinking the result of memory, of verbalized thought which creates an idea, a symbol, an image to which the mind clings?
I am in despair; I am in sorrow; I have no way of resolving it; I do not understand how to resolve it. If I understand it, then there is no need for hope. It is only as long as I do not understand how to bring about the dissolution of a particular problem, that I depend on a myth, on an idea of hope. If you observe your own mind, you will see that when you are in discomfort, in conflict, in misery, your mind seeks a way away from it. The process of going away from the problem is the creation of hope.
The mind going away from the problem creates fear; the very movement of going away, the flight from the problem, is fear. I am in despair because I have done something which is not right, or some misery comes upon me, or I have done a terrible wrong, or my son is dead or I have very little to eat. My mind not being able to resolve the problem, created a certainty, something to which it can cling, an image which it carves by the hand or by the mind. Or the mind clings to a guru, to a book, to an idea which sustains me in my difficulties, in my miseries, in my despair; and so I say I shall have a better time next life, and so on and on and on.
As long as I am not capable of resolving my problem, my sorrow, I depend on hope; it is indispensable. Then I fight for that hope. I do not want anyone to disturb that hope, that belief. I make that belief into an organized belief, and I cling to that because, out of that, I derive happiness; because I have not been able to solve the problem which is confronting me, hope becomes the necessity.
Now, can I solve the problem? If I can understand the problem, then hope is not necessary, then depending on an idea or an image or a person is not necessary because dependence implies hope, implies comfort. So, the problem is whether hope is indispensable, whether I can resolve my problem, whether there is a way to find out how not to be in sorrow – that is my problem. not how to dispense with hope.
Now, what is the factor essential to the understanding of a problem? Obviously, if I wish to understand the problem, there must be no formula, there must be no conclusion, there must be no judgment. But if we observe our minds we will see that we are full of conclusions; we are steeped in formula with which we hope to resolve the problem. And so we judge, we condemn. And so, as long as we have a formula, a conclusion, a judgment, a condemnatory attitude, we shall not understand the problem.
So the problem is not important, but how we approach the problem. So the mind that is wishing to comprehend a problem must not be concerned with the problem, but with the workings of its own machinery of judgment. Do you follow?
I started out with the establishment of a hope, saying that it is essential because without hope I am lost. So my mind is occupied with hope, I occupy it with hope. But that is not my problem, my problem is the problem of sorrow, of pain, of mistakes. Is even that my problem, or is my problem how to approach the problem itself? So what is important is how the mind regards the problem.
I have altogether moved away from hope; because, hope is illusory, it is unreal, it is not factual. I cannot deal with something which is not factual, which has been created by the mind; it is not something real, it is illusory; so, I cannot grapple with it. What is real is my sorrow, my despair, the things that I have done, the crowded memories, the aches and the sorrows of my life. How I approach the aches and sorrows and miseries in my life is important, not hope; because, if I know how I approach them, then I shall be able to deal with them.
So what is important is not hope but how I regard my problem. I see that I always regard my problem in the light of judgment – either condemning, accepting, or trying to transform it – or looking at it through glasses, through the screen of formulae of what somebody has said in the Bhagavad Gita, what the Buddha or the Christ has said. So my mind being crippled by these formulae, judgments, quotations, can never understand the problem, can never look at it. So can the mind free itself from these accumulated judgments?
Please follow this carefully – not my words, but how you approach your problem. What we are always doing is pursuing the hope and everlastingly being frustrated. If I fail with one hope, I substitute another and so I go on and on. And as I do not know how to approach, how to understand the problem itself, I resort to various escapes. But if I knew how to approach the problem, then there is no necessity for hope. So what is important is to find out how the mind regards the problem.
Your mind looks at a problem. It looks at it obviously with a condemnatory attitude. It condemns it in distinguishing it, in reacting to it; or it wants to change it into something which it is not. If you are violent, you want to change into non-violence. Non-violence is unreal, it is not factual; what is real is violence. Now to see how you approach the problem, with what attitude – whether you condemn it, whether you have the memories of what the so-called teachers have said about it – that is what is important.
Can the mind eradicate these conditions, free itself from these conditions, and look at the problem? Can it be unconcerned with how to free itself from these conditions? If it is concerned with it, then you create another problem out of it. But if you can see how these conditions prevent you from looking at the problem, then these conditions have no value; because, the problem is important, pain is important, sorrow is important. You cannot call sorrow an idea and brush it aside. It is there.
So, as long as the mind is incapable of looking at the problem, as long as it is not capable of resolving the problem, there must be various escapes from the problem; and the escapes are hopes, they are the defence mechanism.
The mind will always create problems. But what is essential is that, when we make mistakes, when we are in pain, to meet these mistakes, these pains, without judgment, to look at them without condemnation, to live with them and to let them go by. And that can only happen when the mind is in the state of non-condemnation, without any formula; which means, when the mind is essentially quiet, when the mind is fundamentally still; then only is there the comprehension of the problem.
Question: Will you please tell us what you mean by the words “our vocation”? I gather you mean something different from the ordinary connotation of these words.
Krishnamurti: Each one of us pursues some kind of vocation – the lawyer, the soldier, the policeman, the businessman and so on. Obviously, there are certain vocations which are detrimental to society – the lawyer, the soldier, the policeman, and the industrialist who is not making other men equally rich.
When we want, when we choose a particular vocation, when we train our children to follow a particular vocation, are we not creating a conflict within society? You choose one vocation and I choose another; and does that not bring about conflict between us? Is that not what is happening in the world, because we have never found out what is our true vocation? We are only being conditioned by society, by a particular culture, to accept certain forms of vocations which breed competition and hatred between man and man. We know that, we see it.
Now is there any other way of living in which you and I can function in our true vocations? Now is there not one vocation for man? Please listen, Sirs. Are there different vocations for man? We see that there are: you are a clerk, I polish shoes, you are an engineer and I am a politician. We see innumerable varieties of vocations and we see they are all in conflict with each other. So man through his vocation is in conflict, in hatred, with man. We know that. With that we are familiar every day.
Now let us find out if there is not one vocation for man. If we can all find it, then the expression of different capacities will not bring about conflict between man and man. I say there is only one vocation for man. There is only one vocation, not many. The one vocation for man is to find out what is Real. Sirs, don’t settle back, this is not a mystical answer.
If I and you are finding out what is truth, which is our true vocation, then in the search of that we will not be in competition. I shall not be competing with you, I shall not fight you though you may express that truth in a different way; you may be the Prime Minister, I shall not be ambitious and want to occupy your place, because I am seeking equally with you what is Truth. Therefore, as long as we do not find out that true vocation of man, we must be in competition with each other, we must hate each other; and whatever legislation you may pass, on that level you can only produce further chaos.
So, is it not possible from childhood, through right education, through the right educator, to help the boy – the student – to be free to find out what is the Truth about everything – not just Truth in the abstract – but to find out the truth of all relationships the boy’s relationship to machinery, his relationship to nature, his relationship to money, to society, to government and so on? That requires, does it not?, a different kind of teachers who are concerned with helping or giving the boy, the student, freedom so that he begins to investigate the cultivation of intelligence which can never be conditioned by a society which is always deteriorating.
So, is there not one vocation for man? Man cannot exist in isolation, he exists only in relationship; and when in that relationship, there is no discovery of truth, the discovery of the truth of relationship, then there is conflict.
There is only one vocation for you and me. And in the search of that, we shall find the expression wherein we shall not come into conflict, we shall not destroy each other. But it must begin surely through right education, through the right educator. The educator also needs education. Fundamentally the teacher is not merely the giver of information, but brings about, in the student, the freedom, the revolt to discover what is Truth.
Question: When you answer our questions, what functions – memory or knowledge?
Krishnamurti: It is really quite an interesting question, is it not? Let us find out.
Knowledge and memory are the same, are they not? Without knowledge, without the accumulation of knowledge which is memory, can you reply? The reply is the verbalization of a reaction, is it not? There is this question asked: what is functioning, memory or knowledge? I am only saying memory and knowledge are the same thing essentially, because if you have knowledge but have no memory of it, it will have no value.
You are asking what functions when I answer a question. Is knowledge functioning? Is memory functioning? Now what is it that is functioning with most of us? Please follow this. What is functioning with most of us when you ask a question? Obviously knowledge. When I ask you the way to your house, knowledge is functioning, memory is functioning. And with most of us that is all that functions, because we have accumulated knowledge from the Bhagavad Gita or from the Upanishads or from Marx, or from what Stalin has said, or what your pet guru says or your own experience, your own accumulated reactions; and from that background, you reply. That is all we know. That is the actual fact. In your business that is what is functioning. When you build a bridge that is what is functioning.
When you write a poem, there are two functions going on – the verbalization, the memory and the creative impulse; the creative impulse is not memory but when expressed, it becomes memory.
So without memory, verbalization, the verbalizing process, there is no possibility of communication. If I do not use certain words, English words, I could not talk to you. The very talking, the verbalization, is the functioning of memory. Now the question is what is functioning when the speaker is answering, memory or something else. Memory obviously, because I am using words. But is that all?
Am I replying from the accumulated memories of innumerable speeches I have made during the last twenty years, which I keep on repeating like a gramophone record machine? That is what most of us are. We have certain actions, certain patterns of thought and we keep on repeating them. But the repetition of words is entirely different to that, because that is the way of communication. In the repetition of experience, the experiences are gathered and stored away; and like a machine, I repeat from that experience, from that storehouse. Here again, there is repetition, which is again the memory functioning.
So you are asking if it is possible, while I am speaking, that I am really experiencing, not answering from experience? Surely there is a difference between the repetition of experience and the freedom of experiencing which is being expressed through memory which is the verbalization. Please listen. This is not difficult to understand.
I want to find out what ambition means, all that it implies. Do I really, now as I am speaking, investigate afresh the whole process of ambition? Or, do I repeat the investigation which I have made yesterday about ambition, which is merely repetition? Is it not possible to investigate, to experience anew all the time, and not merely rely on a record, on memory, on the experience of yesterday? Is it not possible to flower, to be, all the time, now as I am speaking, without the repetitious experience of yesterday, though I use words to communicate?
Your question is: What is functioning when I am speaking? If I am repeating merely what I have said ten days ago, then it is of very little value. But if I am experiencing as I am talking, not an imaginative feeling but actually, then what is functioning? The flowering is functioning, not through self-expression, not the `me’ functioning which is memory.
So it is very important, not for me alone, but for all of us to find out if we can keep our minds from being this storehouse of the past, and whether the mind can be stable on the waters of life and let the memories float by without clinging to any particular memory, and when necessary to use that memory as we do use it when we communicate. Which means, the mind constantly letting the past float by, never identifying itself with it, never being occupied with it; so that the mind is firm, not in experience, not in memory, not in knowledge, but firm, stable in the process, in the way of experiencing continuously.
So, that is the factor which brings about no deterioration, so that the mind constantly renews. A mind that accumulates is already in decay. But the mind that allows memories to go by and is firm in the way of experiencing – such a mind is always fresh, it is always seeing things anew. That capacity can only come when the mind is very quiet. That quietness, that stillness, is not induced, cannot come about through any discipline, through any action of will, but when the mind understands the whole process of accumulation of knowledge, memory, experience. Then it establishes itself on the waters of life, which are always moving, living, vibrant.
Question: With what should the mind be occupied? I want to meditate. Would you please tell me on what I should meditate?
Krishnamurti: Now, let us find out what is meditation. You and I are going to find out. I am not going to tell you what is meditation. We are both going to discover it afresh.
The mind that has learnt to meditate, which is to concentrate, the mind that has learnt the technique of shutting out everything and narrowing down to a particular point – such a mind is incapable of meditation. That is what most of us want. We want to learn to concentrate, to be occupied with one thought to the exclusion of every other thought, and we call that meditation. But it is not meditation. Meditation is something entirely different, which we are going to find out.
So our first problem is why does the mind demand that it should be occupied? Do you understand? My mind says, `I must be occupied with something, with worry, with memory, with a passion, or with how not to be passionate, or how to get rid of something, or to find a technique which will help me to build a bridge.’ So the mind, if you observe, demands constant occupation; does it not? That is why you say, `My mind must be occupied with the word OM’, or you repeat Ram Ram; or you are occupied with drinking. The word `Om; the word `Ram Ram’ or the word `drink’ are all the same, because the mind wants to be occupied, because it says if it is not occupied it will do some mischief, if it is not occupied it will drift away. If the mind is not occupied, then what is the purpose of life? So you invent a purpose of life – noble, ignoble or transcendental – and cling to that; and with that, you are occupied. It is the same whether the mind is occupied with God or whether it is occupied with business, because the mind says consciously or unconsciously it must be occupied.
So, the next thing is to find out why the mind demands occupation. Please follow this. We are meditating now. This is Meditation. Meditation is not a state at the end. Freedom is not to be got at the end; freedom is at the beginning. If you have no freedom in the beginning, you have no freedom at the end. If you have no love now, you will have no love in ten years. So what we are doing now is to find out what is meditation. And the very enquiry of what is meditation is to meditate.
The mind says, `I must be occupied with God, with virtue, with my worries, or with my business concern’, so, it is incessantly active in its occupation. So the mind can only exist as long as it is active, as long as it is conscious of itself in action, not otherwise. The mind knows itself as being, when it is occupied, when it is acting, when it has results. It knows itself as existing when it is in motion. The motion is occupation towards a result, towards an idea, or denial of that idea negatively.
So, I am conscious of myself only when there is motion, in and out. So consciousness is this motion of action, outward and inward; this breathing out of responses, of reactions, of memories, and then collecting them back again. So my mind, `I am’, is only when I am thinking, when I am in conflict with a thing, when there is suffering, when there is occupation, when there is strain, when there is choice.
So the mind knows itself as in motion when it is ambitious and drags itself there; and seeing that ambition is dull, it says, `I will occupy myself with God.’ The occupation of the mind with God is the same as the occupation of the mind with money. We think that the man whose mind is occupied with God is more sacred than the man who is thinking of money; but they are factually both the same; both want results, both need to be occupied. So, can the mind be without occupation? That is the problem.
Sirs, can the mind be blank without comparing, because the `more’ is the way of the mind knowing that it exists? The mind that knows it exists, is never satisfied with `what is; it is always acquiring, comparing, condemning, demanding more and more. In the demand, in the movement of the `more’, it knows itself as existing, which is what we call self-consciousness, the conscious on the surface and the unconscious. This is our life, this is the way of our everyday existence.
I want to know what meditation is; so I say I want to be occupied with meditation. I want to find out what meditation is; so my mind is again occupied with meditation. So, can the occupied mind please follow this, listen to this – can the occupied mind ever be capable of meditation? Meditation surely is the understanding of the ways of the mind. If I do not know how my mind operates, functions, works, how can I meditate? How can I really find out what is truth? So, the mind must find out how it is occupied; then it begins to see with what it is occupied; and then finds that all occupations are the same; because, the mind then is filling itself with words, with ideas, with constant movement, so that there is never a quietness.
When the mind occupies itself with the discovery of what Love is, it is another form of occupation, is it not? It is like the man who is occupied with passion.
When you say you must find out the Truth, will you find truth? Or, does Truth come into being only when the mind is not occupied, when the mind is empty to receive, not to gather not to accumulate. Because, you can only receive once. But if what you have received you make into memory with which you are occupied, then you will never receive again. Because the receiving is from moment to moment. Therefore it is of timelessness.
So the mind which is of time cannot receive the timeless. So the mind must be completely still, empty, without any movement in any direction. And that can only take place with a mind that is not occupied – not occupied with the `more’, with a problem, with worry, with escapes; not conditioned in any belief, in any image, in any experience. It is only when the mind is totally free, then only is there a possibility of immense profound stillness; and in that stillness that which is Eternal comes into being. That is meditation.