Krishnamurti: Talk 4

Transcript of Talk 4, Bombay, 19 February 1964

I want to go into something very widely and rather deeply, this evening. I am going to describe a scene that took place. it actually happened. It is not an invention: it is not a story made up for the sake of making a story, but it actually took place.

We were sitting on the bank of a river, very wide, of an evening. The crows were coming back from across the river, and the moon was just coming over the trees. There was a cloud floating by, and all the evening sun was on it, full of brilliance and delight. The river was flowing richly, very quietly; but the current was strong, deep. Then across the river there was a man singing; I could hardly hear him, but occasionally a note floated across the water. It was really a very beautiful evening, full of charm. There was the strange silence that comes when the sun is about to set, and there was beauty that cannot be expressed in words – you felt it; you felt it through the very bones of your being. You saw that river every day and you saw the sun and the moon every day. But that evening there was a charm, full, quiet and extraordinarily mysterious.

And the beauty that was there was so palpable, so extraordinarily real, as the tree across the river as the boatman, as the fish that jumped out of that river. You felt it with a deep passion, with an intensity; nothing existed, there was neither form nor that peculiar emotion that comes when you see something very beautiful. Your mind, your body, your being was utterly still; and that beauty continued, you felt it throbbing in a deep silence. It was a beauty that had no emotional quality, there was no sentiment. It was naked, strong, vital, passionate; there was no sense of any sentimentality. It was like meeting something face to face, that is real, naked, complete in itself. It did not want any imagination, any expression, any translation. It was there like a fulness, with a richness, with an extraordinary sense of magnitude and depth; one felt it. And the feeling, not the emotion, that is aroused when you see something extraordinarily beautiful, has nothing to do with sentimentality, with emotion, with any memory – all that is banished, and you are there watching an extraordinary thing, a part of your whole being, alive, vibrant, clear, rich.

And there was a man sitting beside us. He was a sannyasi. He did not notice the water and the moon on the water. He did not notice the song of that village-man from that village, he did not notice the crows coming back; he was so absorbed in his own problem. And he began to talk quietly with a tremendous sense of sorrow. He was a lustful man, he said, brutal in his demands, never satisfied, always demanding, asking, pushing, driving; his lust had no quietness; and he was striving and he was driven for many years to conquer it. And at last he did the most brutal thing to himself; and from that day he was no longer a man.

And as you listened, you felt an extraordinary sorrow, a tremendous shock, that a man in search of God could mutilate himself for ever. He had lost all feeling, all sense of beauty. All that he was concerned with was to reach God. He tortured himself, butchered himself, destroyed himself in order to find that thing which he called God. He had formed an idea, and according to that formula he was living. The formula was real, not what he was seeking, not what he was trying to find out. What was real to him was the formula, the form the mind had created, which the saints, the religions and society had said that he must do in order to end. And there he was, lost, destroyed, without sensitivity to feel the extraordinary beauty of that evening. And as it got dark, the stars came out full, wide, with immense space; and he was totally unaware.

And most of us live that way. We have brutalized ourselves through different ways, so completely. We have formed ideas, we live with formulas. All our actions, all our feelings, all our activities are shaped, controlled, subjugated, dominated by the formulas which society, the saints, the religions, the experiences that one has had, have established. These formulas shape our life, our activity, our being. We are always approximating ourselves to these formulas, to these ideas, adjusting, conforming when these formulas become very strong. This is the case with most people; they have the formula – that is, what one must do, and what one must not do, what is right and what is wrong. The pattern having been set, we torture ourselves to that formula, in order to find God, in order to be happy, in order to achieve a certain state of tranquillity.

So our minds are always forming idea, patterns, formulas, and we shape ourselves according to those formulas, voluntarily, consciously or unconsciously, choosing some and rejecting others – rejecting those which are not pleasurable or which are not according to our tendencies, our idiosyncrasies and our character. Formulas, patterns, are imposed by others, by society, by religion, by saints, by teachers. And if you observe your own life, you will see that you live, have your being, and act according to a formula. We are never free of a formula. There, in the instance mentioned already of the sannyasi, he went through extreme torture because he believed in a formula, because he believed in an idea, which is an extreme form of neurosis. But those of us who have not such compulsive demands – we have our formulas according to which we are torturing ourselves, night and day, consciously or unconsciously, all the time.

As long as the formula, the pattern, the idea exists, there must be conflict between that idea, that formula, and `what is’. And one must realize that conflict in any form, under any guise, for any purpose, noble, ultimate, under any circumstances, is a torture; it is a thing to be completely, totally avoided – not that one must yield to what one wants; that is rather juvenile and it is not worthwhile even to go into it. We torture ourselves with what we should do, with what might be, what has been; and we never face `what is’. This torture man has considered necessary, through centuries upon centuries, to find God. In India they do it in one way, and in Christendom they do it in another way. And those people who do not believe in God or something beyond, torture themselves with their ambitions, with their brutalities, with their compulsive demands, with their authoritarian rule, and in all other ways.

Reality, that thing which man has sought for a million years, that thing which is translated by different minds, by different people with different tendencies, under different cultures and civilizations – that cannot be understood, that cannot be reached by a mind which is merely tortured. That thing, it seems to me, can only be realized when the mind is completely normal, completely healthy, not tortured by any discipline, by any enforcement, by any manner or any kind of compulsion, imitation. Such a mind must come to it with youth, with freshness, untrammelled, unscratched, innocent, vital, healthy, completely original; otherwise it will never find.

Because truth, the real God – the real God, not the God that man has made – does not want a mind that has been destroyed, petty, shallow, narrow, limited. It needs a healthy mind to appreciate it; it needs a rich mind – rich, not with knowledge but with innocence , a mind upon which there has never been a scratch of experience, a mind that is free from time. The gods that you have invented for your own comforts, accept torture; they accept a mind that is being made dull. But the real thing does not want it; it wants a total, complete human being whose heart is full, rich, clear, capable of intense feeling, capable of seeing the beauty of a tree, the smile of a child, and the agony of a woman who has never had a full meal.

You have to have this extraordinary feeling, this sensitivity to everything – to the animal, to the cat that walks across the wall, to the squalor, the dirt, the filth of human beings in poverty, in despair. You have to be sensitive – which is to feel intensely, not in any particular direction, which is not an emotion which comes and goes, but which is to be sensitive with your nerves, with your eyes, with your body, with your ears, with your voice. You have to be sensitive completely all the time. Unless you are so completely sensitive, there is no intelligence. Intelligence comes with sensitivity and observation

Sensitivity does not come with infinite knowledge and information. You may know all the books in the world; you may have read them, devoured them; you may be familiar with every author; you may know all the things that have been said; but that does not bring intelligence. What brings intelligence is this sensitivity, a total sensitivity of your mind, conscious as well as unconscious, and of your heart with its extraordinary capacities of affection, sympathy, generosity. And with that comes this intense feeling, feeling for the leaf that falls from a tree with all its dying colours and the squalor of a filthy street – you have to be sensitive to both; you cannot be sensitive to the one and insensitive to the other. You are sensitive – not merely to the one or the other.

And when there is that sensitivity with observation, there is intelligence to observe – to see things as they are, without a formula, without an opinion; to see the cloud as the cloud; to see your own deep thoughts, secret demands, as they actually are, without interpretation, without wanting them or not wanting them; just to observe, just to listen to the secret wishes; and to observe, as you sit in a bus with the other passengers; to see the passenger near you, the way he behaves, the way he talks; just to observe. Then out of that observation there comes clarity. Such observation expels every form of confusion. So with sensitivity and observation comes this extraordinary quality of intelligence.

Now, if I may point out, please listen to what is being said. Don’t take notes. Just listen, as you would listen to a distant song, relaxed, easy, without any compulsive urge to find. Because if you have so listened, we will go very far together. Then you are in a state of neither accepting nor denying; then you are not using the petty little mind that says, “Prove it to me”, that wants to argue, dissect, analyse. This does not mean that you swallow what is being said, or become sentimental and accept.

To listen demands tremendous energy. It is neither a sentimental state nor an emotional quality. To listen, you need a very clear, precise, reasoned mind, a mind that is capable of reasoning completely to the very end – that is a very healthy mind. And with that in mind, just listen – not to what is being said, but listen to yourself. Listen to the whispers of your own mind, the promptings of your own heart; just listen to yourself. We are going to go into something that demands the fine art of listening; we are going to find out what is true.

When you discover for yourself what is true, then that truth acts. You do not have to act at all. Even in your office, in your home, when you are walking by yourself in a solitude among woods and streams, that truth acts which has been discovered by you – not repeated by you because you have heard it said by somebody else. When you discover for yourself what is true and what is false, when you discover for yourself the truth in the false and the truth as truth, then that extraordinary thing has a quality of explosion; and that explosive quality heals and brings about action out of that pure health and clarity. That is what we are going to do this evening. By listening to the words of the speaker you are going to discover for yourself the truth, and then let the truth operate, where it will, when it will. And when it operates, let it operate without your interference.

As we were saying, observation with this highest sensitivity brings about intelligence. Because without intelligence life is drab, shallow, repetitive, and has no depth and quality. And it is this intelligence that is going to bring about discipline.

When the origin of that word ‘discipline’ is taken into consideration, to ‘discipline’ means to learn – not to conform, not to follow a pattern set by yesterday or by a thousand yesterdays, or by the formula of tomorrow or ten thousand tomorrows. To discipline is to learn – not to conform, not to obey, not to accept, not to torture yourself by a pattern, by an idea, by a formula. What society, the religions, the technological jobs and other things have made us do is to discipline ourselves – which is to conform, to imitate, to suppress, or to sublimate. That has not brought us clarity, freedom from confusion, freedom from sorrow; it has not freed the mind so that it can be quiet, feel intensely without any motive, without any future, without any past, just feel tremendously. We know the tortures of discipline.

Take the most insignificant thing like smoking and the conflict to give up smoking. What an extraordinary conflict you go through about a little thing: just to give up smoking! The doctors, the Government have said it is bad for you, it may bring cancer; there is the fear, the punishment; yet, you go on. And in the very act of going on, there is conflict, because you know that for your health, for various reasons, you should not smoke, but you go on as it has become a habit; and to break that habit you form another formula, another habit.

That is the way we live – always in a state of conflict, always breaking down one habit and falling into another habit of thought, of feeling, of sensation, of pleasure. The sexual habit, the drinking habit, the habit of seeking God because you are miserable – they are all the same, they are an escape from reality. And depending upon our tendencies, our erudition, our knowledge, our education, either we intensify that struggle, that conflict, through so-called discipline, or depending upon our tremendous urge or our laziness, we play with discipline. So our minds are always shaped by society, by the church, by circumstances.

Please follow all this, I am talking about your mind. Don’t be caught in the words which I am using. The words have no value at all. A word is a symbol, a word is a means of communication; it is like the telephone. If you use the telephone, you don’t worship the telephone; what the telephone conveys to you is important.

We have lived with the disciplines, with the mores, with the customs that we call morality – the `what should be’ and `what should not be’. This is the pattern of our existence – a torture, an ugly, ever-endless strife and misery.

Now, can one live without discipline? Because that way of disciplining, in which one has lived for centuries, is a terrible thing, is a most ugly form of existence; it only breeds a mechanical mind. You know what happens to a soldier who is trained day after day, for months, for years, to obey orders? Have you ever watched him? He functions mechanically, obeying; all spontaneity, all freedom has gone. You go to the office day after day for forty years; with that terrible boredom, what has happened to your mind? Watch it. You have trained yourself, you have conformed, because you have a family, you have to earn a livelihood, you have to support the family – we know all the innumerable reasons.

So we have to find out how to live in this world, which demands a livelihood, which asks us to do things, day after day, regularly, efficiently, constantly, that you have your own lustful desires, sex, and do not make it into a habit. You have also other urges that create habits. Please listen to this. We have to find out how to live in this world surrounded by all this, with complete freedom, without a formula, without twisting the mind, without shaping it to conform, or without it being shaped by society.

Because a disciplined mind – in the sense a mind that conforms, a mind that accepts, a mind that follows, imitates, suppresses – is a stupid, dull, crippled mind; it is a dead mind – whether it is the mind of the holiest of the sannyasis, or of the poor wretched woman, or of the man who steals. One has to live in this world without that kind of discipline, because one understands it, one sees the truth of it.

You see what a discipline implies: conforming; imitating; suppressing; controlling; living within a certain framework, within a formula, within a pattern, whether it is established by society, by religion, or by your intellectual capacity or experience. Every form of discipline, according to that kind, is deadly, destructive; it makes the mind useless. You may function as a machine, but you cannot possibly, under any circumstances, find out what is truth. Because truth demands freedom; that is, it demands intelligence that is the highest sensitivity; and with this, it demands awareness, which is to observe.

Can you live in this world without this traditional, destructive discipline? Please follow it, please ask yourself. This world is becoming more and more mechanistic; every boy and girl is trained technologically, is shaped. To live in this world is to conform; otherwise, you are destroyed by society, you are pushed out if you are not a Catholic, if you are not a Muslim, a Hindu, or a Buddhist. Can you live in this world without this destructive, traditional weight of a discipline, that corrupts, that destroys, that makes the mind ugly? Do you see the truth of that – not because I tell you, not because the speaker has pointed it out? If you will see the actual beauty of that, then you have to ask yourself, if you can live in this world without discipline of that kind. Can you live without discipline, doing what you like, free? Can you? You cannot; if you do, you will be in a constant state of endless conflict.

So you have to find out for yourself if you can live with intelligence. We have explained what we mean by intelligence. It is not a definition of intelligence. it is not that you are going to repeat, or dialectically say that is one opinion and there are other opinions. Discussing opinions and finding truth in opinions is the dialectical way of approach. We are not talking dialectically. We are stating a fact – whether you accept it or don’t accept it is totally irrelevant. If you say, “That is your opinion, there are other opinions”, we are not discussing opinions. There is no truth in opinions; there are a thousand opinions, because there are a thousand men and each has his own opinion. So we are not talking dialectically: trying to find out truth of opinions by analysis leads nowhere. What we are pointing out is something entirely different.

We are saying that a mind that is extraordinarily alive and sensitive and awake, can, through the observation of `what is’, through the observation of facts, live in this world without this destructive discipline. A tree is a tree; it is not what you think about that tree. You have to observe `what is; to observe what you are actually, not what you should be, not what other people have told you that you should be; to, observe the colour, the richness, the beauty of the sunset, the calm sea, and the extraordinary quality of a still night. Then out of that sensitivity and observation comes this living quality of intelligence.

Now, we need a certain kind of discipline – which is to learn. We are learning. There is no end to learning. Therefore, there is no end to the form of discipline that comes through intelligence. The other discipline – the traditional discipline, which is conforming, adjusting, forcing, suppressing – does not create intelligence, does not bring about this clarity, the beauty and the vitality of intelligence. But where there is intelligence fully operating actually, then out of that intelligence comes the discipline which is constantly learning. Do you know what it is to learn anything? To learn about a motor car, about your job, how to cook, how to wash dishes, anything – to do it properly, efficiently, you have to be learning all the time. Now, when you are learning all the time, you do not say, “I have learnt, and what I have learnt is good enough; and therefore whatever happens is going to be something more learnt and added to what I have learnt”. If you say that, you cease to learn.

When the mind is learning all the time, it brings about its own extraordinarily sweet discipline. In that there is no conformity; in that there is no pattern; in that there is no formula, suppression, obedience; it is living. And every living thing creates its own easy, swift, free efficiency of learning. From that comes the beauty of a mind that is so clear, and therefore it needs no discipline.

If you see this, – see in the full sense, not merely hear what has been said – if you see with the inner eye, hear with the ear of the mind, then you will see for yourself the true nature of the old traditional, rotten thing called `discipline’. I am using the word `rotten’ expressly, because when you look at your own mind, you will see how shallow, dull, insensitive it has become. If you understand this thing called `discipline’ which has made man into an ugly thing, if you see the truth of that, it will drop away from you; you don’t have to do anything. You see the truth of that or the falseness of that, only when you are highly sensitive and, with that sensitivity and clarity, observe this whole formulation of discipline. Then you are out of it.

But you can’t live, doing what you want. Because your desires vary from day to day. When one desire is fulfilling itself, it is not satisfied with it, it becomes dissatisfied and seeks another. There is ever a constant change in the objects of desire. Desire remains the same, but the objects change. From childhood to manhood, the objects of desire change constantly, not the desire. And we think that if we replace all the objects by God, we have understood the whole phenomenon. Only we have moved away from the petty to the large; but it is still petty, because it is still the object of desire.

So if you understand this whole process, then you will see that you can live in this world with all its challenges, with all its brutalities, because you have the extraordinary insight brought about by intelligence; then you will see that you can live, functioning as a human being who is intelligent, efficient, clear, unconfused. And you can only live that way if you understand how the mind forms, shapes an idea, and how that becomes the formula according to which you are going to live.

We create formulas because they give us self-identified continuity. We create formulas because they give us a sense of worthwhileness. We breed formulas, because they give us a sense of action, a sense of doing something. It is like a man who wants to help – he has a formula that he must help and that he knows what it is to help. It gives self-importance; and in that help, he is exploiting others for his own comfort, for his own well-being, for his own satisfaction.

The flower by the wayside, rich in colour and beauty, does not talk about helping others. It is there, full of perfume, loveliness and an extraordinary tenderness; it is for you to go to it, smell it and enjoy it. It does not talk about help. But we, who want to be active with our petty little minds, identify ourselves with ten different activities; we want formulas; we live by formulas and we die by formulas. We have formulas about love, we have formulas about death, and we have formulas about God. So words have become very important – not life, not living. Ideals, all the phoney inventions of man in order to enclose himself into an escape from himself, have become important.

So, a mind that is capable of living in this world has to understand this formulation, this framing of ideas and living according to them. When once you see the truth of it, then you can ask a really fundamental question: Is it possible to live without any formula at all – a formula of the past, or a formula of the future? To find that state and to be in that state demands astonishing clarity, in which there is no conflict, no torture of any kind, at any moment. Because a mind that is a light to itself, a mind that is completely awake – it is not tortured, it has no formula, it has no time.