Krishnamurti: Talk 5
Transcript of Talk 5, London, 10 May 1966
This is the last talk. There is no end to talking, to arguments, to explanations, but explanations, arguments and talking do not lead to direct action because for that to take place we need to change radically and fundamentally. That needs no argument. No convincing. no formula, no being influenced by another will make us change fundamentally, in the deep sense of that word. We do need to change, but not according to any particular idea or formula or concept, because when we have ideas about action, action ceases. Between action and idea there is a time interval, a lag, and in that time interval there is either resistance, conformity or imitation of that idea or that formula and trying to put it into action. That’s what most of us are doing all the time. We know we have to change, not only outwardly but deeply, psychologically.
The outward changes are many. They are forcing us to conform to a certain pattern of activity, but to meet the challenge of everyday life there must be a deep revolution. Most of us have an idea, a concept of what we should be or what we ought to be, but we never change fundamentally. Ideas, concepts of what one should be do not make us change at all. We only change when it is absolutely necessary and we never see directly the necessity for this change. When we do want to change, there is a great deal of conflict and resistance, and we waste a great deal of energy in resisting, in creating a barrier.
Mere acquisition of knowledge, mere listening to a lot of ideas, to a great many talks does not bring about wisdom. What brings wisdom is self-observation, examination of ourselves. To examine we must be free, free, from the censor, the entity that is always evaluating, judging, approximating. Then only can we look, examine. There is action only when, from that observation, without creating the idea, there is direct action. Man apparently has lived for over two million years and there have been 15,000 wars in recorded human history, two and a half wars every year. We are always in conflict with each other, both outwardly and inwardly. Our lives are a battlefield, and we don’t seem to be able to solve our problems at all. We either postpone them, avoid them, or try to find a solution to them according to our concepts, ideas, prejudices, conclusions. We can go on living this way for another two million years, superficially, having probably a little more food, clothing and shelter but inwardly we will always be at war within ourselves and with our neighbours, with other people. That has been the pattern of our lives. To bring about a good society, human beings have to change. You and I must find the energy, the impetus, the vitality to bring about this radical transformation of the mind, and that is not possible if we do not have enough energy. We need a great deal of energy to bring about a change within ourselves, but we waste our energy, through conflict, through resistance, through conformity, through acceptance, through obedience. It is a waste of energy when we are trying to conform to a pattern. To conserve energy we must be aware of ourselves, how we dissipate energy. This is an age-long problem, because most human beings are indolent. They would rather accept, obey and follow. If we become aware of this indolence, this deep-rooted laziness, and try to quicken the mind and the heart, the intensity of it again becomes a conflict, which is also a waste of energy.
Our problem, one of the many that we have, is how to conserve this energy, the energy that is necessary for an explosion to take place in consciousness, an explosion that is not contrived, that is not put together by thought, but an explosion that occurs naturally when this energy is not wasted. Conflict in any form, at any level, at any depth of our being is a waste of energy. We all know that, but we have accepted conflict as the way of life. To understand the nature and the structure of conflict we must go into the question of contradiction. Most of the life that we lead every day is a source of conflict. If we observe our own existence, our own life, we see how much conflict we have, what we are and what we should be, the contradictory desires, the contradictory pleasures, the various influences, pressures and strains, the resistance created by our urges, by our appetites. We accept conflict as part of our existence. Why do we live in conflict, and is it at all possible, living in this modern world, leading the life that we do, is it possible to live without conflict? This means to live a life without contradiction.
After asking a question of that kind either we are waiting for an answer, an explanation, or each one of us is aware of the nature of our contradictions and conflict. By awareness I mean to observe, to examine without any judgment, without any choice, to see our lives, our everyday lives, which are in conflict – just to be aware of them. Then we will begin to understand the structure of contradiction. Most of us know we live in contradiction and we suppress one and follow the other, the opposite, or we disregard the whole contradictory being and live superficially, escaping; but when we become conscious of it, the tension becomes much greater because we do not know how to solve this conflict, this battle that is going on within each one of us, within every human being. Not being able to solve it, not being able to unravel it, the tension becomes much greater and hence neuroses and psychotic states. But if we become choicelessly aware of this contradictory nature of our being, just looking at it without wanting to solve the conflict, without taking sides about the conflict, just observing, then we discover that conflict will always exist as long as the observer, the censor, is different from the thing he looks at. I think this is the root of conflict. If we could only understand this, not philosophically, not through explanations or agreement, but by actually looking at it!
Take for instance this sense of loneliness, this sense of isolation that we each feel. When we become conscious of it, we run away, to churches, to museums; we listen to music, to the radio; we take to drink and dozens of other things. The tension becomes much greater. There is this fact that we are terribly lonely, isolated, having no relationship with anything. Not being able to understand it, not being able to face it, come directly into contact with it, we escape from it. And the escape naturally, obviously, is a waste of energy because the fact is still there.
In becoming aware of it, you discover that there is an observer who is looking at that loneliness. The loneliness is something different from the observer. As you are listening, if I may suggest, please don’t merely follow intellectually what is being said. It will have no value at all, but if you become aware of your own loneliness, which most of us know, then you will see that you are looking at it, that the thing you look at is different from the observer. The loneliness is not you. The observer is different from the observed and therefore makes an effort to overcome it, to escape from it, asks questions about what to do, what not to do, how to resolve it. The actual fact is that the observer is the observed and as long as there is this division between the observer and the observed, there must be conflict.
Take another effort that we make. There are contradictory desires, each desire pulling in a different direction. There is a constant battle going on. If we are at all aware, serious, we know what is taking place within our own consciousness. The observer decides which desire shall dominate, which desire shall be pursued, or, not being conscious, he pursues one, and so engenders conflict.
Again, there is conflict as long as we do not understand pleasure. We are talking about pleasure, not a puritanical resistance to pleasure or the avoidance of pleasure or how to resolve pleasure or how to overcome pleasure. If we try to overcome desire, pleasure, any actual fact, then we create conflict, a resistance against it. But when we begin to understand the structure of pleasure, how our minds, our brains, our desires work with regard to pleasure, then we begin to discover that wherever there is pleasure there is pain. When we understand that, not intellectually, not verbally, but actually, when we actually realize that fact, then there is not the avoidance of pleasure but the actual state of what takes place when we understand the nature and the structure of pleasure. We are talking about the necessity of gathering all energy to bring about a radical revolution in consciousness itself, because we must have a new mind; we must look at life totally differently. To bring about this explosion we must find out how we waste our energies. Conflict is a waste of energy. Resistance to or the acceptance of pleasure is also a waste of energy.
What is pleasure, actually? There is an observation of something, a sensation through that observation, through that seeing, through that touching. Then desire arises and thought gives continuity, vitality, strength to that desire, as pleasure. We can observe this for ourselves. We see a beautiful woman, man, car, house, dress or whatever it is, There is perception, sensation, desire and the pleasure of ownership. Before the pleasure thought begins to say how nice it would be to get it. This is what actually takes place. On that all our moral, ethical values are based. Thought intensifies desire as pleasure and the avoidance of pain. Thought, as the thinker watching, creates a contradiction and hence conflict.
One must be aware of all this, not as an idea that one must be aware of in order to get over the conflict, for then it’s just another thought seeking another form of pleasure and there is more conflict; but if one is aware of this whole structure of pleasure, then one can look at beauty or ugliness, enjoying without thought, giving strength to that which has been perceived, but not creating a conflict. This requires a great deal of attention, a great deal of enquiry, examination. Nobody can teach us this. Really, actually, there is no such thing as the teacher and the taught; there is only learning, learning about oneself.
You find as you begin to learn about yourself, not analytically, not as an examination, layer after layer, of yourself as you are, which again will take a lot of time, that becoming aware of the totality of your being, whatever you actually are, is possible only when you understand that all consciousness is limited, conditioned. When you are aware of that, when you are totally attentive to that conditioning, then analysis becomes quite useless. I do not know if you have noticed for yourself immediately the truth of your own mind, your own thoughts, your own feelings. You can see immediately. But that again requires sensitivity, not knowledge, not discipline. To be sensitive not in any particular direction, as an artist, but to be sensitive totally, to be aware of everything around you, of the colours, of the trees, of the birds, of your own thoughts, of your own feelings – that makes the mind extraordinarily alert, sharp, clear. Then you can face the problems of existence. A problem exists only when you give root to an issue. But if you can understand the problem instantly, then the problem ceases. When there is an adequate response to the challenge, to any challenge, the problem is not. It is only when we are not capable of responding adequately to the challenge that there is a problem.
Look at the problem of fear, the problem, not how to get rid of it, not what to do. For most of us fear is constant. Either we are aware of it or there are unconscious fears, deep-rooted, with which we never come in direct contact. We have ideas, images about fear, but we are never actually in contact with the fact. However much one may be intimately related with a person, which we call relationship, what actually takes place is a relationship between the images the two people have about each other. That’s what we call relationship, one image making contact with another image. In the same way, we never come into contact with actual fear. Fear is an indication of danger. When we come to a physical danger like a serpent or a precipice, there is instant action. There is no conclusion; there is no thinking about it. The body immediately reacts. But there are psychological dangers of which we are not aware, and therefore there is no immediate action.
We have many fears and one of the major fears is the fear of death. If we are alive to life, we are aware of this extraordinary thing called death. We don’t know how to meet it because we are afraid. To meet what is called death, one has first of all to be free of fear. It is this constant fear of the unknown, or rather this constant fear of letting the known go, the things that we know, our experiences, our memories, our family, our knowledge, our activity. That is what we are afraid of, not actually of death. We know that there is death. We take comfort in reincarnation, in resurrection, in various forms of beliefs or by rationalizing the whole thing and trying to say, ” Well, it is inevitable; I’ve had a miserable life”, or ” It has been a jolly good time, and let’s get on with it”. But if we would actually understand this question of death, which is really an extraordinary thing, we not only have to understand what living is, but we must also understand what fear is, because when we understand what living is, then we find that living and dying are very close together; they’re not two different things. We cannot live if we are afraid, if we are in constant battle, if we are trying to fulfil, and being frustrated discover in ourselves enormous loneliness and insufficiency.
That’s our life, and we want to fulfil, to achieve, to become. Thought enters and avoids death, pushes it far away, holding on to things it knows. We do not know what living is. This thing that we call living is a miserable existence, a frightful mess, a battle with occasional flashes of joy, of great pleasures, but most of our life is such a shallow, drab affair that we don’t know what living is. But if we were to die to all the things that thought has created within ourselves, to die actually, to die to our pleasures, to our memories, to our actual fears, then there is a different kind of living. That living is never far from death; but to come to all this we must have passion, we must have tremendous intensity, energy, to learn about ourselves, to learn about death, to learn about fear, because the moment we begin to learn about it, fear ceases. We cannot learn if we do not know how to observe. After all, to learn about death, you understand, is really quite extraordinary, because there is actual physical death. The organism comes to an end, through old age, infirmity, some disease. Then it is too late. The mind then is not capable of quick perception because we have allowed ourselves to be so heavily conditioned. When we are ill, diseased, when the brain cells have become weary, then we cannot learn, then unfortunately we live in beliefs, hopes, and there is no way out that way. But if we become aware of our lives, the way we live, our thoughts, our feelings, the pleasures that we pursue constantly, then in that understanding the things that we hold on to so deeply fall away. Then one dies every day. Otherwise there is nothing new.
After all that is the religious mind, not the beliefs the dogmas, the rituals, the sects, the propaganda that has been going on for 2,000 or 10,000 years, which is not religion at all. We are slaves to propaganda either of the business man or of the priest. Religion is something entirely different. To find out what is truth, to find out if there is something which man has called his God, the unknown, we must die to the known, because otherwise we can’t come upon this strange thing that man has been seeking for thousands and thousands of years. He has invented, thought has put together a concept of what God is or is not. He believes or disbelieves according to his conditioning. The communist, the real communist, doesn’t believe. To him there is only the State. Probably eventually he will deify Lenin or someone else. There are also those who are conditioned to believe. Both are the same, the believer and the non-believer. To find out if there is something beyond that which thought has put together we must deny everything; we must deny dogma, belief, our hopes and fears. That’s not really very difficult to do either, because when we want to learn we set aside all the absurd things that man has created out of his fear.
When there is the actual ending of thought as pleasure, dying to thought, then there is something entirely different, a different dimension, a dimension which cannot probably be explained, put into words. It has nothing to do with belief and dogma and fear. It is not a word. That word cannot be made into flesh, and to come upon it the experiencer, the observer, the censor must cease to be. That’s why we said at the beginning that one must understand conflict and that there will be conflict as long as there is the observer and the observed; that’s the root of conflict. When I say, ” I must understand”, or ” I am afraid”, the ” I”, thinks it is separate from the fear itself. Actually it is not. The fear is the ” I; the two are inseparable. When the observer is the observed, when the thinker, the origin of thought, comes to an end, then you will find that fear in any form has also come to an end.
In that there is a concentration of energy. This energy explodes and there is the new, the new which is not recognizable. When we recognize something, it is not new. It is an experience which we have already had. Therefore it is not new. The extraordinary experiences and visions of all the saints and all the religious people are projections of the old, of their conditioned minds. The Christian sees his Christ because he has been conditioned by the society in which he lives as he has been growing up.
As long as there is an experiencer and the thing that he is going to experience, in that state there is no reality, but conflict. Only when the experiencer ceases is there that thing which man has been seeking. In one’s own life one is always seeking, seeking happiness, seeking God, seeking truth. One can,t find it through search, but only when search ceases, only when one is a light to oneself. To be a light to oneself, there must be a burning passion, intensity. It isn’t something domesticated. Out of all this turmoil, misery, confusion and despair comes that revolution, that inward mutation. It is only a new mind that can come upon that thing which is called God or truth or whatever name one likes to give it. But the known cannot know the unknown, and we are the result of the known. Whatever the known, which is thought, does will push the unknown further away. It is only when thought has understood itself and has become quiet that there is an understanding of this whole process, of thought, pleasure and fear. This is meditation. It is not a practice, a discipline, a conformity which makes the mind quiet. What makes the mind really silent is the understanding of itself, its thoughts, its desires, its contradictions, its pleasures, its attachments, its loneliness, its despair, its brutality and its violence. Out of that understanding comes silence, and it is only a silent mind that can perceive, can see actually what is.