Krishnamurti: Talk 7
Transcript of Talk 7, Madras, 2 February 1964
This is the last talk in Madras. I would, if I may, like to talk about what is the religious mind – not theoretically; or as a speculation; not because we have nothing else or better to do; nor merely out of curiosity. To enquire into anything, especially into matters that require a great deal of penetration, an enormous amount of intelligence, you need energy. If you do anything efficiently, clearly, to the very end and carry it out fully, you need to have an abundant and inexhaustible energy. That is taken for granted by most of us. To go to the office every day of your life for thirty years and more of boredom, you need energy if you would not be destroyed by the boredom, by the routine, by all the insults, and so on. And especially when we are enquiring into psychological matters, we need energy that is not motivated by any desire, by any purpose. We need simple energy. And for most of us that energy is lacking. We pursue something that we like, which is gratifying, to the very end of it. And for that we have plenty of energy – whether it is good, bad or indifferent; whether it is worthwhile or not; whether there is any significance or not, in action. If we want to do a certain thing, we will go at it with a great deal of zeal and energy.
And to enquire into what is the religious mind – which we are going to do this evening – we need energy, the energy that comes from facing facts, from facing `what is’. Any avoidance of facing `what is’ is a waste of energy. Whether they are agreeable, dissatisfactory or repellant, we have to face things. And to understand `what is’ non-speculatively, to realize it actually as you would realize, as you would see, the sunset or the tree or the blue sky, we must face facts. If we would realize what actually is a religious mind, we have to face certain things and not escape from them. If you notice, all our life is a series of escapes – escape from boredom, escape from routine, escape from fear. We have various kinds of escape; whether we are conscious of them or not, there they are as actual as the tree behind you or in front of you. And not to escape but to face things as they are actually, to see `what is’, requires an unvaried attention, requires a passion; that passion comes from the energy which is the natural outcome of facing ‘what is’.
And if you would, kindly follow the speaker to the very end, not agreeing or disagreeing, not verbally or intellectually. Because we are not going to discuss opinions – then you can agree or disagree, then you can say “I like” or “I do not like”. And we are not exploring the truth of opinions, there is no truth in opinions – it is your opinion against another; and in that you can either agree or disagree or turn your back on it altogether; but we are not doing that. We are facing facts, facing actually `what is’. Otherwise, we will not have the energy to pursue logically, reasonably, sanely, totally, to the very end of what is a religious mind, and realize it by discovering it.
For facing `what is’, we need energy – that is an obvious fact. And we need to have that energy in abundance, because most of us are terribly lazy, not only physically, but also mentally. We would rather accept than enquire; we would rather put up with things, however uncomfortable, however ugly, than break through. We would rather bow to obey an authority, than totally deny an authority and find out.
So with most of us there is this enervating laziness. What is important is to realize this laziness, not what to do about it. Because if you do something about it, you are wasting your energy. But if you face the actual fact that you are lazy, that very confrontation begins to set about a psychological activity naturally, spontaneously, from which you derive energy which banishes away your laziness. Do this sometime, and you will see this for yourselves. And as for most of us our culture, our civilization, is a series of escapes, the objects of our escapes have become much more important than those from which we are running away.
Please, as the speaker has often pointed out in these talks and previously, do not merely hear the words. Words are like the breeze. You cannot live on words; you cannot catch words and live, you cannot exert all your mind and energy on words. You have to go beyond the words. Words are merely symbols, means of communication. And to commune with each other, we must not only hear the word but also comprehend the meaning and the significance of the word. And to understand the meaning of the word is not to be caught in the word, because the word is not the thing. The word is never the thing. The word `sky’ is not sky. The word is only a symbol and not the actuality.
And to find out the actual, not merely the meaning of the word, you and I – because we are together going to enquire into this thing called the religious mind – must be in communion, with a sustained not only intellectual or verbal, but a sustained – intensity, clarity, and go to the very end of it, without slackening, without letting go. Therefore if one would understand this extraordinary thing called religion and the whole significance of it – which man has been trying to find for centuries upon centuries – you must give your whole heart and mind. Therefore merely to stop at a word when you are really hungry has no meaning. So we must sustain an intensity at a level where both of us meet at the same time, constantly and to the very end. Because only then is any communion possible.
So, as we were saying, our life is a vast series of escapes escapes from our boredom, our loneliness, our fears, our pettiness, all the things that man has cultivated as a means of avoidance of facing things as they are. We have many escapes, of which one may be actually conscious or unconscious. To discover the unconscious escapes, one needs a very alert, watchful mind – that is one needs constantly to watch every movement of thought and feeling. Because in that area of watching – that watching being negation, not a positive search, but a state of mind which is observing – every movement of the unconscious, with all its intimations, is received and understood.
There are many escapes, conscious as well as unconscious – as I have said – from boredom, from routine, from the extraordinary pettiness of our lives. You may be very intellectual and may have a good, high position in a government; but your heart and your mind, everything, may be small, petty, shallow; you are bored and you are escaping from that, either through drink, sex, or through God – they are all on the same level when you are escaping. So, to be aware of this, to be conscious of this, bring; about energy.
I am going to go into this because, without this energy, if you will not have it from the very beginning of this talk, you will not be able to proceed further; then half-way you will give it up, and it will become a theory, a verbal explanation, which has very little significance.
For most of us, life – the very act of living – has become a problem. I mean by that word `living’ going to the office, seeing the squalor in the street, the utter misery of man, poverty, negligence, squalor, the innumerable insults we receive, the joys, the pleasures, the anxieties, the despairs, the affections, the sympathies and ultimately that thing called death. That is the whole of our life, that is part of our existence. We do not understand it, and everything that we touch becomes a problem. I mean by `problem’ something that is not resolved immediately and is carried over for the next day.
Our whole life is a problem. And not being able to solve it, we try to run away; and sex is one of the things to which we run away and escape, because intellectually, emotionally, in every way, we are uncreative, we are secondhand, and there is nothing original, there is nothing pristine, clear, beautiful, unspoilt, untrammelled. We are secondhand. All our education is a repetition of something that we have merely acquired as information, to get a job, to earn a livelihood. And, therefore, life becomes a terrible boredom.
Or, we try to give significance to life: we say “What is the purpose of living?”, as though living has a purpose. You live richly, completely, fully – there is no purpose. Beauty has no purpose. But our life being what it is, tawdry, empty, without much meaning, we are bored in the very act of everything that we do. I do not think we realize how bored we are.
That is why religious organizations exist – to escape from this boredom, from this loneliness, from this shallow existence. There are these innumerable swamis, yogis and all the rest of that business; naturally we are blocked everywhere, and sex is the only escape for most of us. Having that escape, that becomes an astonishing problem, a moral problem, whether it is right or wrong and so on; and then we get caught up in it. We have to understand the bondage that the mind is laden with, bound to; we have to understand the whole field of desire, the innumerable appetites and to break through them – that is to be free, both intellectually and emotionally. Without understanding them and breaking through them, there is only one release, sex. And we wish sex in different forms: as beauty, as taste, as morality, as the things that should be and should not be.
Please, we are talking not about something outrageous, not about something theoretical; but it is your life. And when you escape, the thing to which you escape becomes more important than the thing from which you are escaping – your sex becomes important; God or non-God becomes important. We want to find a significance in life: the ultimate peace, the permanency, the everlasting something in which time is not, and all the innumerable theories. Because one is escaping, the more one can escape, the more one thinks one is religious. When you so completely identify yourself with an idea called God, that is not a reality, because you cannot possibly, under any circumstances, identify yourself with reality. If you do, it is not reality. To perceive reality, your mind must be completely free from all these things which make you identify, your mind must be free from fear.
We want to identify ourselves with a nation, with the family, with the community, with a particular form of commitment of social activity, and ultimately with the State; or, if the State is not fashionable, then we identify ourselves with God. This identification through an organized religion, or through your own particular fancy of what God is, your particular mythology and your particular vision of that mythology, is another escape. And, therefore, the people who so completely identify themselves with the State, with the nation, with God, with some activity – they have a certain form of neurotic energy. But that energy is destructive, deteriorating, contradictory.
So one has to be aware of this fact that there is always this desire to identify with a group, with an idea, with a particular person and so on. When you identify yourself with something, when you escape, when there are problems, you are losing energy. And a mind that would go into this question of what is reality, what is the religious mind, must be free from every form of boredom, from escape in all its multitudinous forms – not just one form – including your churches, gods, religions, gurus. When you cease to escape, then alone can you understand.
I hope you are listening and, therefore, realizing your escapes, and putting an end to these escapes immediately, not tomorrow. If you postpone, that is also an escape from facing the fact of your commitment, whether your commitment is to art, or whether your commitment is to beauty, to music, to literature, to social work. Because this commitment, this escape, this boredom prevents you from seeing yourself actually as you are. If you understand as you are actually, then you come to an ultimate thing which is your sense of complete loneliness.
But most of us, by our activities, by our thoughts, by the culture in which we are born, by our ideas – we isolate ourselves. We live in a family, with a wife and children, in a society, in a community and talk about brotherhood, tolerance, friendship, love and all the rest of the words that we use endlessly. If you go beyond those words, inwardly, there is this loneliness; and from there begin all the escapes. And when you face that loneliness, understand it, not run away from it, understand it and live with it – as you would live with a tree, with a cloud, with squalor – then out of that living comes beauty.
So, the religious mind then is the mind that has no fear. And that is one of the most difficult things to understand – to be completely, totally free of fear; not fear in a certain form, but totally. You may be afraid of death or you may be afraid of your wife or husband; you may have fear, from the meanest to the highest form of fear – if there is a highest form of fear. And to understand that fear and to be free, you must investigate it, you must look. Now freedom is not from something. If you are free from something, you have only learned how to resist; it, how to avoid it, how to circumvent it, how to go beyond it. But if you understand it, then you are free. Therefore freedom is something per se, not from something. And that freedom you must have completely, because otherwise you create illusions.
The so-called religious mind is a superstitious, dull, accepting mind, with innumerable beliefs, because basically there is fear. You know, people run to the temple because there is some misfortune, because they are-not making enough money – money is their God. Or because they are frightened that someone will not get well, they run to the temple, to do some repetitive puja, which has no meaning at all. And such a mind is considered to be astonishingly religious which is sheer nonsense!
A man who is free from fear is not seeking God. Please understand this; a man who is really free from fear, is not seeking favours from anything, from anybody – least of all from the gods that man has created. And to understand this recurring, constant fear, you must understand yourself, go into yourself and face `what is’ that is, your loneliness, your boredom, your escapes, the virtues and the moralities that you have cultivated as a means of resistance, which are not virtue or morality at all. Virtue is something entirely different; virtue is a perfume, it is a beauty that comes with wisdom. And wisdom comes with self-knowing – knowing not the big Self but the ordinary self, the everyday self, knowing all the movements, the beauty and the ugliness of that self. Out of that comes wisdom. And then only there is freedom – that means freedom not only from fear, but also from authority.
We are going to find out for ourselves by enquiring into what is the religious mind, the origin, the source of reality – the thing that is beyond words, beyond measure, beyond thought; a movement without a core. And to enquire into that, every form of authority must come to an end. Especially the mind that seeks authority in books, must know itself. Books have no authority. The Upanishads, the Gita, the Koran – they have no authority, they are just printed words like any other book. But it is your mind that seeks authority, confirmation, comfort, in those books; and that gives them sacredness. So, you have to understand this whole anatomy of authority and be free from it.
Then from this observation, from this awareness, in which there is no choice, an awareness which is negative, watching, you have passion. You know, for most of us, that word is identified with lust, with appetite. And you have been told that a religious man is not lustful; he must be without desire, he must twist himself, torture himself to the pattern established by somebody or other. You want to achieve that thing which he has achieved, because you are frightened of life. And therefore you destroy yourself, torture yourself, twist yourself, to fit into the pattern established by society, by organized religion; so you remain secondhand.
Please follow all this. We are secondhand people, there is nothing original. And the religious man is in search of the original, not the secondhand. And no god is the original, because the original is beyond man’s thought, man’s structure, beyond the things man has put together as religion, in which are included all the rituals and the repetitions and all the absurdities.
So, a mind that is free from fear has also understood completely, and is free from authority – the authority that the mind seeks to bolster itself up with to find out whether it is doing right or wrong, with the desire to be guided, to be helped; such a mind can never be a religious mind. Obviously, a religious mind will never touch politics, because politics is concerned with the immediate `the immediate’ in the sense of time interval in which something has to be done, in which there is corruption, chicanery, double talk, nationality and all the other things that go in the name of politics.
So, a religious mind is a mind that is alone. There is a difference between loneliness and aloneness. You cannot come to this aloneness if you have not understood completely the extraordinary nature of loneliness and gone through it – if you have not understood it completely, tasted it, smelt it, been familiar with it, been in complete contact with it having never a moment to avoid it either through sex or through various forms of escape, been completely related to it, not verbally but actually. This word `loneliness’ is not the fact. And what most of us are frightened of is the word, not the fact, because the word separates the thought from the fact. So you have to understand the whole structure of the word and how we are slaves to words. All this demands tremendous energy.
A religious mind is not the mind that escapes, that avoids the world, puts on a loincloth and becomes simple, outwardly. The outward simplicity is mere exhibitionism! The inward simplicity is much more demanding, much more austere; it has no outward show. And the religious mind has this inward understanding – not control, not shaping the thought after a pattern which has been laid out by another, whoever he may be, and which demands suppression, obedience.
I am talking of the austerity that comes with self-knowing. And that is much more austere, because that demands precision, that demands reasoning, not fragmentary thinking. And that demands constant watchfulness of every thought, of every feeling, to be totally aware, so that there is a total action, not fragmentary action – bureaucratic at one level, but superstitious, ugly, brutal, silly, stupid, at another level; running to the temple because someone is dying or crying, or because one wants more money. So a religious mind is a mind that is completely alone. Aloneness is not isolation; it is the actual state of co-operation. You cannot co-operate if you are not alone. Generally you co-operate only when there is a reward or punishment, when you are getting something, when you want to do something together under an authority, under the umbrella of ideas. When you are working for a utopia or an ideal, you are really not co-operating; the idea attracts you, you are absorbed by the idea; and when you disagree with the idea, you break away. That is what is happening with all the communities. In this utopia, ideal society, State, everybody is against another! The communist world is like that too; though they started out to have an idealistic, utopian world, the competition there is more brutal, more ruthless; and they are all trying to co-operate with the State communes, collective farms; forcing people to co-operate; therefore, inwardly battling, destroying, watching for ways and means where you can go against all this. That is not co-operation.
Co-operation comes only when you are alone, where there is this sense of complete aloneness, which is the outcome, a natural outcome, of a mind that has no escapes, no fear, no authority, and has understood this whole problem of energy. Then it is in a state of co-operation. And, therefore, being in a state of co-operation, it also knows when not to co-operate.
So, there is this sense of aloneness. Perhaps some of you have gone thus far, not verbally, but actually; not as an experience once in a while, but clearly, right through. It is not a state to be achieved or a thing to be experienced, it is there. This aloneness is a state of mind when the mind has emptied itself of all its contents. Just as a room or a cup is useful when it is empty, when it is not cluttered up with furniture and so on, so also it is only when the mind is completely empty of ideas, beliefs and dogmas, that it can proceed. Only then, out of this emptiness, is there action. Action then is not an idea; action then is not an approximation of an idea; it is not an idea; action then is not an idea. Action then is not an approximation to a pattern, an idea, a thought, a symbol.
Such a mind is like a drum. The other evening, there was a mrudangam being played. It was empty, and every finger that touched it gave the right note, gave the pure sound. But if that drum was full, there would be no sound, it would be discordance.
That emptiness of the mind cannot be produced; the mind cannot be made empty, cannot be put together to be empty. That emptiness comes as a sunset comes of an evening, full of beauty, enchantment and richness; that comes as naturally as the blossoming of a flower, when there is no fear, when there are no escapes, when there is no boredom and when there is no seeking. And that is the most important of all – there must be no seeking, because you cannot find. You cannot find the everlasting. That which is beyond time you cannot search out. It may come to you, but you cannot go to it, because your minds are too shallow, petty, empty, full of ambition, fears, ugliness and distortion. Therefore the mind must empty itself, not because it wants that. Because, when you want that, you have a motive; and the moment you have a motive, you have lost your energy.
Therefore, it is only the mind that is completely empty, that is in a state of inaction; that inaction is action. And it is only such a mind that is being passionate; it is only such a mind that can live with beauty and not get used to beauty – the beauty of a tree; the beauty of a face; the beauty of an eye, of a smile, of the ugly, dirty road, the squalor, the dirt, the poverty. It is only the passionate mind that can live with it and not get distorted.
And it is only such a mind that is so completely empty, that is in a state of meditation. Do not translate it as samadhi and all the rest of the absurdities that you have learnt. It is not that at all, it is something entirely different. The word is not the thing. If you have not found it for yourself, everything that somebody says is a lie to you – it does not matter who it is, Sankara downwards or upwards.
Truth you have to find out for yourself. You have to walk the path alone and there is no path to truth. Truth is the vast ocean which has not been chartered, it is fathomless; you have to find it, walking endlessly. And the endlessness becomes a torture, a thing that you are frightened of, if you have not understood the beginning of what we have been talking about. Then there is no time. Then you are living so completely in that emptiness, that time has gone and there is only the present, this active present.
I do not know if you have ever noticed a bird on the wing, a leaf falling, or the sun on the water, or the reflection of the moon on the water. If you have noticed, if you have seen the beauty of it, in that moment there is no time. It is there endlessly, unspoilt, incorruptible, timeless. Similarly, a religious mind is that. And it is only such a religious mind that can receive the Immeasurable, the Nameless.