Krishnamurti: Talk 1
Transcript of Talk 1, Madras, 7 December 1974
I wonder why you come to listen to me. Is it out of curiosity or do you want to find out what the speaker has to say? If you want to find out what he has to say, you have to listen. To listen is an art. The word ‘art’ means to put everything in its right place. That is the real meaning of the word ‘art’. And if you are going to listen this evening to a discourse, you have to listen, not with your own opinions, your prejudices or your conclusions and ideas but rather listen, neither agreeing nor denying nor disagreeing. To listen requires a certain form of communication between the speaker and yourselves. Communication implies not only verbal exchange but also to think together, and share together the thing that lies behind the words, to read between the lines, to have an insight. So, listening is not only an art, but a responsibility. And if you are at all serious, faced with a declining, degenerating world, specially in this country, then a quality of mind that demands to investigate, to explore, to examine, is required.
We have not only personal problems but also peripheral issues like inflation, overpopulation, economic chaos and so on. A serious mind demands and must find an answer to why there is this decline. There is a sense of total unrelatedness to world events; each one is concerned with his own problem, with his own survival, with his own security, with his own personal salvation. All this indicates a mind, a heart that is becoming more and more incapable of dealing with the problem as a whole. We have to find an answer because there is so much suffering, incalculable misery, a despair of which one may not be aware or conscious, but it is there. We are not exaggerating, not being pessimistic, but merely stating what is going on. Technologically there is extraordinary improvement but human beings are not keeping up with that rapid growth in technology. Seeing all this – wars, corruption, a social structure that is totally immoral, division, conflict, suffering and the brutal violence that is spreading throughout the world – if one is earnestly wanting to enquire into it, then that enquiry demands on your part an observation which is not judged, which is not prejudiced, which is not parochial, which is not Hindu or any other particular race or caste. To investigate, there must be freedom; otherwise you cannot investigate. That is obvious. If you want to find out something, your mind must be free to enquire, must not be caught in its own prejudices, in its own beliefs and conclusions. That is the first requirement of any enquiry, any examination, and I hope we can do this together.
What is the reason of this decay? We are not seeking peripheral reasons, not reasons which are superficial, which any economist or socialist or philosopher invents or describes. What has happened to the mind? This is a question one asks after fifty years of coming to this country every winter and seeing the decline every year. Please, do not agree or disagree, but examine why this has happened. Do you enquire of some philosophical association or do you enquire through an idealistic formula or do you enquire what you are, what you have become? That is where the enquiry has to begin; otherwise it has no value; otherwise it becomes merely an amusing entertainment, an enquiry without any result. So, to enquire, you have to enquire within yourself why human beings, living in this country, have allowed themselves to be what they are, what they have become. You have become non-religious, though you may do puja three times a day, go to temples, follow innumerable gurus read the Gita, the Upanishads. These are extraneous events; what other people have said and by reading those books, you think you are religious, by going to some guru and worshipping him, by following his system of meditation, you think you are becoming extraordinarily religious; or by going to somebody who does some miracle, you think you have found religion. So, if you observe yourselves very seriously, you have to ask yourselves whether you are really religious. The word ‘Religion’ means, according to the dictionary, gathering of your energy, intellectual, physical, psychological – all your energy so that it is totally aware of all its activities. It is a holistic activity concerned with the whole, not segmented. That is what religion means. Are you so religious?
Thought plays an extraordinary part in our lives; it has done extraordinary things; it has created the whole scientific field of knowledge, the whole world of medicine and so on. Thought also has created wars, divided people. Thought has separated religions; thought has created the Gods which you worship, the saviours, the gurus, your Rama, Sita, the masters – that whole field is the projection of thought. So, you have created your Gods whom you worship. Are you observing all this? That thought, your daily thought, has accumulated tremendous knowledge in one field and that knowledge is operating in the technological world, and that thought as knowledge is destroying human beings. I will explain as we go along. Have you also observed yourselves that you are functioning, thinking, acting, according to knowledge? Knowledge means experience, accumulated memory, and you are acting, functioning according to that memory which has become mechanical. And as thought is fragmentary – thought is never whole – all action becomes fragmentary. So knowledge in one field, in one area, is absolutely necessary, but if the mind merely functions from knowledge as we all do, then it becomes mechanical and the decline begins. Knowledge to which you give such tremendous importance is always in the past and that past which is knowledge is tradition and when you are acting, living in that area, as you do, then the mind must become mechanical. That is, memory is experience and knowledge, stored up in the brain, and that knowledge is reacting all the time. You can observe it in yourself.
We say that one of the basic reasons for the decline of the people in this country is that they are living in an area of mechanical knowledge and therefore the mind must decline. The mind must degenerate when you are living according to the knowledge of others. Discover it for yourself, the truth of it, the fact of it that you are living on knowledge, on tradition, which is a continuity of knowledge. A civilization, a culture, a people that live merely on knowledge must inevitably decline. And to find out a way of living which is non-mechanical, which is not based on knowledge, is regeneration. That is, in one area, knowledge is essential; otherwise you can’t go home, you can’t understand English, you can’t recognise your wife, your husband. Knowledge in that area is necessary. But when the mind lives, merely nourished by memory, by knowledge of others, then the inevitable decline takes place. So, is it possible to live a life where the area of knowledge is sustained and to act in relationship without continuity of knowledge from day to day? You understand my question? You see I am using the word, ‘knowledge’ in the sense of accumulated experience in human relationship which becomes memory stored up in the brain and according to that memory, I respond. This is absolutely necessary in the field of technology, but in the field of relationship between human beings, it becomes a destructive and a mechanical thing which prevents what one calls love.
Have you ever gone into the question of what love is? Have you gone into it to find out that extraordinary thing which you call love, compassion? Is compassion knowledge? Is compassion the cultivation of thought? Is love a mere remembrance of certain incidents, knowledge? One asks is there love in this country – please I am not saying it does or doesn’t exist in Europe, America or Russia – I am asking you non-comparatively. Have you reduced love to sex, pleasure or has it become duty, responsibility, a thing which is the outcome of a comfortable life or something which you call devotion? You understand all my questions? Because, it may be that this factor is responsible for the decline, for degeneration, for the fact that there is no love in your heart and that you are living entirely within the field of knowledge. 7 Let us go into it a little more. You see when one observes what is going on in the world – the political divisions, the wars, the Arabs and the Jews and the Russians and the Chinese and the Americans, the constant strain, struggle and brutality, the threat of war, starvation, then you have to take the whole thing, not just one fragment. When you look at all this non-personally, objectively, the chaos, the immense suffering, not only the personal but the collective suffering of man, what is your answer to this? What do you say? Do you retreat into some philosophical jargon and slogan? If you are at all serious, you have to find this out: Whether human beings, as you and I, whether we can bring about a total revolution in ourselves psychologically because when you change fundamentally, you are affecting the consciousness of the world. Do you understand this? Lenin, whether you agree with him or not, has affected the consciousness of the world. Stalin has, Hitler has and the priests have affected the consciousness of the world by their belief, by their saviours and all the rest of it. Every human being, when there is a fundamental change in himself, affects the consciousness of the world – because you are the world and the world is you. You are India, geographically as well as psychologically, and when you change, not at the superficial level, but fundamentally, radically, because you are the world, because the world is you, you affect human consciousness. That is a fact, isn’t it? Haven’t the inventors of Rama and Krishna affected your consciousness? Of course all that has affected your consciousness, and if you as a human being transform yourself, you affect the consciousness of the rest of the world; it seems so obvious.
And can knowledge transform man? You have knowledge about so many things, you have read so much; you have philosophies galore. Philosophy means the love of truth in daily life, not theories, not speculative concepts; it is the love of truth in daily life which means tremendous honesty and the love of being honest. Can the human mind, your mind, transform itself through knowledge or has knowledge no place in the regeneration of man? Knowledge is mechanical. You can add and take away from knowledge and if you live in that area – memory, experience, knowledge – the mind must inevitably become mechanical.
In your relationship, in daily relationship between man and woman, don’t you have an image of her and she an image of you? The image is knowledge and you live in that relationship based on knowledge and therefore there is no freedom. I am asking you: What place has knowledge in the transformation of man and society? We are saying knowledge has no place because knowledge is mechanical. Then what is the element, what is the core, the root which is not the product of thought and therefore a factor which is not knowledge?
Look, Sir, I want to transform myself because I see what I am – miserable, confused, ugly, brutal, avaricious, hateful, jealous, ambitious, deceitful. I see all that. This contradiction, this conflict, this struggle from the moment I am born till I die I see; and I say to myself how can I change all this? That requires not sadness, not laziness, but I must find out what I am to do. Put yourself in that position and ask yourself seriously what you are to do. The knowledge that you have acquired either through self-knowing, or the knowledge that you have acquired from others, the knowledge that you have gained through experience, whether this knowledge is going to transform you or a different energy, a different factor is necessary to bring about a transformation? Can your knowledge that you have acquired, transform your envy? Take that one factor – can you totally be free of it? That is, can your knowledge of what it is to be envious and the results of envy and the cause of envy, transform your envy? If you are serious you want to find out how to end envy totally, so that it never comes back again. Can you end that envy through the information you have about it? You understand my question? What will end it? Determination? Now, when you determine to end envy, there is conflict, isn’t there? You may suppress it, you may overcome it, you may escape from it, but it is still there. Knowledge will not open the door so that you are free of envy. Then the problem is what will. Please ask yourself because envy is jealousy, envy is hatred in a different form and a world that lives on hate, a human being who is nourished on hate, cannot bring about a different world, a different culture, a different existence. So it is absolutely necessary to end envy. Now, how is this done?
How do you look at envy? Please watch yourself. You know you are envious, don’t you, and how do you observe that envy? How do you see it, how do you know it ? When you say I am envious, is the you who says ‘I am envious’ different from envy? Is the feeling of envy different from the observer of that feeling? If the observer of that feeling is different from the feeling, then there is a division, therefore there is a conflict. So wherever there is a division – the Arabs, the Jews, the Hindu, the Muslim, the Buddhist and the non-Buddhist, Christian – wherever there is a division, politically, inwardly, psychologically, there must be conflict. That is a law. That is a truth. So when you observe envy, is the observer different from the observed? Or are they both the same, the observer is observed? When the observer is the observed, conflict ceases. And what happens? When conflict ceases between the observer and the observed, because the observer is the observed, the thinker is the thought, the experiencer is the experienced, the observer is envy, there is no division and therefore there is no conflict. Therefore what has taken place? Do you understand my question? We live in conflict, we are nourished in conflict and the conflict comes about when there is division. We took the feeling of envy as an example, went into the effect and the cause of that envy, the effect in oneself, the bitterness, the anger, the jealousy, the venom of envy, and we see that we never resolve envy that way. Then we ask: is the observer different from the observed. If he is different, there must be conflict, suppression, rationalization, overcoming it and the battle begins; but the fact is the observer is the observed, the observer is envy itself. When we realize this, what has taken place? What happens to energy when you have not dissipated it in conflict, in suppression, in rationalization, in overcoming? You have all that energy collected, haven’t you? And, when you have that energy, complete energy, which is not dissipated, then what takes place? Are you still awaiting the second-hand mind to answer? What actually takes place in you? You understand?
Before, you said you are aware that you are envious and you said, “how terrible, I must control it, I must suppress it, one must have envy, otherwise one can’t live in this world”. You have done all that and now when you realize that the observer is not different from the observed, the observer is envy, then what has happened?
Has it disappeared in you? No, you have not done it. That is what is happening in this country, you talk and invent ideas or repeat but you never enquire, find out. If you observe yourself, you find the answer. When you are not dissipating energy through suppression, overcoming and all the rest of it, you have that tremendous energy to deal with the fact. The fact is envy. You are that envy, envy is not separate from you. Your consciousness is its content. You are envy and you say ‘all right I am envy’ and your whole mind is giving all its energy to this question of envy. So, what takes place? I will show it to you. When the observer is the observed, that is, the envy is the observer, the ‘me’ who says I am envy, that me is envy. That is a fact. Not knowing what to do, we invent an outside agency, God, which will resolve this; we think an analyst will resolve this, some body else will do all the tricks for us and that means you are accepting authority. In spiritual matters, there is no authority including your gurus, your Bhagavat-Gita, your Upanishads. That makes you second hand human beings, which you are.
Now what takes place? I feel envious, that is a fact. How do I know that it is envy, because I have had previous memory of that feeling. So instinctively the previous experience recognises envy and that recognition strengthens envy. Do you understand what I am saying? That is, your previous knowledge, your knowledge of envy recognises the present envy; therefore you say to yourself I know all about it and then accept it. Do you see what the mind has done? When it recognises that envy, it is memory that is operating, which is knowledge and therefore, it cannot deal with the present feeling with the past memory. It only strengthens that feeling. So the problem then is, can the mind, can that feeling be observed without any recognition, which means not bringing your previous knowledge into it?
Previous knowledge is the observer and so you create a division. Now when there is no division, when you see all this, you have abundance of energy; then that fact of envy can be dealt with instantly. It is gone. It is only the lazy, inattentive mind that knows the cause, the effect and goes on. But the attentive mind, the mind that sees the whole nature and the structure of envy and therefore has gathered that energy can deal with the fact; the fact being the observer is the observed, the observer is envy. Therefore there is no movement at all. And when you realize this, then the question arises: Is there a way of living in your daily life without a single conflict? Not as an idea, not as a slogan, not as something you repeat and so on, but find out for yourself a way of living in which there isn’t a shadow of strife. In the realization that the observer is the observed – that is the ‘me’ that says I am envy, that ‘me’ is envy itself – there is no movement away from it because you can’t move away from it; you are ‘it’. Therefore, that energy dissipates the fact of envy. Have an insight into this, do not accept my explanation of this.
So, is conflict part of affection, part of love? We have to find an answer to this. You as a human being, individually and collectively, have to find an answer how to live a life without a single conflict. You will find it when you understand this whole problem of the observer and the observed, the experiencer and the experienced because the experiencer is the experienced. So, the mind then finds that there is no question of experience. A mind that lives in the field of psychological knowledge, the know- ledge of experience, either your own or of another, the accumulated tradition or the tradition of a day, such a mind living in a field of its own particular knowledge, brings about its own decay. This is what is happening throughout the world and specially in this country because you have never gone into yourself and said “look, I have to find an answer to these problems not through books, not through teachers. “This requires energy. You have an abundance of energy when you want to do something; you have plenty of energy to earn money, to go to office day after day. Now, if you apply that same energy with the same intensity to go into yourself and find out how to live a life without a single shadow of conflict, then you will affect the whole consciousness of the world.