Krishnamurti: Q&A Meeting 2
Transcript of Q&A Meeting 2, Ojai, 8 May 1980
I am sorry you are not having better weather.
In answering these questions – and there have been nearly a hundred, over a hundred questions and it would take perhaps two months or more to answer all of them, and you wouldn’t be here and the speaker wouldn’t be here. (Laughter) So we have to answer those that are somewhat representative of all the questions – in answering these questions the speaker is not trying to tell you anything, he is not trying to convince you of anything, or transmitting some ideas which he has, or some concepts, or beliefs which you accept and then try to examine those beliefs, ideas and concepts. I think that we must be quite clear about that matter. In answering these questions we both of us are investigating the question. It isn’t the speaker is investigating and then tells you about it and then you accept it. But rather together we are going into it, so that it is not one person understanding and then telling you about it. I hope that’s clear.
1st Question: There is a prevalent assumption these days that everything is relative and a matter of personal opinion; that there is no such thing as truth or fact independent of personal perception. What is an intelligent response to this belief?
Right? Is it that we are all so terribly personal? What I see, what you see, is the only truth? My opinion and your opinion are the only facts we have? That’s what the question implies. That everything is relative; goodness is relative, evil is relative, love is relative. And so as everything is relative, that is, not whole, complete, truth, then our actions, our affections of personal relationship are relative, and can be ended whenever we like, whenever it doesn’t please us and so on. That is the implication of this question. Right?
Now is there – we are both of us investigating, please, I am not telling you – is there such thing as truth, apart from belief, apart from personal opinion, belief, personal belief, opinion, perception. Is there such thing as truth? This question has been asked by the ancient Greeks, by the Hindus in the ancient days, and by the Buddhists. It is one of the strange facts in the eastern religions that doubt was encouraged. You understand? To doubt, to question. And in the west it is rather put down, it is called heresy, if you doubt. So one must find out for oneself apart from personal opinions, perceptions, experiences, which are always relative, whether there is a perception, a seeing, which is absolute truth, not relative. You understand? You understand my question? Now how are you going to find out? If we say that personal opinion, perception are relative, and therefore there is no such thing as truth, absolute, it then is relative. And according to that our behaviour, our conduct, our way of life is relative, casual, not complete, not whole, therefore fragmentary. I hope we are following each other. And we are trying to find out if there is such thing as truth which is not relative, personal opinion, perception. Right? So how do you set about it?
How would you, if this question is put to you, how would you find out if there is such thing as truth which is absolute, which is not relative, which is complete, which is never changing under climate, personal opinions, and so on, how will you find out? How does your mind, the intellect find out, or thought find out? May we go on with this? Does it interest you, all this? I wonder why. (Laughs) Because when you are enquiring into something that demands a great deal of investigation, action in daily life, a sense of putting aside which is false. That’s the only way to proceed. Right? That is, if we have an illusion, a fantasy, an image, a romantic concept of truth, or love and all the rest of it, those are the very barriers that prevent moving further.
Can one honestly investigate what is an illusion? Does the mind live in illusion? Or do we have illusions about people, about nations, about god, about religion, about everything? You follow? How do illusions come into being? I wonder if you follow all this. How does one have an illusion, what is the root of it? What do we mean by the word ‘illusion’? It comes from the Latin and so on, from ‘ludere’, which means to play. The root meaning of that word is to play, ‘ludere’. Which means playing with something which is not actual. You understand? The actual is what is happening, whether it is what may be called good, bad, indifferent, and so on, what is actually taking place. And when one is incapable of facing what is actually taking place in oneself then to escape from that is to create illusion. I wonder… Right?
Please don’t agree, I am just exploring this, we are exploring together. The word ‘illusion’ implies to play with something that is not actual, ‘ludere’. I won’t go into all the Greek and Latin meaning of it. So. And also in Sanskrit it’s a very… same words are used.
So if one is unwilling or afraid, or wants to avoid what is actually going on, that very avoidance creates the illusion, a fantasy, a romantic movement away from ‘what is’. If we accept that as the meaning of that word illusion: moving away from ‘what is’. Right? Can we go on from there? No, please don’t agree with me, see this as a fact. Then can we avoid this movement, this escape from actuality? So then we ask, what is the actual? Right? You are following? The actual is that which is happening, which is the responses, the ideas – actually, the actual belief you have, the actual opinion you have, and to face them is not to create illusion. Right? Can we go… in our investigation have we gone that far? Right? Because otherwise you can’t go further.
So as long as there are illusions, opinions, perceptions, based on the avoidance of ‘what is’, then that must be relative. Right? Right, sir? Avanti? Shall we go on? Relativeness, which is – I won’t go into the word ‘relative’, that’s… the word… no, I won’t – sorry. (Laughter) This can only take place when there is a movement away from the fact, from what is happening, ‘what is’. In understanding ‘what is’ it is not your personal opinion that judges ‘what is’, it is not your personal perception but actual observation of ‘what is’. You understand? One cannot observe what is actually going on if you say, my belief dictates the observation, my conditioning dictates the observation, then it is avoidance of the understanding of ‘what is’. I wonder if you’ve got it. Right? Are we doing this? Actually doing it: see, perceive what is actual, your actual belief, your actual sense of dependency, your actual competitiveness, and not move away from it, observe it. That observation is not personal. Right? But if you make it personal, that is, I must, I must not, I must be better than that, then it becomes personal and therefore it becomes relative. Whereas if we could look at what is actually taking place, then there is complete avoidance of any form of illusion. Right? Can we do this? You may agree to this verbally, but can we actually perceive our dependency – right? – either dependency on a person, on a belief, on an ideal, or on some experience which has given you a great deal of excitement and all the rest of it and therefore depend on those, that dependence will inevitably create illusion. So can we observe the fact that we are dependent and observe it. Right?
So in the same way we are going to find out if there is such a thing as absolute truth. If you are interested in this, because this has been asked not only by some casual questioner, but by monks who have given their life to this – you understand? By philosophers, by every religious person who is not institutionalised, deeply concerned with life, with reality and truth. You understand? So if you are really concerned about what is the truth one has to go into it very, very deeply.
First of all one has to understand what is reality. Right? What is reality? That which you perceive, that which you touch, that which you taste – right? – that when you have pain and so on. So reality is the sensation and the reaction to that sensation, the response to the sensation as an idea – right? I wonder… – and that idea created by thought. So thought has created reality: the marvellous architecture, the great cathedrals of the world, the temples, the mosques, and the idols that are put in them, the images, all created by thought. And we say, that is reality, because you can touch it, you can taste it, you can smell it.
Questioner: What about hallucinations? This can be because there is a disturbance in the physiological brain.
Krishnamurti: Yes, sir. The brain may be diseased, or affected, or wounded, or bruised, and out of that you have illusions, hallucinations.
Q: I mean physiologically if you have say a high fever…
K: Sir, sir, may I… I wish… Of course sir, may I request – questions are to be answered, if you ask questions from the audience you interrupt the flow of the enquiry – so may I request, most politely, that unless you write it down, please don’t. I hope you don’t mind my asking this.
Hallucinations, illusions, delusions, take place when the brain is damaged, when there is an avoidance or an escape from ‘what is’. All these words – ‘illusion’, ‘hallucination’, ‘delusions’, are all of that category.
So we are saying all the things that thought has created – you understand? – the knowledge, the acquisition of knowledge through science, through mathematics so on, so on, is reality. But nature is not created by thought. Right? You are following this? That tree, the mountains, the rivers, the waters, the deer, the snake, is not created by thought, it is there. But out of the tree we make a chair, that’s created by thought. Right? So there is thought has created the actual world in which we live, and nature, includes the environment, you know, the whole… that is not created by thought. Obviously.
Then we ask, is truth reality? You understand? You are following this? One perceives that thought has created the world in which we live, but thought has not created the universe. But thought can enquire into the universe. The cosmology, astrophysicists, that is they are proceeding the enquiry with thought, and they will come to certain conclusions, certain hypotheses, try to prove those hypotheses, always in the path of thought. I don’t know if you are following all this. So thought is relative and therefore whatever it creates, in whatever direction it moves it must be relative, it must be limited. You are following all this? Please, this is not a lecture (laughs), I am not a professor, thank god! We are just enquiring as two human beings wanting to find out what actual truth is, if there is such a thing as that. So the mind is no longer in illusion, that is the first thing, has no hypothesis, has no hallucinations, delusions, it doesn’t want to grasp something, or create an experience which it calls truth – which most people do.
So the mind has now brought order into it. Right? Right, sirs? It has order, there is no confusion about illusions, about delusions, hallucinations, about experience. So the mind, the brain has lost its capacity to create illusions. Right? Then what is truth? That is, sir, what is the relationship between reality – you understand reality, what we explained, what is reality – and that which is not created by thought? Is there such a thing which is not the product of thought? Do you understand? (Laughs) Can we go on with this?
That is, is your mind, our minds now, sitting here in a rather depressed climate (laughs), under trees, rather cool, are our minds free from every form of illusion? Right? Otherwise you cannot possibly find out the other. Which means is your mind completely free of any confusion? Therefore it is absolute order. You follow? Is it? You understand my question? How can a confused mind, a disorderly mind, a mind that is in a turmoil, ever find what truth is? It can invent, it can say, there is truth, or there is no truth, but for a mind that has a sense of absolute order, a mind that is completely free from every form of illusion, then it can proceed to find out. You understand? Otherwise you can’t, obviously.
That is, sir, look, there is something rather interesting, if you are interested in it. The astrophysicist scientists are using thought to find out – going out. You understand? They are doing this. They are investigating the world around them, matter, and going beyond the astrophysics, beyond, but always moving outward. Right? But if you start inward, the ‘me’ is also matter – thought is matter – so if you can go inwards then you are moving from fact to fact. Right? I wonder if you see all this. Therefore that which is beyond matter you begin to discover. That’s up to you.
Sirs, this is a very serious affair, it is not just a morning, a Thursday morning, an hour to discuss this. One has to give one’s – you understand? – you must give one’s life to this, not away from life. You understand? Life is my struggle, my anxiety, my fears, my boredom, my loneliness, my sorrow – you follow? – my misfortunes, all the regrets – all that is my life. That I must understand and go through that – you follow? – not away from it. Then there is such thing as absolute truth, if you have gone through it.
2nd Question: How can we take responsibility for what is happening in the world while continuing to function in our daily life? What is right action with regard to violence, and when faced with violence?
How can we take responsibility for what is happening in the world while continuing to function in our daily life. First of all, sir, is the world, that which is happening outside, is it different from what is happening inside? You understand my question? The world, what is happening in the world is violence, what is happening in the world is this extraordinary turmoil that is going on, crisis after crisis – right? – wars, division of nationalities, religious differences, racial, communal differences, one set of systematised concepts against another – you follow? – this battle that is going on, is that different from what is going on in us? Right? Please, do investigate. Is it different? Because we are also violent, we are also full of vanity, so terribly dishonest, put on different masks for different occasions. Right? So is it one movement – you understand? – like the tide going out and the tide coming in? You follow what I’m… It’s one movement. Not, how am I to be responsible to that.
So if the world is me – right? – because we human beings have created that, that cannot possibly be changed unless we human beings change. That is the root of it. You understand sirs. We want to do something there, in the world – better institutions, better governments, better economics, etc., etc., etc. But we never say, we have created that, and unless we, I, you, change that cannot be changed. We won’t take the responsibility for that, but we’ll take responsibility for that. You understand the difference? Do we meet each other in this?
So, I am the world. Right? Right sir? I am the world. It is not an idea, it is not a belief, it is not a concept, it is an actuality. After ten million years, or whatever number of million years we have lived, we are just the same. You follow? We haven’t changed fundamentally. And so we have created such havoc in the world. So the fact is I am the world, not an idea but an actuality. Do you see the difference – as the idea and the actuality. The idea, is you have heard this, that you are the world, you make an abstraction of it into an idea, and discuss about the idea, whether it is true, false, against it, for it, and you’ve lost it. You understand? But the fact is, you are, it is so!
So you are responsible for changing this. That means you are responsible completely how you live your daily life. Please, this is not preaching, or advocating – nothing, we are investigating together. So our responsibility is not to the chaos that is going on, and try to modify it, change it, decorate it, or join this group or that group, or that institution and so on, but as a human being who is the world, and that human being has to go through radical transformation otherwise you will have no good society. And most of us find it awfully difficult to change. Right? Even to give up smoking. You understand? You have got institutions that will help you not to smoke. You see how we depend on institutions. You follow sirs? So can we find out why we don’t change. Why we see something to be wrong – wrong in quotes – and end it immediately? Is it that we feel that somebody else will bring order in the world, and then we just slip into it? You understand? Is it that we are indolent, psychologically, lazy, ineffectual? You understand sir? How many years one spends to acquire a certain technique, to go through school, high school, college, university, to become a doctor – ten years, more – and we won’t spend a day in the… You understand?
So our responsibility is to bring about a radical change in ourselves because we are the rest of humanity.
And the next question is: what is right action with regard to violence and when faced with violence? What is right action with regard to violence. What is violence? Go on sir, what is violence? Anger? Hatred? I am just going into it, please. Anger, hatred, conformity, imitation, obedience? Or the denial of all that, the opposite of all that? You understand my question? And violence is part of our life, inherited probably from the animal and so on. And is it possible to be free of it? Not relatively, but completely free of it. You understand what it means? To be free of anger, which means not only to be free of anger but to have no anger in the mind. You understand? I wonder if you meet all this!
Say for instance, conformity – not outward conformity – you understand? – but the sense of conformity through comparison. You follow what I mean? We are always comparing, aren’t we? Psychologically: I was, I will be, or I am, which is comparative. You are following all this, sirs? So I am asking, this mind, which is always comparing, judging, aggressive, and its aggressiveness is to compare – right? – I don’t think you see this. So can the mind be free of absolutely all violence? If it is, then suppose it meets violence, what is its response? First of all if the mind is free from imitation, conformity, comparison and so on, from that there is right action. Right? I don’t know if you follow that. And if one meets violence face to face, what is the action that takes place? Can you judge what you are going to do when you meet it? You follow my question? I wonder if you do.
Look sir – I don’t want to go too deeply into this. The brain, as I am saying, please, I am not an expert on brain, I have not studied neurology and all the rest of it, but you can watch it in yourself if you are sensitive, alert, that the brain when it faces violence undergoes a chemical change, because it reacts much quicker than the blow. I don’t know if you are following all this. Right? And it has the capacity to heal itself. I won’t go further into it.
So the brain knows what is violence, can react to that violence, but for the brain itself to be conscious of the freedom of violence. You understand? – probably clear as mud!
Sir, let’s make it very simple. When you know somebody is angry, your whole body reacts. The chemical response, all of that, takes place and there is immediate response, you may not hit back, but the very presence of anger or hatred there is an action. Right? Now in the presence of violence, not to have this response. I wonder if you understand! Right? Am I explaining it? Try it some time. I hope you never face violence, but I am sure you will face anger. And in the presence of a person who is angry, see what takes place, be aware of it and not react. You follow? That is, the moment you are aware of the other person’s anger and you do not yourself respond there is quite a different response. I wonder if you understand this. Don’t call it love and all that kind of stuff. This response, which is our instinctive, instinct: to respond to hate by hate, to anger by anger, but in the presence of anger there is this – you follow? – the welling up which creates in the system nervous reactions and so on, chemically, but to quieten all this in the presence of anger, and then there is a different action taking place when you are confronted with violence. Have I made this clear? Or is it still muddy? Right, sir? No? Is it clear? – at least verbally.
3rd Question: The hope that tomorrow will solve our problems prevents our seeing the absolute urgency of change. How does one deal with this?
Is that the reason that we don’t change, that tomorrow, the hope of it, that the future, tomorrow, next year and so on, the future – because our minds are conditioned to the future, the questioner asks, is that the reason why we don’t change. Now if you go into it – we will go into this question.
What do you mean by the future? What is future? You understand my question? If one is desperately ill, tomorrow has meaning. You understand? You understand? Because I may be healed by tomorrow. And so we must ask, what is this sense of future? What is future? You understand my question? What is future? Because we know the past – you understand? – and because we live in the past, which is a fact, the opposite movement, that is the past going through the present – right? – modifying itself moves to that which we call the future. Right? Are you following this, sir? First of all do we know, are we aware that we live in the past? Right? We live in the past, don’t we? And that past is always modifying itself, adjusting itself, expanding itself, contracting, but it is still the past – past experience, past knowledge, past understanding, past delight, the pleasure which has become the past, and so on, so on. So the future modified is the past. Right? Right? I said the future is the modification of the past. Right? So the future is the past, modified. I wonder if you see this.
So my hope of the future is still the past moving to what I consider the future. Right? Right, sir? I must talk to someone! (Laughs) So the mind has never moved out of the past. That’s all I want to get at. Right? The future is still the past, so the mind is always acting, living, thinking in the past. And so can the past end, not the seeing of the absolute necessity of change? Do you understand my question?
What is the past? Let’s look at that for a while. What is the past? My racial inheritance, my conditioning as this or that, as a Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, Catholic, American and so on. The past is the education I have received, the past is the experiences which I have had, the hurts, the delights, the remembrances and so on, so on. That is the past. Right sir? That is my consciousness, that’s our consciousness – it is not my consciousness, it is our consciousness. So can that consciousness with all its content, which is my belief, my dogmas, my hopes, my fears, my longings, my illusions and so on, my dependence, all that end? Sir, you don’t know all this.
Now, look! Can you end this morning completely your dependence on another? Because that is part of your consciousness. Right? Because the moment you end, something new begins. Obviously. But we never end anything completely. The non-ending is the hope. Right? Are you following this sir? So can you end and see the consequences of dependence, psychologically, I don’t mean outwardly – I depend on the postman, telephone, this, that and the other – but psychologically, inwardly, see what it means to depend, and immediate action taking place – the ending of it.
Now, the point is, is the content of our consciousness to be done bit by bit? You understand? That is, get rid of anger, get rid of jealousy – you follow? – bit by bit by bit. That would take too long, wouldn’t it? Or can the whole thing be done instantly, immediately? You understand my question, sirs? That is, taking the content of our consciousness one by one and ending them will take all one’s life, or perhaps many days, many years. But is it possible to see the whole content and end it? You understand my question? To see the whole content, the whole of it, which is fairly simple – if you do it, but our minds are so conditioned that we allow time as a factor to change.
I hope we are answering these questions.
4th Question: Are there any psychological needs which we human beings are responsible for meeting in our daily relationship with others? Is there such a thing as true psychological need?
That’s the real question: is there such a thing as a true psychological need? You have answered the question yourself, haven’t you? Need I answer it? Need I answer the question? Oh, I do need to answer it? No, thank god!
5th Question: What does it mean to see the totality of something? Is it ever possible to perceive the totality of something which is moving?
You understand the question? A good question. Shall we do it together?
As we said in the previous question, in going into it – to perceive the totality of our consciousness. That consciousness is centred as the ‘me’, the self, the egotistic activity, self-centred movement, which is the totality of our consciousness. Right? Now can we see that completely? Of course you can. Right? Is that difficult or is it… That is, one’s consciousness is made up of all its content. Right? That’s clear. That is, my jealousy, my nationality, my beliefs, my experiences and so on, so on, so on, that is the content of this thing called consciousness. The core of that is me, the self. Right? To see this thing entirely now. Right? Right, sir? Can you do it? Of course you can. Which means giving complete attention to it. Right? Again, we rarely give complete attention to anything. Now we are asking each other: give complete attention to this content which is at the very core of the self. The self, the ‘me’, is the essence of that, and give attention to it, and you see the whole, don’t you?
Now the questioner says also, it is interesting, which is, is it ever possible to perceive the totality of something which is moving? Is the self moving? Is the content of your consciousness moving? It is moving within the limits of itself. Right, sir? I wonder if you… Are you following all this? Am I talking to myself?
Sir, look, what is moving in consciousness? Attachment, the fear of not being attached, the fear of what might happen if I am not attached? Which is what? Moving within its own radius – right? – within its own limited area. That you can observe. So you can observe that which is limited, living. So is our… I want to go into this a little bit, don’t be shocked. Is our consciousness with its content living? You understand my question? Are my ideas living? Your belief living? So what is living? Are you following this? One has an experience, pleasant, unpleasant, noble, ignoble, so-called enlightenment – you cannot have experience of truth, of enlightenment, that’s irrelevant. So is the experience that you have had living? Or the remembrance of that experience is living? Right? The remembrance, not the fact. The fact has gone. But the movement of remembrance is called what is living. You follow? Come on, sirs, move! So the experience, which is gone, of course, that is remembered, that remembrance is called living. Right? That you can watch, but not that which is gone. I wonder if you see this.
So what we call living is that which has happened and gone. See, sir, what you are doing! That which has gone and dead, our minds are so dead, and the remembrance of all that is called living. That is the tragedy of our life. I remember the friends we have had, they are gone, the brothers, the sisters, the wives that are dead, the mothers, I remember. The remembrance is identified with the photograph and the constant looking at it, remembering it, is the living. You understand, sir? And that is what we call living.
What time is it, sir?
Q: Twenty five to one.
K: I think we better stop. May I stop? I was told I must stop at exactly an hour because of the tape! (Laughter)
This is a rather interesting question.
6th Question: Is there a state that has no opposite and may we know how to commune, and communicate with it?
Let’s be very simple about this. Is there an opposite, except man, woman, darkness, light, tall, short, fair hair, dark hair, the tree – differences – night and day. And is there an opposite to goodness? If it has an opposite it is not good. Right? I wonder if you see that. Goodness, if it has an opposite, then that goodness must be born out of the opposite. Do you follow this? Am I too quick? All right, let me go slowly.
You see, I don’t think about all this, it is forced out of me. So. Goodness. What is an opposite? We have cultivated opposites, haven’t we? – good, bad. And we say, ‘goodness’ is the opposite of ‘bad’ – bad quotes, both in quotes. Now if they have a relationship with each other, or the outcome of each other then this is not good, good is still rooted in the bad. Are you following all this? So is there opposite at all? You understand? I am violent – there is violence. Thought has created non-violence, which is non-fact, because violence… the ending of violence is quite a different state from non-violence. Right? So the mind has created the opposite in order either to escape from action – right? – or in order to get over violence, or suppress violence. All this activity is part of violence. Are you meeting all this?
So if you are only concerned with the fact, facts have no opposites. Right? I wonder if you see that. I am concerned – say for instance, if I hate – I hope I don’t – suppose I hate. My mind, my thought, society will say, ‘Don’t hate’. Right? Which is the opposite. The opposite is born out of its own opposite. Right? Do you follow that? So there is only hate, not its opposite. If I observe that fact, and all the responses to that fact, why should I have an opposite? You understand what I’m saying? The opposite has been created by thought and therefore there is constant struggle between hate and non-hate: how am I to get over my hate? But if only that fact remains, and not its opposite, you have the energy to look at it. Right? You have the energy to do – no, not do anything about it – the very fact is dissolved when you observe it. Have you got it?
That’s enough sir.