Krishnamurti: Talk 5
Transcript of Talk 5, Saanen, 31 July 1962
We were talking the day before yesterday about action without idea, because, as I was pointing out, thought is a response of our memory; thought is always limited, conditioned by the past, and it can therefore never bring about freedom.
I think it is very important to understand this fact. Psychologically there can be no freedom at all if the defensive process of thought is not completely understood. And freedom – which is not a reaction to or the opposite of non-freedom – is essential, because it is only in freedom that one can discover. It is only when the mind is totally free that there can be the perception of what is true.
Truth is not something which has continuity and which can be maintained through practice or discipline, but it is something to be seen in a flash. This perception of truth does not come about through any form of conditioned thinking, and therefore it is not possible for thought to imagine, conceive or formulate what is true.
To understand totally what is true, there must be freedom. For most of us freedom is only a word, or a reaction, or an intellectual idea which serves as an escape from our bondage, from our sorrow, from our boring daily routine; but that is not freedom at all. Freedom does not come by seeking it, because you cannot seek freedom, it is not to be found. Freedom comes only when we understand the whole process of the mind which creates its own barriers, its own limitations, its own projections from a conditioned and conditioning background.
It is very important for a really religious mind to understand that which is beyond the word, beyond thought, beyond all experience; and to understand that which is beyond all experience, to be with it, to see it in great depth in a flash, the mind must be free. We were talking about all this the other day, and we saw how idea, concept, pattern, opinion, judgment, or any formulated discipline, prevents freedom of the mind. And this freedom brings its own discipline not the discipline of conformity, of suppression or adjustment, but a discipline which is not the outcome of thought, of a motive.
Surely, in a confused world where there is so much conflict and misery, it is extraordinarily urgent to understand that freedom is the primary requisite of the human mind – not comfort, not a fleeting moment of pleasure or the continuity of that pleasure, but a total freedom, from which alone there can be happiness. For happiness is not an end in itself; like virtue, it is a by-product of freedom. A person who is free is virtuous; but a man who is merely practising virtue by conforming to the pattern established by society, can never know what freedom is, and therefore can never be virtuous.
This morning I would like to talk about the quality of freedom, and see if we can together feel our way into it; but I do not know how you listen to what is being said. Do you listen merely to the words? Do you listen in order to understand, in order to experience? If you listen in either of these ways, then what is being said will have very little significance. What is important is to listen, not just to the words, or in the hope of experiencing this extraordinary quality of freedom, but to listen without effort, without striving, with a sense of ease. But this demands a certain-quality of attention. By attention I mean being completely there with all your mind and heart. And then you will discover for yourself, if you so listen, that this freedom is not a thing to be pursued; it is not the result of thought or of emotional, hysterical demands. Freedom comes without your seeking it when there is total attention. Total attention is the quality of a mind that has no border, no frontier, and is therefore capable of receiving every single impression, seeing and hearing everything. And this can be done, it is not something enormously difficult. It is difficult only because we are so caught up in habits – and that is one of the things I would like to talk about this morning.
Most of us have innumerable habits. We have physical habits and idiosyncrasies as well as habits of thought. We believe in this and do not believe in that; we are patriotic, nationalistic; we belong to a certain group or party and hold on to its particular pattern of thought. All these things become habits; and the mind likes to live in habits, because habits give us certainty, a sense of security, a feeling of having no f&ar. When established in a series of habit; the mind seems to function a little more easily, but it is really thoughtless, unaware.
Please do not merely listen to my words, but observe as in a mirror your own mind and see how it is caught in habits. Habits which give a sense of security only make the mind dull, however subtle they may be, and whether one is conscious of them or not, they invariably darken the mind. This is a psychological fact; whether you like it or not, it is so.
Partly because of our education at school, partly because of the conditioning which society psychologically imposes upon us, and also because of our own laziness, our minds function in a series of habits. If we do not approve of a particular habit of which we are conscious, we struggle to break it, and in breaking one habit we form another. There seems to be no moment when the mind is free from habit. If you observe yourself you will see how difficult it is for the mind not to be caught in habit.
Take a very simple habit that many people have: the habit of smoking. If you smoke and you want to give it up, the idea of giving it up creates a resistance against smoking; therefore there is a conflict between the habit and the desire to break that habit. Now, through conflict or resistance you may break one particular habit, but that does not free the mind from the whole process of forming habits; the habit creating mechanism hasn`t come to an end. And what I am talking about is not just getting rid of one particular habit, but ceasing to create habits.
I don’t know if you have ever observed yourself in the act of smoking. By observing yourself I mean being aware of every movement you make: how your hand goes to your pocket, takes out a cigarette, puts it in your mouth, returns to your pocket for a match, lights the cigarette; and how you then take a few puffs and throw away the match. What is important is to be aware of that whole process without resisting, without denying, without wanting to be free of it – just to be totally aware of every movement involved in that habit.
Similarly, you can be aware of the habit of envy, the habit of acquisitiveness, the habit of fear; and then, as you observe, you will see what is implied in that particular habit. You will see instantly the whole implication of envy; but you cannot see the whole implication of envy if in your observation of envy there is the time element. I will explain what I mean.
We think that we can get rid of envy gradually and we make an effort to put it away little by little, thereby introducing the idea of time. We say, “I will try to get rid of envy tomorrow, or a little later on” – and in the meantime we are envious. The words `try `and `in the meantime’ are the very essence of time; and when you introduce the time factor there can be no freedom from habit. Either you break a habit immediately, or it goes on, gradually dulling the mind and creating further habits.
Please observe your own habits and your own attitude towards those habits.
We have habits of thought, sexual habits – oh, innumerable habits, which may be either conscious or unconscious; and it is especially difficult to be aware of the unconscious habits. Socially and at school and college we are trained in this element of time. Our whole psychology is based on time, the idea that there will eventually be brotherhood and peace, but in the meantime we must go through all the horrors of war.
Now, is it possible for the mind to get rid instantly of this idea of gradually arriving somewhere, gradually transcending something, gradually being free? To me, freedom is not a question of time – there is no tomorrow in which to get rid of envy or to acquire some virtue. And if there is no tomorrow, there is no fear. There is only a complete living in the now; all time has ceased and therefore there is no formation of habit. I mean by that word `now’ the immediate, and this state of immediacy is not a reaction to the past nor an avoidance of the future. There is only the moment of total awareness; all one’s attention is here in the now. Surely, all existence is in the now; whether you have immense gladness, or great sorrow, or whatever it is, it happens only in the immediate. But through memory the mind gathers experience from the past and projects it into the future.
Please be aware of your own mind; in the mirror of these words observe how your own mind operates, and then we can go very far together.
So, is it possible to break totally away from the past? The past is really the essence of habit, it is made up of all the knowledge, the suffering, the insults, the memorable experiences you have had, not only individually but racially and collectively. You have to step completely out of this framework of the past psychologically, actually, otherwise there is no freedom; and you cannot do that if in your mind there exists the idea of continuity. For most of us, continuity is very important; but after all, continuity in relationship is merely habit. Continuity in thought is what sustains the limitations of the mind; and is it possible to explode this idea of continuity and be free from the past.
Without freedom from the past there is no freedom at all, because the mind is never new, fresh, innocent. It is only the fresh, innocent mind that is free. Freedom has nothing to do with age, it has nothing to do with experience; and it seems to me that the very essence of freedom lies in understanding the whole mechanism of habit,both conscious and unconscious. It is not a question of ending habit, but of seeing totally the structure of habit. You have to observe how habits are formed and how, by denying or resisting one habit, another habit is created. What matters is to be totally conscious of habit; for then, as you will see for yourself there is no longer the formation of habit. To resist habit, to fight it, to deny it, only gives continuity to habit. When you fight a particular habit you give life to that habit, and then the very fighting of it becomes a further habit. But if you are simply aware of the whole structure of habit without resistance, then you will find there is freedom from habit, and in that freedom a new thing takes place.
It is only the dull, sleepy mind that creates and clings to habit. A mind that is attentive from moment to moment – attentive to what it is saying, attentive to the movement of its hands, of its thoughts, of its feelings – will discover that the formation of further habits has come to an end. This is very important to understand, because as long as the mind is breaking down one habit, and in that very process creating another, it can obviously never be free; and it is only the free mind that can perceive something beyond itself. Such a mind is religious. The mind that merely goes to church, repeats prayers, clings to dogmas, or that leaves one sect and joins another, is not religious, it is just stupid. The religious is the free mind, and the free mind is in a state of constant explosion; and in this state of constant explosion there is the seeing of that truth which is beyond words, beyond thought, beyond all experience.
Perhaps we can now discuss or ask question; about what I have been saying this morning.
Questioner: For centuries the mind has sought self preservation, and you say that a mind that is seeking to protect itself is incapable of seeing what is true. Perhaps your mind is different from the minds of those who hear you. If this is so, than what is one to do?
Krishnamurti: Let us go into it. There is the brain, and there is the mind. Please, I am using these two words very carefully. For centuries the brain has been occupied with preserving itself; it is the outcome of time, the result of all man’s animalistic endeavours. The human brain is still like the animal which fights to preserve itself, and it is the very centre of the `me: my property, my house, my wife, my religion. This we all know. All of us have this brain which seeks its own preservation, we have inherited it from the past.
Now, according to biologists, the back part of the brain is the animal brain and it is very active, whereas the forepart of the brain has still to be developed. Not that I read biology, but I have some friends who do, and they tell me the biologists have said that the forepart of the brain is still largely undeveloped, and that the human brain is destined to change from the animalistic into something extraordinarily new. And my point is that to arrive at the totality of the mind, in which the limited brain is included, time is not necessary. The totality of the mind is a state which must be realized, you cannot speculate about it because it is not just a religious idea like the idea of God, or the idea of the soul, or the idea of heaven. And can one jump from the limited state of mind which is the outcome of the past, and which develops through time, directly to the timeless, the complete, the total? Is it possible to jump from the limited to the limitless? That is the issue. I say it can be done – but it requires an explosive breaking away from the past. It demands this tremendous energy of which I have been speaking and which is not the result of conformity, of resistance, of conflict. One has to be totally aware in oneself of the animalistic instincts, aware of fear, of ambition and the pursuits of desire; one has to be wholly attentive to all that. Then you will find that you have put an end to time as evolution. Not that there is not evolution – there is; but you have gone beyond time. Time is no longer a means of arriving, a means of gradually achieving the sublime, the highest form of creation. Where there is this explosive realization of total attention, the brain, which has always been very active in acquisitive pursuits, becomes quiet – and it must be completely quiet to go beyond the whole process of time.
You know, the quieting of the brain is part of meditation. I don’t want to discuss meditation now, we will do that in a few days; but one must see the importance of quieting the brain, which implies being free of the psychological structure of society. The psychological structure of society is still animalistic; it makes the brain ambitious, greedy, envious, jealous, attached, and such a brain does not know love. You may hug a man or a woman, you may marry, you may hold the hand of a friend, or do what you will, but there is no love as long as the brain is still part of the animalistic past, which is the psychological structure of society. The understanding of the psychological structure of society in oneself is part of meditation, and you will find, if you have gone this far, that with that understanding there comes an immensity, a sense of creation which has nothing to do with writing books, poems, or with painting pictures, or with any of the absurdities and childish demands of a society which sets great store by fame. It is a creation that takes place in the immeasurable, which is the ultimate of afl existence. But that can come about only when the animalistic, psychological structure of society is completely denied – which means that the mind, the brain is no longer ambitious, attached, dependent, no longer wanting to fulfil itself no longer wanting to be somebody, no longer seeking power, position, prestige.
Have I answered your question, sir?
Questioner: You have given me something to think about.
Krishnamurti: Don’t think about it, sir. To think about it admits time. You say, “I can’t see it now but I will think about it and later on I will see it”. Thought isn’t going to make you see; time isn’t going to give you understanding. The moment you say that you are going to think about it, you have created the framework of `in the meantime I will try’, and then you are completely lost. What matters is to listen with one’s whole being – and that is our real difficulty. To listen with one’s whole being is not just to hear the words of the speaker, but to see for oneself immediately the truth or the falseness of what is being said; and such listening demands extraordinary energy. So it is not a matter of `in the meantime I will try’. You either listen with your whole being, or you don’t. If you listen with your whole being you will find that an inner explosion takes place, not tomorrow or at the end of the day, but on the instant. That is what I was talking about earlier: this explosive transformation that must take place in the immediate.
You see, when you merely think about it, all your defensive reactions come in, and then you continue to adjust yourself to the established pattern of your daily existence, conforming to that pattern whenever it is inconvenient to deny it. That is all thought can do. go endlessly round and round. So thought is not the instrument of perception, it is not the dynamite that explodes the past. You have to give your heart to listening, and I really mean it: you have to give your heart to listening, and not merely listen to words with the intellect. One may be terribly clever, one may be able to spin a lot of words, quote many books, but that doesn’t bring about the miracle. The miracle is in total listening.
Questioner: What do you mean by the title of your book, `The First and Last Freedom’?
Krishnamurti: I am afraid you must ask the publisher, because it is he who wanted that title. (Laughter). Sir, let us discuss what we have been talking about this morning, because we all have so many habits. When we say, “I will think about it”, that is a habitual response, is it not?
Questioner: Is there no place for habit in anything? Does not technique imply habit?
Krishnamurti: Yes, sir; but why do you ask that question? Technique obviously implies habit. If I want to learn how to drive a car, I have to acquire the technique of operating the clutch, shifting the gears, and all the rest of it; I have to practise until I can do it freely, easily, which implies habit. But we are not talking about the mechanical habits involved in the practice of a technique. We are talking about the whole habit-forming mechanism of the mind.
Questioner: Could you tell us more about our unconscious habits?
Krishnamurti: Most of us are not aware of our habits at all, so our habits have become unconscious. The moment you are aware of a habit, you have pulled it out of the unconscious, have you not? If whenever I am in doubt about something I scratch my head and don’t know that I am doing it, if it is automatic and I am unaware of it, then it has obviously become an unconscious habit. But the moment I am fully aware of that habit and don’t resist it, but merely watch it, then it has been pulled out of the unconscious.
Now, it is because our habits are mostly unconscious that we don’t shatter them, explode them. If we are accustomed to driving a car, we turn on the switch instinctively and shift the gear-lever without giving it any particular thought. That is the habit of technique; but most of us are equally unaware of how we regard our neighbours. In walking down a crowded street we are unaware of pushing somebody, and so on. So the question is, how to be conscious, how to be fully aware of all the habits, animalistic and refined, which have partly been imposed upon us by society or which we have unconsciously cultivated? How would you set about it?
One is a Hindu, a Christian,a German, a Russian, a Swiss, an American, or what you will, with a corresponding set of habits of which one is generally unconscious. And how is one to be aware of this conditioning? How are you to be aware of the unconscious, in which there is this immense series of unrevealed habits? How are you to be aware of the unconscious pattern which is deeply rooted in you? Will you go to an analyst and paydollars, orpounds, or whatever it is you pay, to have the pattern pulled out of the unconscious by him? Will that help? Or will you analyze yourself? What is implied in the process of analyzing yourself? When you analyze yourself, there is a division between the observer and the observed, is there not? And the observer is as conditioned as the observed; so there is a conflict between the two, between the analyzer and the analyzed. The analyzer may misinterpret what he is examining; and if he resists a certain habit, or seeks to transform it to suit his own particular idiosyncrasies, and so on, he merely gives strength to habit. So self-analysis is not the way either. Then what will you do?
Please bear in mind that we are talking about how to open the book of the unconscious so that its whole content is exposed to the light. Professional analysis is not the way – unless you have money and leisure, and are so dreadfully concerned about adjusting yourself to society that you want to play with it. And as I have explained, introspective analysis is not the way either. If that is clear, then what will you do?
Questioner: I will do nothing at all.
Krishnamurti: Which means what, sir? If you are no longer caught in the fallacious idea of analysis, then there is only observation, is there not? There is only a state of seeing, and no translating of what is seen. You just see.
But what happens to most of us when we see ourselves as we actually are? When I see that I am brutal, hateful, petty, full of vanity, I get depressed. I say, “How terrible”, and I fiddle about trying to change it. Now, this trying to change it, trying to do something about it, is still within the field of analysis. Whereas, if I merely observe without choice, which means that I am negatively watching, then there is no longer a series of analyses of the unconscious; I am completely out of the field of analysis because I have broken the pattern.
What is important is to break through this wall of conditioning, of habit, and most of us think we will break through it by means of analysis, either by ourselves or by another; but it cannot be done. The wall of habit can be broken through only when you are completely and choicelessly aware, negatively watchful.
Sir, when you suddenly see a mountain in all its immensity and beauty, with its shadows, its tremendous heights and great depths, what can you do about it? You can’t do a thing. You just look at it, don’t you? But what generally happens? You look at the mountain for a fleeting second, and then you say how beautiful it is; and by that very verbalization you have ceased to look at it, you have already turned away. If you really look at something your mind becomes very quiet, because you are no longer judging, no longer translating what is seen in terms of comparison. You are just looking – which is what I mean by watching negatively. And if you can look at yourself in this way you will find that all the unconscious bits and conditionings are transformed into a single thing which by direct understanding you have shattered completely. These are not just words. Go at it and you will see for yourself.
Questioner: Our daily life is full of contradictions and conflicts, there are so many things we have to do, and all this is in strange contrast to what we feel or sense when we come here and listen to you.
Krishnamurti: Why do we create a division between our daily life and what we are listening to here? Why do we separate the two? Life is everything, is it not? Life is our daily existence with its routine, its boredom, its conflicts, as well as our listening here. Life is also our listening to the trees, to the birds, to the river; it is our fleeting joy, our misery, our sorrow. The whole of that is life, but we divide it into daily life and something else. Why? Why don’t we look at life totally instead of in fragments? We talk about the life of Wall Street, the life of the city, the life of the hermit, and all the rest of it. We have been talking like this for the last umpteen years; and isn’t this also a habit?
To deal with life you have to deal with it as a whole, not in fragments; and you can do that only when you know yourself. It is because you do not know the whole process of yourself that you divide life into fragments, thereby perpetuating conflict, misery. You cannot make a harmonious whole by putting the fragments together, but out of self-knowing there comes a completeness, a sense of totality.