Religions Have Told Us To Suppress

From Krishnamurti’s Book MIND WITHOUT MEASURE

Have you ever tried to observe yourself, your wife, the tree across the road and that animal that goes by, without the word? Have you ever tried to look at a tree without naming it, without bringing all the past pictures about a tree, just to observe the tree without the word, to look at it? Have you ever done it? Have you ever looked at your wife or your husband or your politicians? Have you ever looked at them without the symbol? Can you look at the speaker without the word, without all the rubbish and all that reputation, look at him without the image that you have built about him? Perhaps, it will be easier to look at the speaker that way because he does not know you and you don’t know him. But to look at your wife, at your husband, is much more difficult. Can you look at the animal without the picture, the image, the word? First, be aware whether you can see, observe, look, without a single word the picture, because then you will awaken your sensitiveness. You are not sensitive to the dust, to the squalor, to the misery, to the poverty; you have just accepted it. The poverty of this country can never be solved, is not ever going to be solved, unless you drop your nationalism completely. It will be solved only when you have understood the global relationship of man to man. Then there will be no frontiers. That you have probably not understood. So, I say that the first essential quality in investigation, in enquiry, in that one has to be extraordinarily sensitive. All religions have said: suppress your senses, suppress your feelings, so that you have gradually lost the sensitivity of the senses. The speaker is saying quite the contrary. The speaker is saying, ‘Awaken all your senses to their highest degree so that you look at the world with all your senses.’ To look at the world with that immense feeling when all the senses are fully awakened, in that there is great, extraordinary sense of energy, beauty. In the investigation of another instrument, we see that the first thing is, man has become dull through repetition, through tradition, through the oppression of the environment; the environment is not merely nature; the environment is the politician, the guru and all that is going on around you. You have gradually lost all sensitivity, all energy to create, but we are talking of creation in the sense of bringing about something totally new, and to have that capacity, the drive, the beauty, one must have great sensitivity. You cannot have great sensitivity if every sense is not fully functioning, fully aware.

Now, why have we destroyed ourselves? Religions have said, the scriptures of this country and the religious leaders have said, the Christian world has said, ‘Suppress desire, suppress your feelings, don’t look at a woman, torture yourself; then only you find god or nirvana or moksha or whatever you want; only then you will be illumined; which is utter nonsense. How can you destroy the most extraordinary instrument that you have – the body, with all its senses, the beauty? It is an extraordinary instrument. These people say, ‘Suppress desire, don’t yield to desire.’ So we must understand the nature of desire. It is very important, in the investigation of a new instrument, to realize just that the old instrument, which is thought, is not solving any human problems. In the investigation of all that, we have now come upon this thing called desire. What is desire? Why have people said, suppress it, deny it? If you cannot identify it with something greater, it is always a problem of struggle. We are not advocating suppression, avoidance, escape, and all that. We are investigating together the nature of desire, how desire arises, why we are caught in it, why it has become so extraordinarily powerful.

What is desire? You see a pleasant object, a beautiful object, a beautiful woman or a man. You desire him or her or that object. That is so. You see a nice car, polished, good lights, powerful, and you touch it, get inside, feel the pleasure of owning it if you can afford it. Then the desire is there. First, the object creates the desire, or desire exists apart from the object; which is, the object, car, creates the desire, or desire exists and the objects may vary. We are not discussing the objects of desire – to be a powerful minister or prime minister, governor, an executive or a talented violinist – but we are enquiring into the very structure and nature of desire. If we understand that, not verbally but factually, then there is never a question of suppressing it, never a question of controlling it. We have controlled, never understanding who is the controller. We have controlled desire, we have controlled our sex, we are brought up to control. And where there is desire, we are trying to understand it, explore it, probe into it, not control it. If this is clear, then we can go together into the understanding of the truth of desire, what place it has in life, or has it no place at all. So we cannot possibly start with any conclusion; that is, suppress desire or let desire run rampant. But we are slowly, hesitantly, carefully, probing into this which becomes an extraordinary factor in life and a torture too.

What is the origin, the source, of desire? Go into it very very deeply to capture the whole movement of desire, the implication of it, the depth of it, the reality of it. If you had no senses, there will be no sensation. Sensation arises when you see something in the window of a shop, a shirt, a radio, or what you will. You see it – visual perception. Then you go inside that shop, touch the material, and from the touching of it, there is a sensation. This is very simple. You see the car, you touch it, you look at the lights, the polish – not the beauty of Indian cars, but some of the European cars are extraordinarily beautiful. Like an aeroplane, it is extraordinarily beautiful – and you touch it, you touch that shirt you see in the window, blue shirt, and by the very touch there is sensation. Then what happens? Then, if you observe very closely, thought says, ‘How nice it would be if I had that shirt on me, if I stepped into that car.’ So, at that moment when thought creates the image out of the sensation, is the origin of desire.

You see a beautiful tree, which man has not created. Man has created the cathedral, the mosque, the temple, and all the things therein; but he has not created the tree. He has not created nature, but man is destroying nature. Now, you look at a beautiful tree. You wish it were in your garden. And you see it. There is the sensation of the dignity, the shadows, the light on the leaf, the movement of the tree. Then sensation arises. And then thought says, ‘How nice it would be if I had that tree in my garden. When thought creates the image of that tree in your garden, at that second desire is born. Right? The fact is, it is natural to be sensitive, to have sensations. Otherwise you are paralysed. You must have sensation, you must have sensitivity in your fingers, in your eyes, in your hearing and looking, and you are sensitive to watch, to look – out of that looking, watching, observing, sensation inevitably arises. It must arise; otherwise you are blind, deaf. When there is sensation, then thought creates an image, and at that moment desire is born. Have you found it to be so? Or are you going to repeat just what the speaker has said or go back to your tradition and say we must suppress desire or say what you are talking is nonsense? If you really go into this question of desire, which is so important in life, then you will find out for yourself the origin, the beginning, of desire. Now, the question is to look at a car, at the shirt, at a woman, at a picture; there is arising of sensation. Find out whether thought can be in abeyance, not immediately create a picture, an image of you in that shirt, or in that car, and so on. Can there be a gap between sensation and thought impinging upon that sensation? Find out. It will make your mind, brain, alert, watchful.

Also, we ought to talk over together, in the investigation of a new instrument, whether man can ever be free from fear. We are frightened of something, either of the past or of the future or of the living present, uncertain of the living activity, uncertain of the process of the present. We always have this fear. Man has never solved the problem; he has escaped from it. He has various means of suppressing it, denying it, escaping from it, but he has never solved this problem. When there is fear, dreadful activities take place, all kinds of wrong actions take place. Your whole body, your whole mind, shrinks when there is real danger of fear. This is a problem we must solve, not theoretically, but actually, and be completely free of fear. Is that possible?