Observing ‘What Is’

From Krishnamurti’s Book YOU ARE THE WORLD

We are not concerned with theories, with doctrines, or speculative philosophy. We are concerned with facts, with what actually is. And in understanding ‘what is’, non-sentimentally, non-emotionally, we can go beyond, transcend it. What is important in all these talks is not the idea, or the negation of the idea, but rather to be involved in the complexities of life, in the sorrow, with hopelessness and the lack of passion. The root of the word passion means ‘sorrow’. We are using that word not with the implication of sorrow, or of the energy that comes through anger, through hate, through resistance, but rather in the sense of passion that comes naturally without effort when there is love. This evening we would like to talk about death, life and love. We are not merely concerned with the description, with the explanation, but rather with the deep understanding of the problem, so that we are totally involved in it, so that it is the very breath of our life, not mere intellectualization. Can we look, understand and see what this whole problem of living is? Can we really come to grips with life, love and death – not analytically, not theoretically? To speculate about what lies beyond seems to me to be so vain, it has no value whatsoever. To understand the whole significance of life one has to examine what living is. Clever people throughout the world have sought a significance beyond the living. The religious people have said this life is only a means to an end; and those who are not religious say that life is meaningless. Then they proceed to invent some significance according to their intellect, their conditioning. We are not going to do that this evening. We are going to look at living as it is – not emotionally, nor sentimentally – but see actually what it is. And I think it is meaningful when one can look at the whole totality of living, not just at one fragment of it. Then perhaps, by not giving a meaning or a significance to life, we will see the beauty of living, the very vastness of it. And that beauty, the extraordinary quality of living, can only be understood, or felt deeply, if we examine profoundly what we call living, what we are actually doing. Without understanding what living is, we shall not be able to understand what dying is, nor what love is. One uses the words ‘love’, ‘death’, and ‘living’ so loosely – every politician talks about ‘love’ and every priest has that word on his lips. Love and death, both are of immense importance, and I say that without understanding what death is, there is no understanding of love. To understand what death is, one has to understand most profoundly, with great earnestness, what living is; one must examine freely, actually without any hope. It doesn’t mean we must be in a state of despair to examine. A mind that is in despair becomes cynical; nor can a mind that is burdened with hope examine properly; it is already biased. So to examine what we call living, the daily act of living, needs clarity, not of thought, but clarity of perception: the clarity of seeing actually ‘what is’. The seeing of ‘what is’, that very act is passion! For most of us passion is always derived from hatred, from sorrow, anger, tension; or there is passion that is brought about through pleasure which becomes lust. Such. passion is incapable of the energy that is required to understand this whole process of living. Understanding really is passion; without passion you can’t do anything. Intellectual passion is not passion at all. But to examine the whole of living needs not only extraordinary clarity of perception, but also the intensity of passion. So what is it that we call living? Not what we would like it to be – that’s just an idea, it has no reality, it’s merely the opposite of ‘what is’. The opposite of ‘what is’ creates division and in that division there is conflict. In looking at what living is, we should utterly banish the idea of what ‘should be’, for that is escaping into ideological seeing, which is totally unreal. We are only going to examine what living actually is; and the quality of examination is more important than the examination itself. Any clever person can examine, given a certain sharpness of mind, a certain sensitivity. But if the exploration is merely intellectual it loses that sensitivity which comes when there is a certain quality of compassion, affection, care. To have that quality of mind that looks very clearly, there must be this care, this quality of affection and compassion, which the intellect will deny. We must be alert to the prompting of the intellect in the examination of what is actually going on in our daily life – one needs some warning, if I may use that word, to know that the description is never the described, nor the word the thing. As we said, without understanding what living is, we shall never understand what dying is, and without understanding what death is, love merely becomes pleasure and therefore pain. What is it that we call living? As one observes in daily life, in every relationship with people, with ideas, with property, with things, there is great conflict. To us, all relationship has become a battlefield, a struggle. From the moment we are born till we die, living is a process of accumulating problems, never resolving them, of being burdened with all kinds of issues. Basically it is a field in which man is against man. So living is conflict. Nobody can deny that, we are all in conflict, whether we like it or not. We want to get away from this everlasting conflict, so we invent all kinds of escapes – from football to the image of God. Each of us knows not only the burden of that conflict, but also the sorrow, the loneliness, the despair, the anxiety, the ambition and the frustration, the utter boredom, the routine. There are occasional flashes of joy to which the mind immediately clings as something extraordinary and wants repeated; then that joy becomes a memory, ashes. That is what we call living. If we look at our own life – not verbally or intellectually, but actually as it is – we see how empty it is. Think of spending forty, fifty years going to the office every day, to accumulate money to sustain a family and all the rest of it. That’s what we call living – with disease, old age and death. And we try to escape from this misery through religion, through drink, through erudition, through sex, through every form of entertainment, religious or otherwise. That is our life despite our theories, ideals and philosophy; we live in conflict and sorrow. Our life has brought about a culture, a society, which has become the trap in which we are caught. The trap is built by us; for that trap each one of us is responsible. Though we may revolt against the established order, that order is what we have made, what we have built. And merely to revolt against it has very little meaning, because you will create another established order, another bureaucracy. All this, with the national, racial, religious differences, the wars and the shedding of blood and tears, is what we call living, and we don’t know what to do. We are confronted with this. Not knowing what to do, we try to escape, or we try to find somebody who will tell us what to do, some authority, guru, teacher, someone who will say, ‘Look, this is the way’. The teachers, the gurus, the mahatmas, the philosophers, have all led us astray, because actually we have not solved our problems, our lives are not different. W c arc the same miserable, unhappy, sorrow-laden people. So the first thing is never to follow another, including the speaker. Never try to find out from another how to behave, how to live. Because what another tells you is not your life. If you rely or depend on another you will be misled. But if you deny the authority of the guru, the philosopher, the theoretician – whether communist or theological – then you can look at yourself, then you can find the answer. But as long as one relies and depends on another, however wise he may be, one is lost. The man who says he knows, does not know. So the first thing is never to follow another and that is very difficult because we don’t know what to do; we have been so conditioned to believe, to follow. In examining this thing called ‘living’, can we actually – not theoretically – put aside every form of psychological following, every urge to find somebody who will tell us what to do? How can a confused mind find somebody who will tell the truth? The confused mind will choose somebody according to its own confusion. So don’t rely or depend on another. If we do, we carry a heavy burden, the burden of dependence on books, on all the theories of the world; that is a tremendous burden and if you can put it aside then you are free to observe, then you have no opinion, no ideology, no conclusion, but can actually see ‘what is’. Then you can look, then you can say: ‘What is this conflict that one lives with?’ As one observes – and I hope you are also observing, not depending on the words of the speaker – you will see this conflict exists as long as there is contradiction in oneself, the contradiction of opposing desires; as long as there is the opposite, the ‘what is’ and the ‘what should be’. The ‘what should be’ is the opposite of ‘what is’ and ‘what should be’ is shaped by ‘what is’. So the opposite is also ‘what is’. Living is a process of conflict in which there is violence; that is ‘what is’, the fact. The opposite is ‘non-violence’, a state in which there is no conflict, no violence. The man who is violent is trying to become non-violent. It may take him ten years, or it may take him all the rest of his life to become non-violent, but in the meantime he is sowing the seeds of violence. So there is the fact of violence and the non-fact, which is non-violence, which is the opposite. In this contra• diction there is conflict: the man trying to become something. When you can banish the opposite, not try to become nonviolent, then you can actually face violence. Then you have energy which is not dissipated through conflict with the opposite. Then you have the energy, the passion, to find out ‘what is’. Am I making this clear? You know, communication is quite arduous, but what is much more important than communication is communion: to commune together over this problem; that is, both of us at the same time, at the same level being intent to observe, to learn, to find out. Only then is there communion between two people, which goes beyond communication. We are trying to do both; we are not only establishing communication, but also at the same time we are trying to commune together over this problem. This is not propaganda, we are not trying to dominate you, or persuade you, or influence you, but merely ask you to observe. Now I see that to observe, to sec actually ‘what is’, is not possible when there is the opposite. The ideal is the cause of the contradiction and therefore of the conflict. When you are angry and you say ‘I should not be angry’, the ‘should not’ brings about a contradiction and therefore there is a division between anger and the pretence that one should not be angry. To admit your anger and to be aware, to see the significance of that anger, you need energy and that energy is dissipated through conflict and through the pursuit of the opposite. So can you leave the opposite altogether? This is very difficult, because the opposite is not only the ideal but also it is the process of measuring and comparing. When there is no comparison then there is no opposite. You know, we are trained and conditioned to compare, to measure ourselves against the hero, the saint, the big man. To observe ‘what is’, the mind must be free of all comparison, of the ideal, of the opposite. Then you will see that what actually ‘is’, is far more important than what ‘should be’. Then you have the energy, the vitality, to put aside the contradiction which is brought about by the opposite. To be free of the process of comparison requires discipline and that discipline comes in the very act of understanding the futility of the opposite. To observe this closely, to see the whole structure and nature of this conflict, this very act of looking demands discipline; it is discipline. Discipline means learning and we are learning – not suppressing, not trying to become something, not trying to imitate, to conform. This discipline is extraordinarily pliable, sensitive. Each one of us is examining this conflict. We said it arises through the opposite. The opposite is part of ‘what is’. The opposite is also ‘what is’. And as the mind cannot understand or resolve ‘what is’, it escapes into ‘what should be’. When you have put aside all that, then the mind is observing closely ‘what is’, which is violence (we are taking that as an example). So what is this thing we call violence? When there is no opposite to violence, when you are actually faced with that fact of anger, the feeling of hatred – then is there violence, is there anger? Go into it, if I may suggest, you will see it in yourself. I can’t go into it in too much detail because we have got to understand what death is, what love is; so we must proceed rather rapidly. What we call living is conflict and we see what that conflict is. When we understand that conflict, ‘what is’ is the truth and it is the observation of the truth that frees the mind from ‘what is’. There is also much sorrow in our life and we do not know how to end it. The ending of sorrow is the beginning of wisdom. Without knowing what sorrow is and understanding its nature and structure, we shall not know what love is, because for us love is sorrow, pain, pleasure, jealousy. When a husband says to his wife that he loves her and at the same time is ambitious, has that love any meaning? Can an ambitious man love? Can a competitive man love? And yet we talk about love, about tenderness, about ending war, when we are competitive, ambitious, seeking our own personal position, advancement and so on. All this brings sorrow. Can sorrow end? It can only come to an end when you understand yourself, which is actually ‘what is’. Then you understand why you have sorrow, whether that sorrow is self-pity, or the fear of being alone, or the emptiness of your own life, or the sorrow that comes about when you depend on another. And all this is part of our living. When we understand all this we come to a much greater problem, which is death. Please bear in mind that we are not talking about reincarnation, about what happens after death. We are not talking about that, or giving hope to those people who are afraid of death.