Being Somewhat Neurotic, Can I Look at Myself?

From Krishnamurti’s Book BEGINNINGS OF LEARNING

Krishnamurti: Must I be in perfect health, or fairly good health, in order to observe myself? That means, if I am sick I cannot look at myself. And there is always some kind of trouble physically – tummy ache, headache, overtiredness, friction, strain, eating unhealthy food and so on; there is always a little trouble going on all the time. One isn’t in perfect health forever. That would be nice if it were possible, but it isn’t.

Questioner: Sir, isn’t a great deal of this due to our not giving these small ills attention, because we let our imagination dwell on them and they become much larger than they really are?

Krishnamurti: I’m just finding out whether a sick person, who is battling physically, has the energy to look at himself. We are not desperately ill, but we are not in the best of health; we are always slightly on the verge of being ill. Will such a state allow me to look at myself? Or is that slight ill health going to become a barrier to looking at myself? I have a headache today. Will that prevent me from looking at myself? Obviously not. I can look at myself though I have a headache. I can look at myself though I am exhausted – I can watch myself very carefully, I am tired but I am watching. Physically I may be somewhat ill and perhaps in that state I can watch myself. But if I am not balanced – here comes the difficulty – psychologically as well as physically, if I am not really healthy psychosomatically, can I look at myself then? That is the real question, isn’t it?

Questioner: We are often considerably unbalanced.

Krishnamurti: Yes, we’ll go into that a little bit more slowly.

Questioner: In order to look at yourself, mustn’t you be rid of all worry? Mustn’t you cut yourself off from the world, its troubles and your troubles? If you have worries you won’t be able to look at yourself.

Krishnamurti: You are saying, are you, that one must completely retire from the world…

Questioner: …and worry. just forget about it, that’s the thing.

Krishnamurti: That is, withdraw completely and look at oneself. Is that possible? How do you discover what you are? Only in relationship, in communication with another.

Questioner: I mean, if we do have worries I think it will be a lot harder.

Krishnamurti: Then I have to watch my worries, how they come about, whether they are self-created or being imposed and so on, I have to enquire into that. But to say I must withdraw from all worry and then look at myself, that is impossible. Even if you withdrew into a monastery or became a beggar wandering about – as is done in India – you would still be in communication with others.

So the question really is: if one is physically not too unwell, then one can watch oneself; but if one is slightly neurotic, psychosomatically ill – that is, the mind affecting the body and the body affecting the mind – in that state is it possible to watch oneself? I hope we are communicating with each other. Can I look at myself through a distortion, through a psychosomatic disturbance? If it is very superficial I can; but if it is very deep I cannot.

Questioner: What about meditative love, won’t that shoot through everything, make everything clear?

Krishnamurti: I do not know what we mean by meditative love. I am not being supercilious, but how do I know what meditative love is? I do not even know what love is, because I am in conflict. I am disturbed, I am anxious, I have got this neurotic state of mind, I do not see things clearly. I completely believe in something and therefore it brings about imbalance in myself. How can I have this love and meditate, when there is all this confusion in me?

So, being somewhat neurotic, can I look at myself? Will my neurosis allow me to look at myself? If it is very deep mustn’t I have therapy, both physical as well as psychological? Mustn’t I go to an analyst and under that therapy begin to discover myself? This is really quite a deep problem for human beings. I find out myself, or somebody tells me, that I am neurotic, I cannot think clearly, I cannot see things clearly, I am confused, I am miserable, I try to be something and I am not, I am battling in myself, I want to be so many things I cannot be. I want love, I want companionship, somebody to understand me. And I know I am slightly, or deeply, unbalanced. If I know I am neurotic, that I don’t see things clearly, then there is some chance. But if I don’t know that I am unbalanced, when I think I am positively right in my opinions, in my conclusions, in my outlook, then there is very little chance. Then perhaps one may have to go to an analyst and go through all that misery.

I have been wounded in my youth – perhaps sexually, emotionally – and that wound remains. It predominates everything else, it shapes my outlook. And the memory of all that is so strong it throws everything out of line; then what am I to do with that wound, which may have been inflicted by the family, by the father, the mother, the environment – how am I to be rid of that memory, that conditioning?

Questioner: Not only that, Sir – I can’t find the memory.

Krishnamurti: Therefore – if I cannot find the memory – what am I to do?

Questioner: Or I mistake it – I am looking at the wrong thing.

Krishnamurti: Yes, I may look at the wrong thing, I don’t know what has wounded me or what has disturbed me, why I am like this. I have lived for many years, I’ve taken to drink, I’ve taken to drugs, I’ve been analysed for the last ten years, spent enormous sums of money, everybody has been trying to help me out of this conditioning. Then what am I to do?

Questioner: You have to live in the present, absolutely.

Krishnamurti: Madame, how can I live in the present? Please put yourself in that position. I mean, we are all fairly neurotic in one way or another and we may not know it. When I do know that I am slightly, or deeply unbalanced, can I be aware of it? Can I see that I am unbalanced, sexually, physically, emotionally? I believe something and I fight, I resist everybody who questions that belief and so on. Can I become aware? Or must you show it to me; am I willing to look at it? If you say, ‘My dear friend you are neurotic, watch it, – can I listen to you? Or do I say, ‘You’re not good enough, you are prejudiced, I cannot listen to you, I must go to a doctor, a specialist?

Questioner: It seems to me, that the really essential factor in psychotherapy is not the knowledge or experience of the analyst, but the freedom which exists in that relationship.

Krishnamurti: That is the question, isn’t it? Freedom. Am I free to listen or am I resisting?

Questioner: If you are free to listen you have already made a step.

Krishnamurti: Quite right, I am already out, I am breaking through. But if I don’t listen, what happens then?

Questioner: What about drugs? Would that help?

Krishnamurti: Would a drug help me to look at myself – to look at my fear, at my neurosis? Or would the drug give me an artificial experience?

Questioner: Sometimes that experience helps you to look at yourself.

Krishnamurti: Therefore I depend on the drug.

Questioner: You don’t have to.

Krishnamurti: Wait, I take the drug, LSD or whatever it is, and it helps me to watch myself. And the watching fades away; I cannot watch myself all the time, all my old conditioning comes up and prevents me from looking because I’m afraid to look at myself. The drug may help me to quieten that fear, so that I can look. But the fear is there.

Questioner: The fear is there, but sometimes it is an unknown fear and the drug brings it out into the air.

Krishnamurti: Yes, Sir, that is what we are saying. Sometimes it may help one to bring it out. But surely that’s not good enough. I can take a drink sometimes and become relaxed. All my conditioning breaks down. But that doesn’t last long.

Questioner: After the drug has worn off you would forget everything, wouldn’t you? Would you forget what you had learnt whilst you were under the drug?

Krishnamurti: Probably not – I don’t know if you have taken it, I have not. I feel that to depend on something for perception, chemically, or through repetition of words or drink and so on, indicates that there is fear. And that fear is exaggerated, sustained by dependence.

Questioner: We talk about drugs, but I think that we don’t have a clear idea what we mean. I think that we have prejudices. We say, ‘This is a drug’ and that we call ‘natural’. And I think something like fresh air can be a drug also. For instance, we might be living in a city like New York. I’m not able to see clearly and it’s because of this air; I have to get out into the country and breathe fresh air. To me that’s a drug. I mean, anything that we reach out for in order to change, in order to become more sensitive, we can look at as a drug.

Krishnamurti: Sir, I don’t know if you have ever fasted – just for the fun of it. If you have, it gives you a certain perception, you become much clearer if you do it only for a few days; (not if you do it for forty days, then it becomes much more difficult, then it is quite a different problem). If you have fasted for a few days, it makes the body extraordinarily sensitive, alert, watchful. And will you keep that up, will you fast every two weeks in order to watch yourself all the time, to become more alert?

Questioner: Sir, the drug is supposed to be a kind of vehicle to take you to yourself through all your inhibitions, your fears and all the things that keep you from knowing yourself. You may know them then, but I think you would only get a lasting effect, if you went into yourself without drugs. If you got to know your fears – which you don’t with drugs – and finally reached yourself, wouldn’t you know yourself a bit more? You would not have to take a drug every day to find out. I mean, if you reached yourself without drugs, if you went through your fears, you would know yourself far better. With the drugs, you get to yourself, but you don’t see your fears, your inhibitions, you don’t see what is blocking you. You understand better, if you understand what is blocking you.

Krishnamurti: This person was saying just now, that we are prejudiced against drugs. Do you think this is so?

Questioner: Isn’t he saying that if you come to a perception of yourself without drugs that it has a more lasting effect?

Krishnamurti: That is what we are saying. Put it in any way you like. Take what is much simpler and more direct: I am in relationship with my wife, with my friend – whatever it is. Why can’t I use that relationship to watch myself, why should I take a drug? There is my life right in front of me, every minute I’m living in relationship.

Questioner: But you said before we’re neurotic.

Krishnamurti: Wait a minute. I am neurotic. Why should I take a drug when there is a much more direct, simpler way of looking at myself, which is in my relationship? Will drugs help me to get over my neurosis? For the time being you are saying, it might help.

Questioner: It might take you a step ahead so that you can stop taking drugs and then continue without them.

Krishnamurti: I understand this. So you are saying, take them for a while, take them once, so as to get over the first step?

Questioner: Maybe.

Krishnamurti: I really don’t know.

Questioner: But relationship only goes so far, then it gets blocked.

Krishnamurti: Must I use all these means, take drugs, or do something else? If I have no drugs, what shall I do to look at myself?

Questioner: I think that life itself is the only means. If this includes what we call drugs or anything else, it is still life and it is still the only means we have of looking at ourselves.

Krishnamurti: Then I use everything – what you call life.

Questioner: If you exclude anything, then what you are doing is just excluding.

Krishnamurti: No, no, I am not excluding. I don’t say I will never take drugs. There are ways of escaping from oneself – drugs, entertainment, cinemas, books, all kinds of things which are part of life. I don’t exclude drugs, I don’t exclude sex, I don’t exclude anything, but I say, let’s find out if there is not a simpler way.

Questioner: Surely, Sir, speaking for myself, and I think for most of us, one of the dangers of drugs, of the actual chemicals (or a religion, or a technique), is that we begin to depend on them, and the more we go on the more we depend on them. And this becomes a screen.

Krishnamurti: Yes, so let’s come back to the question, Sir, which is: I am fairly neurotic, I am aware of it; that neurosis has been brought about through various causes. Here I am, I am slightly unbalanced – either I know it or I don’t know it. If I know it I can deal with it. If I don’t know it, what am I to do? Those are the two questions.

Questioner: If I know it can I deal with it?

Questioner: If I don’t know it, can I deal with it?

Krishnamurti: If I don’t know that I am slightly off balance, if I won’t listen to anybody – that is part of my neurotic state – what am I to do? I then begin to suffer. If it is a very bad neurosis then I have a very bad time. That is one thing; but if I know it, then my problem is quite different. Shall I take drugs? Have an analysis?

Questioner: Someone like this is very dependent on other people.

Krishnamurti: Yes. You follow? So what am I to do?

Questioner: Well, I think that when we learn something, when we say something, when we know something, then it is changed.

Krishnamurti: Not quite so easy, Sir. I know I dislike people – that is part of my neurosis. I have been hurt by people, they have brutalized me – at school, through sex, in ten different ways. They have made me brutal – I know I am a hard, cruel entity. I know it – but I can’t get rid of it by knowing it. Then I want to find out how to get rid of it, how to become fairly quiet and gentle. What am I to do when I know that I am neurotic? – that is the question we are discussing. Can I undo all the damage that has been done to me?

Questioner: You mentioned suffering, Sir, and it seems to me that for many people that becomes a central issue because they struggle to get out of the suffering.

Krishnamurti: Yes, Sir, that is so. We are putting the same thing in different words, aren’t we? The conflict, the pain, the confusion, the misery – and yet I know I am neurotic; the seed is there, which is producing all these things. So how am I to be rid of it?

Questioner: You’ve often spoken of the need to see that we must change totally. And you’ve also spoken of the fact that we have to look at ourselves without wanting to change what we see. Isn’t there some kind of contradiction there?

Krishnamurti: Is there?

Questioner: To me there is, I don’t fully understand that.

Krishnamurti: Can I look at one thing so completely that everything is included in that? Wait Sir, let’s go slowly. I am aware that I am neurotic and I know the cause of this imbalance. Merely knowing it doesn’t resolve it – I go on being neurotic. Now what am I to do? It’s like a compulsive eater who has to eat enormous quantities all the time. He knows he is compulsive, people have told him to watch it – but he goes on.

Questioner: It seems to have momentum. If there is something which gives it a momentum it’s hard to stop.

Krishnamurti: Sir, let’s try this: each one of us must know his own particular kink. Knowing it, let us see if the understanding of the cause which has brought this about will end it.

Questioner: Do we really understand the cause of it? We see a superficial cause and we think we see the cause – if there is a cause in that sense.

Krishnamurti: There are ten different causes, may be.

Questioner: There may be millions of causes to bring about this sort of state.

Krishnamurti: Yes.

Questioner: Do we understand the purpose of what we do – not the cause, but the purpose of the neurosis, of our behaviour, of our hatred and so forth..?

Questioner: The psychologists say that if we know it only intellectually, not dynamically, we haven’t really seen it.

Krishnamurti: That’s the point. We say ‘I know it, I know the cause of it’. It is one of the most difficult things to say, ‘one cause has produced this’ – there may be many different causes. Also, there is something much more involved in this – whether it is cause and effect. Don’t let us go into that for the moment because cause and effect is so definite. The cause becomes the effect, and the effect becomes the cause – this goes on all the time; that is quite a different matter. Let’s look at this: knowing the cause – in the sense of knowing merely intellectually – can I dissolve it? I say I can’t. I have to find a way of dissolving it completely – and what is that?

Questioner: Don’t we have to look at it in action?

Krishnamurti: I feel angry, violent, and I hit you. Must I go to that extent?

Questioner: No, but one knows that if one looks at anger at the time, the anger dissolves.

Krishnamurti: Yes. Sir, our question is, mere knowing of the cause and the effect doesn’t dissolve it. Therefore, as that person put it, I must enter into it, I must have tremendous feeling about it. I haven’t got it – what am I to do? I can see intellectually why I am in this state and there I stop. How am I to feel this thing so strongly that I do something about it?

Questioner: In psychotherapy ideally one forms a relationship which goes inside of this, because somebody else is going inside it with you.

Krishnamurti: Yes, you mean someone else is helping you to go into yourself, into this whole problem. Whether it is the guru, or the psychoanalyst, or your friend – someone else is helping you. Now wait a minute, Sir. Isn’t this what is being done now? Don’t call it group therapy. Isn’t this what is going on now?

Questioner: By ‘now’ you mean here?

Krishnamurti: Here. You tell me that I am neurotic and I listen to you. I say, ‘Yes, you are perfectly right, I know it intellectually’. And you say, ‘Don’t look at it intellectually, let’s go into it together more deeply, emotionally, dynamically, feel it’. You are helping me but I reach a point where you cannot help me anymore.

Questioner: Sir, must one not do away with aids and escapes to start with? – they must be out of the way.

Krishnamurti: Now I’ve reached the point when I see I must tackle it deep down, in the sense that I must feel it with all my heart, with my whole being. You have helped me to come to that point. After that I have to do it myself.

Questioner: One feels one often lacks the energy.

Krishnamurti: Wait a minute, we are just coming to that. You have helped me to watch myself. You have helped me to be aware of my neurosis, together we have gone into this up to a certain point. All that has required energy and attention; I’ve listened to you because I really want to solve this problem. It is a tremendous burden for me, I can’t get on with people, I am miserable, I am unhappy. And you have helped me to come to that point, first intellectually, then a little more deeply. Now I am there and you can’t help me anymore. Can you help me to go much deeper or can you only help me up to a certain point?

Questioner: How do I know I have reached this point?

Krishnamurti: I’ve tried, I’ve experimented, I’ve tested.

Questioner: It can be of tremendous value to be helped up to that point.

Krishnamurti: Granted.

Questioner: Our questions may be part of the trouble. Perhaps it is because we start out with the idea of someone helping us.

Krishnamurti: I’m coming to that, Madame, you’ll see it in a minute. What is involved in this question is: you have helped me up to a point.

Questioner: Sir, once this person has helped you is there a danger that you might be dependent on him and you don’t really feel it yourself?

Krishnamurti: I am questioning the whole method, Sir! I am saying to myself, you are supposed to have helped me, you have led me, we have walked together up to a certain point.

Questioner: But then won’t you be dependent on me when we get to this point?

Krishnamurti: Why can’t I realize this at the very beginning? Why should I go through all this to come to that point?

Questioner: No one in the world can help you all the way.

Krishnamurti: Don’t say that! You have helped me to realize that you cannot help me. Do see that point, Sir. Please have the patience. We have walked together, you have pointed out the dangers, you have shown my states to me very clearly, both verbally and non-verbally. You have held my hand – you have done everything. And I say, but that’s very little, it helps only to a certain degree. So suddenly I realize: why should I have your help at all? Why can’t I do this myself right from the beginning?

Questioner: But if one sees that, then one has reached a certain intelligence.

Krishnamurti: Therefore, what does that mean? Can I see that point in my neurotic state? A dozen things are offered – drugs, analyst, sunshine, group therapy, individual therapy, sitting together for twenty four hours, feeling more sensitive by touching each other, touching the grass – they are doing all these things. Some people may say, ‘I need all that’. If you want to do that, all right. But I am saying to myself, must I go through all this – touch you to become sensitive? Go to college to become sensitive? And I overeat, indulge sexually, do all kinds of things in order to destroy my sensitivity and then I take a drug to become sensitive – you follow? It’s crazy! Therefore I am saying to myself, how am I to become extraordinarily alert to my own neurotic state? What will give me the energy, the drive, the intensity to say, I’ll go through it myself right from the beginning?’

Questioner: Maybe the crisis can’t solve itself, but it seems to reach a crisis of its own accord. Does that mean anything? Does a crisis mean anything in relation to..?

Krishnamurti: Crisis means a shock, Sir, a challenge, something that demands your attention. A crisis is only possible when there is a challenge. And if you respond to it actively, adequately, the crisis is not a crisis. But I cannot – I am weak.

Questioner: Doesn’t the very wanting to do it give you the energy?

Krishnamurti: The very want is a waste of energy! Wait, can we discuss that for the moment – how to bring about energy? How to bring all the energy into this?

Questioner: The passionate desire to understand brings the energy.

Questioner: The looking on the unhappiness in the world and the desire to understand myself.

Krishnamurti: I haven’t the desire – I want to escape from myself.

Questioner: Yes, that is the point.

Krishnamurti: Sir, the whole world is helping me to escape from myself. The religions, the books, the philosophers, the analysts, everybody says: run away, for God’s sake don’t look! (Laughter) And you say I must have the desire! How does this desire come? Desire is greater sensation. I desire that in the looking at myself I’ll have greater pleasure; otherwise I won’t have desire. If there is no reward, why should I have a desire?

Questioner: Is it possible to be in pain and not desire to be out of pain?

Krishnamurti: Sir, if you have got toothache, it is a natural thing to get rid of it, isn’t it? And sometimes you can’t. If you have a headache or whatever it is, you take aspirin, and if it goes on what do you do then?

Questioner: You just suffer the pain. You just suffer.

Krishnamurti: Wait – don’t say ‘just suffer’. If you identify yourself with the suffering, there is conflict, isn’t there? You say, ‘I’ll watch the pain – unless it is unbearable, then I either lose consciousness or take some drug. But if it is not so violently painful, I can watch it. – There is no identifying with the pain, no saying I must get rid of it, I must fight it, resist it.

Questioner: Is acceptance resistance?

Krishnamurti: Sir, have you never noticed, if a dog is barking all the time and you cannot do anything about it, what do you do? Resist it?

Questioner: Often.

Krishnamurti: What happens then – you are fighting it and you become more and more awake.

Questioner: Can’t one go the other way round so that one becomes more relaxed?

Krishnamurti: So what do you do?

Questioner: You can listen to it.

Krishnamurti: Which means what? Don’t resist it – listen to it, don’t fight it, go with it. In India it happens often that a dog is barking for hours. Either you fight it or you go with it, join it. In the same way, when there is great pain, unless it is unbearable, I go with it – there is no resistance, no saying, ‘I must get rid of it immediately,. So we come to the point: how can I have that vitality, that energy which makes me observe so intensely?

Questioner: I think if something is important enough to the peace of mind, the security, the well-being of the brain, then the energy is concentrated there, but if it is not important enough there will be no energy.

Krishnamurti: So you are saying, Sir, if the thing is important enough, there is the energy.

Questioner: But all I know is, one has only to observe it to get over it.

Krishnamurti: Before you say that, there is this other question: if you are interested in getting rid of, or trying to understand fear, then you have the energy. That is what you are saying. But if I am not interested?

Questioner: I didn’t say interested, I didn’t say intellectual interest.

Krishnamurti: No, Sir, that is what I mean. How do you bring about this vital interest to face fear? One says take a drug or do various things that will help you to look, to be really involved in it.

Questioner: I come to a point where my mind puts the fear into words. And I see that even my mind is a sort of analyst.

Krishnamurti: Quite.

Questioner: It cannot help me further.

Krishnamurti: So the question now is: how do I have enough energy? I need energy to look at myself – whether I am neurotic, imbalanced, afraid, whatever it is.

Questioner: May I ask why, Sir? I don’t quite see why we need energy to look?

Krishnamurti: Energy means attention, doesn’t it? There is that aeroplane – to listen to it completely without any resistance is attention, isn’t it? Otherwise I will resist it, I will say, ‘I won’t listen to it, I want to hear what is being said’. But to listen to that noise completely you need attention, which is energy focussed to listen. It doesn’t matter, use any other word.

Questioner: I mean, does it use up energy?

Krishnamurti: No, on the contrary. It is only when I resist it, when I am inattentive, that I lose energy. If I listen to that aeroplane wholly, I’ve much more energy. The inattention wastes energy.

Questioner: And the attention brings energy.

Krishnamurti: It is energy – it doesn’t get dissipated, on the contrary, it builds up more and more.

Questioner: I see that, Sir. Before, it sounded as though you were saying that you must find a lot of energy before you can look.

Krishnamurti: No, on the contrary. So can I attend completely, in order to observe? Then the problem arises, is the observer different from the thing observed? – which was a question raised at the beginning. If there is attention, all the energy focussed in looking – is there an observer? If there is an observer then there is inattention. Because the observer resists, he has got his prejudices, his opinions, he says, ‘This is good, I’ll keep this but I don’t want that’, he is fighting to gain pleasure, to avoid pain; he is avoiding or accumulating. And that is a dissipation of energy. Can I attend without the observer? I’ll do it when I actually see the truth that it is a waste of energy to look with the observer.

Can I listen to you freely – without opinions or conclusions, without saying you’re right – just listen? Can I listen to that aeroplane freely? When you tell me I am a fool, can I listen to you without reacting? The reaction is the observer.

Questioner: Then in that state does the mind function as a mirror?

Krishnamurti: Is the mind then like a mirror that only reflects? Surely it is not reflecting? When it looks at the tree, the tree is not imprinted on the mirror.

So what have I learnt this morning? I have learnt – I am learning rather – that deeply nobody can help me. That is a tremendous realization. Whoever wants to help me, is helping me according to his conditioning. He says, ‘I know better than you do, let me help you’. Or, ‘I’ll be a companion, we’ll walk together, we’ll watch things together; which means I depend on him, I need someone to support me in walking. And I have discovered, that if I have to do something ultimately myself, why don’t I start right from the beginning? I can’t do it because I am frightened, I want support, I want security, I want somebody to tell me, ‘You’re doing very well, carry on’.

And I have seen that any form of resistance, outwardly or inwardly, is a waste of energy. I have an opinion about something or other, and I am unwilling to change it. That is a resistance. And when you say something, giving your opinion, can I listen to it without resisting and change my mind because what you say is true? Can I cease to have opinions at all?

I see that where there is attention there is abundance of energy. That energy is attention, and it can look and observe without the observer. The observer is the conditioned entity, the reaction, the resistance. I’ve seen this very clearly, not intellectually but deeply – I feel it. Therefore I’m going to watch if there is any form of resistance creeping up, and I know what to do. Now I am free to listen, and therefore free – all the time changing.