From Krishnamurti’s Book THE FIRST AND LAST FREEDOM

I would like to discuss what simplicity is, and perhaps from that arrive at the discovery of sensitivity. We seem to think that simplicity is merely an outward expression, a withdrawal: having few possessions, wearing a loincloth, having no home, putting on few clothes, having a small bank account. Surely that is not simplicity. That is merely an outward show. It seems to me that simplicity is essential; but simplicity can come into being only when we begin to understand the significance of self-knowledge.

Simplicity is not merely adjustment to a pattern. It requires a great deal of intelligence to be simple and not merely conform to a particular pattern, however worthy outwardly. Unfortunately most of us begin by being simple externally, in outward things. It is comparatively easy to have few things and to be satisfied with few things; to be content with little and perhaps to share that little with others. But a mere outward expression of simplicity in things, in possessions, surely does not imply the simplicity of inward being. Because, as the world is at present, more and more things are being urged upon us, outwardly, externally. Life is becoming more and more complex. In order to escape from that, we try to renounce or be detached from things – from cars, from houses, from organizations, from cinemas, and from the innumerable circumstances outwardly thrust upon us. We think we shall be simple by withdrawing. A great many saints, a great many teachers, have renounced the world; and it seems to me that such a renunciation on the part of any of us does not solve the problem. Simplicity which is fundamental, real, can only come into being inwardly; and from that there is an outward expression. How to be simple, then, is the problem; because that simplicity makes one more and more sensitive. A sensitive mind, a sensitive heart, is essential, for then it is capable of quick perception, quick reception.

One can be inwardly simple, surely, only by understanding the innumerable impediments, attachments, fears, in which one is held. But most of us like to be held – by people, by possessions, by ideas. We like to be prisoners. Inwardly we are prisoners, though outwardly we seem to be very simple. Inwardly we are prisoners to our desires, to our wants, to our ideals, to innumerable motivations. Simplicity cannot be found unless one is free inwardly. Therefore it must begin inwardly, not outwardly.

There is an extraordinary freedom when one understands the whole process of belief, why the mind is attached to a belief. When there is freedom from beliefs, there is simplicity. But that simplicity requires intelligence, and to be intelligent one must be aware of one’s own impediments. To be aware, one must be constantly on the watch, not established in any particular groove, in any particular pattern of thought or action. After all, what one is inwardly does affect the outer. Society, or any form of action, is the projection of ourselves, and without transforming inwardly mere legislation has very little significance outwardly; it may bring about certain reforms, certain adjustments, but what one is inwardly always overcomes the outer. If one is inwardly greedy, ambitious, pursuing certain ideals, that inward complexity does eventually upset, overthrow outward society, however carefully planned it may be.

Therefore one must begin within – not exclusively, not rejecting the outer. You come to the inner, surely, by understanding the outer, by finding out how the conflict, the struggle, the pain, exists outwardly; as one investigates it more and more, naturally one comes into the psychological states which produce the outward conflicts and miseries.

The outward expression is only an indication of our inward state, but to understand the inward state one must approach through the outer. Most of us do that. In understanding the inner – not exclusively, not by rejecting the outer, but by understanding the outer and so coming upon the inner – we will find that, as we proceed to investigate the inward complexities of our being, we become more and more sensitive, free. It is this inward simplicity that is so essential, because that simplicity creates sensitivity. A mind that is not sensitive, not alert, not aware, is incapable of any receptivity, any creative action. Conformity as a means of making ourselves simple really makes the mind and heart dull, insensitive. Any form of authoritarian compulsion, imposed by the government, by oneself, by the ideal of achievement, and so on – any form of conformity must make for insensitivity, for not being simple inwardly. Outwardly you may conform and give the appearance of simplicity, as so many religious people do. They practise various disciplines, join various organizations, meditate in a particular fashion, and so on – all giving an appearance of simplicity, but such conformity does not make for simplicity. Compulsion of any kind can never lead to simplicity. On the contrary, the more you suppress, the more you substitute, the more you sublimate, the less there is simplicity, but the more you understand the process of sublimation, suppression, substitution, the greater the possibility of being simple.

Our problems – social, environmental, political, religious – are so complex that we can solve them only by being simple, not by becoming extraordinarily erudite and clever. A simple person sees much more directly, has a more direct experience, than the complex person. Our minds are so crowded with an infinite knowledge of facts, of what others have said, that we have become incapable of being simple and having direct experience ourselves. These problems demand a new approach; and they can be so approached only when we are simple, inwardly really simple. That simplicity comes only through self-knowledge, through understanding ourselves; the ways of our thinking and feeling; the movements of our thoughts; our responses; how we conform, through fear, to public opinion, to what others say, what the Buddha, the Christ, the great saints have said – all of which indicates our nature to conform, to be safe, to be secure. When one is seeking security, one is obviously in a state of fear and therefore there is no simplicity.

Without being simple, one cannot be sensitive – to the trees, to the birds, to the mountains, to the wind, to all the things which are going on about us in the world; if one is not simple one cannot be sensitive to the inward intimation of things. Most of us live so superficially, on the upper level of our consciousness; there we try to be thoughtful or intelligent, which is synonymous with being religious; there we try to make our minds simple, through compulsion, through discipline. But that is not simplicity. When we force the upper mind to be simple, such compulsion only hardens the mind, does not make the mind supple, clear, quick. To be simple in the whole, total process of our consciousness is extremely arduous; because there must be no inward reservation, there must be an eagerness to find out, to inquire into the process of our being, which means to be awake to every intimation, to every hint; to be aware of our fears, of our hopes, and to investigate and to be free of them more and more and more. Only then, when the mind and the heart are really simple, not encrusted, are we able to solve the many problems that confront us.

Knowledge is not going to solve our problems. You may know, for example, that there is reincarnation, that there is a continuity after death. You may know, I don’t say you do; or you may be convinced of it. But that does not solve the problem. Death cannot be shelved by your theory, or by information, or by conviction. It is much more mysterious, much deeper, much more creative than that.

One must have the capacity to investigate all these things anew; because it is only through direct experience that our problems are solved, and to have direct experience there must be simplicity, which means there must be sensitivity. A mind is made dull by the weight of knowledge. A mind is made dull by the past, by the future. Only a mind that is capable of adjusting itself to the present, continually, from moment to moment, can meet the powerful influences and pressures constantly put upon us by our environment.

Thus a religious man is not really one who puts on a robe or a loincloth, or lives on one meal a day, or has taken innumerable vows to be this and not to be that, but is he who is inwardly simple, who is not becoming anything. Such a mind is capable of extraordinary receptivity, because there is no barrier, there is no fear, there is no going towards something; therefore it is capable of receiving grace, God, truth, or what you will. But a mind that is pursuing reality is not a simple mind. A mind that is seeking out, searching, groping, agitated, is not a simple mind. A mind that conforms to any pattern of authority, inward or outward, cannot be sensitive. And it is only when a mind is really sensitive, alert, aware of all its own happenings, responses, thoughts, when it is no longer becoming, is no longer shaping itself to be something – only then is it capable of receiving that which is truth. It is only then that there can be happiness, for happiness is not an end – it is the result of reality. When the mind and the heart have become simple and therefore sensitive – not through any form of compulsion, direction, or imposition – then we shall see that our problems can be tackled very simply. However complex our problems, we shall be able to approach them freshly and see them differently. That is what is wanted at the present time: people who are capable of meeting this outward confusion, turmoil, antagonism anew, creatively, simply – not with theories nor formulas, either of the left or of the right. You cannot meet it anew if you are not simple.

A problem can be solved only when we approach it thus. We cannot approach it anew if we are thinking in terms of certain patterns of thought, religious, political or otherwise.

So we must be free of all these things, to be simple. That is why it is so important to be aware, to have the capacity to understand the process of our own thinking, to be cognizant of ourselves totally; from that there comes a simplicity, there comes a humility which is not a virtue or a practice. Humility that is gained ceases to be humility. A mind that makes itself humble is no longer a humble mind. It is only when one has humility, not a cultivated humility, that one is able to meet the things of life that are so pressing, because then one is not important, one doesn’t look through one’s own pressures and sense of importance; one looks at the problem for itself and then one is able to solve it.