When the Old Brain Is Quiet, Something New Is Discovered


If one has examined and observed oneself objectively, not with any kind of condemnation or judgment, one realizes that one is conditioned superficially and in great depth. There is deep conditioning, which may be the result of the family, the racial accumulation, the influences which have not been obvious but nevertheless have penetrated very deeply. Is it at all possible for the mind ever to be free of all that? When it is conditioned, can the mind uncondition itself totally? Or can the mind prevent itself – not through resistance – from ever being conditioned? There are these two things which we have to examine this morning in relation to thought and intelligence, and also with regard to silence and death. If we can, we shall go into this, cover this whole field.

Why does the mind ever get conditioned? Is it so sensitive, so capable of being hurt? It is a tender, delicate thing, and in relationship it gets invariably hurt, invariably conditioned. Is it possible for that conditioning ever to be washed away? One realizes the mind, the brain itself, is conditioned, evolved through centuries upon centuries and the brain is the storehouse of memories. You can watch it yourself, you don’t have to read philosophical or psychological books – at least I don’t, though you may. The brain which has evolved through time which is the past, which is the accumulation of memory, experience, knowledge – responds instantly to any challenge according to its conditioning, superficially or in depth. I think this is clear.

Now can that response from the past be delayed so that there is an interval between the challenge and the response? I am taking a very superficial conditioning: one has been brought up in a particular culture, in a particular belief or pattern, and when that is questioned there is an instant response according to the background of the particular person. You tell me I am a fool. My response is immediate, saying, ‘You are another’, or getting angry with you, or this or that. Now when you call me a fool, can there be an interval, a space, before I respond? So that the brain is quiet enough to respond in a different way.

Questioner: Or to observe its own response.

Krishnamurti: The brain responds all the time according to its conditioning, according to various forms of stimuli: it is always active. The brain is the response of time, of memory; in the brain the whole past is contained. If the brain can hold itself and not respond immediately, then there is a possibility of a new response. The brain operates in the old habits established by the culture we live in, by the past racial inheritance and so on; that responds all the time, to any stimulus – judging, evaluating, believing, not believing, discussing, protecting, denying and so on. The brain cannot be denied its past knowledge; it must have that, otherwise it can’t function. So I am asking whether that brain – which is the old – will allow itself to be quiet so that a new part can operate. When you flatter me, the old brain says, ‘How lovely.’ But can the old brain listen to what you say and not respond, so that perhaps a new movement can take place? That new movement can only take place when there is silence, when the machinery is not operating in terms of the past. Is that clear – clear in the sense of watching yourself, otherwise it is no fun? I am not explaining this for myself, we are working together.

I find, when one examines one’s activities, that the old brain is always responding according to its limited knowledge, to its tradition, its racial inheritance, and when that is operating nothing new can come about. Now I want to find out whether that old brain can be quiet so that a new movement can take place. I can do that when I am in relationship with another, watching the old brain in operation, and when it understands the truth that it must be quiet in order that a new operation can take place.

The brain is not forcing itself to be quiet. If it is forcing itself to be quiet then it is still the operation of the past. In that there is division, there is conflict, there is discipline and all the rest of it. But if the old brain understands, or sees the truth – that as long as it is in constant response to any stimulus, it must operate along the old lines – if the old brain sees the truth of that, then it becomes quiet. It is the truth that brings about quietness – not the intention to be quiet.

You see, this question is very interesting because one finds there are certain brains that are never conditioned. You may say, how do you know? I only know because it has happened to the speaker. You may believe it, or disbelieve it! Just take the fact. I am asking why the brain must always function in this old pattern. If it does not function in its old pattern, it sets up a new pattern according to its memories in opposition to the old. We only use a very small part of the brain and that small part is the past. There is a part of the brain which has not functioned at all, which is open, empty, new. Do you know anything about it? Don’t agree to this. You only know the old brain in operation, when you are at all conscious of it. Now I am asking whether that old brain can be still to stimuli, so that a new response can come. And the next question is: how can that brain, which has been so conditioned, hold back a little? Can I go on?

Questioner: It is very clear.

Krishnamurti: And one finds the brain does hold back when, there is the necessity, the urgency, when this question is vital – so that a new quality of mind, of the brain, which has never been touched, operates. This happens, this is not only my experience. Any top-level scientist who is free from the desire for success, or position, must have asked this question, because how does he discover new things? If the old brain is in operation all the time it can’t discover anything new. So it is only when the old brain is quiet that something new is seen, and in that quiet state something new is discovered. This is a fact.

Now, without forcing the brain, how can that quietness come and the brain be voluntarily quiet? It can discover something new only when it sees the truth that the old cannot find anything new and therefore the old becomes quiet. The truth makes it quiet; it does not wish to be quiet. Is that very clear? Then, can that quietness operate all the time? – and the old conditioning with its knowledge operate only when it is necessary. Have you understood my question?

Questioner: You say, ‘Operate all the time’ – will that not bring conflict?

Krishnamurti: Please listen, Sir. I want to find out, I am enquiring, I am not saying it must be quiet. I see the old brain must operate, otherwise I can’t speak English, drive a car, or recognise you. The old brain must operate functionally. But, also, as long as it is not quiet, no new thing can be seen. Are you following?

I am asking myself: what is the relationship between the new quality of the brain, which functions in quietness, and the old? The old is thought – right? The old is the collection of memories and any response according to these memories is thought. That thought must function, otherwise you can’t do anything.

Questioner: Aren’t you making a division?

Krishnamurti: No, it is not a division. It is like a house, it is a whole, but there are divisions in it. We have discovered two things. That the old brain – we’ll call it that for the moment – is the conditioned brain which has accumulated knowledge through centuries upon centuries. We are not dividing it as the old and the new, we just want to convey the meaning that there is this whole structure of the brain, one part of which is the old – which doesn’t mean it is separate from the new – it is different. Now I am saying to myself: I see that if the old brain is in operation nothing new can be discovered. The new can be discovered only when the old is quiet. And the old can only be quiet when it sees the truth that the new cannot be discovered by the old. Now we have this fact: the old must naturally be quiet to discover something new.

Questioner: Is the discovery made by the new or the old?

Questioner: By neither of them.

Krishnamurti: Answer it, Sirs! My brain says, I really don’t know, I am going to find out. You have asked a question, which is: does the old brain recognise the new, or does the new use the old?

The old brain is quiet because it has understood completely that it can never discover anything new. We won’t even use the word ‘discover’. No new movement can take place if the old is constantly in operation. The old sees the fact of that and is quiet. And a new movement, a new happening takes place. Is that happening recognised by the old, or does it open the door for the new to utilize it?

Look Sirs, this is really quite important, even though you don’t follow it, because I want to find a totally new way of living. I realize the old way of living is terrible, ugly, brutal. I must find a new dimension which is unrelated to the old. Any movement on the part of the old to discover a different dimension is not possible. Realizing this, it becomes quiet. Now what takes place in that quietness? Let’s proceed along that way. What takes place when the old brain has understood that it cannot find a new dimension?

Questioner: The unknown?

Krishnamurti: No, don’t invent. Unless you experience this, don’t guess.

Questioner: There is space.

Krishnamurti: Now wait a minute. When the old brain is quiet, the gentleman says, there is space. Let’s examine it. What do you mean by space? Questioner: Emptiness.

Krishnamurti: Please don’t invent, don’t guess, observe. Is your old brain quiet?

Questioner: No.

Questioner: If the old brain is quiet, can you ask that question?

Krishnamurti: I am asking you. It may be a wrong question, but we must find out.

Questioner: The part of the brain which is not used starts operating.

Krishnamurti: Just listen to what he is saying. When the old brain is quiet, perhaps a new part of the brain which has not been used comes into operation. That is, we are only functioning with a very small part of our brain and when that small part of the brain is quiet, the rest of the brain may be active. Or, it has been active all the time but we don’t know it because that one part which has accumulated knowledge, tradition, time, is always super-active, and therefore we don’t know the other part at all; it may have its own activity. Are you following this?

This is really a very interesting question. Please give your minds to this a little bit; don’t say, ‘I don’t understand’ and just drop it. Apply yourselves! You see, having used the old brain so much we have never considered any other part of the brain, and what that part is, which may have a quality of a different dimension. I say that quality of a different dimension can be discovered when the old brain is really quiet. That’s my point. You follow? When the old brain is completely quiet, not made quiet, but has naturally understood that it must be quiet and therefore is quiet, then we can find out what takes place.

Now, I am going to investigate – not you – because your old brain is not quiet. Would you agree to that? It has not understood the necessity of being completely quiet under any stimulus, except of course physical stimuli – that is, if you put a pin into my leg it will respond. But as nobody is pricking my leg with a pin the old brain can be quiet. I want to find out what is the quality of the new brain – that quality which the old brain cannot recognise? Because the old brain cannot recognise anything which it has not experienced, which is not the outcome of memory. Therefore what the old brain recognises is still the old. Is that clear? So I am asking: what is the new? The old brain does not know anything about it, therefore it can only say: I really don’t know. Let’s proceed from there – do some of you follow this? The old brain says, ‘I can’t touch this and I really don’t know.’ Because I cannot touch it, because I cannot recognise it, I am not going to be deceived by it. I know absolutely nothing about the new dimensions of this new brain. When the old brain is quiet and incapable of recognition, it can only say, ‘I really don’t know.’ Can the old brain remain in that state of not knowing? It has said, ‘All my life I have functioned with knowledge and recognition.’ In functioning that way it has said, ‘I know’ in terms of what I do not know, of that which I will learn, but always within the pattern of knowing. Now it says, ‘I really don’t know’, because something new is taking place. The new cannot be recognised, therefore I have no relationship to it yet. I am going to find out.

Now what is the nature of not knowing? Is there fear when there is a state of not knowing? – which is death. You follow, Sirs? When the old brain actually says, ‘I don’t know’, it has relinquished all knowing. It has relinquished altogether the intention of knowing, of wanting to know. So there is a field in which the old brain cannot function, because it does not know. Now what is that field? Can it ever be described? It can be described only when the old brain recognises and verbalises it to communicate. So there is a field in which the old brain cannot possibly enter; this is not an invention, this is not a theory, this is a fact when the old brain says, ‘I really don’t know anything about this.’ Which means there is no intention to learn about the new. You see the difference, Sirs?

So now I want to find out non-verbally, because the moment I use a word I am back in the old. Therefore is there an understanding of something new non-verbally? – in the sense of not inventing a new word, or intending to describe it so as to capture it and hold it. So I am just enquiring, the mind is looking at something which it does not know at all. Is that possible? It has always looked in terms of learning about it, resisting it, avoiding it, escaping from it, or overcoming it. Now it is doing nothing of the kind. Do you understand? If this is not possible you cannot understand the other.

What is the something which the old brain cannot understand and therefore cannot possibly know or acquire knowledge about? Is there such a thing? Or is it just an invention of the old brain wanting something new to happen? If it is the old brain wanting something new to happen, it is still part of the old brain. Now I have examined it completely, so that the old brain has understood its structure and nature and therefore is absolutely still, not wanting to know. That is where the difficulty lies.

Is there something real, not imagined, not invented, which is not a theory? Something which the old brain cannot possibly understand, or recognise, or want to understand? Is there anything like that? For the speaker there is – but that has no value, he may be deluding himself. It has value only in the sense that it is for you to discover it. So you have to find out what is the relationship of the new – if you see the new – to the old, which must operate in life objectively, sanely, non-personally, therefore efficiently. Does the old capture the new so that there is a different life? Or does the new operate in a way that the old cannot possibly recognise, and that operation is the new way of living?

Go slowly, take time, look! This old brain, with its consciousness, has lived for thousands of years; the consciousness of this old brain is its content. Its content may have been acquired superficially or in depth and that is the old brain with all the knowledge, with all the experience of centuries of human endeavour, of evolution. When it is functioning within that field of consciousness it can never discover anything new. That is an absolute fact, not a theory. We know nothing about freedom, about what love is, what death is; we know nothing except jealousy, envy, fear, which are all part of the old content. Then this old brain, realizing its utter limitation, becomes quiet, because it has found it has no freedom. And because it has found no freedom, a new part of the brain is in operation.