Can Thought Not Interfere?

From Krishnamurti’s Book YOU ARE THE WORLD

What is fear? One is afraid of the past, of the present, or of something that might happen tomorrow. Fear involves time. One is afraid of death; that is in the future. Or one is afraid of something that has happened. Or one is afraid of the pain one has had when one was ill. Please follow this closely. Fear implies time: one is afraid of something – of some pain that one has had and which might happen again. One is afraid of something that might take place tomorrow, in the future. Or one is afraid of the present. All that involves time. Psychologically speaking, if there were no yesterday, today and tomorrow, there would be no fear. Fear is not only of time but it is the product of thought. That is, in thinking about what happened yesterday – which was painful – I am thinking that it might happen again tomorrow. Thought produces this fear. Thought breeds fear: thinking about the pain, thinking about death, thinking about the frustrations, the fulfilments, what might happen, what should be, and so on. Thought produces fear and gives vitality to the continuance of fear. And thought, by thinking about what has given you pleasure yesterday, sustains that pleasure, gives it duration. So thought produces, sustains, nourishes, not only fear but also pleasure. Please observe it in yourself, see what actually goes on within you.

You have had a pleasurable or so-called enjoyable experience and you think about it. You want to repeat it, whether it is sex or any other experience. Thinking about that thing which has given a pleasurable moment, you want that pleasure repeated, continued. So thought is not only responsible for fear, but also for pleasure. One sees the truth of this, the actual fact that thought sustains pleasure and nourishes fear. Thought breeds both fear and pleasure; the two are not separate. Where there is the demand for pleasure, there must also be fear; the two are unavoidable because they are both the product of thought.

Please let’s bear in mind that I am not persuading you of anything, I’m not making propaganda. God forbid! Because to make propaganda is to lie; if someone is trying to convince you of something, don’t be convinced. We are dealing with something much more serious than being convinced, or with offering opinions and judgments. We are dealing with realities, with facts. And facts, which you observe, don’t need an opinion. You haven’t got to be told what the fact is, it is there, if you are capable of observing it.

So one sees that thought sustains and nourishes fear as well as pleasure. We want pleasure continued, we want more and more pleasure. The ultimate pleasure for man is to find out if there is a permanent state in heaven which is God; to him God is the highest form of pleasure. And if you observe, all social morality – which is really immoral – is based on pleasure and fear, reward and punishment.

Then one asks, when one sees this actual fact – not the description, not the word, but the thing described, the actual state of how thought brings this about: ‘Is it possible for thought to come to an end?’ The question sounds rather crazy, but it is not. You saw a sunset yesterday, the hills were extraordinarily lit in the evening sun and there was a glory, a beauty that gave you great enjoyment. Can one enjoy it so completely that it comes to an end, so that thought doesn’t carry it over to tomorrow? And can one face fear, if there is such a thing as fear? This is only possible when you understand the whole structure and nature of thought. So one asks, ‘What is thinking?’

For most of us thinking has become extraordinarily important. We never realize that thought is always old, thought is never new, thought can never be free. We were talking about freedom of thought, which is sheer nonsense, which means you may express what you want, say what you like; but thought in itself is never free, because thought is the response of memory. One can observe this for oneself. Thought is the response of memory, experience, knowledge. Knowledge, experience, memory, are always old and so thought is always old. Therefore thought can never see anything new. Can the mind look at the problem of fear without the interference of thought? Do you understand, Sirs?

I am afraid. There is fear of what one has done. Be completely aware of it without the interference of thought – and then is there fear? As we said, fear is brought about through time; time is thought. This is not philosophy, not some mystical experience; just observe it in yourself, you will see. One realizes thought must function objectively, efficiently, logically, healthily. When you go to the office, or whatever you do, thought must operate, otherwise you cannot do anything. But the moment thought breeds or sustains pleasure and fear, then thought becomes inefficient. Thought then breeds inefficiency in relationship and therefore causes conflict. So one asks whether there can be an ending of thought in one direction, and yet with thought functioning in its highest capacity. We are concerned with whether thought can be absent when the mind sees the sunset in all its beauty. It is only then that you see the beauty of the sunset not when your mind is full of thoughts, problems, violence. That is, if you have observed it, at the moment of seeing the sunset thought is absent. You look at this extraordinary light on the mountain, it is a great delight and at that moment thought has no place in it at all. But the next moment thought says: ‘How marvellous that was, how beautiful, I wish I could paint it, I wish I could write a poem about it, I wish I could tell my friends what a lovely thing it is.’ Or thought says: ‘I would like to see that sunset again tomorrow.’ Then thought begins its mischief. Because thought then says: ‘tomorrow I will have that pleasure again’, and when you don’t have it there is pain. This is very simple, and because of its very simplicity it gets lost. We all want to be terribly clever, we are all so sophisticated, intellectual, we read such a lot. The whole psychological history of mankind (not who was king and what kind of wars there were and all the absurdity of nationalities) is within oneself. When you can read that in yourself you have understood. Then you are a light to yourself, then there is no authority, then you are actually free.

So our question is: Can thought cease to interfere? And it is this interference that produces time. Do you understand? Take death. There is great beauty in what is involved in death, and it is not possible to understand that beauty if there is any form of fear. We are just showing how frightened we are of death, because it might happen in the future and it is inevitable. So thought thinks about it and shuts it out. Or thought thinks about the fear that you have had, the pain, the anxiety, and that it might be repeated. We are caught in the mischief made by thought. Yet one also realizes the extraordinary importance of thought. When you go to the office, when you do something technological, you must use thought and knowledge. Seeing the whole process of it from the beginning of this talk till now – seeing the whole of that – one asks, ‘Can thought be silent?’ Can one look at the sunset and be completely involved in the beauty of that sunset, without thought bringing into it the question of pleasure? Please follow this. Then conduct becomes righteous. Conduct becomes virtuous only when thought does not cultivate what it considers to be virtue, which then becomes unholy and ugly. Virtue is not of time or of thought; which means virtue is not a product of pleasure or of fear. So now the question is: How is it possible to look at the sunset without thought weaving round it pleasure or pain? Can one look at this sunset with such attention, with such complete involvement in that beauty, so that when you have seen that sunset it is ended and not taken over by thought, as pleasure, for tomorrow?

Are we communicating with each other? Are we? (Audience.. Yes, yes.) Krishnamurti: Good, I’m glad, but don’t be so quick in answering ‘Yes’. (Laughter) For this is quite a difficult problem, To watch the sunset without the interference of thought demands tremendous discipline; not the discipline of conformity, not the discipline of suppression or control. The word ‘discipline’ means ‘to learn’ – not to conform, not to obey – to learn about the whole process of thinking and its place. The negation of thought needs great observation. And to observe there must be freedom. In this freedom one knows the movement of thought, and then learning is active.

What do we mean by learning? When one goes to school or college one learns a great deal of information, perhaps not of great importance, but one learns. That becomes knowledge and from that knowledge we act, either in the technological field, or in the whole field of consciousness. So one must understand very deeply what that word ‘to learn’ means. The word ‘to learn’ obviously is an active present. There is learning all the time. But when that learning becomes a means to the accumulation of knowledge, then it is quite a different thing. That is, I have learned from past experience that fire burns. That is knowledge. I have learned it, therefore I don’t go near the fire. I have ceased to learn. And most of us, having learned, act from there. Having gathered information about ourselves (or about another) this becomes knowledge; then that knowledge becomes almost static and from that we act. Therefore action is always old. So learning is something entirely different.

If one has listened this evening with attention, one has learned the nature of fear and pleasure; one has learned it and from that one acts. You see the difference, I hope. Learning implies a constant action. There is learning all the time. And the very act of learning is doing. The doing is not separate from learning. Whereas for most of us the doing is separate from the knowledge. That is, there is the ideology or the ideal, and according to that ideal we act, approximating the action only to that ideal. Therefore action is always old.

Learning, like seeing, is a great art. When you see a flower, what takes place? Do you see the flower actually, or do you see it through the image you have of that flower? The two things are entirely different. When you look at a flower, at a colour, without naming it, without like or dislike, without any screen between you and the thing you see as a flower, without the word, without thought, then the flower has an extraordinary colour and beauty. But when you look at the flower through botanical knowledge, when you say: ‘this is a rose’, you have already conditioned your looking. Seeing and learning is quite an art, but you don’t go to college to learn it. You can do it at home. You can look at a flower and find out how you look at it. If you are sensitive, alive, watching, then you will see that the space between you and the flower disappears and when that space disappears you see the thing so vitally, so strongly! In the same way when you observe yourself without that space (not as ‘the observer’ and ‘the thing observed’) then you will see there is no contradiction and therefore no conflict.

In seeing the structure of fear, one also sees the structure and nature of pleasure. The seeing is the learning about it and therefore the mind is not caught in the pursuit of pleasure. Then life has quite a different meaning. One lives – not in search of pleasure.

Wait a minute before you ask questions. I would like to ask you a question: What have you got out of this talk? Don’t answer me, please. Find out whether you got words, descriptions, ideas, or if you got something that is true, that is irrevocable, indestructible, because you yourself have seen it. Then you are a light to yourself and therefore you will not light your candle at any other light; you are that light yourself. If that is a fact, not a hypocritical assumption, then a gathering of this kind has been worthwhile. Now, perhaps, would you like to ask questions?

As we said yesterday, you are asking questions to find out, not to show that you are more intelligent than the speaker. A person who compares is not intelligent; an intelligent man never compares. Either you ask a question because by asking you would reveal yourself, expose yourself to yourself and thereby learn, or you ask a question to trip up the speaker – which you are perfectly welcome to do. Or you ask a question to have a wider view, to open the door. So it depends on you what kind and what quality of question you are going to ask. Which doesn’t mean, please, that the speaker does not want you to ask questions.

Questioner: What is one to do when one notices the sunset and at the same time thought is coming into it?

Krishnamurti: What is one to do? Please understand the significance of the question. That is, you see the sunset, thought interferes with it, and then you say ‘What is one to do?, Who is the questioner who says ‘What is one to do?’ Is it thought that says what am I to do? Do you understand the question? Let me put it this way. There is the sunset, the beauty of it, the extraordinary colour, the feeling of it, the love of it; then thought comes along and I say to myself: ‘Here it is, what am I to do?’ Do listen to it carefully, do go into it. Is it not thought also that says ‘What am I to do?’ The ‘I’ who says ‘What am I to do?’, is the result of thought. So thought, seeing what is interfering with this beauty, says: ‘What am I to do?’

Don’t do anything! (Laughter) If you do something, you bring conflict into it. But when you see the sunset and thought comes in, be aware of it. Be aware of the sunset and the thought that comes into it. Don’t chase thought away be choicelessly aware of this whole thing: the sunset and thought coming into it. Then you will find, if you are so aware, without any desire to suppress thought, to struggle against the interference of thought, if you don’t do any of those things then thought becomes quiet. Because it is thought itself that is saying ‘What am I to do?’ That is one of the tricks of thought. Don’t fall into the trap, but observe this whole structure of what is happening.