The Transformation of Consciousness 1:
The Challenge

If you are at all serious you have to find out whether human beings, that is you and I, can bring about a total revolution in ourselves psychologically. When you change not at a superficial level but fundamentally, you affect consciousness, because you are the world and the world is you.

Krishnamurti in Madras 1974/75, Talk 1

Is there any possibility of a change in consciousness? Or is any change made consciously no change at all? To talk about a change in consciousness implies changing from this to that. When we say there must be a change in consciousness, it is still within the field of consciousness. Change within the same area is no change at all. That is, the content of consciousness is consciousness and the two are not separate. When we talk about changing, we are really thinking of juggling with the contents, which implies a juggler and the thing with which he is juggling. But it is still within the field of consciousness.

From the book The Awakening of Intelligence by J. KrishnamurtiPurchase Here

VIDEO: Can the content of consciousness free itself?

What is consciousness?

Consciousness is its content; its content makes up consciousness. This is not complex, it’s very simple. Your consciousness is made up of its content. The content is your education, your attachment to furniture, to the family, to your name, to the tradition, to your particular experience, identification with a country or your house, the gods you have invented. When you are attached to your furniture, your furniture is part of your consciousness. When you are frightened, when you are ambitious, greedy, envious, all that makes up your consciousness. That consciousness is the “me”, the self, the higher self, the lower self. Divide the self as much as you like, it is still within the field of that consciousness. That consciousness is the known. You may not be aware of the total known, you may only be aware of the partial known. When you look at consciousness not as an observer looking at the observed, but without the observer, when you look totally at this consciousness, you will see all its content, not little by little but the totality of consciousness. To understand the totality of consciousness, to look at it, analysis has no place. The content of my consciousness is consciousness; they are indivisible. Remove the content and there is no consciousness as we know it.

Your consciousness is the consciousness of your neighbour.

We live long years full of travail, sorrow, pain, pleasure and fear. The body, the organism wears out through misuse, through disease, through constant conflict and battle inwardly: the right and the wrong, the good and the bad, I am a Hindu, you are a Muslim, I am a Christian, you are a Buddhist, division, the “me”, the “we” and “they” conflict and division. Psychologically, inwardly this conflict wears down the body. And living in a polluted world as we, there is disease, pollution, strife inwardly and outwardly, which weighs down the body, along with bad diet, overwork, overindulgence and all the rest of it, the organism must inevitably come to an end. We know that. That doesn’t cause us so much fear. What causes fear is losing consciousness as the known. I know what I have achieved, what I have not achieved, I know my friends, my wife or husband, my children, my desires, my pleasures, my anxieties I know myself, and that is the totality of my consciousness. Expand it, contract it, it is still within the field of the known. All movement of thought is in the field of the known. The mind which has sought security in the known faces death, that is, it has to enter into something it doesn’t know, therefore it’s frightened; not of the unknown but losing the known. Losing the “me”, losing my consciousness with all its content, my gods, my knowledge, my wife or husband, my children, my experience, everything in that content of consciousness, so the mind is scared, frightened and is ready to believe that it will continue hereafter.

Can the mind die to the known, to its content, to the furniture, to ambition, to its gods, to its gurus can my mind die to all that from day to day? You will see, if you so die to the known, that fear comes to an end totally. Are you going to die to the content of your consciousness, to your gurus, to your ambitions, to your secret desires? You won’t. So what happens if you do not die to the content of your consciousness? What is your consciousness? Is it like everybody else’s consciousness? Is it the consciousness of your neighbour who has also his gods, his thoughts, his desires, his attachment to his house? Your consciousness is the consciousness of another. You may not like it; you may think you are an extraordinary consciousness but you are just like your neighbour, though you have a different name, different face, different bank account. You are just like everybody else but with little temperamental changes. You may be most proficient at your profession, but below that profession you are frightened, you are greedy, you are ambitious, you have sexual appetite, you are attached like everybody else. Your consciousness is the consciousness of your neighbour. So you are the world and the world is you.

Krishnamurti in Bangalore 1974, Talk 3

AUDIO: The circus of man’s struggle

Radical transformation

A fundamental change, a religious revolution must come into being, because without it our problems will multiply and we shall become increasingly superficial and have yet greater miseries. To bring about this deep transformation at the core, surely we have to inquire into the whole problem of what is consciousness, and understand the anatomy of change. Most of us try to change through effort, that is, we see ourselves as being cruel, for example, and we say we must change. So we make an effort to change, try to force ourselves through discipline not to be cruel. Now, let us examine the urge which makes us want to change, for without understanding that, without understanding the total process of consciousness which says, ‘I must change,’ there can be no fundamental change, though there may be superficial adjustments.

Please do not listen to all this against a background of what you have read about consciousness in a book, because what we are trying to do is not to communicate ideas but to directly experience what we are listening to. Unless we experience what we hear, it has no value at all; it will merely become another set of ideas, a process of mentation, which however exciting, will have very little significance. Whereas if you and I are actually experiencing what is being said, if through the verbal description each one of us is watching the operation of our own mind, then I think this talk will be really worthwhile.

There is a change only when the mind moves towards the unknown.

So we are trying to find out how to change, not just superficially but at the very centre of our being, which means that we have to inquire into the question of what is consciousness. When I ask myself, ‘What is consciousness?’ there is the questioner apart from the question, there is the entity who has asked the question and is waiting for an answer; and that process is the beginning of consciousness. Both the inquiry and the answer depend on how I ask the question.

To put it differently, I want to know what consciousness is, and it is not a vain or merely curious question. I ask myself what consciousness is because I see that I must fundamentally change, the totality of my being must undergo a complete transformation. Does this revolutionary change come about through a series of efforts on the part of the one who says, ‘I must change’? Must one develop the quality of will and change according to that will? What is this consciousness, the “me” that says, ‘I must change’? What is the momentum, the action, the force of the inquirer who is trying to change? That whole process is within the field of consciousness, within the field of thinking.

When I wish to change, I already have the pattern or the idea towards which I must change. Is that really change or is it merely a movement from the known to another known? Because I am cruel I say I must be kind. The process of trying to be kind is a movement towards something which is already known, and is that change at all? Is there a change if I move towards something which I know? There is a change only when the mind moves towards the unknown. When it pursues that which it has already experienced, its movement is merely a continuation of the known in a modified form, therefore it is no change at all. Suppose being violent I have the ideal of non-violence. The ideal is already known. I have imagined what it is not to be violent, so the ideal is born out of my actual state of violence. When I change towards that ideal, I am moving within the field of the known, therefore it is not a change at all. I make an effort to change in conformity with what I call the ideal, which is the opposite of what I have experienced as violence, therefore I have created a conflict between what is and what should be. All this is the process of consciousness. Whether it is conscious or unconscious it is still consciousness. If you see this very clearly for yourself, you will discover something extraordinary.

Any form of change based on tradition or authority is no change at all.

So I am asking myself, is there a change when there is an effort to change? When I try to change, is there a change or merely conformity to a pattern which has been established by me or by an external agent? That is, any form of change based on tradition or authority is no change at all, because one is merely conforming to an idea, and all ideas are of the known, they are the result of the background which projects them. Consciousness is this movement from the known to the known, a movement of compulsion, of effort. When the communist says, ‘I have the right pattern for existence,’ that pattern is the result of what he has known. He creates a utopia according to his knowledge and interpretation of history, and if he is a big man he pushes it through, while we little people conform. That is what has happened in one form or another throughout the world. The leaders, the teachers have ideas that we read and conform to, and we think we are changing. There may be a superficial adjustment but there is no change at all in the sense in which I am speaking, which is the total transformation of our being so that our way of thinking is entirely new.

What is important is to realize, to actually see or experience the falseness of your effort to change. The gurus, the mahatmas and all the religious books tell you to make an effort, to control, to discipline yourself. To realize that this effort is really false means that you must be capable of looking at it without the authority of any leader, political or religious, including myself. To experience the truth or the falseness of what you see, you cannot interpret it according to somebody else, whoever it is. If you go into this matter and see very clearly for yourself that there can be no change as long as there is conformity, that is, as long as you are forcing yourself to fit into a pattern established by you or by somebody else if you really see the truth or the falseness of that, you will find that your mind has stripped itself of all authority. And is that not the very beginning of a fundamental revolution?

It seems to me that there must be, especially at this time, people who are really serious about these things by which I do not mean the people who are seriously dedicated to the Gita, to communism or to some other pattern, because such people are merely conformists. I am talking of people who seriously and earnestly want to find out how to bring about in themselves a revolution which is total.

Knowledge is a detriment to change.

So we come to the question: can the mind free itself from the known? For then only is there a fundamental change. This requires a great deal of insight, inquiry. Don’t agree with me but go into it, meditate, tear your mind apart to find out the truth or the falseness of all this. Does knowledge, which is the known, bring about change? I must have knowledge to build a bridge, but must my mind know towards what it is changing? If I know what the state of the mind will be when it is changed, it is no longer change. Such knowledge is a detriment to change because it becomes a means of satisfaction, and as long as there is a centre seeking satisfaction, reward, or security, there is no change at all. All our efforts are based on that centre of reward and punishment, success and gain. That is all most of us are concerned with, and if it will help us get what we want, we will change; but such change is no change at all.

So the mind that wishes to be fundamentally, deeply in a state of change, in a state of revolution, must be free from the known. Then the mind becomes astonishingly still, and only such a mind will experience the radical transformation which is so necessary.

Krishnamurti in New Delhi 1956, Talk 3

VIDEO: The impediments to radical transformation

Transformation implies total revolution

Question: Why is it that, in spite of your talks, no one has been transformed? If no one is transformed, what is the use of your talking to us?

Krishnamurti: Do you think that by listening to a talk or to a number of talks you are going to be transformed? Do you know what it means to be transformed? If you knew, then you can judge. If you knew, would you be transformed? A man who says he knows is the most destructive human being because he really does not know. When you are conscious or aware you are transformed, you are not.

In stillness a revolution takes place, a total revolution.

We must begin from the very beginning. To think that by listening to talks this extraordinary revolution is going to take place is infantile, is it not? Revolution requires not just an hour’s casual listening; a great deal of attention must be paid to the whole process of self-knowledge. We all want a quick remedy. Transformation is something that cannot be caught by mere listening to a few talks. If you know really how to listen, the beauty of listening, then you will see how your mind becomes astonishingly still, and in that stillness a revolution takes place, a total revolution. But we do not know how to listen. You may hear me year after year, unfortunately as most of you do, without any deviation from your daily habitual stupid way of life – then you say, ‘Why am I not changed and why is there no transformation in me?’ We do not know how to look at the stars or the sun or the beauty of the sky. We have never listened. We never see a smile or tear.

To have that something which is not habitual and which is a constant revolution requires an enormous awareness, an awareness in which there is no choice, no judgment, but awareness without translation. If you can look, you can listen. In such a way, I assure you, there is transformation. Transformation implies complete revolution, total revolution. How can there be total revolution if you are anchored to any belief? If your mind is working in a system, if it is caught up in a particular philosophy, or if your mind is caught in acquisitive discontent, how can it be transformed? But if you be aware of this acquisitive discontent without condemning it, without judging it, be merely aware of it, listen to it totally, then you will see an extraordinary thing happens. That is the truth of the transformation. The truth is not caught by the conscious mind; it must come to you darkly, unknowingly. Then such a mind is in a state of total revolution.

Krishnamurti in Madras 1953, Talk 1

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