The Transformation of Consciousness 2:
How do you see the totality of something, such as a tree? If you are a professional you don’t see the totality of the tree; you are thinking what you can do with it, how many houses you can build, what kind of paper you can produce and so on. So you never see the totality of anything if there is a previous conclusion about it. That is fairly simple. So I do not know what the totality of my consciousness is. That is a fact not a supposition. Though we talk a great deal about the unconscious and the conscious, actually when you look at yourself do you see the whole content or parts of it? You only see parts of it, don’t you? So the observation of the part denies the whole. If I am concentrated on my problems, my ambitions, my country, my god, I can’t see the whole. I can only see the whole when I am not concerned with the part; the part is included but I am not concerned with it. Then in that perception, though there are parts, I see the totality of it, which means my mind is free to observe.
Krishnamurti in Saanen 1975, Discussion 5
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Can the mind see its own limitation?
Our consciousness, the unconscious and the conscious, is its content: what it has thought, what it has accumulated, what it has received through tradition and culture, through struggle and pain, through sorrow and deception – the whole of that is my consciousness and yours. Without the content, what is consciousness? I only know my consciousness because of its content: I am a Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, communist, socialist, an artist, a scientist, a philosopher; I am attached to my house, she is my wife, you are my friend; the conclusions, the remembrances, the images that I have built is the content. The content is my consciousness, as yours is. It is the area of measurement: comparing, evaluating, judging. Within that area of consciousness are all my thoughts, unconscious and conscious, and any movement within that area is within the movement of consciousness with its content. Therefore space in consciousness with its content is very limited. Within the area of consciousness with its content, which is time, space is very small. You can expand the space by imagination, by contriving, by various processes of stretching it out, thinking more subtly, but it is still within the limited space of consciousness which is its content. So any movement to go beyond itself is still within the content. When you think you are going beyond it you are still within it; it is only an idea, or you experience the content more deeply.
The very perception of limitation is the ending of that limitation.
So one sees the content which is the “me”, the ego, the person, the so-called individual. Within that consciousness, however expanded, time and limited space must always exist. So to consciously make an effort to reach something beyond itself invites illusion. To set out to seek truth, to be told by a guru that you will find it, without understanding all the content, and without emptying that content, merely to practise in order to get something is like the blind leading the blind – generally the gurus are blind anyhow and so are the followers. So the mind is its content; the brain is the past and from that past thought functions. Thought is never free and never new. So the question arises: how can that content be emptied? Not a method, because the moment you practise a method, whether somebody has given it to you or you invent your own, it becomes mechanical and therefore it is still within the field of time and limited space.
I do not know if you have ever thought about or gone into yourself to find out what space is. We are going to do this. Can the mind see its own limitation? The very perception of limitation is the ending of that limitation. Not how to empty the mind, but to see totally the content of it and the content that makes up consciousness, to see that totally, and to see, perceive, listen to this movement of that consciousness. If I see something false, the very perception of the false is the true. The very perception of my telling a lie is the truth. The very perception of my envy is the freedom from envy. That is, you can only see or observe very clearly when there is no observer. The observer is the past, the image, the conclusion, the opinion, the judgement. So can the mind see clearly without any effort its content, its limitation, which means the lack of space, and the time-binding quality of consciousness with its content? You can only see the totality of it, the unconscious content as well as the conscious content, when you can look silently, when the observer is totally silent. That means there must be attention, and in that attention there is energy. Whereas when you make an effort to be attentive, that effort is a waste of energy. When you try to control, that is a waste of energy. Control implies conformity, comparison, suppression and that is a waste of energy. Whereas when there is perception there is attention, which is total energy.
When you look with that energy, at the whole conscious as well as the unconscious content, the mind is then empty. This is not my illusion, this is not what I think or a conclusion I have come to. If I have a conclusion, if I think this is right, I am in illusion. And knowing it to be an illusion, I would not talk, because then it is like the blind leading the blind. But you can see for yourself the logic of it, the sanity of it if you are listening, if you are paying attention, if you really want to find out. That is, how is it possible for the unconscious with its content to expose totally all its depth? First see the question and then we can proceed from there.
Meditation, to perceive the truth and the false each second.
We have divided consciousness into the conscious and the unconscious. The unconscious has its motives, its racial inheritance, its experience and so on. How can that be exposed to the light of intelligence and perception? Do you ask this question? If you ask this question, are you asking it as an analyser who is going to analyse the content, and therefore division, contradiction, conflict, struggle? Or are you asking this question not knowing the answer? You honestly, seriously, don’t know how to expose this whole structure of consciousness which is hidden. You really don’t know. Therefore when you approach it not knowing, you are going to learn. But if you have any kind of conclusion or opinion for or against, that it cannot be, that it can be, then you are approaching with a mind that has already assumed the answer. Therefore a mind that is saying, ‘I do not know,’ is the truth, is honesty. What is there then? When you say, ‘I do not know,’ the content has no importance whatsoever, because the mind then is a fresh mind, a new mind. Therefore when you say it, not just verbally for amusement, but with depth, with meaning, with honesty, the state of mind that does not know is empty of its consciousness and content. It is the knowing that is the content.
So the mind can never say it knows. It is always moving, living, acting, therefore it has no anchorage. It is only when it is anchored it gathers opinions and conclusions, and is separated. This is meditation, to perceive the truth and the false each second. To perceive the truth that content is consciousness, that is the truth. To see the truth that I do not know how to deal with this thing, the not-knowing, that is the truth. Therefore not-knowing is the state in which there is no content. This is so terribly simple but we want something clever, complicated and we object to seeing something extraordinarily simple and beautiful.
Only when thought is quiet there is space which has no frontier.
So can the mind, which is the brain, see its own limitation, the bondage of time and the limitation of space? And as long as one lives within that limited space and time-binding movement there must be suffering, there must be despair, hope and anxiety. So when the mind has perceived the truth of this, what is time? Then is there a different dimension which thought cannot touch and cannot describe? Thought is measure and therefore time. We live by measurement: our structure of thinking is based on measurement, which is comparison. And thought as measurement tries to go beyond itself and discover for itself if there is something immeasurable. To see the falseness of this is the truth. The truth is to see the false, and the false is when thought seeks that which is not measurable, which is not of time, which is not of the space of the content of consciousness.
When you have put all these questions and have inquired, when you have learnt as you go along, then your mind and brain become extraordinarily quiet; there is no need for any discipline, any teacher, any guru, any system to make you quiet. Then there is the central problem: is there something which is not describable? Is there something which is not of time, which is without borders as space, and which has immense space? Thought cannot give that space. Only when thought is quiet there is space which has no frontier. It is only the completely silent mind that is aware if there is or if there is not something that is beyond all measurement. And that is the only thing that is sacred, not the images, the rituals, the saviours, the gurus with their visions, but that new thing which mind has come upon without asking, because in itself it is totally empty.
Krishnamurti at Brockwood Park 1972, Talk 4
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The content of one’s consciousness is one’s entire existence
To live a life without friction, one must inquire very deeply into the whole problem of consciousness, which means the mind, the whole structure of our thinking, of our intellectual, moral, spiritual, organic life. So one has to go into this question: what is consciousness, in which all the activities of thought take place? The activity of thought, with all its difficulties, all its complexities, its memories, its projections into the future, is within the field of consciousness which is the “me”.
If the totality of consciousness is the result of fragmentation, that consciousness cannot possibly be aware of what it means to be whole. If my mind, which is the basis of consciousness is fragmented, and then asked to look at the world as a whole, it has no meaning. How can a fragmented consciousness observe life as a total, nonfragmentary movement? That is why it is important to inquire into the nature of consciousness. To be conscious, to be aware, to perceive the fragmentation – and when you perceive it, is that the seeing by one fragment of other fragments? When there is such perception, it is still fragmentation. And that is what is going on all the time in our consciousness.
To ask such a mind to observe life, in which love, death, livelihood, relationship, the inquiry into whether there is a God or not, are all fragments – can the mind observe all that without fragmentation? So, again, it is important to ask oneself, what is consciousness? Consciousness exists only because of its content. Its content makes up consciousness. My consciousness is made up of my conditioning as a Hindu, as a Brahmin, born in India with its tradition, superstitions, beliefs, dogmas, divisions, with all the gods, and the recent acquisition of a new poison called nationalism, and so on. The conscious and unconscious residue of the past, the racial inheritance and the recent experiences, denials, and sacrifices, the temperaments, the activity of personal demands, all that is the content of my consciousness, as it is also of yours. And that content makes up our consciousness. Without it there is no consciousness.
Can the mind observe non-fragmentarily, observe life as a total movement?
Please, this is very important to understand. When one dies, the content of the brain cells that have stored up all the memory, which make up the consciousness, withers away, with all the remembrances, experiences, knowledge. Then what has happened to consciousness as the “me” which has lived in this world, fighting, struggling, miserable, full of anxieties and endless sorrow? The mind needs to understand the nature and structure of consciousness, that is to say, what you are, which is your consciousness. That consciousness with its content makes up the total which you call the “me”, the ego, the person, the psychological structure of your temperament, your idiosyncrasies, your conditioning. One has to understand it very deeply, nonverbally, though we may use words.
So the mind sees that the whole content of my existence, my awareness, my conflict, is within this field of time, of thought, memories, experience, and knowledge, all of which is within the field of consciousness. That is, that all the religious images, the propaganda of two thousand years of priests, five thousand years in the East, make you believe in something, with the reading of the literature and all the rest of it. All that is within this field of consciousness which is time and thought.
As we have said, the content makes up consciousness. Without it there is no consciousness. And the content being fragmented, one fragment observes the various other fragments, and tries to control or shape them. That is what we are doing all the time. One fragment calling itself virtuous, noble, religious, scientific, modern, whatever it is, trying to shape, dominate, suppress other fragments within the field of time, which is our consciousness.
So our problem is, how then can the mind observe non-fragmentarily, observe life as a total movement? Which means, can the mind be free of the content of consciousness? Can the mind observe the content of consciousness without the movement of time? We said time is thought. That thought is the outcome of memories, experience, knowledge. If that thought projects itself into a fantasy, some illusion, some future image, it is still part of time. So can the mind observe this thing called love as it is, not as it should be, which is also within the field of what is known as love? Can there be observation without the movement of thought which is time? And that observation demands tremendous attention, otherwise you can’t do it.
Again let’s look at this from a different point of view. Death comes to all of us, the young, the old, the middle-aged. It is inevitable, either through accident or old age, with disease, discomfort, pain, agony. There is death. Death being the ending of the brain with all its stored up memories, experience, knowledge, of the brain that has sought security and shelter in the “me”, which is a series of symbols, ideas and words; that has sought security in some neurotic action and feels safe in it; that has sought security in a belief, I am a Christian, I believe in God or I believe in the saviour, or like the communist that has sought security in a belief, an ideology which brings about all kinds of neurotic activity. That brain with all its consciousness dies, comes to an end. Man has been frightened of that. And the Christians have taken comfort in the idea of resurrection and the Hindus and Buddhists in a future life. Future life of what? The resurrected, the future, what is that? This consciousness with all its content has died and there is this hope, desire, seeking for comfort in a future life. Still within this field of consciousness.
Knowledge is never free and never new.
While I am living, I know I am going to die. I have rationalized it, looked at it, seen dead bodies being carried away, seen them buried or cremated, and the image has been built. I have seen all that going on around me and I am frightened. Being frightened I must seek comfort, security, some kind of hope, and that is still within the field of my consciousness, of the living consciousness. And when the brain through disease, accident, old age, comes to an end, what takes place? The mind is fully aware that consciousness is its content: there is no consciousness when there is no content. And when the brain dies, the content dies, obviously. The “me” which has been put together by thought, the “me” which is the image that thought has built through environment, through fear, through pleasure, through accident, through various forms of stimulation and demands, that “me” is the content and that content is my consciousness. That consciousness – the whole movement of memory, knowledge, experience – comes to an end at death. l may rationalize it, take comfort in rationalization, or take comfort in some ideology, belief, dogma, superstition, but that is not real. Whether all the religions proclaim there is this or there is not, that has nothing whatever to do with reality because that is mere say-so, the hearsay of somebody else. The mind has to find out for itself.
So can the mind, living every day in an everyday relationship, live without the content that has made up the consciousness, which is essentially the “me” and its activity? What takes place when the mind, the brain, the organism actually, not theoretically, comes to an end? This has been a problem for man. He has accumulated so much, he has acquired so much knowledge, so much information about so many things, and at the end of it all there is that thing called death. And as he has not been able to solve it, he has all the comforting images, speculations, beliefs I will live or l will not live.
So what takes place when living now, today, this morning, the brain actually ends its memories, its images, its conclusions? Which means the content of consciousness. Can my brain, my consciousness, which is the “me”, with all its content, can that come to an end, while living, not at the end of another ten years through disease, but while living now? Can that mind, can that consciousness empty its content, therefore empty the “me”? Is that ever possible? I get up and go to my room after I have talked here. The knowledge where that room is must exist, otherwise it is not possible to live. That is clear. So knowledge, which is based on experience and memory – from which all thought arises and is therefore never free and never new – that knowledge must exist. It is part of consciousness. Riding a bicycle, driving a car, speaking a different language, that knowledge must exist. But that knowledge is used by the “me” as a separative movement, it uses that knowledge for its own psychological comfort and power, position, prestige, and all the rest of it. So l am asking myself whether that consciousness, with all its content as the psychological movement as the “me”, can end now, so that the mind is aware of what death means, and see what happens.
Is the content of consciousness in which there is no observer different from that which is observed?
When you actually die, this is what is going to happen, isn’t it? Your heart will cease to beat and send blood to the brain and therefore it comes to an end. And the brain cells contain all your past activity, your consciousness, your desires, your memories, your hurts, your anxieties – all that is there and that comes to an end. Now can all that come to an end, now, today, while living? If it does, then what takes place? The question may be unnecessary, or put to a mind that has never asked it and is merely afraid of coming to an end. But a mind that is not frightened, a mind that is not seeking or pursuing pleasure – which doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the beauty of sunlight, the movement of leaves, the curve of a branch, which is real enjoyment – but can that mind observe the whole of the “me” with its content and end it?
Is that then immortality? Usually, the mortal is made into the immortal. The mortal dies, and immortality is an idea of the mortal who is the content of consciousness. So man has sought immortality in his books, his poems, his pictures, in the expression of his desires and their fulfilment. He has sought immortality in his family, his name. All that is still part of this consciousness with its content in time, and not therefore the timeless mind that sees immortality. So what happens to a mind, to a being, whose content of consciousness dies while living? Put that question to yourself seriously, take time to meditate, to go into it, not looking for a quick or superficial, silly answer.
One has always observed as an observer who is different from the observed. The observer is a part of consciousness, with its content, observing another part of that consciousness, so there is a division between the observer and the observed. But the observer is within the field of that consciousness. And when it is seen that the observer is the observed, which is a fact, then is the content of consciousness in which there is no observer different from that which is observed? This is very important to ask and find out. The observer is the content of consciousness. And the observer separates himself from the observed, which is also part of that consciousness. Therefore the division is unreal, it is artificial. And when you see that the observer is the observed, the mind totally ends all conflict.
From the book To Be Human by J. Krishnamurti — Purchase Here
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The observation of consciousness
In examining the question of consciousness and its content, it is very important to find out whether one is observing it, or if in observing consciousness becomes aware of itself. There is a difference. Either one observes the movement of one’s consciousness – one’s desires, hurts, ambitions, greeds and all the rest of the content of our consciousness – as if from the outside; or consciousness becomes aware of itself. This is only possible when thought realizes that it is only observing what it has created, which is the content of its consciousness. Then thought realizes that it is only observing itself, not “me” which thought has put together observing consciousness. There is only observation; then consciousness begins to reveal its content, not only the superficial consciousness but the deeper layers of consciousness, the whole content of consciousness. If one sees the importance of sheer absolute motionless observation, then the thing flowers; consciousness opens up its doors.
One learns the art of observing without any distortion, without any motive, without any purpose – just to observe. In that there is tremendous beauty because then there is no distortion. One sees things clearly as they are. But if one makes an abstraction of things into ideas and then through the ideas observes, it is a distortion.
In sheer absolute motionless observation, consciousness opens up its doors
One freely, without any distorting factor, enters into the observation of consciousness. There is nothing hidden and consciousness begins to reveal its own totality, its content, one’s hurts, greed, envy, happiness, beliefs, ideologies, past traditions, the present scientific or factual traditions and so on – all that is our consciousness. One observes it without any movement of thought. It is thought that has put together all the content of our consciousness. Thought has built it. When thought says, ‘This is right, this is wrong, this shouldn’t be, that should,’ one is still within the field of consciousness; one is not going beyond it. One has to understand very clearly the place of thought. It has its own place in the field of knowledge, technology and so on, but thought has no place whatsoever in the psychological structure of man. So, can one observe one’s consciousness and does it reveal its content? Not bit by bit but the totality of its movement. Then only is it possible to go beyond it.
In inquiring, can one observe without any movement of the eye? Because the eye has an effect on the brain. When one keeps the eyeballs completely still, observation becomes very clear because the brain is quietened. So, can one observe without any movement of thought interfering with one’s observation? It is only possible when the observer realizes that he and that which he is observing are one. The observer is the observed. Anger is not different from me: I am anger, I am jealousy. There is no division between the observer and the observed – that is the basic reality one must capture. Then the whole of consciousness begins to reveal itself without the making of any effort. In that total observation there is the emptying of, or going beyond, all the things that thought has put together, which is one’s consciousness.
Then there is the problem of time, psychologically as a movement towards the fulfilment of an idea or ideology. One is greedy or violent and one says to oneself, ‘I will take time to get over it, or to modify it, change it, or to get rid of it or go beyond it.’ That time is psychological time. There is this whole conditioning of one’s mind which says, ‘I will take time to achieve that which I consider to be essential, to be beautiful, to be good.’ One questions that time and asks: is there psychological time at all? Is it not that thought has invented that time? This is a very important thing to understand because it shatters altogether the idea of tomorrow, psychologically. It is a tremendous fact. If one understands that there is no tomorrow, what will one do with that which is? If there is no time then how is violence to end? One is conditioned to use time as a means of getting rid, slowly or quickly, of violence. But if there is no time at all then what takes place when there is violence? Will there be violence? If it is one’s whole outlook that there is no time at all, is there a me who is violent? The “me” is put together through time. The “me” as violence is time. But if there is no time at all as me, then there is no violence. If there is no time at all there is no past or future, but only something else totally different.
There is no division between the observer and the observed.
One is so conditioned to time and one says that there must be time for me to evolve, for me to become something other than that which I am. When one sees the truth of the fact that thought itself is the cause of this time, there is an ending of the past and the future; there is only the sense of timeless movement now. It is really extraordinary if one understands this. After all, love is that. Love is at the same level, at the same time, at the same intensity. At that moment that is love, not the remembrance of it or the future hope for it. That state of mind which is love is really completely without time. Then see what happens in one’s relationship with another. One perhaps has that extraordinary sense of love which is not of time, which is not of thought, which is not a remembrance of pleasure or pain; then what is the relationship between one who has that and another who has not? One has this extraordinary sense of love which is not of time. What then is one’s relationship with another? When one has that extraordinary quality of love then in that quality there is supreme intelligence. That intelligence is going to act in that relationship; it is not oneself who will act. It is really a marvellous thing to go into because it totally alters all relationship; and if there is no such fundamental alteration in relationship there is no alteration in this monstrous society which we have built.
What is space? Can there be space without order? Take an outward physical example: is there space when there is disorder in a room? When one throws one’s clothes all over the place and everything is in disorder, is there space? There is only space when everything is in its right place. Inwardly our minds are so confused, our whole life is self-contradiction, disorder, caught in various habits, drugs, smoke, drink, sex and so on. Obviously habits are mechanical and where there are habits there is disorder. What is order inwardly? Is order something dictated by thought? Thought itself is a movement of disorder. One thinks one can bring about social order by very careful thought, by ideological thought. Society, whether in the West or the East, is in disorder, is confused, is contradictory and the world is so totally mad. Wherever there is the movement of thought, time-binding, fragmentary and limited in itself, there must be total disorder.
Is there an action totally free from thought?
Is there an action which is not the result of the movement of thought, an action not conditioned by ideologies? Is there an action totally free from thought? Such action would be complete, whole, total, not fragmentary or contradictory. Such action would be whole action in which there is no regret, no sense of, ‘I wish I hadn’t done that,’ or ‘I will try to do that.’ Disorder comes about when there is the movement of thought. Thought itself is fragmentary and when it acts everything must be fragmentary. If one sees that very clearly one asks, ‘What is action without thought?’ Action means the doing now, not doing tomorrow or having done in the past. It is as love, it is not of time. Love and compassion are beyond intellect, beyond memory; they are a state of mind that acts because love and compassion are supremely intelligent. Intelligence acts. Where there is space there is order, which is the action of intelligence; it is neither yours nor mine, it is intelligence born out of love and compassion. Space implies a mind that is not occupied; yet our minds are occupied all day long about something or other and so there is no space, not even an interval between two thoughts. Every thought is associated with another thought so that there is no gap: the whole mind is crowded, chattering with opinions and judgements.
True order brings enormous space; space means silence; out of silence comes this extraordinary sense of emptiness. Do not be frightened by that word empty. When there is emptiness then things can happen.
What is beauty? Does it lie in a picture, in a museum, in a poem? Does it lie in the line of the mountains against the sky or in a sheet of water reflecting the beauty of the clouds, or in the line an architect gives a building or in a home that has a certain beauty? What is beauty? Not the imagination that creates beauty, not the word that creates beauty, not a beautiful idea. When one sees something extraordinarily alive and beautiful, a mountain, a clear sky, a view, at that moment when seeing it totally one is absent, is one not? Because of the immensity of the mountain, its extraordinary stability and the line of it, its magnificence drives away the “me” for the moment. The outer glory has driven away the petty little me. Like a child given a toy is absorbed by it and will play with it for an hour. When you take the toy away he is back to himself, naughty, crying and mischievous. The same thing has happened: the great mountain has driven away the petty little me, and one sees it for the moment. When the “me” is absent totally, there is beauty. Then one’s relationship to nature changes completely; the earth becomes precious, every tree, every leaf, everything is part of that beauty.
Out of silence comes this extraordinary sense of emptiness.
Is there anything sacred, holy? Obviously the things that thought has put together in the religious sense, investing sacredness in images or ideas, are not sacred at all. That which is sacred has no division. That which thought has put together is of time, is fragmentary, is not whole, therefore it is not holy. Though you worship the image on a cross, it is not holy, it is invested with sacredness by thought. The same with the images that the Hindus have put together, or the Buddhists and so on. What then is sacred? One can only find out when thought has discovered itself, its right place, without effort, without will and there is this immense sense of silence; the silence of the mind without any movement of thought. It is only when the mind is absolutely free and silent that one discovers that which is beyond all words, which is timeless. Then out of that comes the vastness of true meditation.
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