Krishnamurti on Suppression

Episode Notes

‘If I don’t escape, control, suppress or try to rationalise, my energy is concentrated. So I have enormous energy to deal with facts.’

This week’s episode on Suppression has four sections.

The first extract (2:48) is from Krishnamurti’s second talk in Calcutta 1982, titled ‘Should we suppress desire?’

The second extract (22:30) is from the second discussion in Saanen 1972, titled ‘What happens if I don’t suppress anger?’

The third extract (33:11) is from Krishnamurti’s third talk in New Delhi 1983, titled ‘We are conditioned to suppress fear’.

The final extract (45:57) in this episode is from the seventh talk in New Delhi 1963, titled ‘Religions encourage suppression’.

Part 1

Should We Suppress Desire?

Religions have said suppress your senses, suppress your feelings, everything, suppress it, and so we have gradually lost the sensitivity of the senses. The speaker is saying quite the contrary. We live by senses, and perhaps some have developed a particular sense, but the speaker is saying to awaken all your senses to their highest degree so that you look at the world with all your senses. To look at the world with that immense feeling when all the senses are fully awakened, in that there is a great, extraordinary sense of energy and beauty.

So in the investigation of another instrument, we see the first thing is that the man who has become dull through repetition, through tradition, through the oppression of the environment – the environment is not merely nature, the environment is the politician, the guru, all that’s going on around you – and we are oppressed by all that. So we have gradually lost all sensitivity, all energy to create. And we are using that word ‘create’, not creating a picture, a poem or literary works, but creation in the sense of bringing about something totally new. And to have that capacity, the drive, that beauty, one must have great sensitivity. And you cannot have great sensitivity if every sense is not fully functioning, fully aware.

Now, why have we destroyed our senses? Religions have said – the Christian world and in the scriptures of this country – the religious leaders have said, ‘Suppress desire, suppress your feelings; don’t look at a woman; torture yourself, then only will you find God,’ or nirvana or moksha or whatever you want. Only then you will be illumined – which is utter nonsense. How can you destroy the most extraordinary instrument that we have, the body, with all its senses? The body is such an extraordinary instrument. So these people say, ‘Suppress desire; don’t yield to desire but if you have desire, identify it with the saviour, with Krishna,’ or whatever the religious gods be in the world.

I wonder if you have realised in this country, somebody calculated there are three hundred thousand gods. Perhaps it is better than having one God – you can have more fun with the many!

So we must understand the nature of desire. It is very important in the investigation of a new instrument, realising the old instrument, which is thought, is not solving any human problems. So in the investigation of that, we have come upon this thing called desire. What is desire? Why have people said, ‘Suppress it, deny it; if you cannot, identify it with something greater.’ It is always a problem of struggle. So we are not advocating suppression, avoidance, escape and all that, of desire. We are investigating together the nature of desire, how desire arises, why we are caught in it, why it has become so extraordinarily powerful. So we are together going into the question of what desire is.

What is desire? You see a pleasant object, a beautiful object, a beautiful woman or a man; you desire him or her, or that object. That is so. You see a nice car, polished, good lines, powerful, and you touch it, get inside, feel the pleasure of owning it, if you can afford it – perhaps not in this country; never mind – and the desire is there. First the object creates the desire, or desire exists apart from the object. Which is, the object, the car, creates the desire – or desire exists, and the objects may vary. So we are not discussing the objects of desire – to be a powerful minister or prime minister, governor, executive, or a talented violinist, but we are inquiring into the very structure and nature of desire. If we understand that, not verbally but factually then there is never a question of suppressing it, never a question of controlling it. Please listen carefully to what the speaker is saying.

We have controlled, never understanding who is the controller. We have controlled desire; we have controlled our sex. We are brought up to control. And where there is desire, we are trying to understand it, explore it, probe into it, not control it. If this is clear, then we can go together into the understanding, the truth of desire. What place it has in life, or no place at all? So we cannot possibly start with any conclusion, that is to suppress desire or let desire run rampant, but we are together slowly, hesitantly, carefully probing into this, which has become an extraordinary factor in life, and a torture too.

So we are asking: what is desire? What is the origin, the source of desire? Please, you are thinking with me, not just listening to the explanation the speaker is going to give. You are thinking, actively participating in this search of the origin of desire, whether the object creates the desire, or it is independent totally of all objects. Is it clear? Can we go on? It is very important to understand this, to go into it very, very deeply, to capture the whole movement of desire, the implications of it, the depth of it, the reality of it.

If you had no senses, there would be no sensation. Sensation arises when you see something in the window of a shop: a shirt, a robe, a radio, or whatever, or what you will. You see it: visual perception. Then you go inside the shop, touch the material, and from the touching of it, there is a sensation. This is simple. You see the car, you touch it, you look at the lines, the polish – not the beauty of Indian cars but some of the European cars are extraordinarily beautiful; like an aeroplane, it is extraordinarily beautiful – and you touch it, or you touch that shirt you see in the window, a blue shirt, and by the very touch, there is a sensation. This is quite obvious. There is a sensation. Then what happens? We are thinking together. You are not accepting what I am saying. You touch that shirt, look at that radio, television, whatever it is, and the very touching, looking creates a sensation. Then if you observe very closely, thought says, ‘How nice it would be if I had that shirt on me,’ or if I stepped into that car. So that moment when thought creates the image out of the sensation is the origin of desire.

I see a beautiful tree – which man hasn’t created. He has created the cathedral, the mosque, the temple and all the things therein. He has created all that, but he has not created the tree; he has not created nature. But man is destroying nature. So you look at a beautiful tree. You wish it were in your garden. And you see it; there is the sensation of the dignity, the shadows, the light on the leaf, the movement of the tree. Then sensation arises. Then thought says, ‘How nice it would be if I had that tree in my garden.’ When thought creates the image of that tree in your garden, at that second, desire is born.

So the question then is, it is natural to be sensitive, to have sensations, otherwise you are paralysed. You must have sensation; you must have sensitivity in your fingers, in your eyes, in your hearing and looking. And when you are sensitive you watch, you look, and out of that looking, watching, observing, sensation inevitably arises. It must, otherwise you are blind, deaf. Now when there is sensation, thought creates an image, and at that moment desire is born. Have you found this to be so, or are you going to repeat just what the speaker has said? Or go back to your tradition and say, ‘We must suppress desire,’ or, ‘What you are talking about is nonsense. All our religious books have said God…’ – I don’t know why you read these religious books, anyhow. So if you really go into this question of desire, which is so important in life, then you will find out for yourself the origin, the beginning of desire.

Now the question is to look at a car, at a shirt, at a woman, at a picture – there is arising of sensation. And find out whether thought can be in abeyance, not immediately create a picture, immediately create an image of you in that shirt, or in that car and so on. Can there be a gap between sensation and thought impinging upon that sensation? Find out. It will make your mind, brain, alert, watchful.

Krishnamurti in Calcutta 1982, Talk 2

Part 2

What Happens if I Don’t Suppress Anger?

Now, I’d better begin at the beginning. There are opposites, aren’t there? A sunny day and a rainy day; darkness and light; woman and man. Now, psychologically are they opposites, or only one factor? And because I do not know how to solve that one factor, I invent other factors.

I am angry. That’s the only factor, isn’t it? When I say, ‘I must not be angry,’ that’s a conclusion, an abstraction. But the factor is, I am angry. If I know how to resolve that anger, its opposite wouldn’t arise.

I am angry. Now, can I solve that anger without resorting to its opposite, saying, ‘I must not be angry’? The ‘must not be angry’ is its opposite, and that comes only when I can’t understand the whole structure of anger and go beyond it. So I say, can I understand this anger, not control it, not reject it, not yield to it, but understand it, have an insight into the whole structure of anger? If I do, then the opposite doesn’t exist.

Questioner: (Inaudible)

Krishnamurti: ‘If I don’t hold my anger, I am afraid I might kill somebody.’ Look, before you kill somebody, try to find out if you can resolve the anger. To control it is to suppress it. To say, ‘I must not be angry,’ is to create the opposite, and therefore a conflict between ‘must not be’ and the fact that I am. Or if you try to escape from it, anger is still there. So now I do not escape, I do not suppress, I do not say, ‘I must resolve’ – there is anger. Now, how is the mind to go beyond it, without creating its opposite?

You’ve understood? Please, do some of you understand this? Good. Then come with me.

Then what am I to do? Look what has taken place. Before, I tried to control it, which is a waste of energy. Before, I tried to suppress it, which is a waste of energy. Before, I tried to escape from it or rationalise it, which is an avoidance, an escape from the fact. If I don’t escape, control, suppress or try to rationalise it, all that energy is concentrated, isn’t it? So I have got that enormous energy to deal with one fact, which is anger.

Have you got that? Please, otherwise we can’t go on. If you haven’t got it, it becomes merely verbal.

You are angry. Your tradition, your culture says, ‘Suppress it, control it, escape from it, and rationalise it.’ I say that is wasting your energy, which prevents you from observing the only factor, which is anger. So anger has no opposite; there is only that, and you have the energy.

Now, the next step. Why do you call it anger? Because previously you have been angry, and by naming it as anger you have emphasised the previous experience. So you are observing the present factor with previous experience, therefore conditioning the present factor. So the naming is a waste of energy. So you do not name; no control, no suppression, no escape, and you have the energy. Then is there anger? Don’t say you don’t know, because you are then facing the only factor, and when you are facing completely that factor, the factor doesn’t exist because it exists only when you are escaping, fighting, controlling, suppressing.

So there is in me, in one, in a human being, this duality, and I ask myself, ‘Is there a duality at all?’ There is man, woman – that is obvious, but psychologically are there opposites? Or only thought invented the opposite because it could not solve the one factor.

This requires attention because to see this clearly, you need to observe. And you are prevented from observing when thought says, ‘I must do something about it.’ It is thought that has said, ‘I must control, otherwise I’ll kill somebody.’ It is thought that has said, ‘I must suppress it, I don’t know what to do about it, I must run away from it, I must watch it.’ These are all the activities of thought – when you say, ‘I must watch it.’ So thinking about the factor is a waste of energy. There is no wastage of energy when there is only observation.

Krishnamurti in Saanen 1972, Discussion 2

Part 3

We Are Conditioned To Suppress Fear

What is the cause of fear? Please, if you find it act; don’t carry on with fear. What is the cause of it? Is it thought? Is it time? Thought: I have had certain anxiety, fear last year or last week and I hope it will not occur again. Fear has a continuity. Fear has a continuity, a duration, and that continuity implies time. So thought, time, is the root of fear. You can’t get round that fact. Thought itself creates fear.

I have a job. I am quite happy at the moment, but I may lose it. So thought projects into the future a condition I may live in, and that creates fear. Or I have had certain pain, physical pain – remembering it and hoping it will not happen again. So it is both; thought and time are the roots of fear.

Now, you have listened to this, what can be done? You have listened to the fact that thought and time basically, fundamentally, are the cause of fear. The next question naturally arises: how am I to put aside thought? Or how am I to stop thought? If I could stop thought and the continuity of a movement as time – is that possible?

I hope you are asking this question yourself. I am not putting this question to you. You are asking this question of yourself.

One sees the truth that thought-time is the essence of fear. Now, how do you observe this fact that thought and time are the cause of fear? How do you look at it or receive it or approach the question? I must repeat this: when you listen to this fact, what is your response to it? Actual response, not calculated response. You naturally say you are stuck. You are stuck in that position. And if you ask ‘how’, again the reply is mechanical. So you are also stuck there. You are blocked. Are you? Being held by a fact. I wonder if you see this. You are held down by an actuality, and you have no response to that. If you are quite honest with yourself, you see this truth, and you know you can’t do anything. That is, for the first time in your life you have said, ‘I can’t do anything.’ Before, you have always done something. You always acted on fear – I must control it, I must suppress it; there is the rationalisation of fear, and so on. There was always… you took action about it. Now you can’t. So you observe without reaction.

You watch the fact, and the fact is not different from you. The fact is you. Fear brought about by thought and time is you – like anger is you, greed is you, your ambition is you, your name, your form, your way of thinking is you. So you are stuck with yourself. There is nobody to help you, nobody to help you to be free of fear because the guru himself is afraid. He wants to reach some other state, and you know, all the rest of the nonsense. So you are for the first time in a position, in a situation where there is nobody that can help you – no God, no angels, no government, no saviour. Then what happens to your whole being?

Then if you can look at it totally without any reaction, because you are that, then you will see because you have brought all the energy which you have been wasting in searching for an escape, in trying to suppress fear, trying to worship gods to save you from fear, all that wasted energy is now brought together as complete energy, and that energy dissolves totally fear. Do it as you are sitting here listening now, not when you go home, then it is too late. That is mere postponement, avoidance. Whereas if you can face the fact, then you will always be dealing with facts.

Facts are that which has happened in the past and that which is happening now. Facts do not exist in the future. The fact that there has been an accident. That’s a fact. I was caught last year in a car accident – I was not, but suppose I am – and that is a fact. And it is a fact now that I am sitting here talking, and so on. So to always live with facts, not with opinions, not with conclusions, not with ideals, but actually that you are angry, that you are greedy, that you are ambitious, you are violent. That very act of living with the fact of fear, that fact demands your total attention. Where there is total attention, which is bringing all your energy, it is like throwing bright light on an object, then you see things clearly and therefore totally free from fear. To the speaker, this is a fact, psychologically. You may not believe it; I don’t care. But the fact is, when there is freedom from this fear then only there is love.

Krishnamurti in New Delhi 1983, Talk 3

Part 4

Religions Encourage Suppression

The saints have told you that to find God, you must renounce, you must have no sexual relationship, you must not look, you must not have feelings, you must suppress, you must subjugate, you must destroy.

What happens when you sit on a feeling? It pops up in another direction. You are boiling inside, and you suppress, saying, ‘In order to find God, I must live a bachelor’s life,’ and so you go round and round in a circle, never finding God and never understanding the whole problem. So idea and action create real hell in our lives, real misery in our lives when we separate the two. Is it possible to act without idea? It is possible. And it is only possible when you observe without conflict, and therefore there is action instantly. And that action is not conformity. That action is an extraordinary releasing process, and therefore that action is revolutionary.

Now we begin to see what the religious spirit is. The man who has ideals is not religious. Take the question of non-violence. You love that word in this country; you don’t mean a thing about it; it is just a word to cover up your violence because you are violent. If you were not violent, do you think you would allow even for a minute all the things that are going on around us, the brutality, the callousness, the indifference, the complete lack of respect? By respect, I do not mean the respect that you have for your bosses – that is not respect. I mean: when you have respect, you have respect for everybody, not for the ugly people in power. So the religious mind is really the revolutionary mind because it is acting without idea and therefore instantly. It is only such a mind that is new, fresh, innocent, decisive, young. It is only the young mind that can decide, that can say, ‘That is so,’ not out of impetuosity, not out of some personal opinion, but because it sees actually without contradiction, and observes what is true. It is only the innocent mind, the young mind, that can do this.

The religious mind, the religious spirit, is not divorced from beauty. We will have to examine semantically the meaning of the word ‘beauty’. Look at your religion. There is not even one atom of beauty in it, is there? Look at it. Beauty implies the highest form of sensitivity – not for pictures, but the sensitivity of a mind that is alive, fresh. And therefore for that mind everything, even the most ugly thing, has its own beauty. This is not an idea. We have in this country divorced beauty from religion, and therefore we have ceased to be religious. Your saints have said, ‘Beauty implies the woman or the man. Therefore do not be sensitive but suppress, hide, run away. Don’t look, suppress your passions. You may be boiling inside, but suppress it.’

To find God, you must have extraordinary energy. You need an energy of which I am going to talk about presently. Having divorced beauty from religion, you have ceased to be religious. For you, things like the tree, the colour of the sky, the light on the water or a bird on the wing do not matter. But you repeat the word ‘God’, quote the Gita, this and that, endlessly. So your lives have become harsh, brutal. And the saints have insisted on austerity. So you say, ‘I must suppress.’

You know, austerity is the most lovely thing, not the austerity practised by your saints and the rest of the gang – I am using the word ‘gang’ purposely, without any disrespect. To feel the sense of austerity is a lovely thing. It is not harsh. And you can be austere only when there is sensitivity. To be sensitive, to have all your nerves, your eyes, your ears, function at the highest level, requires an astonishing awareness of every movement of your thought, whether you are suppressing, and why you are suppressing. Then you are alive, you are watching every word, every gesture, every movement of your body and eyes.

Out of this astonishing awareness and sensitivity comes an austerity without harshness, without bigotry, without cruelty. Therefore out of this comes the religious revolution, which in essence is the highest form of intelligence, which is to be highly sensitive, not to have your particular likes and dislikes, which everybody has, but to be sensitive to the whole human existence with all the complexities, with all the problems, with all the despairs, anxieties, sorrows; to be aware of them, to watch them. And in the very process of such observation there is discipline, and that discipline is austere, without any sense of suppression. Then the religious spirit, the religious mind, is in a constant state of revolution. It is only that mind that can find this energy.

There is an energy, a source of energy which can never be touched by a mind in conflict, by the so-called religious mind – do what it will. Man is seeking this energy because that is the source, the origin. Don’t give it a name; it has no name – it is an energy. And it is only that energy that is creative – not the painter, not the writer, not the people who are trying to be creative, to think creatively; they are not creative. It is only the religious mind that is in a state of revolution, that is clear. It is only such a mind that can find the source of this energy in action, because that energy comprehends the whole. That energy does not comprehend, nor tries to answer in particular fragments, but it deals entirely with the whole problem of man – not at one particular level of his particular problem. You have lost that energy – not lost; probably you never had it – you have really to discover it, not to be told like a lot of infants; really to find it out through the religious revolution, through the sense of the highest beauty. This demands all your attention, and that attention is virtue.

The cultivated virtue is no longer a virtue, it is just a habit formed to function in a particular pattern. Virtue is something out of time. It cannot be cultivated: you are virtuous or you are not. Think of cultivating humility! Just think of that absurdity: a vain man trying to cultivate humility. He will remain at the end still vain. He has learnt the word ‘humility’ and has covered it up. To have this humility, you have to destroy completely, consciously as well as unconsciously, all vanity or pride, and on the instant, not gradually.

So the religious mind has no time. Therefore it has no idea as a psychological idea according to which it is functioning. The religious mind is acting – not socially, economically, politically; it is acting because it has found, it has discovered that source which is uncontaminated by thought, uncontaminated by conflict. It is only the mind that understands the true religious spirit that can find that thing which is beyond all words.

Krishnamurti in New Delhi 1963, Talk 7

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