Krishnamurti on Dialogue
‘If a question is left in the air, it is like a rose bud that gradually unfolds to show its nature and depth; it has its own vitality, energy and drive. That is a dialogue, not just accepting or rejecting what the other is saying.’
This week’s episode on Dialogue has five sections.
The first extract (2:34) is from the first discussion in Saanen 1976, titled ‘What does a dialogue imply?’
The second extract (6:15) is from the third discussion in Saanen 1979, titled ‘Good relationship in dialogue’.
The third extract (9:18) is from Krishnamurti’s third talk in Bombay 1978, titled ‘Don’t get caught in words’.
The fourth extract (15:34) is from the fourth talk in Bombay 1984, titled ‘In dialogue you and I disappear and only the question remains’.
The final extract in this episode (21:18) is from the first discussion at Brockwood Park in 1977, titled ‘A dialogue with oneself’.
What Does a Dialogue Imply?
There is a difference between dialectical questioning and dialogue. Dialectical questioning or investigation implies, according to the dictionary, finding the truth through opinions. That is the literal meaning of the dialectical approach. Whereas a dialogue is between two friends who know each other fairly well, know the vocabulary, the usage of words, and together, with a spirit of real inquiry, find truth. By inquiry, not by asserting opinions. So it is up to you to choose which you want: either through opinions investigate if there is truth – which I question very much because opinions imply prejudices, personal idiosyncrasies and so on; whereas dialogue implies that both of us are deeply interested in a problem, we are not prejudiced, we don’t want a certain definite answer, but together we are investigating to find the truth of the problem. Do you see the difference? One is the dialectical approach, the other is an approach to truth through careful, non-personal, objective investigation. That means both of us start with no opinions, no conclusions, no assertions, but together, as two friends – and by friends I mean those who are really concerned with a problem, to investigate it together by sharing it, and thereby perhaps coming upon what is truth. So if that is clear during the dialogues we are going to have – which is, not asserting opinions or prejudices or conclusions. ‘I believe’ – that is a conclusion. If you are investigating, we are both open and we can go very far if we both are free to look objectively into things.
Krishnamurti in Saanen 1976, Discussion 1
Good Relationship in Dialogue
We are having a dialogue, a conversation between two people, friendly, serious. Wanting to solve our intimate personal problems, we go for a walk in the woods and talk over things together. We are in that position, you and I, the speaker and you. We are out for a walk. There is a lovely stream, marvellous pine woods, full of morning scent, and we are talking over together. And each one of us knows that words have a particular definite meaning. Each one of us understands the meaning of the words we use. We know the words and the content of the words, the meaning of the words, the significance of the words, so we use the word which is common to both of them. And we also know that the word is not the thing, and the words do not actually convey the deep, inner feelings. We are feeling it out together because we are good friends. We are not opposed to each other, we are not trying to trick each other. We have known each other for long years, and we have often talked about these things and so are willing to expose ourselves to each other, point out our difficulties and problems, and each one is trying to understand the other, and hoping to help each other. That is really a dialogue. We have established a good relationship between us.
Krishnamurti in Saanen 1979, Discussion 3
Don’t Get Caught in Words
First of all, we should establish between us the right kind of communication, not only verbal communication because words and language drive us and we very rarely use words with their full significance. So, if I may point out, one has to be very watchful of words. One is caught in words, and words become very significant. But language is meant to be used to communicate. So language shouldn’t drive us, but we should use language to understand each other. So if I may point out, when we are communicating, as we are this evening, we should be very watchful that the words don’t trap us and the words do not limit our perception, our insight.
I would like to, if I may, point out again that we are exploring together into some of the problems which the speaker is going to raise this evening. To explore into a problem very deeply, one must be free from one’s motives, from one’s prejudices, one’s fixations and conclusions. To investigate, the mind must be extraordinarily free to look, and we are going to try and look and explore together. I mean together, not that the speaker talks and you just listen, but rather sharing, partaking, participating in what we are going to talk about together.
I wonder why you come. That is rather interesting if you go into it and find out for yourself, why you are sitting there and listening to the speaker. He has something very definite to say, and he would like that you understand what he says completely, totally, utterly. Then he would like that you should participate in what he is talking about. And when you are participating, sharing, you must be equally responsible. Also you must be, if I may again point out, eager, intense to find out.
I think love is that state of mind which wants to communicate at the same level, with the same intensity, with the same clarity, and if we have not this quality of affection and eagerness to participate in what we are talking about, to get totally involved, then they remain merely words; they remain merely intellectual concepts, ideas. But if we can listen, not merely to the words but to something that is beyond the words; nothing mysterious, but not be caught in verbal, linguistic drives.
Krishnamurti in Bombay 1978, Talk 3
In Dialogue, You and I Disappear and Only the Question Remains
What is freedom? This sense of inward, authentic, deep sense of unshakeable freedom, not from something – what is that freedom? Can we together inquire into this, not accept what the speaker is saying? We went into that – if you accept what the speaker is saying, you are back again to the old pattern of following an authority. The speaker then becomes your guru, and the speaker abhors all gurus. In the world of – if one can use the word ‘spirit’ or ‘spiritual’, authority is a sin. So together let’s inquire what freedom is.
Probably you have never asked that question. You all want to escape from something. I am lonely – and most people are very, very lonely; they want to escape from it through various forms of entertainment, religious and otherwise. But is there a freedom which is not a reaction? And to find out that, one has to inquire what love is. Is love a reaction? Is love attraction, whether it be sexual or otherwise? Please ask these questions of yourself to find out the right answer.
How do you find the right answer to a question? The speaker asked the question; you naturally reply to that question if you are at all thinking, going along with the question. You respond to that question. Then the speaker answers your response. This is real dialogue – answers your response, then you respond to my response, so that there is both question and answer, answer and question. If we maintain this answer-question-question-answer seriously, intensely, in that process you disappear, and the speaker disappears, and only the question remains. Then that very question has vitality.
Don’t agree please, test it out for yourself. It is like a rosebud; if the question is left in the air, as it were, then it is like a bud which gradually unfolds and shows its nature, the depth of that question, it has its own vitality, energy, drive. That is a dialogue, not just accepting what the other fellow is saying.
Krishnamurti in Bombay 1984, Talk 4
A Dialogue With Oneself
I will have a conversation with myself, a dialogue with myself.
I realise, by listening to this, that I don’t love. That is a fact. I am not going to deceive myself. I am not going to pretend to my wife I love her, or to the woman or girl or boy. Now, first of all, I don’t know what love is. I don’t know what love is, but I do know that I am jealous, I do know that I am terribly attached to her. And in that attachment there is fear, there is jealousy, there is anxiety, there is a sense of dependency. I don’t like to depend, but I depend because I am lonely and I am shoved around by society, all over, in the office or the factory, and I come home and I want to feel comfort, companionship, escape from myself. So I am dependent, attached to that person. Now how am I – I am asking myself – to be free of this attachment, not knowing what love is. I won’t pretend: love of God, love of Jesus, love of Krishna, all that nonsense, throw it all out. I have thrown it all out. So I am saying: how am I to be free of this attachment? I am taking that just as an example.
First of all, I won’t run away from it. I don’t know how it is going to end up with my wife. When I am really detached from her, my relationship may change to her. She might be attached to me, and I might not be attached to her, or to any other woman. It isn’t that I want to be detached from her and join another woman – that is silly!
I am having a dialogue with myself. So what shall I do? I won’t run away from the consequence of being totally free of all attachment. I am going to investigate. I don’t know what love is, but I see very clearly, definitely, without any doubt, that attachment to that person means fear, anxiety, jealousy, possession and all the rest of it. So I ask myself: how am I to be free of attachment? Not the method; I want freedom from it. I don’t know. I really don’t know.
So I begin to inquire. Then I get caught in a system. I get caught in some guru who says, ‘I will help you to be detached, do this, this, this. Practise this, this, this.’ I want to be free from attachment, and I accept what the silly man says because I see the importance of being free. He promises me if I do this, I will have a reward. So I want to be free in order to have a reward. I am looking for a reward, so I say, ‘How silly I am. I want to be free, and I get attached to the reward.’
You are following all this? Good. At last! I think I had better have a dialogue all the time with myself! (Laughter) So I represent the rest of humanity. And I really mean it. Therefore when I am having a dialogue with myself, I am in tears. Not like you, smiling. It is a passion for me.
So, I don’t want to be attached, and yet I find myself getting attached to an idea. That is, I must be free and somebody, or some book, or some idea, something says, ‘Do this, and you will have that.’ So the reward becomes my attachment. So I say, ‘Look what I have done. Be careful, don’t get caught in that trap.’ Whether it is a woman or an idea, it is still attachment. So I am very watchful now. I have learned something. That is, exchange for something else is still attachment. So I am very watchful. Then I say to myself, is there a way? What am I to do to be free of attachment? What is my motive? Why do I want to be free from attachment? Because it is painful? Because I want to achieve a state where there is no attachment, no fear, etc., etc.? What is my motive? Please follow me because I am representing you. What is my motive for wanting to be free? And I suddenly realise a motive gives a direction. And that direction will dictate my freedom. So why do I have a motive? What is motive? A motive is a movement, a hope, or to achieve something. So the motive is my attachment. The motive has become my attachment, not only the woman, the idea of a goal, but my motive, I must have that. So I am all the time functioning within the field of attachment. The woman, the future and the motive, to all this I am attached. So I say, ‘Oh my God, it is a tremendously complex thing. I didn’t realise that to be free of attachment implies all this.’
Now I see this as clearly as I see on a map the roads, the villages, the side roads, the main roads, very clearly. Then I say to myself: ‘Now, is it possible for me to be free of my motive, to which I am attached, to be free of the woman for whom I have great attachment, and also the reward which I am going to get when I am free?’ To all this, I am attached. Why? Is it that I am insufficient in myself? Is it that I am very, very lonely, therefore I escape from that feeling of extraordinary isolation and therefore cling to something – man, woman, ideas, motive – cling, hold on to something? Now, is it I am lonely? I am taking that – is it I am lonely? Therefore I am escaping from that feeling of extraordinary isolation, through attachment of another. So now I am not interested in attachment at all. I am interested in understanding why I am lonely, which makes me attached.
You are following me, my dialogue with myself? Which is, I am lonely, and that loneliness has forced me to escape through attachment to this or to that. Now I say as long as I am lonely, all the sequence is this. So I must investigate why I am lonely. What does it mean? What does it mean to be lonely? How does it come about? Is it instinctual, inbred, hereditary, or is it my daily activity that is bringing about this loneliness? I am going into it. I am going into it, I am having a dialogue with myself. By Jove!
If it is inherited, if it is an instinct, I question it because I accept nothing. I accept nothing because I don’t accept it is instinct, saying, ‘I can’t help it.’ If it is heredity, it is part of me; I am not to blame. As I don’t accept any of these things, I say, ‘Why is there this loneliness?’ Now I question it and remain with the question, not trying to find an answer. I have asked myself what the root of this loneliness is, and I am watching. I am not trying to find an intellectual answer, I am not trying to tell the loneliness what it should be or what it is. I am watching it for it to tell me.
So there is a watchfulness for the loneliness to reveal itself. It won’t reveal if I run away, if I am frightened, if I resist it. So I watch it. I watch it so that no thought interferes, because this is much more important than thought coming in. My whole energy is concerned with the observation of that loneliness therefore thought doesn’t come in at all. The mind is being challenged, and it must answer. And when you are challenged, it is a crisis. And in a crisis, you have got all the energy, and that energy remains without being interfered with.
I wonder if you follow all this. This is a challenge which must be answered.
Questioner: How can we hang on to that energy? How can we do something about this energy?
Krishnamurti: No, it has come. You have lost the whole thing!
Look, I started out having a dialogue with myself. I said, what is this strange thing called love? Everybody talks about it, writes about it: romantic poems, pictures and all the rest of it, sex and all areas of it. And I say, have I got this thing called love? Is there such a thing as love? I see love doesn’t exist when there is jealousy, hatred, fear. So I am not concerned with love anymore; I am concerned with ‘what is’, which is my fear, attachment. And why am I attached? I say maybe one of the reasons is – one of the reasons; I don’t say that is the whole reason – one of the reasons is that I am lonely, desperately isolated. The older I grow, the more isolation. So I watch it. This is a challenge, to find out. Because it is a challenge, all energy is there to respond. That is simple, isn’t it? When there is death in the family, it is a challenge. If there is some catastrophe, an accident or whatever it is, it is a challenge, and you have the energy to meet it. You don’t say, ‘Where do I get this energy?’ When your house is on fire, you have the energy to move. You have extraordinary energy. You don’t sit back and say, ‘Well, I must get this energy,’ and wait – your whole house will be burnt then.
So there is this tremendous energy to answer the question: why is there this loneliness? I have rejected other ideas, suppositions, theories that I have inherited, that it is instinct. All that means nothing to me. It is ‘what is’. So why am I lonely? Not ‘I’ – why is there this loneliness which every human being, if at all aware, goes through, superficially or most profoundly? Why? Why does this come into being? Is it the mind is doing something which is bringing it? I have rejected theories, instinct, inheritance, heritage. I have rejected all that, therefore I am asking: does the mind bring this about? Is the mind doing this?
Loneliness means total isolation. So I say, is the mind, the brain doing this? The mind, which is partly the movement of thought – is thought doing this? Thought in daily life, is it creating, bringing about this sense of isolation? Which is, in the office I am isolating myself because I want to be bigger, become the executive – or the pope or the bishop – you know. Therefore it is working all the time, isolating itself. So I see thought, the mind, is all the time operating to make itself superior, working itself to this isolation, towards this isolation.
So the problem then is: why does thought do this? Is it the nature of thought to work for itself? Is it the nature of thought to create this isolation? Does society create this isolation? Does education create this isolation? Education is part of this isolation; education does bring about this isolation, gives me a certain career, a certain specialisation, so it is isolation. So thought, being fragmentary – I have found that; I have found that thought, which is the response of the past as knowledge, experience and memory, is limited. Thought is time-binding. So thought is doing this. So my concern then is, why does thought do it? Is it in its very nature to do this?
I came here for a discussion, dialogue. Now I am having a dialogue by myself. Too bad! I’ll go on because look what it is leading me up to.
So we come to the point now: why does thought, being a fragment, bring about this isolation, if it does? I have found it does, in my conversation with myself, because thought is limited, time-binding, therefore whatever it does must be limited. And in that limitation, it has found security. It has found security in saying, ‘I have a special career in my life.’ It has found security in saying, ‘I am a professor. There I am perfectly safe. After seven years I get a tenure’ – and there you are stuck for the rest of your life. And there is great security both psychological as well as factual. So thought is doing this. Now the problem is: can thought realise that it is limited? Therefore the moment it learns, it understands that whatever it does is limited and therefore fragmentary and therefore isolating, whatever it does will be this. Therefore can thought – please, I am having a dialogue; this is a very important point – can thought realise its own limitation? Or does thought say to itself, ‘I am limited’? You understand the difference? Thought, being me, do I say thought is limited, and therefore it says, ‘I am limited,’ or thought itself realises I am limited? The two things are entirely different. One is an imposition and therefore conflict, whereas when thought itself says, ‘I am limited,’ it won’t move away from that limitation.
Please this is very important to understand because this is the real essence of this thing. We are imposing on thought what it should do. Thought has created the ‘we’, the ‘me’, and thought and the ‘me’ have separated from thought and says, ‘I will dictate, tell what thought should do.’ But if thought realises itself that it is limited, there is no resistance, no conflict. it says, ‘I am that.’
So does thought – in my dialogue with myself I am asking – realise this itself, or am I telling it that it is limited? If I am telling that it is limited then I become separate from the limitation. Then I struggle to overcome the limitation, therefore there is conflict, which is violence, which is not love. So does thought realise itself that it is limited? I have to find out. I am being challenged. I have got energy now because when I am challenged I have got all energy. Does consciousness – to put it differently –realise its content? Does consciousness realise its content is itself? Or I have heard another say, ‘Consciousness is its content, its content makes up consciousness,’ and therefore you say, ‘Yes, it is so.’ Or does consciousness, my consciousness, this consciousness realise its content and therefore this very content is the totality of my consciousness? Do you see the difference between the two? One is imposed by me, the ‘me’ created by thought. Then if I impose something on thought, there is conflict. It is like a tyrannical government imposing on someone. But the government is what I have created!
So we are asking: has thought realised its own littleness, its own pettiness, its own limitation, or is it pretending to be something extraordinary, noble, divine? You know, all the rest of it, which is nonsense because thought is memory, experience, remembrance. So in my dialogue, there must be clarity about this point, that there is no outside influence imposing on thought saying it is limited. So thought then, because there is no imposition, no conflict, therefore it realises it is limited. Therefore whatever it does – its worship of God, its worship of Jesus, its worship is limited, shoddy, petty though it has created marvellous cathedrals throughout Europe and here.
So there has been in my conversation with myself a discovery that loneliness is created by thought. And thought has now realised itself that it is limited, so it cannot solve the problem of loneliness. As it cannot solve the problem of loneliness, does loneliness exist?
Thought has made this sense of loneliness, and thought realises that it is limited, and because it is limited, fragmentary, divided, it has created this emptiness, loneliness. Therefore, when it realises that, loneliness is not. So therefore there is freedom from attachment.
I have done nothing. I have watched it, the attachment, what is implied in attachment, greed, fear, loneliness, all that, and by tracing it, looking, observing it, not analysing it, examining, but just looking, looking, looking, there is a discovery that thought has done all this. Thought because it is fragmentary has created this attachment. So when it realises, attachment ceases. I wonder if you see this. There is no effort made at all because the moment there is an effort, it is back again.
So we have said if there is love there is no attachment; if there is attachment there is no love. So there has been the removal of the major factor in negation of what it is not, which is, love is not attachment. You know what it means in your daily life? No remembrance of anything – my wife, my girlfriend, what my neighbour told me, no remembrance of any hurt, no image of her.
I am attached to the image, not to her. I am attached to the image thought has created about her. She has hurt me, she has bullied me, she has given me comfort, I have had a pleasant time sexually, this, that, ten different things which are all the movement of thought, which has created the image, and it is the image I am attached to. So attachment has gone, but there are other factors: fear, pleasure, comfort in that person, or in that idea. Now, must I get through all these step by step, one by one, or it’s all over? Must I go through, must I investigate fear as I have investigated attachment? Must I investigate the desire for comfort? Must I observe why I seek comfort? Is it that because I am insufficient, I want comfort, a comfortable chair? Therefore I want a comfortable woman or man, or whatever it is, a comfortable idea? I think most of us do have a comfortable, secure idea which can never be shaken, and to which you are deadly attached, and so anybody who says, ‘Nonsense to that,’ you angry, jealous, get upset because they are shaking your house. So I say, I don’t have to go through all the investigation of all these various factors: I see it at one glance; I have captured it.
So through negation of what is not love, the other thing is. I don’t have to ask what love is. I don’t have to run after it. If I run after it, it is not love, it is a reward. So I have ended in that inquiry, slowly, carefully, without distortion, without illusion. I have negated everything that it is not. The other is.
Now I have had a good dialogue with myself.
Krishnamurti at Brockwood Park in 1977, Discussion 1