Krishnamurti on Actuality

Episode Notes

‘We are not pursuing ideas or ideologies, but facing actuality. In actuality, and going beyond that actuality, is the truth.’

This week’s episode on Actuality has four sections.

The first extract (2:47) is from Krishnamurti’s first talk in Washington DC, 1985, titled ‘We have done everything possible to run from actuality’.

The second extract (20:51) is from the first talk at Brockwood Park in 1974, titled ‘Deal with actuality, not ideas’.

The third extract (32:48) is from Krishnamurti’s first talk in Saanen 1975, titled ‘Awareness of actuality’.

The final extract in this episode (58:53) is from the second talk in Madras 1979, titled ‘Is the self an actuality?’

Part 1

We Have Done Everything Possible To Run From Actuality

Go all over the world, wherever you will, every human being on this earth, every human being, whether he lives in Russia, China, Asia, India, Europe or here, goes through all kinds of sorrow. Thousands and millions have shed tears, and occasional laughter. Every human being on this earth has had great loneliness, despair, anxiety and are confused, uncertain – like you. Every human being – black, white, purple or whatever colour you like. Psychologically this is a fact – an actuality, not invented by the speaker. This is observable; you can see it on every face on this earth. And so psychologically you are the rest of mankind. You may be tall, short, black or white, or what colour you may be, but psychologically you are the mankind.

Please understand this, not intellectually or ideologically or as a hypothesis, but as an actuality, a burning reality, that you psychologically are the rest of mankind. Therefore psychologically you are not individuals. Religions, except perhaps parts of Hinduism and Buddhism, have entertained and encouraged the sense of individual growth, saving individual souls and all that business, but in actuality, in your consciousness, your consciousness is not yours, it is the rest of mankind’s because we all go through the same mill, the same endless conflict, and so on. When one realises this, not emotionally, not as an intellectual concept but as something actual, real, true, then you will not kill another human being. You will never kill another, either verbally or intellectually, ideologically or physically because then you are killing yourself. But individuality has been encouraged all over the world. Each one is struggling for himself: his success, his fulfilment, his achievement, pursuing his desires and creating havoc in the world.

Please understand this very carefully. We are not saying that each individual is not important: on the contrary. If you are concerned with global peace, not just your own little peace in your backyard – nations have become the backyard if you are really concerned, as most serious people must be concerned, that you are the rest of humanity. That is a great responsibility.

So we must go back and find out for ourselves why human beings have reduced the world to what it is now. What is the cause of all this? Why have we made such a mess of everything we touch, both in our personal relationship, between man and woman, between each other; why is there conflict between gods: your god and the other’s god? So we must inquire together whether it is possible to end conflict, otherwise we will never have peace in this world.

Long before Christianity, they talked about peace on earth. Long before Christianity, in Hinduism, they worshipped trees, stones, animals, nature, lightning, the sun. There was never any sense of God before because they considered the earth as the mother to be worshipped, to be conserved, preserved, spared, not destroyed as we are doing now.

So let’s inquire together. Please, I mean together, not I inquire and you casually listen, agreeing or disagreeing. Could we this afternoon put aside all this idea of agreeing and disagreeing? Will you do that, so that we can both of us look at things as they are, not what you think they are? Not your idea or concept of ‘what is’ but just look at it. Look at it non-verbally even, if that is possible. That is much more difficult.

First of all, this is the actual world we live in. You cannot possibly escape from it through monasteries, through religious experiences – and one must doubt all one’s experiences. Man has done everything on earth possible to run away from the actuality of daily living, with all its complexities. Why do we have conflict in relationship, between man and woman – sexual, sensory division? In this peculiar relationship, man is pursuing his own ambition, his own greed, his own desires, his own fulfilment, and the woman too is doing the same. I don’t know if you have noticed all this for yourself. So there are two ambitious driving, being driven by desire and so on, two parallel lines never meeting except perhaps sexually. So how can there be a relationship between two people when each one is pursuing his own desires, ambitions, greeds?

In this relationship, because there is this division, there is no love. Please, hold to your seats. That word ‘love’ is polluted, spat upon, degraded; it has become merely sensuous, pleasurable. Love is not pleasure. Love is not something put together by thought; it is not something dependent on sensation. So how can there be right, true relationship between two people when each one considers their own importance? Self-interest is the beginning of corruption and destruction, whether it be in a politician or the religious man, and so on. Self-interest dominates the world, and therefore there is conflict.

Where there is duality, separation, as the Greek and the Muslim, the Jew and the Arab, the Christian who believes in some saviour and the Hindu who doesn’t believe in all this, there is this division – national division, religious division, individual divisions – where there is division there must be conflict. That is a law. So we live our daily life in a little circumscribed self, the limited self. Not that there is a higher self and the limited – self is always limited, and that is the cause of conflict. That is the central core of our struggle, pain, anxiety, and all the rest of it.

If one becomes aware of it, as most people must, naturally, not because you are told to or because you read some philosophical book or psychology, but it is an actual fact – each one is concerned with himself. He lives in a separate world all to himself. And therefore there is division between you and another, between you and your religion, between you and your god, between you and your ideologies. So is it possible to understand, not intellectually but deeply, that you are the rest of mankind? Whatever you do, good or bad, affects the rest of mankind because you are mankind.

Your consciousness is not yours. Your consciousness is its content; consciousness is made up of its content. Without the content, there is no consciousness. Your consciousness, like the rest of humanity, is made up of beliefs, fears, faith, gods, personal ambitions and all the rest of the fears, and all that – your whole consciousness is made up of all this, put together by thought.

One hopes that we have taken the journey together. Together we are walking the same road. Not that you are listening to a series of ideas – we are not pursuing ideas or ideologies, but facing actuality. Because in actuality, and going beyond that actuality, is the truth. And when you discover, when there is truth, it is the most dangerous thing. Truth is very dangerous because it brings a revolution in oneself.

Krishnamurti in Washington DC 1985, Talk 1

Part 2

Deal With Actuality, Not Ideas

I have an idea of loneliness. The idea being the rationalisation of thought which says, ‘I don’t know what it is, but I am frightened of it.’ Or, I know what loneliness is, which is not an idea, but an actuality. I know it when I am in a crowd; I suddenly feel that I am not related to anything, that I am absolutely disassociated, lost and cannot rely on anybody. All my moorings have been cut away, and I feel tremendously lonely, frightened. That is an actuality. But the idea about it is not an actuality. And most of us, I’m afraid, have an idea about it.

So if it is not an idea but an actuality, what is loneliness? Aren’t we breeding it all the time, by our self-centred activity, by this tremendous concern about ourselves: our looks, our attitudes, our opinions, our judgements, our position, our status, our importance, all that? All that is a form of isolation. Throughout the day, for years we have done this, and suddenly we find we are utterly isolated. Our beliefs and God and everything goes away; there is this sense of tremendous isolation, which cannot be penetrated, and that naturally brings great fear. Now I observe it in my life, in my daily life, that my activities, my thoughts, my desires, my pleasures, my experiences are more and more and more isolating. And the ultimate sense is death. That is a different point. And I observe it. I observe it in my daily movements, in my daily activities. And in the observation of this loneliness, the observer is part of that loneliness; is essentially that loneliness.

So the observer is the observed, and therefore he cannot possibly escape from it, he cannot cover it up, try to fill it with good activity or whatever it is, going off to churches and meditation, and all the rest of it. So the observer is the observed, and therefore what happens then? You have eliminated conflict altogether, haven’t you? Try to escape from it, try to cover it up, try to rationalise it; you are faced with it; you are that. And when you are confronted with it completely, and there is no escape, and you are that, then there is no problem, is there? There is no problem because then there is no sense of loneliness at all. I wonder if you see this.

Questioner: Surely it is a problem seeing…

Krishnamurti: We are coming to that presently.

So can you observe your fear? Through one fear, trace the very root of all fear. That is, through this sense of loneliness, haven’t you traced the root of fear?

I am lonely. I know what that means, not as an idea but as an actuality. I know what hunger is as an actuality, not because somebody has told me what hunger is. There is this extraordinary sense of loneliness and isolation. Isolation is a form of resistance, is a form of exclusion, and I am fully aware of it. And I am also aware that the observer is the observed. And there is fear there, deep-rooted fear. Through one factor of fear or loneliness, I have been able to find out, look at the central fact of fear – which is the non-existence of the observer. I wonder if you see this.

Do you understand? Am I making this clear, or not at all?

If the observer is not – the observer being the past, the observer being his opinions, judgements, evaluations, rationalisations, interpretations, all the tradition – if that is not, where is fear? If the ‘me’ is not, where is the fear? But we are educated, religiously, in colleges, schools and universities, we are educated to the assertion, the cultivation of the ‘me’ as the observer. No?

I am a Catholic, I am a Protestant, I am British, I am this, I am that – all the rest of it. By looking at one fear, I have been able to trace, the mind has been able to look and trace the central fact of fear, which is the non-existence of the observer, the ‘me’. And can I live in this world without that ‘me’? Everything around me is the assertion of the ‘me’: the culture, the works of art, the business, politics, religion – everything around me says, asserts: ‘Be you, me; cultivate the ‘me’.’ In that culture, in that civilisation can one live without the ‘me’? Therefore the monks say: you cannot escape from the world. Go into a monastery, change your name, devote your life to this and that, but the ‘me’ is still there because that ‘me’ has identified itself with the image. It has projected itself as the Christ, this and that and the other, but that ‘me’ is still there, in a different form.

So can one live – please, this is a tremendously important and a very, very serious question, it is not just something to play around with – can one live without that ‘me’ in this monstrous world? That means, can one live sanely in a world of insanity? And the world is insane, with all the make-believe of religions. You know all that is happening, I don’t have to tell you. Can you live in a world which is insane and yourself be totally sane?

Krishnamurti at Brockwood Park in 1974, Talk 1

Part 3

Awareness of Actuality

So the problem then is: what will change man? If you say, ‘Knowledge can change man’ – you have to be actual, not theoretical, that is, the actuality of change through knowledge as an instrument which will bring about a different human behaviour, radically. Radically not superficially, not certain peripheral action on the outside. We are talking about the radical change of man through knowledge. And if you observe, that knowledge has not radically, basically fundamentally brought about a revolution, psychological revolution in man. He may be a little more kind, a little more clever, a little more tolerant, a little more this or that, but fundamentally he has not changed. He is still greedy, envious, competitive, aggressive, violent, suffering endlessly. So if knowledge has not changed man, then what will?

This is not a thing that you are going to understand in a couple of minutes, however clearly and objectively it is put. We have to have the capacity to investigate, not just to accept words. Words are meaningless. So you have to give your mind, your capacity, your energy to find out. We say, the world of reality is the movement of thought and all the things that thought has created – the Gurus with their systems, with their meditations, with their philosophies, are all the activity of thought, and through thought there is no solution. It is not how to stop thought, but to find out if there is an energy which is not the energy of thought.

So what is the relationship – please listen to this – what is the relationship between reality – you understand what I mean by reality, that is, the reality which thought has brought about, the reality which thought has created, the actual – the actual being not only what is rational, sane, but also what is irrational, what is insane – both are realities. The man who believes in God or in a perfect state or something or other, he has thought it out, projected, come to a conclusion however irrational, however neurotic. It is a reality, as well as the man who thinks clearly, rationally and acts according to that rationality, is a reality. Both are realities – the irrational, the neurotic, the insane, the crooked, as well as the man who acts according to a pattern, a rational pattern. Both are realities, the neurotic and the non-neurotic, because they are both brought about by the movement of thought as time and measure. I wonder if you understand all this. This is the world you live in, we live in. And out of this world, we create a different world, a different philosophy, born out of this world. Out of the world of reality, we create a world of thought which is called philosophical, intellectual, godly, spiritual and all the rest of it.

So then I ask myself, as you must too, if thought is not going to resolve fundamentally our problem, then what will? Do you understand this question? Not theoretically, not as an idea, something put forward to you and you accept it and say, ‘Yes!’ – but something that you yourself actually see, of which you are aware.

So the problem is: are you aware that the movement of thought as time, as measure and all the things thought has created, the real and the unreal, are you aware of this? Or, are you aware – please listen – are you aware of the description which the speaker has given? Aware of the description, aware of the words, but not the actuality of this reality of thought. Which is it? Please, this has to be clearly, definitely understood before we go any further because otherwise it is a waste of time. Am I aware of the reality of all the movement of thought, what it has created in the field of technology, what it has brought about in the psychological field and in the so-called spiritual field? Am I aware of the actual, or of the picture? You understand?

Have you understood? I hope I am making myself clear. Am I aware of the description or the described? Am I aware of the word or the thing which the word represents? Because the word, the description is not the thing. So which is it I am aware of? If I am aware of the word or the description, then it becomes terribly superficial – it has no meaning. But if I am aware not of the description, not of the word, but the actual thing, the actuality, then my relationship to it is entirely different. So which is it I am honestly, seriously aware of, the word or the thing? The word ‘door’ is not the door. The explanation is not the explained. So, am I aware of the door or of the word? If I am aware of the real, the actual, then what is my relationship to the actual?

Do you understand my question? Are you really serious about all this, or are you just playing with me or with words? On a Sunday morning, you have nothing else to do and so you go and listen to that poor chap and perhaps he will tell you how to live, which I am afraid… So don’t let’s play games! I don’t want to play games with you, so please, equally have the respect not to play games with me. The word ‘respect’ means ‘to look again’. You understand? To look again. When you don’t look, that is disrespect. When you casually listen and go away, that is disrespect. But if you have respect, then you listen, you try to find out. And it is a mutual respect. I want to tell you something; if you are not interested, don’t bother. If you are interested, give that respect, which is to look again, consider again, watch again.

So what is it that you are aware of? The conclusion, the abstraction, or the actual? If I am aware of the actual, not the description, not the word – the word may help me to understand the actual, but the perception of the actual is entirely different from the understanding through the word. Have you understood this? Right? Thank God, somebody does!

So I am aware of the movement of thought and all the things that it has created, both irrational and rational, insane, idiotic, superstitious, destructive, and thought that has put together various things. I am aware of it. Then what is my relationship in that awareness to that thing which I have seen as actual?

Is this getting too much? I’ll repeat it again.

I am aware of the actual, not of the abstraction or the conclusion – that has no reality. What has reality is what actually is. Which is, I am aware of the whole movement of thought – technologically, personally, collectively, in the field of economics, religion, in relationship with each other. That is the actual reality. I am aware of that. Now in that awareness is there a division between me and the thing I observe?

I want to find out when I am actually aware of the movement of thought, is that thought different from the observer, or is the observer itself the thought? Because if this is not clear, I will live everlastingly in conflict, which is the movement of thought again, isn’t it? I wonder if you see this. You see, is the thinker different from the thought? Is the entity who is aware of the actual – the actual being that which thought has created, neurotic as well as non-neurotic – is that different from the one who is observing it? Or, the division is non-existent and therefore the observer is the observed, the thinker is the thought, and therefore division ceases. Therefore I am aware totally; there is a total awareness. Not, ‘I am aware of something.’ Is this clear?

Questioner: No.

Krishnamurti: All right, I am glad. Let me explain.

I observe the mountain. I am aware of the mountain, the beauty, the majesty, the extraordinary line against the blue sky, the beauty of that thing. Is the observer different from the observed, the mountain? Obviously he is – he is not the mountain. That is clear, isn’t it? If he was the mountain, he would be rather strange; he would be fit for an asylum. That is one point. I observe you. Is the observer different from you? Obviously: you are taller, shorter, clever, more beautiful, more intelligent, more awake, capable of deep investigation, and therefore you are different from me who is not bright, who is not clear. That is an actuality: you are different. Am I different through comparison?

Please listen to all this; don’t jump at one or two words; go into it.

Am I different because I compare myself with you who are this and that and that, and therefore I am different? Through comparison, am I different? You are taller, I am shorter, you are fair-skinned, I am not, you are bright, you are suffering, all the rest of it. So by comparing myself with you, I become stupid. I am less clever than you, which is the movement of thought as measurement. Therefore am I dull if there is no comparison? I may be something entirely different, but I am dull only in comparing myself with you.

So I am not you. But is my thinking, my desire, my anger, my suffering different from ‘me’ who is observing, who is looking? You follow the point? Obviously not. So I am anger. So I am jealous, I am envious. Not, ‘I am something which is called envy.’ I am that! So the observer divides himself from the observed psychologically – not outside, not the mountain, you and the tree, all that. Psychologically, thought has divided itself as the thinker and the thought. He has divided himself because that is part of the tradition, part of education, part of his conditioning to always divide himself, and you as something separate from me.

So I realise… there is a realisation in this total awareness that the thinker is the thought. And therefore what takes place? You understand my question? Before, I separated myself from anger and I did something about that anger – controlled it, rationalised it, said, ‘Why shouldn’t I be angry?’, ‘It is immoral to be angry, I must control it, I must overcome it, must suppress it’ – I did something about it because it was separate from me. Please understand this; move with me, not verbally but actually. When there is the realisation that there is no separateness from anger, from myself, then the energy is totally different.

Krishnamurti in Saanen 1975, Talk 1

Part 4

Is the Self an Actuality?

So we have, as we said, cultivated throughout the centuries this idea of the self, the ‘me’ that must evolve through time, many births, or saved by some saviour and live everlastingly in light. Now we are questioning that. I mean questioning, inquiring whether it is true or an illusion created by our desire, created by thought and have accepted that image, that idea, that network from the times past.

You are following all this? I hope you are not going to sleep. I really mean it; this is very serious. You are not here to admire the speaker; you are not here to bask in some atmospheric spirituality. You are here to find out – not the speaker finds out and tells you, but you who are listening finds out.

So we must inquire into what it is, what has created it, the ‘me’, the self. You understand the word ‘self’? You, your anxieties, your problems, your sexual demands, your fears, your hopes, your depressions, moods, the sorrows, the pains, the jealousies, the hatreds, the violence, the fear of fulfilment and not being able to fulfil, and the constant competition with each other. That word ‘competition’ means to help to grow. The meaning of that word is help to grow, to increase – not what we are doing now, fighting each other. Please understand all this.

So, we are inquiring diligently, with a great deal of serious attention, whether this self, the ‘me’, which has been handed down through generation after generation from ancient of times, whether that ‘me’ is an actuality in the sense that it has its root in truth.

We must distinguish between reality and truth. Reality is everything that thought has created. Please listen. Reality is everything that thought has created – the microphone, your beads you are wearing, the house you live in – all that is created by thought, obviously. But nature is not created by thought – the trees, the mountains, the waters, the birds. You can write poems about it but thought has not created them. Thought has created the chair out of the wood of a tree, but the tree is not the product of thought. Please follow all this carefully, otherwise you will miss the whole thing. So reality is that. Truth has nothing whatsoever to do with thought. The relationship between truth and reality is one way – reality cannot touch truth, but truth can employ, use thought.

So we are inquiring whether the ‘me’, which has been created, to which mankind has clung, creating around it innumerable philosophies, whether that is rooted in truth, or it is merely a reality – reality being created by thought. So are you not created by thought – the ‘me’? The ‘me’ is your name, your form, your ideas, your concepts, your prejudices, your desires, your ideas, your longings, your aspirations, your sorrows, your degeneration – all that, this vast structure of the ‘me’ is put together by thought. Nobody can deny it. But thought has invented the super-self – which is still thought. So one has to be very alert in this inquiry that thought is the result or the response of memory. Memory is the accumulated experience as knowledge, not only the experiences of the present day but also the experiences of your fathers, grandfathers, generations after generations past. That is the knowledge one has. That is our brain; our whole structure is that. This self is created by thought – and thought itself is limited as we explained, because knowledge is limited. There is no complete knowledge about anything, there can never be. That’s obvious. And that knowledge is the result, whether in science, in our relationships with each other, is based on experience, accumulated, which is stored up in our brain cells as memory. This is natural. It is so. Whether you accept it or not, it is so. You can discuss, if you wish, with professors, with brain specialists, but not with your philosophers, not with your gurus because they have already made up their minds. But if you really want to know, inquire, you can discuss with them. They will offer you their opinions. But to find this out for oneself transcends all information, all philosophies, all gurus.

Krishnamurti in Madras 1979, Talk 2

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