Krishnamurti on Identification

Episode Notes

‘When I identify myself with a group, idea, belief or conclusion, that identification is the very essence of being occupied with myself.’

This week’s episode on Identification has four sections.

The first extract (2:43) is from Krishnamurti’s first talk in Saanen 1978, titled ‘The movement of identification.’

The second extract (20:50) is from the eighth talk in Ojai 1949, titled ‘Identification is the basis of illusion’.

The third extract (35:30) is from Krishnamurti’s second talk in Saanen 1978, titled ‘Identification is occupation with oneself’.

The final extract in this episode (55:58) is from the sixth talk in Saanen 1977, titled ‘To find out the truth of death, all identification must end.’

Part 1

The Movement of Identification

We are inquiring seriously why human beings, with this marvellous world around them – the beauty, the extraordinary nature, the quality of water, the birds, the sea and the land, and the sky and the heavens above them – why they have reduced everything to this narrow little atom, a small thing, and writing enormous books about it, and how to get rid of it, what to do, practise, meditate, sacrifice, deny, starve, fast – everything to get rid of the small ‘me’. The futility of sacrifice, the futility of denial of the ‘me’ and identifying itself with something else, with the family, with the nation, with a belief, with a god, with the international – you follow? – umpteen forms of identification – will not solve the problem. What will dissolve this thing that is so corrupting, that is always seeking power, position, authority, grabbing for itself everything, utilising knowledge as a means of further success, further power, further indulgence and so on?

Now, can we factually observe? Not only the idea of ‘me’, the idea of the centre, but also observe the movement of the senses, the various senses, which are actually sensations. These sensations – touch, all the rest of it – these sensations exist, are actual, they must be; you cannot deny sensations. But when thought identifies itself with those sensations, then the structure of the centre is beginning to be formed.

Please, this is not intellectual observation, just ordinary daily fact, if you observe the senses. One likes a particular form of food, drink, smoking, drugs, and thought then identifies itself with that particular food, and the taste of it, the smell of it, the delight of it, and with that identification, in that identification, the centre is formed. That is obvious.

Now, can you observe – please listen to this; it is very interesting if you go into this – can you observe the movement of the sensations, whether it be sexual, whether it be taste, hearing or seeing, can you observe the movement of those ordinary natural sensations without identifying?

You understand this? Am I saying something strange, or neurotic, or bizarre? It is very important to understand this because we will go into this problem of identification.

Where there is no identification, there is no centre. It is this constant identification with my senses, with my body, with my thoughts – you follow? – the whole movement of identification, identification being attachment, inseparable attachment and with all its associations, and so this identification is a movement of energy, and that energy becomes more and more and more limited, which is the centre.

So we are asking: is there an observation of the senses without any form of thought identifying itself with a particular sensation?

Sensations are natural. If you have no sensations, you are utterly paralysed – perhaps most of us are, only in one particular direction, sexual or another direction. But we are talking of the movement of all senses, not one particular sense. If you see the logic of it, the reason of it, that the moment thought identifies itself with a particular sensation, or with all the sensations, that identification is the movement of building this vast energy into a narrow channel.

Right? Have I explained? Have I made it clear? Not ‘I’ – there is no speaker – only in conversation between ourselves, as two human beings, we are discovering this. You are discovering, not the speaker – there is no speaker. So you are discovering that any form of identification, not only with the senses, with the family, with the nation, with ideas, with conclusions and so on, is the beginning of narrowing down this vast energy and limiting itself, therefore resisting the vast movement of life.

So we are asking, as you are, sitting there: can you observe your senses without any identification? Identification with the body. Look, it is very, very serious what we are going into. If you don’t want to listen, don’t listen; think about something else. But if you listen, listen with your heart, with your mind, with your whole being, because we are going into this question of releasing the tremendous energy, which is now canalised into a very, very small narrow prison, from which we act. And there is not only the identification with the senses, therefore with the body, but identification with the name – of course. Even if you give yourself a new name, or a new number (laughs), that is still identification – which the monks do, and so on.

Why does thought constantly identify itself with something? Which you are doing: my wife, my son, my family, my girl, my boy, my house, my quality – I have experienced so much I must hold on to that experience. I identify myself with Christ, with Krishna – you know, the whole gamut of objects of identification. Why does thought always identify with something or other?

Don’t you, if I may ask – not as a speaker; you are asking yourself – don’t you ask yourself why? Why do I identify myself with the form, with the name, with all the experiences which I have gathered, or the future identification? Why? Why does thought do this all the time? My house, my wife, my belief, my god, my country – I am British, you are French; I am German, you are Russian – you follow? Why? Is it because thought, being in constant flux – please find out, I am just inquiring; find out – being in constant flux, movement, needs security about something? Inquire please. You are inquiring, asking yourself this. When you say, ‘It is my house,’ that gives you certainty, stability, security. When thought identifies itself with a house, it is necessary – isn’t it? – it gives it security, shelter, safety, protection. The physical identification with the house gives it security. But watch it: that movement of identification with a physical necessity is taken over psychologically. There it is necessary, but here it may not be necessary at all. But we are constantly doing this – from the necessity of having clothes, though I may not identify myself with my trousers, shirt or blouse, or whatever one wears – but the attachment, the physical need, and from that need we move into psychological ground and say, ‘It is necessary there too.’ And it may not be.

Krishnamurti in Saanen 1978, Talk 1

Part 2

Identification Is the Basis of Illusion

Any form of identification must lead to illusion. There is psychiatric illusion and psychological illusion. The psychiatric illusion we know what to do with. When one thinks one is Napoleon, or a great saint, you know what to do. But the psychological identification and illusion is quite different. The political or religious person identifies himself with the country or with God. He is the country. And if he has a talent, then he is a nightmare to the rest of the world, whether peacefully or violently. There are various forms of identification: identification with authority, with a country, with an idea; identification with a belief, which makes one do all kinds of things; with an ideology, for which you are willing to sacrifice everybody and everything, including yourself and your country, in order to achieve what you want; identification with a utopia, for which you force others into a particular pattern. Then there is the identification of the actor playing different roles. And most of us are in that position of acting, posing, whether consciously or unconsciously.

So our difficulty is that we identify ourselves with a country, with a political party, with propaganda, with a belief, with an ideology, with a leader – all that is one kind of identification. Then there is the identification with our own experiences.

I have had an experience, a thrilling thing, and the more I dwell on it, the more intense, the more romantic, the more sentimental, the more blurred it becomes. And to that I give the name God – you know the innumerable ways of self-deception. Surely illusion arises when I cling to something. If I have had an experience which is over, finished, and I go back to it, I am in illusion. If I want something repeated, if I hold on to the repetition of an experience, it is bound to lead me to illusion. So the basis of illusion is identification – identification with an image, with an idea of God, with a voice, or with experiences to which we ardently cling. It is not to the experience that we cling but to the sensation of that experience which we had at the moment of experiencing.

A man who has built around himself various methods of identification is living in illusion. A man who believes because of a sensation or an idea, to which he clings, is bound to live in illusion, in self-deception. Therefore, any experience about yourself to which you go back, or which you reject, is bound to lead to illusion. Illusion ceases only when you understand an experience and do not hold on to it. This desire to possess is the basis of illusion, of self-deception. You desire to be something, and this desire to be something must be understood in order to understand the process of illusion, of self-deception. If I think I shall be a great teacher, a great master, the Buddha, X, Y, Z, in my next life, or if I think that I am that now and hold on to that, then surely I must be in illusion because I live on a sensation which is an idea, and my mind feeds on ideas, whether false or true.

How is one to know if an experience at a given moment is truth? That is part of the question. Why do you want to know if it is truth? A fact is a fact; it is not true or false. It is only when I want to translate a fact according to my sensation, to my ideation, that I enter into delusion. When I am angry, it is a fact – there is no question of self-deception. When I am lustful, when I am greedy, when I am irritated, it is a fact. It is only when I begin to justify it, find explanations for it, translate it according to my prejudice in my favour, or avoid it – only then I have to ask, ‘What is truth?’ That is, the moment we approach a fact emotionally, sentimentally, with ideation, then we enter into the world of illusion and self-deceit. To look at a fact and be free of all this requires an extraordinary watchfulness. Therefore, it is most important to find out for oneself, not whether one is in illusion or self-deception, but whether one is free from the desire to identify, from the desire to have a sensation, which you call experience, from the desire to repeat, possess, or revert to an experience. After all, from moment to moment, you can know yourself as you are, factually, not through the screen of ideation, which is sensation. To know yourself, there is no necessity to know the truth, or what is not the truth. To look at yourself in the mirror and see that you are ugly or beautiful, factually, not romantically, does not demand truth. But the difficulty with most of us is that when we see the image, the expression, we want to do something about it; we want to alter it, give it a different name. If it is pleasurable, we identify with it; if it is painful, we avoid it. In this process, surely, lies self-deception, with which you are somewhat familiar. The politicians do that. The priests do it when they talk of God in the name of religion. And we ourselves do it when we are caught up in the sensation of ideas and hold on to them – that is true, this is false, the masters exist or don’t exist – which is all so absurd and immature and childish. But to find out what is factual, one needs an extraordinary alertness, an awareness in which there is neither condemnation nor justification.

So, one can say that one deceives oneself and there is illusion when there is identification with a country, with a belief, with an idea, with a person, and so on; or when there is the desire to repeat an experience, which is the sensation of the experience; or when one goes back to childhood and wants the repetition of the experiences of childhood, the delight, the nearness, the sensitivity; or when one wants to be something. It is extremely difficult not to be deceived, either by oneself or by another. Deception ceases only when there is no desire to be something. Then the mind is capable of looking at things as they are, of seeing the significance of ‘what is’ – then there is no battle between the false and the true. Then there is no search for truth apart from the false.

So, the important thing is to understand the process of the mind. And that understanding is factual, not theoretical, not sentimental, romantic – going into dark rooms and thinking it all out, having images, visions – all that has nothing to do with reality. And as most of us are sentimental, romantic, seeking sensation, we are caught by ideas; and ideas are not ‘what is’. So, the mind that is free of ideas, which are sensations, such a mind is free from illusion.

Krishnamurti in Ojai 1949, Talk 8

Part 3

Identification Is Occupation With Oneself

Then one begins to inquire very, very deeply, slowly, hesitantly, without any conclusion. Like a first-class lawyer or a surgeon don’t bring all his concepts, he first inquires into the case. The case is us; we are the problem. So we must be very clear what our problem is – which I begin to question, whether we are. We are so diffused, emotional, sentimental, so we are always colouring the problem, looking at it from a very, very narrow, limited point. Isn’t this so? So one has to be very advisedly careful that in our examination into why human beings are so destructively occupied with themselves, in inquiring into that, and whether it is possible to be totally free from this occupation – completely. Freedom is the complete dissolution of the self. Then there is freedom. We are going to go into all that.

Does one see the actual danger of this self-centred occupation? That occupation may identify itself with a nation, with a group, with a particular ideal or belief. It is the same process. I hope this is clear. When I identify myself with a group, with an idea, with a belief, with a conclusion, that identification is the very essence of being occupied with oneself. When one is occupied with, say, internationalism, you have moved from occupying yourself with yourself to something with which you identify yourself. Therefore that identification is still the occupation with oneself. When I identify myself with Christ or Krishna, or whatever it is, I am still in the process of identifying myself with that. It is still occupation with myself.

I wonder if this is clear. Bene? Can we go on if that is clear?

So this central issue is whether one can exist healthily, sanely, harmoniously without identifying with anything, not only outwardly but inwardly – identifying myself with experience, identifying oneself with the family, with beliefs, with institutions and so on. That means, can one live in this world with no identification? Which means can one live harmoniously, both with the outer and the inner, without any sense of occupation and identification?

Is this clear? Let’s be clear of the problem first before we operate on it.

When one is occupied with oneself, with one’s body, with one’s beauty, with one’s eyes – you know, this constant occupation with oneself – you deny actually all relationship, though you may sleep with another, though you may hold hands with another, say ‘What a darling you are’ – all the rest of it, but the identification process separates human beings. And from that: violence, wars, division of races – everything takes place.

Now the next question is whether it is possible to live in this world daily without any sense of identification. Not only with the senses – the body – but with the name, with all the past, the heredity – the Englishman, the German, all the history of all the past – to be completely free from all that and yet live in harmony with activity in daily life. Is this problem clear now?

First of all, there is no speaker, as we pointed out the other day. You are speaking to yourself; you are looking at yourself. The speaker may be the mirror, but the mirror has no value. You use the telephone to speak, but the telephone itself has very little importance. What you say on the telephone is important. So, similarly, there is no speaker here. You are talking to yourself, you are observing yourself, you are observing your occupation with yourself, and the result of that occupation in your daily activity, which is creating such chaos in the world. When people identify themselves with Russia, with a certain ideology, they become terribly brutal, willing to torture people, and so on – we won’t go into all that; everybody knows about it – every magazine, every newspaper goes into all this.

So the next question is: can the mind totally disassociate not only with the knowledge which it has acquired and stored up, to which it becomes attached, but also can the mind remain not in isolation? Because when one thinks: if one is occupied oneself, you have no relationship to others, you are so totally isolated – those are all concepts, conclusions, theories. So what we are saying is: can the mind, including the brain, the senses – when we use the word ‘mind’ I am including all that, the brain, the movement of thought, the experiences accumulated as knowledge, memory, the whole momentum of thinking, and the senses, all that is the mind, which is essentially consciousness – can that mind, which has been so conditioned through millennia – because our minds, brains are very, very, very old, not something new that we have acquired when you are born – it is a tremendously old mind, heavily conditioned to occupy itself with itself – can that mind free itself completely from the past, which includes knowledge, tradition, heredity, all that, and actively, sanely, live in daily life harmoniously? Is this possible? You understand the problem? The identification between the Jew and the Arab in the Middle East, what is happening – when the Russians are occupied with an ideology and forcing man to shape himself according to that ideology – the authoritarian totalitarianism, which is destroying – and so on, so on, so on – does one see this centralised occupation is an enormous danger that is going to destroy man?

Then the problem is: how to disentangle, how to unravel all this and put it all away? Now what is your answer? I am not answering it; you are answering. You are looking in the mirror. There is no speaker – you are looking and asking these questions. If you ask this question looking in the mirror, you might say, ‘Well, it is not possible’ – that is the instinctual response, to say it is not possible. If you say it is not possible, then you have blocked yourself. That is natural, isn’t it? But if you say it is possible, that also means you have blocked yourself. Both the negative and the positive are a way of avoiding the issue. So you are looking at the mirror – there is no speaker – and you are neither accepting nor denying, saying it is or it is not possible, but looking.

So here comes the problem: whether you are actually looking, or you are looking at an idea which you have projected – whether you are actually looking in the mirror, or you are looking with the conclusion or idea, or a hope, and through that hope, through that idea, through that conclusion looking at yourself. When you do that, you can’t see. If I am prejudiced about you because you wear a white shirt, or a blue shirt, or have crinkly hair, or this or that, I can’t – I mean, it is silly; if I want to have any contact with, you it is not possible. But to look at oneself in the mirror and find the answer for yourself in the mirror, because nobody is going to answer it. Then you might say, ‘Why are we here? If you don’t answer this question as the speaker, what the dickens am I sitting here for?’ Which would be a natural response. But as we said, we are human beings. There is this immense problem confronting us, a crisis, danger, destruction, and sane, healthy serious people must answer this, find an answer out of all this. So looking at the mirror, where there is no speaker, you say: is this possible at all, to move out of this habitual, constant, apparently irrevocable movement of this occupation?

So, are you looking at the mirror, or looking at the idea that you have a mirror in front of you? You see the difference? The idea, which is not the fact. The idea is an abstraction of the fact, a movement away from the fact. So if it is terribly important that you find the answer urgently, seriously, then ideas have no place – you are actually looking. Then what takes place?

Krishnamurti in Saanen 1978, Talk 2

Part 4

To Find Out the Truth of Death, All Identification Must End

I want to find out the truth of this extraordinary state, together. Please, this is a very serious game we are playing; it is beyond chess, beyond football, beyond everything. It is a game: we are playing a game with delight, enjoying the game, and therefore the mind is eager to find out. It is not saying, ‘I must find out because I would like to live the next life, I am frightened of death, therefore please tell me if there is something more.’ That is not playing the game. We are together trying to find out the truth of these things. Because death must be the most extraordinary experience, much greater than so-called love, much greater than any desire, any idea, any conclusion, because it may be the end of everything – the end of every form of relationship, every form of recollection, remembrance, accumulation. It might be total annihilation, complete ending of everything. And one must find out what is the truth of this matter.

To find out the truth, to come upon it, every form of identification must end – every form of fear, and the desire for comfort. That desire for comfort may create illusion, and therefore one is caught in that illusion and one says, ‘Yes, there is a marvellous state after death.’ So we are learning how to observe, the way of observation which is holistic – which means there is no fear, no desire for comfort, there is no illusion, and therefore the mind is completely free to look. Are we doing this? Which means you have no attachment – which is enormously difficult because I am attached to my wife, house, ideas, conclusions, and therefore I am frightened to let go, I am frightened to be completely alone. We explained the word ‘alone’ means ‘all one’. So no attachment of any kind to anything: to ideas, to persons, to a future hope – please, if you are playing the game, this is very, very serious – to your son, to your daughter, to your wife or husband – no attachment – which doesn’t mean that you become callous. When there is attachment, there is illusion, and when there is illusion there is no clarity. And when there is no clarity, there is no freedom and therefore no order.

So the mind must have no identification with the name, with the form, or with any person, idea, conclusion – is that possible? And as we said, that does not deny love: on the contrary, when you are attached to a person there is no love; there is dependence, there is the fear of loneliness, to be left alone in a world where everything is so terribly insecure, both psychologically as well as outwardly – therefore the desire to be attached to something.

As you are listening, if you want to find out what is the truth of death, what is the meaning, the real depth of that extraordinary thing that must happen in life, there must be freedom. And there is no freedom when there is attachment, when there is fear, when there is a desire for comfort. Can you put all that aside? Can you? Otherwise, don’t play the game – you can’t play the game. If you have, and I hope you have because we are trying to find out together the truth of this extraordinary thing called death, and also the truth of what is before death. Not the truth after death, but also the truth before death. What is the truth before death? If that is not clear, the other can’t be clear. So we must look very closely and carefully and freely at what is before death, which we call living. Therefore, what is the truth of our living? Which means, what are you, or who are you? You understand? What are you, which you call living? And we are trying to see the truth of that. I don’t have to tell you, have I – you know it very well. A heavily conditioned mind through education, environment, through culture, through religious sanctions and beliefs and dogmas, rituals, my country, your country; the constant battle, wanting to be happy and being unhappy, depressed and elated, going through anxiety, uncertainty, hate, envy and the pursuit of pleasure, fear, afraid to be alone, fear of loneliness, old age, disease – this is the truth of our life, daily life. And can such a mind, which hasn’t put order in this life, order in the sense which comes through clarity and compassion – can such a mind which is so utterly fragmented, disorderly, frightened, can it find out the truth about something else?

So one must first put order in one’s house. The house is burning, and we are, some of us are not aware of it at all. It is actually burning. If you read every day a newspaper, what is happening in every country – your house and the house of humanity is burning. And we are not doing anything about it because we are all concerned with our own immediate security. And when you seek security, for God’s sake, you are bringing about total insecurity.

So during the last six talks, or whatever we have been through, four or five, we have tried to bring about clarity. Out of that clarity and compassion comes intelligence. Intelligence is compassion, is clarity, the awakening of that. And that awakening in the midst of this misery can come about when you live with it completely. You understand? When you live with your suffering, with your sorrow, with your agony, live it completely, not escape from it at all in any direction. Then out of that comes an extraordinary sense of clarity, which we have talked about considerably.

So during these days have you, together, brought about this intelligence in life, before death? If you have, and I hope for the sake of humanity and the world that you have – one wants to cry because we human beings are so damn stupid – then you can find out the truth of death – not partially dying, partially awake, partially dead, as most human beings are, but the total ending, which is, the brain not having enough oxygen can only last – I don’t know exactly – three or five minutes – if you know it, and after that it cannot function. That is death, through disease, accident, old age, or through senility.

Now what is the truth of it all? Some of us may have seen what is before death, and in seeing it very, very, very clearly, out of that clarity comes compassion, and therefore the awakening of intelligence. And with that intelligence we are going to look. Otherwise you cannot see the logic of it. If your house is not in complete order, and therefore complete clarity and compassion, how can you find anything beyond it? So what is the truth of death, that is, complete ending? There may be something, or may not be. Right? Because that is a hope, therefore a hope creates distortion and therefore illusion. So we are cutting that out. Can you stand all this?

So the ending: one can only find out the truth of it when there is an ending, when there is an ending to everything that you have. Can you do it? Ending to your attachment, not giving it a day, but ending it completely now. That is what death means. Can you? So ending, complete ending – when there is complete ending, something new is born. You understand? I wonder if you do.

You know, fear is a burden, a terrible burden, and when you remove that burden completely something new takes place. But we are afraid of ending, ending at the end of one’s life. We are saying: end it now. End it; end your vanity because without ending there is no beginning. And we are caught in this continuity, neverending.

So when there is total complete holistic ending, there is something totally new beginning, of which you cannot possibly imagine. It is a totally different dimension. My saying it has no value. But as we are together playing the game of trying to find out what is the truth of this extraordinary thing called death, to end one’s attachment, to one’s fears, to one’s vanities, conclusions, neuroticism – to end it – can you do it? Will you do it? Are you doing it? Not bit by bit – one day attachment, next day fear, third day vanity, fourth day anxiety and so on – but to end the whole thing now. That is, to end the content of consciousness, which is our consciousness. The content makes consciousness. The content is fear, attachment, greed, envy, my country, your country, my god – content. To end all that, not through will. Through will you can never do anything, in the psychological sense. If you do it by will, there is conflict. And through conflict there is no understanding of the depth and the truth of anything. If you and your wife, or your husband are in conflict, you don’t understand relationship. It is only when there is no conflict you can look at each other. Then you can feel each other, trust each other, love. Then a totally different state exists in relationship.

So to find out the truth of what death is, there must be the ending of this content of one’s consciousness. Therefore you will never ask: ‘Who am I?’ or, ‘What am I?’ You are your consciousness with its content. And when there is an ending to that consciousness with its content, there is something entirely different, which is not imagined. You know, human beings have sought immortality in their action. One writes a book, and in that book there is the immortality of the writer. A great painter does a sketch or a painting, and that painting becomes the immortality of that human being. All that must end, which no artist is willing to do.

So as human beings – and each human being is a representative of the whole of humanity – I wish you could feel that, understand the depth of such a statement. You are the world and the world is you, and when there is change in that consciousness, you bring about a change in the human consciousness. So death is the ending of this consciousness as we know it.

Krishnamurti in Saanen 1977, Talk 6

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