Krishnamurti with Donald Ingram Smith 2
This conversation was recorded in Ojai, California in 1980. Subjects explored include: Our conditioning is irrational. Will doubt help me to find out what truth is? Is there a listening without the word, without recognition? Thought can see itself in action. We have got many toys which absorb us. Is it possible to get rid of them? An occupied mind is always limiting itself, narrowing its activity.
Donald Ingram Smith was a well-known Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) broadcaster from Sydney. For many years he was involved with the recording of Krishnamurti’s talks in Australia and India. He also hosted a radio programme on Krishnamurti. Ingram Smith first met Krishnamurti in 1949 and his memoirs of the times he spent with Krishnamurti through to his death are published in the book Creative Happiness: A Journey with J. Krishnamurti.
Donald Ingram Smith: Krishnaji, the question I would like to go into with you is: what is living? What is this miraculous process, this movement? And, if I may, not on the normal pattern of… not what I would do if I had the time or the energy or the money or the know-how or the capacity; not what living would be ‘if anything’, if somehow I were different, but… and not even what living could be in the future, but what is living now? As I am right now, as the world is, as any human being is, in the situation I find myself, in the position that I am, with the capacities I have or don’t have, how does one come upon the fulfilment of living in the movement that is going on in one’s life?
Krishnamurti: I wonder what you mean by living. Living, not in the future or living as it should be, but what is actually living? Is that what you’re asking?
DS: Yes, I’m asking that. I’m not even… Normally we tend to think of living as doing; we say, ‘What are you doing?’ meaning, ‘What have you… how have you been living? What do you think ought to be done? What are you up to?’
K: Yes, all that.
DS: All that. I’m not quite meaning that.
K: I see. But what are you trying to then ask?
DS: That I’m asking more deeply, I want to get rid of the outside from me, because I tended to think that it was outside, you know, actions out there.
K: Yes, I understand, sir, but then what is it you’re asking, actually?
DS: What really is being? If we can let the… What is being? Is it only in the action that being is?
K: Being is what you have been.
DS: Right; yes.
K: What you have been, with all the experience, memories, knowledge and so on: all that, which is the past, modified in the present is what you call being.
DS: Yes. Then I am this; but then this being that I seem to be, that I am, divides the world into me, the conscious being who sees life around me, and so there is division and duality in this which… I distinguish between the outside being and the… and my understanding of it, although my understanding of it is… There is a duality here which I would like to be able to go into.
K: All right. You mean you, the being of you…
K: …and the being of the world…
K: …are two different things, are two…
DS: My consciousness of it might be different from what it is.
K: Your consciousness divides the thing.
DS: Right; right.
K: It may not be that way, but our education, our various forms of dogmas, beliefs…
K: …and nationalism and racial prejudices…
K: …and so on and so on, has divided this.
K: The world and the me.
DS: Right, and that’s how I see it.
K: That’s… of course, that’s how we see it because of our conditioning.
K: But is that a fact? Apart from our conditioning, which is also a fact…
K: …but is it a rational fact or irrational division?
DS: It would seem to be an irrational division, but the fact remains that the way I see it is what I say it is, so… (inaudible)…
DS: …I make it what I…
K: Yes. That is, if one is an Arab…
K: …conditioned in the whole Islamic tradition, he and the opposing… and the Jew, with his tradition…
K: …with his background, with his history in the ancient line, and so on and so on, the chosen; and these two elements are being… human beings conditioned, are at… in clash.
K: I’m asking you whether this clash is rational.
DS: It’s certainly not rational.
K: Not rational, therefore our conditioning is irrational.
DS: Right, yes; of course.
K: So… and as most human beings are irrational, and that irrationality takes the form of being factual.
DS: Right; right.
K: So we are saying that’s not factual; it’s irrational. What is factual is, all… human beings are not different; we all have the same anxieties, pain, and so on and so on…
DS: Yes; yes.
K: …so we are all… we are humanity, each one.
DS: Yes; yes.
K: Not American, Russian – those are labels; but beyond the label, beyond the superficial nationalism and so on, we are… the common ground of all humanity is their sorrow, pain and so on.
DS: Yes, and we all have every… we all have totalities in ourselves anyhow.
K: No, no.
DS: No, I meant of… organistically and…
K: Organistically, organically…
K: …organically, we are.
K: Our brains, which have developed through millennia, our brain, it’s a common brain; it’s not yours, mine.
K: So… but you see, our conditioning, our education, our upbringing, all that makes for this terrible division.
K: Which is destroying humanity.
DS: Yes. Now, Krishnaji, can I go into a question here which relates to this in a way? When I ask this question – or any question, for that matter – I see that the question is formulated by the conscious mind and by my observation.
K: Surely; surely.
DS: But the resolution of the problem or the understanding of the problem does not lie in consciousness at the time the question is put.
K: You are asking a question…
K: …and you’re saying, ‘Is that question put by a conditioned mind?’
DS: That’s right.
K: As our consciousness is conditioned…
K: …and out of that conditioning the question is put.
DS: That’s right. But it’s… the question is put, and at the time the question is put, there is no answer in that realm.
K: No; no; therefore, as I’ve always said, in the question, and how you approach the question…
K: …lies the answer.
DS: Yes; yes. Though, would you say…I’m… Yes, but then… The process… what is the process of approaching, because in my consciousness I have worked through the problem and discovered this area that I don’t understand, or that is not complete, and so I pose the question about that area; so my question might be: Are questions really only signposts to suggest the area in which the investigation or the inquiry should take place?
K: Yes; surely, sir. I put a question. I generally put a question because I don’t know the answer.
DS: That’s right.
K: I generally put a question because it’s a problem; I generally put a question because it is troublesome, it’s worrying.
DS: Yes, that’s disturbing; my word.
K: So. And my desire is to resolve that, because it’s irritating, it is bringing discomfort, various forms of malaise.
K: So I begin to say, ‘What is the answer to this?’ So I put a question because of the problem…
K: …which has not been resolved. If it is (inaudible), I have no… question. So the problem exists in the conscious mind. Out of that conscious mind which has the problem, that conscious mind says, ‘How am I to resolve this?’ The question is, how am I… what am I to do, what am I not to do, and so on and so on. So is the question put because of the problem…
DS: And to get rid of it.
K: Of course. Or, without the problem you are putting the question?
DS: Without the problem?
K: You understand my question?
DS: Not quite, because I…
K: I’ll tell you.
K: I put a question: whether salvation exists through one person.
K: Because I’ve been brought…
K: I put that question, not because I reject that or I accept it.
K: It isn’t a problem to me because I don’t know. I don’t know if there is one person who’s going to save all humanity; and I don’t reject either – I don’t know.
K: So I put a question not knowing, because it’s not a problem to me.
DS: Quite right. But, sir, when the problem is a problem to me…
K: Then is… totally different process takes place.
K: That is, I’ve a problem of faith; and you… and the Eastern religion says you must have doubt.
K: Doubt is very… it’s like… it’s a very cleansing, very effective. In the Western world faith is emphasised; so I say, ‘Look, when there is doubt there’s no faith.’ But faith exists because moment you question that, the whole religious structure comes tumbling down.
K: So my… I put a question: What place has truth in the field where faith has been established, or will doubt help me to find out what truth is?
DS: Doubt is the question, in a sense.
K: Doubt is always questioning: it’s saying, ‘Is this so?’
K: Am I deceiving myself? Am I caught in an illusion? Am I accepting some authority which I… which has no meaning?
DS: Yes; yes.
K: So doubt has an extraordinary cleansing effect on the brain, on the mind.
DS: Doubt is really the questioner, in a sense – the questioning, rather.
DS: Yes; yes. Now, to return in a sense to the question of, ‘What is living?’ what is it that lives? What is it that is experiencing? What is it that remembers? Is it only the residue, the record in the brain cells, is…?
K: Of course.
DS: That’s all?
K: So, sir, that’s why I asked at the beginning, when you put that question, what is it that we call living – actual, not theoretical, not theological…
K: …not utopia or communist or this or the other? What is actually living for every one of us?
K: From there we can start.
DS: That is… Yes.
K: Which is a fact.
K: From the fact to fact we can move; not from theology to theology, to theories to theories.
K: If you abolish all that, then you move from fact to fact.
K: The fact is our living is a tremendous, complex turmoil. Right? That’s a fact.
DS: No doubt.
K: Every other thing is non-fact. Praying for peace…
DS: Oh, yes, what we do…
K: … (inaudible) communism, social…
DS: Yes; yes.
K: …they have a meaning in… perhaps further on, later, or no meaning at all; but this is a fact. This is the common, human ground upon which every person stands.
K: Which is: the daily routine, the boredom, the tyranny of priests, the tyranny of gurus, tyranny of somebody… so on and so on; and greed, envy, greed, anxiety, dependence – that is the common ground of all human beings.
DS: Right; but the question that I’m attempting to…
K: What are you attempting?
DS: I really am not exactly sure, probably, but what I’m moving into, if I can, is that I notice that when I am listening, and I hear the birds, and the voices and the cars, and… I hear sounds, and then there is the question of what is listening. Not so much who, but what is it that is listening? Not what is heard, but the state which hears.
K: That is, sir, you are saying, ‘What is the act of listening?’ Is that it?
DS: Yes, it…
K: Not to the birds…
K: …not to music, not to a song, but the state of listening.
DS: The state of listening – what is that?
K: That’s what you’re asking.
DS: That’s what I’m really asking.
K: What is the state of listening? Not listening to something.
DS: Yes, not what is heard.
K: Not what… Of course.
DS: No distinguishing, no identification, nothing.
K: Yes. Not… I want to understand your question.
K: That is, I’m not listening to anything, but I want… you’re asking a question, ‘What is the state, in itself, of listening?’
K: Is that it?
DS: What is the state of listening? I… and this might be a wrong question – which lies, for me anyhow, just below that – which is: what is the state of listening, but what is listening?
DS: What is… what listens?
K: That’s what we’re coming to here? What listens? Let’s go step by step.
K: Which is: I hear that bird singing, I’ve heard it before; it has been registered in my brain, and it is a nightingale or a robin or a blackbird, and I recognise it. The recognising process is, and the remembering process is: I’ve heard it before; so it is born out of previous listening, previous knowledge and I say, ‘Yes, that’s the song of the nightingale.’ Now… that’s simple enough; but if you… is there a listening – let me put it – is there a listening without any object of… to which you are listening? Is that it?
DS: Yes, that is my question.
K: Obviously there is.
K: That is, I’m not listening to the nightingale – I’ve heard it; I know it – but I’m trying to find out what is listening.
K: Would you call it attention? I hear it through the ear.
DS: Yes, I… yes.
K: It is not hearing with the ear…
K: …but hearing, not to any sound…
K: …but that state of hearing which is total attention, which has not a centre from which I’m listening.
DS: Yes, sir, but my… but in this… in me is… what is it that is attending?
K: No, sir, just a minute; I understand your question. I am… when I listen to the nightingale it’s very simple. I’m listening to the song, which I’ve known before, so I recognise it and say, ‘It is the song of that beautiful bird.’ Right? That’s a listening. That’s also listening with the ear, with memory…
K: …with remembrance and recognition and so on; all that is an act of listening also. Now we are… we were asking, ‘Is there a listening without the bird?’
DS: Without recognition.
K: Without recognition, without the image of the bird, without the song, memory and so on. Of course there is. That is… I would call that… that’s the actual state of listening. I listen to that man in the grove; he says you must learn the act of listening, the art of listening; not to what is being said – that also is implied – but also go beyond it. That is, listen not only to your own thoughts, to your own feelings, but also… but I… we’ve gone beyond that.
DS: That’s right.
K: We say: listen to something that has no sound. . DS: Right. Is there any thing, or any listening to the no sound?
K: That’s why I said, sir…
DS: Back to the duality question… (inaudible).
K: Yes, that’s what I said. This act of listening is attention; in which, as we said the other day, there is no centre from which you are listening.
DS: From which listening takes place.
K: There is no listener and the nightingale.
DS: Right; right.
K: Which means from this point to that point…
K: …only the sense of complete attention.
DS: It seems to be, sir, when one is attending in this way, it seems that there is nothing attending. It seems like a void, as though there is…
K: That’s right.
DS: A void…
K: Of course.
DS: …behind and through.
K: Of course. Sir, I don’t know if you’ve gone into this. Our listening is always from point to point.
DS: Right; that’s right.
K: That’s clear?
K: Our listening is in a periphery… in a boundary of movement from me to that.
K: Or that to me.
DS: Always duality.
K: This process going on. I wouldn’t even call it… this is the process which we all know. You are asking something, which is, when you have… We’re all very familiar with this; but is there a listening which is not that?
K: I said there is, which is when the mind… again… (inaudible) when the mind is totally attending.
DS: Not my mind.
K: Sir, the mind.
DS: Yes, yes. Is it a kind…?
K: Sir, no; when you say, ‘My mind,’ or the… I said the mind listening, then there is no your mind or my mind.
DS: Yes; yes.
K: You are complete… in attention in which there is no me or you or…
DS: Quite; yes; yes.
K: This, sir, this attention, I think can either be very partial…
K: …and in that limited, partial attention, you invent, you paint, you write poems, you… literature, all that.
DS: You get a description of it in some way.
K: Yes; but we are talking of total attention, which goes beyond this so-called creativity of talent.
DS: Yes. This state seems to have no dimension whatsoever.
K: Sir, of course; but you… Sir, this happens, this is a natural thing; it is not an abnormal thing. This happens when you are… I mean… (inaudible) see something extraordinarily beautiful, you’re looking at it. There is not… it’s not you are looking at it – there is that. I don’t know if you… Let me put it another way. When you see a mountain, the splendour of it, with snow, with deep valleys, the shadows and the skyline, the great magnificent dignity of a mountain, when you look at it, you don’t exist; you with your problems, all that, you… that very greatness drives away the pettiness. But like a child, like a baby or a child, give him a toy and he’s so absorbed by it he’s no longer mischievous, no longer rushing about restless; he’s absorbed by it. Same way, the mountain has absorbed me. You follow? I don’t exist; it is too great. Which is, I am… the toy absorbs the child, the mountain absorbs me; but when the mountain is not there, I’m back to myself.
DS: Can we live in that state…
K: Ah, that’s what I’m telling you.
DS: …without the mountain or without the toy?
K: I’m coming to that. But most of us…
DS: Oh, yes.
K: …have toys.
DS: All the time.
K: National toys, racial toys, toys of belief and God – belief. We have great many toys.
DS: Political toys every day in the news.
K: Ah, of course; great many toys, which absorb us from our troubles, from our problems. Now, can each human being, can every human being not be absorbed by all this?
DS: That really is the question.
K: And so faces himself.
K: And see what he is. And the very seeing of what is will change what is.
DS: So we have to go through the limitation; there’s not much point in talking about the… putting this… is it possible to live in the state of not knowing or of…
DS: …and only come out when needed?
DS: Whether… challenged?
K: No, no, no, no, you’re putting… that makes a duality… (inaudible)…
DS: Yes… (inaudible).
K: …all kinds of trouble.
K: Sir, just take this simile now: the child with a toy. The toy, if it is pleasant and all the rest, absorbs the child. And we have got great many toys, which prevent us from observing what is happening to us, what is taking place in us. Right?
K: All entertainment is this: forget yourself; and you go to the football field, and you make a lot of noise, and all the… etc. It is the same with war – your responsibility, all that is taken over by the generals. So, as we have got so many toys which absorb us, we are… is it possible, first of all, to get rid of all the toys?
DS: That is the question.
K: Not one or two but the…
DS: The process of…
K: …all the toys.
DS: The process of…
K: …which means: who is the toy maker? You follow?
DS: Yes. Who is the observer, then?
K: Yes. Who is the toy maker?
K: The toy maker is thought.
K: Thought, which is in itself incomplete…
K: … and all the rest of it, which is, knowledge being incomplete, always. Thought born… comes out of knowledge, experience, memory; that thought, being incomplete, creates all the toys. So to be free of toys means to be free… to know the limitation of thought.
DS: Is it more important… is the… – not more – is the thing to do see the limitation of thought rather than to seek the whole state?
K: No. If I know the limitation of thought then I won’t make toys.
K: I know that’s illusion. The limitation of thought in technology, in all the worldly business – there you see the limitation.
(Pause in recording)
K: And our… so our life, directed, controlled by thought, is limited, fragmentary, broken up; and these fragments are fighting each other.
K: The struggle, the conflict; you and I, and I am a Jew, you are an Arab, you are Indian, I’m Australian, I’m this, I’m that; it’s this constant battle… (inaudible).
DS: And the struggle inside and well as… (inaudible).
K: Of course: inside, outside, everywhere.
K: So, we are saying thought has its right place…
K: …in the technological world. But thought psychologically has no place whatsoever.
K: Because moment when thought creates the image of me as being German, it must naturally be opposed to other non-Germans, or non-this and non-that.
DS: Yes. Why do we not learn directly from others or from life? Why don’t we learn directly? What prevents the human being from instantly…
DS: … immediately, instantly…
K: It’s very simple…
K: Sir, look what is happening. The Indian mind, the Hindu mind has been conditioned for five thousand years… three thousand, five thousand, four thousand. The Christian mind has been conditioned for two thousand years; systematically, very, very carefully, in an… in good order.
DS: Yes; regular. Regularly.
K: Regular. Systematically it has been conditioned for two thousand years: One saviour, and nobody else.
K: In India it has been conditioned that God is the supreme or the highest principle, he’s in every man, you have to find your own truth; and they have their own conditioning; and this conditioning says, ‘I must go to… do this.’
DS: It sets its own goal and objective because it’s conditioned.
K: That’s finished now.
K: But you wiped away that, the tradition of two thousand years – if you have – but you have fallen into another.
DS: Yes; of course.
K: The gurus, the psychologists, the other traps. But what we are saying, if you see this conditioning of two thousand or five thousand, the nature of it, why the mind is conditioned – because in that conditioning there is safety, security, certainty, no confusion, but it creates such havoc in the world. But once you see the nature and structure of conditioning, you don’t drop into another. The other day, after one of the talks, a boy came up to me and he said, ‘Sir, I am free of the tyranny of all gurus.’
DS: Hm. I hope it was truth. Why then is it that we are not… what prevents the awareness of the limitation? Because there’s a tendency to look for the other and not be aware of the immediate.
K: Of course; of course.
DS: We look for the eternal and the ephemeral disappears.
K: Yes. That’s one of the most difficult problems, sir, which is: can thought be aware of its own movement?
DS: Can it, sir?
K: That’s what I’m asking. That’s the question you are asking. I say: of course. Not thought observing thought – you understand what I’m saying?
DS: Yes, thought aware of its own…
K: Of itself.
DS: …of itself.
K: How it begins, how it moves. You can; you can observe…
DS: I sometimes do experiments, in a sense, with this; play with it.
K: You can see… – sir, just a minute – you can see very clearly, observe very clearly the origin of greed.
DS: Right. Oh yes, you can see that happening.
K: The origin, the beginning and the end of it. Right?
DS: Of the whole of greed or… (inaudible)?
K: The whole of greed.
K: How it begins with desire…
K: …and so on and so on and so on; what desire… You can see the whole movement if you are alert, watchful, the whole movement and the nature of greed at one glance. That is, to have an insight into the movement of greed.
DS: Is it actually awareness, because the insight into the whole movement… the whole movement is there inherently all the time?
K: The whole movement is inherently there. Not inherently; I won’t say. The whole movement is there, unless you are totally free of it. Of course.
DS: Aha; I see.
K: I wouldn’t use the word inherent.
DS: I hear that too, yes.
K: That leads to other questioning. So can… we are asking, sir, can thought, knowledge – you follow? – …
K: …knowledge which has been acquired through experience and memory…
DS: Yes; yes.
K: …and thought. Now, just shows you something. I remember getting hurt.
K: Physically or psychologically; I remember it; and I’m not aware thought… watching. That hurt comes out…
K: …as memory. It’s all… rapid. We are slowing it down to observe it.
K: But it’s so rapid. I’m… one is cleaning one’s teeth – suddenly there is the remembrance of somebody saying some hurtful thing and there it begins, the thought begins.
K: That… the very remembering of that statement which was hurtful, harmful, the remembrance itself is the movement of thought.
DS: Of course.
K: So you can watch it; you can see the movement begin and go on. Not you can. There is attention… if you are aware, the thing moves.
DS: Then you just observe it.
K: No; ah, not you observe it. We are saying: Can thought be aware if itself? Of course it can.
DS: You said…
K: Not you are aware of thought beginning, because you are the result of thought; you are the result of your conditioning, of your experiences, of your pleasures, of your fears, of your sexual memories, this, that – you are that.
DS: Does thought go on in this awareness movement? Does thought…?
K: No. If one is… Sir, take a very simple example like greed – though it’s complex, but it’s simple, in the sense you can… you see something in the shop; the reaction to that thing which you have seen – a shirt, a robe – and the image, thought making the image of you putting on that shirt, how nice it looks, and greed begins. You go into the shop and buy it. That is, if you need it, it’s one thing; but if you say, ‘I’ve got a hundred shirts…’ Hm? And so on. So, greed – you can observe this movement very simply, can’t you?
DS: Oh, yes.
K: That’s very simple. So we are saying thought can observe itself in action; in action, not say, ‘Well, I’ll observe… I’m questioning whether thought can see itself’ – of course; that becomes silly; but you can see, in action, the operation of thought. Thought can see itself in action.
DS: Yes. It seems, then, not to persist, though.
DS: The thought then seems not to… it seems to run and… run down in the…
K: Sir, look, sir; you see, our mind is so occupied with daily routine, with our problems, with I must go and cook, I must wash up – it’s occupied all the time.
DS: I make up occupations in the morning: what am I doing, and everything.
K: Of course; of course. It’s occupied.
K: What am I to do… (inaudible) and so on. It’s occupied; so there is no space. That is, if I’m not occupied the mind gets… the brain feels frightened, because in occupation it is safe, it is secure; but moment when it’s not occupied, it wants to be occupied with something: turn on the television, read a book, or talk – you know, all that goes on. So the brain itself has come to that state where it feels secure in occupation; so this constant occupation makes the mind… brain rather heavy, dull. There’s nothing new.
DS: No space for it.
K: Of course; that’s very simple
DS: But we are…
DS: I’m sorry.
K: Go on.
DS: We are afraid of idleness. We think that it ought to be occupied; that if you’re idle and doing… just watching the day…
K: Ah, that’s another – you follow? – that’s another form of… I’m not watching… I’m not cooking, I’m not washing up the dishes, I’m not…
DS: (Inaudible)… I’m idling.
K: …I’m not driving a car, going to the office, but I’m watching the sun, or the birds; but that is also another occupation. So we’re asking: can the brain – can thought, really – see what it is doing, being occupied, occupied, and in that occupation the brain feels safe, secure, and so it doesn’t doubt, it has faith, it is… it says, ‘God is,’ ‘God is not,’ in all that is… And we are saying such an occupied mind is always limiting itself, narrowing its own activity; and in this narrow activity it feels completely secure, and it doesn’t want to be disturbed. You come along and say, ‘What you’re occupied with is illusion, or nonsense, it has no meaning.’ I reject you…
DS: Of course.
K: …because I’m… (inaudible) disturbing… (inaudible). But you have sown the seed. I’m always saying, ‘By George, that’s so.’ You follow? You have sown the seed of doubt; and I begin to worry or say, ‘I throw you out,’ but the thing goes on unconsciously, deeply, because what you have said is… has a quality of integrity, some kind of… it’s a law. So that’s beginning to worry me, and I say, ‘My God, what am I to do?’ So I go to my priest or somebody and say, ‘Please help me, I’m uncertain; my actions are neurotic,’ and all the rest of it.
DS: But when you refuse to go to anyone…
K: Yes… when you don’t move and say, ‘Yes, I’m going to examine my limitation; the limitation which thought has created, which is my national…’ All that. Out; finished. Which means I… the mind is willing to move out of its narrow groove… it sees the necessity of moving out of a particular groove.
DS: Its own groove.
K: Its own groove; of course.
K: Its own self-created groove which it thinks it’s different.
DS: That groove is the human groove.
K: Of course, sir, that’s what you… what one calls living. We come back to that, which is, what we call living is this narrow, limited, fragmentary, conflicting life of every day. And that’s not living. (Inaudible)… when one gets used to war, fighting, fighting, shooting off cannons and all that, we say that’s natural.
DS: That’s right. Then what is living?
K: Not this.
DS: Right. It’s only indication then?
K: When you know this is not living, then that ends; then you begin to… (inaudible).
K: Not you begin; there is living. After all, that means freedom from all…
Krishnamurti in Ojai, 14 May 1980