Krishnamurti with Linda Strawn

Episode Notes

Linda Strawn was a presenter at Pacifica Radio. This conversation with Krishnamurti was recorded in Ojai, California in 1984. Topics include: Is it possible to look at the external and internal simultaneously? Why does the brain immediately create images when meeting someone? Is there security psychologically? Is it possible to uncondition the brain? As long as you are conditioned, do what you will outwardly, nothing is going to change man. I see nationalism is a danger, so I move away from danger. Our brains are occupied all the time and so our energy is limited. If you change, deeply, profoundly, it affects the consciousness of man. Psychologically, do not depend on anybody.


Linda Strawn: Is it possible to see, to observe inside and outside something easily, if you are on the outside and the inside?

Krishnamurti: Why do you ask that question?

LS: It is something which stays with me.

K: All right. Wait a minute, let’s look at it. Is it possible, you are asking, is it possible to look at the outer, the external, and the inside at the same moment, simultaneously? Right?

LS: Yes.

K: Now, before I answer that question, I don’t quite know what you mean the outer and the inner. You may mean one thing and I may translate that into something else. So we’ll be not answering each other. So I must be clear what you mean by the outer.

LS: I have a habit, which other people have too, of making models in my mind of how things are.

K: Yes. So… I understand. I beg your pardon.

LS: And regardless of what the things are which I’m considering, even if it’s something like, ‘What is the nature of reality? How does the human mind function?’ my models always contain insides and outsides. Frequently nests, like Chinese boxes, micro, macro, micro… on ad infinitum. And when I speak with other people who are doing this, generally scientists but frequently theologians, their models also contain these elements. So when people ask me what I am interested in and what I am trying to do – just a man I might meet who says, ‘Oh, you do radio programmes, what is it…?’ – if I like him well enough, I tell him I try to see the inside and the outside at the same time. He never asks, ‘What you mean by that?’ He usually says, ‘That’s impossible,’ or shrugs. (Laughs)

K: Quite.

LS: You know? I think that model-making is a useless but… an ultimately useless but very worthwhile thing to do.

K: Yes. I understand now. May I use the word image instead of the model?

LS: Okay.

K: Would that convey…?

LS: If it’s understood that the image is a complex image, rather than a single…

K: Yes. Yes. I meet you, and by looking at you – like/dislike, colour, this, that – I make an image about you. Right? That image may vary from time to time, become more and more complex, but it’s still a pattern, a mould, a picture. Right? And you also make a picture of me, mould, image.

LS: Yes.

K: That image contains both the outer and the inner.

LS: Does my image of you contain…?

K: No. I said the image I make of you and you make an image of me, that image contains the outer and the inner. Right?

LS: I’m not sure.

K: Wait a minute, I’ll show it to you.

I may dress most outlandishly. That’s the outer. That would also be part of the image. I look at this house as I come in, I see the proportions of this house, the nature of the house and so on, the architecture of it; that’s the outer. And also I meet the person who lives in the house. I make an image of the outer and the person who is also the outer and also I meet that person, talk to her, find out and so on, and so I also build an image about her. Not only of physical appearance and all the rest of it, but also her attitudes, her prejudices and so on. So that image contains both the outer and the inner.

LS: Wholly?

K: Perhaps, if I am…

LS: But perhaps not.

K: Perhaps not. But if I am watching very carefully the whole thing: the architecture, those proportions of those bricks, how they are put together, whether it’s symmetrical or crooked — I watch.

LS: It depends on how perceptive you are.

K: Ah, that’s it; that’s what I am saying.

LS: Yes.

K: If I’m not perceptive, I just walk in and greet you and go… There is no… But the moment I begin to question, watch, look, perceptive, I begin to see both the outer and the person who is… et cetera. So that image, that picture… that mould contains both the outer and the inner, either wholly or partially. Right?

LS: Yes.

K: We are together now. So what value or significance that image has? Or has it… it has no value at all. But what has value is perception, acute perception, acute observation, intense awareness. Right?

LS: Yes.

K: I take… If I’m aware, I see the whole, how the chimney is built…

LS: But I may be aware of what is inside me, simultaneously.

K: Yes, yes, of course.

LS: And as I form an image of that which is out me, an image which contains also something of what is inside it, I may be aware binocularly…

K: Yes, of course, we said that.

LS: …of them both. We said that.

K: We said that. Right?

LS: Yes.

K: So what’s the next question?

LS: How far can you push that?

K: No. I wouldn’t push that. I would ask, if I may: has that image any value at all?

LS: To whom?

K: To me or to… in my relationship.

LS: Without question the image has value. Yes.

K: I question it.

LS: All right.

K: I question altogether the image-making activity. There’s only perception.

LS: Oh, I see.

K: But what’s the value of an image of the inner, the outer…? What’s…? Now, just a minute, let’s come a little closer, may we?

LS: Yes.

K: I’m a visitor. Suppose I’m a visitor to America. I have looked at all the things that are happening, I form an image about the people, image about the Americans. Right? That image is going to prevent me from really looking at America.

LS: Yes, I understand what you’re saying.

K: So why should I create an image?

LS: Why should you keep the image you create? How can you help in creating an image in the moment?

K: That’s what I’m asking you.

LS: I think you cannot help but create it in the moment and that…

K: Wait. No, wait, wait, wait. Don’t say you cannot help. I create an image, if I am married, about my wife and she creates an image about me and these two images have relationship.

LS: You can get stuck in them.

K: That’s what we call relationship.

LS: Well, that’s one kind.

K: Écoutez. I mean, let’s go into it slowly. Is that… Why do you call that one kind?

LS: That is…

K: That’s what is happening.

LS: Generally, yes.

K: Actuality that is what’s happening.

LS: One can imagine an ideal.

K: Ah, no… Then that’s… such imagination has no significance. What is actual is important, not imaginative, romantic significance.

LS: Are you in relationship if you do not hold on to an image which you’ve created about your wife and she does not hold on to one which she’s created about you…?

K: Is that possible, first?

LS: This is a matter of contention.

K: No. I say it is possible, not contention.

LS: It may be.

K: No. No, madame. I am saying, we are saying – at least, I’ve no wife and no husband, I’m just saying – why do we create the image?

LS: You are asking?

K: Yes. Why do we create it?

LS: Is that the question? Is that the only question?

K: No, begin with that. There are a dozen questions.

LS: We begin with that and we go…

K: No, I’m… we are… If I can understand that question: why does the brain, when I meet a woman or a man, immediately create an image?

LS: I understand that question in two senses, at least. Psychologically, we create the image because we have a need for security and the image gives us that.

K: That’s it. Let’s stop there for a minute. Does the image give you… give one actually security?

LS: Not completely. In a certain limited sense, but not in a complete sense.

K: Yes. So now… So why do we create…? If you are seeking security in an image, whether it’s outer or inner – you understand?

LS: Yes, yes.

K: …is there such security?

LS: If one seeks deep security, no.

K: No, is… No, madame. Listen a little more. Is there security in the images that thought has created?

LS: Is there security in the images that thought has created? I cannot give a better answer but to say that it depends on the domain in which you are taking.

K: At any domain, any level, any realm.

LS: Then – and I know you will challenge this – I would say, ‘Yes.’ And I would say, ‘Yes,’ only because of the second answer to your original question: why does the mind create these images? And my second answer, which was not the psychological answer but the physical one, and we are embedded in physical bodies.

K: Of course. That’s part of our…

LS: And our mind resonates to the fact that we are embedded in physical bodies, individual matter.

K: Why do you use embedded?

LS: I could choose another word.

K: Embedded means captured.

LS: To a degree we are captured, yes; to an important degree by matter, yes. We are creatures of matter as well as spirit, energy, whatever you’d like to say.

K: I’m imprisoned in my body?

LS: In a very significant sense, yes; however much you might be able to say, in another significant way, no.

K: That means: who am I who is embedded in it?

LS: If I answer that question, I’m afraid…

K: …we’ll go on.

LS: …we won’t return.

K: I’ll return.

LS: Very well. Because the point that I want to return to…

K: What is the point you want to return to?

LS: That the mind… we create images and fix them and pretend and relate to them as though they were real – real in quotes – because we are creatures of matter.

K: Yes. Our brain is matter, physical is matter, thinking is matter.

LS: And matter tries to reproduce itself, so to speak.

K: Yes, yes, agreed, all that.

LS: It mirrors itself in the images we create. We think it lasts because we have the feeling that our bodies… they are like our bodies.

K: Now, we also say putting together a picture, an image, a model, a structure gives us a sense of security.

LS: Exactly. Yes.

K: We both see that.

LS: Yes.

K: I am asking you a question: does it? We think it does

LS: Yes. And I answer… – but you indicate no…

K: Please, go on.

LS: …that it is in an illusory sense of security.

K: That’s all.

LS: In the deep sense, it is not security.

K: Yes. So – please, listen – so we have to ask a much deeper question: is there security at all? In what… There is security in having a house and so on, food, clothes and so on.

LS: Yes. These are the limited domains in which I was referring.

K: Now, if I want to find out, inquire more deeply: is there really security psychologically, inwardly? I can have security by having a house built, that sort of…

LS: But in the deep sense.

K: But inwardly, can I have… is there such thing as security?

LS: No. I would say…

K: Why… – wait! Madame, écoutez, écoutez, un instant – why do you say that so quickly? You understand what I’m saying? Look, please go into it carefully. Man wants security, human beings want security: a house and also inwardly. And he’s searched for thousands of years, not just this minute. And not finding it quite, quite, it’s rather doubtful, then he projects something which he hopes will give him security: God, this, that and the other. Right? But he never asks: is there security at all? Just a minute. Don’t answer it yet. You might say… I might say, ‘Yes, there is an absolute security. Not in the search to find security.’

LS: But in the freedom to throw the search away?

K: Beg your pardon, I couldn’t hear.

LS: In the freedom to be without it?

K: Now, wait a minute, just a minute, would you let me… (inaudible)? You said there is no security – a few minutes ago, a few seconds ago – deeply. What made you say that?

LS: Because the answers which come to mind in saying, ‘Yes, there’s security; look at this,’ one by one, one can peel them away…

K: Yes.

LS: …and you keep peeling and peeling…

K: And finally you come to see that there is no security. What made you come to that?

LS: You mean rationally what made me come to it?

K: Not only logically, rationally, but you say, ‘By Jove, that is so.’

LS: Well, it’s the sense that if I hold on to myself, I’m going to get into trouble. (Laughs)

K: Again, what makes you say that? Is it…?

LS: It is the intuitive…

K: Ah…

LS: Well, what can I answer? Oh, you’re making a face, a sour face. I will… let me say it and then you can tell me why you’re making… (laughs)

K: I’m not making a sour face; I’m… I don’t… Now, what do you mean… I was going to say, ‘What do you mean by intuition?’ Therefore I’ve stopped.

LS: All right. I see. Well, you asked me to locate what in me makes me give that answer, and I could say, you know, the reason or intuition but it seems to me both. Basically it’s simply the experience which one has momentarily every now and then that… and sometimes the observation as well – which is an easier way to answer; let me go at it this way because this is a verbal way. One sees in retrospect or sometimes at the same time when you are functioning well, when you have the sense of rightness or at-oneness with oneself and one’s life and the world, all the various names it goes by, being in tune or whatever…

K: Would you use the word… when you said peel off…

LS: I would peel down. This is a habit of mine.

K: Yes. Yes. Would you…? To see profoundly that there is no security, as we said just now, would you use the word intelligence? Not the intelligence of thought. Not the intelligence…

LS: You mean a sort of gnosis? A kind of gnosis…?

K: Not gnosis. No, please, just stick to simple words.

LS: Would I say that it’s my intelligence which leads me to that?

K: Not your intelligence. Intelligence is not yours or mine; it is intelligence.

LS: If by intelligence, one means a sort of… I can’t… I could use like clarity or…

K: No… May I just go into this a little?

LS: Yes.

K: One of the causes of war is separate nationalisms. Right? One of the causes.

LS: One of the many causes, yes.

K: I said one of the causes. I see this: the world has been divided into various nationalities and that’s one of the major causes of war. And I look at this and say, ‘As this is a… nationalism is one of the causes of war, I won’t be a nationalist.’ Right? I’m finished with nationalism.

LS: All right.

K: To see the… To perceive and act. Right? Which is part of intelligence. And I see how religions have divided people throughout the world. Perceive and act. Therefore, not belong to any religion. Which doesn’t mean I am not religious. So I put away all the religions established by man. So I begin then to say, ‘What is religion?’ So I begin to inquire. You follow? So this whole process of seeing the false and moving away from the false. As you call it, peeling it off. That is part of intelligence, rational, reasonable, sane, and I say, ‘This is silly.’ Right? So I see there is no security, profoundly, and that’s part of my intelligence says there is no security in this… in which I have been searching security. So perhaps security exists in intelligence not… You understand?

LS: Perhaps.

K: So what is intelligence? You follow? What, to you, is intelligence?

LS: I want to get away from the sense that there’s a right answer.

K: I don’t want a right answer. Let’s push that aside. Let’s look at it. Let’s perceive the… What is intelligence in human beings? What is intelligence?

LS: Seeing things as they are.

K: Which means what? To see things as they are requires…

LS: Truly. As they are truly.

K: …as they are truly requires no prejudice, no opinions, no bias.

LS: Yes. Although… that is an ideal model.

K: No. It’s a fact. Why do you make it an ideal?

LS: It is something I think… I think it’s a worthy activity, a worthy aim, something I hope, in a small way, to be able to do.

K: No. No. You…

LS: But I ask myself, as pure or as peeled-down as one might become, I’m still one person.

K: No, you are not one person because…

LS: I can’t see the whole. I cannot be absolutely without point of view.

K: I’ll show you in a…

LS: Although I can be awfully good. Show me.

K: You saw just now nationalism is one of the major causes of war. So you’re no longer a nationalist. Now, that is not an ideal; it’s a fact, and you move away from the fact. Right?

LS: It’s one layer gone.

K: No. Look at it. Religions, you brush all this aside. Right? The meaning of the word intelligence comes from Latin, Greek and so on – I won’t go into all that – means to read between the lines, to gather information and to observe without any direction, without any deviation, just observation, perception. That’s not an ideal.

LS: When I feel or think or observe, or whatever the right verb is for the moment, that I am approaching that, in myself that I am doing that, a little flag goes up at my head and says, ‘You may be doing very well, but let’s not get all puffed-up.’

K: Puffed-up. Of course, that’s silly.

LS: You know? I say, ‘You are, for whatever distance you successfully put between yourself, your culture’ – me, I’m speaking of, or anyone, indeed – ‘nonetheless a creature of your background.’

K: No. The background is my conditioning.

LS: Yes, exactly, and I know that you believe or you say, and perhaps have escaped from your conditioning.

K: I don’t… Please, just a minute; careful. I have been talking for sixty years and I say it is possible to be free of the conditioning.

LS: I think it’s possible too, but not continually.

K: Then, sorry… Don’t use the word continually. The word continually implies a continuity. Right?

LS: Right.

K: And so that very word gives you a sense of continuity of conditioning.

LS: Well… (laughs) I don’t know.

K: Look, madame, one is born in India or in Europe or here. You’re educated, if you are… happen to be educated. Your education is conditioning you. Right? Your religion is conditioning you. Your society is conditioning you. And your own experience, incidents, memories and so on is also conditioning you. You are the conditioned.

LS: I hope that I am more than that.

K: Ah…

LS: I think I am.

K: Ah. that’s another conditioning, which is you don’t then see actuality. When you say ‘I am more than that,’ that’s what all people say.

LS: Although, I think that I am embedded in my conditioning as I am embedded in my body.

K: So who is I who is embedded – as you say – in the body and in the conditioning?

LS: I is the perceiver.

K: The perceiver. Who is the perceiver?

LS: The perceiver is a nodule or matrix in the fabric of everything that’s real.

K: No, that’s too… No, that doesn’t… What is the perceiver? Just begin… Don’t… You see, you are – nodule… you go off somewhere. I’m a very simple man. Suppose you tell me, ‘What is the perceiver?’

LS: I’ll paraphrase, because I don’t think I can say it more succinctly. Perceiver implies point of view, does it not?

K: Or the perceiver is the memories of your – which is the same thing – background.

LS: The lens, not the memories.

K: Look, madame, you’re now splitting hair. Now, just a minute, what is memory? Aren’t you entirely a bundle of memory? Aren’t you a bundle of… – let’s leave out entire – aren’t you a bundle of memory?

LS: Certainly.

K: Right? Now, what is memory?

LS: I think that memory is but a part of the lens that the perceiver perceives through; not everything.

K: What is…? Don’t use… No, what do you mean, the lens? What is the lens? The camera that has lens through which you are looking?

LS: To use that as an image, or my eye or whatever. Just as an image…

K: Yes. Yes.

LS: …as we say ‘point of view’.

K: You are looking at that wall. You see the colour of it or whatever it is you see…

LS: I see where you’re going.

K: I’m just…

LS: All right.

K: So unless you are free of memory, concepts, ideals and projections, you can’t see the thing as is.

LS: Then we’re back to your question: who is the perceiver?

K: That’s what I’m asking. Your view… You say you are looking through the lens. And I am asking you: who is the you?

LS: Well, I first said – and I don’t express myself so well. I’m not used to expressing myself along these lines, but…

K: Question any… Not along this line. Question it any way.

LS: It’s all right. This is… I first said that the perceiver was a nodule or matrix in a fabric.

K: In a fabric, all right.

LS: And then I said a lens, meaning… these are just figures of speech, meaning them interchangeably.

K: Yes.

LS: I could also say, perhaps, that one’s memories are… are they totally or perhaps just to a large part the makeup of that lens or that nodule.

K: Person. Of that person.

LS: Of that personality, yes.

K: Of that person, the ego, the self.

LS: Of the person? Okay, of the ego, yes.

K: Ego, the self, the persona, whatever you like to call it.

LS: I guess that I have the sense that the person is more than the personality or the persona.

K: That is still…

LS: And I don’t mean apart from or bigger than or whatever, I simply mean more than that.

K: So the self, to reduce it to a simple word, the self is looking, perceiving.

LS: The self is not a simple word.

K: Of course not. The self means the whole accumulated memories of a lifetime. Right?

LS: All right.

K: Do you really see that? Or are you just agreeing with it?

LS: No, you’re right. I am, at the moment, just agreeing with it to see whether I really agree with it or not.

K: No, then we can’t go further; if you merely agree…

You are born in Europe, in Germany or Italy or France or England. There are certain traditions, certain superstitions, the religious conditioning, the linguistic shades and the environment. Right? So you are all that. That means you are this whole… the consciousness – right?

LS: Yes.

K: …of reactions – biological, physical reactions – beliefs, faiths, loneliness, despair, blah, blah, all that, sorrow, pain, depression, fear, ‘I’m depressed,’ ‘I’m happy,’ ‘I believe in God,’ ‘I don’t believe in…’ You follow? You are that. Agree? That’s a fact.

LS: Yes, yes, surely.

K: In that, you can invent super-consciousness, higher consciousness, lower consciousness. It’ll be consciousness still.

LS: Is that all I am?

K: Aren’t you?

LS: Is that the sum total?

K: Aren’t you?

LS: Is there more?

K: I don’t know; I’m first asking it.

LS: Do you think?

K: If you say, ‘There is more,’ you are still part of that conditioning. The more means measurement.

LS: Well, yes, more, I mean the concept, yes, means measurement, but…

K: Therefore, when you use the word more it means you are dissatisfied with this.

LS: I wonder is that the whole.

K: Wait. To find out the whole is something totally different than to include the concept of the whole in the conditioning.

LS: So the conditioned, which is the self, cannot include the concept of the whole?

K: Of course not. It is still a concept.

LS: All right.

K: It’s still function of thought which is part of your consciousness. Right?

LS: Say again.

K: Thinking is part of your consciousness.

LS: Yes.

K: And so I can think there is immeasurable, whole, but that’s not actuality.

LS: Do you believe in the unconscious?

K: Wait a minute…

LS: The unconscious.

K: No. I would say consciousness contains all the unconsciousness, super-conscious or whatever conscious. It is still consciousness, of which one may not be aware.

LS: I see.

K: I don’t divide it and say… You follow?

LS: So that which, say, psychiatrists refer to as the unconscious, you would simply call the conscious.

K: I know. I’ve discussed this matter endlessly.

LS: You have. Excuse me.

K: Now, just a minute, madame. So the self or the perceiver is all that. Right? And the perceiver is limited. Right?

LS: Yes, certainly. There are rejoinders to that. People say, individuals and certainly religions say that a portion… that, in some sense, the limited perceiver or conditioned self also participates… or, well…

K: I understand.

LS: …is tangential in some sense to whatever you call it, God or a higher self.

K: Yes, I know. This is said by every person throughout the world.

LS: Yes. That’s true. It is said. (Laughs)

K: I question it. I question it. How can the limited…? You understand? It can imagine. It can be romantic. It can feel, ‘My God, I’m delighted.’ All superstition, like illusion.

LS: So you cannot in any… there is nothing in you or me or whoever that is capable of experiencing something greater than itself?

K: I would… Something which is not limited.

LS: Something which is not limited.

K: Therefore I must… there must be freedom from the limitation.

LS: I see. I see. So one must become unconditioned before you can experience that.

K: That’s right. That’s right.

LS: Of course; I see.

K: And I say that’s possible.

LS: And it is possible.

K: Absolutely.

LS: But here we come back; I don’t know what to say now, except…

K; What?

LS: I cannot say continually because we’ve put that word aside…

K: Oh, the moment you put continually…

LS: (Laughs) …so what can I say? I suppose what…

K: No. You… No. Our question then is: is it really possible to uncondition the brain? Uncondition… if you don’t like to use the word, uncondition ourselves from all this.

LS: A question: does, in your opinion, technology and communication technology…

K: I understand.

LS: …participate in the answer to that question?

K: You mean the computer?

LS: No, I mean… – well, the computer is a part of the communication technology. I mean the radio, I mean the television, I mean…

K: What’s the question? I don’t quite understand.

LS: You asked… the question you just asked, how did you phrase it? Is possible to become unconditioned…?

K: That’s all. That’s all.

LS: Yes. So I say: is it possible that the communications technology may be instrumental in our becoming unconditioned?

K: How can it?

LS: I don’t know. Can it?

K: I doubt it. I question it.

LS: You’re familiar with the very popular ideas now, the communications technology bringing the world into a oneness. Words are used and phrases, popular phrases.

K: I know all this.

LS: I know.

K: But is that… are we all… how can it all communicate… bring us all together?

LS: Well, for example, one of the images which is frequently used is global village. Another image which I think will have more and more currency is the organic one; people talk of Gaia or earth as our mother, and that the communications technologies are extensions of our nervous system.

K: I understand all that. The earth is our mother…

LS: And that, through these technologies, we are coming into touch with our oneness as an organism, as a part of our mother’s body – you’re familiar with… It’s all very popular now.

K: Madame, this is as old as the hills.

LS: I have no trouble believing it, but it is having a resurgence…

K: This is as old as the hills that the earth is our mother, that we are one, that there is… but we… All that is just a lovely theory, a lovely romantic hope…

LS: It is very romantic.

K: …but actually we are not.

LS: We’re limited and conditioned.

K: Deal with actuality not with suppositions. We are destroying each other.

LS: Yes, I can’t deny that.

K: Therefore what’s the good of all mother… talking about mother earth?

LS: Is it just wishful thinking, you think?

K: Of course. It has no meaning. When I’m killing you, what is the meaning about it?

LS: Well, some say also that, of course, killing is a part of nature. You have within your body…

K: Just a minute. I know all the arguments.

LS: I know you do. (Laughs) I wish I could think… I’m sure you do.

K: We can begin from the lowest; the small thing is eaten by the bigger…

LS: Yes.

K: …the bigger is eaten by the still bigger and so on, so on, so on.

LS: Some more of your inside, outside, macro, micro.

K: Yes, yes, yes, all that. Till we reach man.

LS: Right.

K: Man is supposed to be the greatest enemy, the greatest killer.

LS: But that whole history… that whole evolution recapitulated in our own body: our immune cells kill other cells which threaten the whole.

K: So… all right, all right; I know all that. So you’re… after thousands of years of evolution we haven’t even learned the sense, common sense, to live on this earth without killing each other. I know all the arguments.

LS: The argument is that is a reflection of nature and that that is the way things are.

K: Look, ‘That’s a reflection of the nature’ – we are killing nature.

LS: But that nature… a part of nature is killing.

K: Yes, of course; a tree… a small tree in a great forest has no chance because it has no light. A tiger kills a deer. But why should we kill each other?

LS: Are we not a part of nature?

K: Oh yes, but not that kind of… We are supposed to be a little more awake, a little more intelligent, a little more affection, kindliness, generosity, love.

LS: It could be said that that’s romantic.

K: Which, love?

LS: What you present: that we are apart from and in some way…

K: No, I don’t say that.

LS: …better than nature.

K: No, of course we are…

LS: That we shouldn’t be killing.

K: What?

LS: That we should be above this or apart from this.

K: No, I say… please… part of us is nature. We have evolved from the sea and so on and so on for forty, fifty thousand years or two million years. Right? We have had tremendous experience of killing each other and for thousands of years, more, we have been killing each other. Right? And we say, ‘Yes, why not? It’s nature.’ Right? Where does love come into all this, compassion?

LS: Well… is that a question you’re asking me?

K: Yes. Yes.

LS: It seems to be mixed up in it pretty heavily.

K: What? Love mixed up very heavily in killing… you killing me? What are we all talking about?

LS: In the sense… mixed up in the sense that… It’s obvious to say that on the sense of illusion that people think they are doing things for good motives, for love and… I don’t mean that. But that it’s a part of the duality which is….

K: …inherent.

LS: …in reality, which is the nature of it.

K: Now, wait a minute. Is that so?

LS: Well, that’s a good question. If we did not have love or compassion, if we were not capable of those…

K: We haven’t got it.

LS: We’ve pretensions towards it.

K: No, no… Madame, don’t say that… Pretensions? I pretend to love my wife?

LS: Yearnings for it.

K: Yearning for it, when I haven’t got it? Yearning for it may be illusion.

LS: That’s true.

K: So why haven’t I got it?

LS: I’m sure that the thing you yearn for is never the thing you’ve got when you’ve got the thing it is that you yearn for. (Laughs) I’m sure that’s true.

K: But you didn’t answer my question. Why have human beings lived on this earth two million, three million, however long, forty thousand years and so on, why haven’t you got this rudimentary thing?

LS: Love?

K: Yes.

LS: Well…

K: You’re all very clever. They produce this, they produce the atom bomb, they produce missiles, they produce submarines, telecommunication.

LS: I think people don’t accept the difference that you’re… the limitations, if you will.

K: They don’t accept it? Who don’t accept it? First of all…

LS: When one has the sense of conditioned or limited, the nature of things…

K: That’s right. That’s all. Stick to that. Don’t say there is love. We are… Human beings have made themselves, their brains have become so conditioned.

LS: But when you see that…

K: Break through it.

LS: Yes.

K: Don’t say…

LS: But I think you asked me the question: why is it that we haven’t learnt to love?

K: No, no. You can’t learn to love. What are you talking…?

LS: Oh, excuse me. Words… Yes. Why is that we do not love?

K: No, for the simple reason we are limited. Love is not limited. Our conditioning is limited.

LS: Yes. That is where I was trying to go. And I also wondered if it might not be the case that the violence which occurs is a perverse or illusory way of denying that we’re limited. It’s a way of trying to force things together.

K: Yes sir, that also. Don’t… Violence comes only when there is conflict.

LS: But…

K: Please… Conflict. We live… Human beings live in conflict: with nature, with themselves, with everything.

LS: There would be no conflict if one did not…

K: That’s a romance. The actuality is that we live in conflict.

LS: That’s true.

K: Start from there, not, ‘We should not be…’

LS: But is not the living in conflict a natural product of our limitation? And…

K: Therefore live…

LS: …what I’m suggesting is that we really do not accept that we are limited.

K: That’s all. That’s all. That’s all.

LS: All right. I’ll quit while I’m ahead. (Laughs) So that’s the question.

K: That’s the question. We don’t accept it. We don’t want to accept it because religions have said… So we are programmed. As the computer is programmed, we are programmed to be limited.

LS: That’s true.

K: That’s obvious. I start from facts not from some emotional, romantic business. I say these are facts. Then move away from this. Move away from all this ugly nationalism and religious superstitions and… you know, move. And change, madame. Break your limitation.

LS: I look about and I see people and movements – already that ticks me off – who have this as a stated goal, what you are saying.

K: It’s not a goal.

LS: Not for you. But for many people they state that. Now, I…

K: I’m listening.

LS: I understand that they may not… in fact, indeed what I’m suggesting is that they are not really doing what they say they are doing.

K: No, I’m not even saying that.

LS: I’m saying that.

K: Yes.

LS: But there’s much talk and much bustle about peace, about finding… and it always comes down to some sort of…

K: …slogan.

LS: …slogan which has to do with erecting an exclusionist kind of model, another schema in fact. People who listen to your tapes on our radio program, many of them I know, I’m sure, are very good people; I have no doubt. Many of them are very involved in something called the New Age movement, which…

K: What is that?

LS: Well… let me just say…

K: You see, this is what Americans… They have got movements galore.

LS: Yes, American have got movements.

K: Galore.

LS: But surely it’s not limited to Americans.

K: I’m saying Americans… This is a phenomenon that is happening all over the world.

LS: Exactly.

K: They think through organisations, through movements, through foundations, through authorities they are going find eternity.

LS: You sit here a perfect example. As I know, in your early history you were to be the figure-head of such a movement, or you were.

K: I said that’s wrong.

LS: So I know that you understand.

K: I know it jolly well; I have been brought up in it.

LS: I know.

K: Now – doesn’t matter; that’s irrelevant –so please let’s come round to something actual, which is: our human brains, which have got tremendous capacity, potential, through nationalism, religions, blah, all the rest of it, have become very limited. And that…

LS: Does that mean that the infant born – excuse me for interrupting – that the newborn is not limited?

K: What?

LS: Is the newborn infant so limited?

K: I’m not sure it’s not already limited because the mother’s influence. You follow? I believe the child is… already knows who is the mother, who is antagonistic to the mother.

LS: It’s almost Freudian.

K: It’s already…

LS: From the time of its birth, and perhaps even prenatally?

K: Genes, part of the genes is limited. So madame, it’s… Listen. Out of our limitation we are doing a great deal of mischief. Right? Organisations – what do you call this thing? – New Age movement, and there are the other movements – peace movement, this movement, that movement – and the man is torn between all this. He says, ‘My God, what shall I join?’

LS: It’s the search for the biggest box. You see, now…

K: What?

LS: That’s what I call it. Everyone puts forth what they think is the biggest box, that their understanding will include everyone else’s…

K: You have said it: it’s a box.

LS: That’s right, a box.

K: And they are caught in that box.

LS: That’s right. Regardless of how big it may or may not be.

K: You can have a big box or a small… very small box.

LS: That’s right.

K: It’s still a box.

LS: It’s still a box. And you may be in there with all sorts of other creatures or you may be in there with only creatures of your own sort — you’re creatures of the box.

K: Madame, I have seen this for the last sixty years, eighty years: move from one box to another box, thinking it’s bigger and smaller – you follow? – but it’s still… nobody says, ‘It’s a box, man.’

LS: That’s right. (Laughs)

K: You know, I used to know several devout Christians, Catholics, Benedictines, Jesuits. They say Christianity has nothing to give except some slight miracles and… you know, all that stuff, so they go off into Buddhism, because Buddhism is extraordinarily… You understand? I don’t know if you’ve gone into it; it doesn’t matter. Or join some other sect. From the one frying pan to another frying pan. You understand? It is the same phenomenon.

So we are saying your brain is conditioned. As long as that conditioning… your consciousness is conditioned, as long as that conditioning exists you can join a thousand boxes, a thousand societies, you’ll still be conditioned.

LS: The Buddhists talk a great deal about unconditioned…

K: I don’t know what they talk about. I’ve never… I discussed with prominent Buddhists in India – you understand? – top… They… conditioning is a different meaning to them. Madame, I don’t read books, I don’t read any of these things, thank God, but I’ve met hundreds of people, discussed with them. So I’m saying as long as you are conditioned, do what you will from the outside, nothing is going to change man. Nobody will accept it because [it’s] easy to join things. Never go inside and say, ‘Look, I’m conditioned. Let’s see why I…’ I may have to give up my nationality, religion, this and that, and we are frightened.

LS: What does one give up when one goes inside to look and to become unconditioned?

K: First of all, look for the external things before you go into internal things. The external has conditioned me; the society I’ve created; human beings have created the society – right? – and that society is now conditioning me, conditioning each one of us.

LS: Yes.

K: I create the baby and the baby then controls us.

LS: That’s right.

K: Therefore, I have to change, not society.

LS: What do you give up when you change?

K: Nothing. If you give up something because of something you are not giving up.

LS: Is it nothing of importance or nothing at all?

K: Yes, there are certain things utterly important.

LS: That you give up?

K: There is nothing to give up. What am I giving up? My memories?

LS: I wonder…

K: No, the word ‘giving up’ to me has no meaning. I don’t give up when I see a cobra, I see a dangerous animal. I don’t give up; I move away.

LS: Is it true that every gain is achieved at a cost?

K: Beg your pardon?

LS: That for everything one gains one makes a sacrifice? Is that true? No…

K: I don’t know what you… What are you gaining?

LS: What I’m getting at is, I think, if you live this life, the life that you’ve lived, it’s a very rigorous standard.

K: Not standard. You see facts.

LS: Facts. This is very rigorous.

K: Of course it is.

LS: Yes. That’s good. I mean, that’s good.

K: No, which means you have to be terribly honest…

LS: Terribly.

K: And no illusions.

LS: Ruthless. You must be ruthless with yourself.

K: No, I didn’t use… Look, look, madame, just listen to what I’m saying. When you see a precipice and you move away, is that rigorous?

LS: And you move…

K: When you see a precipice, a dangerous precipice, and you walk away from it, is that sacrifice?

LS: My sense in what you’re talking about is that you are talking… that you live on the precipice.

K: No.


You’ve got an idea of it.

LS: Then I’m…

K: No. I see nationalism is a danger, so I move away from danger.

LS: But to direct one’s energies so intently…

K: That’s all. Which means give attention to what you are doing.

LS: Yes. That kind of rigour… I say precipice because that sort of focus…

K: Yes, attention.

LS: …that energy, that attention, yes, that fine hone, that is living at an extreme of attunement that must cost…

K: It is not like that, madame. Don’t imagine. It’s not like that.

LS: Tell me.

K: Now, just a minute. Our brains are occupied – just follow this for two minutes – our brains are always occupied with something or other.

LS: Chatter.

K: Right? Chattering, reading, looking. Our brains are occupied all the time. Right?

LS: Right.

K: And therefore our energy is very, very limited. You understand?

LS: Yes

K: Right? An unoccupied brain – unoccupied – has got tremendous energy.

LS: May I… Excuse me if this question is…

K: Please say anything you like.

LS: Thank you. What I wonder is, from what I’ve been given to understand… I don’t wish to offend. I… Say anything I like; all right.

K: What?

LS: You said say anything I like. You told me to say anything I like.

K: Of course I said that.

LS: Therefore… all right…

K: I mean it; I don’t say things I don’t mean.

LS: Someone told me that when you travel – you – you always travel with friends…

K: No. I’ll tell you a simple fact. I’ve always travelled before – till nineteen, I think, seventy or sixty-eight – alone in economy class. You understand? Now Mrs Zimbalist travels with me to Europe, and if I go to India I go by myself. You understand? Or somebody says, ‘I’m coming with you because I’m going there too.’ You understand?

LS: Yes.

K: I came from England just now… from India just three months ago to London by myself, and from London to Los Angles by myself. Now when I’m going back to… Mrs Zimbalist is travelling.

LS: So you’re anticipating my question and answering, ‘No.’

K: What is it?

LS: Because my question was going to be: is it terribly difficult for you to deal with the ordinary chaos and… of…

K: No… Travel?

LS: Of travel as an example of daily life, you know, in terms of where you’re thrown into the (laughs) bustle and the chaos and the crudity…

K: Please, I’m ninety. I’ve lived a great deal by myself in my life. And to stand in a queue at the airports…

LS: I understand. This is understandable.

K: I have stood at an airport in London for an hour and a half, because five aeroplanes came at the same time. But I don’t know how many hundreds were ahead of me. The government of India gave me a diplomatic passport.

LS: This would make it easier for you.

K: Easier, but I can’t. But I’ve got a Green Card to come to America. A diplomatic passport doesn’t go with a green card. That’s what I was told by the immigration office, so I’ve now put aside the… You follow?

LS: Yes. So you don’t find it that stressful then?

K: I get tired, naturally.

LS: Except in as much as your age, but in terms…

K: No, no, I’ve always been… I don’t like noise, I don’t like crowds, pushing and all that. I’m…


Generally, please, I don’t like to talk about myself, because it’s not very important.

LS: Though it is of interest to people.

K: I know. (Laughs) Go and listen to a cinema star.

LS: I have no wish to intrude.

K: No, no. You can intrude as much as you like.

LS: But to talk about yourself, that would be…

K: Little, but I mean there’s nothing much…

LS: If I can return to the topic of the radio and communications.

K: Yes.

LS: When I brought up the notion that communications technologies are extending our awareness – which is the word that is very popular, as you know…

K: I know.

LS: …and I use it in that popular sense, not in the sense that you talk about – you did not think that this was so. You didn’t think that the communications technologies were really making people more aware of each other in a sense that was meaningful.

K: Is that so? Are they?

LS: Well, that was my question to you and your answer was, ‘No.’

K: I doubt it.

LS: Do you see any good or any benefit? How do you see…?

K: Probably very superficial. Now, look…

LS: Is it possible to use this for your purpose?

K: Look, now we know everything that is… Any wars, any killings is all spread in the newspapers in any part of the world. Right? That’s another form of communication. Right? Is that changing man? There’s a war going on, a terrible war, in Lebanon, Iran and Iraq.

(Break in audio)

You know, you read it every day, television… Are we saying, ‘My God, let’s stop wars’?

LS: Well, I’ll not answer for myself here because I’m speaking in the persona of…

K: …X.

LS: …a mass of people. I think my answer would be different. But in that persona, the answer would be, ‘Yes. There is a huge movement’ – again that word – …

K: Another box.

LS: Yes. To stop wars.

K: Which means what?

LS: It means, if I’m to speak in that persona, that it is possible. I’m not speaking for myself. And that is the belief – and it is a belief – that it is possible seems to be brought about by the intensity of the threat. The nuclear threat is so great that I think people feel that it’s like a body which is finally in such pain that no matter how much it resists it can no longer resist going to the doctor. Now people feel so threatened by the nuclear prospect that we are put to it now we must go to the doctor, now we must end war once and for all. This is the feeling.

K: Which… Look, that has been said at the First World War.

LS: The war to end all wars.

K: That’s it. This war, like the next war, is to end all wars. Do you know what the ending of war means?

LS: Tell me.

K: A global outlook from the politicians, from everybody, a global outlook. And interrelationship, not my country economically and so on. The whole thing has to change. Who is willing to do that?

LS: Really, really willing, I suspect no-one. Many people, many organisations and many nations say they are willing.

K: Look, I talked to the United Nations; they invited me.

LS: Yes.

K: Organisations have not changed man. And we are multiplying organisations. If that organisation doesn’t work, let us reorganise that organisation. And this what we are doing. Madame, why don’t we all be simple, clear, work at things we understand, which is myself, yourself, you and… Move out of the boxes, for God’s sake.

LS: What rational basis is there for believing that that will happen?

K: None at all. But one or two people can change the whole consciousness of human beings.

LS: Ah, but if you get one or two people then the rest of the people form a religion around them.

K: No, just listen quietly.

LS: I’m listening.

K: It’s the priests that have done it – right? – right through…

LS: Not only, but yes…

K: Wait. Because we want some…

LS: Yes. Yes, exactly. They are acting on our behalf.

K: So it’s be… don’t depend on spiritual authorities, don’t look for leaders; change; begin here, not out there.

LS: I couldn’t agree more.


In conclusion then, in the light of that, there’s a great temptation to despair.

K: No. On the contrary. If one can change, you have changed the consciousness… Scientists are proving some of this.

LS: Yes?

K: Yes. That affects the whole group. So if you change, you know, deeply, profoundly, it affects the consciousness of man.

LS: Yes.

K: But they don’t see that.

LS: That seems to be at variance, though, with something you said earlier.

K: Beg your pardon?

LS: It seems to be at variance or contradiction with something you said earlier.

K: No.

LS: May I say what?

K: Show me where the contradiction is.

LS: If, on one hand, you say one man changes…

K: I said change consciousness. That is, look, first of all, each person thinks his consciousness is his private, is his own. He thinks: ‘It’s mine.’ It’s not that, because consciousness contains fear, belief, you know, all that, which every human being on this earth shares. Right? So our consciousness is not mine or yours; we are humanity.

LS: We are linked by consciousness, you’re…

K: We are not even linked; we are… An American suffers – right? – an Indian suffers in India, anxious, uncertain, insecure, as here. So we are humanity, not individuals, psychologically. I know this will be difficult, even to think of it, because we’re all so conditioned to be individuals.

LS: But you did say: if one man changes, all humanity…

K: That’s… Wait a minute. No. I said, madame, I said this: if one human being moves away from this consciousness it affects the consciousness of man. Take what has happened in the wrong way: Hitler has affected the whole of humanity.

LS: Yes. Yes.

K: The wrong way. And so, if there is a… if one man changes, it affects the… Of course, this is so logical.

LS: In this sense, you’d say that Buddha or Christ has affected in a…?

K: Just a minute. Whether the priests have changed – you understand? – not the person, but what the priests have made of all this. That has not changed. You understand?

LS: Yes, I understand the distinction you’re making, that the priests have twisted or perverted.

K: It has been from the most ancient of times, the priests coming in-between.

LS: But even so, with the encumbrance made by the priests, you would still say nonetheless that a Christ or a Buddha has changed the consciousness of humanity in the preferred direction?

K: Changed consciousness, if the priests hadn’t interfered. Look madame, be simple; I’ll show you. I tell you something – right? Something, it doesn’t… – and you listen, and you see truth and you change. Right? There’s direct communication.

LS: Yes.

K: But if there is a man there in between us who says, ‘I’ll tell you what he’s talking about,’ he’s interpreting and showing something… You follow?

LS: Yes. Yes, yes; I follow.

K: Therefore there is no direct communication with truth. There is always somebody telling you what it is.

LS: Yes, you’re talking about religions. I follow; I understand and I agree.

K: Therefore – psychologically I’m saying – psychologically don’t depend on anybody.

LS: No problem.

K: Psychologically, there is no authority in this world, including the psychiatrist.

LS: That’s true. And the best ones would say that.

K: Move away from there. You’re all shaped by experts.

LS: But you said that Hitler has profoundly affected the consciousness of…

K: He has, unfortunately.

LS: Yes, in a terrible direction. And I was asking, then, would there not be men who have affected it…?

K: Yes. As long as there was a direct communication. You understand? Look…

LS: Was Hitler’s a direct communication? Would you consider his transmission direct without priests, you mean?

K: Yes.

LS: I wonder if evil is more powerful in that way…

K: According to Freud, who wrote – I don’t how true this is but I’ve been told – he studied Moses, you remember, he wrote a book about Moses.

LS: Yes, he did.

K: And he found (inaudible) at thirteenth, fourteenth century BC, 1400 BC, he wrote what is a sermon on the mount, and it had been transmitted. You follow? And what the supposed… what Christ says – if he existed at all, Jesus; I’m questioning the whole thing, you understand? – if he existed, what has happened is what the church has done with it. Right? Where is there direct communication with that?

LS: So what you’re saying is that Christ could not have affected anyone other than those few people with whom he interacted personally…

K: Just a minute, just a minute, just a minute. There is the Buddha. There was a direct communication there with people, with one or two.

LS: Yes, yes, right. As with Christ.

K: They died…

LS: Yes.

K: …before he died. Sariputra…

LS: Ananda… (inaudible)

K: No, Ananda was not…

LS: Oh, he wasn’t…

K: He wasn’t… (inaudible)

LS: He was the dunce pupil. (Laughs)

K: He was very affectionate, loving and all that, but Sariputra… – I don’t know their two names – they were… they saw what he was saying. And they died before he died. And it became a memory. You follow?

LS: Yes, yes; yes, yes, yes, I follow.

K: But if you… if the Buddha said, ‘This is what I said,’ and printed in black and white directly…

LS: But I’m trying to put that together with what you said earlier, when you said that…

K: Yes. Listen, listen, that’s a different thing.

LS: I’m listening.

K: That’s a different thing.

LS: About one man’s changing being able to…

K: Yes. You can see this. If Hitler, in the wrong way, did it… Right?

LS: And I’m looking for an example of someone who, in the right way, did it, but you won’t allow me Christ or Buddha.

K: I don’t say anything about that. I don’t know.

LS: Can you give an example of someone who affected in the right way, as Hitler did in the wrong way?

K: I don’t know. I don’t know who… Madame, nowadays, just a minute…

LS: Ah, I see why you’re not doing that! (Laughs) I got it. But why the confidence to point out the evil…?

K: I’m only… It’s not confidence. If one man, I said, one man can do mischief…

LS: Yes.

K: …also one man can do good. That’s all. But people… – unfortunately, from the historical outlook to the present time – prefer that which is slightly evil.

LS: Yes, all right; then that brings us back to where I was a short time ago when I said I thought that there was a contradiction.

K: There is no…

LS: In the sense that you stated that we haven’t changed in all of our history…

K: Who?

LS: Men, mankind.

K: First of all, madame, suppose you, after sixty years of talk and feel this, lived that way, who is going to listen to you – listen, not merely with the ears – deeply? Very few. Right? Right? Very, very, very few. And the computers always are going to… You understand what is taking place?

LS: Yes.

K: They’re going to destroy everything because the… if I no longer can exercise the brain – you understand? – the computer does everything for me… You understand what I’m saying? I have talked this matter over with experts, computer… Practically everything: building a car with a robot. I saw it. Japan is doing it. Then what’s going to happen to the brain of people who have been working, exercising the brain, when the computer takes over? You understand what I’m saying?

LS: But very few people use their brain now, do they?

K: That’s what I’m…

LS: And you feel it would be worse then.

K: Look at what is happening. The entertainment industry is tremendously strong. All this business of the Olympics, sport – right? – tremendous entertainment, and the entertainment of religions. And poor man, he has leisure now, the computer will give him leisure, and what will he do with his leisure?

LS: He might play on his computer.

K: And go to football. I’m not depressed or anything. These are facts. It’s happening under our nose. When I discussed this matter with the computer experts – ‘What’s going to happen to our brain?’ – they said, ‘It’s not our business.’

LS: I know; that’s true. But that’s the response of everyone speaking from their professional corner.

K: Yes. And the professionals are ruling us, the experts. If I have a headache, I go to an expert; how to… how to bring a baby into the world, what is pregnancy – you follow? – how to dress, how to make up your face, how to do your hair. Right? Everybody is telling you what to do.

LS: You’re saying, on one hand, that in effect there’s reason to believe that things are getting worse and yet you remain optimistic because of…

K: I’m not optimistic or… I look at things as they are, and move from there.

LS: It’s very painful to look at things as they are.

K: That’s just it. A smile changes people. A politician’s smile. And who smiles the best, people say, ‘My…’ You follow? You see it. Madame, the things are…

LS: Yet, on the other hand, one thinks that things really are as they have always been.

K: No, I think they are slightly worse now.

LS: Because of technology.

K: Technology. No, technology is right, but it’s not… You can’t go back to ploughs and all the rest of it.

LS: Well, many people feel this is going to be the instrument of our change. The thing that would kill us can only be that which would save us. That’s very glib but it’s…

K: So, therefore you depend on something outside.

LS: Well, that’s true.

K: Therefore we’re back again.

LS: There’s a great projection going on.

K: That’s why…

LS: It’s true.

K: Never rely and see for yourself, you know, what facts are; change, move. There we are.

LS: As soon as I leave, I will think of what I should have asked.

K: That always happens.

LS: That’s right. But do you ever think of what you should have answered?

K: No.

LS: (Laughs) Just let it go.

Thank you.

Krishnamurti in Ojai, May 1984

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