Krishnamurti on Intellect
This week’s episode on Intellect has five sections.
The first extract (2:08) is from Krishnamurti’s fourth talk in Madras 1983, titled ‘Intellection cannot go very far’.
The second extract (8:54) is from the sixth talk in Saanen 1980, titled ‘Intellect has little place in compassion’.
The third extract (14:12) is from the fifth talk in Saanen 1970, titled ‘Intelligence is beyond the interpretation of the intellect’.
The fourth extract (21:26) is from the fourth talk in Saanen 1978, titled ‘Do we think reasonably, logically, sanely?’
The final extract this week (34:56) is from the second talk in New Delhi 1970, titled ‘Can the intellectual process bring about a harmonious life?’
Intellection Cannot Go Very Far
We use our intellect to comprehend, to discern, to argue. We use the intellect to choose, to measure. And so intellect is one of the faculties of the brain. If we are going to examine the extraordinary, profound problem of sorrow, mere intellection has very little place. Most of us are highly intellectual, highly educated, and have extraordinary – especially in India – quality of analysis. You can analyse anything on earth. You have got fairly subtle minds – not all, naturally. To comprehend sorrow, mere intellection has very little… cannot go very far. Do you understand what we are saying? That all of us have the capacity to use our intellect, which is to understand, to discern, to argue, to choose, to weigh one against the other – that is the function of the intellect, and most of us have that capacity. If you are merely approaching this question of sorrow, then your mind, your intellect dominates the process of investigation, therefore it distorts. Whereas, is it possible to approach it with a holistic movement?
We never approach anything as a whole. We never look at life as a whole. We have fragmented life, broken it up as the intellect, the emotions, love and so on, broken it up and so we can never look at a problem wholly. The word ‘whole’ means not only complete, not only the feeling that the parts are included in it, but that the parts don’t make the whole. ‘Whole’ also means healthy, a healthy mind not a crippled mind, not a stagnant mind, a mind which is whole, a sense of covering the earth and the skies and the beauty of all that. And also the word ‘whole’ means also ‘holy’. So we never approach with that quality of mind. And in investigating, exploring this question, one needs to have that quality of a mind in the heart which is not romantic, idealistic, imaginative, but a very factual mind, tempered with the quality of love. When we use the word ‘heart’ we mean the mind in the heart, the mind in the quality of love, which has nothing whatsoever to do with any ideas, with any ideals, with any obedience. There is no guru. There must be freedom to observe.
Krishnamurti in Madras 1983, Talk 4
Intellect Has Little Place in Compassion
You sit, listen, agree, see the logic of it, the sanity of it, the reasonableness of it, the intellectual comprehension of it, but when you leave this tent, you are back again in the old game. So you are willing as a human being to carry on this burden of sorrow. A mind that lives in sorrow can never be free. And it is only a mind that is totally free from sorrow will know what compassion is.
The act of compassion is the act of intelligence. We mean by that word not the intellectual capacity of discernment, to distinguish, to reason, to judge, to weigh – all that is the capacity of the intellect. So the intellect has its own intelligence, but we are talking of a totally different kind of intelligence.
Ordinary intellectual intelligence we all have, more or less, because we are supposed to be educated, read books, clever at argument, opposing one opinion against another, and so on. But where there is compassion, the intellect has very little part. Compassion comes into being without your inviting, it comes into being when there is the ending of sorrow. The ending of sorrow is the beginning of wisdom and therefore intelligence.
Do you understand all this? No, (laughs) you don’t do it! You are probably – I hope not – persuaded by the speaker, dominated by his presence, which is nonsense. But if you really go into this very deeply you will find you have energy, which is being dissipated now in idealistic actions, in individual narrowing down of action. All that wastage of energy is making the mind shallow, not allowing the capacity which the brain has, immense capacity, psychologically, making that psychological structure become more and more narrow, shallow.
So compassion goes with intelligence and wisdom, which is the very nature of intelligence. When there is that intelligence you can argue logically, sanely, but with the quality of compassion.
Krishnamurti in Saanen 1980, Talk 6
Intelligence Is Beyond the Interpretation of the Intellect
It is one of the most difficult things to convey something which not only demands the accuracy of words, but also the accuracy of perception that lies beyond the word, a feeling, a sense of intimate contact with reality. And if you, listening to the speaker, merely interpret the word according to your personal like and dislike, without being aware of your own tendencies for interpretation, then the word becomes a terrible nuisance, then the word becomes a prison, in which most of us are unfortunately caught. But if one is aware of the meaning of the word and what lies behind the word, then communication becomes extraordinarily interesting. Communication implies, as we were saying the other day, not only verbal comprehension, understanding the meaning of words, but also going together, examining together, sharing together, creating together. And this is very important especially when we are talking about sorrow, time, and the nature of pleasure and fear. This is a very complex question; every human problem is quite complex. It needs a certain austerity, and simplicity of perception. When we use the word ‘austere’, we don’t mean the harshness that is involved in the usual meaning of that word, a sense of dryness, a sense of discipline, control, following a particular course; we are using the word ‘austere’ stripped of all that harshness. But there must be austere simplicity in the examination and understanding of what we are going to talk about.
One’s mind must be very sensitive because sensitivity implies intelligence, and intelligence is beyond the interpretation of the intellect, or the emotional enthusiastic action. And in examining, in looking, in listening, in learning about time, pleasure, fear and sorrow, one has to have this quality of sensitivity of perception, of immediate seeing something as true. This is not possible if the intellect with its activity of thought divides and interprets.
I don’t know if you were all here last time we talked about thought, the nature of thought and how it divides human relationship. Thought is necessary. Thought as reason, sanity, clarity, and objective, clear thinking is absolutely necessary. But thought becomes a dangerous implement when one is analysing, not looking. I hope we understood when we talked about the nature and the structure of thought.
Krishnamurti in Saanen 1970, Talk 5
Do We Think Reasonably, Logically, Sanely?
Most of us are afraid to use reason, to think clearly, objectively, non-emotionally, not from a centre, either the centre outwardly or inwardly. To think clearly implies that there is no centre from which you are operating in your thinking.
Most of us think along a particular line: if we are specialised, we think along those grooves; if you are committed to a particular religion, an ideological structure, again your thinking is conditioned by that. So we begin to lose the capacity to reason. Reason implies a certain quality of scepticism, doubt, not accepting anything, either from psychologists and professors, or from the sacred books. There are no sacred books, only printed books, like other books, but we give them importance because they happen to be old. People have said they have been uttered by saints or by some teacher, and so we give to the printed word tremendous importance, which is to be driven by a language. And where language drives us, we cannot reason properly, sanely. Or you cannot possibly reason logically if you are committed to a particular belief or ideology because if you are committed or identified, you go round and round that circle, round that particular ideology or belief – you don’t think wholly, completely, deeply. So reason, we think, is something intellectual and anything intellectual we throw out – that is the latest fashion! Whereas we need the capacity to reason, which implies doubt, scepticism, the freedom from every form of authority, including that of the speaker – especially so because the speaker is rather intense about these matters therefore you may be influenced by that. So think clearly for yourselves, and to think clearly you must have no motive, goal or direction. If you have a motive that controls your thinking, if you have a goal, a purpose, a direction that controls your thinking, you may logically, reasonably think along those lines, but it will be conditioned thinking, narrowing thinking.
So as we said the other day, there is no speaker here. We are looking at ourselves and our activities, our beliefs, our fears, our pleasures and the whole problem of life in a mirror. The mirror is objective – if your face is clear, what it is, if it reflects exactly, if it is a good mirror. Similarly, we are together exploring, together going into our human ordinary daily problems. Because if those are not very clear, if those are not established deeply, we cannot go any further. That is like building a house on sand.
So as we said, we are talking to ourselves. We are questioning ourselves whether we think logically, reasonably, and therefore sanely, or if our thinking is illusory, based on some belief, based on ideas, ideals, or some past experience. Then if it is, you can’t discover anything new.
And also we were saying the other day that all our activities are based on thought. Whether you build a marvellous building, a technologically extraordinary advancement, or thinking in your relationship with each other, every action is based on thought. And we said thought is always, under all circumstances, limited. We went into that very carefully, why it is limited: because thought is the outcome of knowledge, which is the past. So thought is time-binding. We are using ordinary, daily English. This is not special jargon. Thought is time-binding – time being the past and thought is the outcome, response of knowledge, memory stored up in the brain. This is obvious; if you think for yourself, observe for yourself, it becomes very clear. We are not brain specialists, but we can see that the brain is an enormously ancient instrument, very, very old, conditioned by recording danger, pleasure, fear and so on.
So thought is the movement of time, and thought is measure: ‘I will be better. I think I am this but tomorrow I will change to something else.’ All this is a matter of measurement. The more, the less, depth and height, horizontal and vertical, is all a movement of measurement. Measurement implies comparison. Most of us compare ourselves with somebody else, always something much greater, not with the poor people, but higher, more intellectual and so on. So thought is limited under all circumstances, therefore thought is never free. Thought is a movement in measurement.
And we asked ourselves the other day the question: as all our action is based on measurement, the past, the present and the future, and therefore limited, and any action that is limited is bound to bring about great sorrow, great conflict, travail, anxiety, fear and so on. And we asked ourselves: is there an action not based on thought? Probably none of you have asked this question. Some may have asked it casually when you perceive that thought has brought about certain troubles, certain fear – then you begin to question it – but you don’t go very deeply into it. You say, ‘Yes, is there a movement – is there a state of mind in which thought as measure, as time, in action doesn’t operate?’ We went into that very carefully. We said that there is an action which is not based on memory, which is not based on knowledge, which is not the result of some wish-fulfilling. When one understands the nature, the structure of the whole movement of thought, not intellectually but factually, thought has its right place – when you want to go to your home, when you want to drive a car, when you are involved in technological business, there thought is necessary, but is thought necessary in human relationship?
Krishnamurti in Saanen 1978, Talk 4
Can the Intellectual Process Bring About a Harmonious Life?
One lives a fragmentary life: you are different in the office and at home, you have private thoughts and public thoughts, and you see this wide gulf, this contradiction, this fragmentation. And one asks if thought can bridge all these various fragments, bring about an integration between all these factors. Can it? So one has to find out the nature and structure of thought before we say that thought can or cannot. Can thought, the thinking, the mentation, the intellectual process of reasoning, can such thought bring about a harmonious life? To find out, one has to investigate, examine carefully the nature and the structure of thought. Which is, together we are going to examine thinking, not the description or the explanation of the speaker because the description is never the described. The explanation is not the explained, so don’t let us be caught in the explanation or description, but together investigate, find out how thought works and whether thought can really, deeply bring about a way of living that is totally harmonious, non-contradictory, complete in every action. This is very important to find out because if we want a world that is not so ugly, so destructive, so brutal, if we want a world that is totally changed, where there is no corruption, a way of living that has significance in itself, not an invented meaning, one has to ask this question.
Also, what is sorrow and whether sorrow can ever end? And pain, fear, love and death. We must find out for ourselves the meaning of all this, not according to some book, not what some other person has said – that has no meaning whatsoever.
You know, knowledge has great meaning and significance. If you want to go to the moon – I don’t know why – you must have knowledge; you must have extraordinary technological knowledge. To do anything efficiently, clearly, purely, you must have a great deal of knowledge. But that very knowledge becomes an impediment when we are trying to find out a way of living that is totally harmonious because knowledge is of the past. Knowledge is the past, and if you live according to the past there is contradiction: the past in conflict with the present. So one has to be aware of this fact, that knowledge is necessary, and yet knowledge becomes a great hindrance. Like tradition, it may be useful at a certain level, but tradition, which responds to the present responsibility, brings about confusion and contradiction. So one has to inquire very, very seriously – if you are at all serious – into the nature of thought and thinking.
You know, it is only the serious people that live, not the others, because the man who is very serious can apply, can consistently pursue, and pursue to the very end, till he finds out – not be distracted, not to be carried away by some enthusiasm or some emotional reaction. That is why a serious man lives fully. And in inquiring into the question of what thought is, and whether there is the possibility of ending sorrow, fear; inquiring into the meaning of death and love; and also to find out for oneself, not according to anybody else, not according to the speaker – least of all according to the speaker – to find out for oneself a way of living that is harmonious, highly intelligent and sensitive, that has the depth of beauty. To find out, one has to inquire into the nature of thought.
So what is thinking? Please put to yourself this question: what is thinking? One must understand the deep significance of thought and whether there is any significance at all. One has to freely examine it because we live by thought. Whatever we do is either reasoned out or examined, investigated, or we do it mechanically according to yesterday’s pattern, the tradition. So one has to be very clear for oneself the function of thought.
If you observe very carefully in yourself, don’t you find that thought is the response of memory, memory which is experience, which is knowledge? If you had no knowledge, no experience, no memory, there would be no thinking. You would live in a state of amnesia. So thought is the response of memory and memory is conditioned by the culture in which you have lived, according to your education, according to the religious propaganda in which you have been caught. So thought is the response of memory with its knowledge and experience. And you need knowledge, you need memory, otherwise you can’t get home, otherwise we couldn’t speak to each other. But thought, because it is the response of memory, is never free. It is always old. And to find a way of living which is totally harmonious and very clear, a way of life that has no distortion, can thought find a way, thought which is the old, a response of the old, which is memory? And yet we use thought to find a way. If you are objective, rational, clear, sane, you say, ‘I’ll think it over and find a way of living harmoniously.’ But thought is the response of the past, of our conditioning, therefore thought cannot possibly find a harmonious way of living.
Thought can never find it, and yet we use thought to find it. And yet we know thought is necessary to go home, to earn a livelihood, to do anything – thought at a certain level is absolutely necessary. But thought becomes an impediment to finding a way of living which is totally different from the past, which is disharmony. So what does that mean? When you see the truth that thought will not find a way, however reasonable, however logical, however sane and clear, when you see the truth of it, what is the state of your mind that sees the truth of it?
You are following all this? Are you also working as much as the speaker? Or are you merely listening to a few words and ideas? I hope you are also working as deeply and passionately, otherwise you won’t be able to find out, otherwise you will never find out a way of living which is so extraordinarily harmonious and beautiful. And one has to find it in this insane world.
So if thought will not bring about a way of life which is totally harmonious, and if you see the truth of it, not the verbal explanation but the truth of it, what is the quality of the mind, your mind, that has seen this? What is the quality of the mind – not your mind or my mind but the quality of the mind that sees the truth of something? What is the quality? Don’t answer me, please. You are too quick with words and explanations; you don’t let it soak into you. You don’t stay with it; you immediately jump to words to explain something or other, and you know very well the explanation isn’t the real thing.
So we are asking: what is the quality of the mind that sees the necessity of thought, and sees also that thought cannot possibly, do what it will, bring about the beauty of a life that is completely, fully harmonious? This is one of the most difficult things to convey or talk about, because we have lived all our lives on somebody else’s experiences. We have no direct perception, we are afraid to have direct perception, and when you are faced with this challenge, you are apt to escape into words and explanations. One has to put aside all explanations – they have no meaning really. So what is the quality of the mind? That is, what is the nature of the mind that sees the truth?
Krishnamurti in New Delhi 1970, Talk 2