Krishnamurti on Anger
This week’s episode on Anger has six sections.
The first extract (2:06) is from Krishnamurti’s second talk in Rajghat 1967, titled ‘Looking at anger totally’.
The second extract (6:26) is from the second discussion in Madras 1971, titled ‘Is it possible to be free of irritation?’
The third extract (11:30) is from the first talk in New Delhi 1967, titled ‘Being attentive to anger’.
The fourth extract (15:40) is from the second talk in Madras 1971, titled ‘An observation of anger without the observer’.
The fifth extract (33:20) is from the second discussion in Saanen 1972, titled ‘Anger has no opposite’.
The final extract (45:10) this week is from the second question and answer meeting in Ojai 1980, titled ‘Don’t respond to anger with anger’.
Looking at Anger Totally
Let us take it very simply: I am angry. That is a fact. Why should I create its opposite, which is, ‘I must not be angry’? Why? Will it help me to get over my anger to say, ‘I must not be angry’? Apparently, it does not, for we are still angry, we are still violent, we are still brutal. So if I can face the fact that I am angry, without any excuse, without any justification, just seeing the fact that I am angry, then I can deal with it. But I cannot deal with it if I am struggling with its opposite. So, is it possible to brush aside its opposite and deal only with what is – which is that I am angry? The opposites not only create conflict but act as a distraction from what is, so that I do not have a total perception of what is.
Conflict in any form, whether on the battlefield or between neighbours or within oneself, is a process of distortion. Conflict of any kind, within or without, makes the mind unclear, distorts the mind, perverts the mind. That is an obvious fact. I can only see something very clearly when there is no distortion within the mind itself. So can I face anger, look at anger, without any distortion, which means without trying to overcome it, justify it, explain it – just observing it? When I am capable of such observation, I am looking at anger totally, at the whole structure and nature of anger, and therefore it is not a fragmentary issue but a total issue.
Krishnamurti at Rajghat in 1967, Talk 2
Is It Possible To Be Free of Irritation?
Krishnamurti: The gentleman says that anger can only be emptied in the mind when you yield to anger completely. We will come to that presently if there is time.
We see that there is no awareness as long as there is a series of well-established habits. Have you established habits? We have, haven’t we? We are bound to have them. So the next question is to be aware of those habits and can those habits be dissolved, put aside? I have a habit – if I have – of what?
Q: Of getting irritated. (Laughter)
K: I have a habit of getting irritated. Now, is it irritation? First of all, when you say I am irritated, I don’t accept it – I want to find out. I don’t say I am not or I am, I want to find out. Am I irritated? When you ask the same question over and over and over and over again, not listening, and somebody asks an irrelevant question, am I irritated? Or I say, ‘Look, please stop, we are sticking to this point.’
So, suppose I am irritated. Can I observe that irritation – please listen to this carefully –without any conclusion? Without saying, ‘I must get rid of it,’ or, ‘I must not get rid of it,’ can I observe that irritation?
Q: You cannot.
K: Wait sir, find out. Don’t say we cannot. You see, would that be called an irritation? I said, ‘Please wait.’ We asked you a second time. Do you follow, how you translate and I translate? What appears to you as an irritation, I don’t consider as an irritation.
So, suppose I am irritated. First of all, I am aware of it? I say, ‘By Jove, yes I was angry, I was irritated, they are too stupid, they can’t think clearly’ – I am irritated. Then I say, ‘Why am I irritated?’ I don’t want to be free of irritation. I don’t know why. Is it that I didn’t have proper sleep? Go into it, sir. Proper sleep, lack of food, not enough rest? All these are contributory factors to irritation. Are you following all this?
I have to go through the analytical process just to show, but I don’t analyse. So what happens? Then I say to myself, ‘How is it possible for me to be free of this irritation?’ Right? I have found out I am irritated, not because you tell me but because I want to know. I want to know why I am irritated. I have found out why I am irritated and I say to myself now, is it possible to be free of irritation altogether? Do you understand my question? Now, how? I am aware that I am irritated or angry or envious. Being aware of that fact, my next questions is: is it possible to be free of that fact?
Krishnamurti in Madras 1971, Discussion 2
Being Attentive To Anger
As one can observe in one’s daily life, one can be choicelessly aware. But it is not practising choiceless awareness; there is no such thing as practising something which you don’t know. What one can know is that one is inattentive. The moment you become aware that you are inattentive, you become attentive. You are attentive. This is very important to understand because if you cultivate attention, or if you cultivate bravery, there is an interval between the fact and what you want to be, and in that interval there is conflict, in that interval is hypocrisy. If you say, ‘I am violent, I want to understand it,’ then there is no hypocrisy, but if you say, ‘I am violent, I must become non-violent,’ during the interval between violence and becoming non-violent, you are sowing the seeds of violence.
So what is important is not what others say, but to find out for oneself; to actually observe, see, listen for oneself. In that, you will discover reality. Then if one is a liar, one will admit, ‘I am a liar,’ not pretend and deny and say this and that. When one is angry, one is angry. But to say I must not be angry is an avoidance of anger because you will be angry again. But go into anger, into the whole question of anger, why you are angry. Not why you shouldn’t be angry but why you are angry. Perhaps you have not had enough sleep or you have not had enough calcium. Probably you have pet beliefs which are being shaken and questioned. There are probably many reasons why you are angry. But to escape from it and say, ‘I must not be angry,’ has no meaning. In the same way, if you begin to inquire into inattention, why you are not attentive in your office, at home, in the street, on the bus, why you are not attentive to watch, to look, then out of that inattention comes an extraordinary fact of attention, quite naturally.
Krishnamurti in New Delhi 1967, Talk 1
An Observation of Anger Without the Observer
We are going together to find out why man is in conflict and whether that conflict can ever end totally, not at different layers. You may have an extraordinarily peaceful household but you are at war with your neighbour, and so on. So, to find out, you need energy, don’t you? You need a great deal of energy to find out for yourself the cause of this conflict. Please listen carefully – the cause – why man, you, live in conflict. Now, when you inquire into the cause of it, you are employing the intellect as an instrument of analysis, aren’t you? You are using intellect as an instrument of analysis with which you hope to find the cause. The intellect is partial, a fragment of the total. You hope to find the cause of a tremendous question like why man is in conflict, through a fragmentary thing called the intellect, which is the only instrument you have. And so when you begin to inquire into the cause through the intellect, your answer will be partial. Because your intellect is partial, therefore that is not the instrument. Which means you must now discard the instrument to find out a different kind of instrument.
Up to now, we have used the intellect as an analytical means to find out why man suffers, why man is in conflict. The intellect. And the intellect is a fragment of the total. Man isn’t just an intellect – there is all his nervous organism, his emotions, you know, the whole structure – and you take one part of it and try to use that part to find the cause. Therefore when you examine through a partial instrument, your understanding will always be partial and therefore incomplete. I don’t know if you understand all this.
And to see that, you need energy. Energy we have divided, again fragmented. There is the energy of fragmentation: in the fragments there is energy, like hate has its own energy and the control of that energy is also energy. So we have divided energy into fragments, whereas energy, the human energy, the cosmic energy, every kind of energy is a unitary movement. So one has to have that energy to understand the structure and the nature of conflict and the ending of conflict. You must have intense energy and not fragmented energy. The fragmented energy is to say, ‘I must get rid of it, I must get rid of conflict’. Who is the ‘I’ that says, ‘I must get rid of it,’ or suppress it? It is one part of that energy describing another part of energy. So energies are in conflict.
So we are asking, what is the reason for this conflict? One can observe it very simply as the observer and the observed. There is in you the observer and you observe. You observe that tree as an observer; the observer watches that tree with all his knowledge, his past conditioning, and he looks at that tree as something separate from himself. Just listen to it, don’t agree or disagree. You haven’t gone into this question at all, so you have to first find out what the speaker has to say, and when you are listening to what the speaker is saying, watch yourself. Don’t merely listen to the speaker – that is absolutely valueless – but use the speaker to watch yourself. Then you will see in yourself there is the observer and the observed, always. The observer says, ‘Do this, don’t do that.’ The observer has certain values and judgments; he is really the censor, who is always watching, denying, controlling, separating himself from that which is watching.
When you are angry or jealous or not generous, which most people are, in that, if you observe it very closely, there is the observer who says, ‘I am jealous, I am angry.’ The naming of the reaction, which he calls anger, separates him. Which is, can you look at that tree without naming, without the interference of thought, which is the response of memory, just to observe? We talked about it briefly the other day. Which is, you look at that tree through the image you have about that tree, which means you are not really looking at the tree. Right? In the same way, when you have an image of your wife or husband, or your friend, you are not looking at the friend but looking at the friend through the image you have. So there is duality. This division between the observer and the observed is the very essence of conflict – the division.
You haven’t understood, I’ll show it to you. It’s all rather infantile, isn’t it, all this? One has finished all this but one has to go through it now.
When I am angry, at the moment of anger, there is no observer. Please follow this; I am going to go into it step by step. Follow it. Follow it by observing yourself, not what the speaker is pointing out, then you are outside, not inside. So observe yourself what takes place. When you are angry, at the moment of experiencing that anger, or any other experience, at that second, there is no observer. A second later the observer comes and says, ‘I have been angry.’ He has separated himself from anger. He has named it, named the feeling as anger. He has named it to strengthen his memory. Please follow this. Because his memory says, ‘You have been angry.’ The memory is a censor. The memory says, ‘You should not have been angry, be kind, don’t hit him back, turn the other cheek.’ So the response of memory as thought becomes the observer, and so there is a division between the observer and the observed. When he says, ‘I am angry, I am jealous, I am envious,’ then the conflict begins because he wants to suppress envy or enlarge it or take delight in it. So where there is the observer and the observed, there is the root of conflict.
So is there an observation of anger without the observer? That is the next question. Because that is our habit. At the moment of anger, or of any pleasure, there is no observer. Then a second later comes the observer. The observer is the censor, the recorder, the memory, the brain cells in which these memories are held, and hence that observer says, ‘I should not, or I should, I want more, I want less.’ So one asks then, can there be an observation without the observer? You understand, this is a tremendous question, please follow this up. Because we are used to and conditioned to this conflict which arises when there is an observer different from the thing observed. That is our tradition, our conditioning, the result of our culture – God and man – you follow? – all that, division. And when we function from habit, it is a waste of energy. I don’t know if you are following all this. And when we immediately respond, that is, when the observer immediately responds to an emotion or a reaction, the response is always the old. It’s the old brain responding. So we are asking whether there is an observation without the observer.
Now, to end any habit, any tradition without conflict needs energy.
Let’s make it simple. I am angry. At the moment of anger there is no observer as the ‘I’ who says, ‘I am angry.’ A second later, the entity as the observer comes into being who is the censor, who says, ‘I must not be angry.’ The response of the observer is tradition, the habit, the old brain responding. And that constant response of the old brain is a waste of energy. And you need energy totally to observe without the observer.
Krishnamurti in Madras 1971, Talk 2
Anger Has No Opposite
Krishnamurti: I’d better begin at the beginning. There are opposites, aren’t there: a sunny day and a rainy day, night and day, darkness and light, woman and man. Now, psychologically are they opposites, or only one factor? And because I do not know how to solve that one factor, I invent other factors.
Are we meeting each other? No. All right.
Look, I am angry. That is the only factor, isn’t it? When I say, ‘I must not be angry,’ that is a conclusion, an abstraction. Right? But the fact is I am angry. If I know how to resolve that anger, its opposite wouldn’t arise. I am angry. Can I solve that anger without resorting to its opposite, saying, ‘I must not be angry’? The ‘must not be angry’ is its opposite, and that comes only when I can’t understand the whole structure of anger and go beyond it. So can I understand this anger, not control it, not reject it, not yield to it, but understand it, have an insight into the whole structure of anger? If I do, then the opposite doesn’t exist.
You are meeting my point? Please do come. Shall we go on?
If I don’t hold my anger, I am afraid I might kill somebody. Before you kill somebody, try to find out if you can resolve the anger. To control it is to suppress it. To say, ‘I must not be angry,’ is to create the opposite, and therefore a conflict between ‘must not be’ and the fact that I am. Or if you try to escape from it, anger is still there. So now I do not escape, I do not suppress, I do not say, ‘I must resolve’ – there is anger.
Now, how am I to go beyond… how is the mind to go beyond it, without creating its opposite? What am I to do? Look what has taken place. Before, I tried to control it, which is a wastage of energy. Before, I tried to suppress it, which is a wastage of energy. Before, I tried to escape from it or rationalise it, which is an avoidance, an escape from the fact. If I don’t escape, control, suppress or try to rationalise it, all that energy is concentrated. So I have got that enormous energy to deal with one fact, which is anger. Right? Have you got that? Please, otherwise we can’t go on – if you haven’t got it, it becomes merely verbal.
You are angry. Your tradition and culture say, ‘Suppress it, control it, escape from it, or rationalise it.’ I say that is wasting your energy, which prevents you from observing the only factor, which is anger. So anger has no opposite; there is only that, and you have the energy.
Now, the next step. Why do you call it anger? Previously you have been angry and by naming it as anger, you have emphasised the previous experience. So you are observing the present factor with the previous experience, therefore conditioning the present factor. So the naming is a wastage of energy. So do not name, no control, no suppression, no escape, and you have the energy. Then is there anger? Don’t say you don’t know. You are then facing the only factor, and when you are facing completely that factor, the factor doesn’t exist, because it exists only when you are escaping, fighting, controlling, suppressing.
So, there is in me, in one, in a human being, this duality. And I ask myself, ‘Is there a duality at all?’ There is man, woman, that’s obvious, but psychologically are there opposites? Or only thought invented the opposite because it could not solve the one factor. Have you got it? Please, this requires attention because to see this clearly you need to observe. And you’re prevented from observing when thought says, ‘I must do something about it.’ It is thought that has said, ‘I must control, otherwise I’ll kill somebody.’ It is thought that has said, ‘I must suppress it, I don’t know what to do about it, I must run away from it, I must watch it.’ These are all the activities of thought, and when you say, ‘I must watch it.’ So thinking about the factor is a wastage of energy. There is no wastage of energy when there is only observation.
It’s raining. I hope all the cars are getting washed!
K: Do you mean by observation, you are that? Do you mean by observation that you see you are that?
Aren’t you that? No, do see clearly – aren’t you that anger? It’s part of you. So thought says, ‘I must do something about that part.’ So thought begins to function: I must not, I must, it’s right, it’s wrong, it should be. So to observe without thought.
Now, can you listen to that rain without thinking about the rain? You can only listen to the rain completely when you are not resisting it. So you listen and observe when there is no resistance of any kind.
Now are you free of the opposite? Are you free at the end of this talk? Are you free of it? Never enter into the field of the opposite.
Krishnamurti in Saanen 1972, Discussion 2
Don’t Respond To Anger With Anger
When you know somebody is angry, your whole body reacts. The chemical response, all of that, takes place and there is immediate response, you may not hit back, but the very presence of anger or hatred there is an action. Right? Now in the presence of violence, not to have this response. I wonder if you understand! Right? Am I explaining it? Try it sometime. I hope you never face violence, but I am sure you will face anger. And in the presence of a person who is angry, see what takes place, be aware of it and not react. You follow? That is, the moment you are aware of the other person’s anger and you do not yourself respond there is quite a different response. I wonder if you understand this. Don’t call it love and all that kind of stuff. This response, which is our instinctive, instinct: to respond to hate by hate, to anger by anger, but in the presence of anger there is this – you follow? – the welling up which creates in the system nervous reactions and so on, chemically, but to quieten all this in the presence of anger, and then there is a different action taking place when you are confronted with violence. Have I made this clear?
Krishnamurti in Ojai 1980, Question and Answer Meeting 2