Krishnamurti on Psychological Evolution

Episode Notes

‘We are asking: is there psychological evolution at all, the ‘me’ becoming something?’

This week’s podcast has four sections. The first extract (2:12) is from Krishnamurti’s first talk in Saanen 1982, titled ‘We have become like this through evolution’.

The second extract (23:58) is from the first talk in Saanen 1979, titled ‘Psychologically there is no tomorrow’.

The third extract (36:52) is from Krishnamurti’s third talk in Bombay 1983, titled ‘Ending fear now’.

The final extract this week (1:04:12) is from the first talk in Saanen 1984, titled ‘What you are now you will be’.

Part 1

We Have Become Like This Through Evolution

We have evolved through a million years. If you do not accept a million years, at least twenty-five thousand years. We have evolved, grown through time, accumulating a lot of experience and knowledge, and what has happened to us as human beings? What has happened to man after all these centuries upon centuries?

Please, together we are investigating; you are not looking at the picture I am drawing.

This is the only problem in the world now: either we are going to destroy ourselves through hatred, through antagonism, through brutality, nationalism and so on, or we question not only the political world but the religious world, the world of entertainment, the world of philosophy, the world of morality, and discover for ourselves why we are what we are. We have become violent, brutal, savage, fighting each other in the name of peace, in the name of countries, in the name of honour, hating each other; there is economic war, religious war, actual physical war. We are producing armaments in the industrialised countries – one heard the other day that a country is producing so much they are exporting 80 per cent of their armaments and keeping 20 per cent for their own defence. The investigator asked, ‘What happens to the 80 per cent?’ They said, ‘We don’t care as long as it goes out.’ So the so-called enemy buys your armaments which you have produced and kills you. This is actually happening. That is man.

So one asks oneself why we have become like this: perpetual conflict, both inward and outward, politically, religiously, economically and in our relationship with each other. People hate and do all kinds of mischievous things. Religious leaders talk everlastingly about peace. And there is no peace on earth, there is no justice on earth, only war and killing each other by words, by a phrase, by an idea, and conflict between ideologies. I am sure we know all this. The East and the West, the totalitarians and the so-called democratic, but when you observe dispassionately without any bias, the national patriotic spirit is dividing people and we are killing each other. This is what man after millennia upon millennia has become.

Through evolution, we have become what we are now, through various cultures, through great technology, marvellous architecture, great paintings and music, but inwardly we are more or less the same as we have been for millennia. That is a fact. It is not a statement by the speaker that you have to accept – this is an obvious, daily, observable, dispassionate fact. If time has brought us to this level, to this condition, and we proceed to depend on time, evolution, we will continue the same pattern of hate, of wars, of destroying each other, wanting to be violent, with terror and all the rest of it. This has been going on historically and psychologically for the last ten thousand or fifty thousand years, this tribalism. So we must first observe this, then discover for ourselves, see the fact that evolution, which is time, has brought us to this state. Time has brought us to this state, and if we proceed along in the same way as we are doing now, that is accepting evolution, we will continue the same pattern. We must be clear on this subject.

Tradition is the past: the tradition of war, the tradition of nationalism, the tradition of isolation, isolated communities, which is all the forms of tribalism and savagery. This is our tradition. Each country looks after itself at the expense of other countries. Patriotism is extolled, praised, called a new spirit, and there is internationalism, which is absurd if you look at it: how can isolated countries have any relationship internationally? They are isolated. They look at the world from their isolated point of view. These are all everyday actual facts.

So one asks, and I hope you are asking this yourself, if we go along this pattern, this tradition, modern or ancient, we will perpetuate wars, nationalism and isolation. That is very clear: we will inevitably follow the same pattern if we accept that we are going to bring about a psychological transformation through time. We shall go into what we mean by time – if we accept the psychological change, the self-centred activity which can be transformed through time, it is a fallacy, an illusion. Don’t accept what the speaker is saying, that is, he is saying we have accepted this tradition of tribalism and isolation nationally, economically and religiously, and if we pursue that same direction, the same path, we shall be as we are now, in spite of time.

So what shall we do? That is the real problem. There is no other problem – economic, war, all the horrors that are going on in the world – this is the central problem. The central problem, which is, man has become like this through evolution, through time – brutal, violent, terror, always ready to kill another at the drop of a hat, hating others, antagonism, which is perpetual conflict in himself and in the world. We have lived like that – religiously, economically, politically, psychologically, inwardly. We have lived like this for fifty thousand years. Nobody inquires into why we live like this, why we are willing to kill another in the name of God, in the name of ideologies, in the name of patriotism, and so on and so on. We are no better than we were fifty thousand years ago, only more civilised, better bathrooms, better means of killing others, better literature and music – those are all peripheral activities, forms of entertainment, but inwardly in our depth, in our heart, in our minds, we remain what we have been through evolution, through time, and we have not fundamentally changed. That is a fact, isn’t it?

We have peripheral advantages – better communication, better hygiene, better doctors, better medicine, and so on and so on – that is the peripheral activity. But at the centre, deep down in ourselves, we are actually what we are and have been, after these long centuries of evolution. Don’t accepting what the speaker says – first see the tragedy of it all. You are highly intellectual or tremendously emotional, romantic, worshipping images – which the tribes do, only we worship in a more pleasant place with better architecture, but it is the same spirit. And outwardly this is the state. Inwardly, our consciousness, our way of thinking, is isolating. Each one of us thinks that we are separate from another. Outwardly we have produced a world that is isolating itself: each group, each community, each religion, each country. And in this isolation we are seeking security. Which is what is happening – the British say, ‘We must be secure in our isolation,’ and other countries are doing exactly the same thing. That is, they feel in isolating themselves by a name – British, German, French, American, Russian – enclosing themselves in a certain frontier, which is the isolating process, they feel they are secure. Of course. And inwardly we are doing exactly the same thing. Each one of us feels he is isolated, he is separate, divided from all others. He has encouraged this isolating self-centred process through religion, which is, religions have said you are separate, you are a separate soul, and that soul must be saved. In our education, we are educated to be separate, to be isolated, seek our own success. And our own conditioning is along the lines of ‘me’, my centre, my self, my isolation, and through that isolation we hope to find relationship.

So this isolating process outwardly and inwardly is bringing tremendous conflict. Please don’t agree with me, for God’s sake. Look at each one of us – we have our own problems, our own desire to fulfil, to become, to be something, to be a great artist, to be a great painter, to be a great writer, to become something, which is me becoming in isolation. And you are doing exactly the same thing, to become something in isolation, through your ambition, through your greed, through your drive of desire. And another is doing exactly the same, following exactly the same pattern.

So please look at it, that we want to be secure outwardly and inwardly through isolation. That is a fact, an irrefutable fact. You mightn’t like it but it is so. Each one is seeking his own salvation, his own happiness, his own isolating process of self-centred activity. So one questions whether there is any kind of radical change in isolation.

Krishnamurti in Saanen 1982, Talk 1

Part 2

Psychologically There Is No Tomorrow

We are thinking together about the whole question of psychological evolution because man throughout the millennia, has been accustomed, is used, conditioned to think that he will evolve. ‘I am this today. Give me time to change. I am envious, frightened, burdened with enormous sorrow, and I must have time to get over it, to go beyond it.’ This is what we are used to. The speaker is asking whether such psychological evolution exists at all. Is it the invention of thought saying, ‘I cannot change today, give me time, for God’s sake – tomorrow.’ The everlasting becoming: ‘I will be successful as an executive, as a first-class engineer, or a first-class carpenter.’ All this needs skill, and you need time for that. But we are asking: is there psychological evolution at all, the ‘me’ becoming something? We are thinking together, not about whether time exists psychologically or not. We are thinking together, therefore there is no opposition.

So let us examine the whole conditioning of becoming. Together, you understand? Don’t come to any conclusion. Or if you have conclusions, let go and find out. You see the problem? If one’s conditioning allows time, you are caught in the whole movement of becoming. That is, I am angry, one is angry – allow time to dissolve that anger. That is one’s conditioning, that is one’s habit. And if you cling to that, we cannot think together. Therefore it is important to find out if you are clinging to something, and at the same time trying to think together. If I cling to my belief, to my experience according to that belief, and you likewise, we can never think together, we can never cooperate together, and there is no action which is not divisive. So are we prepared to investigate together? To investigate implies looking, observing, thinking, rationally, sanely, patiently, deeply. Is one free to inquire into this question: the ‘me’, the self-centred activity, the constant movement. Whether you are asleep or awake, walking, dreaming, talking, it is this constant central activity of me. Has that a tomorrow, a progressive ending of it, or a progressive continuity of it, a refinement of it? All that demands tomorrow.

Now psychologically, is there a tomorrow? Please this is a very serious question. The speaker put this question to somebody some time ago, and the person said, ‘Oh lord, I am going to meet my husband tomorrow.’ (Oh come on, there is nothing difficult, don’t be puzzled.) All her hope and pleasure – you follow? – the whole memory of the husband, and if there is no tomorrow what is my husband? (Laughter) We are free together to inquire into this question; the speaker is not imposing a thing on you. But it is very important to find out if there is a tomorrow.

If there is no tomorrow, what takes place? We know what takes place when we have allowed multiple tomorrows: postponement, laziness, indolence, gradually achieving something, enlightenment, Nirvana – all the rest of it. Through many lives progress. I wonder if you follow all this, the seriousness of this investigation? If there is no tomorrow psychologically then what happens to the quality of your mind? The mind that is thinking together, what is the quality of the mind – the mind, not your mind, my mind, but the mind that has seen the whole progressive movement of the ‘me’ becoming, that has seen what is involved in this self-achieving, self-becoming, and what is involved when psychologically there is no tomorrow, no future.

Psychologically then there is a tremendous revolution. Is this taking place with you? That is what is important, not the words, not the speaker, what he is stating, but actually. Actual means that which is happening now, the actuality – is the actuality that in investigating together the mind has discovered the truth that there is no tomorrow psychologically? Then what takes place with the quality of one’s mind?

All religions, Christian, Catholic and all the rest of it, have said tomorrow is important. Tomorrow in the Christian world: one life. When you die, one life only. The Asiatic world says multiple lives. Probably you neither believe or accept either of those two – I don’t know – but when you begin to investigate the whole psychological movement of the ‘me’, the ‘X’ becoming, what is involved? Gradually you suffer and go on gradually lessening suffering till ultimately you are free, either in this life or in successive lives. The Christians accept this life, one life, and the Asiatics accept many, many lives. That is, psychologically one life and psychologically multiple lives. And together you and I have looked at it without any prejudice, without any conclusion, and we are observing the fact, how people are caught in this.

Krishnamurti in Saanen 1979, Talk 1

Part 3

Ending Fear Now

The psyche, that is the bundle of all your thinking, of all your feelings, of all your conclusions, beliefs, gods, hopes, fears and all that – that is your bundle, that is your consciousness, that is what you are. That is what you are. That is what your consciousness is. Your consciousness is made up of all these things – your gods, your knowledge, your faith, your hope, your fears, your pleasures, your conclusions, your loneliness, and the great fear of sorrow and pain – all that is your consciousness. We are asking whether that consciousness has evolution at all. Evolution means becoming what you are, more and more and more. That is, I am greedy, envious, violent: can greed evolve into non-greed? Or anger or loneliness become something, gradually into something else?

Please, this is rather a difficult subject because all our tradition, all our religious training, our belief, our faith and all the sacred, so-called sacred literature tells you that you will become something – if you make an effort, if you strive after, if you meditate. From this to that. From what you are to what you should be, that is evolution. Now the speaker is denying all that. The speaker is saying greed can never become better greed. There is only the ending of something, not becoming something.

Most of you probably believe in reincarnation. I don’t know why. It’s fairly obvious why – why do you believe in it? That is, from this life to next life, where you will have better opportunities, where you will be a little bit nobler, where you’ll have a little more comfort, more enlightenment. That is, from what you are to become what you should be. That is called evolution. The speaker is questioning that. He says there is no such thing as psychological evolution.

You have to understand the nature of that statement, what is implied, that enlightenment, deep perception of that which is true, that which is beyond time, is not through progress, through a continuity. So there is no movement as evolution of the psyche, which means there is no becoming. I don’t become noble, I don’t achieve enlightenment if I practise, if I strive, if I deny this and control – and so on, which is gradation in achievement.

So one has to understand the nature of time. Time, as we said, essentially means to divide, to break. Time implies a beginning and an ending. So we are going to talk over together the nature of fear, whether fear can end now – or must it end gradually? You understand the point? We are used to the idea that gradually we will be rid of fear, which is, I am afraid but give me time, I’ll be over it.

Please, don’t look at me. It is not worth looking at me. Just think together.

So we are going to find out for ourselves whether fear can disappear through time, or the very time itself is the root of fear. So what is the root of fear? Please inquire together – what is the root of it, what is the cause of it?

What is fear? You all know what fear is – fear of not becoming, not achieving, fear of the dark, fear of authority, fear of your wife or husband – fear has many, many, many aspects. We are not concerned with the many facets of fear, or wiping away one or two fears. That is like cutting the branches of a tree. But if you want to destroy the tree you must uproot the tree, go to the very root of it. So we are together looking at your own fear. You may put on saintly robes, take vows and all that kind of stuff, but there is fear in you. So look at that fear. What is that fear?

What is fear? Fear of an accident, fear of disease and of course there is the fear, ultimate fear, which is of death. Or the fear of living. And most of you who put on these strange robes and garlands have fear of living. It makes no difference, does it? What the speaker is saying will make no difference to those who are dressed in fancy dress, will it? They will go on because they have got this idea that fear can be surrendered to an idea, and that they will be free of it. Fear is much too deep to surrender it, or to dispel it, or to control it, or to suppress it. One must inquire into the root of it. What is the root of fear? Is it not time? Is it not remembrance? Is it not an experience which you have had which was painful, and the fear of it recurring again? Fear of disease? These are all the symptoms. We are not dealing with symptoms. We are concerned whether it is possible to uproot totally all fear. That is clear: we are concerned not with a particular fear, not your own special neurotic fear but the nature, the structure, the cause of fear. Because where there is a cause, there is an end. So we are together going to find out the cause.

We are saying that one of the causes of fear is time. That is the future, that is fear of what might happen. And fear of the past, which is time, which is a remembrance, which is thought. So we are asking: are time and thought the root of fear? Are they the cause of fear?

I am afraid of what might happen. That is the future. Or I am afraid of something that has happened in the past that might happen again. That is the past invading the present, modifying itself and going on. So time is one of the factors of fear. It is so obvious, isn’t it? Now we are asking whether thought is also a factor of fear, and if there is a difference between time and thought.

Can you bear all this? Can you go on with this? Or you are getting tired already.

We are saying that thought and time are the root of fear. We explained somewhat. You can work it out for yourself, the nature of time. Time is division, as yesterday, today and tomorrow. Time of something that has happened which was painful a week ago and might happen again. The remembrance of the past projecting into the future, and being afraid of that which might happen.

Now, is thought one of the causes or the cause of fear? So what is thought? What is thinking? The most ignorant who don’t know how to read or write, who live in a small village – poverty-ridden, unhappy – they think too, as you think, as the scientist thinks. So thinking is shared by all. So it is not your thinking. It is not individual thinking. I know it is difficult to accept this – go into it. You’re thinking at the moment, I hope. And we are asking: is thought one of the factors of fear? And so we are investigating what thinking is.

Thinking is shared by all humanity, whether the most educated, sophisticated, rich, powerful and all the rest of it, or by the most simple, ignorant, half-starving person. It is common to all. Therefore it is not your thinking. You may express your thinking differently, and I may express it in different words, but the factor is that we both think. And thinking is not yours or mine; it is thinking. So what is thinking? Why has it become so extraordinarily important in our life? Please understand this, give your mind to this because love and thinking cannot go together. Compassion is not the product of thought. Love cannot exist in the shadow of thought. Love is not remembrance. So you must understand, please, give your heart and mind to the understanding of this: that thinking is common to all of us. It is not individual thinking. You may express it differently, and another express it differently – more scholastically, more capable – but thinking is shared by all.

So what is thinking? When you are asked, when that question is put to you, you begin to think, don’t you? Or do you listen to the question? If you listen to the question, which is your mind is not interfering – with your conclusions, with your ideas and so on – if you are listening with all your attention, which means with all your senses totally awakened, then you will see for yourself what the origin of thinking is.

The origin of thinking is experience. Experience gives knowledge, whether it is scientific knowledge or knowledge about your wife or husband. Experience and knowledge stored in the brain as memory, and the response of memory is thinking. This is very simple; it is a fact. You cannot think if there is no memory, if there is no knowledge, if there is no experience. So thinking is a process of time. Because knowledge is a process of time and knowledge, being never complete about anything, including your wife or husband, or about your guru – knowledge can never be complete, therefore thought can never be complete, it must always be fragmented.

So, fear is the child of thought. I am afraid because I have done something not right, that I might be condemned for it. That is to think about it. This is simple enough. So thought and time are the factors of fear. Now, is thought different from time? Or thought is time. Thought is a movement, isn’t it? It is a material process. Whatever thought has done is material. Your gods are created by thought, your rituals are created by thought. All the things that go on in the name of religion are created by thought – the gods, the gurus, everything is created by thought. And thought, being limited and fragmented because knowledge is limited, all action then becomes limited, and where there is limitation there must be fear. So we are asking: do thought and time work together, or are they different, or is there only thought which divides as time, as progress, as evolution, as becoming?

As we said, please explore all this, search out. Don’t let your brains become dull by knowledge, by doing all the rubbish we do. Life is intellect, emotion, the senses, but if you let thought dominate them all, as we do, then our life becomes fragmented, shallow, empty.

Krishnamurti in Bombay 1983, Talk 3 

Part 4

What You Are Now You Will Be

I am what I have been, and what I will be is what I am now. If I don’t change now, I will be tomorrow exactly what I am. Is this clear? Not verbally, not theoretically but actually – that we now contain all time – apart from learning a language, learning a skill, writing a letter, those require time. To come from one place to another, that requires time, but psychologically, inwardly, all time is now. See the difficulty of it, that there is no tomorrow, there is only now. That means there is no becoming. There is no psychological evolution at all. It is not: ‘I am going to achieve something’ – that means time. Suppose I want to be ‘illuminated’ – whatever that may mean – quotes! – I want to find truth, all the rest of it. That means in the future. The future is now, what I am. If I don’t fundamentally change, the future is what I am, tomorrow. What I am now, tomorrow.

If we see the truth of this, that there is no psychological evolution at all, there is no becoming, there is no what I am and what I will be. The future is now – if I don’t radically change now, I will be exactly tomorrow what I am. That means seeing the truth that there is no psychological becoming. The psyche, which is the essence of the self, thinks in terms of becoming. Understanding this is not an intellectual feat; this is a simple, obvious fact. Christianity has one way of expressing it: resurrection, reaching God, attaining heaven – which is expressed in the Asiatic world differently but it is the same movement. That is, I am this and I will gradually become that. But never to think in terms of graduality, gradualness.

I need time gradually to learn a skill. I need many years to learn to dance well in ballet – in childhood I must begin. To play the violin, I must begin when I am very young, if I have got the talent, if I have got the passion behind it. And also I feel the same movement is carried over into the psychological area: I must one day reach. That is why you belong to various groups, various gurus, you put on various robes to be different, because you want to achieve something. So if you see the truth, the absolute truth that all time is contained in the now, to realise the depth of it is rather frightening. You say, ‘I hope to see you tomorrow,’ ‘I’ll love you tomorrow.’ Either that love is now in its entirety or not at all. This is very clear, the absolute clarity of it, that the psyche has no future, that you have no future. That is because what you are now, you will be, unless there is a fundamental mutation – which is a biological word but a good word to use. Unless there is fundamental mutation now, you will be what you are, tomorrow.

Krishnamurti in Saanen 1984, Talk 1

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