Krishnamurti with David Shainberg
Memory, thought and the illusion of continuity. Shainberg trained at the American Institute for Psychoanalysis and worked in New York. He was a leading force behind the integration of eastern and western philosophies in the understanding of consciousness and experience. Shainberg was the first to bring psychoanalysts and eastern spiritual leaders together. He retired from practice in 1981 in order to devote more time to painting.
Recorded in New York in 1983, the conversation between Krishnamurti and Shainberg inquires into why illusion and thought have such power. What can a person do for another who is caught up in their illusions? Why do human beings give importance to their own self-centred activity? The very idea of protecting oneself brings about isolation. The ‘me’ is not something separate from memory. Memory is the only thing that continues, but represents something that is dead, finished. Our psyche is being programmed by ideologies, which have been put together by thought.
David Shainberg: Krishnaji, the question I came up with is this: What do you think, or what is the power or the intensity that goes along with the… that illusions have such immediacy? In other words, why is it that illusion and what thought creates has such power and such immediacy? That’s question one, I wrote, and then somewhere along the line: what can a person do if, let’s say, if I or if you see the illusion of my… the immediacy in my illusions and you see the quality of my illusions, what can a person do for another person who is caught up in their illusions? Those are two questions.
Krishnamurti: Sir, first of all, what do you mean by illusion?
DS: Well, when I use the word illusion I’m sort of… I’m going from discussions we’ve had before where we talked about the fact that thought creates a reality.
K: Thought creates illusions.
DS: It creates illusion, and so therefore it is illusion since it’s making it up. And it has such immediacy. I mean, you know, we all invest our thoughts with such intense needs. We’ve invested in security. I mean, what is that, this immediacy in illusion or thought?
K: When you use the word immediacy does it mean the urge to fulfil, the urge to do something? I don’t quite understand when you use the word immediacy what you mean by that.
DS: Well, I’m using the word immediacy in the sense of a reality. If I really feel that I… I mean, let’s say this, that if I imagine – take it at two levels: if I imagine myself falling off a wall, I’ll jump. So that thought and that imagination has immediacy, an intensity. If I have the thought that I must…
K: Could we express it differently?
DS: Sure. Go ahead.
K: I’m not getting the meaning of what you’re talking about.
DS: Well, I’m really saying that we have thoughts that we invest with importance.
K: Yes. Let’s stick to that. Yes.
DS: Okay. Now what makes us invest it with such importance? In other words, how come we can’t see… I mean, I’m really referring back to my work as a doctor where a patient comes in and he’ll, say, you know, terribly depressed if somebody died; terribly depressed if their lover doesn’t show up; terribly depressed if they lose a job. Those are thoughts which have importance but they have… for this person it’s as if it’s the whole life has collapsed. That’s what I mean by immediacy – urgency.
K: After all, it’s the urge of desire to fulfil.
DS: I’m not getting you there.
K: Because I’m not getting your meaning at all.
DS: Well, let me try another way. We talk a lot about what thought does.
K: Yes. We said that thought is limited. Thought, whatever it does, whether in the technological world or in the psychological world, is limited.
K: I mean, a person who is concerned about himself all day long, his whole attitude towards life and towards the world is very, very, very small.
DS: Right. Now, how come he… if thought is limited, but actually thought begins to seem like it’s unlimited.
K: That’s just an idea. That’s an illusion.
DS: That’s an illusion but that actually happens.
K: So what is your question then?
DS: So what makes that happen? In other words, what makes thought appear so unlimited? And we invest it with such unlimited virtues.
K: Who does this?
DS: Everyone in this world that I know. I mean, people think of their… Like yesterday in our discussion, the man says he’s getting better because he can take a vacation – right? – so in a way he has invested his thought… You see what I’m getting at?
DS: You still don’t see. Well, let’s try… This is what we try… People do invest their…
K: Would you mind changing the words? Not invest – move away from this.
DS: All right. We’ll move away. We’ll try another way. We think what we think is…
K: …is important.
DS: …is important. Keep it at that.
K: What we think is important; which is, our prejudice.
DS: Our ideas.
K: Our ideas, our ideologies, our experience. We think that’s important.
DS: Exactly. Now you’re getting it.
K: Yes, now we’re getting it.
DS: Now, what is that?
K: Not, ‘What is that?’ – why have they become important?
DS: But they start out important.
K: No. Why have… I have an experience, suppose, or I come to some definite conclusion.
DS: Okay. All right.
K: I’ve thought a great deal about it, read about it, talked to people, and I’ve come to a conclusion that’s final.
DS: Right, right.
K: In that finality there is a certain sense of, ‘At last I’ve understood. This is what I must do or not do, and proceed from there.’
K: Now, what is the question? Put it from there.
DS: From there the question is: how did it get to be that you think…
K: …it’s important.
DS: …that it’s important and that it’s final?
K: Because it has happened to me and I have seen all the implications of it, all the implications of an accident or a… I’ve reasoned it out and I say, ‘This is so.’
K: But the difficulty is you come along and say it is not so.
K: Then I hold on to what I’ve come… my conclusion, hold on to my conclusion.
DS: Because I say it’s not. You mean it’s simply in reaction?
K: No, you say, ‘It’s not. Your conclusion is wrong.’ Unless I’m willing to listen to you, examine it, then I’ll change it, but if I’m not willing to listen to you, examine it, I won’t change, I’ll say, ‘That’s what I think.’
DS: Yes, but before you already thought it was important, what you thought.
K: Yes, sir, because it’s happened to me.
DS: So it’s me that’s the issue, because it happened to me. So then you’ve invested me with importance?
K: Yes, me becomes the importance.
DS: Why? That’s…
K: Ah, your question now is quite different: why human beings all over the world have given importance to the idea of the me.
DS: Yes, yes. Such importance.
K: Tremendous importance.
K: The whole world circles round it, from the…
DS: Right. And so what does it? You know, in….
K: What do you mean, ‘What does it?’
DS: I mean, in other words, why? Why does…
K: Why do human beings give importance to their own self-centred activity? Right?
DS: That’s right.
K: Why? Is it because they think they’re individuals separate from everybody else; and therefore because they’re individuals, it’s like building a wall around oneself – right? – and not letting any other thing interfere with that centre, and naturally then it becomes important.
DS: Wait a minute – naturally. Why naturally?
K: Because that’s the only thing I have.
DS: So having made this wall, then I’m taking in like I’m taking in things that are building me up, so to speak.
K: And therefore that’s the only thing I have left with me.
DS: Because I’ve made this…
K: Not only because of that but because through education, through religion and so on and so on, my brain has been programmed to think I am an individual.
K: And being an individual, I must protect myself against you, against the environment and so on.
DS: Right, right.
K: So in the act of protecting myself, it becomes very important. The act becomes very important.
DS: Right, right. And that makes… So what you’re saying too is that therefore all of these illusions that I build up…
K: …spring from that.
DS: …spring from that. In other words, it’s necessary, like getting more evidence. So it’s really: why does this happen, this me?
K: I wouldn’t put it ‘Why?’ Put it round the other way, sir.
DS: Yes, it’s not…
K: Why has humanity, human beings all over the world become so terribly self-centred? Would that be a right question?
DS: Yes, that’s good.
K: Why, sir? From your training, from your analytical point of view as a doctor and psychotherapist and so on, why do you think they have given importance to this self-centred egotistic movement? Which is actually separative movement.
DS: Separative – right, right.
K: Which is divisive movement. Why?
DS: Well, I think that the reason is that thought itself offers… You know, thought simply appears in the brain and that thought offers the security of the self, or the me. In other words, it creates the me.
K: Yes, sir. Wait a minute. I’m asking: after having created the me, which is the image I have about myself, why have we given such importance to this? I’m asking you.
DS: I know you are, and my answer is – I hate to use the word security, but it seems that the me provides a security. Now there I think is a question: why does the me provide such security, or seem to provide?
K: Or is it that I am seeking security fundamentally?
DS: Yes, yes.
K: And the feeling that all my activity must be within the area of my own experience, my own judgement, my own values, my own egotistic movement.
DS: Right, right. But I mean it seems to me you’re saying… you’re going backwards there.
K: No. No, sir. Look, sir, let’s begin again. Human beings all the world over have built up this illusion that self-centred activity is self-protective, defensive, aggressive, and one lives in that area – right? – and I know nothing else.
DS: But there must be some appeal, or something inherent in us as human beings, that this happens. In other words, that it so quickly… you know, you can take the young child and it happens so quickly, that this self-centred… It’s literally like I gave you a shot of heroin and you said, ‘Ah, I like it,’ and you say, ‘I want more of it.’ And it’s as if the happening of the self, the me, is like a shot of heroin; you get a little and it’s like immediately it just builds. You’re addicted to it. It’s really an addiction. Let’s look at it as an addiction.
K: What? What is an addiction?
DS: The me. And the need for security is an addiction. And the me, is like a shot of heroin, which offers that drug. In other words, you are yearning for security. I come along and say to you, ‘Look, I’m going to shoot you up with a little me,’ and you become… You know what I mean?
K: No, sir. Look, let’s begin… I understand what you mean. Let’s begin again.
DS: Okay, sure.
K: Why do we seek security?
DS: Because we’re insecure.
K: So, are we insecure?
K: Or we imagine we are insecure? You understand my question? I want security; I must have security, physical security: clothes, food and shelter and so on. I must have a job in this rotten society. I must have somewhere where I can be quiet by myself, with my family, with whatever it is. Why have human beings – that’s my fundamental question – given importance to the me, to thinking I must protect myself. Because the world is very dangerous. It began probably, oh, a million years ago when man began to come into being; he had to protect himself. There were wild animals, everything was chaotic. So perhaps from there began the origin that I must protect myself. Animals do. A deer which is being chased by a leopard, his instinct is to run away; and unfortunately the leopard is quicker and catches him and kills him, and so on. And also the deer escape sometimes, fortunately. So from there we have inherited this sense of ‘I must protect myself’.
DS: Okay. Yes.
K: And I’m asking: is it possible to protect yourself in isolation? After all, the very idea of protecting myself brings about isolation.
DS: Right, right.
K: Right? Now, is there security in isolation?
DS: Well, if the deer runs away, is he seeking it in isolation?
K: No. No, poor thing, he just wants to survive.
DS: Just wants to survive. Or is that possible, that maybe that’s one of the things that causes the me, that he just wants to survive?
K: That’s a natural instinct.
DS: But I said maybe the me is…
K: No, sir, physically I must survive. Right?
DS: Well, then we must get confused and think the me is physical survival.
K: No. Physically I need clothes, food and shelter. I must survive. I must have a job and so on, a room and so on. Now, is there psychological survival at all?
DS: No. But I just had a thought. There’s no psychological survival.
K: Why do you say that? I mean, everybody wants to psychologically survive. DS: But actually, do you think…
K: The me is the psyche.
DS: Right, right. But in some way it’s confused with the body.
K: Which is identified. Identification takes place because in identification I put out roots.
K: And having roots I feel secure.
DS: And you identify with your body.
K: Which is, my body, my name…
DS: So I am my body, I am my name.
K: I am what I’m doing, and so on.
DS: Exactly. But isn’t that similar to what the deer is doing when he’s running away?
K: No. A deer doesn’t think about himself.
DS: Exactly. But I’m saying that there’s a crossover there.
K: There is no thought operating probably in the deer.
DS: Okay, we’ll accept that.
K: It just wants… you know, frightened, and runs.
DS: Yes. And then when we go into this me and identification…
K: …then all the trouble begins.
DS: But isn’t that in a way a cross… a sort of a wrong continuity from the deer? You know what I mean?
K: Not quite.
DS: Well, in the sense that you say we’ve inherited this need for survival like… from the animal.
K: We have inherited the instinct to survive.
DS: So we’ve inherited the instinct to survive.
K: That’s natural. Sir, please, let’s admit one thing: it’s a natural instinct to survive.
K: I mean, every little cell wants to survive.
DS: Right, right.
K: And to survive, physical necessities I must have – a job and so on.
DS: Well, a lot of people think me is a necessity.
K: Are you sure what you’re saying?
DS: Yes. I mean, I think that there’s a…
K: Me is essential? They haven’t even examined what is the me.
DS: Ah, but they still feel it is essential.
K: No, sir, they feel in the me there is security, in the psyche – right? – and I cling to the image of myself.
K: But we never examine what is the psyche. If there is clinging to something which I call me it may be an illusion. So we have to examine what is the psyche. Has it any ground on which it can stand firm, or is it just a movement, a series of movements? I don’t know if you are following.
DS: I’m following you.
K: And these movements, experience and so on, is the me.
K: And I know nothing else.
DS: Well, except it… one question that comes up there is that in the act of experiencing there seems… as I’m looking at it, there’s a sense that the me appears in the act of experience. In other words…
K: Ah, no, just a minute, sir. Just a minute, just a minute. Is that so? I’ve an experience I had this morning: a car ran into me. It hurt me, and the pain is registered. The accident, the pain, is recorded in the brain. And I remember it; I’ll remember it for a month or two. And so I’m very careful after that, not to be run over, not to be knocked down. The remembrance has a continuity. That continuity is the self. The remembrance. I don’t know if you…
K: Remembrance of things past, the incidents, the accidents, the pleasures, that memory has a continuity. Memory. And memory then says, ‘I’ve had this experience, I must be careful.’ Right?
K: So there is no other factor than the continuity of memory.
DS: Except next time I have an experience, what happens? I add it to that.
K: Of course; continuous addition or subtraction.
K: Now, is memory, which is actually continuity, what value has that, apart from a skill, a doctor? You have to have a continuous memory in order to examine me – right? – a series of time, a series of accumulation of knowledge and so on. You’re the doctor. So there is only, I’m saying, continuity of memory. That’s all. Memory is me. There’s no separate me from memory. Right? And that gives me security.
DS: What is that?
DS: The security you get in that memory.
K: Knowledge. Knowledge of my accident, of my pain or pleasure; the things past. That is, the structure of memory based on experience and knowledge.
DS: I see.
K: That brings to me a sense of… no, that brings a sense of continuity which is the me. The me is not something separate from memory.
K: So memory is the only thing that continues.
DS: And that’s security.
DS: That’s what gives it…
K: No. You see, sir… No, no, what has continuity seems to appear to give security.
DS: That’s the question: what’s the appearance?
K: Go slowly, sir. Yes. Memory is the only factor in our lives that has continuity.
K: Ah, that’s a great…
K: You understand? And what is memory?
DS: It’s the storing of the past.
K: No. Things of the past – right? – not of the future.
DS: Right. No. It’s only the past.
K: The past.
DS: It’s only the past.
K: So, you’re going to discover… we’re going to discuss something extraordinary. That is, the past has continuity, modified, but the past continues. Right?
K: So, that which has continuity, though modified, is the only source of security. Anything that breaks up – death – say death; let’s take death – that ends that continuity.
DS: That stops it, yes.
K: So I’m frightened of it.
DS: Exactly. Anything that interrupts that…
K: So, memory is the centre of the psyche and that memory has continuity and therefore that which has a series of movements, similar movements, I feel safe, it brings a sense of safety, security. So memory brings security.
K: Right? Wait a minute, wait a minute. And is that security?
DS: That’s what I was going to ask. (Laughs) I don’t know. It’s not security. It can’t be security.
K: How can it be? No, just see what we have done.
K: We human beings want continuity and that continuity we find in memory, in remembrance, in the thing… the record in the brain. That has continuity. And so there is not only a sense of permanency, and also a great sense of security in memory.
K: Now, what is memory? To remember. To remember to keep to right side of the road in America or in France, but in England it’s the left side of the road. To remember the address I have to come to. So memory is something… Go on, sir, investigate…
K: See what is happening.
DS: Yes, yes.
K: Memory is put together by past incidents which are dead, gone. I have lost my brother, my son – they’re gone; incinerated or buried – finished. But the memory remains.
K: Memory is not the actual.
DS: No. The actual is the absence.
DS: Right. That’s the actual.
K: But I’ve got a photograph of my son on the mantelpiece. I keep on looking at it. The picture is not the brother, son; memory is not the son or the brother. So memory is – what?
DS: Always going back over.
K: No, no. I’ve lost my son or brother, my mother, whatever it is, and there is the picture of them on the mantelpiece to remind me.
DS: To reawaken the memory – right?
K: Yes, I keep on thinking about it. Memory. We’ll keep to memory, not thought, for the moment. So that memory is something which is… that memory represents something that is gone, dead, finished.
K: So memory is not real. I don’t know if you…
K: Ah, no, that’s a tremendous… You follow, sir? Memory is not the actual son or the brother. So memory, though it appears to have continuity, it is a dead thing. So I seek security in something dead.
K: No. Right?
K: If my son or brother was living, I found security with them. I loved them; they loved me; I felt safe with them, they would protect me; they would see to my old age and so on – I’m safe. But they’re gone, never to return.
K: But the memory of them remains – right? – which is memory of a dead, past thing. So memory, which appears to have continuity, is a dead thing – not the actual living brother and son.
DS: Right, right.
K: So what am I… what is thought clinging to? Clinging to something that’s dead. Ah, that’s a great… Sir, to discover I’m clinging to something that’s gone. So much water under the bridge.
DS: (Laughs) Right.
K: So there is no security in memory. Right?
K: But to find that out we are unwilling to do that.
DS: There. What is that unwillingness?
K: It’s habit, tradition. I have been programmed for the last 2000 years to worship a symbol called Jesus, or in India 5-10,000, and I’m stuck there.
DS: I think there’s more to it, Krishnaji.
K: Of course there’s more.
DS: Let’s go into it a little bit further. I’ve been programmed, but again, if I’ve been programmed, in some way I find it… something holds it there.
K: What holds it? Just the program.
DS: No, I think it’s more.
K: Go into it, sir.
DS: That’s what I’m…
K: Just a minute. I have been programmed as a Dutchman. No, we’ll take a Catholic because it’s much more precise. I’ve been programmed for 2000 years to be a Roman Catholic, to worship the symbol, the cross, to follow the rituals, to be baptized, to obey the Pope. That’s my conditioning. That is, the brain cells have been conditioned to that.
K: Right? And my son or my grandson and grandson and grandson, I insist they be conditioned that way, because I feel safe in a society which says we’re all Catholic. Right? That program is memory. And when I say I am Catholic, all the 2000 years of memories is there. Right?
DS: Right, right.
K: So I’m clinging, holding on, to something that’s gone, that has no validity. Jesus may not have existed, but we have invented the original sin and you can’t escape from it; only somebody else can save you. I’ve been programmed to that.
DS: But you’re doing it.
K: I’m doing it because I’m an automatic machine where this is concerned. But in the business world I’m not an automatic machine. You understand? There I’m active, I’m changing, I’m moving.
DS: Yes, you’re giving up; you’re not operating on memory. But here you’re operating with memory.
K: Here I’m operating on tradition, on a program; on a program which has conditioned the brain cells. Right? That’s mechanical.
DS: But you’re doing it, though.
K: I’m mechanical. The computer is mechanical. It’s doing; it’s producing; it tells you what to do.
DS: Is there anything that’s making you do it?
K: No. The programming itself is making me do it.
DS: Simply automatic. I don’t know about that. There’s something that appeals to you about it.
K: Sir, just a minute. Just a minute, sir. Just look at it carefully. I’m programmed as a Roman Catholic and you are programmed as a Buddhist, let’s assume. Neither of us are… I’m not programmed to be Catholic, neither are you a Buddhist, but let’s assume I’m programmed as a Roman Catholic or I’m a Muslim, Islamic cult, and you are Christian, if you prefer. Now, I have been programmed for the last 1400 years to be a Muslim, to read the Koran, to follow it, to go on my knees facing the west. I’ve been programmed. The program is working. And the working of the program gives me the security of the I. ‘I am doing it,’ etc. And you are doing the same thing in a different way – going to church every Sunday, genuflecting, obeying the Catholic hierarchy; exactly the same thing in a different pattern.
K: So it is the program that is operating, nothing else.
DS: And if the program is operating, how could anyone not be in that program?
K: She comes along or he comes along and says, ‘Look what you’re doing.’
DS: Do you think they can hear?
K: Unless they say, ‘Sorry, I won’t listen to you. You’re a heathen; you’re an evil person,’ and shut you up – then of course you can’t hear. But there is always, in an intelligent, inquiring mind, there’s always a little spark of doubt.
K: And that person tells me, ‘Look what you’re doing. You’re merely living on a dead memory which is programmed. Your life is mechanical. Your thinking is mechanical because you’re fundamentally living according to a program.’ Even in the business world it is the same. Right?
DS: But you know, it’s hard for a person to see their own programs. I mean, for instance, take a person – let’s take a perhaps more practical thing – take a business man. The business man is programmed to think in terms of making money; he’s programmed in terms of – or take a doctor, he’s programmed at such levels as to think of himself as separate from his patient, or he’s programmed to think in terms of knowledge. You pass over knowledge, but that whole thing of knowledge itself, in the good places where it works well, gets into other places, into the program. You know what I mean?
K: That’s right, sir. No, sir, I understand. But if we both agree, or see the fact that our whole psyche is being programmed – I’m talking of psyche for the moment – which is I am a Catholic, I am a Jew, I am an Arab, I’m a Hindu, and so on, so on, so on, a communist, which are all ideologies.
K: Right? Ideologies.
DS: Exactly, yes.
K: And the ideologies have been put together by thought – clever thought, crooked thought, irrational thought and so on; it’s still thought. Right? Now, that thought has been programmed.
DS: Sure. And so deeply.
K: I mean, obviously.
DS: I mean, the me itself.
K: Sir, after 10,000 years and 5000 years, you can’t help being deeply programmed.
DS: But so deeply in the sense of this me, where we started, if we go back and start over…
K: The program is me.
DS: Exactly. Now, the program is me and the very program, the very act of being me is programmed.
K: Yes, sir.
DS: But that’s a phenomenal thing.
K: I am acting like a computer according to what I’m programmed.
DS: Well, that’s phenomenally difficult to see that.
K: Sir, see the importance of this, how deeply rooted it is.
K: The inheritance, the tradition, the heritage, the genetic, all that is born from the animal and so on, gradually to man, and all that is great experience, knowledge and so on, which is the past, and I am living… the brain is living in the past.
K: And the past is the program.
DS: The very act of living in the past is the program.
K: Yes, sir. Yes, sir.
DS: The act of living in the past is a program, the brain is a program, the me is a program.
K: And therefore what does a human being do when he realizes this? That means there is no freedom. You may talk about freedom of will and all… – that’s nonsense. It’s like a machine, but more clever, more subtle, more inventive and so on – the brain – but it is conditioned, it is programmed, and as long as one lives in that area, there’s no freedom. It’s like a clever… a machine that quickly adjusts itself to various factors, impressions and so on and so on, but it’s still a brain that has being programmed, that can only think. Right? And the thinking is limited.
DS: Yes. It’s right in the program.
K: That’s all. First of all, to realize that is a bit of a shock to me.
K: The other day we were discussing with some well-known scholar and scientists and so on – the scholar was conditioned by his knowledge. Right?
K: He has read a great deal, Asiatic philosophy and Western philosophy, religious and so on. He has got tremendous knowledge which has conditioned him.
K: So, when you say, ‘Please, let’s put aside all your knowledge about something, let’s go into the whole idea of knowledge, how it binds’…
DS: What did he say?
K: It took some time. He refused. And then he began to quote Bronowski and the others who said, ‘Knowledge helps man to ascend.’ I mean, sir, this whole concept of knowledge helping man to ascend seems so utterly nonsense to me, because we have had 7000 years of war, which has brought us enormous knowledge – killing with a stone, with an arrow, then with a gun and so on, till now we have got the atom bomb.
DS: Exactly. Yes. We’ve got increased knowledge.
K: Knowledge. And we’ll take another 10,000 years, adding more and more and more; perhaps we’ll be able to wipe out the whole earth.
DS: Well, we’ll have that much knowledge (laughs).
K: So the point is, sir, I am programmed. I accept that. Suppose I accept it completely.
DS: Do you accept it?
K: Suppose, I said, for the moment.
K: You come along and say, ‘Look, my friend, you have no freedom here. You’re just a machine, a very clever, intelligent machine.’ Which you are; the brain is a machine, it can react and all the rest of it. And as long as the brain remains in that area, it is never free. Its energy is limited, its capacity is limited, though technologically you have advanced within the last three…
DS: Yes. Can we right here, take a look here? I have no freedom. My energy is limited. Now there’s an implication there that I’m to think about having more freedom or having more energy. Or is there perhaps this perception of…
K: Wait, wait. When you think of the more…
DS: That’s what I’m getting at.
K: …it’s the same movement.
DS: The same movement. So it’s my perception of my mechanization and my perception of the constriction of my energy that’s at issue. Isn’t that it?
K: Yes. Yes. And not only that’s the issue, sir; let’s put it down this way: suppose I realize that I am programmed – all of me, biologically as well as psychologically. And you come to me because you have investigated much more; you’re a doctor, you have gone into the issue, studied various things, and you say, ‘Look, my friend, you have no freedom. You’re like a very good, subtle machine. In that, because it is automatic, limited, you’re creating infinite trouble for yourself, pain for yourself, conflict for yourself, and you have created this society and therefore you and society are creating hell on earth.’
DS: By going around inside of that.
K: In that limitation.
K: You point that out to me. Then I say, ‘Please, I see the fact. Help me to break through it.’ Right?
K: And you say to me, ‘No, I won’t help you, because you have to see the truth of this.’
DS: And you’re asking me to help you is the system itself.
K: Yes. So you tell me, ‘Don’t do that, don’t ask my help or ask the help of anyone, including God.’
DS: Can we stop right there. How is it that when you ask me to help you that that really just is another way to show my conditioning, really?
K: Yes, I have acknowledged.
DS: It is that, because you’re making yourself into a thing for me to fix, really.
K: No, I’ve acknowledged that I’ve been programmed, caught in a trap, and I can’t get out. I think I can’t get out. Right?
DS: So what can I do for you?
K: Therefore, I come to you – wait, wait – I come to you. You’re a doctor, a psychologist, psychotherapist, you’re well known, blah, blah, blah. I come to you and I say, ‘Please, sir, this is my state.’ I realize that if one lives on a dead thing it becomes narrow, limited, and therefore I am creating conflict not only between me and my wife and society; I live in conflict.
K: Help me to understand the nature of memory, the programming, the root of conflict, and show me or help me to get out of this blasted hole.
K: That’s what all of us are asking.
K: They go to church for that purpose, temples, prayers. Right? ‘Help me, oh God’ – invented by thought – ‘help me to get out of this.’ And nobody has helped so far after ten million or five – nobody has helped me, but I keep on praying somebody will help me, which is insanity. You understand? That is neuroticism.
DS: Well, what do you think it is, though, the act of… what do you think it is about the program that breeds asking for help?
K: No, it is not asking for help. When you come along, point out to me the limitation of being programmed, then I begin to look at it.
DS: But then you ask me for help.
K: Then I ask you for help.
DS: But that’s part of your program to ask me for help.
K: No, it’s not part of my program.
K: No. Yes, in a certain way, yes. That’s part… but I’ve moved out of that. I come to you for help – just listen – and you say, ‘That’s part of your nasty program.’ I say, ‘Yes, quite right, but all the same, let’s inquire into it. Please, let’s go together.’ You follow?
DS: Yes. So we can talk together.
K: Together. That means you’re not helping me to climb out of the hole.
DS: Right. We’re in this together.
K: Together. Which means what?
DS: We’re both programmed.
K: We both realize we’re both programmed, we are in a hole, and by talking over, looking over, investigating, we begin to see there is nobody going to help you.
DS: Or you.
K: Nobody’s going to help me or you, both of us. Right? What does that mean? I remain with my program.
DS: We’re together in it.
K: Yes, you are in… we remain – let’s put it that way – we remain in the hole. Because I don’t know how to get out of it. You don’t know either. We remain in the hole. Right? But what has happened when I say, ‘I’ve not accepted help, I’ve not look to anybody’ – God or…
DS: Well, but wait a second, wait a second. I came along and I showed you your program.
K: Yes. And so…
DS: Did I give you help?
DS: I didn’t? You didn’t see it?
K: I didn’t see it, but you have shaken me.
DS: So I helped you?
K: No, sir, you’ve helped me like a thunderstorm. The thunderstorms give you a lot of…
DS: I shook you up a little.
K: No, nitrogen to the soil, thunder.
DS: Right, right.
(We’ve got 3 minutes.)
K: So you acted as thunder, which is a natural event. We happened to meet and we said, ‘Look, let’s go into this.’ Sir, but what I’m…
DS: Am I out of the program because I could see your program? Am I out of the program? I’m not… I mean, I can see your program; I’m still in the program.
K: Of course; we both are in it.
DS: We both are in it. Right. I’ve shown you your program.
K: And by talking to me you discovered that you’re also programmed.
DS: Exactly. Ah, that’s quite a discovery.
K: Of course, of course. Both of us discover it – not you don’t…
DS: Not me. I have this insight, or I saw it.
K: Sir, when I realize I’m programmed, the fact, I realize all human beings are programmed. Right? I watch it. It is so.
DS: All human beings are programmed.
K: Of course. Except those who say, ‘Sorry, I’ve been programmed; I’m out.’ Not I – there is no… the brain is no longer conditioned. That’s quite a long process. Not process – that needs tremendous investigation, which is meditation and all that. I won’t go into all that. But the fact that memory has continuity and in that that gives us security. Continuity gives us security. Memory is a dead thing, not a living thing. You can’t have a memory about a living thing. So I’m living with dead things. My life is – you understand? – when I live on past memories I’m living with death, with things that have gone.
DS: Yes, yes.
K: Therefore I cling to those memories because it gives me certain comfort, security and so on, but it is like holding onto a dead carcass. Right?
K: So if I realize that, actually see the truth of it, there’s a mutation in the brain cells.
DS: Yes, yes. And there’s a mutation between us as we talk together.
K: Yes, in the brain cells, sir, and therefore it is possible to be free, to totally climb out of the hole.
T: (Yes. You can sit there for a little bit. Just hold that light, sir.)
K: I have found something new.
T: (Excuse me, just hold that light, sir.)
DS: What did you say?
K: I have found something new.
DS: Me too. Me too. (Laughs) It’s like Christmas – right? – presents (laughs).
K: Yes, sir. You see, my brain is very selective, selective memory. Very, very selective. All the things that have happened to me, gone, literally gone. The record remains but not the content of the record. I don’t know if you…
DS: Well, is it that the content remains but the selective apparatuses…
K: No, sir, the other way around. I’m right, you’ll just see it in a minute. You have to have memory to drive a car. All the things they did to me, which was recorded, that record has no depth – I don’t know if you – no feeling, no…
DS: No stickiness, nothing stuck to it.
K: That’s too dirty. So the brain has now – I’ve noticed it, I’ve gone into this…
Krishnamurti in New York, 14 April 1983