Krishnamurti on Anonymity and Creativity
‘There is great beauty in being totally anonymous. And the whole world is seeking identity, power, position.’
This week’s episode on Anonymity and Creativity has four sections.
The first extract (2:32) is from Krishnamurti’s third question and answer meeting in Ojai 1980, titled ‘In anonymity is true creativity.’
The second extract (19:03) is from the fourth talk at Brockwood Park in 1978, titled ‘Total anonymity and humility’.
The third extract (28:42) is from Krishnamurti’s seventh talk in Saanen 1961, titled ‘Creativity and the still mind’.
The final extract this week (45:34) is from the fourth talk in Amsterdam 1968, titled ‘Become completely anonymous’.
In Anonymity Is True Creativity
Question: What is true creativity? How is it different from that which is celebrated in popular culture?
Krishnamurti: What is generally called creativity is mostly man-made: painting, music, literature – both romantic and factual – all the architecture, the marvellous technology. All those who are involved in all this, the painters, the writers, the poets, the philosophical writers, probably consider themselves creative, and we all seem to agree with them. That is the popular idea of a creative person. I think we all see that, that all man-made things most beautiful: the great cathedrals, temples and Islamic mosques are extraordinarily; some of them are extraordinarily beautiful. I don’t know if you have seen them, and if you have, they are really marvellous. And the people who built these were anonymous. We don’t know who built them. They were only concerned with building, writing, the Bible, all that. Nobody knows who wrote them. But now, with us, anonymity is almost gone. And perhaps with anonymity, there is a different kind of creativity. It is not based on success, money, and twenty-eight million books sold in ten years, and so on, so on. The speaker himself at one time tried anonymity because the speaker doesn’t like all this fuss and nonsense. He tried to talk behind a curtain! And it became rather absurd.
So anonymity has great importance. In that there is a different quality; this personal motive doesn’t exist, the personal attitudes and personal opinions. It is a feeling of freedom from which you are acting. But most creativity, as we call it, is man-made. That is, this creation takes from the known. The known. The great musicians, Beethoven, Bach and so on, it is from the known they act. And the writers, philosophers and so on, also have read, accumulated, developed their own style and so on, always moving, or acting or writing from that which has been accumulated, known. And this we call, generally, creativity. Now is that really creative, or is there a different kind of creativity which is born out of the freedom from the known?
When we paint, write or create a marvellous structure out of stone, it is the accumulated knowledge. Whether in the scientific field or in the world of art, human art, there is always this sense of carrying from the past to the present – or imagination, romantic, factual, maudlin and so on. Is there creativity, something totally different from this activity that we generally call creativity? I think it is rather an important question to go into, if you are willing, whether there is an action, there is a living, there is a movement, which is not from the known. That is, is there a creation from a mind that is not burdened from all the turmoil of life, from all the social pressures, economic and so on, is there a creation out of a mind that has freed itself from the known? And it can then use memory and knowledge. But we start with knowledge, and that we call creative. We are suggesting there is a creativity not born out of the known. When that creative impulse or movement takes place, it can then use the known. But not the other way around.
If you don’t mind sometime, find out whether the mind can ever be free from the known. The known being all the accumulated experience, remembrance, the knowledge that one has acquired, the impressions and so on – whether the mind can be free from all that. And in that very state of mind, creation as we know it may not be necessary. A man who has a talent for writing feels he must express himself. He develops his own style, the way he writes – Keats, Shelly, Eliot and the others, they have this impulse to write, fulfil, create. Perhaps their own lives are not all that beautiful, like Michelangelo, Raphael and all those people. Sorry to quote these names. I am not learned, but I have visited many museums when I was young. I was pushed into it, all that, and the remnants of that remains. And I have talked to a great many artists, writers, friends and so on.
It seems to me that all our creation in the scientific world, in human art, is always from a point, from a talent, from a gift, and that gift is exploited to its fullest extent. Like a musician who has a gift, a prodigy, becomes tremendously important. And we common people admire all that and wish we had some of that. As we haven’t got it, we run after them. We almost worship them – the conductors, you know all the game that goes on.
When you begin to question what creativity is, as the questioner is asking, is it something totally different, which I think we all can have? Not the specialists, not the professionals, not the talented, gifted – I think we can all have this extraordinary mind that is really free from all the burden man has imposed upon himself, created for himself. And out of that sane, rational, healthy life, something totally different comes. And that may not necessarily be expressed in painting, architecture – why should one?
If you have gone into this fairly deeply, and I hope you will, you will find out that there is a state of mind which actually has no experience whatsoever. Because experience implies a mind that is still groping, asking, seeking, and therefore struggling in darkness and wanting to go beyond it. But a mind that is very clear, not confused, has no conflict, has no problem. Has no problem. You try. Such a mind has no need to express, talk. I am talking, sorry! The speaker is talking not because he wants to impress you or anything of that kind, which is too silly, or to persuade you to certain attitudes and opinions and judgements; it is a kind of friendly communication with two people who are concerned with all this enormous complex life, who haven’t found a complete, total answer to all this. And there is a complete and total answer if we apply our minds, our hearts to this.
So there is a creativity which is not man-made. Don’t please say it is God-made, that has no meaning either. If our own minds are extraordinarily clear, without a shadow of conflict, that mind is really in a state of creation, which needs no expression, no fulfilment, nor all that publicity and nonsense.
Krishnamurti in Ojai 1980, Question and Answer Meeting 3
Total Anonymity and Humility
When one has come to a certain point, the senses can develop extra sensory perception because they become extraordinarily sensitive: telepathy, reading other people’s thoughts, control, various forms of clairvoyance, and so on, so on. They are still within the field of the senses, so they have not this colossal importance that man is giving to them. The speaker has been through all this. Forgive me for entering personally – one has been through all this, and one sees the danger of it, caught in all that sensory excitement. It is stupid. So though these things are definitely… but they are irrelevant.
We are asking now another question which is: man is always seeking power. The politicians, the priests, the everyday man and woman wants to dominate, wants to control, wants to possess. Power has become extraordinarily important – the two superpowers. That means power in the hands of the few to dictate what others should think. The Christian Church has done this excellently at one time – the heretics, the torture, the Inquisition and all that. Control man through propaganda, through books, through words, through images, controlling him through his fear, and reward and punishment. Any form of dissent is either tortured, expelled, concentration camps or burnt. This is the history of man’s stupidity, though he calls it patriotic, religious. Now we are asking: is it possible to live without any sense of power? Which means, can you live in total anonymity and total humility?
You may have a name, you may write a book, or talk, like we’re doing, and be somewhat famous, notorious, whatever word you like to use, but with nothing behind it. So you are not seeking power through clairvoyance, through telepathy. All this can be used by governments to control the captain in the submarine – they are all experimenting with all this, for God’s sake be aware of all this. And can one live without any sense of power? You know, there is great beauty in that, to be totally anonymous. And the whole world is seeking identity, power, position.
Now the next question is: can the brain, which is millions and millions of years old, so heavily conditioned, so full of all that man has collected through centuries, and therefore it is acting mechanically all the time, can that brain be free from the known? And can that brain never, never get old – old in the sense physically? Don’t you ask these questions? Do you? Perhaps you do when you get old, when you are somewhat decrepit, when you have lost your capacity to think, you are losing your memory and then you say, ‘My God, I wish I could go back and be young again, to have a fresh mind, a young mind, a decisive mind.’ Don’t you ask this sometimes, whether this brain can lose its burden and be free and never deteriorate? Don’t say ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ – find out. Which means never psychologically registering anything. Never to register the flattery, the insult, the various forms of impositions, pressures, never. To keep the tape completely fresh. Then it is young.
Innocence means a brain that has never been wounded. That is innocence, that knows no misery, conflict, sorrow, pain, all that, which is all registered in the brain and therefore it is always limited, old, as it grows physically older. Whereas if there is no recording whatsoever, psychologically, then the brain becomes extraordinarily quiet, extraordinarily fresh. This is not a hope, this is not a reward; either you do it and discover it, or you just accept words and say, ‘How marvellous that must be, I wish I could experience that’ – and you are off the mark. Whereas if you do it, you will find out.
So the brain then becomes, because of this insight which we have talked about, the brain cells undergo a change. It is no longer holding to memories. It is no longer the house of vast collected antiquity.
Krishnamurti at Brockwood Park in 1978, Talk 4
Creativity and the Still Mind
Try a simple thing. When you go out for a walk, be attentive. Then you will find that you hear and see much more than when the brain is concentrated because attention is a state of not-knowing and therefore inquiring. The brain is inquiring without a cause, without a motive, which is pure research, the quality of the really scientific mind. It may have knowledge, but that knowledge does not interfere with inquiry. Therefore an attentive mind can concentrate, but the concentration is not a resistance, an exclusion.
So, to go on from that, this state of attention is of a mind which is not crammed with information, knowledge, experience; it is a state of mind which lives in not-knowing. This means that the brain, the mind has completely discarded every influence, every edict, every sanction; it has understood authority, has dissolved ambition, envy, greed, and is totally opposed to society and all its morality. It no longer follows anything. Such a mind can then proceed to inquire.
Now, to inquire profoundly requires silence. If I want to look at those mountains and listen to the stream as it rushes by, not only must the brain be quiet but the entire mind, the conscious and the unconscious, must also be entirely quiet to look. If the brain is chattering, if the mind wants to grasp, to hold, then it is not seeing, it is not listening to the beauty of the sound of the stream. So inquiry implies freedom and silence.
You know, people have written books about how to get a quiet mind through meditation and concentration. Volumes have been written about it – not that I have read any of them; people have come to me and talked about it. To train the mind to be silent is sheer nonsense. If you train the mind to be silent, you are in a state of decay, as every mind that conforms through fear, through greed, envy or ambition is a dead, dull, stupid mind. A dull, stupid mind can be quiet, but it will remain small and petty, and nothing new can ever come to it.
So a mind that is attentive is without conflict, therefore free, and such a mind is quiet, silent. I do not know if you have gone so far; if you have, you will know that what we are talking about is meditation.
In this process of self-knowing you will find that the silent mind is not a dead mind, that it, it is extraordinarily active. It is not the activity of achievement, not the activity which is adding and subtracting, going, coming and becoming because that intensely active state has come into being without any seeking, without any effort; all along it has understood everything, every phase of its being. There has been no suppression of any kind, and therefore no fear, no imitation, no conformity. And if the mind has not done all these things, there can be no silence.
Now, what happens after? So far, one has used words to communicate, but the word is not the thing. The word ‘silence’ is not silence. So please understand this, that for silence to be, the mind must be free of the word.
Now, when the mind is actually still and therefore active and free, and is not concerned with communication, expression and achievement, then there is creation. That creation is not a vision. Christians have visions of Christ, and Hindus have visions of their own little gods or big gods. They are reacting according to their conditioning; they are projecting their visions, and what they see is born from their background. What they see is not the fact but is projected from their wishes, their desires, their longings, their hopes. But a mind that is attentive and silent has no visions because it has freed itself from all conditioning. Therefore such a mind knows what creation is – which is entirely different from the so-called creativity of the musician, the painter, the poet.
Then if you have gone that far, you will see that there is a state of mind which is without time and without space, and therefore seeing or receiving that which is not measurable. And what is seen and felt, and the state of experiencing, is of the moment and not to be stored away.
So, that reality which is not measurable, which is unnameable, which has no word, comes into being only when the mind is completely free and silent, in a state of creation. The state of creation is not just alcoholic, stimulated, but when one has understood and gone through this self-knowing and is free from all the reactions of envy, ambition and greed, then you will see that creation is always new and therefore always destructive. Creation can never be within the framework of society, within the framework of limited individuality. Therefore the limited individuality seeking reality has no meaning. And when there is that creation there is the total destruction of everything that one has gathered, and therefore there is always the new. And the new is always true, measureless.
Krishnamurti in Saanen 1961, Talk 7
Become Completely Anonymous
Order means beauty, and there is so little beauty in our life. Beauty is not manmade; it is not in the picture, however modern, however ancient it is; it is not in the building, in the statue, or in the cloud or the leaf or on the water. Beauty is where there is order – a mind that is utterly unconfused, that is absolutely orderly. And there can be order only when there is total self-denial, when the ‘me’ has no importance whatsoever. The ending of the ‘me’ is part of meditation. That is the major, the only meditation.
Also we have to understand another phenomenon of life, which is death – old age, disease, and death accidentally through disease, or naturally. We grow old inevitably, and that age is shown in the way we have lived our life; it shows in our face how we have satisfied our appetites crudely, brutally. We lose sensitivity, the sensitivity that one has had when one was very young, fresh, innocent. As we grow older, we become insensitive, dull, unaware and gradually enter the grave.
So there is old age. And there is this extraordinary thing called death, of which most of us are dreadfully frightened. If we are not frightened, we have rationalised this phenomenon intellectually and have accepted the edicts of the intellect. But it is still there. And obviously there is the ending of the organism, the body, and we accept that naturally because we see everything dying. But what we do not accept is the psychological ending of the ‘me’, with the family, with the house, with the success, the things I have done, the things I have to do, the fulfilments and the frustrations – and there is something more to do before I end. And the psychological entity, the ‘me’, the ‘I’, the soul, the various words that we give to this centre of myself as my being, we are afraid that will come to an end. Does it come to an end? Does it have a continuity?
The East has said it has a continuity, reincarnation, perhaps being born better next life if you have lived rightly. And you have here other forms of resurrection and a new way – you know, all that. After all, if you believe in reincarnation, as the whole of Asia does – I don’t know why they do, what they do, because it gives them a great deal of comfort – if you do believe in that idea then in that idea is implied, if you observe it very closely, that what you do now, every day, matters tremendously because in the next life you are going to pay for it or be rewarded for how you have lived. So what matters is not what you believe will happen next life, but what you are, how you live. And that is implied also when you talk about resurrection. You have symbolised it in one person, and you worship that person because you yourself don’t know how to be reborn again in your life now – not in Heaven at the right hand of God, or the left hand, or behind, or forward of God, whatever that may mean.
So what matters is how you live now – not what you think, what your beliefs are, what your dogmas or superstitions are, what your achievements are, but what you are, what you do. And we are afraid that the centre, called the ‘I’, should come to an end, and we say: does it come to an end? If you have lived in thought, that is, when you have given tremendous importance to thinking – and thinking is old, thinking is never new, thinking is the continuation of memory – if you have lived there, obviously there is some kind of continuity. And it is a continuity that is dead, over, finished, it is something old. Therefore only that which ends can have something new.
So dying is very important to understand: to die, to die to everything that one knows. I don’t know if you have ever tried it – to be free from the known, to be free from your memories, even for a few days; to be free from your pleasure, without any argument, without any fear, to die to your family, to your house, to your name, to become completely anonymous. It is only the person who is completely anonymous who is in a state of non-violence. He has no violence. And to die every day, not as an idea but actually. Do it sometime.
You know, one has collected so much – not books, not houses, not the bank account, but inwardly, the memories of insults, the memories of flattery, the memories of neurotic achievements, the memory of holding on to your own particular experience, which gives you a position. To die to all that, without argument, without discussion, without any fear just to give it up. Do it sometime, you will see. It used to be the old tradition in the East that a rich man every five years or so gave up everything, including his money and began again. You can’t do that nowadays; there are too many people, everyone wanting your job, the population explosion and all the rest of it. But to do it psychologically. It is not detachment, it is not giving up your clothes, your wife, your husband, your children or your house, but inwardly not to be attached to anything. In that, there is great beauty. After all, it is love, isn’t it? Love is not attachment. When there is attachment, there is fear. And fear inevitably becomes authoritarian, possessive, oppressive, dominating.
So meditation is the understanding of life, which is to bring about order. Order is virtue, which is light, which is not to be lit by another, however experienced, however clever, however erudite, however spiritual. Nobody on earth or in heaven can light that, except yourself, in your own understanding and meditation. And to die to everything within oneself, for love is innocent and fresh, young and clear.
Then, if you have established this order, this virtue, this beauty, this light in oneself, then one can go beyond. Which means then the mind, having laid order, which is not of thought, then the mind becomes utterly quiet, silent – naturally, without any force, without any discipline. And in the light of that silence, all action can take place, the daily living from that silence.
And if one has, or if one were lucky enough to have gone that far, then in that silence there is quite a different movement, which is not of time, which is not of words, which is not measurable by thought because it is always new; it is that immeasurable something that man has everlastingly sought. But you have to come upon it; it cannot be given to you. It is not the word, not the symbol, those are destructive. But for it to come, you must have complete order, beauty, love, and therefore you must die to everything that you know psychologically so that your mind is clear, not tortured, so that it sees things as they are, both outwardly and inwardly.
Krishnamurti in Amsterdam 1968, Talk 4