Freedom from the Self
J. Krishnamurti Third Public Talk at Brockwood Park 3 September 1983
May we continue where we left off last Sunday. First of all, if one may remind oneself, this is not a lecture on a particular subject with the intention of being informed, instructed. It's not a lecture. We are talking over together our human problems, not only the daily problems of our life, with all the travail of existence, but also we should go very much deeper, perhaps go together in the enquiry, what is beyond all time, what is the source, the origin, of all creation? And to enter into all that area one must begin, surely, with all the contents of our consciousness, with what we are - our reactions, our anxieties, loneliness, depression, elation, fears, the continuity of pleasure. And enquire also if it is possible to end all sorrow.
And also we should enquire this morning, and perhaps tomorrow morning, the nature of dying, what is religion, meditation, and the whole limitation of time. We've got to cover a great deal in these two talks. So we must go very deeply into this matter, because we can always scratch on the surface as we generally do and find very little. But if we could go very, very deeply into the whole question of whether the content of our consciousness can ever come to an end; that is, the ending of all our wounds, psychological hurts, fears, beyond all the memories to which we cling, and the pain, the pleasure, the great deal of grief and sorrow - all that makes up our consciousness which is what we are.
As most of us are concerned with ourselves, with our own achievements, with our own successes, failures and giving ourselves great importance in doing little things - whether all that can end and discover something totally new. Not only discover, but experience. One must be very careful in the usage of that word 'experience'. There is really nothing to experience. If you go beyond time, if that is possible, and beyond fear and so on, is there anything to experience? We are going to go into all this this morning and tomorrow morning, together. You are not merely listening to the speaker, to a lot of words, a lot of words put together into a sentence and ideas, but together we are going to enquire into all this and see if our brains which have been so heavily conditioned, programmed, whether those programmes can come to an end and no longer be programmed any more.
All this requires a great deal of serious intention and considerable attention. And if we are willing, this morning and tomorrow, to give our interest, not only superficially but deeply give our attention to it, perhaps we can go together into all this and see if there is something infinite beyond all time. Can we do that this morning and tomorrow?
First of all, do we realise that thought is a material process and therefore is limited? And any action based on that limitation must inevitably create conflict. And so thought is a material process. Matter is limited energy. And the whole content of our consciousness is the result of the material process of thought. Right? We have said over and over again for the last umpteen years that thought is a material process. And the content of our consciousness, with all the reactions and responses, and so on, are put together by the material process of thought which is limited. So our consciousness, which is what we are - whatever we think we are - is always limited.
When one is concerned with oneself, with one's problems, with one's relationships, with one's status in society, and so on, this concern with oneself is a very small affair, a limited affair. Right? Do we actually see this or is it just an idea to be pursued, enquired into and then come to a conclusion, and accept that conclusion and say, 'I am that'. Or do we see immediately, instantly, that all the self-centred activity is very, very limited - whether it be in the name of religion, in the name of peace, in the name of leading a good life, and so on - this self-centred activity is always limited and therefore the cause of conflict. Do we actually realise that? Or is it merely an idea? Do we see the difference between the actuality and the idea?
If one pursues the idea, then you are following some kind of illusion. But if one actually realises the self-centred, egotistic activity is very, very, very small and separated and therefore the basic cause of conflict is the self. I wonder how many of us hear this and actually realise it. And the self, the psyche, the persona, is the whole content of our consciousness - which is our conditioning, which is our being programmed for millennia upon millennia, which is the whole structure of knowledge.
Are we together in all of this? Or am I speaking Russian or Chinese? If the speaker is not indulging in Chinese or in a peculiar language and therefore there is no communication between us, but there should be clarity and communication when we are both looking at these enormous, complex problems of existence of our daily life - monotonous, boring, exciting, indulging, pursuing various forms of pleasure - and ultimately, whether one has a jolly good life or a miserable life, ultimately ending in death. Right?
So our life generally is rather shallow. We try to give meaning to that shallowness, but that meaning too, that significance, is still shallow. So could we this morning, realising all this, go and find out for ourselves, not be informed by the speaker, not be instructed by the speaker, but together explore what we are actually, and break down this limitation and go, if possible, further? Is this clear - what we are doing this morning and tomorrow - together?
The content of our consciousness - one of the factors - is fear. And most of us know what fear is - whether it is superficial or deeply embedded in one's own recesses of our brain. We are all afraid of something. Right? So can that fear end psychologically? Begin with that. Then we can ask whether there are physical fears also and their relation to the psyche, psychological fears. So we are enquiring together into the nature of fear - not the various forms of fear. One may be afraid of death, one may be afraid of one's wife or husband, one may be afraid of various things. But we are concerned with fear itself, not fear of something or fear of the past or the future, but the actual reaction which is called fear.
Are we together?
So what is the cause, the root of fear? Is it thought and is it time? We must cover a great deal so we must be brief. Is it thought - thinking about the future or thinking about the past? And so, is thought one of the causes of fear? And is time also the cause - time, as growing old, as most of us are. The moment we are born we are already growing old. And time as future - not by the watch, by the day or by the year - but time as a movement from 'what is' to 'what should be', 'what might be', 'what has been', we said the whole movement of time, the psychological process of time - is that one of the causes of fear? The memory of some pain, both physical and psychological, which might have happened a couple of weeks ago and remembering that and being afraid that it might happen again - which is the movement of time and thought.
So time and thought - are they the causes of fear? Right? And this time which is thought, because thought as we said is the response of memory which is knowledge and experience, so knowledge is of time, and knowledge may be one of the causes of fear. I wonder if you are following. Right?
So we are saying, time, thought, knowledge, which are not separate, which is an actual unitary movement, that may be the cause of fear. And it is the cause of fear. Right? Then, when one realises that, even intellectually, verbally, is it possible to end that fear? Right? What's your answer? You're waiting for me to instruct you. Therefore we are not working, thinking, investigating together. Right? You are waiting for the speaker to answer that question. And that means our brains have been conditioned, trained, educated to learn from somebody else, be instructed by another. And here we refuse to instruct you or to tell you what to do. We have no authority to tell you what to do, not like these ugly, beastly gurus.
So we are together. Please, this is important to understand what it means, 'together.' Not you and I separately working - together look at it. Together see the whole movement of fear, what is involved in it. Why humanity has borne this fear for thousands of years and they have not solved it. They have transmitted it and accepted it as the norm of life, as a way of living. But if you begin to question, as we are doing now, question whether fear can ever end at all psychologically. Therefore we must understand the cause. And where there is a cause, there is an end. If one has some kind of disease and if, after diagnosis you find the cause, it can be ended. Similarly, if we can find the cause, the basic cause, the fundamental cause, then fear can end. Right?
So together we are saying that time and thought are - or time-thought, not two separate things, is the root of fear. Right?
Questioner: Is not fear always preceded by desire?
Krishnamurti: Sir, please do not ask questions now, that was the day before yesterday, and on Tuesday. Desire is also part of fear. We went into that very carefully the other day - the nature of desire. Do you want me to go into it again?
K: Why do you say no? Have we understood the nature and the whole movement of desire? You see, please, we don't listen, not to the speaker, to ourselves. We never say, 'What is desire? Why are we slaves to desire?' We said desire is sensation. That sensation - seeing, contact, sensation - then desire comes in. Which is, thought creates the image out of that sensation, then at that moment, second, desire is born. Clear? No, and I won't go into all of that because we went into it the other day very, very carefully and deeply - into the whole nature of desire. And desire also is one of the factors of fear.
Desire is thought with its image. If you have a desire without any image, there is no desire. The seeing of a blue shirt or a skirt or whatever it is in the window, and entering into the window and touching it, sensation. Then thought creates the image of you having that shirt, then desire at that moment is born. So thought is essentially the movement of desire, and time-thought is the root of fear.
Now, does one realise this actual fact? Then how do you observe that fact? I realise - suppose, I realise that thought, with all its complexity, and time also, is the root of fear. Then how do I realise it, feel it, be aware of it? You understand my question? Do I see it as something separate from me, time-thought, something separate from me or I am that? Is it all becoming rather complex?
I am anger, am I not? Anger is not something separate from me. I am greed, envy, anxiety. Right? I like to think that is something separate over which I have control. But the actual fact is I am all that - even the controller is me. Right? So there is no division between greed, anger, jealousy, and so on - that is me, that is the observer. Right? Now, so how do I observe, how does one observe this fact that time-thought is fear? How do you observe it? You understand? How do you look at it? As something separate from you, or you are that? If you are that, and it's not separate from you - right? - all action ceases, doesn't it? Before, I controlled, I suppressed, I tried to rationalise fear. Right? Now one sees that one is all that and therefore the whole movement of time and thought stops. I must go on.
Are we together, one of us or two of us? You are all so eager to act. One must act, but here you have to watch the whole thing without any sense of doing something. Right? Just to observe without any reaction or response to what you observe. Right.
Then also we should go into the question why man has suffered. And whether there is an ending to suffering, not only the personal sorrow, but the sorrow of vast humanity. Right? Don't let's get sentimental about this, but actually all of us suffer in one way or another. The dull man suffers, the most intellectual, learned man, every human being on earth, including the leaders in Russia - every human being suffers. And we are asking a very serious question, whether that suffering can end. Or some of us enjoy suffering which becomes neurotic. So don't let's bother about the people who enjoy suffering, thinking that suffering in some way will help us to understand this universe, to understand life, and so on. Right?
So, one suffers. My son is dead, gone. But the memory of it remains, the memory of his companionship, of my affection, love for him, and so on. Memory remains. And is that memory sorrow? Please enquire together. I have lost my wife, or I am not as clever as you are, I am not as alert, sensitive, as you are and I suffer through that. Or I suffer in ten different ways. And is suffering, the shedding of tears, is that the loss, the actual loss, or the loss that brings about various memories, remembrances. You follow all this?
Is that one, or perhaps the major cause of suffering? Man, including woman, man from the beginning of man, has had wars, has killed people. That has been our pattern of existence - war after war, killing thousands of people. Humanity has suffered. And we are still pursuing that path of war that has brought about tremendous sorrow for mankind. Right? And we have our own personal sorrow. Sorrow is the same whether it is yours or mine. I like to identify myself with my sorrow, and you like to identify yourself with your sorrow. But sorrow of yours and sorrow of mine is the same. The objects of sorrow may vary, but sorrow is sorrow - therefore it is not personal. I wonder if you realise this? Right? No, it is very difficult for one to see the truth of this.
If you suffer and I suffer - you suffer for one reason and I suffer for another, and we identify ourselves with my particular one and you with yours, we divide ourselves and then find ways and means to suppress it, rationalise, and so on. But if we realise that sorrow is sorrow of all mankind, all humanity - and we are the rest of humanity because we have fears, sorrow, pleasure, anxiety, like the rest of mankind - if we realise sorrow is not my sorrow, that becomes such a small affair. Which is, we are the whole of mankind, we are the rest of mankind, and when there is suffering, suffering is man's suffering. Then you have a totally different approach to the problem. You understand? Not my suffering, 'Please god help me how to get over it, how to understand it'. I pray, and it all becomes so personal, a shoddy little affair. Right? But when it is the rest of mankind that has suffered, then suffering becomes an extraordinary thing that one has to look at very carefully. And if one human being understands the nature of suffering and goes beyond it, he then helps the rest of mankind. Right?
Now is suffering a remembrance? The mother or the father whose son has been killed in your particular little war, recent war, Falklands - killed there. And the mother and the father remember all the things that he did: the death, the birth, the pictures, the photographs, all the incidents and accidents, and laughter, tears, scolding - you follow? So we are asking, please find out for yourselves whether sorrow is part of this continuity of memory. And if it is memory, don't reduce memory just to a few words. It is a tremendous content. And if it is memory, can that memory, not only of my particular son, but the memory of mankind's sorrow - memory which is sorrow - can that memory come to an end? You understand?
Therefore one has to enquire, not into a particular memory, but the whole movement of memory. Right? We live on memories, we are memories. We are the word, the reaction to that word, the pleasure derived from the word, the remembrance of all the things that were, that symbol, that incident, accident has stored up in the brain which is awakened when an incident takes place. Right? And memory is the past. Right? So we are the past. Can this whole movement of the past, which is time, which is thought, end? Not thought in our daily life, we're not talking of that, we're not talking when thought is used to drive a car, to write a letter, to write a poem, write this or that. There thought, knowledge, is absolutely necessary. We are talking of this whole psychological movement which is based on memory.
So we are asking a much deeper question which is: can the self, the 'me', the ego, all this self-centred activity which is the movement of memory, can that self end? Not by discipline, by control, by suppression or identification with something greater, which is still the movement of the self. Can that self end? You might then ask, 'If the self ends, what place is there, for me in society? What shall I do?' Right? Right sir? First end it and then find out - not the other way around.
This is a very, very serious question. Nobody can tell you in the world or beyond the world - perhaps most of us try to get instructions beyond the world. Nobody on earth can tell you how to end it. But if one observes all these facts without any reactions - I observe the fact that I am hurt psychologically because my daughter, my son, my father has done something which hurts me - if I can observe that hurt without a single resistance, without any action that I should not be hurt, or keep the hurt - most people do, all through their life they carry their hurt. But to observe this hurt, psychological wound, without any reaction to it, then one sees that hurts disappear altogether. Right? So in the same way, just to observe, to observe memory as it arises, see the nature of it, the evolution of it. The whole nature of activity of our daily life is based on this. And memory is very, very limited. Thought may invent the infinite, but thought being itself limited, its infinity is also limited, finite, but may pretend that it is infinite.
So, all this implies complete freedom. Right? Not only freedom from something, but the quality of freedom that is not based on any reaction, any reward or punishment. To enquire into that also, one must understand the nature of death, dying. Are you interested in all this? Does it even amuse you? You see one must enquire very quietly, not hysterically, into this very complex problem. Dying or coming to an end is what we are concerned about, talking about, because it is part of our life. Not only are we born and all the education and all the troubles and all anxieties, and so on, but also death is part of our life - it is there, whether you like it or not; whether you are British or French - it is there; whether you are young, middle aged or old, disease, accident - it is there. And one must understand what it is, as one must understand life before death. We have been trying to understand together what is before death - fear, wounds, sorrow, pain, anxiety, labour, going to the office from morning till night. All that is part of our life, living, and also the ending of all that.
One may have had a very good life, pleasant, successful, somebody in the world, power, position, money, but the thing is there at the end. We like to postpone it as long and as far away as possible, put it away.
So we are together going to enquire. The organism dies, naturally. It will live as long as possible if we treat it properly. We won't go into the question of health. I know you are all interested in health but we won't go into it now.
What is it to die? Not jump over the bridge, not do something to kill yourself, but living as we are now, sitting here in the marquee, what is death? Apart from the whole physical organism, the brain lacking oxygen withers away and there is death? But we are asking, is death an ending? Right? An ending to everything that I've had - my wife, my children, my books, my status, my power, my position - you know - all that is going to come to an end. And also, we must enquire into the question, which is the question of the East, which is reincarnation, to be reborn next time. So a series of lives till you reach whatever you reach - you know, the highest principle, and so on. They believe in that very strongly, but they don't deeply enquire what it is that continues. Right?
Is it the 'me' that is going to continue or is there something beyond the 'me' that is going to continue? Right? And if there is something beyond 'me', my ideas, my opinions, my conclusions, and so on, which we talked about earlier. If that 'me' is the word, the name, the remembrances, is that going to continue? Right? Or there is a spiritual entity, the soul in the Christian world and the Buddhist world, the Hindu world have different words - will that continue? Then that thing which is beyond me or which is in me but the 'me' covers it up. Then if that is a spiritual entity, it must be beyond time and beyond death. Right? Therefore that cannot reincarnate. Right? So people like to believe all that because it is a great comfort. I shall be born next life. I've had a poor life, next life I'll have a better house. In another life I'll live in a bigger house or I'll be a king, or some rot or other.
So if we put aside all that kind of illusory pursuits and face the fact that psychologically there is an ending, a complete ending. The 'me', with all its memories, has come to an end - that is dying. And we don't like that. And so we seek various forms of comfort, beliefs faith, resurrection and - you know, all that. Now, while living, can we end something without any cause, without any future - end something? You understand my question? Take for example: will you end all attachment - attachment to your name, attachment to your furniture, attachment to your wife, to your husband, to your garden, attachment to your ideas, prejudices, end all attachments while living? That is what is going to happen when you actually die. Right? So do it now and see what it means. That ending is tremendous, has tremendous quality behind it. There is no attachment to anything. That is freedom, and when there is that kind of freedom death has no fear. You understand? Because you are already living with death. The two are going together, living and dying. Do you see? No you don't. Do you understand the beauty of that? The quality of complete freedom from all fear. Because where there is attachment there is jealousy, anxiety, hate. And the more you are attached the more pain there is. You know all this. If you went and told your wife or husband, 'I am no longer attached to you,' what would happen? Does it deny love? Does it deny relationship? Is attachment love? Go on, enquire into all this and the deeper you enquire, the more vitality and security and strength one has. It hasn't derived from any drugs, any stimulation.
We'd better stop now and continue tomorrow morning. Please we are going to discuss tomorrow morning, very carefully what is the origin of all this, the beginning of all this. Why man has to go through all this misery, confusion, occasional pleasure and joy. Unless one understands creation from the very beginning, and in the understanding of that this tremendous sense of no time and no beginning and no end.