Living in an Insane World
Second Talk in The Oak Grove
Last Sunday I was trying to explain what is right thinking and how to set about it. I said that unless there is self-awareness, self-knowledge of all the motives, intentions, and instincts, thought-feeling has no true foundation, and that without this foundation there is no right thinking. Self-knowledge is the beginning of understanding. And as we are - the world is. That is, if we are greedy, envious, competitive, our society will be competitive, envious, greedy, which brings misery and war. The state is what we are. To bring about order and peace, we must begin with ourselves and not with society, not with the state, for the world is ourselves. And it is not selfish to think that each one must first understand and change himself to help the world. You cannot help another unless you know yourself. Through self-awareness one will find that in oneself is the whole.
If we would bring about a sane and happy society, we must begin with ourselves and not with another, not outside of ourselves but with ourselves. Instead of giving importance to names, labels, terms - which bring confusion - we ought to rid the mind of these and look at ourselves dispassionately. Until we understand ourselves and go beyond ourselves, exclusiveness in every form will exist. We see about us and in ourselves exclusive desires and actions which result in narrow relationship.
Before we can understand what kind of effort to make in order to know ourselves, we must become aware of the kind of effort we are now making. Our effort now consists, does it not, in constant becoming, in escaping from one opposite to another? We live in a series of conflicts of action and response, of wanting and not wanting. Our effort is spent in becoming and not becoming. We live in a state of duality. How does this duality arise? If we can understand this then perhaps we can transcend it and discover a different state of being. How does this painful conflict arise within us between good and had, hope and fear, love and hate, the 'I' and the not 'I'? Are they not created by our craving to become? This craving expresses itself in sensuality, in worldliness, or in seeking personal fame or immortality. In trying to become, do we not create the opposite? Unless we understand this conflict of the opposites, all effort will bring about only different and changing sorrowful conditions. So we must use right means to transcend this conflict. Wrong means will produce wrong ends; only right means will produce right ends. If we want peace in the world, we must use peaceful methods, and yet we seem invariably to use wrong methods hoping to produce right ends.
Unless we understand this problem of opposites with its conflicts and miseries, our efforts will be in vain. Through self-awareness, craving to become, the cause of conflict, must be observed and understood; but understanding ceases if there is identification, if there is acceptance or denial or comparison. With kindly dispassion, craving must be deeply understood and so transcended. For a mind that is caught in craving, in duality, cannot comprehend reality. Mind must be extremely still, and this stillness cannot be induced, disciplined, compelled through any technique. This stillness comes about only through the understanding of conflict. And you cannot compel conflict to cease. You cannot by will bring it to an end. You may cover it up, hide it away, but it will come up again and again. A disease must be cured, but to treat merely the symptom is of little use. Only when we become aware of the cause of conflict, understand and transcend it, can we experience that which is. To become aware is to think out, feel out the opposites as much as you can, as widely and deeply as possible, without acceptance or denial, with choiceless awareness. In this extensional awareness you will find there comes a new kind of will or a new feeling, a new understanding which is not begotten out of the opposites.
Right thinking ceases when thought-feeling is bound, held in the opposites. If you become aware of your thoughts and feelings, your actions and responses, you will find that they are caught in the conflict of opposites. As each thought-feeling arises, think it out feel it out fully, without identification. This extensional awareness can take place only when you are not denying, when you are not rejecting nor accepting nor comparing. Through this extensional awareness there will be discovered a state of being which is free from the conflict of all opposites.
This creative understanding is to be discovered, and it is this understanding which frees the mind from craving. And it is this extensional awareness in which there is no becoming, with its hope and fear, achievement and failure, with its self-enclosing pain and pleasure, that will free thought-feeling from ignorance and sorrow.
Questioner: How is it possible to learn real concentration?
Krishnamurti: In this question many things are involved, so one must be patient and listen to the whole of it. What is real meditation? Is it not the beginning of self-knowledge? Without self-knowledge can there be true concentration, right meditation? Meditation is not possible unless you begin to know yourself. To know yourself, you must become meditatively aware, which requires a peculiar kind of concentration - not the concentration of exclusiveness which most of us indulge in when we think we are meditating. Right meditation is the understanding of oneself with all one's problems of uncertainty and conflict, misery and affliction.
I suppose some of us have meditated or have tried to concentrate. What happens when we are trying to concentrate? Many thoughts come, one after the other, crowding, uninvited. We try to fix our thought upon one object or idea or feeling and try to exclude all other thoughts and feelings. This process of concentration or one-pointedness is generally considered necessary for meditation. This exclusive method will inevitably fail, for it maintains the conflict of the opposites; it may momentarily succeed, but as long as duality exists in thought-feeling, concentration must lead to narrowness, obstinacy, and illusion.
Control of thought does not bring about right thinking; mere control of thought is not right meditation. Surely we must first find out why the mind wanders at all. It wanders or is repetitive either because of interest or of habit or of laziness or because thought-feeling has not completed itself. If it is of interest then you will not be able to subdue it; though you may succeed momentarily, thought will return to its interests and hence its wanderings. So you must pursue that interest, thinking it out, feeling it out - fully - and thus understand the whole content of that interest, however trivial and stupid. If this wandering is the result of habit, then it is very indicative; it indicates, does it not, that your mind is caught up in mere habit, in mere patterns of thought and so is not thinking at all. A mind that is caught up in habit or in laziness indicates that it is functioning mechanically, thoughtlessly, and of what value is thoughtlessness, though well under control? When thought is repetitive, then it indicates that thought-feeling has not fulfilled itself, and until it has it will go on recurring. Through becoming aware of your thought-feelings, you will find there is a general disturbance, a stirring up; from the awareness of the causes of disturbances, there comes a self-knowledge and right thinking which are the basis for true meditation. Without self-knowledge, self-awareness, there is no meditation, and without meditation there is no self-knowledge.
True concentration comes with self-knowledge. You can create noble fixations and wholly be absorbed in them, but this does not bring about understanding. This does not lead to the discovery of the real. It may produce kindliness or certain desirable qualities, but noble fixations only further strengthen illusion, and a mind that is caught in the opposites cannot understand the whole. Instead of developing the exclusive, contracting process, let your thought-feeling flow, understand every flutter, every movement of it. Think it out, feel it out as widely and deeply as possible. Then you will discover that out of this awareness there comes extensional concentration, a meditation which is no longer a becoming but a being. But this extensional awareness is strenuous, to be carried on throughout the day and not only during a set period. You must become strenuous and experiment, for it is not to be picked out of books or through attending meetings or following a technique. It comes through self-awareness, through self-knowledge. The real significance of what meditation is becomes of enormous importance. This process of self-awareness is not to be limited to certain periods of the day but to be continuous. Out of this meditative awareness comes deep stillness in which alone there is the real. This stillness of the mind is not the result of exclusiveness, of contraction, of setting aside of every thought and feeling and concentrating on making the mind still. You can enforce stillness on the mind, but it is the stillness of death, uncreative, stagnant, and in that state it is not possible to discover that which is.
Questioner: How is one to be free from any problem which is disturbing?
Krishnamurti: To understand any problem we must give our undivided attention to it. Both the conscious and the unconscious, or the inner mind, must take part in solving it, but most of us unfortunately try to dissolve it superficially, that is, with that little part of the mind which we call the conscious mind, with the intellect only. Now our consciousness or our mind-feeling is like an iceberg, the greater part of it hidden deep down, only a fraction of it showing outside. We are acquainted with that superficial layer, but it is a confused acquaintance; of the greater, the deep unconscious, the inner part, we are hardly aware. Or, if we are, it becomes conscious through dreams, through occasional intimations, but those dreams and hints we translate, interpreting according to our prejudices and to our ever-limited intellectual capacities. And so those intimations lose their deep, pure significance.
If we wish to really understand our problem, then we must first clear up the confusion in the conscious, in the superficial mind, by thinking and feeling it out as widely and intelligently as possible, comprehensively and dispassionately. Then into this conscious clearing, open and alert, the inner mind can project itself. When the contents of the many layers of consciousness have been thus gathered and assimilated, only then does the problem cease to be.
Let us take an example. Most of us are educated in nationalistic spirit. We are brought up to love our country in opposition to another, to regard our people as superior to another, and so on. This superiority or pride is implanted in the mind from childhood and we accept it, live with it and condone it. With that thin layer which we call the conscious mind let us understand this problem and its deeper significance. We accept it, first of all, through environmental influences and are conditioned by it. Also, this nationalistic spirit feeds our vanity. The assertion that we are of this or that race or country feeds our petty, small, poor egos, puffs them out like sails, and we are ready to defend, to kill or be maimed for our country, race, and ideology. In identifying ourselves with what we consider to be the greater, we hope to become greater. But we still remain poor; it is only the label that looms large and powerful. This nationalistic spirit is used for economic purposes and is used, also, through hatred and fear, to unite one people against another. Thus, when we become aware of this problem and its implications, we perceive its effects: war, misery, starvation, confusion. In worshiping the part, which is idolatrous, we deny the whole. This denial of human unity breeds endless wars and brutalities, economic and social division, and tyranny.
We understand all this intellectually, with that thin layer which we call the conscious mind, but we are still caught up in tradition, opinion, convenience, fear, and so on. Until the deep layers are exposed and understood, we are not free from the disease of nationalism, patriotism.
Thus in examining this problem, we have cleared the superficial layer of the conscious into which the deeper layers can flow. This flow is made stronger through constant awareness - by watching every response, every stimulation of nationalism or of any other hindrance. Each response, however small, must be thought out, felt out, widely and deeply. Thus you will soon perceive that the problem is dissolved and the nationalistic spirit has withered away. All conflicts and miseries can be understood and dissolved in this manner - to clear the thin layer of the conscious by thinking out and feeling out the problem as comprehensively as possible; into this clarity, into this comparative quietness, the deeper motives, intentions, fears, and so on can project themselves; as they appear examine them, study them and so understand them. Thus the hindrance, the conflict, the sorrow is deeply and wholly understood and dissolved.
Questioner: Please elucidate the ''surety in negation'' idea. You spoke of negative and positive thought. Do you mean when we are positive, we make statements that are valueless because they are hidebound and smug; while when we are negative, we are open to thought because we are bankrupt of traditions and able to inquire into the new? Or do you mean we must be positive in that there is no choice between the true and the false, and that negation means becoming part of compromise?
Krishnamurti: I said that in negation there is surety. Let us expand this idea. When we become aware of ourselves, we find that we are in a state of self-contradiction, of wanting and not wanting, of loving and hating, and so on. Thoughts and actions born of this self-contradiction are considered to be positive, but is it positive when thought contradicts itself? Because of our religious training we are certain that we must not kill, but we find ourselves supporting or finding reasons for killing when the state demands; one thought denies the other, and so there is no thinking at all. In a state of self-contradiction thought ceases and there is only ignorance. So let us discover if we think at all or exist in a state of self-contradiction in which thinking ceases to be.
If we look into ourselves, we realize that we live in a state of contradiction, and how can such a state be positive? For that which contradicts itself ceases to be. Not knowing ourselves profoundly, how can there be agreement or disagreement, assertion or denial? In this self-contradictory state how can there be surety? How can we in this state assume that we are right or wrong? We cannot assume anything, can we? But our morality, our positive action is based on this self-contradiction, and so we are incessantly active, craving for peace and yet creating war, longing for happiness and yet causing sorrow, loving and yet hating. If our thinking is self-contradictory, and therefore nonexistent, there is only one possible approach for understanding, which is the state of nonbecoming, a state which may seem to be negation, but in which there is the highest possibility.
Humility is born of negation, and without humility there is no understanding. In negative comprehension we begin to perceive the possibility of surety of agreement and so of greater relationship and of highest thinking. When the mind is creatively empty - not when it is positively directing - there is reality. All great discoveries are born in this creative emptiness, and there can only be creative emptiness when self-contradiction ceases. As long as craving exists there will be self-contradiction. Therefore, instead of approaching life positively, as most of us do, giving rise to the many miseries, brutalities, conflicts of which we know so well, why not approach it negatively, which is not really negation?
When I use the terms positive and negative, I am not using them in opposition to each other. When we begin to understand what we call the positive, which is the outcome of ignorance, then we shall find that from this there comes a surety in negation. In trying to understand the ever-contradictory nature of the self, of the 'me' and the 'mine', with its positive craving and denial, pursuit and death, there comes into being the still, creative emptiness. It is not the result of positive or negative action, but a state of non-duality. When the mind-heart is still, creatively empty, then only is there reality.
Questioner: You said a man who meets anger with anger becomes anger. Do you mean that when we fight cruelty with the weapons of cruelty, we too become the enemy? - yet if we do not protect ourselves the bandit fells us.
Krishnamurti: Surely that thing which you fight you become. (Must we explain this too? All right.) If I am angry and you meet me with anger, what is the result - more anger. You have become that which I am. If I am evil and you fight me with evil means, then you also become evil, however righteous you may feel. If I am brutal and you use brutal methods to overcome me, then you become brutal like me. And this we have done thousands of years. Surely there is a different approach than to meet hate by hate. If I use violent methods to quell anger in myself, then I am using wrong means for a right end, and thereby the right end ceases to be. In this there is no understanding; there is no transcending anger. Anger is to be studied tolerantly and understood; it is not to be overcome through violent means. Anger may be the result of many causes, and without comprehending them there is no escape from anger.
We have created the enemy, the bandit, and through becoming ourselves the enemy - this in no way brings about an end to enmity. We have to understand the cause of enmity and cease to feed it by our thought, feeling, and action. This is an arduous task demanding constant self-awareness and intelligent pliability, for what we are, the society, the state, is. The enemy and the friend are the outcome of our thought and action. We are responsible for creating enmity, and so it is more important to be aware of our thought and action than to be concerned with the foe and the friend, for right thinking puts an end to division. Love transcends the friend and the enemy.
May 21, 1944