Reflections on the Self
Tenth Talk in Bombay
One is apt to put new wine in old bottles. Those of us who have studied and experienced sufficiently are likely to interpret what I have been saying according to their previous knowledge, or to put it in the framework of their prejudice. What brings about understanding is direct experience, and not putting it into the framework of their particular terminology and experience. Most of us have accumulated knowledge and according to it, we interpret and act.
Self-knowledge does not demand accumulated knowledge. Accumulated knowledge becomes a burden to self-knowledge. Self-knowledge, the understanding of the total process of oneself, does not demand any previous knowledge. Previous knowledge about oneself brings misinterpretation and misunderstanding. Self-knowledge is constant movement without accumulation. This knowledge is from moment to moment, for self-knowledge is a process of discovery of the activities of the self. Only when there is the process of accumulating knowledge, then it is in opposition to creative being.
Our existence can be likened to an iceberg. Only one-tenth of it shows on the surface and the rest of it is below the waters. We are so occupied with the superficial existence that we have not the time nor the inclination to inquire into the depths, where most of our existence is. But to inquire within so deeply, there must be a certain alert watchfulness for the intimations of these deeper levels of consciousness. It is these deeper layers that control and shape action. Merely to be occupied with the outward actions of these superficial layers brings about destructive contradiction. These contradictions between the different layers of consciousness make for frustration and despair. To escape from frustration, thought seeks other activities and so multiplies frustration. Frustration will come to an end only when all layers of consciousness are related without contradiction. So, self-knowledge is essential for the freedom from corroding frustration. Self-knowledge brings joy and freedom.
Questioner: What is it that comes when nationalism goes?
Krishnamurti: Intelligence. The implication in this question is what can be substituted for nationalism. All substitution is an action which does not bring about intelligence. Substituting one political party for another, one religious belief for another, one guru for another, one leader for another, is an act of ignorance.
How does nationalism or patriotism cease? Only in understanding its full implication outwardly and inwardly. Outwardly, it creates division between people as class, as races, as economic frontiers, and so on, ultimately bringing about strife and war. Inwardly, psychologically, nationalism is the outcome of the craving to identify oneself with something greater, the greater being the family, the group, the race, the country, and the idea. This identification is a form of self-expansion. Living in narrow circumstances in a village or in a town, you are nobody. But if you identify yourself with the larger, with a class, with a group, with a country - call yourself a Hindu, a Christian, or a Muslim - then there is a sense of gratification whose prestige gives vanity. The psychological necessity for identification is the outcome of inward poverty. Self-expansion through identification breeds mischief and destruction. In understanding this process there comes freedom and intelligence, and not substitution.
When you substitute religion for nationalism or nationalism for religion, both become the means for self-expansion and so lead to contention and misery. Any form of substitution, however noble, leads to illusion. Substitution is bribery. Only in understanding the problem at its different levels, outward as well as inward, intelligence comes into being.
Questioner: What is the difference between awareness and introspection, and who is aware in awareness?
Krishnamurti: The examination of oneself in order to modify or change is generally called introspection. To look within with an intention to change the responses of the self is what most people indulge in. In this process, there is always the observer and the observed, the observer having an end in view. In this process is involved not the understanding of what is, but only the transformation of what is. When that end, that transformation is not achieved, there is depression, there is frustration, that peculiar moodiness that goes with introspection. In this there is always the accumulating process of the 'me', the dualistic conflict from which there is no release. In this introspective action, there is a battle of the opposites in which there is always choice and the endless strife that it breeds.
Awareness is entirely different. Awareness is observation without choice, condemnation, or justification. Awareness is silent observation from which there arises understanding without the experiencer and the experienced. In this awareness, which is passive, the problem or the cause is given an opportunity to unfold itself and so give its full significance. In awareness there is no end in view to be gained, and there is no becoming, the 'me' and the 'mine' not being given the continuity.
In introspection there is self-improvement which causes self-centeredness. In the process of awareness there is no self-improvement; on the contrary, it is the ending of the self, the 'me' and the 'mine' with its idiosyncrasies, memories, demands, and pursuits. Self-introspection implies identification and condemnation, choice and justification. In awareness there are none of these things. Awareness is direct relationship without the intermediary of persuasion, like, or dislike. Awareness is being sensitive to nature, to things, to relationship of people and of ideas. It is an observation of every feeling, thought, and action as they arise from moment to moment. Awareness is not condemnatory; there is no accumulation of memory as the 'me'. Awareness is the understanding of the actions of the self, that of the 'me' and the 'mine' in its relationship to things, people, and ideas. This awareness is from moment to moment and so it cannot be practiced; so awareness is not the cultivation of habit. A mind that is caught in the net of habits is insensitive. A mind that is functioning within a pattern of action is not pliable. Awareness demands constant alertness and pliability.
Introspection leads to frustration, to conflict, and misery. Awareness is a process of release from the activities of the self. To be aware of your daily actions, your movements of thought and feeling, to be aware of another, there must be that sensitive pliability which can only come with inquiry and interest. To know oneself fully - not just one or two layers of oneself - there must be that alert, expansive awareness and freedom so that the hidden intentions and pursuits are revealed.
Who is aware in awareness? In the state of experiencing, there is neither the experiencer nor the experience. It is only when the state of experiencing has gone, there emerges the experiencer and the experience, which is the division in memory itself. Since most of us live in memory with its responses, we invariably ask who is the observer and who is it that is aware. Surely, this is a wrong question, is it not? At the moment of experiencing, there is neither the 'me' which is aware nor the object of which he is aware. Most of us find it extremely difficult to live in a state of experiencing as it demands easy pliability, swift movement of thought and feeling, a high degree of sensitivity. All this is denied when we are pursuing a result, when achievement becomes far more important than understanding. Only a man who is not seeking an end, who is free from that bargaining spirit, who is not becoming - such a man is in a state of constant experiencing. You can experiment with this yourself and observe that, in experiencing, the experiencer and the experience do not exist.
The improvement of the self-expansion process can never bring truth. This self-expansion is ever self-enclosing. Awareness is the understanding of what is - the what is of your daily existence. It is only when you understand the truth of your daily existence that you can go far. But to go far, you must begin near. Without understanding the near, we look to the dim, distant future, which only brings confusion and misery.
Questioner: Is marriage a need or a luxury?
Krishnamurti: The sexual urge is legalized by marriage. Society demands the protection of children. That is one of the reasons for the so-called marriages. Marriage also takes place because of psychological reasons. One needs a companion, a person to possess, to dominate, who will give one psychological as well as physical comfort. Thus, either the man or the woman dominates and makes the other a dependent. Sexual possession or economic possession gives gratification. So, possession becomes extraordinarily important in relationship, which leads to all kinds of agony, distrust, and suspicion. Where there is possessiveness and gratification, there can be no love. How can there be love when in your livelihood you are ruthless; when in your business you are cunning and competitive? You cannot exploit your neighbor, starve him out, go home, and have affection in your heart for your wife and children. The exploitation of another destroys the love for your wife and children. When children become the means of self-perpetuation or are used as self-fulfilment or treated as mere toys, then there can be no love. Only love and intelligence can solve the complex problem of marriage.
To understand our human problems there must be love. Mere legislation cannot bring about the tender intelligence which brings understanding in relationship. You cannot be ambitious and yet tender. You cannot be a captain of industry, a politician, the head of an organization, and be merciful. Our human problems need to be understood and not condemned or justified. This understanding comes through being aware of what is.
Questioner: Who is he that feeds, if not the exploiter? How are you free from exploitation when you exploit the exploiter?
Krishnamurti: When one uses another for psychological purposes, then exploitation begins. All exploitation is based on psychological poverty of being. There will be no exploitation of man by man when this poverty of being is understood. Exploitation will not cease through mere legislation. There will be exploitation in different forms - at home, in public - as long as this psychological emptiness exists. You will be content with little, with the necessities of life, when you are inwardly rich.
The questioner asks me if I am not exploiting the exploiter. I don't think I am. I am fed by him as I would feed myself if I went out and earned money. I am not using him as a psychological necessity, nor am I using you, the audience, as a means of self-gratification. Psychologically, I do not need you. As I go out and earn money for my needs, I am preaching; and for this I am clothed, fed, and sheltered.
Where there is no self-expansion, where there is no use of another psychologically, there is no exploitation. One is content with little not because of an ideal but because inwardly there are beauty, riches, and ecstasy. Without this inward simplicity, merely to put on a loin cloth means nothing. You seem to give too much importance to outward exploitation, and there is legislation to prevent this brutality. The psychological exploitation is far more subtle, more mischievous, and destructive; it cannot be done away with through legislation. This exploitation will cease only with the transformation of the individual. This transformation is not of time; it is ever in the present. In this inward revolution you bring about a transformation in the world in which you live, the world of your relationship.
Questioner: Is not stilling the mind a prerequisite for the solution of a problem, and is not the dissolution of the problem a condition of mental stillness?
Krishnamurti: Is not the stilling of the mind a prerequisite for the solution of a problem? The mind is not a few layers of superficial consciousness. Consciousness is not just the dull actions of the mind. When a problem is created by the superficial mind, the superficial layers have to become quiet in order to understand it. When you have a business problem, what do you do? You switch the telephone off. You stop your secretary from interrupting you and you study the problem. This is what most of you do with regard to your various problems. In studying the problem, only the superficial layers have become comparatively quiet, temporarily at least. Only when every problem is completely understood, the problem leaves no residue, no memory. Consciousness is a process of experiencing, naming, and recording, which is memory. This process is going on continuously, consciously or unconsciously.
How can a mind be made still without understanding the whole content of consciousness? The mind cannot be made still by discipline, which only makes the mind dull and weary. Only by allowing every movement of thought and understanding its implications, stillness comes into being. As the pool becomes serene when the breezes stop, so the mind becomes extremely quiet, and the problems are dissolved. A stillness of mind comes only through self-knowledge, not through denial or acceptance, but through being aware of every thought and feeling. To cultivate stillness destroys creative understanding. When you pursue stillness, you are exercising will, which is the outcome of desire; and desire, in its very nature, is disturbing. It is only by inviting sorrow that you can understand reality, not by escaping tribulation.
Questioner: Since the motive power in the search for power is interest, what creates interest? What creates the interest is a relevant question. Is it suffering?
Krishnamurti: When there is no interest, there is no search. This very search is devotion. There is no path of devotion to reality. Where there is search there is action, and there is no separate path of action. Where there is deep inquiry into what is, there is the action of wisdom, and there is no separate path as wisdom.
How does this interest come into being? Earnestness comes with the understanding of sorrow. Understanding ceases when we seek to run away from sorrow. This escape from sorrow through social activities, through gurus, through amusement and knowledge dissipates earnestness. The difficulty is not in understanding sorrow, but we dissipate our energies in trying to overcome it. What is overcome is to be conquered again and again, and so we suffer again and again.
Suffering does not lead to intelligence. Only in understanding it is there intelligence. Only when all escapes from sorrow are put to an end - and, in facing sorrow, you will find there is first a shock - and when the mind is no longer escaping from suffering, the causes of suffering are revealed, and you do not have to search for the cause. To search out the cause is another form of escape. If you are aware of suffering, then the content of suffering unfolds itself. The more you understand the book of suffering, the greater the wisdom. When you are escaping from the suffering, you are escaping from wisdom.
Only through passive yet alert awareness truth comes into being, and it is truth that liberates man from sorrow. It is truth that gives bliss. All positive action towards sorrow is an action of escape. Only through negative thinking - which is the highest form of thinking - is there the dissolution of sorrow.
March 21, 1948