You are here
5th Public Talk, London - 30th September 1967
During the last four talks we have been talking over several problems together, and I think this morning perhaps it would be worthwhile to spend some time in trying to find out if life has any significance at all. Not the life that one leads, because modern existence has very little meaning. One gives intellectual significance to life, a theoretical, intellectual, theological, or (if one may use that word) mystical meaning to it; one tries to search out a deep meaning - as some writers have done amidst the despair of this hopeless existence - inventing some vital, deep, intellectual reason. And it seems to me that it would be very much worthwhile if we could find out for ourselves, not emotionally or intellectually, but actually, factually, if there is in life anything really sacred. Not the inventions of the mind, which have given a sense of holiness to life, but actually whether there is such a thing. Because one observes both historically and actually in this search, in the life that one leads - the business, the competition, the despair, the loneliness, the anxiety, with the destruction of war and hate - life as all this has very little meaning. We may live seventy years spending forty or fifty years in an office, with the routine, the boredom and the loneliness of it, which has very little meaning. Realizing that, both in the Orient and here, one then gives significance and worthwhileness to a symbol, to an idea, to a God - which are obviously the inventions of the mind. They have said in the East that life is One: don't kill; God exists in every human being: don't destroy. But the next minute they are destroying each other, actually, verbally, or in business and so this idea that life is One, the sacredness of life, has very little meaning.
Also in the Occident, realizing what life actually is, the brutality, the aggressiveness, the ruthless competition of everyday life, one gives significance to a symbol and those symbols upon which all religions are based are considered very holy. That is, the theologians, the priests, the saints who have had their peculiar experiences, have given a meaning to life and we cling to those meanings out of our despair, out of our loneliness, out of our daily routine, which has so little meaning. And if we could put aside all the symbols, all the images, the ideas and the beliefs, which one has built throughout the centuries and to which one has given a sense of sacredness, if we could actually de-condition ourselves from all those extraneous inventions, then perhaps we could really ask ourselves if there is a something that is true, that is really holy and sacred. Because that's what man has been seeking amongst all this turmoil, despair, guilt and death. Man has always sought in various forms this feeling of something that must be beyond the transitory, beyond the flux of time. And could we this morning spend some time in going into this and trying to find out for ourselves if there is such a thing? - but not what you want, not God, not an idea, not a symbol. Can one really brush all that aside and then find out?
Words are only a means of communication but the word is not the thing; the word, the symbol is not the actuality, and when one is caught up in words, then it becomes very difficult to extricate oneself from the symbol, the words, the ideas which actually prevent perception. Though one must use words, words are not the fact. So if we can also be aware, on guard, that the word is not the fact, then we can begin to go into this question very deeply. That is, man out of his loneliness and despair has given sacredness to an idea, to an image made by the hand or by the mind. The image has become extraordinarily important to the Christian, to the Hindu, to the Buddhist and so on, and they have invested the sense of sacredness in that image. And can we brush it aside not verbally, not theoretically, but actually push it aside, completely see the futility of such an activity? Then we can begin to ask - but there is no one to answer, because any fundamental question that we put to ourselves cannot be answered at all by anyone and least of all by ourselves. But what we can do is to put the question and let the question simmer, boil - let that question move and one must have the capacity to follow that question right through. That is what we are asking this morning: whether there is, beyond the symbol, the word, anything real, true, something completely holy in itself?
To understand that, or to come upon it, one must first investigate this whole question of experience. Because most of us want experiences, our daily life is so shallow, empty and dull. With all the sensations, the sexual experiences, the delights of a morning, a cloudless morning and the tint and the colour of the leaves - with all that we want deeper, wider experiences; and drugs seem to satisfy, to give that experience, to expand the mind as they call it. Taking certain drugs, thought is in abeyance and there is a feeling that there are paths through all - take a trip and experience something tremendous! Most of us want deep fundamental lasting experience: an experience that will be completely satisfying, an experience that will never be destroyed by thought. So it seems to me that one has to go into this question of experience and what is involved in it. Unless one understands this, the exploration into the discovery of something that is real, true, will become impossible as long as you are merely seeking an experience which will be completely gratifying, completely satisfying - for that is all we want, don't we? We want an experience that will completely give us a sense of fullness; an experience that will gratify totality. Behind this demand for experience there is the desire for satisfaction. We want to be satisfied and nothing satisfies us - sex, so-called love, so-called daily existence which is very shallow - we want something very deep and very satisfying and so there is our demand for great, wide, deep experience. So the demand for satisfaction dictates the experience; and we have not only to understand this whole business of satisfaction but also the thing that is experienced. To have great satisfaction is a great pleasure; the more lasting, deep and wide that experience the more the pleasure. So pleasure dictates the form of experience that we demand, we want; pleasure is the measure by which we measure the experience.
So in seeking something fundamental - as what is true - and is there anything which is really holy in life? - if pleasure is the measure then you have already experienced, you have already projected what that experience will be; therefore it is no longer valid. And what do we mean by experience? When you experience anything, it doesn't matter what it is, what does that mean? Seeing a sunset is an experience, there is a reaction to that colour and from that reaction you have certain sensations, ideas and so on, and that you call experience - the challenge and the response to that challenge. You must recognise the experience otherwise it will not be an experience at all. If I am incapable of recognising an experience, is it an experience at all? To experience implies recognition; I must recognise that it was an experience of such and such a kind. So when I recognise an experience, it has already been, it is already old. I hope I am making myself clear.
So every experience has already been experienced, otherwise I wouldn't recognise it. Therefore it is already old. I experience something according to my conditioning, so I recognise that experience as being good, bad, beautiful, holy and so on, according to my background, according to my conditioning.
The recognition of the experience must inevitably be old, so there is no new experience at all. If I say I have had a new experience, to recognise it as new and to know it is new, implies I have already recognised it, therefore it is already old. Please, we are talking it over together, I am not asserting anything.
So recognition plays a great part in all experiences and therefore all experiences which are recognizable are by their very nature old. There is nothing new through experience which is recognizable. We are now trying to find out if there is anything true, real, holy - and if I say I have experienced it, it means I must recognise it and if I recognise it, it is already the reaction of the past; so it is not new at all. So what is one to do? You understand? I hope I am making myself clear.
So when I demand an experience, when one demands an experience as one does - an experience of reality - to experience it implies you must know it, that you have recognised it, and the moment that you recognise it you have already projected it; therefore it is not real but is still within the limit of time, it is still within the field of thought. So if one realizes that, how is one to find out? How is one to see what is true? We can discuss this after I have talked, we can go into it.
It is really a very interesting question this. It involves not only putting the question but how to meet the question, how to respond to that question. If one is merely seeking satisfaction through an experience, then satisfaction is the measure and anything that is measurable is within the limits of thought and is apt to create illusion. One can have marvellous experiences and yet be completely in delusion. You can see Christ, Buddha or whatever it is and you will inevitably see these people in visions according to your conditioning. The Catholic believer who practises, he strengthens his background and his conditioning and the experiences become stronger - and to him that is the real - but it is obviously a projection of his demands, of his own urges, of his own background and therefore it has no validity at all.
So to investigate this question is meditation. You know that word has been used both in Asia and here in a most unfortunate way. There are those people who come from India who talk about meditation and give you a certain word and by thinking about that word you will have an extraordinarily transcendental experience - which is sheer nonsense, because you can repeat Amen or Om or Coca Cola a hundred times (please, it isn't a subject for laughter). One can repeat these words indefinitely, and obviously you will have certain experiences, because by repetition the mind becomes quiet. it is a well-known phenomenon which has been practised for generations, for thousands of years in India, the Mantra Yoga it's called, and it is so obvious, it is so infantile. One can induce the mind, by repetition of a word, to be quiet, to be gentle, to be soft, but it is still a petty little mind, it is still a shoddy little thing. It's like the experiments of those people who take a piece of stick, which they pick up in the garden, and put it on the mantelpiece; every day they put a flower there, give a flower to it! Within a month they are worshipping it and not to give a flower to that stick is a calamity, a sin! One can make the mind, induce the mind to do anything it wants, or produce any vision. But meditation is not following a system, it is not repetition, a constant imitation; meditation is something that demands an astonishingly alert mind, great sensitivity in which there is no sense of bringing something about through demand, no illusion. So one has to be free of all demands, therefore of all experience, because the moment you demand, you will experience; and that experience obviously will be according to your conditioning.
To be free of demand and satisfaction necessitates investigation into oneself; it necessitates understanding the whole nature of demand. Demand is born out of duality. 'I am un- happy and I must be happy.' The demand that I must be happy, in that very thing is unhappiness. The opposite always contains its own opposite. So when one makes an effort to be good, decides to be good, in that very goodness is its opposite, which is evil. If one could only understand this and therefore that any demand of life, any demand that you must experience the truth, reality, that very demand is born out of your discontent with 'what is', and therefore that demand creates the opposite.
In the opposite there is what has been. So one must be free of this incessant demanding: the mind that is always comparing, measuring, which breeds illusion. And one must know the nature and the structure of this effort, the effort of duality (the mind is really non-dual, but there's not time to go into that). This means knowing oneself so completely that the mind is no longer seeking, asking, demanding, and therefore it is completely quiet. All that is part of meditation; not the endless prayers, repetitions and the forcing the mind to be still. That breeds conflict and conflict must inevitably exist when there is duality. There is the duality that is created by the observer and the thing he wishes to be, which is observed. And there is the mind that is trying, not to experience, but to uncover, to discover - not follow, not imitate, not become something. The becoming is another form of duality and therefore of conflict.
All this process of knowing oneself is the beginning of meditation - not putting the mind to sleep, not having visions or transcendental experiences through some footling word - but to uncover the conditioned and the state of mind which is ourselves in its relationship to society, in its relationship to another. To discover oneself and penetrate deep - all that is meditation. One has to go into it very deeply, but not in the sense of time and measure - one must use the word 'deep', but when one uses it, it has its opposite which is 'shallow'. For when one wants to be deep, then there is conflict and therefore depth is the shallow. So the mind investigating all this becomes highly sensitive, highly aware; and obviously a mind that is tremendously alert, awake, is silent. A chattering mind says 'this is' distraction, because I want to concentrate on 'this other; but such a division is also a distraction. And being highly intelligent - for intelligence is to be completely sensitive, aware, in which there is no choice at all and hence no conflict - then out of that comes a silence which is not the opposite of noise, nor the cessation of noise. And it is only in such a silent mind that there is no demand, no illusion, because of no desire to be satisfied and therefore no desire for wider and deeper experiences; it is only such a mind that can discover what is sacred. That is meditation and in that meditation to discover it - not to be told or to copy and obey and all that immature nonsense. Then in that silence, which is really not an experience at all, but a state, in that silence one discovers, one comes upon something that has no word, that is not measurable - when the mind with its brain, which has stored up so many memories, when all that becomes extraordinarily quiet - and it is only in that state there is a possibility of discovering something that man has sought throughout the centuries.
Questioner: If one meditates in order to discover, is not that in itself a demand?
Krishnamurti: Obviously. You don't meditate because you want to find truth, or to find happiness, bliss, but to understand oneself and learning about oneself is a constant process; that I said is meditation, not in order to discover something. You know, the word 'discover' is an unfortunate word, but I don't know what other word to use; one can use different words, but the essence of meditation is self-knowing: to know oneself. And you cannot know yourself if what you have learnt about yourself becomes the measure. I don't know if you see that. I watch myself and I have learnt something about myself: that I am greedy. I have learnt about greed, the nature of it, and having learnt, I measure with what I have learned all future greed; and therefore I am not studying the future greed as it arises but I am only measuring with what I have learnt. Therefore - see the structure of it! - the measure of what I have learned creates its own opposite and hence the conflict. Therefore all opposites, greed and non-greed, when I demand or exercise will, or force myself not to be greedy, in that very demand to be not greedy is greed. See this please! Please understand this.
I am violent, human beings are dreadfully violent and we say we must not be violent, and trying not to be violent is itself a very form of violence. But if one is really aware of violence, that is, the nature of violence, aggression and so on - we won't go into all that - being aware of that and not wanting to change it, not wanting to get to the state of non-violence, to understand violence is in itself freedom from violence - not its opposite.
So learning about oneself is absolutely necessary, obviously. I must learn - but the learning is not having learnt measure with what I have learned. Therefore learning is always an active inactive present - not having learnt something previously, which then becomes the measure, which then is the opposite of what should be and hence the conflict. So meditation is not a process of self-hypnotism, which most people indulge in, nor is it a form of inducing the mind to be quiet. Again see what is involved, if I induce the mind to be quiet, the very inducement is the noise which is going to make the mind quiet which it is not. I don't know if you see all this?
Questioner: Then how does one make the mind quiet?
Krishnamurti: You cannot. You see when you put that question, 'How am I to make the mind quiet?' you have al- ready asserted something born out of uniqueness. Therefore when you say 'my mind must be quiet', you are creating a duality and the quietness is noise, only you call it 'quietness'. Please Sir, it is very important to understand this. There is only fact, 'what is', and nothing else. So the mind will only become quiet naturally, non-neurotically (and be at the same time active, tremendously active) when there is self-knowing. When I know myself - as I begin to understand myself in every minute (which is not accumulative), then out of this watchful sensitivity and intelligence comes about a silent mind, which is not a dead mind.
Questioner: Would you say why you have come here to speak to us?
Krishnamurti: God knows! (laughter) To answer that question several things are involved. One can make a speech in order to derive satisfaction, nourish oneself through the audience; you know the favourite trick of people who indulge in talks. Or you want to fulfil yourself through the audience. Or you want to convey something to them, tell them something. Now if you brush all that aside, then the question would be, 'Why do you talk at all, if you don't do any of these things'? Then why? You might just as well ask a flower why it blossoms.
Questioner: Is correct learning non-accumulative?
Krishnamurti: Technologically it must be accumulative. I must learn the technique of how to run something or other; and to learn a language there must be the accumulation of words in that language. But we are talking at the psychological level, not at the technological level. At the psychological level, any accumulation must inevitably create its opposite. For instance, I know and I don't know, and as I don't know, I must know more about it - hence I am comparing what I know with what I don't know. That is a duality and hence a conflict: I am measuring what I don't know with what I know. And if one goes into it, is there anything to know at all about oneself? You can't put that question unless you have been through a great deal of understanding of yourself. Is there anything to learn about oneself? Not very much.
Questioner: I would like to know how the human mind's conditioning originated.
Krishnamurti: That's fairly simple. Let's finish what I was saying, I will come back to that.
Sir, what is there to know about oneself? - all our conditioning, the racial inheritance, the family inheritance, the psychological twists and inclinations and tendencies, the pressure of environment, a bundle of memories (which is what I am, an abstraction). There isn't very much to learn. I can only say that there is not much to learn after observing myself. But if you say, 'There isn't much to learn about yourself', than you remain just what you are. So one of the fundamental questions in this is, is it not? 'How does a human mind so conditioned change, uncondition itself?'
And what is the origin of this conditioning? That's fairly simple, isn't it? You can observe the animals, how aggressive they are to survive. There is the origin of it. You watch birds, how they mark out the area which is theirs, their property; territorial rights supersede sexual rights, and there is the origin of aggression. And we also hold property, to us property is immensely important, as are sexual rights and so on. But a much more worthwhile question is: 'Is it possible for a mind so heavily conditioned as ours to immediately - not gradually but immediately - be free of all conditioning? And we say it is possible only through meditation, not phoney meditation, not the meditation of long beards or short beards or long hair or no hair, but the meditation that comes into beings as one learns about oneself without accumulation. Then, in that meditation, there is a way of life which is completely peaceful, non-aggressive, not demanding that you be in society or out of society - that meditation brings its own action in which there is no conflict at all.
Questioner: Is meditation a whole way of life?
Krishnamurti: Obviously it is, but to understand meditation one has to observe. You have to observe how you look at the tree, whether there is a space between you and the tree, between the observer and the thing observed, which is the tree. How does that space come into being? The space comes into being because the observer has his own memories about that tree. Or when the observer separates himself from greed and says, 'I am not greedy and I must get rid of greed', and there is a space between the observer and the observed and then the conflict. But the observer is the observed because he, being greedy, says, 'I must not be greedy', and therefore creates a duality. So meditation is the most extraordinary thing if you know how to do it, and you cannot possibly learn from anybody; and that's the beauty of it. It isn't something you learn, a technique, and therefore there is no authority. Therefore if you will learn about yourself, watch yourself, watch the way you walk, the way you talk, how you eat, what you say, the gossip, the hate, the jealousy. If you are aware of it without any choice, all that is part of meditation, and as you go, as you journey, as that movement goes, all that movement is meditation. Then that movement is endless, timeless.
30th September 1967