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8th Public Talk - 25th July 1967
We were talking of being serious. I do not think one can be serious about this and not serious about that - one can only be serious about everything, from the most trivial things that you do to the most profound problems of life. One cannot be casual about anything, for a casual mind is really a very frivolous mind, choosing what it will be serious about for a few days or a few years and then moving from that to other forms of seriousness. Whereas if one is actually serious about everything - and I mean everything, from the shape of your hand to the most deeply perplexing problems of life - then that quality of seriousness pervades throughout one's life, not only when one is young but right through as one becomes older. And it seems to me that a mind that is quick in offering opinions, a mind that flits about from one idea to another, or from one experience to another, from one sexual appetite to another - such a mind is obviously not very serious. Such a mind will not only have more and more problems, but also it cannot possibly understand the very complex problem of life.
We have also been talking about fear and we shall continue enquiring, not only into the structure and the nature of fear, but also to find out whether one can actually be deeply and profoundly free from that thing we call fear. Because it seems to me that unless you leave at the end of these talks actually free, entirely, right through your being, of this enormous weight of fear - and not with more problems, not with more complex desires to understand what has been said, not caught in explanations - then it seems to me that your attending the talks will be utterly useless, will have no meaning and these gatherings will become another form of entertainment, another form of stimulation and every form of stimulation makes the mind more dull, more heavy, incapable of swift movement.
You must be well aware of what is actually happening in the world, not only in your little family, but right through the world: in Asia, in America and in Europe. There is a revolt against the established order because what is called established order is nothing very great. What has the older generation built, for which, please bear in mind, each one of us is responsible? Each one of us is responsible for every war, whether it is in the East, or in Europe, or in America or elsewhere - each one of us is responsible for the confusion, for the misery, for the ugliness that is going on in the world. When we emphasize the individual it is not an emphasis of the individual as opposed to society. A very serious man is neither an individual nor concerned with society, he is outside both the field of individuality and the structure of society, he is entirely a different human being. The individual is the society, and the society is the individual - they are indivisible.
We went into it very carefully during these talks and saw how each one of us - I most intensely feel this, it is not mere lip service or just words - how each one of us is tremendously, insistently, responsible. And what have we built as society? There are still wars and it is a society in which the most important thing is success, big business, the churches. There are the religions that have no meaning whatsoever - listening to their rigmarole, their ideas, smell their incense and everything else, you realize they have lost completely any meaning they ever had; naturally every intelligent man must be in revolt against the established, organized religious conceptions.
What are the young to do - join the army to kill and be killed - join big business and endlessly for the next forty years go to a wretched little office? Or shall they join the church - or take up in revolt, psychedelic drugs? What has this society to offer? Do look at it. What have you, who belong to this society, to this culture, what have you to offer? And look at the education that one has received, trained to be a lot of monkeys, to fit into a certain groove, a cog, become a technician, an expert in computers, capable of doing mechanical things. And for all this chaos and misery we are responsible. And this confusion, this misery, this personal achievement of which we are so very proud - whether in the field of literature, or going to the moon, or on the battle field, killing more people and getting decorated for it, the constant misery, the turmoil, the anxiety, the utter hopeless despair of modern life - this whole field we call living. Isn't it so? Do observe it please, not as the speaker wishes, or as the speaker's particular prejudices or point of view - which he has not - but merely observe what actually is taking place within yourself and outside of yourself, observe the culture in which you live, the desire for power, position, prestige, name, success and intermingled with it all this peculiar idea of spirituality, of finding God through mind expanding drugs and so on and on. This field in which there is turmoil, conflict in every form of relationship, breeding hatred, antagonism, brutality and endless wars - we call living. This field, this life, is all that we know. We have cultivated escapes from this field, escapes through alcohol, escapes through churches, escapes through literature, through music, through art. Being incapable of solving this enormous battle of existence, we are naturally frightened of life, and being frightened of life, as it is, we seek every form of escape. And as we ourselves don't understand this life - other than according to some saint, some saviour, some Freudian or Jungian or anybody, including the speaker - as we haven't understood this life, each one of us of ourselves, we are frightened. We are frightened of the known, which is our daily existence, our daily relationships, our daily pleasures of sex and of all the subtle forms of pleasure which only lead to more pain. And we try to cover up this fear, to run away from it, or suppress it, we do anything to get away from this life of everyday existence, because we are frightened - which is being frightened of living. And we are frightened also of the unknown, frightened of death, essentially frightened of what lies beyond tomorrow. So we are frightened of the known and of the unknown - and this is our daily life. I do not think we are exaggerating. I do not think we are emphasizing something which is not actuality so, for it is the canvas on which we have painted the life that each one of us leads and in it there is no hope. Every form of philosophy, every form of theological concept is merely an escape from the actual reality. If we are at all serious we have to face this, not allow ourselves for a single minute to escape from this, from this actual fact of what actually is. To face it one must be extraordinarily fearless because the facing of it involves not only how to observe it - which we have dealt with previously - but also one has to look at the question of time.
It is very important to understand the problem of time. Confronted with fear of living, faced with this problem of existence in which life has no meaning at all as it is, one can invent meanings, one can substitute for the ugly a concept of the beautiful, an ideological existence, but these are all escapes from actually what is. To understand, to resolve this life of misery, confusion and everything that one has contributed to make it so monstrous as it is, one has to understand not only how to observe but also understand the question of time. We are using the word 'understanding', not in the sense of intellectual understanding or a verbal comprehension but as an understanding that comes when you give your whole attention to something. If I want to under- stand the beauty of a bird, a fly, or a leaf, or the nature of a person with all his complexities, I have to give my attention. I can only give my attention completely when I really care to understand this problem, which means when I really love to understand it and am not frightened. In this understanding one has not only to know, observe, to learn about what it is to see, but also to learn about time and the process of thought - of what thinking is. With these things we have to be acquainted, familiar.
We have spoken of what it is to observe, to watch, to see, to listen. I do not think we are exaggerating when we say that very few of us ever do look - look at things outwardly or inwardly, look at ourselves, or objectively look at things. If I look at somebody whom I like, it is finished, I stop looking - if I look at somebody whom I don't like, I have also stopped looking because the like and dislike, which are a matter of reaction and opinion, judgement, prevent me from looking. Do follow this because if one doesn't understand this very simple, fundamental fact, we are not going to understand something which demands complete observation and attention.
Previous experience, previous knowledge, prevent you from looking, from listening. If you have hurt me, or if you have insulted me, then if I look at you with that memory I cannot see you. That is a very simple thing. What I look from is the insult, the image I have built about you, and that image, which is memory, which is idea, is looking at you, therefore I am not looking directly at you, therefore I am not listening to what you are saying at all, I am listening to my own whispers of my image about you. That is simple, but it becomes extraordinarily complex when you look at yourself. So that is the first thing to bear in mind, that one can look only when there is a freshness, when there is an innocency of mind, when there is a freedom to look. If that is somewhat clear, not verbally but actually, inwardly, for each one of us, then we can look at this question of time.
We are not talking about time by the watch - the train that goes by every morning at a particular time. We are talking about time in which there is the interval between idea and action. We have ideas such as those of non-violence - whether of the Communists, the Capitalists, or of the church-goers - we have ideas. There is idea and there is an interval between that idea and action. This interval between idea and action is time. Look at it - what is involved in that interval? The 'idea' is to protect ourselves, obviously, it is the idea of being secure. But action is always immediate, action is not in the past or in the future - action means to act, it must be always in the present. And action is so dangerous, so uncertain, that we make it conform to an idea which will give us a certain satisfaction, pleasure, safety - there is thus an interval, thus conflict - isn't there? I have an idea of what is right or what is wrong, or an ideological concept about myself or about society, and according to that idea I will act. Therefore the action is in conformity with the idea, approximating itself to the idea, and hence always there is conflict. There is the idea, the interval and the action, and in the interval is the whole field of time.
We are enquiring whether time can come to an end, whether time can have a stop at all - which means, can conflict come to an end, not in the course of time, but immediately? If conflict is to come to an end during the course of time then you have the concept, or the idea, that conflict will come to an end, an idea that you are eventually going to achieve it. Therefore there is again an interval between concept and action - between the concept of non-violence and violence. There is the concept of non-violence and in that interval, which is time, you are sowing the seed of violence - obviously. That interval is essentially thought, therefore, is not time thought? By 'time' we mean psychological time not chronological time - obviously. When you think you will be happy tomorrow, then you have an image of yourself achieving a result, of becoming happy tomorrow. It is thought, through desire and the continuity of that desire, as pleasure, sustained by thought, that says 'tomorrow you will be happy', 'tomorrow you will have success', 'tomorrow the world will be the most beautiful world'. So thought creates the interval, which is of time. You can observe this in yourself. Look, you have had a pleasure, be it sexual or looking at a beautiful face or the shape of a lovely mountain and valley in the sun, you have enjoyed it, you have had a pleasure at that moment, an intense reaction - then thought comes in and says, 'I'll keep it', 'I'll store it up' and thought then says to itself, 'When am I going to have it again, sex or other forms of pleasure?' So the idea of yesterdays pleasure is sustained by thought as something to be achieved again tomorrow - there is an interval - that interval is created by thought, which is time. Is this understood, not verbally, not analytically, not logically, but actually, inside you, is it so? If it is so, then the problem is - how to end it, how to put a stop to time? Because time is sorrow - yesterday, or a thousand yesterdays ago, I loved, or you loved, or you had a companion and he is gone, dead, and that memory remains and now you are thinking about that pleasure or that pain - you are thinking, looking, wishing, hoping. That which you have enjoyed so denied, is absent, and thought, by thinking about it over and over again, breeds this thing that we call sorrow. So, also, as thought thinks over and over again about sex and its pleasure it creates further desire for pleasure and breeds not only sorrow but also gives continuity as time. Do see this in yourself, for as long as there is this interval of time bred by thought, there must be sorrow, there must be continuity of fear. So one asks oneself whether that interval, which is of time and of thought, can come to an end? Not tomorrow - you understand - for if we say, 'Will it ever end?' it is already an idea which you want to achieve and therefore you have an interval, therefore you are caught again.
It is really extraordinarily interesting to watch the operation of one's own thinking, just to observe that reaction which one calls thinking. Where does it spring from? - obviously from memory. Is there a beginning to thought at all? You are following all this, not intellectually, you are asking yourself - can I find out the beginning of thought, that is to say, the beginning of memory, because if you had no memory you would have no thought? What is the beginning of thought, is it important at all? To us thought is extraordinarily important, the more clever, cunning, subtle, the more you can express it - you know - the ideas, intellectual or otherwise which fill the books of the intellectuals, whether theological or non-theological, whether of St. Thomas or of Shankara or the intellectuals in the Far East, or in the sectarian religious field, or in the non-religious field, they have filled thousands of books with ideas and we worship those books and ideas, they have tremendous importance for us. We are so heavily conditioned. And when we talk of ideas we are attacking the very root of them, not just your few little ideas, but the whole formulation of ideas.
To us, thinking - ideas, ideals, to discuss, to dialectically offer opinions and so on - has become extraordinarily important and we are questioning this whole edifice - you understand - whether it is the edifice of the church with all its dogmas and beliefs, with its formulas of God, the Virgin Mary and the Saviour. The Christian world and the Asiatic world each have their own structure, their own edifice, their own scaffold to reach the Gods, and when we talk about thought as idea and time we are questioning the whole thing.
As human beings living in this monstrously ugly society with all its brutalities, guilt and anxiety, fears, wars and despair, we are asking ourselves - can all this come to an end? - not as a hope, but as an actual fact. Can the mind be made fresh, new and innocent, so that it can look at this existence and bring about a different world altogether?
One sees that we have separated action from idea, and that, to us, ideas are far more important than action; but ideas are always of the past and action is always of the present - action which is living, is always the present. We are frightened of that living present, so the past as ideas becomes very important, therefore there is death.
One of the factors of life is death. We are frightened of living, of old age, disease, pain and the sorrow which we know from the moment we are born until we die, which we call living, and we are also frightened of something which we do not know, which we call death. This whole field is our life.
One can see how thought creates fear. Please go into it with me, not just following the speaker, but take the journey together, share the way of moving together. So, we are frightened of life and we are frightened of death, of the known and the unknown, and that fear is bred by thought. I have had experience, I have reached a certain status, a certain position, achieved certain knowledge, which gives me vitality, energy, drive and that whole momentum of thought sustains me and I am frightened to lose it. Anybody who threatens my achievement and success, my platform, I loathe, I hate, I am his enemy. Surely this is so obvious. Don't you know in your business, or when you are teaching, how, when anybody surpasses you, you are frightened, you are antagonistic? - and you talk about God, spiritual life, and all the rest of it, but in your heart there is venom. And you are frightened to lose that and you are frightened of something much greater which is to come, which is death. So you think about death - you think about it and by thinking about it you are creating that interval between living and that which you call death. This is simple enough. The things that you know, the pleasure, the joys, the entertainments, the know- ledge, the experience, the achievements, the despairs, the conflicts, the dominations, - you know, the things to which you cling, your house, your petty little family, your little nation, you hold on to those with grim death because they are all you have. By thinking about them you create an interval between what you think, as an idea, is lasting, and the actual fact.
Thought breeds, through time, not only the fear of living but the fear of death and because death is something you don't know, thought says, 'Let's postpone it, avoid it, keep it as far away as possible, don't think about it' - but you are thinking about it. When you say, 'I won't think about it' you have already thought about it. You have thought out how to avoid it and you can avoid it, through the many escapes, the churches, gods, saviours, the resurrection and the idea that there is a permanent, eternal self in yourself which India, Asia, has invented. That is, thought has cleverly said that there is a permanent, eternal self in yourself - which endlessly - but because thought thinks about it, it is not real, obviously. Thought has created the idea of an eternal self - the soul, the Atman - in order to find safety, hope, but what thought has thought about is already a second-hand thing, thought is always of the old. One is frightened of death because one has postponed it. So the problem arises of how to go beyond this so called living and the thing called death. Is there an actual separation between the two? You understand? To live so intensely is to die to everything of yesterday, obviously - all the pleasures, the knowledge, the opinions, the judgments, the stupid little achievements, to die to all that - to die to the family, to die to your achievements which have only brought such chaos in the world and such conflict within yourself, to die to all that. Then to die to that brings an intensity, brings about a state of mind in which the past has ceased and the future, as death, has come to an end. So the living is the dying - you cannot live if you do not die. But most of us are frightened because we want surety, because we want to continue the misery which we have known, the disease, the pain, the pleasure, the anxiety. Because we avoid, push away, death - thought pushes away death - there is fear of the known and fear of the unknown. When there is no interval between death and the living, then you know what it means to die, to die everyday to everything that one has. Then the mind becomes extraordinarily fresh, eager, attentive and innocent. When one dies to the thousand yesterdays, then living is dying. It is only in that state that time comes to an end and thought functions only where it is needed and not at any other level or at any other demand.
Questioner: Sir, if thought arises within me and is not some outside force invading the field of the mind then it would seem that I am not different from thought; and then it would seem that if I choose to I could think as I choose to or not think.
Krishnamurti: Why do you divide the outside and the inside? Is your thought your own; or is our thought conditioned by the outside? Of course it is. You are born as a Christian, as a Communist, as a - you know, born in this world in a society, in a culture, that conditions you in a certain way - you are conditioned by the books you read, the radio, the television, the newspapers, the preachers and are you not being conditioned by me, by the speaker? Are you? I hope not. Because if you are being conditioned by the speaker then you are merely accepting ideas and opinions which is of no value at all.
We are talking of something entirely different - freedom. But that freedom cannot come about if you divide the world as between the me, the thinker, the thoughts which are my own, and the rest of the world as totally disconnected from me. You think the way you think because you are an American, a Swiss or an Indian. You have a particular culture in which you were born, you are conditioned, you are shaped. The Communists have brainwashed millions of people, tortured them to think in the way of a particular society, with its leader, the boss, the commissar, the man who knows - and the church has done exactly the same thing in the other way - so that the culture, tortured with wars, in which you are born, is part of you, you are society as well as the individual, you cannot separate the two. You are outside of all this only when there is no fear and you can know what love is. But as long as you remain within that field of the culture, of society, of greed, of envy, of achievement, you are not a free human being. You may think you have free will, but you are just part of this monstrous society, a conditioned human being.
Q: How does 'dying immediately' come in?
K: It is fairly simple - die to one pleasure, immediately. You have a pleasure, smoking or whatever it is, just die to it, without argument, motive, tear, judgement, control, just say 'well, finished' - do it - and you will know what it means. Not only to a little pleasure, it is fairly simple to give up a cigarette - I know for some to give up a cigarette or a drink or a drug is an enormous problem, because it is a narcotic that keeps them quiet, makes the mind dull so they do not have to think - but die to one pleasure without argument, without motive, for that is what you are going to do when you die, you can't argue with death. So if you die to one wish, to one pleasure, without reacting, without being caught in despair, you will know what it means to die immediately to your whole complex, contradictory, existence.
25th July, 1967