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Dialogue 13 - Madras - 4th January 1971 - ‘Tradition and knowledge’
Questioner A: I was in the self-preparation group of the Theosophical Society in 1923-24. In that group, there was a preparation for understanding – viveka, vairagya and love. It was a traditional approach. A change came about when you said let us break away from organizations, from all disciplines. In the work At the Feet of the Master, shama is translated as control of the mind and dama as control of the body. In the traditional approach, shama seems to have been neglected. Less attention seems to have been given to the meaning and implication of shama and more than due stress laid on dama. Shanti has become a one word symbol of inner peace and it is the past-passive participle of the verb shama. So if shama is not understood, shanti is also not understood.
Krishnamurti: What do you mean by the word “sadhana”?
J: Sadhana means discipline; to acquire.
A: You neglect shama, the process by which arising of impulses and the subsiding of them takes place.
Krishnamurti: What do you mean by the word ‘process’ – from here to there, to proceed, a movement from here to there. A movement from here to there necessitates “sadhana”. Process implies time.
A: This process of observing the ways of the mind involves time.
Krishnamurti: Time is involved in process, in discipline, in order to arrive. All that implies time, time that includes space – from here to there – and that space can be covered through time.
J: Ramana says it is pathless, free of process, free of time.
A: Even when we realize that it is not good to suppress the arising and ending of desire, that realization is still a process, and is in time.
Krishnamurti: When we say we live in time, what do we mean by that? What does living in time mean?
A: The mind is geared to yesterday, today and tomorrow.
Krishnamurti: Not only the mind, but the numerical time – I come here at such and such a time. Living is within this numerical time, chronological time. Is that all my life? Is there any other time?
A: There is psychological time which is created by the mind.
Krishnamurti: What do you mean by time as created by the mind?
A: The mind has a way of prolonging pleasure. My movement in chronological time is influenced by my mind.
Krishnamurti: What is this mind?
Krishnamurti: What is memory? You were in Bangalore and today you are in Madras. You remember Bangalore. Remembrance of a past experience or occurrence is memory. That leaves a mark. What is the substance on which the mark is left?
There was an experience yesterday. It has left a mark, pain or pleasure, that is irrelevant. It has left a mark. On what has it left a mark? Why has it left a mark? What does the word experience mean?
Experience means to go through, to propel, to throw out. When that experience is not completely washed out, it leaves a mark. On what does it leave the mark? There is a substance on which the mark has to be left. What is the substance?
A: The censor.
Krishnamurti: What do you mean by the censor? I see yesterday’s experience has left a mark. On what has it left a mark?
J: On mind which is consciousness.
Krishnamurti: Which consciousness? The content of consciousness is consciousness. Without the content, there is no consciousness. Content is consciousness. The two are not separate. Find out on what memory leaves a mark.
A: That part of the mind, the brain which carries the residue.
Krishnamurti: Residue is experience. Marks are left on the brain cells themselves. See what it has done; experience unfinished, leaves a mark on the brain cells which hold memory. Memory is matter. Otherwise it cannot hold and leave a mark on the brain cells which are also matter.
See what happens, Sir. Every incomplete experience, leaves a mark which becomes knowledge. The weight makes the mind dull. The brain as accumulated knowledge has received information, which is knowledge.
A: How does one cope with a challenge?
Krishnamurti: What is coping with a challenge? If you respond according to past information, you do not know how to deal with the new problem.
So, experience leaves a residue as memory on the brain cells, which becomes the storehouse of knowledge. Knowledge is always the past. So the brain cells act, respond, function according to the information, knowledge, residue of the past. Brain is being put together through time which is the past. And so, a mind crowded with knowledge is not a free mind.
J: Because its responses are arising out of the known.
A: At a certain level, it is essential.
Krishnamurti: Of course, half our life is that.
We see that this brain, which is put together through millennia, lives with the experience of the present and the past, the racial past, the familial, the personal past, and they are all weighted down there. We call this progress. We know technological progress, from the bullock to the jet. And the brain says that is the only way it can function with its memories; and thought says it wants to get out of the prison; so thought moves to the future – which is enlightenment, which again is a movement of thought. See what we are doing.
A: We apply the same principle of the bullock cart and the jet – that the mind through acquired knowledge, through discipline, through control of all desires, can move to freedom.
Krishnamurti: I do not think we are still clear. We accumulate knowledge, which is experience, memory, and through knowledge we try to find a way out.
Krishnamurti: The traditional approach is through knowledge. And can knowledge bring about freedom? If it can, then discipline, control, sublimation, suppression are all necessary, because that is all we know. That is tradition; tradition means to carry over.
A: I see clearly it is not possible. Then why does it not stop?
Krishnamurti: I see clearly that this is a fact. It is not an assumption, a theory. I see knowledge, which is the accumulation of centuries, is a prison and yet the mind cannot drop it.
A: This knowledge is verbal. My knowledge is based on words.
Krishnamurti: Is it verbal? I hit you. You hit me. Pain is there. The memory of that pain is there.
You hit me; I have physical pain. The remembrance of the pain is verbal but the pain is not verbal. Why has the mind translated the pain into words? Watch it, Sir.
Krishnamurti: Watch it. You hit me. I have pain. That is a physical fact. Then I remember it. The remembrance is the word. Why has the fact become a word?
J: To give continuity.
Krishnamurti: Is it to give continuity to pain? Or continuity to the man who has given pain?
A: He has to reap the consequences.
J: It gives continuity to the man who receives the pain.
Krishnamurti: Look. You hit me. There is physical pain. That is all. Why do I not end it? Why does the brain say “A has hit me”? It has already translated the pain into words. Why? Because it wants to hit back. If it did not do that, it could say, “Yes, A has hit me” – full stop. But the brain remembers not only pain which becomes the psychological mark but also the man who causes the hurt.
R: Who remembers?
Krishnamurti: The cell.
A: The “I” process.
J: What is getting recorded in the cell is the image of the man who hit.
Krishnamurti: Why should I remember the man?
J: Even if I forgive him, it is the same.
Krishnamurti: What happens is: I translate the fact into words, “You hit me”. The moment you hit, there is pain and the “I” which says, “A has hit me, how could he, what have I done.” All these are waves of words.
So your traditional approach to this problem is through knowledge; that you must have knowledge to arrive, to achieve freedom. And your knowledge is verbal. And I say, is that so? The experience of being hit is knowledge.
Now what is the traditional approach to this whole problem of pain, suffering, of being hurt? What is the traditional response? Why has tradition maintained that knowledge is necessary as a means to enlightenment?
A: This is oversimplification. Verbalizing of pain is one part, but the entire field of knowledge is racial. The word is the essence of knowledge.
Krishnamurti: Is it?
J: It is not so.
Krishnamurti: So we have to see what knowledge is (which comes from the word “to know”). Is it knowing, the active present, or the having known? The active present of the word “to know” is knowing, not having known.
A: When we talk of knowledge, it presupposes having known.
Krishnamurti: Tradition says having knowledge is essential to freedom, enlightenment. Why has this been maintained? There must have been people who must have questioned knowledge. Why have the Gita, the gurus not questioned? Why did they not see that knowledge means the past, that the past cannot possibly bring enlightenment? Why did the traditionalists not see that discipline, sadhana have all come from knowledge?
J: 1s it because people felt that memory must be maintained?
Krishnamurti: Why did the professionals not see that knowledge is the self? They talked everlastingly about wiping away the self.
A: So long as communication is verbal, you cannot wipe away the self.
Krishnamurti: Do you mean to say that the professionals can never look at anything without the word?
A: The word is compulsive, non-volitional.
Krishnamurti: You hit me. There is pain. I see that. Why should that be built up as memory? You are not answering my question. Why did the professionals not see the simple fact that accumulated knowledge can never lead to freedom?
A: Some of them did see.
Krishnamurti: Why did they not act? The professionals are you, the professionals whom you have read; therefore why cannot you drop it? Which means you have not dropped tradition. Personally, I see a very simple fact. You hit me. There is pain. That is all.
A: What about pleasure?
Krishnamurti: The same thing.
A: It involves an effort to drop.
Krishnamurti: Then you enter the same circus – naming, the word, which means to strengthen the knowledge that you hit me. I do not stop there. You hit me that is a fact. My son is dead. That is a fact. To become cynical, bitter, to say “I loved him and he is gone” – all that is verbalization.
A: So long as the chattering of the mind goes on -
Krishnamurti: Let it chatter. Look. Fact is one thing and the description is another. We are caught in description, in explanation but not with the fact. Why does that take place first of all? When the house burns, I act and I must. What is action here? You have hit me. Here there is only complete inaction, which means no verbalization.
A: This happened to me when my brother died.
Krishnamurti: Then what takes place? Why do we get caught in knowledge and make it so extraordinarily important? The capacity to reason, argue; why has it become so important? The computers are taking over that function. Why have the professionals been caught in this trap?
So, can the brain cells, put together through time as knowledge, function in knowledge when necessary, and yet be completely free of knowledge?
A: I have pleasure. I say “How nice, wonderful; I do not drop pleasure.
Krishnamurti: I have had an affair. Pleasure is involved in it. Then thought comes along and says I would like to repeat it. Which is what? Affair, memory, reaction of memory as thought, thought building images, demanding images which is part of tradition, carrying over. I have had a pleasurable experience yesterday. Carrying over to tomorrow is tradition.
A.: Also joy.
Krishnamurti: The moment you reduce it to pleasure, it is gone.
A: Is there only pleasure and pain or is there more in knowledge?
Krishnamurti: We cannot answer that unless we understand pain, pleasure and knowledge. The professionals have been blind and they have made millions of people blind. The monstrosity of it! The whole of this country, the Christian world, all over it is the same.
The next question arises, whether the brain cells can function at one level with complete objectivity, with sane knowledge, without bringing the pleasure principle into it, pleasure through prestige, status and all that? And can the brain cells also realize that freedom is not in knowledge? That realization is freedom. How does this happen?
J: One point here – when thought craves to die, it continues.
Krishnamurti: What would be the professional’s answer to this question? Why does thought cling?
J: Samadhi. I stay in samadhi and come back.
Krishnamurti: There is no meaning in that. Do the brain cells see themselves as a repository of knowledge? Does the brain cell realize it for itself? Not as a superimposed realization, but that when the principle of pleasure acts, then the mischief begins? Then there is fear, violence, aggression, everything follows.
A: When the field of knowledge is distorted by pain and pleasure, then the whole mischief starts.
Krishnamurti: Why did the traditionalists, the professionals, the scriptures, the spiritual leaders not see this? Was it because authority was tremendously important – the authority of the Gita, the experience, the scriptures. Why? Why did they not see this? Because, man is the result of all this. And so you have the man who says I have read the Gita, I am the authority. Authority of what? Of somebody else’s words, of knowledge?
A: We can know the various systems without being involved in them. The tradition does bring you a certain clarity. We know how the professionals worked and how you work. You say knowledge is entirely of the past.
Krishnamurti: Obviously. If I am tethered to a post, I cannot move.
A: Then why did the professionals not see it?
Krishnamurti: They were after power.
A: You do not understand. When you say they wanted power, that is not so.
Krishnamurti: Look. What is taking place in each person? We see something very clearly for a moment. The perception is translated into experience as knowledge. There it is. I have seen it. It is finished. I do not have to carry it with me. The next minute I am watching.
J: Why is there a watcher?
Krishnamurti: Look, why does the brain insist on a continuity in knowledge? Why does the brain continue in the multiplicity of knowledge? Why does it keep on adding, multiplying, “I did this yesterday, she was so kind; why is this going on and on?
Look Sir, the brain cannot function healthily, sanely, if it is not completely secure. Security means order. Without order the brain cannot function, it becomes neurotic. Like a child it needs complete security. When the child is secure, feels at home, it is not frightened, then it grows up as a marvellous human being. So the brain needs security and it has found security in knowledge. That is the only thing it can be secure in – experience as knowledge which acts as the future guide. So it needs security and it finds it in knowledge, in belief, in family.
A: The traditionalists provided that security through knowledge.
Krishnamurti: The mind wants security. If the professional said I really do not I know, he would not be a professional.
A: Yet security at a certain level is essential.
Krishnamurti: One has to negate the Gita, the Bible, the guru, the whole thing.
One has to negate totally all the constructions that thought has put together, to wipe away and say “I do not know, I do not know a thing.” One has to say “I will not say a thing, I do not know. I will not repeat a thing which somebody else has said.” Then you begin.