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Dialogue 14 - Madras - 5th January 1971 - ‘Conflict and consciousness’

Dialogue 14 - Madras - 5th January 1971 - ‘Conflict and consciousness’

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Tradition and Revolution

Questioner A: When you say that memory is the function of the brain cells, do the brain cells as a source of intellect have any valid part to play in their own silencing?

Krishnamurti: We were talking yesterday of why knowledge has been made important as a way of enlightenment. Apparently every religious teacher has insisted on knowledge, not only in the East but also in the West. And as tradition is so strong in this country, it is really necessary to find out what part this whole systematized thinking plays in attaining enlightenment. What part does the environmental conditioning play in enlightenment? How does culture, the conditioning by culture come into being? You must cover the whole field. Take a traditional outlook like that of Nagarjuna or Sankara. Approach it from there.

A: The traditionalists say, all action, activity, arises from causes, and these causes are known.

Krishnamurti: You are making an incorrect statement. You are stating from cause to effect. There is no such thing.

A: It starts with this sutra: “All these manifestations of behaviour, it is the Buddha who has given you the source of all these manifestations. If you know the cause, you can eliminate the cause.” This is the statement of the Buddha. By understanding the cause you get rid of it and he has told you the cause. All manifested thought, behaviour, is within the field of cause-effect.

Krishnamurti: I question this. We also see that what was cause becomes the effect and effect becomes the cause. There is no fixed cause, there is no fixed effect. If there is a fixed cause, everything is fixed. Then there is no explanation enquiry, movement possible. The acorn will produce an oak tree. On this principle, we think karma operates. Now is there a fixed point at all or is there a constant movement which the mind and brain are incapable of following, living? And so the mind says there is cause and effect and it is held in that pattern.

A: Is there such a thing as cause and effect? If there is a chain of cause-effect, at any point you can hold it. At the cause point where effect becomes the cause, that is the key to this.

Krishnamurti: Who is to hold it?

A: Where the effect becomes the cause, that is the point.

Krishnamurti: You insulted me yesterday, that is the cause. The insult may have been the result of my previous insult to you, and in reacting again there are a series of actions, modifications going on all the time.

You insult me; at that moment, if I am totally aware, if the mind is totally aware, there is no cause-effect at all. You insult me. The response to that insult is from the old brain that has divided itself, that has been functioning in a pattern. At the moment of insult, for the old brain not to respond can only happen when there is complete attention. In that moment of attention there is no cause-effect.

A: If there is no attention, it becomes the cause of another chain. Therefore, where an effect germinates itself into a new cause, it is there that action comes which is different.

Krishnamurti: I do not think so. I insult you. That may be the result of my unconscious neglect of you. It has hurt you and you want to hurt me. The cause is my not greeting you, and the cause is I was interested in the birds, in the movement of their wings. I am an artist. I want to look at a bird in all its movements. Where is cause and where is effect? I see a movement of the leaves in the breeze, and I do not greet you. You are an old friend and you get insulted.

J: The cause is in oneself.

Krishnamurti: The observation of the movement is not in oneself.

J: Insult arises within me, not within you.

Krishnamurti: I have unintentionally given a cause to insult you.

J: What makes me feel insulted is within me. Cause and effect are within me.

Krishnamurti: You are saying, though I did not greet you, the very fact of that insult was born in you, not given to you. I am not at all sure.

A: I have affection for you and I see you watching the bird, I will understand, but if I do not have affection, then I will blame you. So causation is always within.

Krishnamurti: I see very clearly what you say.

A: It is not always a one to one relationship. Instead of saying this cause arises with this person, the general law is as follows: “Thus the whole thing arises with a matrix of not-knowing – avidya. You come to the focus of “I”. In avidya is samskara, all that man has done. From that is consciousness, out of consciousness comes naming. These lead to the body and the six senses: then you see.”

Cause is used in a broad cosmic sense. But you start from the point of “I see” and start only from there.

J: Sankara says you cannot say how ignorance began and he denied causation. Cause-effect can be ended. Before you go any further you have to exhaust the intellect.

Krishnamurti: Is this part of Zen?

A: No, Sir, it is not. Awakening of intelligence is not sui generis.

J: You cannot bypass the intellect. We do not know how the process began, but we can end it.

Krishnamurti: From the seed, multiple cell, till man appeared. From unitary cell it moves on.

A: The biologist does not go beyond manifestation. To assume it is a wrong thing.

Krishnamurti: There is ignorance and there is always perception, sensation.

A: Samskara is that which is put together.

Krishnamurti: Put together in time which means evolution.

A: Then you come to the next point, vijnana, which is consciousness.

Krishnamurti: Is consciousness different from samskara? That which has been put together is consciousness.

A: No Sir, it is the matrix. Within that comes your consciousness, my consciousness.

Krishnamurti: Let us find out.

A: The matrix is common to all of us.

Krishnamurti: Samskara, you say, means put together.

A: Literally it means tendencies.

Krishnamurti: I am asking what is consciousness. Consciousness is made of content. Without the content, is there consciousness at all? The content of consciousness is consciousness. Content has been going on for centuries.

A: Is content all or is it a segment?

Krishnamurti: I see all my conditioning makes for consciousness.

A: Man has existed for many, many years. Before his consciousness came into being, the matrix was already there.

Krishnamurti: Thought began with the unitary cell. Man has lived for more than thirty-five thousand years; during that time he has collected all kinds of experiences. All that is consciousness.

A: Out of this has come consciousness.

Krishnamurti: I do not separate the two. There is no separation of the two. If there is no content, there is no consciousness. In consciousness there are many fragments, and it is not one solid content. There are different levels, activities, attitudes, characteristics; all that is total consciousness. One part of that total consciousness, a fragment of that assumes importance. Then it says “I am consciousness” or “I am not consciousness”, “I am this”, “I am not this”.

A: You have made a distinction between consciousness which has different levels and that point at which it says “I am different”. At that point it becomes different.

R: “I” and the “not I”, the division is there.

A: Then there is a difference between the matrix and the self.

Krishnamurti: Look, the content of consciousness is consciousness. Without the content there is no consciousness. The content is made up of various divisions – my family, your family, and all that; it is made up of fragmentation. One of the fragments assumes importance over all other fragments.

R: The classical way of saying this is, the reflection imagines it is the prototype.

A: The moment there is the focus, the individualization starts.

Krishnamurti: Be careful. This is very important. When you use the word “individual” it means indivisible, in himself, no fragment. So one fragment assumes the authority, the power to criticize, the censor – all within the area which we call consciousness.

A: In the case of consciousness as the not-identified, what happens?

Krishnamurti: I do not know a thing about identification.

A: The moment identification starts the significance is that I identify myself with the part. That is the point of separation.

Krishnamurti: Do not assert anything. The content of consciousness is consciousness. When there is no content there is no consciousness. In that content are tremendous factors of conflict, of fragmentation. One fragment assumes authority, one fragment does not identify itself with other fragments. It feels insecure – there are such vast conflicts there. It does not identify with any fragment, it does that only when it says “I like this, I do not like this”.

R: What is that “I”?

A: It is my own past.

J: “I” is the fragment.

A: Buddha said it is the totality of all impressions, the complex of impressions, which has created an identity for itself but which has no true identity.

R: There is consciousness and it has immense diversity.

Krishnamurti: There are many fragments. How is it that one fragment becomes important, and the importance then goes on? (Pause)

I see something. There is the whole field of fragmentation, which is consciousness. When does the “I” come into being?

A: Is it not implied in the field of consciousness itself? The “I” which comes out of it is latent in it.

Krishnamurti: There are all these fragments. Why does the mind not leave it alone? I see my consciousness is made up of various fragments. Why does it not leave it alone? What takes place?

A: Identification.

Krishnamurti: There is fragmentation, contradiction, there is conflict. That is all that takes place. Conflict takes place. Within that conflict is the desire to end conflict.

A: Where there is conflict, if I am not identified, it does not affect me. At that point it does not become conflict.

Krishnamurti: There is only conflict, opposition, contradiction in consciousness. There is this field of consciousness which we have described. Where there is opposition, contradiction, that is the field of conflict. There may be fragments. Each fragment being fragmentary will produce conflict, pain, pleasure, sorrow, agony, despair.

That is the field. Then what takes place?

A: I want to end it.

Krishnamurti: Here this whole structure of consciousness is a battlefield.

A: Why do you say so? Consciousness is full of irreconcilables. The moment I use the word “conflict” I have identified myself.

Krishnamurti: This field of consciousness being divided is the source of conflict – India and Pakistan. I am a Hindu and you are a Muslim. The fact is, division inevitably brings conflict.

A: That is so till you come to the point of naming; naming changes the quality.

Krishnamurti: Look at the field of conflict. There is division. Where there is division there must inevitably be conflict – my family, your family, my God, your God.

A: Does every divided fragment become aware?

Krishnamurti: I see the fact that where there is division there must be conflict. In this consciousness where there are so many fragments, there must be conflict. In the phenomenal world he is a Hindu and I am a Muslim, and that is breeding war and hatred. This is a simple, straight phenomenon. We all talk of unity and keep on with our divisions.

See, Sir, what takes place. In this field there is conflict, contradiction, fragmentation, division; when the conflict becomes acute then comes the “me” and “you”. Otherwise I leave it alone. I float along in this conflict, but the moment conflict becomes acute – there is war, the Hindu-Muslim war, then I am a Hindu and you are a Muslim; identification takes place with something which I think is greater – with God, nation, idea.

So long as the conflict is mild, I leave it alone. My point is, as long as there is no conflict, there is no “I”.

There is no “I” if there is no conflict. We are saying, therefore, conflict is the measure of the “I”. There was no conflict yesterday, there is conflict today, and I hope there will not be conflict tomorrow. This movement is the “I”. This is the essence of the “I”.

A: There are many other facets.

Krishnamurti: Is the tree different from the branches? It may have ten hundred branches. The structure of consciousness is based on this conflict. We are not discussing how to end conflict.

R: The traditional view is, division is the “I” and the separation from the conflict is also “I”.

A: As long as conflict is not observed, is hidden, “I” is not.

R: Does this all begin here or does the arising of “I” go deeper?

Krishnamurti: Is there a self, the “I”, which is to be studied, or is the “I” a movement?

A: You say the “I” begins as a movement in consciousness.

Krishnamurti: No. There is an assumption that the “I” is static. Is it so? Is the “I” something to be learnt about? Or is the “I” a movement? Do I learn about something or do I learn in movement? The former is non-existent. It is fallacious, it is an invention.

So the central fact is division. It is the source of all conflict. That conflict may take different shapes, levels, but it is the same. Conflict may be pleasant, I may like to be bullied, beaten by my wife, but it is a part of the structure of conflict.

R: The nature of consciousness is conflict.

Krishnamurti: It is not its nature. Consciousness is conflict. If I have no conflict, what happens to me?

A: You say there is no “I” if there is no conflict. Does that mean the state of non-conflict is non-consciousness?

R: The state of non-conflict is beyond conflict. The dimension in which we live is conflict.

A: Sir, I said intensification of conflict includes naming.

Krishnamurti: Naming is all included in this. The average man swims along till a conflict becomes acute.

A: When conflict becomes acute, then naming starts.

Krishnamurti: What is naming? Why do we need naming at all? Why do I say “my wife”, why? Investigate it.

A: At one level it is for communication, at another level it is subtle.

Krishnamurti: Why do I say “She is my wife?”

R: We want to prolong that “which is”.

A: Because I want a continuity in that.

Krishnamurti: Sir, I say “my wife; why?

A: Security, I want to hold on to her.

Krishnamurti: Look, I say the word is not the thing. It never is. The word is only a means of communication. The fact is not the word. The fact that she is “my wife” is legally true, but what have I done when I say it? Why have I named it? To give continuity, to strengthen the image I have built? I possess her or she possesses me, for sex, for comfort and so on. All these strengthen the image about her. The image is there to establish her as mine. In the meanwhile, she is changing; is looking at another man. I do not acknowledge her freedom, and I do not acknowledge freedom at all, for myself. So what have I done when I say she is my wife?

A: You are saying we do not like movement, we like everything static.

Krishnamurti: I want to possess her, and that is why I need her. The brain cells establish a pattern of habit and refuse to leave habit.

A: The entire consciousness is words, knowledge. I want to understand this, what you are saying.

Krishnamurti: Knowledge is put together. Knowledge horizontally or vertically is put together. Knowledge is a process. Process implies time. Time implies thought. So through thought, through knowledge, through time, you are trying to find something which is out of time, which is not knowledge, which is not thought. You cannot.

A: The whole process which we have described must also be non-verbal.

Krishnamurti: The use of words is to communicate, to share together something common between two people. The common factor between human beings is despair, agony, sorrow. Can this be dispelled through time or can they be dispelled instantly?-Is this process to be ended with words or without words? The word is not the thing. You may describe the most marvellous food, but the description is not the food.

A: Use of words demands a complete understanding of the field of knowledge.

Krishnamurti: Words are necessary to communicate. Communication means sharing together common problems.

The word is not the thing, but we have to use the word in order to understand the thing.

Why do we make words so important? Words are meant to communicate. We have to be precise.

A: In order that communication takes place there have to be words.

Krishnamurti: When does communication take place – the sharing together of a common problem?

A: It can take place non-verbally.

Krishnamurti: To me communication means sharing together, thinking together, creating together, understanding. When are we together? Surely, not on the verbal level alone. We are together to share the problem, when we are tremendously vital, passionate, at the same level with the same intensity. When does this happen? It happens when you love something. When you love, it is finished. I kiss you, and I hold your hand, it is finished. When we lack that thing, we spin around with words. I am sure all the professionals miss that.

So our problem is how to meet, to come together at the same time, at the same level, with the same intensity. That is the real question. We do that when there is sex which we call love. Otherwise you battle for yourself and I battle for myself. This is the problem. Can I, who am in sorrow, say, “Let us come together, let us talk it over”, and not talk of what Nagarjuna, Sankara and others say.