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New Delhi 6th Public Talk 31st October 1956
It seems to me that what is important is not the problem, but the mind that approaches the problem. We have many problems of every kind: the growth of tyranny, the multiplication of conflicts in the individual as well as in the collective life, and the utter lack of any directive purpose in life except that which is artificially created by society or by the individual himself. Our many problems seem to be increasing, they are not diminishing. The more civilization has progressed, the greater has become the complexity of the problems of living, and I think most of us are aware that the various ways of life which most people follow - the Communist way of life, the so-called religious way of life, and the purely materialistic or progressive way of life, the life of many possessions - have not solved these problems. Seeing all this, those of us who are at all serious must have considered the question of how to bring about a change, not only in ourselves and in our relationship with particular individuals, but also in our relationship with the collective, with society. Our problems multiply, but as I said, I don't think the problem, whatever it be, is the real issue. The real issue, surely, is the mind that approaches the problem.
If my mind is incapable of dealing with a problem, and I act, the problem multiplies, does it not? That is a fairly obvious fact. And seeing that whatever it does with regard to the problem only multiplies the problem, what is the mind to do? Do you understand the issue? The problem - whether it be the problem of God, the problem of starvation, the problem of collective tyranny in the name of government, and so on - exists at different levels of our being, and we approach it hoping to solve it, which I think is a wrong approach altogether, because we are laying emphasis on the problem. It seems to me that the real problem is the mind itself, and not the problem which the mind has created and tries to solve. If the mind is petty, small, narrow, limited, however great and complex the problem may be, the mind approaches that problem in terms of its own pettiness. If I have a little mind and I think of God, the God of my thinking will be a little God, though I may clothe him with grandeur, beauty, wisdom, and all the rest of it.
It is the same with the problem of existence, the problem of bread, the problem of love, the problem of sex, the problem of relationship, the problem of death. These are all enormous problems, and we approach them with a small mind, we try to resolve them with a mind that is very limited. Though it has extraordinary capacities and is capable of invention, of subtle, cunning thought, the mind is still petty. It may be able to quote Marx, or the Gita, or some other religious book, but it is still a small mind; and a small mind confronted with a complex problem can only translate that problem in terms of itself, and therefore the problem, the misery increases. So the question is, can the mind that is small, petty, be transformed into something which is not bound by its own limitations?
Are you following what I am talking about, or am I not making myself clear? Take, for example, the problem of love, which is very complex. Though I may be married, have children, unless there is that sense of beauty, the depth and clarity of love, life is very shallow, without much meaning; and I approach love with a very small mind. I want to know what it is, but I have all kinds of assumptions about it, I have already clothed it with my petty mind. So the problem is not how to understand what love is, but to free from its own pettiness the mind that approaches the problem, and the minds of most people are petty.
By a petty mind I mean a mind that is occupied. Do you understand? A mind that is occupied with God, with plans, with virtue, with how to carry out what certain authorities say about economics or religion; a mind that is occupied with itself, with its own development, with culture, with following a certain way of existence; a mind that is occupied with an identity, with a country, belief, or ideology - such a mind is a petty mind.
When you are occupied with something, what happens psychologically, inwardly? There is no space in your mind, is there? Have you ever watched your own mind in operation? If you have, you will know that it is everlastingly busy with itself. An ambitious man is concerned from morning till night, and during his sleep, with his successes and failures, with his frustrations, with his innumerable demands and the fulfilment of his ambition. He is like the so-called religious man who endlessly repeats a certain phrase, or is occupied with an ideal and with trying to conform to that ideal. So the mind that is occupied is a petty mind. If one really understands this, then quite a different process is at work.
After all, a mind that is vain, arrogant, full of the desire for power, and that tries to cultivate humility, is occupied with itself; therefore it is a petty mind. The mind that is trying to improve itself through the acquisition of knowledge, that is trying to become very clever, to be more powerful, to have a better job - such a mind is petty. It may occupy itself with God, with truth, with the Atman, or with sitting in the seats of the mighty, but it is still a petty mind.
So what happens? Your mind is petty, occupied, it starts with certain conclusions, assumptions, it posits certain ideas, and with this occupied mind you try to solve the problem. When a small mind meets an enormous problem there is action, obviously, and that action does produce a result - the result being an increase of the problem; and if you observe, that is exactly what is happening in the world. The people in the big seats are occupied with themselves in the name of the country; like you and me, they want position, power, prestige. We are all in the same boat, and with petty little minds we are trying to solve the extraordinary problems of living, problems which demand an unoccupied mind. Life is a vital, moving thing, is it not? Therefore one must come to it afresh, with a mind that is not wholly occupied, that is capable of some space, some emptiness.
Now, what is the state of the mind that knows it is occupied and sees that occupation is petty? That is, when I realize that my mind is occupied, and that an occupied mind is a petty mind, what happens?
I don't think we see sufficiently clearly the truth that an occupied mind is a petty mind. Whether the mind is occupied with self-improvement, with God, with drink, with sexual passion or the desire for power, it is all essentially the same, though sociologically these various occupations may have a difference. Occupation is occupation, and the mind that is occupied is petty because it is concerned with itself. If you see, if you actually experience the truth of that fact, surely your mind is no longer concerned with itself, with its own improvement; so there is a possibility for the mind that has been enclosed to remove its enclosure.
Just as an experiment, observe for yourself how your whole life is based on an assumption: that there is God or there is no God, that a certain pattern of living is better than other patterns, and so on. A mind which is occupied starts with an assumption, it approaches life with an idea, a conclusion. And can the mind approach a problem totally, removing all its conclusions, its previous experiences, which are also a form of conclusion? After all, a challenge is always new, is it not? If the mind is incapable of responding adequately to challenge, there is a deterioration, a going back; and the mind cannot respond adequately if it is consciously or unconsciously occupied, occupation being based on some ideology or conclusion. If you realize the truth of this, you will find that the mind is no longer petty, because it is in a state of inquiry, in a state of healthy doubt - which is not to have doubts about something, because that again becomes an occupation. A mind that is truly inquiring is not accumulating. It is the accumulating mind that is petty, whether it is accumulating knowledge, or money, power, position. When you see the truth of that totally, there is real transformation of the mind, and it is such a mind that is capable of dealing with the many problems.
I am going to answer some questions, and as I have pointed out, the answer is. not important. What is important is the problem, and the mind cannot give undivided attention to the problem if it is distracted by trying to find a solution to the problem. All solutions are based on desire, and the problem exists because of desire - desire for a hundred things. Without understanding the whole process of desire, merely to respond to the problem through one particular activity of desire, hoping it will produce the right answer, will not bring about the dissolution of the problem. So we are concerned, not with an answer, but with the problem itself.
Question: I entirely agree with you that it is necessary to uncondition one's mind. But how can a conditioned mind uncondition itself?
Krishnamurti: The questioner states that he agrees with what I have said. Before we go into the question of unconditioning the mind, let us find out what we mean by agreement. You can agree with an opinion, with an idea; you cannot agree with a fact. You and I may agree in the sense that we share an opinion about a fact; but an opinion held by many does not make truth. To understand there must be a living, vital scepticism, not acceptance or agreement. If you merely agree with me, you are agreeing with an opinion which you think I have. I have no opinions, so we are not in agreement. If you and I both see a poisonous snake, there is no question of agreement: we both stay away from it. When we say we agree, we are intellectually agreeing about an idea; but this inquiry into how to free the mind from conditioning does not demand an intellectual agreement. As long as the mind is conditioned as a Hindu, a Communist, or what you will, it is incapable of thinking anew. That is not a matter of opinion. It is a fact. You don't have to agree.
So the question is, how can a mind which is conditioned, uncondition itself? You realize that your mind is conditioned as a Hindu, with all the various beliefs of Hinduism, or as a Communist, a Christian, a Moslem, and so on. Your mind is conditioned, that is obvious. You believe in something, in the supernatural, in God, whereas another who has been brought up in a different social and psychological environment says there is no such thing, it is all rubbish. You are both conditioned, and your God is no more real than the no-God in which the other fellow believes.
So, whether you like it or not, your mind is conditioned, not partially, but all the way through. Don't say the Atman is unconditioned. You have been told that the Atman exists, otherwise you don't know anything about it; and when you think of the Atman, your thought is conditioning the Atman. This again is so obvious. It is like the man who believes in Masters. He has been told there are Masters, and through his own desire for security he longs to find them; so he has visions, which are psychologically very simple and immature.
Now, the question is this. I know that my mind is conditioned; and how am I to free my mind from conditioning when the entity that tries to free it is also conditioned? Do you understand the issue? When a conditioned mind realizes that it is conditioned and wishes to uncondition itself, that very wish is also conditioned; so what is the mind to do?
Are you following this? Please, sirs, don't merely listen to my words, but watch your own minds in operation. This is a very difficult issue to discuss with such a large group, and unless you pay real attention you will not find the answer. I am not going to give you the answer, so you have to observe your own minds very intently.
I know that my mind is conditioned as a Hindu, as a Buddhist, or whatever it is, and I see that any movement of the mind to uncondition itself is still conditioned. When the mind tries to uncondition itself, the maker of that effort is also conditioned, is he not? I hope I am explaining this.
Sirs, can you not take a pill and stop coughing? I can go on, but coughing and taking notes disturbs the others who are listening. So I will begin again. Your mind is conditioned right through; there is no part of you which is unconditioned. That is a fact, whether you like it or not. You may say there is a part of you - the watcher, the super-soul, the Atman - which is not conditioned; but because you think about it, it is within the field of thought, therefore it is conditioned. You can invent lots of theories about it, but the fact is that your mind is conditioned right through, the conscious as well as the unconscious, and any effort it makes to free itself is also conditioned. So what is the mind to do? Or rather, what is the state of the mind when it knows that it is conditioned and realizes that any effort it makes to uncondition itself is still conditioned? Am I making myself clear?
Now, when you say, "I know I am conditioned", do you really know it, or is that merely a verbal statement? Do you know it with the same potency with which you see a cobra? When you see a snake and know it to be a cobra, there is immediate, unpremeditated action; and when you say, "I know I am conditioned", has it the same vital significance as your perception of the cobra? Or is it merely a superficial acknowledgment of the fact, and not the realization of the fact? When I realize the fact that I am conditioned, there is immediate action. I don't have to make an effort to uncondition myself. The very fact that I am conditioned, and the realization of that fact, brings an immediate clarification. The difficulty lies in not realizing that you are conditioned - not realizing it in the sense of understanding all its implications, seeing that all thought, however subtle, however cunning, however sophisticated or philosophical, is conditioned.
All thinking is obviously based on memory, conscious or unconscious, and when the thinker says, "I must free myself from conditioning", that very thinker, being the result of thought, is conditioned; and when you realize this, there is the cessation of all effort to change the conditioning. As long as you make an effort to change, you are still conditioned, because the maker of the effort is himself conditioned; therefore his effort will result in further conditioning, only in a different pattern. The mind that fully realizes this is in an unconditioned state, because it has seen the totality of conditioning, the truth or the falseness of it. Sirs, it is like seeing something true. The very perception of what is true is the liberating factor. But to see what is true demands total attention - not a forced attention, not the calculated, profitable attention of fear or gain. When you see the truth that whatever the conditioned mind does to free itself, it is still conditioned, there is the cessation of all such effort, and it is this perception of what is true that is the liberating factor.
Question: How can I experience God, which will give a meaning to my weary life? Without that experience, what is the purpose of living?
Krishnamurti: Can I understand life directly, or must I experience something which will give a meaning to life? Do you understand, sirs? To appreciate beauty, must I know what its purpose is? Must love have a cause? And if there is a cause to love, is it love? The questioner says he must have a certain experience that will give a meaning to life - which implies that for him life in itself is not important. So in seeking God he is really escaping from life, escaping from sorrow, from beauty, from ugliness, from anger, pettiness, jealousy and the desire for power, from the extraordinary complexity of living. All that is life, and as he does not understand it, he says, "I will find some greater thing which will give a meaning to life".
Please listen to what I am saying, but not just at the verbal, intellectual level, because then it will have very little meaning. You can spin a lot of words about all this, read all the sacred books in the land, but it will be worthless because it is not related to your life, to your daily existence.
So, what is our living? What is this thing that we call our existence? Very simply, not philosophically, it is a series of experiences of pleasure and pain, and we want to avoid the pains while holding on to the pleasures. The pleasure of power, of being a big man in the big world, the pleasure of dominating one's little wife or husband, the pain, the frustration, fear and anxiety which come with ambition, the ugliness of playing up to the man of importance, and so on - all that goes to make up our daily living. That is, what we call living is a series of memories within the field of the known; and the known becomes a problem when the mind is not free of the known. Functioning within the field of the known - the known being knowledge, experience and the memory of that experience - , the mind says, "I must know God". So, according to its tradition, according to its ideas, its conditioning, it projects an entity which it calls God; but that entity is the result of the known, it is still within the field of time.
So you can find out with clarity, with truth, with real experience whether there is God or not, only when the mind is totally free from the known. Surely, that something which may be called God or truth must be totally new, unrecognizable, and a mind that approaches it through knowledge, through experience, through ideas and accumulated virtues, is trying to capture the unknown while living in the field of the known, which is an impossibility. All that the mind can do is to inquire whether it is possible to free itself from the known. To be free from the known is to be completely free from all the impressions of the past, from the whole weight of tradition. The mind itself is the product of the known, it is put together by time as the `me' and the `not-me', which is the conflict of duality. If the known totally ceases, consciously as well as unconsciously - and I say, not theoretically, that there is a possibility of its ceasing - , then you will never ask if there is God,because such a mind is immeasurable in itself; like love, it is its own eternity.
Question: I have practised meditation most earnestly for twenty-five years, and I am still unable to go beyond a certain point. How am I to proceed further?
Krishnamurti: Before we inquire into how to proceed further, must we not find out what meditation is? When I ask, "How am I to meditate?", am I not putting a wrong question? Such a question implies that I want to get somewhere, and I am willing to practise. a method in order to get what I want. It is like taking an examination in order to get a job. Surely, the right question is to ask what meditation is; because right meditation gives perfume, depth, significance to life, and without it life has very little meaning. Do you understand, sirs? To know what is right meditation is much more important than earning a livelihood, getting married, having money, property, because without understanding, these things are all destroyed. So the understanding of the heart is the beginning of meditation.
I want to know what is meditation. I hope you will follow this, not just verbally, but in your own hearts, because without meditation you can know nothing of beauty, of love, or sorrow, of death and the whole expanse of life. The mind that says, "I must learn a method in order to meditate" is a silly mind, because it has not understood what meditation is.
So, what is meditation? Is not that very inquiry the beginning of meditation? Do you understand, sirs? No? I will go on and you will see. Is meditation a process of concentration, forcing the mind to conform to a particular pattern? That is what most of you do who `meditate'. You try to force your mind to focus on a certain idea, but other ideas creep in; you brush them away, but they creep in again.
You go on playing this game for the next twenty years; and if at last you can manage to concentrate your mind on a chosen idea, you think you have learned how to meditate. But is that meditation? Let us see what is involved in concentration.
When a child is concentrating on a toy, what is happening? The attention of the child is being absorbed by the toy. He is not giving his attention to the toy, but the toy is very interesting and it absorbs his attention. That is exactly what is happening to you when you concentrate on the idea of the Master, on a picture, or when you repeat mantrams, and all the rest of it. The toy is absorbing you, and you are merely a plaything of the toy. You thought you were the master of the toy, but the toy is the master.
Concentration also implies exclusiveness. You exclude in order to arrive at a particular result, like a boy trying to pass an examination. The boy wants a profitable result, so he forces himself to concentrate, he makes tremendous effort to get what he wants, which is based on his desire, on his conditioning. And does not this process of forcing the mind to concentrate, which involves suppression, exclusiveness, make the mind narrow? A mind that is made narrow, one-pointed, has extraordinary possibilities in the sense that it may achieve a great deal; but life is not one-pointed, it is an enormous thing to be comprehended, to be loved. It is not petty. Sirs, this is not rhetoric, this is not mere verbiage. When one feels something real, the expression of it may sound rhetorical, but it is not.
So, to concentrate is not to meditate, even though that is what most of you do, calling it meditation. And if concentration is not meditation, then what is? Surely, meditation is to understand every thought that comes into being, and not to dwell upon one particular thought; it is to invite all thoughts so that you understand the whole process of thinking. But what do you do now? You try to think of just one good thought, one good image, you repeat one good sentence which you have learnt from the Gita, the Bible, or what you will; therefore your mind becomes very narrow, limited, petty. Whereas, to be aware of every thought as it arises, and to understand the whole process of thinking, does not demand concentration. On the contrary. To understand the total process of thinking, the mind must be astonishingly alert, and then you will see that what you call thinking is based on a mind that is conditioned. So your inquiry is not how to control thought, but how to free the mind from conditioning. The effort to control thought is part of the process of concentration in which the concentrator tries to make his mind silent, peaceful, is it not? "To have peace of mind" - that is a phrase which all of us use.
Now, what is peace of mind? How can the mind be quiet, have peace? Surely, not through discipline. The mind cannot be made still. A mind that is made still is a dead mind. To discover what it is to be still, one must inquire into the whole content of the mind - which means, really, finding out why the mind is seeking. Is the motive of search the desire for comfort, for permanency, for reward? If so, then such a mind may be still, but it will not find peace, because its stillness is forced, it is based on compulsion, fear, and such a mind is not a peaceful mind. We are still inquiring into the whole process of meditation.
People who `meditate' and have visions of Christ, Krishna, Buddha, the Virgin, or whoever it be, think they are advancing, making marvellous progress; but after all, the vision is the projection of their own background. What they want to see, they see, and that is obviously not meditation. On the contrary, meditation is to free the mind from all conditioning, and this is not a process that comes into being at a particular moment of the day when you are sitting cross-legged in a room by yourself. It must go on when you are walking when you are frightened, when you are getting into the bus; it means watching the manner of your speech when you are talking to your wife, to your boss, to your servant. All that is meditation.
So meditation is the understanding of the meditator. Without understanding the one who meditates, which is yourself, inquiry into how to meditate has very little value. The beginning of meditation is self-knowledge, and self-knowledge cannot be gathered from a book, nor is it to be had by listening to some professor of psychology, or to someone who interprets the Gita, or any of that rubbish. All interpreters are traitors because they are not original experiences, they are merely secondhand repeaters of something which they believe someone else has experienced and which they think is true. So beware of interpreters.
The mind which understands itself is a meditative mind. Self-knowledge is the beginning of meditation, and as you proceed deeply into it you will find that the mind becomes astonishingly quiet, unforced, completely still, without motion - which means there is no experiencer demanding experience. When there is only that state of stillness without any movement of the mind, then you will find that in that state something else takes place. But you cannot possibly find out intellectually what that state is; you cannot come to it through the description of another, including myself. All that you can do is to free the mind from its conditioning, from the traditions, the greed, and all the petty things with which it is now burdened. Then you will see that, without your seeking it, the mind is astonishingly quiet; and for such a mind, that which is immeasurable comes into being. You cannot go to the immeasurable, you cannot search it out, you cannot delve into the depths of it. You can delve only into the recesses of your own heart and mind. You cannot invite truth, it must come to you; therefore don't seek it. Understand your own life and then truth will come darkly, without any invitation; and then you will discover that there is immense beauty, a sensitivity to both the ugly and the beautiful.
October 31, 1956