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Public Talk 4 Paris, France - 27 May 1965
It seems to me that one of the most difficult things in life is to communicate sanely with each other, because we have to use words, and we interpret those words according to our pleasure, our pain, our dislike; we translate them always in terms of our particular knowledge and information. And so communication becomes rather difficult, especially when we are going into matters not actually physical, for then one needs a greater sharpness and clarity, not only in listening, but also in expressing.
I would like, if I may this evening, to talk about something which may be a little foreign to you - not that I represent the country I come from; but I would like to go into the question of what is that state which is called sanity.
To be completely sane is extremely difficult, and very few of us are really balanced, sane, rational, clear-sighted. To be sane is to be without self-contradiction; it is to be inwardly and outwardly extraordinarily balanced, which means that Psychologically everything is in order; and this state of sanity, it seems to me, is very difficult. One of the indications of sanity is that there is no contradiction within oneself, there is no imbalance. It is a state in which thought and action correspond to each other, actually, not theoretically. What you think is what you do, there is no contradiction between them, and belief is non-existent because you are dealing with facts, with what is, and not with what should be. What should be is not real; what is, is real. A mind that would understand the nature of sanity and order must surely be free from every belief, dogma, superstition and ideal because they obviously contradict what one actually is; and when there is such a contradiction, as there is in the life of most of us, then out of that contradiction arise various forms of disharmony and imbalance.
So it seems to me that to find out for oneself if there is such a thing as that which may be called truth, something far beyond the mere projections of a clever, cunning, philosophical mind, or of a mind that escapes from the daily routine of physical existence, with its boredom and conformity - to find that out for oneself, surely one must have extraordinary order in one's life; order in the sense that there is no contradiction of any kind. B;cause contradiction does breed imbalance - like the man who wants peace, but does everything in actual life not to have peace. The two cannot Possibly go together, and the disturbance, the strain of this contradiction does breed enmity within oneself and brings about a lack of balance, a lack of sanity.
Now, I would like to talk about something which is neither Eastern nor Western, and the word generally applied to it is `meditation'. Because it seems to me that if one does not know how to meditate, or if the mind is not in a meditative state, one misses a great deal in life. Our life at present is pretty shallow, rather empty, dull; and when the petty little mind tries to divine the mysterious, the unknowable, obviously it merely creates an image of its own Pettiness. So the question is whether a little mind, a mind that is full of worry, despair, anxiously striving to change itself, to become something - whether that petty little mind can transform itself, break through its own limitations and be open to wide horizons; because unless it does, sanity is almost impossible. Sanity is order, not only outward but inward - inside the skin, as it were; and it matters a great deal how this order is brought about.
Inwardly most of us are very disorderly. We may have a great deal of knowledge, well-ordered information, outward clarity; we may have outward purpose and be capable of argument, but inwardly most of us are confused, in conflict. This may be seen in the case of many clever writers. Because they have a gift and are in contradiction with themselves, under great strain and tension, they produce all kinds of literature, but it is basically the work of a sick mind. And most of us, I am afraid, are confused; there is in us no clarity. This clarity cannot be discovered through another, nor by following some authority or system of thought, ancient or modern. This clarity is order; and order in its ultimate, subtle sense, is virtue. The morality which society imposes is not morality at all. Social morality is immorality, because it breeds every form of contradiction, every form of ambition, competition. Society by its very nature, whether in the communist world or in the western world, does breed an outward, social conformity which is called morality; but if one goes into it very deeply, one sees that such morality is immoral.
I am talking of virtue, which has nothing whatsoever to do with society and its so-called morality. Virtue can come about only when there is psychological order within oneself. When we understand the whole social structure - the psychological structure of society, of which we are a part - in that understanding there is order, which brings about virtue. Without virtue, the mind cannot possibly have clarity, sanity, and therefore sanity and virtue go together. I think it is very important to understand this, because for most of us virtue has become very tiresome, a rather silly, old-fashioned thing without much significance, especially in the modern world. Not that I am advocating the superficial morality of society; but we are inquiring together, I hope, into this whole question of what is true virtue.
As one keeps a room orderly, tidy, neat, clean, and one does this every day, so there must be inward order; but inward order demands much more attention, it demands awareness of what is taking place inwardly. The mind has to be aware of all its own thoughts and feelings, of the open as well as the secret desires and pursuits; and out of this awareness comes order, which is virtue.
If one inquires into virtue still more deeply, one sees that it is not a thing that you can have permanently - and that is the beauty of virtue. You cannot say, "I have learnt what it is to be virtuous, and it's all over". Virtue is not a continuous, fixed phenomenon. Virtue is order reborn from moment to moment, and therefore there is freedom in virtue, and not a revolt. As I pointed out the other day, revolt is not freedom; revolt is still within the pattern of society, and freedom is outside the pattern of society. The pattern or mould of society is psychological, it is the envy, greed, ambition, the various conflicts of which we are a part. We are the society which we have made; and if one is not free from it, there cannot possibly be order. So virtue is of the highest importance, because it brings freedom. And one must be free - but that is what most people don't want. They may want political freedom - freedom to vote for some politician, or nationalistic freedom; but that is not freedom at all.
Freedom is something entirely different; and most of us do not want freedom inwardly, in the deep sense of that word, because it implies that we must stand completely alone, without a guide, without a system, without following any authority; and that requires enormous order within oneself. Most of us want to lean on somebody, and if it's not a person, then it's an idea, a belief, a way of conduct, a pattern established by society, by some leader or so-called spiritual person, or by oneself.
So most of us accept authority. And here one must be clear that the authority we are talking about is not the law of the land. What we are talking about is the authority we follow through fear of being alone, through fear of standing on our own feet and not looking to anyone for the way of our life, of our conduct, or for inward clarity. Because such authority breeds contempt, it breeds enmity and division between man and man. A man who seeks truth has no authority of any kind, at any time, and this freedom from authority is one of the most difficult things for most of us to grasp, not only in the Western world, but also in the East, because we think that somebody else will bring about order in our life - a saviour, a master, a spiritual teacher, and all that business - which is absolutely absurd. It is only through our own clarity, through our own investigation, awareness, attention, that we begin to learn all about ourselves; and out of that learning, out of that understanding of ourselves come freedom and order, and therefore virtue.
So, the realization that one must be completely alone comes when you begin to understand yourself. Self-knowing is the beginning of wisdom, and wisdom is always alone, because it cannot be bought through books, through the quotations of another. Wisdom is something that has to be discovered by each one, and it is not the result of knowledge. Knowledge and wisdom do not go together. Wisdom comes when there is the maturity of self-knowing. Without knowing oneself, order is not possible, and therefore there is no virtue.
Now, learning about oneself, and accumulating knowledge about oneself, are two different things. Please listen to this a little bit. Not that you are following me, or merely accepting what I am saying, which I hope you are not, but we are investigating, discovering together. We are taking a journey together, and therefore you are as much aware as the speaker, you are working as hard as the speaker, which means that we are both together inquiring.
Learning, and accumulating knowledge, are two different things. A mind that is acquiring knowledge, is never learning. What it is doing is this: it is gathering to itself information, experience as knowledge, and from the background of what it has gathered it experiences, it learns, and therefore it is never really learning, but always knowing, acquiring.
When I have talked a bit, I hope you will ask questions about this. But I must proceed.
Learning is always in the active present, it has no past. The moment you say to yourself, "I have learnt", it has already become knowledge, and from the background of that knowledge ? you can accumulate, translate, but you cannot further learn. It is only a mind that is not acquiring, but always learning, - it is only such a mind that can understand this whole entity that we call the `me', the self. I have to know myself, the structure, the nature, the significance of the total entity; but I can't do that burdened with my previous knowledge, with my previous experience, or with a mind that is conditioned, for then I am not learning, I am merely interpreting translating, looking with an eye that is already clouded by the past.
So there is a vast difference between knowing, and learning. Knowledge binds, whereas the movement of learning frees the mind. I have to be learning about myself all the time, because the `myself' is an extraordinary, living thing. Every moment there is a change, there is a mutation, there is a variety of intimations, a variety of reactions, and I have to observe all this, learn about it. But if I come to it with previous experience as knowledge, I am not learning. I hope this is somewhat clear.
Learning about oneself - not only about one's physiological reactions, one's biological compulsions, demands, but also about the whole inward movement of one's thought - is necessary to bring order; and only then can you proceed with meditation. You know, there are so many books on meditation, so many teachers and clever people who have written about how to meditate, what to do. I don't know if you are interested in this. If you are not, you must be, because not to know the meaning of meditation is like having only one arm, or no arms at all.
Most of us are seeking the mysterious, because we see that our life has very little meaning, very little significance. The routine of going to the office, of doing something over and over and over again, whether it's pleasurable or not pleasurable, the incessant conformity to a pattern - we get rather tired of all that, and therefore we seek something mysterious, something not of this world, an otherworldliness. So we think that through what we call meditation - which is one of the inventions of Asia - we shall come upon this extraordinary thing, a reality which is not put together by the mind.
Now, it is very important to understand what meditation is, because in real meditation there is great beauty, there is a sense of great intensity, and it is only the meditative mind that knows what love is. Most of us do not know what love is. We know love in relation to pleasure, but we don't know the nature of that love which is not born of pleasure. That is, if one has observed, one sees that love as we know it is always related to pleasure: physical pleasure, the pleasure of companionship, the pleasure of association, the pleasure derived from so-called loving another, loving a country, and so on and on.
Now, pleasure, as I pointed out the other day, is the outcome of desire; but there is a slight, subtle difference between desire and pleasure. I do not know if - you have noticed for yourself that when desire arises,thought gives it continuity. I see something beautiful - a house, a car, or whatever it is - and there is the reaction of desire; and then thought gives continuity to desire, which is pleasure. I can look at a beautiful tree, or person, and there is a reaction which is normal, healthy, sane. But what gives continuity, duration to that reaction, is thinking about it; and therefore thinking about desire, is pleasure. And the continuity of desire as pleasure, obviously denies love.
So, again, to bring order within oneself requires attention, an awareness of what is taking place from moment to moment within oneself, and never denying it, never escaping from it, but merely being aware of it choicelessly.
You know, there is a great deal of difference between attention and concentration. When you concentrate, your whole mind is focussed on one particular thing, and if you are very good at it, you can build a wall so that nothing else comes in. Concentration is an exclusion, a resistance, and therefore a contradiction, whereas attention is a state of awareness, which is something entirely different. Do you know what it is to be aware? One is aware of the size of this hall, aware of its ugliness or disproportion; one is aware of the people, of the colours they are wearing. one is aware of what is taking place outwardly. But one is not aware if one says, "I don't like that colour, that person", for then one has stopped the movement of awareness. One has to be aware of this place, the colours, and so on, without any choice. Then you are learning much more, your mind is much more active.
From outward awareness, riding as it were on that wave, the mind begins to be aware inwardly. Observe yourself, observe the movement of your own thought, see how it is conditioned, see its nature, its subtlety, its background. If you concentrate on it, you can't observe. If you take one segment of the total and try to learn about that one particular segment, you are in a state of contradiction. But if, being choicelessly aware outwardly, the mind begins to move inward, then out of that choiceless awareness comes naturally attention.
You know, when you are attentive to something, as perhaps you are now to what is being said, you are attending with your whole being, aren't you? You are completely aware, totally attentive with your body, with your nerves, with your eyes, with your ears, with your emotions, with your intellect. In that state of attention there is no entity who is attentive: there is only attention. I am not talking Greek, or some fantastic stuff. It is very simple if you actually do it. When there is concentration, which is a process of exclusion, there is a resistance and therefore a contradiction. But when there is attention, there is no contradiction, because an attentive mind can concentrate without exclusion. This attention is not a state to be developed through time; because, as I was pointing out the other day, time breeds disorder.
I don't know if you want me to go further into it. We have done it sufficiently, haven't we?
If I postpone action, if I say I will change tomorrow, between now and tomorrow every kind of pressure, influence, every kind of movement is taking place. Therefore time does not produce order. It is only in the immediate that there can be order, not through time. There can be order only when one understands the whole structure and nature of time.
So you have to understand the outward nature of life, be in communion with it, and then move from the outer to the inner, to the psyche, to that bundle of memories which is yourself, with all your conditionings, your traditions, your hopes, your fears, your despairs, your longings; and to be aware of all that, to be attentive to and therefore to dissolve and be free of all that, is not a matter of time. When one does this, the mind itself becomes very sharp, clear, subtle, because there is no contradiction, no effort to be or to become. Contradiction means effort. A mind that is making an effort to be this or that, is in a state of confusion; and whatever effort it may make in order to clarify and bring depth to itself, will only produce greater dullness, greater confusion.
This total process is meditation.
For most of us, beauty is a stimulation, a reaction. We depend on a stimulus to make us feel beauty, or to see beauty. We say, "What a lovely sunset", or, "What a beautiful building". But there is a beauty which is not a stimulus at all, which is not the result of a stimulant, and that beauty cannot exist without great simplicity. Simplicity is not a matter of how much or how little one has, but it comes about when there is the clarity of self-knowing, self-learning; and this simplicity is the nature of humility, which is austerity.
All this is necessary to go beyond the limitations of the mind. Now, who is the entity that goes beyond? As I said, when one is intensely aware, attentive, there is no entity at all. Do it sometime - I hope you are doing it now - and you will see. If you are completely attentive to what is being said, there is only the hearing of the word, not a `you' who is listening to the word. When the mind is inwardly attentive, and has come to that state of complete attention through outward understanding of the nature of the word, there is then no entity who says, "I will go further". You know, when you are very attentive, there is a great deal of silence inside you, isn't there? When you are actually listening to what is being said with all your being - not accepting, translating, denying, or trying to understand, but merely attentive - then your mind is extraordinarily quiet, isn't it? There is a silence which is not artificial, which hasn't been put together by will, by force. That silence comes when the whole structure of the self is understood; and where there is silence, there is space. The mind that is silent, that has space - it is only such a mind that knows the beauty which is not a stimulus.
This whole process is meditation.
Perhaps you will ask questions, and we can talk together about what has been said, if you are interested.
Questioner: Is it possible to go beyond oneself without suffering?
Krishnamurti: Now, let's find out what suffering is. What is suffering? What is sorrow? There are certain things which produce sorrow: the death of someone you like, not being able to fulfil, not having a good, strong, healthy mind, not being loved. There are so many ways, so many symptoms of suffering; but when you look at all, the symptoms, what do you find out about suffering? Actually, what is suffering? I lose somebody I like - my son, my wife, my father and I am in sorrow. What does that imply? First of all, in that sorrow there is a great deal of self-pity, because I have lost somebody on whom I depended, somebody I loved, and I now find myself without a companion. I am left alone. So one of the factors of sorrow is self-pity. Please don't deny it.
Questioner: I don't mean the suffering that is caused by the self; I mean the suffering that comes when the self ceases.
Krishnamurti; Oh, I beg your pardon. I will come back a little later to what we were talking about. When I see myself as I am, the gentleman says, it breeds sorrow. Is that the question you are asking, sir?
Questioner: No, sir.
Krishnamurti: I am sorry, sir, I don't understand. The difficulty here is a matter of communication. I really don't understand what you are trying to tell me. You are saying, sir, aren't you? - I am putting it very briefly - that when I actually see what I am, it brings suffering. Now, why should it bring suffering? Suppose I am a liar, and I see myself as I am; why should it bring suffering? It is a fact. But I have an image of myself, I think I am a very honest man, and therefore the image is in contradiction with the fact. This contradiction brings conflict, which I call sorrow. But seeing the fact, the what is, can never bring suffering. When the image which I have of myself is in contradiction with what is - it is. only then that conflict, which I call suffering, begins.
Questioner: I only wanted to ask you. whether it is possible to have self knowledge without this kind of suffering.
Krishnamurti: Absolutely. If there is any kind of suffering, there is no self-knowledge. If there is any kind of suffering when self-inquiry begins - that is, if self-inquiry brings about suffering - it is no longer self-inquiry.
Questioner: When a spectator who is watching a play is completely absorbed in the play, is that the state of total attention?
Krishnamurti: You are watching a play, and the play is so interesting that you are completely absorbed. There is no `you' for the moment, because the play has absorbed you, with all your worries, anxieties, fears. Now, what is the difference between your absorption, and that of a child who is absorbed by an amusing toy? The child may have been naughty, mischievous, doing all kinds of restless things, but give that child a toy which is very interesting, and he is completely absorbed in it. The toy is so interesting that he forgets all about his restlessness. What is the difference between the two? A play, a book, a church service, an idea, a belief, a piece of music, a picture, or what you will, absorbs you, and you forget yourself. So what has become important is the picture, the toy, and not the understanding of yourself. You may be absorbed for an hour by the play, but when you go back to your home you have your old self again. So if one is absorbed by anything, by propaganda, by nationalistic demands, or if one identifies oneself with something, which is another form of absorption, in that state there is no learning; therefore there is no freedom, and hence no virtue. A mind that is absorbed by a toy, however gracious, however beautiful, however supposedly important, is obviously escaping from itself. Such a mind is always in disorder, and its actions produce further disorder, further confusion in the world.
Questioner: Doesn't the knowledge that life is impermanent bring suffering?
Krishnamurti: Right, sir. But it is a fact that life is impermanent, isn't it? Your relations are impermanent, your thoughts are impermanent, your self-fulfilments, your ambitious drive and achievements are impermanent, because there is death. And why should one suffer because of impermanency? The fact is that there is impermanency. It is so. But you don't want to accept that fact, you say, "There must be something permanent". You have a picture of what permanency is, and therefore, when you are faced with impermanency, there is a feeling of despair. You put death, which is the essence of impermanency, in the distance, so there is an interval, a gap between you and that which you call death. Here you are, living every day, carrying on with your routine, your worries, your frustrations, your ambitions, and there is death in the distance; and you think about that. You have seen death, and you know that you also will die one day, and you think about it. It is the thought of the future as impermanent that breeds fear. Please listen to this. But if you bring death - which you have put in the future - into the present while you are active, vital, strong, not diseased, then you are living with death; you are dying every minute to everything you know. After all, only that which ends can have a new beginning. Look at the spring. When the spring comes after the long winter, there are new leaves, there is something fresh, tender, young, innocent. But we are afraid to end; and ending, after all, is death. Take just one thing, something that gives you great pleasure, or great pain; take a memory that you have of somebody, a memory which causes you pain or pleasure, and end it, die to it, not tomorrow, but instantly. When you do that you will find a new thing is happening, a new state of mind is coming into being. So there is creation only when the old has ceased.
May 27, 1965