Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Krishnamurti Talks in Paris (April, 1967)

This is excerpted from the 1st and 4th talks given by Krishnamurti in Paris in 1967. A full transcript can be read here:

I think there are really two fundamental problems, violence and sorrow. Unless we solve these, and go beyond them, all our efforts, our constant battles, have very little meaning. We seem to spend most of our lives within the field of ideologies, formulas, concepts, and by means of these we try to solve these two essential problems, violence and sorrow.

Every form of conflict is violence, not only the psychological conflict, within the skin, but also outwardly, in our relationships with other human beings, with society. And sorrow, it seems to me, is one of the most complex and difficult problems; the very complexity of it needs to be approached very simply. Any complex problem - specially a human problem and we have many of them - must surely be approached very clearly, very simply, without any ideological background; otherwise we translate what we see according to the conditioning and the peculiar idiosyncrasies and intentions that we have.

To understand the two essentially deep-rooted problems of violence and sorrow, we must not approach them merely verbally or intellectually; the intellect doesn't solve any problem at all, it may explain problems - any clever person can explain problems, - but the explanation, however erudite, however subtle, is not the reality. It is no use explaining to a man who is very hungry what marvellous food there is, it has no value at all. But if we go into these questions, not intellectually, but actually, totally, come to grips with them, unravelling these two terrible problems that destroy the mind, then perhaps we might go beyond.

We, as human beings, have accepted violence and sorrow as a way of life, having accepted them, we try to make the best of them. We worship sorrow, idealize it, and abide with it, as in the Christian world. In the Eastern world it is translated in other ways, but again the solution is not found. And as we said, this violence we have inherited from the animal, this aggression, this domination, with the desire for power, position and the urge to fulfil. Our brain structure which we have inherited from the animal, is itself the product of evolution, its function is not only to be self-protective but also to be aggressive, to be violent, to be very dominating, thinking in terms of position, prestige, with all of which you are all quite familiar.

Sorrow, the self-pity which is part of that sorrow, the loneliness, the utter meaninglessness of life, the boredom, the routine, deprive life of all sense of purpose, so we invent purpose; the intellectuals put together ideological purpose according to which we try to live. And not being able to solve these problems we go back to something that has been, either in our youth, or to the culture of tradition, depending upon race, country, and so on. The more the problem becomes urgent, the more we escape to some form of ideological explanation from the past or to some ideological concept of the future, and we remain caught in this trap. And one observes, both in the East and in the West, the escapes into every form of entertainment, whether it is the entertainment of the Church, or the entertainment of football, or the cinema - and all the rest. The demand for entertainment, for distraction takes extraordinary forms, going to museums, talking endlessly about music, about the latest books, or writing about something which is dead and gone and buried, which has no value at all.

Apparently there are very few who are really serious. I mean by that word `serious', the ability to go through a problem to the very end and resolve it; not resolving it according to one's personal inclination, or temperament, or according to the compulsion of environment, but putting all that aside, finding the truth of the matter, pursuing it to the very end. Such seriousness it seems is rather rare. And if one would solve these two fundamental issues, of violence and sorrow, one has to be serious and also one has to have a certain awareness, a certain attention, for nobody is going to solve these problems for us, obviously no old religions or carefully planned organizations, worked out by some authority or by the priest - nobody in that category is going to help us. It's very obvious that they have no meaning at all, - you can see throughout the world the so-called young people are throwing all those out of the window; they have no meaning - the Church, the Gods, the beliefs, the dogmas, the rituals. And such authorities have ceased to have meaning for any serious man; obviously, when the world is in such confusion and misery, merely to look to some kind of authority - especially such organized authority as religious planning with sanctions - has no meaning whatsoever.

One cannot rely on anybody, on saviours, masters, not on anybody, including the speaker. And when we have rejected totally all the books, philosophies, the saints and the anarchists, we are face to face with ourselves as we are. That is a frightening and rather a depressing thing: to see ourselves actually as we are. No amount of philosophy, no amount of literature, dogma, ritual is ever going to solve this violence and sorrow. I think one has ultimately to come to this point and to resolve and go beyond. The more earnest one is, the more immediate the problem, the very urgency of it denies the authority one has so easily accepted.

Another problem is that of how to look into, and how to observe violence and sorrow as they exist in us. As we have said, human beings as individuals, are the product of society, of the culture in which we live, and that society and culture have been built by each one of us. Society is the product of human beings and we are of that product; and we are caught in this situation. We are caught in the trap of our individual inclinations, tendencies and pleasures and these are the structure of society. We are apt to regard the individual and society as two different things; and then it may be asked - What value has a human being who changes himself with regard to the whole structure of society? - which seems to me an absurd question.

We are dealing neither with an individual nor with a particular society, French, English, or whatever it is, but with the whole human problem. We are not dealing with the individual in relation to society or with the relationship of society, the collective, to the individual; we are trying to deal with the whole issue, not any separate issue.

We can only understand something when we see the totality of it, when we see its whole structure and the meaning of it. You cannot see the whole pattern of life, the whole movement of life, if you merely take one part of it and are tremendously concerned about that particular part. It is only when we see the whole map that we can see where we are and choose a particular road. So we are not concerned with individual salvation or individual liberation, or whatever the individual is trying to seek but rather with the whole movement of life, the understanding of the whole current of existence; then perhaps the individual problems can be approached entirely differently. It becomes extremely difficult to see the whole issue, to understand it - it demands attention. One cannot understand anything intellectually - you may hear words, give explanations, find out the cause, but that is not understanding. Understanding - as one observes oneself - takes place only when the mind, including the brain, is totally attentive. And one is not attentive when one is interpreting and translating what one sees according to one's background. You must have noticed - obviously most of us have - that when the mind is completely quiet - not demanding, not fussing around, not tearing to pieces the problem, but I really facing the problem with complete quietness - then there is an understanding. That very understanding is the action, the liberating force or energy, which frees us from the problem. So we are using the word `understand' in that sense, not intellectual or emotional understanding. And this understanding is rather a negation of the positive, the positive being understanding with the motive to do something about it. Most of us, when we have a problem, are inclined to worry about it, to tear it to pieces, to analyse it, to find a formula for dealing with it. And thought - as one may observe - is always the response of the old; thought is never new, yet the problem is always new. We translate the new, the problem, in terms of thought, and thought which is old is therefore positive, and active to do something about it.

Thought is the response of the past, it is memory, experience, accumulated knowledge, it is old, and challenges are always new, if they are challenges. From that background of knowledge, experience, memory, arises the response as thought - thought is always of the past - and thought translates the challenge or the problem in terms of that past. And thought, if one observes it, makes a positive response with regard to the problem in terms of the past.

So thought is not the way out; and this doesn't mean that one becomes nebulous, vague, absent-minded or more neurotic. On the contrary, the more you give attention, complete attention, to anything, it doesn't matter what it is, then in that attention you observe that there is no thought, no thinking; there is then no centre which is in operation as thought. So, understanding takes place - understanding, or observing, which are all the same - without the response of the background of thought; understanding is immediate action.

Am I making it somewhat clear or is it too abstract? I hope you are not translating what is being said in terms of some oriental mystical nonsense! Look! - if I want to understand a child, I have to observe him, I have to watch him, I have to pay attention to him. I watch him playing, crying, misbehaving, doing everything - I just watch him - I don't correct him; I want to understand and therefore I have no prejudices, I have no patterns of thought - as to what he must or must not do - as to what is good and what is bad. I just watch, and in that watchful attention I begin to understand the whole nature of his activity. In the same way, to observe nature, a flower, is fairly simple; nature does not demand very much of us, just to watch an objective thing is very simple. But to watch what is going on inwardly, to watch this violence, this sorrow, with that clarity of attention is not so simple. That watching, that observing, denies totally every form of personal inclination, tendency, or the compulsive demand of society, that very watching is like watching the movement of a whole river. If you sit on a bank and watch the river go by, you see everything. But you, watching from the bank, and the movement of the river, are two different things; you are the observer and the movement of the river is the thing observed. But when you are in the water - not sitting on the bank - then you are part of that movement, there is no observer at all. In the same way, watch this violence and sorrow, not as an observer observing the thing, but with this cessation of space between the observer and the observed. It is part of the whole enquiry which is meditation of life.

As we said earlier, we human beings are violent and this we inherit from the animal, and this we never really go into because we have the concept of non-violence; we are concerned with the concept and ideology of non-violence, of what should be, but not with the fact of what actually is. Please - if I may suggest - do not merely listen to a lot of words; words are words, they have not very much meaning. Semantically one can go into the meaning of words, but the word is not the thing, explanation is not the fact, that which is; and one is apt to be caught in the trap of words and one listens only to words, endlessly - words are ashes, they have no meaning. But if one listens beyond the word, observing oneself as one actually is, - not now, because you are sitting here, listening to a talk, but actuality, when you are outside, to watch yourselves - not egotistically, not introspectively, not analytically, but just observing what is actuality going on, then one can discover for oneself not only the superficial violence, such as anger, the demand for position and so on, but also the deep-rooted violence. And when you discover that, the concept of non-violence has really no validity at all. What had validity is the fact, violence.

Observe the fact of violence in the Orient, in India they have been talking endlessly about non-violence, preaching practicing - all nonsense - the moment there is any for of challenge it disappears and they become violent. Here also they talk endlessly about peace, in all the churches, of love, goodness, loving your neighbour - yet you have had the most terrible wars, fifteen thousand of them, within the last five thousand years. And one has to observe how deep-rooted this violence is within oneself, in the demand for fulfilment, in competing and always comparing oneself with somebody else, in imitating, in obedience and in the following of somebody, conforming to a pattern - all that is a form of violence. To be free of that violence, demands extraordinary attention and care; otherwise I don't see how there can be peace in the world. There may be so-called peace, between two wars, between two conflicts, but that is not real peace, deep within, untouched by any ideology, or by any thought, not put together by some meaningless little philosophy. If one hasn't that peace, how can one have love, affection, care; or how, if there is no peace, can one create anything? One may draw pictures, write poems, write books about the past, and all the rest, but it all leads to conflict, to darkness. But to have this freedom from violence, - totally, not just partially, fragmentarily - one has to go into the problem very deeply.

One has to understand the nature of pleasure; violence and pleasure are intimately related. Because again, as one observes oneself, one will see that our whole psychology is based on pleasure - apart from what the psychologists and the analysts talk about, one does not have to read a lot of books to see this - not only the sensory pleasures, as sex, but also the pleasure of achievement, the pleasure of success, of fulfilment, of achieving position, prestige, power. Again, all this exists in the animal. In a farmyard, where there are poultry, you see this same phenomenon taking place. There is pleasure, in the sense of taking delight, or of insulting. To achieve enjoyment, to achieve position, prestige, to be somebody famous, is a form of violence - you have to be aggressive. If one is not aggressive in this world, one is just downtrodden, pushed aside; so that one may well ask the question, `Can I live without aggression, and yet live in this society?' Probably not, why should one live in society? - in the psychological structure of society, I mean. One has to live in the outward structure of society - having a job, a few clothes, a house, and so on - but why should one live in its psychological structure? Why should one accept the norm of society which requires that one must become a successful writer, must be a famous man, must have...oh, you know, all the rest of it? All that is part of the pleasure principle which translates itself in violence. In church you say, love your neighbour - and in business you cut his throat; the norm of society has no meaning. The whole structure of the army, any structure based on the hierarchic principle, on authority, is again domination and pleasure, which is again part of violence, basic violence. To understand all this demands a great deal of observation - it is not a matter of capacity - you begin to understand, the more you observe. The very seeing is the acting.

Pleasure is what we are seeking all the time. We want greater pleasure - the ultimate pleasure, of course, is to have God. In the pursuit of pleasure there is fear, and we are burdened all our life with this dark thing called fear. Fear, sorrow, thought, violence, aggression - they are all interrelated. Therefore, in understanding one thing clearly, you understand beyond it.

One can take time and analyse the whole of the emotional and the intellectual structure of one's being, analyzing, bit by bit - which the analysts do, hoping to bring about a certain normal relationship between the individual and society - but all that involves time. Or, one can see that one is violent and understand the cause of it directly; one knows the cause of it. But to see each and every form of violence involves time; to unravel it exhaustively in all its forms demands months, years of time. Such an approach, it seems to me, is absurd. It is like a man who is violent and is trying to be non-violent, in the meantime he is sowing the seed of violence all the time. So the question is whether you can see the whole thing immediately and resolve it immediately - that is really the issue - not bit by bit, taking day after day, month after month; that is a terrible, dreary, endless job, it involves a very careful, analytical mind, a mind that can dissect, see every aspect and not miss one detail - when a particular detail is missed the whole picture goes wrong. Not only does that involve time but in it there is also a concept which you have established of what it is to be free from violence. I don't know if you are following this? That concept, that thought which you use as a means of attempting to get rid of violence actually creates violence; violence is created by thought. So the question is, is it possible to see the whole thing immediately? - not intellectually, if you put it as an intellectual problem it has no issue at all, then you'll just commit suicide as many intellectuals do, either actually commit suicide, or invent a theory, a belief, a dogma, a concept and become slaves to that - which is a form of suicide - or go back to the old religions, and become a Catholic, or a Protestant, or a Hindu, a follower of Zen, or whatever.

So the question is, is it possible to see the whole thing immediately, and with the very seeing of it, the ending of it?

You see wholly when the problem is sufficiently urgent, not only urgent for yourself but also for the world. There is war outwardly and war inwardly within each one of us, is it possible to end it immediately, psychologically turning your back on it? Nobody can answer that question except yourself except yourself when you answer it, not depending on any authority, on any intellectual or emotional concepts or formulas or ideologies. But as we said, this demands a great deal of inward seriousness, a great deal of earnest observation - observing when you are sitting in a bus the things about you, without choice, observing the thing within oneself that is moving, changing, observing without any motive, just everything as it is. What `is', is much more important than what `should' be. Out of this care and attention, perhaps, we will know what it is to love.

It is only when the mind is silent that we can understand anything. If I want to understand somebody, my mind must be quiet, not chattering, not prejudiced, not having innumerable opinions and experiences, for they prevent the observation and the understanding.

One can see directly that it is only when the mind is very quiet that there is a possibility of clarity; and the whole purpose of meditation in the East is to bring about such a state of mind. That purpose is the controlling of thought - which is the same purpose in constantly repeating a prayer - so that in that quiet state one may hope to understand one's problems. One has to understand these problems, one has to be free of the anxieties and fears which they entail, otherwise one cannot really be a human being, one is a tortured entity, and the tortured entity obviously cannot see anything serious very clearly.

Unless one lays the foundation - which is to be free from fear, free from sorrow, anxiety, and all the traps that consciously or unconsciously one lays for oneself - I do not see how it is possible for a mind to be actually quiet. This is one of the most difficult things to communicate, or even to talk about. Communication implies, does it not, that we must not only understand the words that we use in telling something, but also that we must both - the speaker and the listener - be intense at the same level and at the same time, capable of meeting each other, not a moment later, or a moment after. Otherwise, communication is not possible. And such communion is not possible when you are interpreting what is being said according to your opinions, to your knowledge, according to your pleasure; or making a tremendous effort in trying to comprehend. One of the greatest difficulties lies in this constant struggle to reach, to understand, to acquire; for we are trained from childhood to acquire, to achieve (the very brain cells themselves have set in this pattern in order to have physical security - but psychological security is not within their field). The mind wants to be completely certain - but there is no certainty. We may demand security in all our relationships, our attitudes, our activities - but actually there is no such thing as being secure; and when we try to communicate with each other, we may be thinking in terms of this urge to be psychologically secure (and most of us are) and that dominates all our attitudes, all our activities, all our thinking, and hence that becomes a block. So before we can begin to understand something much more fundamental, we have to be clear about this matter of security. Psychologically, is there such a thing as `to be secure'? When one puts this question, it does not mean that one has to live in a state of uncertainty, and thereby bring about certain forms of neurosis. It is a question one must ask or oneself in order to find out whether there is actually any form of psychological inward certainty.

When one is young, active, there is great discontent and the asking of questions, but this discontent, unfortunately, disappears as one grows older, settling down to a job, to a family, to responsibility, to the environmental conditioning; gradually this discontent, this curiosity to find out, this questioning disappears. One accepts, and so discontent disappears, and one is no longer concerned to find out for oneself, actually, if there is any form of security. In all relationship - because life is relationship, to live is to be related - we demand security, and hence we make life into a battle. field. But if we realize that there is no such thing as security, psychologically - and there is not, however much we may demand it, there is nothing permanent - if we realize that, not as a definition, an idea, but actually realize the fact that there is no such thing as being psychologically secure, then there is a totally different approach to life.

As we said, space and silence are necessary. It is only in silence that there is beauty. As we are we only know beauty in the object - in a poem, music, a picture, and so on - but is there beauty without the object? - for if there is no beauty without the object then there is not beauty at all. And to find this quality of beauty, is really to find - if I may use that word - love. This quality of beauty can only exist in silence.

How can the mind, which is so endlessly active, active in its self-interest, active in its own self-centred pursuits, how can such a mind be quiet? Do you understand? It must b quiet because it is only when your mind is very quiet that you discover something new. Now a true scientist (one who is not paid to work for the Government, in producing weapons of destruction) who is investigating in order to find, certain truth, must of necessity be alone and quiet, or he cannot discover. In the same way, silence is absolutely necessary to discover, to understand, to go beyond, our psychological limitations; how is this possible with a mind which is so actively self-centred? - this is a problem that man has faced, everlastingly. We all know that to understand anything we must be very quiet; to look at the sunset, at the flowers, the trees in spring, to look you must be quiet; one must be extraordinarily sensitive to look. And how can the mind, which is endlessly chattering, be quiet? That is the question. Now let us find out the truth of this matter.

One can attempt to make the mind quiet be disciplining it, controlling or shaping it; but such torture does not make it quiet; on the contrary, it makes the mind more dull. So obviously, control, the pursuit of an ideal of having a quiet mind, has no value at all, because the more one controls the mind, forces it, the more narrow, the more stagnant, the more dull it becomes - which is so obvious that we don't have to go into the psychological process. Control, like suppression in any form, only produces conflict. So control is not the way - nor has an undisciplined life any value.

One has to understand discipline, for most of our lives are disciplined; outwardly, by pressure, by influence, by the demands of society, by the family; inwardly by one's suffering, by one's own experiences, in the conforming to certain patterns, ideological or factual - conforming, suppressing, imitating - and these all become the pattern of discipline, which again is the most deadening thing. But there must be discipline without control, without suppression, without any form of fear. So how is this discipline to come about? It is not that one first disciplines and then finds freedom; but rather that freedom is at the very beginning - it is not a result, at the end. To understand that freedom - which is the freedom from the discipline of conformity - is discipline itself. After all, that word discipline, the root meaning of that word, is to learn; not to follow, not to imitate, not to suppress, but to learn. The very act of learning is discipline; in the very act, learning becomes clarity, That is, to understand, for example, the nature of control, suppression, or indulgence, to understand it and study it, to investigate very closely the whole structure and nature of this imitative process, demands attention, doesn't it? I don't have to impose a discipline on myself in order to study it - the very act of studying brings about its own discipline and in that is no suppression. To learn there must be freedom and in the very act of caring is the very act of discipline. I think that it is most important to actuality realize this fact. So true negation, the negation of what has been considered worthwhile, like imposed discipline, like the following of an authority, is an act that is positive, which is itself discipline.

To deny authority - we are talking of psychological authority - to deny the authority of ideation, the authority we have inwardly vested in the church, in experience, in tradition, and so on, one has to feel its structure and see how one obeys because of fear, fear of going wrong, of not being a success. One has to study it without any condemnation, justification, or giving an opinion, or accepting it - actually study it. To study it, there must be freedom. Now I cannot accept authority and yet study it - that is impossible. To study the whole psychological structure of authority within oneself there must be freedom. And when we are studying, looking in that way, we are negating the whole structure; that very negation is the light of the mind that is free from authority. So the actual negation of that, of inward authority, is an action that becomes the positive - I am only taking authority as an example - the negation of that which was the positive, in the studying of it and understanding of it in complete freedom - not merely as a revolt - is the positive action of freedom. So, we are negating all those things that we considered as important to bring about quietness of the mind.

One needs to be quiet; it is part of life to be quiet, part of life to be alone - which is not to be isolated - and one is not alone when there are these incessant pressures. One sees the importance of a very quiet mind and one does not know how to bring it about; one hopes to gain it by discipline, by control of thought, by suppression, by withdrawal, like the monks do throughout the world, they retire behind a wall, or behind a wall which they have built for themselves, inwardly; but that does not lead to quietness, on the contrary, it leads to disintegration. So it is not control, nor the repetition of words day after day, that make the mind a quiet mind - they make it a dead mind. Nor is it a quiet mind when it has an object that is so absorbing, that it gets lost in that object - like a child, give him an interesting toy, and he becomes very quiet, he is not naughty any more; but remove that toy and he returns to his mischief-making. We have our own ideational toys which absorb us and we think we are very quiet. If a man is dedicated to a certain form of activity - political, literary, whatever it is - it is as a toy that absorbs him - but his mind is not quiet at all.

So, by becoming aware of all these factors in life - aware, that is just to be aware, without any choice, just to be aware of the fact, of the colour, of the face in front of you, aware of the relationship with another, aware without any judgment, without any opinion, aware - one begins to see things one his never seen before. Then, when the mind is so aware, you will find, that out of this awareness (it is not a system that you follow) which has come naturally, that you are capable of attending. I do not know if you have noticed that when you give your whole attention to anything, complete attention, when you give your heart, your mind, your nerves, your ears, your everything to attend, to look, then there is no centre at all, there is no observer, there is no entity, who is attending, who is paying attention. If you are listening now, for example, with a complete attention, in which there is no opinion, agreement or disagreement, but attending completely with all your mind, heart, with an attention in which there is no division - then in that state, there is no listener and hence no contradiction, no conflict. In that state of attention, there is silence. In that state of attention there is clarity.

Attention is not possible when you are seeking experience. It is one of the most extraordinary things that we all want more and more experience; because the everyday experiences are stale, dull and rather monotonous, trivial - we want greater experiences; and if we are aging, with waning appetites and sexual demands, we want wider, deeper experiences. And to have these wider, deeper experiences, man tries to achieve various things by will - expanding his consciousness, which is quite an art, a very difficult business. And also he tries various forms of drugs. This is an old trick which has existed from time immemorial - from chewing a piece of leaf, to the latest forms of drugs, LSD and so on - to extend one's consciousness, to have greater experiences. And this demand for greater experiences shows the inward poverty of man; he thinks that through these experiences he can escape from himself; yet always these experiences are conditioned by what he is. If the mind is petty, jealous, anxious, the latest drug will cause it to see its own little creation projected from its own little mind as any vision, image, or whatever it is.

Any form of experience is to be doubted, because in that process of experiencing there is always the factor of recognition. You only recognize an experience because you have already had it. All recognition is based on the past, on past memories. Therefore, when you recognize an experience it is already an old experience; it is nothing new.

One begins to discover that in the state of attention, complete attention, there is not the observer, with its old conditioning as the conscious as well as the unconscious. In that state of attention, the mind becomes extraordinarily quiet. The brain cells, though they may react, no longer function psychologically, within a pattern; they become extraordinarily quiet psychologically.

So, to come upon this freedom, this silence and space, one must negate the whole psychological structure of society in which one is; that is extraordinarily interesting and important, for otherwise one functions merely mechanically. And to deny the whole psychological structure of society, which we have made and of which we are a part, requires this attention; observing ourselves, as we are, everyday, in this total awareness is the realization of that which actuality is and in that there is freedom.

This was originally posted on Buddhist Travellers in 2010.

No comments:

Post a Comment