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Jiddhu Krishnamurti (1895 - 1986)


It seems to me that one of our most difficult problems is to co-ordinate or integrate idea with action. Most of us are aware that there is a gap between action and idea, and we are everlastingly trying to bridge this gap. And I think it is important to understand that there will always be a division between idea and action so long as we do not understand and go fully into the question of consciousness, and experience direct relationship between the idea and action itself. For most of us, idea is very important, - idea being symbol, image, words. And we try to approximate action to that idea. And the problem then arises of how to bridge the gap, how to put idea into action. And I would like to go into that problem this evening.

Most of us are aware that envy is the basis of most of our action. Envy, or acquisitiveness, - our social structure is based on that. And the thoughtful, the earnest, obviously see that there must be freedom from envy. And being aware that there must be freedom, how does one set about it? There is the idea first; and then we inquire how to relate it to action. Obviously there must be freedom from envy, because it is a deteriorating factor, antisocial, and so on. For innumerable reasons we are well aware that envy is a quality, an impulse, a reaction, which must be eradicated.

Now how is one to do it? Can one do it through the process of time, through constant denial, through suppression? Or is there a different approach, a different way of looking at it altogether? How can the mind be free from that reaction called envy, upon which most of our existence is based? Because obviously, if we take time, practise a gradual diminution of it, we are not entirely free of it. The process of time will not give to the mind a freedom from envy. Virtue, after all, is freedom, - not, a cultivation of any particular quality. The more you cultivate a quality, the more you strengthen the self, the me. So it must have struck most of us that we are faced with this problem of how to be free from a particular quality, how to set about it. If we merely cultivate its opposite, we are still held in the opposite, and there is no freedom. Virtue is, after all, a state of being free, and not, being held in a particular quality, - which limits the mind.

So, the problem is, is it not? - how can one deal with a particular quality, - let us say, for example, envy, - and be free of it, immediately? - not, take time, gradually eradicate it, but be immediately free. Is it possible to be free completely? To answer that question deeply, and not merely superficially, we must examine, must we not?, the process of consciousness. That is, we must know, or be aware of our approach to the problem, - how we think, how we regard the problem, in what way we approach it, with what attitude, - not only at the superficial level of the mind, but in the hidden layers. All that is surely the process of consciousness. So, if we are to be completely rid of this thing called envy, we must know how we are looking at it, - with what attitude, with what motive, with what intention we approach it. Which means, how does our mind, both the conscious as well as the unconscious, react to it? That is, are we in direct relationship with it, or are we merely dealing with words and ideas without being in direct contact with the quality?

I do not know if I am making my- self clear on this point, - perhaps not. So, let me elaborate a little more. What is our consciousness? - consciousness being our mind, both the hidden and the superficial. It is obviously the result of time, - time being memory, images, words, all of which, accumulated, respond to any particular problem, to any challenge, to any question. And our thinking, based on that memory, is verbal. That is, there is no thinking without words, without symbols, without images. So with that background, with that consciousness, we approach the problem of envy, which we are taking as an example. We are never directly in relation with the reaction called envy, but only with the word. Am I directly experiencing envy, am I in relation with it, - or, with the word called envy? Am I in contact with that reaction, immediately and fully aware of it, without giving it a name, without giving it a term? Or, do I recognize envy through the word? If I can experience envy directly, without giving it a term, a name, then there is quite a different experience. But if I am only in relation with that reaction, verbally, through a word, through an image, then it is not a true experience.

So, if we would be completely free from a particular quality such as envy, surely we must find out whether we are experiencing it directly, without the medium of words, or whether the word is giving us the so-called experience. If we are concerned with the word, with the idea, and are in relation only with the idea, then the problem arises, how to relate the idea to action. That is, we are aware that we are envious; but are we aware merely verbally, or are we experiencing envy directly, without giving to that reaction a name? I do not know if you have ever tried it? Take, for example, your sudden awareness that you are jealous. How are you aware of it? Are you aware of it because you recognize it through the word, or are you aware of it as an actual experience, without giving it a word, a name, a term? I think it is important to find this out. Because if you can have direct relationship with it, then you will see that there is complete freedom from the thing which we have named. But if you are aware of the feeling through the word, through the symbol, through memory, then the problem arises of how to relate the idea to action.

Perhaps we can make this a little more simple. I am envious; I am jealous. How am I to get rid of it? I see its complications, its conflicts, the uselessness of it. And, how am I to proceed to be free from it? Am I to suppress it, analyse it, discipline myself to resist it? - which all takes time, and which brings about conflict between idea and action, does it not? I want to be free from it, but actually I am not. So, there is the idea of wanting to be free, and the actuality of not being free. What is important is the actuality, the reality, not, "I want to be free". So, how am I to set about being free from this quality which I have termed envy? Obviously discipline does not get rid of it. If I create a resistance against it, that resistance does not bring understanding; nor does the cultivation of its opposite, which only creates further conflict. So, how am I to be free from it?

We know the usual, habitual, traditional approach, - which is, by gradually attacking, resisting, disciplining ourselves against it; and one sees that still one is not actually free from it. I wonder if you have ever thought about it in a different way? There must be a different approach; and that is what we are trying to find out. There is a different approach if I can experience the reaction of envy directly, without naming it. And that is why we have to examine, understand, how our consciousness works, which is really quite a complicated process. We think we understand something when we give it a name; when we can put a label on something, we think we have grasped the full significance of it. So to us, words, symbols, ideas, are very important. And our consciousness is made up of these, - of words, of symbols, of ideas, - which represent our memories. So our memories recognize the reaction called envy, and therefore there is no direct experience of that feeling, but only the recollection of it.

But if we can look at that reaction without verbalizing it, without giving it a name, then you will see you are experiencing it directly for the first time. And I think that is most important, - to experience the feeling, the reaction, for the first time, as it were, afresh, without giving it a name. It is the name that creates the barrier. Perhaps you will experiment with this; and you will see how difficult it is to experience something new. Because memory is always intervening, recognizing, and saying "Yes, that is jealousy, that is envy, the thing which I must get rid of". So, memory creates the idea, and that idea creates its own feeling, its own reactions, and therefore you are only in relationship with the idea, and not in direct relationship with the problem.

So when we have a problem from which we feel there must be complete freedom, such as envy, it is important, is it not?, to find out how our minds approach it, what our reactions are, how we are experiencing that quality, whether the experience is direct or merely through a word. And it is surely only when we can experience something anew, afresh, that there is a possibility of understanding it fully, completely. If we bring to it all our recollections, all our memories, the names, the conditioning influences, then we are not experiencing it directly; at all; and so the problem ever increases, multiplies, and keeps going. Most of us know that although we have struggled against envy we are not free from it. It is virtue which brings freedom, - not, being caught in words, which bring only a limitation, a respectability, a habit, to the mind.

Question: I have lived through two catastrophic world wars. fought in one, and became a displaced person in the other. I realize that the individual who has no control over these events has very little purpose in life. What is the point of this existence?

Krishnamurti: I wonder how you and I, as two individuals, regard this problem? There is the historical process; and what is the relationship of the individual to that process? As an individual, what can you do about the wars? Probably, very little. Because wars come into being for various reasons, - economic, psychological, and so on; and how can you stop all that? You cannot, surely, stop the process of war, which multitudes have set going. But you as an individual can step out of it, can you not?, whatever the consequences to yourself. Can you, as an individual, eradicate from your own heart and mind those qualities that create antagonism, hatred, enmity? If you cannot, you are obviously contributing to the cause of war.

Take, as an example, nationalism, - the feeling of being a separate group of people, - in which the individual fulfils himself, finds satisfaction. Inwardly, we are poor, insufficient, lonely; and when we identify ourselves with a particular group of people as Hindu, Russian or English, obviously we feel secure. And that security we must protect. In pursuing the security we long for, we exploit and are exploited. Now, can you, as an individual, be free from that nationalistic feeling? And when you are free, is it not possible to look upon this historical process with an entirely different attitude? The questioner wants to know, if he is not responsible for these wars, if he has no control over them, what is the purpose of living? But is it not important to find out first if you, as an individual, cannot be free from all the forces, influences, that create war? Can you not actually bring about an inward revolution, - not theoretically but actually, - so that you are a free human being, who experiences love, and who, because he is free from antagonism, from hatred, will find the right answer to the question?

You see, our problem is, is it not?, that we have no love. If the mother really loved her child, if the parents loved, they would jolly well see that there was no war! But to the parents, the prestige and well-being of the country, of a certain group, is more important than love of the child. If one really loved, if there was that feeling of love, then surely you would prevent war. But, not having that inward reality, we resort to all kinds of systems, governments; we look to politicians, various methods, to prevent war. And we will never succeed. Because, we have not, as individuals, solved the problem in ourselves. We would rather remain segregated, enclosed within nationalistic ideologies, in a world of beliefs, and so be separated, be one against the other. And until we solve that problem, - how the individual is seeking security, and thereby causing antagonism, hatred, enmity, - wars of one kind or another will always go on.

When we know for ourselves that we are free, then the purpose of existence comes into being without our asking. Freedom does not come into being through the mere cultivation of virtue, but only when there is that quality of love which is not of the mind.

Question: When trying to empty the mind in order to still it, I obtain a kind of blank mind. How do I know that this state is not simply dozing?

Krishnamurti: Why do we want a still mind? Why do we want tranquillity? Is it because we are so tired, exhausted, by an agitated mind, a mind that is constantly chattering, a mind that is so occupied, - and to escape from that we desire a still mind? Is that it? Or, do we see the necessity of a still mind, of a quiet mind, because a quiet mind understands, can see things directly, can experience immediately? Do we see that if the mind is agitated, there is no possibility of discovering anything new, of understanding, of being free? And, is this a necessity, or merely a reaction from its opposite? Surely that is important to find out, is it not? Do you want tranquillity of the mind because you are fed up with the mind which is so active, so agitated? Surely, that you have to find out, have you not? If it is merely a reaction, then obviously the mind goes into sleep. Then the mind is not tranquil; it merely puts itself to sleep, - through various forms of discipline, controls, and so on.

So, our problem is not, how to bring about a quiet, still mind, - but, to look at those things that agitate the mind, to understand those things that bring about disturbance. And when we understand those, then there will be tranquillity. When we are free from the problem, then there is a stillness. But to induce a stillness when the mind is crippled with problems, obviously brings about a dullness of the mind. So, our problem is not, how to make the mind tranquil, still, peaceful, but, to understand, to be free from those problems which agitate the mind. The mind obviously creates the problems. If there is a problem, how do we approach it, with what attitude? How do we experience it? It is that which it is important to understand, and not, how to escape from the problem into tranquillity.

How can the mind which is producing problems be quiet? It is impossible. All that it can do is to understand each problem as it arises, and be free from it. And through freedom comes tranquillity. As I was saying previously, without virtue there is no freedom. And virtue is not a thing to be cultivated. If I am jealous, envious, I must be free from it immediately. The immediacy is important, is essential. And if I realize that the immediacy of freedom from that particular quality is essential, then there is freedom. But we do not realize the urgency of it. And that is where our difficulty lies. We like the feeling, the sensation, of being envious, - the pleasure of it; we want to indulge in it. And so gradually we build the idea that we must eventually be free from it. And so, there is never a complete freedom from a particular reaction. And only when the mind is free is there the possibility of tranquillity.

Question: Unless the mind is occupied it soon goes to sleep or deteriorates. Should it not be occupied with the more serious things of life?

Krishnamurti: Is not a mind that is occupied, with the great, or with the trivial, incapable of being free? Is not mere occupation a distraction, however noble it is? What concerns us is that the mind is so vagrant, wandering all over the place, distracted, and we want it to be occupied with something, for then it feels at rest. Most of our minds are occupied with trivial things, with the daily chatterings. And rejecting those, we begin to occupy ourselves with more serious things, - the serious things being ideas, images, speculations. And as long as the mind is occupied with these so-called serious things, we feel it is more quiet, more concentrated, not wandering. But such an occupied mind is never a free mind. It is only in freedom that you can begin to understand anything, - not with a mind that is crippled by its own concentrations.

You see, we are so afraid to discover the process of our own thinking of our own state; we are so apprehensive of knowing ourselves as we are. And so, we begin to invent cages, ideas, in which the mind can be held, which offer a convenient escape from ourselves. So, what is important is the understanding of ourselves, - not, with what we should occupy our minds. There is no good occupation or bad occupation. As long as the mind is occupied, it is not free. And it is only through freedom that we can understand, that we can know, what truth is. So, instead of asking whether our minds should be occupied, we should find out how our minds work, what our motives are, the whole process of our existence.

After all, we live through sensation, - contact, perception, sensation, - from which arises desire. And when desire is not fulfilled there is conflict, and there is fear. So, fear and desire create time, the sense of tomorrow, the acquiring more, being secure, the importance of the me, the I, the ego. And instead of understanding, going into, that whole problem of consciousness, we want superficial results; we want to be occupied, we want to know how to meditate, how to be this or that, - which are all escapes, distractions.

So, what is important in all these questions is to go into the process of our thinking, - which is self-knowledge. Without self-knowledge, do what you will, there can be no peace in the world. Without self-knowledge there can be no love. The thing which the mind calls love is not love; it is only an idea. And you can only begin to know yourself deeply, widely, in relationship, - with your wife, with your husband, with your society. Be aware of it; be aware of your reactions, and do not condemn them; because any form of judgment, any form of justification, surely puts an end to a feeling, a reaction, - brushes it aside and does not let it flow out so that you can follow it. After all, if I would understand a child I must study him in all his moods, - when he plays, when he talks. Merely to condemn prevents understanding. Similarly, if I would understand the process of my thinking there must obviously be, not condemnation, but observation. But all our training, socially, morally, and religiously, is to condemn, to resist, - which prevents a direct experience, a direct understanding of the problem.

So, the more you go into the problem of your reactions, without condemnation, without justification, then you will see that you are beginning to understand the whole process of your consciousness, of the me, with all its hidden motives. Then you will see whether you are merely reacting to the word, or are directly experiencing a certain feeling, - whether you are meeting any challenge through the screen of memory, or idea, or whether you are meeting it directly. The more you begin to know yourself, to be aware of every subtle reaction, every process, every intention, then you will see that quite a different state comes into being, - a state which is not induced by the mind. Because, the mind can induce any kind of state; it can believe in anything, experience anything. But that which the mind experiences, believes in, is not the real. Reality can come into being only through self-knowledge, when the mind, through understanding its own processes, the hidden as well as the superficial, becomes quiet, - not is made quiet, but becomes quiet. Then only is there a possibility for that reality to come into being.

But all this does not imply a series of stages which the mind must go through. What is essential is to see the necessity of being quiet. And it is the urgency the necessity, that brings this about, and not, the cultivation of a particular quality or method.

April 16, 1952