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Jiddhu Krishnamurti (1895 - 1986)


I have been trying to find out the solution of the problem of consciousness. It is very important to talk over what individuality or the problem of consciousness is. Being individuals, we strive to fit into the pattern of the community, the collective, the totalitarian. Before we can adequately and truly cover the subject, it is necessary, is it not?, to understand the whole question of individuality.

What is the individual? This problem is a question which must be talked over very constantly and wisely without any barriers and without any conclusions and comparisons. If you can listen to what I am going to talk about, not throw up barriers of your own conclusions which may be true or may not be true, barriers of what you have learnt from your environmental influence or what you have read from the books, then perhaps you will be able actually to co operate with me and with each other without dominating, without completely annihilating the individual through legislation, through compulsion, through concentration camps and so on. I do not know if you feel the importance of this question. If not, I suggest that you should try to, because it is really a vital problem. As it is a difficult question we should be able to talk it over like two friends, not like two antagonists in two opposite camps, you with your opinions and I perhaps with mine. I am not offering an opinion; I am not putting forward a belief, formulation, conception because I do not indulge in that form of stupidity; because to me it is stupid, when I am incapable of understanding what is, that I should want to know what is.

We should not speculate about what is. I hope you see the difference between speculation of what is and to understand what is. Surely the two are entirely different. Most of us only speculate, have beliefs, have conclusions about what is; and with these conclusions, speculations, formulations, etc. we approach the question of the individual. Truly we must fail if we so approach it; whereas if we can look at it without formulation but merely look at it, then perhaps we should be able to understand the significance of the problems involved in individuality, and perhaps we should be able to go beyond that which we call the individual. That is to understand the whole question of the conscious and the unconscious, not only the barren uppermost consciousness of the mind, of the active mind, but also of the unconscious, the hidden.

So, what is the individual? What is the `me'? You must examine what we think it is and what we hope it is, that is, look at ourselves without speculation if that is possible. If you say such things as `I am the highest representative of God', that is mere speculation. We have to put aside such speculations. Obviously! Must we not? They are all words which you have learnt, which society has imposed upon you, one way, or the other. Politically, you might say that if you belong to the extreme left, you have nothing to bother about but only let the environmental influence operate; if you are religiously inclined, you have your own phraseology that you are this, you are that, and that some thing is manifest in you. You know the whole thing about the higher self and the lower self. With that back ground obviously you cannot look or examine the problem. Can you? You can only look at what is by observing very carefully the whole process of the individual, what the individual is, etc. Can you tell me what you are? Please bear in mind what we are discussing, for what purpose. To understand the problem of the conscious and to look into it, if it is possible, not speculatively, not theoretically, but to go beyond the confines of the narrow area called the individual, that is what we are trying to do.

What is the individual? What are you, actually? Obviously, certain physiological responses, bodily responses and psychological responses of memory, of time, constitute the individual. We are all composed of frustrated hopes, depressions with an occasional joy, in which the self is, the `me' with all its fears, hopes, degradations, memories. We are a repository of tradition, of knowledge, of belief, of what we would like to be, and of the desire for certainty, of continuity with a name and a form. That is what actually we are. We are the result of our father and mother, of environmental influences, climatically and psychologically. That is what is. Beyond that we do not know. We can only speculate; we can only assert; we can only say that we are the soul, immortal, imperishable; but, actually, that has no existence. That is merely a process of `what is' translated into terms of security.

So, consciousness, as we know it, is a process of time. When are you conscious? When there is response, pleasant or unpleasant. Otherwise you are not conscious. Are you? When there is fear, you are conscious. When there is frustration, you are aware of yourself being frustrated. When there is joy, you are aware of it. When consciousness comes into action, when desire is thwarted, frustrated or when desire finds fulfilment, you are equally aware. So, what we know is that consciousness is a process of time, confined, limited, narrowed down to the thought process. Surely, that is what is actually taking place in each one of us. Is it not? That process may be elevated to a high degree or taken down to a low degree; but that is what is actually taking place, what is actually going on.

Consciousness is a process of time in action. I want to do something and when I can do that without any hindrance, without any struggle, without any sense of fear or frustration, there is no effort involved. The moment effort is involved, consciousness as the `me' comes into being. I hope you are following.

The individual is the product of time, and it is memory, consciousness, the `me' narrowed down to a particular form and name. `I' refers to both the conscious mind functioning as well as the unconscious. We all have fear of death, we have fear of innumerable things. You have various levels of frustrations and hopes, according to education, according to environmental influence, and of depression dependent on physiological condition, as well as psychological condition. So, we are all that; we are a bundle of all that. We are conscious only when the movement of consciousness is blocked. You are aware of yourself only when you are hindered. Are you aware of yourself in any other way? You are aware of yourself in fulfilling, in achieving, in arriving, in be coming. Otherwise, you are not conscious. are you? And as long as there is this process of time, there must be fear. Must there not be?

What is fear? Fear is in relation to something. Is it not? Fear does not exist by itself. Fear of death, of not being, not arriving, not being elected, not achieving, not becoming successful and so on. There is fear at different levels. There is the fear to be secure economically, mentally. As long as there is fear, there must be struggle; there must be battle; there must be constant friction between being and not being, not only on the conscious level but also on the hidden level. So, being afraid, which is the state of most of us, we are trying to escape from it; and the escapes are many.

Please follow carefully and watch yourself as you follow. Then you and I can proceed further and discover much more than at mere verbal level. You must watch your self as I am talking, in the mirror of my words. If you merely stop at the verbal level, you will not be able to proceed further; and you can only proceed further, if you are relating what I am saying to yourself. I am not saying something which you have to examine and analyze. I am saying what is actually taking place. We are all afraid. We have a desire to be secure. You like to be with your husband, I with my wife, with my neighbour, with my society, with God, and so on. There are innumerable forms of desire. We have not solved the problem of fear. What we do is to escape from it through various forms. If we are so-called educated, so-called civilized, our escapes are refined. Sometimes these escapes take the form of superstition.

Now, is it possible to go beyond fear? I know I am afraid; you know you too are afraid, may not be outwardly; but, you are afraid inwardly. What is this fear? Obviously it can be only in relation to something. I am afraid of death; I am afraid because I do not know what is going to happen. I am afraid of losing my job; I am afraid of my neighbour; I am afraid of my wife; I am afraid of having a desire; I am afraid of not arriving at the spiritual height that is expected of me and so on. What is this `me'? It is fear, consciousness in action, desire to be something or not to be something. Fear finds various escapes. The common variety is identification. Is it not? Identification with the country, with the society, with an idea. Haven't you noticed how you respond when you see a procession, a military procession or a religious procession, or when the country is in danger of being invaded? You then identify yourself with the country, with a belief, with an ideology. There are other times when you identify with your child, with your wife, with a particular form of action or inaction. So, identification is a process of self forgetfulness. As long as I am conscious of the `me', I know there is pain, there is struggle, there is constant fear. But if I can identify myself with something greater, with something worthwhile, with beauty, with life, with truth, with belief, with knowledge, at least temporarily, there is an escape from the `me'. Is there not? If I talk about my country I forget myself temporarily. Do I not? If I can say something about God, I forget myself. If I can identify my family with a group, with a particular party, with certain ideology, then there is a temporary escape.

Therefore, identification is a form of escape from the self in as much as virtue is a form of escape from the self. The man who pursues virtue is escaping from the self and he has a narrow mind. That is not a virtuous mind, for virtue is some thing which should not be pursued. You are not going to be virtuous; because the more you try to become virtuous, the more the strength, the security you give to the self, to the `me'. So, fear which is common to most of us in different forms, must always find a substitution, and must therefore increase our struggle. The more you are identifying with a substitution, the greater the strength to hold on to that for which you are prepared to die, to struggle; because fear is at the back.

Do we now know what fear is? Is it not the non-acceptance of what is? We must understand the word `acceptance'. I am not using that word as meaning the effort made to accept. There is no question of accepting when I am able to see what is and when I perceive what is? When I don't see clearly what is, then I bring the process of acceptance. So, fear is the non-acceptance of what is. How can I, who is a bundle of all these reactions, responses, memories, hopes, depressions, frustrations, who is the result of the movement of consciousness blocked, go beyond? That is, can the mind without this blocking and hindrance, be conscious? We know, when there is no hindrance, what extraordinary joy there is. Don't you know when the body is perfectly healthy, there is a certain joy, well being; and don't you know when the mind is completely free without any block, when the centre of recognition as the `me' is not there, you experience a certain joy? Haven't you experienced this state when the self is absent? Surely we all have. Having experienced, we want to go back and recapture it. This is again the time process. Having experienced something, we want it; therefore we give consciousness a block. Surely to find out action which is not the result of isolation, there must be action without the self. That is what you are all seeking in one form or other in society, through religious speculation, through meditation, through identification, through belief, through knowledge, through activities of innumerable kinds. That is what each one of us is seeking, to escape from the narrow area called `self', to get away from it. Can you get away from it without understanding the whole process of what is? If I do not know the whole content of what is in front of me as the me, can I avoid it and run away?

There is understanding and freedom from the self, only when I can look at it completely and integrally as a whole; and I can do that only when I understand the whole process of all activity, of desire which is the very expression of thought - for thought is not different from desire - without justifying it, without condemning it, without suppressing it; if I can understand that, then I will know there is the possibility of going beyond the restrictions of the self. And then there can be action which is not isolated, action which is not based on idea. But so long as the mind is confined to the area called the `self', there must be conflict between man and man; and a man who seeks truth or peace, must understand desire. Understanding comes when desire is not blocked intellectually, through fear, through condemnation - which does not mean you must give fulfillment to desire; you must follow it, there must be movement without contradiction, without condemnation. Then you will see that the conscious, however active it may be, becomes the field in which the unconscious can flower.

Freedom which is really virtue, is necessary to discover what is truth; and a man who is bound to belief, knowledge and self, can never find what truth is. That discovery of truth is not the process of time. The process of time is the mind and the mind can never discover what is truth. Therefore it is necessary to understand the process of consciousness as limited to the me.

Question: What do you feel to be the cause of the great prevalence of mental derangement in the world today? Is it insecurity? If so, what can we do to keep the millions who feel insecure from becoming unbalanced, neurotic and psychotic?

Krishnamurti: First of all, is there such a thing as inward security? Can there ever be security inwardly, psychologically? If you can find an answer to that, then physical security is possible; because that is what millions want, physical security, the next meal, shelter and clothing. Millions go to bed half-starved. To solve the problem of food, cloth and shelter for the many, not for the few, we must enquire why man seeks security, psychological security; because the answer is not in the rearrangement of things, the answer is not economic but psychological. Because each one of us is seeking inward security which prevents outward security for man, because each one of us wants to be something, we use physical substance as a means of psychological security. Are you not doing that? If you and I, if the world, were concerned in feeding man, clothing him and sheltering him, surely we will have to find ways. Is it not? Nobody is doing that. This is one cause of mental derangement. Is it not? If I feel outwardly insecure, I feel all kinds of things which bring about a mentally neurotic state.

So our problem is not wholly economic, as economists would like to think, but rather psychological; which is, that each one of us wants to be secure through belief, through superstition. We know the various forms of belief to which we cling in the hope of feeling secure. Don't you know that the man who believes, can never commit suicide? But the man who does not believe is ready to commit suicide, either to kill himself or kill somebody else. So belief is the means of security. And the more I believe in the future life, in God, the more I think of it, because it gives comfort and security, and I am fairly balanced. But if I am enquiring, searching, doubting, skeptic, then I begin to lose my mooring and I lose my security, and mentally I cannot stand this. So there is the psychotic state of mind. Have you not noticed it in yourselves? The moment you have something to which you can cling, you feel peaceful, be it a person, or idea or party - does not matter what it is. As long as you can cling to something, you feel safe, and feel more or less balanced. But question that belief and enquire into it, you invite insecurity. That is why all clever and intellectual people end up in some form of belief; because they push their intellects as far as they go, and they see nothing; and then, they say `Let us believe'. Surely our question is, is there security. Psychological and inward security? Obviously there is not. I can find security in belief; but that is merely a projection of my uncertainty in the form of belief, which becomes certain.

Can I find the truth of security and insecurity? Then only I am a sane being, not if I cling to some be lief or some knowledge or some idea. If I can find out the truth of security, then I am an integrated, intelligent being. Is that your question? Obviously not, because you do not want to know if there is security. The moment you doubt it, where are you? The house of cards which you have so cleverly built up, comes crumbling down. If you cannot achieve security, you become psychotic. So until you find the truth of security, if there is such a thing as security, obviously you are an unbalanced being.

Is there security, psychological security, inward security? Obviously, there is not. We only like it to be; but there is not. Can you depend on anything? When you do, what happens? The very dependence is an invitation to fear which breeds in dependence away from it, which is another form of fear. So until you find the truth of insecurity which means continuity, you are bound to have some blockages in the mind? which in action creates a neurotic state. There is no permanency, there is no certainty, but there is truth which can only take place if you understand the whole process of desire and insecurity.

Question: Is the regeneration of India possible solely through renaissance of arts and the dance?

Krishnamurti: The word `solely' is important. Is it not? Because, what each one of us is occupied with, becomes the means of renaissance. If I am an artist, that is the only way through which I can produce a creative world. If I am a religious person, that is the only way. To the economist, economics is the only way of regeneration. So what each one of us is occupied with, that particular gift, that particular tendency, becomes the means of producing a regenerated India.

Does regeneration come through outward organizations, through capacities, through rearrangement of facts, dance, or of arts? What do you mean by regeneration? Rebirth, something new, not continuity of the past in a new form. Surely we mean that. Don't we? A new state, a new world in which there is peace, happiness. You know the whole thing for which we are struggling. Is renaissance possible without inward revolution, inward freedom? You may be an expert in dancing, that may be your particular gift. Will that really regenerate India or the world because you are a marvellous dancer, or you are a marvellous chemist or politician? What will produce a fundamental and radical revolution, so necessary, a complete revolution, not fragmentary revolution but integrated revolution, not a superficial rearrangement of the pattern? Surely that revolution must take place in each one of us. Must it not?

Don't be afraid of the word revolution. Either it is or it is not. We would rather like inward evolution, the whole process of becoming more and more worldly, more and more virtuous, which is only the strengthening of the me through time. As long as the me exists, there is no inward revolution. And the me cannot be dissolved through time or through identification with that which we want.

Inward revolution takes place only when you see what is and when there is action which is not the basis of idea. Because when you are confronted with what is, ideas have no value. Regeneration and renaissance can only take place, not through a particular gift or capacity, but only through inward understanding and revolution.

Question: Have I understood you aright when I say that the solution for all our ills is to put a stop to all recognition and to the vagaries of desire and go beyond it? I have experienced moments of ecstasy but they drop away soon afterwards, and desires rush in breaking from the past into the future. Is it possible to annihilate desire once and for all?

Krishnamurti: See, you want a result. You worship success, and you want to get rid of desire altogether, in order to achieve that ecstatic state. That is, I would like to be happy and ecstatic and I want to get rid of desire. So I am enquiring not how to understand desire, but how to get rid of desire in order to achieve that state. Please see the impossibility of this. I want a certain result which I have experienced and that experience I want to continue; and I cannot continue that experience as long as desire exists; therefore, I must get rid of desire. You are not interested in understanding desire, but in modifying it at a particular stage; that is what is implied in this question. You want ecstasy, and you know you have experienced it; and you know desire prevents it, and so you have this problem of how to get rid of that. You desire that state of ecstasy, that is all. Only you have transformed your desire from secular, parochial, narrow walls to something which you have experienced. So what are you concerned with? With an experience which is past. Please follow this, if you would understand the whole process you are confronted with, the problem of recapturing a past experience like a boy who has had a moment of ecstasy, and who, when he has grown old, would want to re turn to that. You know it is fragmentary because he is incapable of experiencing anything new.

What do you mean by experience? You can only experience anything which we recognize. So what is happening; the `me' recognizes some thing as ecstasy and wants to capture it. The very wanting is a process of desire. It is given a name. At the moment of experiencing, there is no naming. Please follow this. Watch yourself in operation; then what I say will have meaning. When some thing happens to you unexpected, a state of ecstasy develops; in that second, there is no recognition. You then say "I have had an experience", you give it a name. This is all the process of mind trying to give it a name so that it can remember, so that through that remembrance it can continue that experience. For most of us, that is our companion.

But to understand desire needs an alert mind and constant watching without condemnation, without justification, constant observation, constant following, because it is never still. It is a movement; and no opposition will be of any use, for it will only create greater resistance in it. When you have an experience which is never recognized, you will see that the so-called experience which you name, is not an experience at all but only a continuance of your own desire in a different form. When you understand desire, when you have really followed it, you have a state of being in which recognition is not present, in which there is no naming. That comes only when the mind is not inviting, when the mind is really silent, not made silent. The mind is silent because it understands, it pursues and becomes aware of the whole process of desire. When the mind is silent, it is no longer imaginative, no longer verbalizing; that very silence of the mind leads to the state of being which cannot be measured by the mind.

January 13, 1952