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Jiddhu Krishnamurti (1895 - 1986)


Could we discuss regeneration, its nature, and whether it is essential to man? And if it is essential to man and society then what is the place of self-knowing in this whole field?

A.P.: The importance of our discussions so far has been to establish the limits of knowledge. I feel that the relevance of knowledge to the entire process of self-knowing has already been outlined in limits of growth, limits of knowledge.

P.J.: Is knowledge and its limits dependent on the process of self-knowing? The problem of regeneration is not contained in the limits of knowledge; the latter is only one of the factors of regeneration. Self-knowing is also integral to it. Are these two independent?

A.P.: Our approach has been to negate that which appeared to assume preponderant importance in our own development. It takes the form of pursuit of knowledge, a very subtle process which goes on inhibiting, distracting or distorting the mind from direct confrontation.

P.J.: We are familiar with the additive process. In a sense the additive process is the extension of the field of knowledge. I am talking of knowledge as information. Are we talking of the limits of knowledge, independent of self-knowing or regeneration?

A.P.: Of course not.

P.K.S.: The problem of the regeneration of man is mostly connected with the limits of knowledge. We assume knowledge is information, not that kind of experience which is self-knowing, and we are asking, what can we know? The question also concerns the origins of knowledge.

K: I don't know what you mean by regeneration - to be made anew, made afresh? We are talking about the transformation of man, the ending of his anxiety - his whole way of life; a life which is ugly - and out of that ending, a new thing being born. Is that what we mean by regeneration? If that is so, what is the relationship between knowledge and regeneration? Is knowledge a fixed point? Is it static, additive? Is the process of self-knowledge additive and does it, thereby, bring about regeneration? Is that what we are asking? Can knowledge which is accumulative, probably infinite, bring about regeneration? Then there is the understanding of oneself, the `Know Thyself'. The Hindus have said it, the Buddhists have said it in a different way, all religions have said it. Is that knowing yourself additive? Is the very substance of the self, knowledge, knowing being experience stored up as memory, all the things man has accumulated? What is it we are asking?

Can we begin with the question, `Can I know myself?' Not according to some philosophers, but can I know myself? I would like to examine the word `to know'. Dr. Illich pointed out yesterday, `I have knowledge of you but I don't know you.' I have knowledge in the sense that I have met you, and so on. I have knowledge of you but can I ever know you? In the same way, I have knowledge about myself, limited knowledge, fragmentary knowledge, knowledge brought about by time. But can I know myself fundamentally, irrevocably?

R.B.: What do you mean `irrevocably'?

K: A tree is a tree; it is irrevocable. A pear tree does not become an apple tree.

A.P.: This is where my difficulty arises. Even with regard to knowing oneself, verbalizing has a very important place. If that is taken away, will we have the capacity to know anything?

I.I.: I am asking the same question. Knowledge, insight, which comes in a flash and can be interpreted logically later on, can be referred to in words; is that knowledge in your terminology?

A.P.: The channel of insight may be non-verbal but our normal movement is perceiving and naming, and with naming comes recognition and what we call knowledge. So, actually, naming plays a preponderant part in knowledge. Self-knowledge may be in the field of insight.

K: Are you asking if there is no verbalization, whether the `me' exists at all? I would say if verbalization does not exist, the self, the `me', the ego, ceases, comes to an end. Can there be a knowing that the word is not the thing? The word is not the thing, obviously. The word `tree' is not the actual fact. So if there is no verbalization, then what is the fact, what remains? Is it still the self?

P.J.: How does one answer this?

A.P.: You have jumped.

G.N.: There are forms of knowledge akin to insight and some forms of insight which cannot be converted into knowledge through the additive process. The way one approaches it is very significant. Some types of knowledge have the taste of insight but they get reduced to knowledge.

K.: We said we understood the meaning, the significance, of regeneration. How is man to regenerate, completely renew himself, like a phoenix? Does he depend on environment - social, economical? Or has regeneration as knowing nothing whatever to do with environmental pressures? We must go into that. We will come to a different kind of knowledge presently. Do we agree on the meaning of regeneration as a total, psychological, profound, revolution, in the sense that something new is born out of it?

Now, is knowing oneself the central factor of regeneration? If that is so, then how am I to know myself - knowing that the word is not the thing, the description is not the described? If there is no verbalization, then what next? You have cut away, if you don't verbalize, the whole area of morality, ethics. To us words have become very important. Take the word violence; if I don't use that word and am free from verbalization with all its significance, what remains?

Sir, why do I verbalize? I verbalize my feeling for you because I want to communicate to you.

A.P.: Also with myself. That is the greatest danger.

K: I am coming to that. First I verbalize what I feel to myself and then I verbalize to communicate. A.P.: In this there is a big trap. I feel the phenomenon of sorrow. I see somebody in pain, I can express that without feeling compassion in my heart. I live on words. Therefore, words are my biggest protection and they also become a barrier to self-knowledge. Unless I am able to deal with words, I cannot move. The human brain stores images, creates images, symbols, etc.

K: Does it mean all our relationships - intellectual, sexual, between two human beings - are based on words, images, pictures?

Is there thinking without verbalization? When I say to somebody I love you, do the words convey what I feel? The words are not the thing, but they need to be expressed and I use the words as a medium of communication. Now we are asking, how is man to regenerate himself without any cause, without any motive, without any influence of the environment - social, political, moral, religious. I think we ought to settle that and then proceed. What do you say, Dr. Illich?

I.I.: I would like to ask you a question. Are words also part of the environment?

K: Yes.

I.I.: Therefore, when I use words, I also do something to the environment, besides being influenced by it.

K: The word is also the environment and the word influences my thinking. If I am born in this particular part of the country, my whole cultural, development, progress, is based on this culture. The language itself is affecting me; it may be a barrier between you and me.

I.I.: Like anything it can destroy two people.

K: So, realizing that language can also become a barrier, I cut it. It is finished. I use it only to communicate.

I.I.: Is there anything within me which has not been affected by language in the same way as my body is affected by breathing? Is there a point somewhere in me which the environment has not touched?

K: Do you see what is happening, sir? We are already in communication with each other. Your question, `Is there something in this "me" which is not affected, touched, shaped, moulded by the environment' has already put us in communication. The Hindus say there is something. Dr. Illich wants to know if there is in `me' the structure of existence which is the `me', some spot, something which is not shaped, moulded, contaminated, pressurized by the environment. You are a scholar, a pundit - what would be your answer?

P.K.S.: Those parts which are supposed to be affected by language, etc. are only the psychological `me'. That is the empirical development of the ego. But even before the development of the empirical ego, there should be a basis for this development. Otherwise language as environment would be futile. The word as environment affects me. It is not brought about after it has been affected by the environment; rather something is there already which is supposed to be affected. Now, if there is something prior to being affected by the environment, what is its character, can it be increased or decreased by the environment? If you believe that the environment makes the self, at the same time pre-supposing something which is prior to the influence of language, you are contradicting yourself. I think something exists prior to the environment affecting it.

K: I don't quite follow you.

R.B.: Prof. Sundaram says there is a substratum, essential nature, on which thought builds, the psychological, the empirical, `me'. Therefore, logically, there is an area which is unaffected by thought.

K: So you are saying that there is in me, in my existence, in my life, an uncontaminated, unshaped state. Does that satisfy you? I.I.: I accept your words, I won't use other terms, and yet, since it cannot be affected by language, I can only speak in negative terms. This particular spot, something which is light, which throws sparks, is yet something about which there is no proof, that I can grasp. And when I speak about it, I dare to capture it in a word. Would you accept that?

K: I don't think so, sir.

P.J.: How do we explore this then? How do I find out whether one statement or the other is real?

K: May I put it differently? I don't even ask that question, `Is there something in me which is not shaped by the environment?' All that I know is, unless a human being finds the springs of regeneration, and not the idea, the new is not possible. So my concern, then, is the word `environment', culture, society - all that is `me' and I am the product of all that. I am the entire product of all influences - religious, psychological, social. Regeneration is possible only when the influences from the outside or the influences which I am creating as a reaction come to an end. Then I can answer it. Until then I can only speculate. So I begin. I say it is absolutely necessary as a human being to bring about a revolution in the whole structure. Not at the biological level, because I can't grow a third arm; but is there a possibility of a total regeneration? You tell me `Know yourself,' that is, to have knowledge about yourself. I see the danger of knowledge, knowledge being accumulative, progressive, dependent on the environment and so on. Therefore, I understand the limitations of knowledge. I say to myself, I have understood this. So when I use the words `know myself', I see that knowledge, when verbalized, may be the cause which prevents me from enquiring deeply into myself. So I ask, can my brain, my mind, my whole structure, be free of words?

A.P.: I think this is where the limits of knowledge lead you.

K: Achyutji, you are missing the point. We have said knowledge is accumulative. Knowing myself may not be accumulative at all.

A.P.: Verbalization is the quintessence of knowing.

K: Can I use the word `knowledge' where necessary and in my enquiry be free of the word? Is that possible?

S.P.: Are you saying there is an enquiry without the word?

K: That's it.

A.P.: When we enquire, the word is inevitable and it is an obstacle.

K: Obviously. Dr. Illich's difficulty is, we are using a language which he is not used to. To us knowledge means something and to him it means something else. And he says, I don't follow you. So we must establish a linguistic, semantic communication.

So I come to the point that I don't know the substratum, the foundation on which `I am'. I won't pre-suppose anything; I won't accept any authority including my own hope. So I ask, how am I to enquire into myself, what is the movement, the elan, `to know yourself? Not to have knowledge of yourself?

P.J.: Could you explain a little more the distinction between knowledge of myself and knowing myself?

K: I have knowledge of myself through my reactions, my feelings, through my responses to another in my relationship. I have been jealous, sensuous, angry. These are all reactions, but it is much more than that. All that I know is based on verbalization. I say I have been jealous; the word jealousy, with all its connotations prevents observation of that feeling which I have named as jealousy. So is it possible to observe without the word? Can there be only the feeling without the word, the word being the environment?

There is feeling. In that feeling is the observer. In that there is division. That is, is the observer different from the observed? He divides the two. I am different from the thing observed. But in observing myself so long as the word is associated with the thing I am observing, it distorts the observation. So I ask, can I observe, be aware of the feeling, without naming it?

Can I just observe? Can there be only observation without identification with the word? If so, we remove altogether all division as the opposite. So I eliminate one of the traditional factors that this division brings about - me and jealousy - and, therefore, observation is not verbal; there is only observation.

A.P.: I have not come to that.

K: Then how shall we communicate with each other? You have not wiped out the word. You have said verbalization is the barrier. How am I to tell you of that central factor in which there is no conflict, only observation?

P.J.: Can one wipe out the word? How does one wipe out the word?

K: I realize the word is not the thing. That is a deep understanding. When I say I love you, it is not just a word; it is beyond the word. Therefore, I am not caught in the word. I cannot wipe it out; words are necessary to communicate. But I am saying one eradicates it in oneself or it falls away when one sees the observer is the observed, the thinker is the thought, the experiencer is the experienced. Division comes to an end totally and, therefore, conflict comes to an end.

A.P.: It is like the halting of the traffic light. I say that verbal communication stops like a traffic light and comes back again.

K: Are you saying, I see this for an instant but then I am back again in the old grooves?

R.B.: Can we put it another way? You mentioned jealousy. There may be a movement of jealousy, and if one watches it without the word, at that moment there is an abeyance of that thing. In self-knowing, there is not only the movement of jealousy but of an enormous content which has been built up. How is one to catch the whole thing without the word?

K: Do you realize, actually, not theoretically, that the word is not the thing?

R.B.: I do realize it at certain moments.

K: That is not realization. It is like danger, like a bus hurtling down on you.

R.B.: We are all conditioned to mix the two. It is a longstanding thing. I can say that at this moment the word is not the thing.

K: No, it is the eternal truth. If that is so, and the word `jealousy' is not the state, can we look at jealousy without the word? Without all the association of the word? Look at it as though you were looking at it for the first time and not bring in all the associations connected with it? That requires great alertness, awareness. It has its own extraordinary discipline, it is uninfluenced. We are concerned with regeneration - whether a human being, without outside influence, can bring about this extraordinary quality of regeneration in his brain, his mind, his feeling.

To understand that deeply, you must `know yourself'. So I ask, what is the word `know' apart from knowledge? You are already limiting it by saying, `I know.' Now, can I observe myself without the word, language, knowledge or recognition? Do you understand? I watch myself, and I am watching without analysis. I have this feeling of jealousy; it arises. There is an instant reaction, a verbalization of that feeling, which means I have brought into it the remembrance of that which has happened before and so I recognise it. If there is no recognition, then it is something new and that is the beginning of regeneration.

A.P.: I notice in observing, the arising of recognition through the word, and I say it is the word which is giving stability to what I am observing because I am not different from that which I am observing.

R.B.: But Krishnaji is saying there is no recognition because memory is eliminated and, therefore, the new is there.

K: You say, `know yourself.' But how am I to know myself, observe what I am? Do I bring into that observation past memories, the hurts, the remembrances, and with those memories look at myself? That is my point. If I bring in these memories, then I am not looking, memories are looking, and memories are in action.

Can there be an abeyance, can I put memories aside and observe? That may be the factor of regeneration because in that observation there is a breaking away from the past.

S.P.: Once for all?

K: That is greed. Look at it. I want to know myself because otherwise I have no foundation for anything. I know the limits of words. There is an observation of the word and an observation of the limits of knowledge. I see that when I use the words `know myself', I have already put it in a cup, blanketed it. So I don't use those words. Is there an observation of the movement of the self without the word, without recognition, without the previous experience which in observation distorts what is happening?

I.I.: I can't, truly, humanly, look without being totally myself in looking. And, therefore, I can put the word in abeyance. But at times I need crutches.

K: The moment you use the words `I need crutches', you will need them.

I.I.: I accept your criticism of the word `need'. Now and then I find myself using crutches, and I won't, for this reason, despair.

K: Achyutji, you were speaking of the red traffic light that stops you for the moment. Can all the past stop? But it is so strong that it comes back. Dr. Illich also says the same thing, that he needs crutches at moments.

To know myself is very important. I see the limitations of knowledge, I see very, very clearly that the very word `know' is a dangerous word in the sense that it has tremendous associations with knowledge. So what have I left? I have understood the limitations of knowledge, I also see the Anglo-European word `feeling' and the danger of that word because I can invent a lot of feeling and a whole lot of froth. So I can also see the limitations of that. And at the end of this, where am I?

I started out with regeneration, came to the limitations of knowledge, the limitations of feeling, the dangers associated with that and, at the end of it, I ask, `Do I know myself?' For, `myself' is the limitation of knowledge, limitation of the word `to know', the feeling and the entity who says I have to get rid of this and asks, `Who am I?' All this is the self, with its associations, with all the extravagant, fragmentary things involved in it. At the end of it, where am I?

I can honestly then say with genuine affirmation - in the sense that I am not inventing it - that I am not accepting the authority of somebody else, that there is nothing to know. Which does not mean there is something else. All that I can say is there is nothing, which means there is not a thing, which means not a single movement of thought. So there is an ending, a stopping, to thought. There is not a thing. On that we have built all this - my attachments, my beliefs, my fears. On this nothing, everything is. Therefore that is unreal;this is real.

So I have found a key to regeneration, the key being emptying the mind of all the past which is knowledge, the limitations of knowing, feelings and the content of my feelings. Would you call this meditation?

I.I.: When I do it for myself, yes.

K: Myself is a word. I.I.: When I do it, yes.

K: Is that doing progressive or immediate?

I.I.: It seems to be immediate and not progressive.

K: That is right, keep it there.

I.I.: But I agree there is a temptation to make it progressive, to transform it again into something you want.

K: What does the word temptation mean? One of our difficulties is that we see all this intellectually and then make an abstraction of it, which is an idea, a conclusion, and then work with the conclusion. Have I really understood deeply the limitations of knowledge, knowledge meaning institutions, systems, everything?

I would like to ask you, is there a regeneration taking place? Forgive me if I put you in a corner. We have all listened and say, this is true. I see regeneration is tremendously important. Have I captured it, tasted it, has it a perfume? Have I got it? Not in the sense of holding it. If we have not, then what are we all talking about? Are we merely ploughing in sand and never sowing? Dr. Illich, are we in communication with each other linguistically?

I.I.: I think so. May I ask a question? I don't want to seem impudent. When you ask the question, is there a regeneration going on, I wanted to answer! I listen very attentively to the crow up there on the tree.

K. Yes sir. I have also been listening to it.