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Jiddhu Krishnamurti (1895 - 1986)


First Teacher (T1): Is a new mind the same as a good mind, a mind that is flowering in goodness? If so, what is goodness? And, in particular, what is the relationship of a new mind to an awareness of the wholeness of life? What is the whole of life? Can we explore this in some depth?

KRISHNAMURTI (K): I wonder how you regard life. What do you consider is the origin of life, the beginning of all existence? Not only of human beings, but also the whole world, nature, the heavens and the stars? What is creation?

We are not asking what invention is. Invention is based on knowledge. Inventing more and more, is naturally based on knowledge. And what is our life in relation to the whole of it? Not in relation to a particular specialized brain but in relation to the whole world which is a total movement, including ourselves, including humanity?

I would like to discuss that with you first. Then, is there a difference between our physical brain - the biological thing which is inside the skull - and the mind? Or does the brain contain the mind, or is the mind totally different from the brain?

And the third question, or movement - I would prefer it to be a movement, not a question - What would you call goodness, the flowering in goodness? Not static goodness, but a movement in goodness?

T1: What is life?

K: Yes, what is life? Not life in a particularised form like the ape, the tiger, the squirrel, the tree, all that. What is the beginning of life?

And the other question is: Does the brain contain the mind, or is the mind totally divorced from the brain? If the brain contains the mind, then the mind is part of matter - right? - part of the nervous responses. It is a physical phenomenon. And the mind surely is something totally different.

So, if the brain includes the mind, then it is part of our nervous, biological reactions of fear, sorrow, pain, pleasure, the total consciousness. Then it is part of human creation. If the mind is part of an evolutionary process, then it is part of time.

T2: May I ask a question?

K: Sir, you don't have to ask me.

T2: Through logic, suppose we find that the mind is different from the brain; and logic itself is part of the brain?

K: Of course logic is part of the brain, and logic can come to a wrong conclusion because it is still part of the brain.

So, what is life? What is the source of all this energy? What is the thing that shoots out, making all this - the world, the earth, the mountains, the rivers, the forests, the trees, the bear, the deer, the lion, the ape, the monkey, and us?

Is time involved in goodness? If time is involved in goodness, it is not goodness. Please answer me. Do you understand my question?

T3: Sir, there doesn't seem at the moment to be a connection between the two. When the scientists talk of the origin of things, I believe, the generally accepted theory is that there was the big bang, an enormous explosion, stemming perhaps from some primal energy, stemming perhaps from some infinitesimal atom. And after this came the whole multiplicity of things, the stars, the planets, the earth. There doesn't seem, at first sight, to be any connection between that scientific explanation and goodness.

K: I am asking, sir, is time involved in goodness?

T3: Time is certainly involved in the evolution of things. That is obvious.

K: Is goodness part of time, cultivated or brought about through time?

T3: It doesn't seem, if one looks at the scientific view of the origin of things, as if goodness is involved in that at all. It seems completely neutral - not good, not bad, not anything.

K: I understand that, but I am asking you a question - not a scientific question. The question is: If time is involved in the cultivation of goodness, is that goodness at all?

T3: Seems to be a different order of question.

K: I am asking you a different question. What is goodness? What do you all think is goodness?

T3: There seems to be a version of goodness which is usually opposed to badness or evil...

K: Yes, the whole duality business. Go on, sir. What is goodness here? What do you think is goodness?

T4: Virtue can be practised in time.

K: I am not talking about virtue. To me virtue is a cultivation.

T5: Sir, when we say he is a good man, we generally mean that he doesn't harm others. He doesn't act always out of self-interest, gain... It is a quality accumulated in time.

K: Is it? Is goodness the opposite of badness - if such a word exists? Is good the opposite of bad? T5: Sir, what you mean by this question is, is goodness a reaction to the bad and accumulated over time?

K: Yes, all that is implied in the question. One's reaction, one's education, one's culture, environment; all that is tradition - what you read in books and so on. Always the good and the bad. The good fighting the bad, always, from the ancient Egyptians to modern society. There was always the good and the bad, the good god and the bad god, the bad guy and the good guy.

I am saying, if I may, that if the good is born out of the bad, then it is not good.

T3: It is usually looked at the other way round - that the evil is a fall from the good.

K: Sir, I am asking you, is the good related to the bad? Is good the opposite of bad or the reaction which had become the good? Do you understand my question? Or has good nothing to do with, is totally divorced from, bad?

T5: Sir, while I would be able to answer the first question, I am not able to answer the second. The first question being, is the good related to the bad? I would say no, because if I try to be good, then automatically the bad continues.

K: Sir, are you saying that the ideas of the whole evolutionary process of the good and the bad, from the most ancient times, are totally mistaken? That's what we are saying. Do you understand? Come on, sir.

T5: Yes. That's the implication.

K: That the good cannot fight the evil. Right? And throughout the history of man, good is always fighting evil. Great paintings, great art, the whole of human existence is based on this principle. And you and I come along and say, `Look, there is something wrong with this. Good is totally different from bad; there is no relationship between them; therefore they cannot fight. Good cannot overcome evil.'

T3: There is no progression either.

K: Are we saying something totally revolutionary? Or is it some sort of fantasy or imagination of ours?

T6: One of the problems we face is that we have grown used to using particular words in a particular way.

K: Our whole religious conditioning, our whole religious literature, is full of it. There is always hell and heaven, good and bad.

So are we saying something totally revolutionary? And is it true? Something revolutionary may not be true. If it is true, it has nothing to do with the brain.

T1: The implication seems to be that goodness exists prior to man. It seems to mean that goodness is inherent in the universe.

K: Maybe.

T1: It seems to mean that.

K: We are asking the question in relation to what is the brain. What is the mind? Can the mind penetrate the brain?

T1: Again this will imply that the mind is prior to the brain.

K: Of course. Let us call that `intelligence' for the moment. Can that intelligence communicate through the brain? Or can the brain not have any relationship with that intelligence?

T7: Is the brain born of that intelligence?

K: I'm not prepared yet for that question. I am asking you the question. Don't listen to me, sir. I'm not telling you; you and I are enquiring.

T1: I don't want an answer. K: Are you finding out for yourself? Or are you listening to the man? Or is what the speaker says clearing a way for you to see?

T1: This question seems to direct our attention to the universe. Or to nature.

K: That's what we want to get at. Slowly. Is the universe - our idea of the universe - different from us? It's all one movement - the stars, the heavens, the moon, the sun; one tremendous energy. Our energy is very limited. Can that limitation be broken down and we be part of that enormous movement of life?

T1: Would you call this enormous movement `nature'?

K: No, I wouldn't call it nature. Nature is part of us.

T1: This total movement.

K: Is there such a movement? Not `I join the movement' because I am such a small speck. I think I can be very clever; I think I can do this, do that. Can all that be broken down and be part of this enormous movement? I call this goodness. I may be wrong. The window which is so narrow now must be broken down, and then - no window at all. I don't know if I am expressing myself.

What then is life? Is it that immense intelligence which is energy, supreme, unconditioned, uneducated - in the sense of the modern term - something that has no beginning and no end?

T5: Are you implying that creation does not involve time?

K: Invention involves time. Now they are trying to find a cure for cancer. All the books, magazines talk about new methods, to cure cancer. The discovery involves time and knowledge, built on what the previous person has discovered. I learn from you, you learn from him. Creation cannot involve time. I don't know if you see. T8: When you are talking about time, you mean psychological time.

K: Of course, psychological time.

So goodness is not involved in time, therefore it is part of that intelligence which is universal movement. I'm using words I may withdraw later.

Here I am then with a thousand students. As a good educator, I want to see that they understand all this. Not intellectually, not theoretically, not as some fantastic idea, but so that there is real transformation - no, not transformation - so that a real mutation takes place in their lives.

T1: When you say `immense intelligence', the word `intelligence' implies some quality of awareness.

K: It may not.

T1: But then, what is the quality that is intelligent?

K: Probably it has no quality. It is intelligence. You see what you are doing. You are giving it a virtue, a significance, so that you can understand it. I may not be capable of understanding it. I don't know. You see, it may be something incredible or it may be nothing at all. I can't approach this with a mind that says, show me your qualifications, show me your degree.

So what am I to do after an educational conference? What am I to do, as an educator, to bring about a mutation? Not a transformation; there is a difference. Transformation means from one to another, from this to that.

T9: Sir, can we come back to something we skipped over some time ago? We talked about the ending of the limitation we are trapped in; that ending and something else happening. Can we go back to that? For there seems to be something in that we quickly skipped over. K: My brain has been educated, has lived in tradition, whether ancient or modern tradition, my brain has been mauled about, informed, beaten, by all the conditioning that has gone on for centuries. Can that be broken down? Is that your question? Are you sure?

T9: Yes. All of those things that make it possible for this brain to have any relationship with goodness.

K: Let's break it down to one word: consciousness. Can we?

T9: Yes.

K: Or `limitation' or `conditioning', Can all that be broken down? Not through time - that is important. If I use time, I am back in the circle. Do you see that?

T9: Yes, sir.

K: So it must be broken down. Instantly. Not in comparison to, or in relation to, time.

T10: Again, you mean psychological time.

K: Yes, of course. Psychological time is different from ordinary time. I don't know if you see that. Do you? Time by that clock, time by the sun, time to cover a physical distance. We don't know each other, but if we meet often, we will. Or we may know each other instantly. So there is physical time and psychological time. We are talking of psychological time. It takes time for a seed to grow, for a child to become a man. We apply that kind of time to the psyche. I am this, but I will be that; I am not brave, but give me time and I will be. We are talking of time in the field of the psyche.

T1: Can the limitation of consciousness be broken?

K: That is the question. Can the limited brain - which is knowledge - break down the whole field of the psyche? Can the brain break it down - the limited brain? However much it has evolved, this brain will always be limited. T1: By it's knowledge.

K: It is limited by its physical structure, by its very physical environment, by its tradition, education, knowledge, pain, fear, anxiety. Can that limitation break itself down?

T9: Or, can anything else break it down?

K: Wait, sir. Stick to the one question. Can the limited brain break down its own limitation?

T8: Sir, you said good is not related to bad.

K: Don't begin all that. Let's stick to the one question: Can the smallness of the brain break down its own pettiness? Or is there another factor that will break it down? God? Saviour? Vishnu? It can invent god and wait for him to clear it up. Do I make myself clear? Both of you have put that question. After putting that question, what is the state of your brain? After putting that question, what has happened to your brain? The question is important, has weight, has great significance. Tell me, what is the state of your brain after putting that question? It is very important to find out.

T11: It is not depending on god. It is not sure.

K: Are you listening? You have been asking a question. It may be very important, or it may not have any meaning at all. So, I am asking myself: What is the state of your brain after putting that question?

T11: After listening to the question - `Can the petty brain break down its own pettiness?' - what first arose in my brain was: I doubt it, I doubt whether the petty brain can break down its pettiness.

K: Your brain is acting.

T11: Then it said, `I don't know.'

K: But you are still saying something. Your brain is still active, saying, `I don't know, I'm waiting.' T11: Sir, why did you use the words, `You are waiting?'

K: Don't bother. Your brain is active. So what is happening?Just watch, sir. One of them puts this question to me. How do I receive this question? How do I interpret the question? If I interpret the question, I'm not listening to it. So, am I actually listening to the question? Or, as the question is put, do I immediately respond to something, in which case I am not listening at all? It's a verbal communication and I pass it by.

So, do I listen? That implies a certain quality of quietness - a thoughtless movement, a thoughtless looking. What is the state of your brain when a serious question is put? If your brain is at all active, then the question has no meaning. Am I making myself clear?

Someone puts that question to me. What is important is how I receive it, not the answer. I listen very carefully. The question is, `Can the narrow, conditioned brain break down its conditioning?' I'm listening to the question. I'm still listening to the question. Am I actually listening or just saying I'm listening? If I'm actually listening, then there is no movement in the brain at all. Of course, there is a nervous response - hearing through the ear, etc. But, apart from the verbal communication, there is no other movement. I'm still listening - that is the breaking down. I don't know if you know what I'm talking about.

T. Because the brain is not acting.

K: Don't translate it. I don't know if I am making myself clear - that the very state of listening is the state of ending of a certain thing.

So, is that happening? If that is happening to you, then how am I, as an educator, to make those students, for whom I'm responsible, listen? How am I to help them to listen to what I have to say? T6: There is a difficulty here. When you explain something in person, it seems clear. But tomorrow morning...

K: Then you haven't heard. You've heard the hiss of a cobra, haven't you? I used to hear them very often when I walked alone here. I used to see them. And I know a cobra now. Even tomorrow, I will know a cobra. That is an actual fact. Right? Here some kind of sensitivity, watchfulness, alertness is needed.

How am I, as an educator, having heard all this, having absorbed it in my blood - it's not as if I just heard you, therefore I learnt it, it's not just that - but after having heard all that, how am I to see that the students listen to me? You make them listen to you in mathematics, learning a book, biology, history, etc.

Suppose I come to a class and I say, `Please sit down and listen.' They're looking out of the window, they are pulling each other's hair. In that state of mind, can they listen? Or, do I say, `Keep quiet for ten minutes'? But these ten minutes are gone in battling; the brain saying, `I must listen, who the hell is he, asking me to listen?' And all the rest of it. So, how do I cajole, bring round these students to listen?

Sir, how do you make your - I was going to say `victims' - listen to you? How does a doctor or a psychiatrist make a patient listen to him? The patient is all the time concerned about getting cured. He has a particular disease, mania, etc., he wants to be free of it. Tell him what to do and he will do it. Here it is not like that. We are all equals; there is no doctor, nobody to tell you. We are in a state of listening, of enquiry. How do we persuade one person to listen to another? Answer the question.

T5: Either of the two ways, sir. Either I entertain him, or I force him.

K: Yes. I don't want to do either - force, fight, or beat him up. T5: Or entertain?

K: It is all the same. I want them to listen, so that it is all part of their blood. So, how do we proceed, sir?

T8: Must I not listen to them? To what they have to say?

K: They have very little to say, sir. They're quarrelling, muttering, saying, `Give me this, that,' etc.

So, I am asking you as educators, `How do I bring them round to actually listening to what I have to say?' See how long it has taken us to listen to each other. You are willing to listen, to find out. You think K has something to say, we have invited him here. Therefore, there is communication already taking place. But with those students it is different. They are forced to come here, their parents praise Rishi Valley. They come after swallowing the bitter pill, coated with sugar, of course. And so this goes on. Here, with you, it is different. You don't want to do a thing to persuade them. It is marvellous. Put that question to yourself and see what you can do.

T9: Sir, I think it is obvious that we cannot answer this question; and yet this seems to be central to all that we mean to do. That actually is quite a good summary of the conference.

K: I understand what you are saying.

T1: Perhaps here we come back to the beginning - that it requires an action which is creative.

K: Now you've said it. Leave it there. Work it out. That creativity is not born of knowledge or previous experience. Keep that in mind. If it makes use of knowledge, then it becomes invention, just a new way of doing the same thing.

We are asking a very, very serious question. I think it may be that we are all so terribly informed - about everything. Maybe we are so educated that there is no space for anything new to take place; full of memories, remembrances. All that may be a hindrance. Now, don't ask, `How am I to get rid of it?' Then we come back to the same thing.

Suppose you tell me I'm a liar. And I give you all the reasons why I've lied - which is another lie. I hear the word `lie' and I react. I think I'm an honest man. I may not be, but I think I am. Those are two different things. Or, I think I am a truthful man and an incident takes place which makes me untruthful. That instant of discovery - seeing I'm a liar - changes everything. That is my point. It changes me so that I'm no longer dishonest. I've experimented with this. So it is possible. No, I can't even say that.

Can I listen to you when you tell me I'm a liar and not bring up all the reasons? In that act of listening, there is a breakdown.

T3: Surely if the statement is true, there is a breakdown. If I'm not a liar, then there isn't.

K: No, sir. The word `lie' is good enough for me. You understand? I know the reasons why I've lied: a little bit of cowardice. I lied because I don't want them to discover this or that. And when you call me a liar, then I see the actual fact that it is so. I don't go into all the reasons why I've lied. And you tell me, `You are that.' And I listen to you without saying whether you are right or wrong, not putting up a barrier. In that very instant when I am listening without barriers, the thing goes. Something happens. That is the only action, which is inaction.

T3: But the statement itself may be false.

K: May be false. But good enough for me to see that there is some truth in it.

Now, where are we after four days? Are we together? What have you absorbed? And is that absorption common to us all, or are we trying to unify all the schools - being but parts - trying to put them together? Which means that they will always be apart. Or is there a feeling that we are all one, so that our education is not based on American, Indian or English conditions?

So, are we merely a body to supply demands? Or are we to bring about a different human quality, a different human activity of the brain? Are we united in that? Are we together in this? Are we together so that nothing can break us apart? From that, an action which is totally different can take place.