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4th Public Talk - 21st July 1974

4th Public Talk - 21st July 1974

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Talks in Saanen 1974

We have been talking over together the whole materialistic attitude towards life. The word 'materialism' means having values, opinions, judgements based on the principle that there is nothing else but matter, its movement, its modification which includes consciousness and will. That is generally accepted as the meaning of materialism. And philosophies - philosophy really means the love of life, or the love of truth - are ideals, suppositions, theories and systems which have been invented, or been conceived, or formulated by the mind of man. Most people in the world have been conditioned by these philosophies - religious, economic or social. And man has never tackled or enquired into, come to grips with, the whole structure of the mind - the mind that has built the egocentric activity. Egotism has been one of the major factors of our life, probably the only factor. Human beings have accepted it as inevitable, natural. We say, '-It exists in animals, so it exists in us; it is right we should be concerned with ourselves, with improvement, with our position in society', and so on and so on. I do not know if you have ever enquired whether it is not the human mind throughout the world, under different guises, in different forms, which has been the central factor of man's cruelty, man's barbarity and suffering.

To understand the 'me', the ego, we must first of all understand our consciousness at the very centre of which is the 'me'. That consciousness may expand, include everything, but it still has a centre, and that centre, with its structure, its nature and activity is in essence the 'me'.

Consciousness, your consciousness is its content, the content being all the identifications with the race, the family, the community, with an ideology, a culture, a tradition, with the conflict, misery, confusion, with the struggle, the pain, the enormous amount of sorrow and the occasional joy and laughter - all that is its content. And that content is essentially the 'me'. Remove your furniture, your name - what are you? Remove all the ideologies, experiences, knowledge, the fears, hopes, pleasures, pursuits and ambitions - there is nothing left. And we make such an enormous fuss, such a struggle, to maintain this structure.

From this arises the question: is the mind mechanical? Because the 'me' is mechanical, the 'I' which says, 'I believe in, I have faith in, I am this, not that, or I must be this and not that' - this centre of great activity, is the product of a mind which is mechanical. I mean by mechanical the activity of a mind that always operates in the field of the known. If the whole of the mind is mechanical, then no matter what theory, what philosophy it may invent out of its own desperation, its gods, its rituals, its beliefs are no more than theories of the mechanical mind, responses which are the outcome of stored up knowledge. I am a Christian, my conditioning being Christian I respond to that; or according to my conditioning, I am a Communist, a Hindu, and so on. So reflex actions are mechanical. This brings one to question whether the brain, the mind, is wholly conditioned by the culture, the environmental influences, economic conditions, religious penetration of beliefs, ideals, gods, hopes, all that. Is the whole structure conditioned? When we use the word 'mind' we are including not only the nervous responses of the body, but also the emotions, the recognition of emotional states by thought - thought being the response of memory which is stored up as knowledge - and of course the intellect - the total mind, not just a part.

We want to find out if there is any area in the mind which is not mechanical, if there is an energy which is non-mechanical, because we have lived on an energy which is mechanical: I respond to your insult or your flattery; I respond according to my conditioning. That is all within the field of the known, and as long as there is operation within the field of the known it must be mechanical. Man has recognised this, that to live in the field of the known is to live in a prison, and so he begins to speculate, invent, theorize, to say there must be an outside agency, a god, super-consciousness, Atman and so on. But it is still born out of the known. It is a concept formed by the past, therefore it is still within the field of time. So it is nothing new. And in that field we have lived, and in that field there is a certain energy created by thought and friction. That we know - friction as ambition, as envy, friction as competition, and so on. We have lived for centuries in that field, and in that field one has enormous energy, as seen in technology, science, political divisions, quarrels, antagonisms, wars, the extraordinary inventions of destruction - all that demands tremendous energy. Please watch your own mind, your own life, your own way of thinking, living, behaving and responding. And when you watch you will see it is always mechanical, it is always from the known.

Now we are asking whether there is a field, an area of the mind or brain, which has not been touched by the known? Is there an area in the brain which is not contaminated (if I may use that word) by thought - thought being the response of memory? This is real meditation - to find out - and not all the nonsense that goes on in the world in the name of meditation. How is the mind to find out? - not invent, not hypnotize itself in the hope of something new because it is in despair, because it is bored with existence. To find that out every form of illusion must be totally put aside. Right? What brings about illusion? Why does the mind deceive itself, not face the fact as it is; why does it cover it up, escape from it - all of which are illusionary activities. The active present is the fact, whatever that fact is. Is it part of our education never to come directly in contact with 'what is', to be other than we are, to be like someone else, to be somebody in this abominable world; is it because we are always educated to reform ourselves to improve ourselves? And is it because we have ideals which are always over there and never here, never actual, unreal? Is it because basically, fundamentally, we don't know what to do with 'what is'? The incapacity to deal with 'what is' makes us move away from ' what is'.

This is dreadfully serious, because the world is in chaos; it is getting worse everyday, and a serious man has a tremendous responsibility to discover how to face this chaos. Religions haven't solved the problem, nor the politicians, the businessmen, the scientists; they are just drifting, and the more you drift the more the chaos grows. So the man who is really serious, who knows and feels his responsibility, has to consider the transformation of his consciousness, because it is only there that there is any hope of bringing about a different world, a different kind of education, a different human being.

So we are asking: Is there any area of the mind which is really free from the known? Is there any part of the brain which is not cultivated by thought? This is really important, for if we do not find it then we will always live in the field of the known from which thought arises, which is matter. Thought is matter because it is the response of memory; memory is held in the brain cells and from there it responds, therefore it is still matter, and any activity is still within the known and therefore matter. So to find if there is any area of the brain, the mind, which thought cannot possibly enter, one must be free of the known, yet realize its value as function.

You understand the problem? If we understand the problem then the problem will solve itself. It is this: man has cultivated the brain, the mind, giving extensive growth to knowledge - there must be knowledge, obviously, knowledge is essential to function, to go to the factory, to write a letter, to speak English and all the rest - but so long as the mind lives within that area it lives in a prison.

So can the mind see the fact that knowledge is necessary, and yet realize, see the truth, that as long as it lives there it will everlastingly suffer, because it is based on thought? Then can the mind realize the value of knowledge and not be a slave to it? If the mind realizes something it is free of it. Recognising the value of knowledge, yet not dependent on it, not caught in it, not enslaved by knowledge, a new quality comes into being, a new kind of energy. So knowledge has its relative value, and being relative it is not all-important, which we are now making it. Can you see the reality of this: that you must operate in the field of knowledge and yet not be dependent on it? Therefore a certain quality of freedom from the known comes into being. Then you can begin to enquire by watching the movement of thought, the source of thought, by being aware, whether there is a demarcation, not drawn by thought, between the known and something else which is not at the behest of thought, which thought cannot capture at all.

Let me put it differently. When we look at our life, our daily life, obviously we are very materialistic people; we depend on our senses, our senses dictate our action. We are really totally worldly people. And in materialism, which has been the conditioning of our life, there are two principal factors: pain and pleasure. As long as we live within that field of materialism pain and pleasure become extraordinarily important, and there is no escape as long as we live there. I don't know whether you understand this? We are materialistic, we depend on and react according to our senses we react according to our opinions, judgements, evaluations, which are all the product of thought, thought being matter. And as that has become as extraordinarily important in the world, pleasure and fear are the principal factors that direct behaviour. As long as we live in that area these two factors dominate, and there can be no escape from it, because to what do you escape? - more pleasure or more fear; more pleasure conceived by thought, or the avoidance of fear by seeking security in isolation: looking after myself, looking after my country with which I have identified myself, with my gods - gradual identification and isolation, and therefore more fear. Where there is isolation, division, there is inevitably wider and deeper fear, because the mind, being materialistic, pursues pleasure; for that is all it has, its gods, its moralities, its churches, its doctrines, everything based on the pursuit of pleasure and therefore more fear. Please do see this, because we are caught in this. You have your fears and the endless pursuit of pleasure, the dark fears explored and unexplored, all within this area of the known, which is matter.

Only when the mind discovers an area where thought cannot possibly enter - not as an illusion, not as a hope, a belief, not as an idea - then only does fear disappear entirely. Do you understand? And there- fore, when there is no fear there is the understanding of pleasure, not the pursuit of pleasure, but the understanding of it.

So can the mind be free from the known yet see how important the known is? If it sees this, then in the field of the known the activity of the 'me' does not enter. Do you see the difference? If I see the importance of knowledge and its value, its significance, its necessity, then the 'me' which has created such mischief in the world has no place in knowledge, it cannot identify itself with knowledge, because knowledge is pure function. But when function becomes status then it is the operation of the 'me'. I wonder if you have understood?

Thus in the field of knowledge, objective efficiency, without the ruthlessness of the 'me' entering into it, takes place, because it is pure function. There the 'me' has no place at all. See the beauty of it! So the mind then begins to enquire if there is any area where it is totally free of the human endeavour, the human struggle, pain, sorrow. Unless the mind finds that, there is no way out. You can invent a way out, but it is still the known, materialistic. Now how does one discover this? Obviously not by a system - a system is still part of the known. Therefore what is the instrument of enquiry, of observation? Do you know? You have to find out, but not through somebody else, because if you find it through somebody else it is not truth; it is like living in the shadow of another. So when you are confronted with this problem, probably for the first time, you have no answer. Right? Really, you have no answer. That is a great thing! You understand? It is a marvellous thing to say, ' I have no answer. I don't know what to do', knowing that nobody is going to give you a helping hand, knowing that you can't possibly look to another. You really don't know. That is essential, and that is real innocence. Please listen to this carefully. That is deep, inexhaustible, innocence to say, 'I really don't know.' Not that you are waiting for an answer, not that you are expecting something, because then we play that game again. To remain totally in that state of not knowing, for out of that not knowing you have a tremendous energy, haven't you? Then you are curious, you are not eager for satisfaction, you are not wanting to achieve something. That state of total not knowing is part of the brain which has not been contaminated. You understand? All the things which man has put together through centuries I know very well, but when I say, 'I don't know', the mind has uncovered a field which has not been touched.

Now can the mind remain there, yet function in knowledge? Look Sirs, man has searched for god, for happiness, for a better way of life, he has invented philosophies of various kinds, but he has not been able to solve his problem of sorrow, and unless he solves that he cannot possibly come upon that area of the mind which has not been touched by thought. Can the mind watch its activity - not try to change, reform or control it, because the observer is the observed - and see what it discovers in the field of the known and be totally responsible for that? That means not to let knowledge be used by thought as the 'me' - therefore there is only function, no status. Where there is status there is the 'me' operating. Now can we do this, do this in daily life? You know that means great attention, not the attention of will, but simply to watch it as you watch a squirrel playing round the trees, or a child running about, just to watch it with care and affection. Then you will see that the 'me' doesn't enter at all in the field of the known, in the operation, in the function. Then you have a whole area of the mind, the brain, which is totally unoccupied. You know when there is no occupation it is free, it is alive, it is moving.

From this arises another problem: is it a matter of time to see this? The reality of knowledge and the non-reality of knowledge - to see this and to function in that - does that require time - time being a movement from here to there? I need time to learn a language, to learn a new technique; but is time necessary in seeing the operation of the known, the reality of it, the necessity of it, the inevitability of it, and the freedom from that which is an area totally innocent, innocent in the sense of an area which has not been hurt at all? You understand? We human beings are hurt, from our childhood we have been hurt, by parents, by fellow students, by everybody; the more sensitive we become the more we are hurt. And being hurt we resist, we withdraw and go through agonies of neurotic activity. An area of the brain which has never been hurt - does it take time to come upon that? It will take time if you make that into an ideal - which the mind will inevitably do - a thing to be gained, achieved, a thing with which I want to identify myself so that I will have more energy - to create more mischief. The desire to achieve is the factor of the 'me' which gives a direction. Is it a matter of time? Improvement is a matter of time, self-improvement, but the total emptying of the mind as the 'me' is not of time, because you see reality.

Do you see the whole of this, all that has been said this morning? - the materialistic attitude of our daily living in which there is great fear and great pleasure as the two operating principles within the field of the known. That is what we have lived on, and with that we are trying to get rid of fear to hold on to pleasure - all the battle that has been going on. Do you see also that as long as the mind lives there, there is no escape from fear, no solution to fear however deeply you analyse, there is no ending to fear or to sorrow? It is only when you come upon that other thing that there is an ending to all that.

To see all that, the totality, doesn't require time at all. You either see it or don't see it. If you don't see it, it is either because you don't want to see it or you are so committed to your own belief, your own knowledge, to your own little self, or it is because you have not paid attention or you don't care how you live. But if you give your total attention you can't help seeing the totality - and then it is over, finished.

Questioner: How can we put an end to violence between youngsters in our family?

Krishnamurti: How can we put an end to violence between our children, the violence of the younger generation? Why has violence become so extraordinarily pervasive, why is it increasing so incredibly? Is it, first of all, because the parents have no time to give their children, because they are so occupied with their own problems, earning a livelihood and so on, and thus there is no relationship between the young and their elders? Is that one of the reasons? - not the only reason. The parents are away from home working to earn more money and the children are sent off to school. In the school there is competition, there is fighting - you know all that is going on in modern schools. There is no relationship, no real, deep human communication between the so-called teacher and the students. The teacher is occupied with his own problems, so he cannot find time before the lesson starts to talk to his pupils about living a life of goodness, quietness and gentleness; or to convey what he means because he is himself living it and not just talking about it. Is that one of the reasons? And yet another - pick up any newspaper any day and you read of some kind of violence: wars, somebody has been murdered, raped or kidnapped. It is pervasive, it is all around, this sense of violence.

Why has this happened right throughout the world in recent years? Is it a reaction to Victorian ideals? Is it because some specialists have declared that children must just be allowed to grow up, never corrected, never told what to do, never punished? Is it because of recent wars? Or is it because everything around us has lost its meaning? The Communists, with their gods and their philosophy, have treated human beings like so many insects: millions and millions have been destroyed. There is so much violence everywhere, and is this why the younger generation, seeing how their elders have not brought peace to the world, feel they must be violent too? They see conflict in everything around them, in the struggle for security, success, position. This is the pattern of life, and we are educated to that from childhood. Do you not think it is inevitable then that violence comes into being.

Also with religion - not this kind of crazy, circus religion, but the established religion which everyone quotes from - never do the churches say, 'Don't kill!'. Rather they say ' Kill when necessary'. They have blessed the battleships, they have blessed the guns. They dare not say, 'Don't kill another human being', because they are supported by governments, property and all the rest.

So taking all this into account, what is a child to do? He is sensitive, inquisitive, tender, has no affection, no love in his home, or only occasionally, he sees his parents drinking, smoking, taking drugs, quarrelling, violent. There is the whole pattern set for him. Therefore what is he to do? What are you to do if you have children? And those who have no children in these days may well say, 'Thank god!' But for those who have, this is a tremendous problem, a tremendous responsibility. It is not just a matter for half-an-hour's discussion and then return to your life of violence. So what are you to do when all the schools, the colleges, the universities are based on competition, with the struggle to have a place, the fear of not getting a place? What will you do with your child? Will you create a new school, undertake the responsibility with a few others for the money, the work, everything involved in a school? Have you the energy, the interest, the care, the affection to do that? If not, you will drift the way of the rest. If you cannot start a school and there are other kinds of schools, then help them. Do you follow? It is for you to create schools. We, the speaker and some others, are doing this; we want to do this, we are burning with it. It is our responsibility to carry this out and not just talk and talk endlessly and do nothing.

21st July 1974