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How is one to understand the totality of suffering?
How is one to understand the totality of suffering?
This is the last talk of this series, and we have been considering during all the meetings we have had together what kind of attitude or action is necessary to meet the challenge of a world which is so completely confused and destructive. There is a process of destruction, of degeneration going on everywhere, not only within society but also within the individual. There is a wave of deterioration which always seems to be catching up on us. There are so many divisions between people, not only economically but also racially and religiously. There is terrible suffering and squalor throughout the East, not only physically but also emotionally, psychologically; there is tension, conflict, confusion everywhere.
Considering all this, it seems to me that a totally new mind is necessary; not a reconditioned mind, not a mind that has been brainwashed by the Communists, the Capitalists, the Christians or the Hindus, but a totally new mind. And we have been considering how to bring about this new mind.
We have approached it from practically every point of view, outwardly and inwardly, and we have seen, I think, that the more we try to change the mind outwardly - through propaganda, which most religions are, or through economic or social pressure - the more the mind is conditioned, the shallower, emptier, more dull, more insensitive it becomes. It is fairly obvious, I think, to anyone who has at all observed these things, that a mind that is conditioned, consciously or unconsciously, a mind that is influenced, however subtly, is utterly incapable of dealing with the many problems that arise in modern civilization.
Most of us, I feel, are inwardly, psychologically, so petty and narrow, ridden with information and knowledge. And we have so many problems - the problems of relationship, the problems that arise in our daily lives, what to do and what not to do, what to believe and what not to believe, the everlasting search for comfort, for security and for an escape from suffering - that when one has taken a grandstand view of them all, there seems to be very little hope. So, obviously, what is necessary, what is eminently desirable and essential is the quality of a completely new mind; because now, whatever we touch brings, about a new problem.
So, as we were saying at our last meeting, a religious mind is necessary. And we can see, can we not?, that a religious mind is a mind that has purged itself of all beliefs, of all dogmas; it is capable of an inward awareness, a com: prehension which brings about a certain stillness, quietude. And, being inwardly quiet, there is an intense awareness of everything outside itself. That is, because it has understood all the conflicts" frustrations, troubles, turmoils, suffering within itself, and is therefore still, outwardly it becomes intensely active in the sense that all the senses are vitally awake, capable of observing without any distortion, of following every fact without giving it a bias.
So the religious mind is not only capable of observing outward things clearly, logically, precisely, but through self-knowing it has become inwardly still, with a stillness that has a movement of its own. And we said that such a religious mind is therefore in a state of constant revolution. We are not talking about any form of partial revolution, not a Communist, Socialist or Capitalist revolution. The capitalists do not generally want a revolution anyhow, but the others do; and their kind of revolution is always partial - economic and so on. Whereas a religious mind brings about a total revolution, not only within but without; and I feel that it is the religious revolution, and no other, that can solve the many problems of human existence.
And what can such a mind do? What can you and I, as two individuals, do in this monstrous, mad world? I do not know if you have ever thought about it. What can a religious mind do?
We have explained very clearly that a religious mind is not a Christian, Hindu or Buddhist mind, not a mind that belongs to some tawdry sect, or some society with fantastic beliefs and ideas; but a truly religious mind has inwardly perceived its own validity, the truth of its own perceptions, without distortion, and is therefore capable of logically, rationally and sanely thinking out the problems that arise and never allowing any problem to take root. The moment a problem is allowed to take root in the mind, there is conflict; and where there is conflict, the process of deterioration is taking place, not only outwardly in the world of things, but also inwardly in the world of ideas, of feelings, of affections.
So what can the religious mind do? Probably very little. Because, the world, society, is made up of people who are ambitious, greedy, acquisitive, who are easily influenced, who want to belong to something, to believe, and who have committed themselves to certain forms of thought and patterns of action. You cannot change them except through influence, through propaganda, through offering them new forms of conditioning. Whereas the religious mind is telling them to completely denude themselves, inwardly, of everything. Because, it is only in freedom that one can find out what is true and if there is truth, God. The believing mind can never find what is true or if there is God; it is only the free mind that can discover. And to be free one must go through all the bondages which the mind has imposed upon itself and which society has created around it. That is an arduous task; it requires great penetration, outwardly and inwardly.
After all, most of us are caught in suffering. We all suffer in one way or another, physically, intellectually or inwardly. We are tortured, and we torture ourselves. We know despair and hope and every form of fear; and in this vortex of conflict and contradictions, fulfilments and frustrations, longings, jealousies, and hatred, the mind is caught. Being caught, it suffers, and we all know what that suffering is: the suffering that death brings, the suffering of a mind that is insensitive, the suffering of a mind that is very rational, intellectual, that knows despair because it has torn everything to pieces and there is nothing left. A mind that is suffering gives birth to various types of philosophies of despair; it escapes into various avenues of hope, reassurance, comfort, into patriotism, politics, verbal argumentations and opinions. And to a suffering mind there is always a church, an organized religion, ready, waiting to receive it and to make it even more dull by its offers of comfort.
We know all this; and the more we think about it all, the more intense the mind becomes, and there is no way out. Physically you may be able to do something about suffering, take a pill, go to a doctor, eat better food, but apparently there is no way out of it all except through escape. But escape makes the mind very dull. It may be sharp in its arguments, in its defensiveness; but the mind that is escaping is always afraid, because it has to protect the thing to which it has escaped, and anything that you protect, possess, obviously breeds fear.
So suffering goes on; consciously we may be able to brush it aside, but unconsciously it is there, festering, rotting. And can one be free of it, totally, completely? I think that is the right question to ask; because if we ask, `How to be free from suffering?', then the `how' creates a pattern of what to do and what not to do, which means following the avenue of escape instead of facing the whole issue, the cause and effect of suffering itself. So I would like, before we begin to discuss, to go into this question.
Suffering perverts and distorts the mind. Suffering is not the way to truth, to reality, to God, or whatever name you like to give it. We have tried to ennoble suffering, saying it is inevitable, it is necessary, it brings understanding and all the rest of it. But the truth is that the more intensely you suffer the more eager you are to escape, to create an illusion, to find a way out. So it seems to me that a sane, healthy mind must understand suffering, and be utterly free from it. And is it possible?
Now, how is one to understand the totality of suffering? We are not dealing merely with one type of suffering which you may be going through or I may be going through; there are, as we know, many forms of suffering. But we are talking of suffering as a whole, we are talking of the totality of something; and how does one comprehend, or feel the whole? I hope I am making myself clear. Through the part one can never feel the whole, but if one comprehends the whole then the part can be fitted in, then the part has significance.
Now, how does one feel the whole? Do you understand what I mean? To feel, not just as an Englishman, but to feel the whole of mankind; to feel not merely the beauty of the English countryside, which is lovely, but the beauty of the whole earth; to feel love as a whole, not only for my wife and children, but the total feeling of it; to know the total feeling of beauty, not the beauty of a picture framed on the wall, or the smile on a lovely face, or a flower, a poem, but that sense of beauty which is beyond all the senses, beyond all words, beyond all expression - how does one feel it?
I do not know if you have ever asked yourself that question. Because, you see, we are so easily satisfied with a picture on the wall, with our own particular garden, with a tree we have singled out in a field. And how does one come to feel this entirety of the earth and the heavens, and the beauty of mankind? You know what I mean, the deep feeling of it?
I am going to go into it, if you will kindly follow, but let us leave it aside for the moment. We will let the question boil, simmer, go on unravelling, and we will approach it differently.
A mind that is in conflict, in battle, at war within itself, becomes dull; it is not a sensitive mind. Now, what makes the mind sensitive, not just to one or two things, but sensitive as a whole? When is it sensitive, not only to beauty but to ugliness, to everything? It is only, surely, when there is no conflict - that is, when the mind is quiet within and therefore, able to observe everything outwardly, with all its senses. Now what creates conflict? And there is conflict not only in the conscious, outward mind - the. mind which is terribly conscious of its own reasonings, its own knowledge, its technical achievements and so on - but also in the inward, unconscious mind which probably, if one is at all aware, is at boiling point all the time. So what creates conflict? Please do not answer, because mere mental analysis or psychological investigation does not solve the problem. Verbal examination may show intellectually the causes of suffering, but we are talking of being totally free of suffering. So we must experience while we are talking, and not remain at the verbal level.
What creates conflict is obviously the pull in different directions. A man who is completely committed to something, is generally insane, unbalanced; he has no conflict; he is that. A man who completely believes in something, without a doubt, without a question, who is completely identified with what he believes - he has no conflict, no problem. That is more or less the state of an ill mind. And most of us would like to be able to so identify ourselves, so commit ourselves to something that there is no further issue. Most of us, because we have not understood the whole process of conflict, only want to avoid conflict. But as we have pointed out, avoidance only brings further misery.
So, realizing all that, I am asking myself the question, and therefore putting it to you also: what creates conflict? And conflict implies not only the contradictory desires, the contradictory wills, fears and hopes, but all contradiction.
Now why is there contradiction? Please, I hope you are listening, through my words, to your own minds and hearts. I hope you are using my words as a door way through which you are looking, listening to yourselves.
One of the main causes of conflict is that there is a centre, an ego, the self, which is the residue of all memory, of all experience, of all knowledge. And that centre is always trying either to conform to the present, or to absorb the present into itself - the present being the today, every moment of living, in which is involved challenge and response. It is forever translating whatever it meets into terms of what it has already known. What it has known are all the contents of the many thousand yesterdays, and with that residue it tries to meet the present. Therefore it modifies the present, and in the very process of modification it has changed the present, and so it creates the future. And in this process of the past, translating the present and so creating the future, the self, the `me', the centre is caught. That is what we are.
So, the source of conflict is the experiencer, and the thing which he is experiencing. Is it not so? When you say, `I love you', or `I hate you', there is always this division between you and that which you love or hate. So long as there is a division between the thinker and the thought, the experiencer and the thing experienced, the observer and the observed, there must be conflict. Division is contradiction. Now, can this division be bridged over so that what you see, you are; what you feel, you are?
Let us first be quite clear that so long as there is a division between the thinker and the thought, there must be conflict, because the thinker is forever trying to do something about the thought, trying to alter it, to modify it, to control it, to dominate it, trying to become good, not to be bad, and all the rest of it. So long as there is this division, which breeds conflict, there must be this turmoil of human existence, not only within but without.
Now, is there a thinker, apart from thought? Am I making the question clear? Is the thinker a separate entity, something distinct, something permanent, apart from the thought? Or, is there only thought, which creates the thinker, because then it can give to that a permanency? You follow? Thought is impermanent, it is in a constant state of flux; and the mind does not like to be in a state of flux. It wants to create something permanent, in which it can be secure. But, if there is no thought, there is no thinker, is there? I do not know if you have ever experimented with this, thought at all along these lines, or investigated the whole process of thinking and who is the thinker. Thought has said that the thinker is supreme, that there is the soul, the higher self, and so has given the thinker a permanent abode; but all that is still the result of thought.
So, if one observes that fact, if one actually perceives that fact, then there is no centre.
Please, this may be fairly simple to state verbally; but to go into it, to see it, to experience it, is very difficult. I feel that the source of conflict is this division between the thinker and thought. This division creates conflict; and a mind in conflict cannot live, in the highest sense of that word; it cannot live totally.
I do not know if you have ever noticed that when you have a very strong feeling, either of beauty or of ugliness, provoked from outside or awakened inwardly, in that immediate state of intense feeling, there is, for the moment, no observer, no division. The observer comes in only when that feeling has diminished. Then the whole process of memory comes in: then we say, `I must repeat it' or `I must avoid it', and the process of conflict begins. Can we see the truth of this? And what do we mean by seeing? How do you see the person who is sitting on the platform? You not only see visually, but you also see intellectually; you are seeing that person through your memory, through your likes and dislikes, through your various forms of conditioning; and therefore you are not seeing, are you? When you really see something, you see without any of that. Is it not possible to look at a flower, without naming it, without giving it a label - just to look at it? And is it not possible when you hear something lovely - not just organized music, but the note of a bird in a forest - , to listen to it with all your being? And in the same way, can one not really perceive something? Because, if the mind is capable of actually perceiving, feeling, then there is only experiencing and not the experiencer; then you will find that conflict, with all its miseries, hopes, defences and so on, comes to an end.
When you see the whole truth of something; when you see the truth that conflict ceases only when there is no division between the observer and the observed; when you actually experience that state, without bringing all the forces of memory, all the yesterdays into it; then conflict ceases. Then you are following facts, and are not caught in the division which the mind makes between the observer and the fact.
The fact is: I am stupid, weary, bound to a dull routine of daily existence. That is a fact, but I do not like it; so there is a division. I loathe what I am doing, so the mechanism of conflict is set going, with all the defences, the escapes and the miseries it entails. But the fact is that my life is an ugly thing, it is shallow, empty, brutish, habit-ridden.
Now, without creating this sense of division, and therefore conflict, can the mind simply follow the fact; follow all the routine, the habits; follow it without trying to alter it? That is perception in the sense that we are using that word. And you will find that the fact is never static, it is never still. It is a moving, living thing; but the mind would like to make it static, and therefore conflict arises. I love you, I want to hold on to you, to possess you; but you are a living thing, you move, you change, you have your own being; and so there is conflict, and out of that comes suffering. And can the mind see the fact and follow it? Which means, really, that the mind is very active, alive, intense outwardly, and yet quiet within. A mind that is not absolutely quiet within, cannot follow a fact - it is so rapid. And it is only such a mind that is capable of this process, capable of following every fact as it presents itself all the time, without saying that the fact should be this or should be conflict and the misery - only such a mind cuts at the root of all suffering.
Then you will see, if you have gone that far - not in space and time but in understanding - that the mind comes to a state when it is completely alone.
You know, for most of us, to be alone is a dreadful thing. I am not now speaking of loneliness, which is a different thing. To walk alone: to be alone with somebody, or with the world: to be alone with a fact. Alone in the sense of a mind that is uninfluenced, a mind that is no longer caught in yesterday, a mind that has no future, a mind that is no longer seeking no longer afraid - alone. A thing that is pure is alone; a mind that is alone knows love, because it is no longer caught in the problems of conflict, misery and fulfilment. It is only such a mind that is a new mind, a religious mind. And perhaps it is only such a mind that can heal the wounds of this chaotic world.
Question: Would you tell us a little more of what love is?
Krishnamurti: There are two things involved in this, are there not? There is the verbal definition according to the dictionary, which is not love, obviously. The word `love' is not love any more than the word `tree' is the tree. That is one thing, and in that is included all the symbols, the words, the ideas about love. The other is, that you can find love only through negation, you can discover it only through negation. And to discover, the mind must first be free from the slavery to words, ideas and symbols. That is, to discover, it must first wipe away everything it has known about love. Must you not wipe away everything of the known if you would discover the unknown? Must you not wipe away all your ideas, however lovely, all your traditions, however noble, to find out what God is, to find out if there is God? God, that immensity, must be unknowable, not measurable by the mind. So the process of measurement, comparison, and the process of recognition must be completely cut away, if one would find out.
In the same way, to know, to experience, to feel what love is, the mind must be free to find out. The mind must be free to feel it, to be with it, without the division of the observer and the observed. The mind must break through the limitations of the word; it must see all the implication of the word - the sinful love and the Godly love; the love that is respectable and the love that is unholy; all the social edicts, the sanctions and the taboos which we have put around that word. And to do that is a tremendously arduous work, is it not? - to love a Communist, to love death. And love is not the opposite of hate, because what is opposite is part of the opposite. To love, to understand the brutality that is going on in the world, the brutality of the rich and the powerful; to see a smile on a poor man's face as you go by on the road, and to be happy with that person - you try it sometime, and you will see. To love requires a mind that is always cleansing itself of the things it has known, experienced, collected, gathered, attached itself to. So there is no description of that word; there is only the feeling of it, the wholeness of it.
Question: In other words, in that moment, one is love.
Krishnamurti: I am afraid not, sir, because there is no known moment as that moment. There is no process of recognizing that you are love. Have you not ever been angry, have you not ever hated someone? At that moment, do you say, `I am that'? There is no recognizable moment, is there? You are that completely.
Question: Christ taught us how to love in his words, `Love thy neighbour as thyself'.
Krishnamurti: Please, sir, I hope I can put it so that you will not misunderstand. To find out what is true, there can be no authority, no teacher, no follower. The authority of the book, the prophet, the saviour, the guru, must completely, totally come to an end if one would find out how to love the neighbour. There is no teaching; and if there is a teaching and you are following it, the teaching has ceased to be. What difference is there between the dictator and the priest who is full of power and authority?
Krishnamurti: It is no good just answering me, sir. That was not a rhetorical question. After all, we all have authorities: the authority of the professor who knows, the authority of the doctor, the authority of the policeman, the authority of the priest, or the authority of our own experience. To see where authority is evil requires an intelligent mind; and to eschew authority is quite arduous. It means to perceive the totality of authority, the whole of it, the evilness of power, whether in the politician, in the priest, in the book, or your own authority over the wife, the husband. And when you do see it, really feel it completely, then you are no longer a follower. It is only such a mind that is capable of discovering what is true, because a mind that is free can pursue the fact. To pursue the fact that you hate, you do not need authority; you need a mind that is free from fear, free from opinion, and that does not condemn. All this requires hard work. To live with something beautiful or something ugly, requires intense energy.
Have you noticed that the villager, the mountaineer, who lives with a magnificent mountain does not even see it; he has got used to it. But to live with something and never get used to it, one has to be so intense, to have such energy. And this energy comes when the mind is free, when there is no fear, no authority.
Question: Is the process of cleansing the mind a process of thought?
Krishnamurti: Can thought ever be clean? Is not all thought unclean? Because thought is born of memory, it is already contaminated. However logical, however rational it may be, it is contaminated, it is mechanical. Therefore there is no such thing as pure thought, or `free' thought. Now to see the truth of that demands a going into the whole process of memory, which is to see that memory is mechanical, based on the many yesterdays. Thought can never make the mind pure; and seeing that fact is the purification of the mind. Please do not agree or disagree. Go into it, go after it as you go after money, position, authority and power. Put your teeth into it; and out of that comes a marvellous mind, a mind that is purged, innocent, fresh, a thing that is new, and so in a state of creation and therefore in revolution.
Question: At the moment of perception of `what is', will you tell us what happens?
Krishnamurti: I can give you a description of it, but will that help? Let us look at it. The fact is, that we hate, we are jealous, envious. And you condemn it, saying, `I must not; so there is a division. Now what creates the division? First of all, the word. The word `jealousy' is in itself separative, condemnatory. The word is the invention of the mind, caught in the knowledge centuries, and therefore made incapable of looking at the fact without the word. But when the mind does look at the fact without condemnation, which means without the word, then the feeling is not the same as the verbal description, it is not the word. Take the word `beauty'. You all seem to purr when that word is mentioned! To most of us beauty is a thing of the senses. It is again descriptive - `He is a nice looking man', `What an ugly building!' There is comparison `This is more beautiful than that'. Always the word is used to describe something we feel through the senses, the manifested, as the picture, the tree, the sky, a star, a person.
Now is there beauty without the word, beyond the word, beyond the senses? If you ask the artist he will say that without the expression, beauty is not; but is that so? To find out what beauty is, the immensity of it, the totalness of it, there must be the quickening of the senses, a going beyond the things we have labelled as beauty and ugliness. I do not know if you are following all this. Similarly to follow a fact like jealousy requires a mind that gives full attention to it. When one sees the fact, in the very perception of it, in the instant you see it, the jealousy is gone, gone totally. But we do not want the total disappearance of jealousy. We have been trained to like it, to live with it, and we think that if there is no jealousy there is no love.
So to follow a fact requires attention, watching. And what happens after? What happens as you are actually watching is much more important than the end result. You understand? The watching itself is much more significant than being free of the fact.
Question: Can there be thinking without memory?
Krishnamurti: In other words, is there thought without the word? You know, it is very interesting, if you go into it. Is the speaker using thought? Thought, as the word, is necessary for communication, is, it not? The speaker has to use words English words, to communicate with you who understand English. And the words come out of memory, obviously. But what is the source, what is behind the word? Let me put it differently.
There is a drum; it gives out a tone when the skin is tightly stretched an at the right tension, you strike it, and it gives out the right tone which you may recognize. The drum, which is empty in right tension, is as your own mind can be. When there is right attention and you ask the right question, then it gives the right answer. The answer may be in terms of the word, the recognizable; but that which comes out of that emptiness is, surely, creation. The thing that is created out of knowledge, is mechanical; but the thing which comes out of emptiness, out of the unknown, that is the state of creation.
May 28, 1961