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Part IV, Chapter 1 - Brockwood Park, 3rd Public Talk - 12th September 1970 - ‘The Unconditioned Mind’
Part IV, Chapter 1 - Brockwood Park, 3rd Public Talk - 12th September 1970 - ‘The Unconditioned Mind’
IF YOU ARE at all serious, the question whether it is possible to uncondition the mind, must be one of the most fundamental. One observes that man, in different parts of the world, with different cultures and social moralities, is very deeply conditioned; he thinks along certain lines, he acts and works according to pattern. He is related to the present through the background of the past. He has cultivated great knowledge; he has millions of years of experience. All this has conditioned him – education, culture, social morality, propaganda, religion – and to this he has his own particular reaction; the response of another form of conditioning.
One has to be sufficiently attentive to see the whole significance of this conditioning, how it divides people, nationally, religiously, socially, linguistically. These divisions are a tremendous barrier, they breed conflict and violence. If one is to live completely at peace, creatively – we will go into the words ‘peace’ and ‘creatively’ presently – if one is to live that way, one must understand this conditioning which is not only peripheral or superficial; but also very deep, hidden. One has to discover whether the whole structure of this conditioning can be revealed. And when that is discovered, what is one to do, to go beyond it?
If one observes that one is conditioned and says, ‘One can never possibly uncondition the mind’, the problem ends. If you start out with a formula that one will never be unconditioned, all enquiry ceases, one has already resisted and answered the problem and there it ends; then one can only further decorate the conditioning. But if one goes into this fairly deeply and one becomes aware of the whole problem, then what is one to do? How does one respond if this is a very, very serious challenge and not something that one just brushes aside? If it is something vital and tremendously important in one’s life, what is one’s response?
If you have discovered this conditioning then what is the manner of your observation? Have you observed it for yourself or has somebody told you about it? This is really quite an important question to answer. If you have been told about it and you say, ‘Yes, I am conditioned’, then you are responding to a suggestion; it is not real, it is only a verbal concept which you have accepted, with which you agree; that is quite different from the discovery of it for yourself, for then it is tremendously vital and you have the passion to find the way out of it.
Have you discovered that you are conditioned because you have enquired, searched and looked into it? If so: ‘who’ has discovered it? – the observer, the examiner, the analyser? – ‘who’ is observing, examining, analysing the whole mess and the madness that this conditioning is causing in the world? ‘Who’ by observing has discovered the structure of this conditioning and its result? By observing what is happening, outwardly and inwardly – the conflicts, the wars, the misery, the confusion in oneself and outside oneself (the outside is part of what one is) – by observing this very closely (all over the world this thing is happening) I have discovered that I am conditioned and have found the consequence of this conditioning. So: there is the ‘observer’ who has discovered that he is conditioned, and the question arises: is the ‘observer’ different from that which he has observed and discovered, is that something separate from himself? If there is separation, then again there is division and therefore conflict as to how to overcome this conditioning, how to free oneself from this conditioning, what to do about it and so on. One has to discover whether there are two separate things, two separate movements, the ‘observer’ and that which is observed. Are they separate? Or is the ‘observer’ the observed? It is tremendously important to find this out for oneself; if one does, then the whole way one thinks undergoes a complete change. It is a most radical discovery as a result of which the structure of morality, the continuation of knowledge, has, for oneself, quite a different meaning. Find out if you have discovered this for yourself, or whether you have accepted what you have been told as fact, or whether you have discovered this for yourself without any outside agency telling you ‘It is so’. If it is your discovery, it releases tremendous energy, which before had been wasted in the division between the ‘observer’ and the observed.
The continuation of knowledge (psychological conditioning) in action is the wastage of energy. knowledge has been gathered by the ‘observer’ and the ‘observer’ uses that knowledge in action, but that knowledge is divided from action; hence here is conflict. And the entity that holds this knowledge – which is essentially his conditioning – is the ‘observer’. One must discover this basic principle for oneself; it is a principle, not something fixed; it is a reality which can never be questioned again.
What happens to a mind that has discovered this truth, this simple fact, that the ‘observer’ is the observed – psychologically speaking? If this is discovered, what takes place to the quality of the mind – which has for so long been conditioned by its concepts of the ‘Higher Self’ or the ‘Soul’ as something divided from the body? If this discovery does not open the door to freedom it has no meaning; it is still just another intellectual notion, leading nowhere. But if it is an actual discovery, an actual reality, then there must be freedom – which is not the freedom to do what you like or the freedom to fulfil, to become, to decide, or the freedom to think what you like and act as you wish.
Does a free mind choose? Choice implies decision between this and that; but what is the need of any choice at all? (Please, sirs, these are not verbal statements; we have to go into it, we have to live it daily and then will be found the beauty of it, the vigour, the passion, intensity of it.) Choice implies decision; decision is the action of will; who is the entity that exercises will to do this or that? Please follow this carefully. If the ‘observer’ is the observed, what need is there for decision at all? When there is any form of decision (psychologically), depending on choice, it indicates a mind that is confused. A mind that sees very clearly does not choose, there is only action – the lack of clarity comes into being when there is division between the ‘observer’ and the observed.
Questioner: Factually there has to be this choice, this division does there not?
Krishnamurti: I choose between brown cloth and red cloth – of course. But I am talking psychologically.
If one understands the effects of choice, the effects of division and decision, then the choosing becomes a very small affair. For example: I am confused; in this world I have been brought up as a Catholic, or as a Hindu; I am not satisfied and I jump into another religious organization that I have ‘chosen’. But if I examine the whole conditioning of a particular religious culture, I see that it is propaganda, a series of acceptances of beliefs, all arising through fear, through the demand for security, psychologically; because inwardly one is insufficient, miserable, unhappy, uncertain, one puts one’s hope in something that can offer security, certainty. So when the particular religion to which I belong fails, I jump into another, hoping to find that security there; but it is the same thing under another name, whether called ‘X’ or ‘Y’. When the mind is very clear about this, it understands the whole situation and it has no need of choice; then the whole response of action according to ‘will’ comes completely to an end. ‘Will’ implies resistance and is a form of isolation; a mind that is isolated is not a free mind.
A mind that is caught up in the acquisition of knowledge as a means to freedom does not come to that freedom. Why has knowledge become such an extraordinarily important thing in life? – knowledge being the accumulated experience of that which other people have discovered – scientific, psychological and so on, together with the knowledge one has acquired for oneself through observation, through learning. What place has knowledge in freedom? Knowledge is always of the past; when you say ‘I know’, it is implied that you have known. Knowledge of every kind, scientific, personal, communal, whatever it is, is always of the past; and as one’s mind is the result of the past, can it be free at all?
Questioner: What about self-knowledge?
Krishnamurti: See, first, how the mind accumulates knowledge and why it does so; see where knowledge is necessary, and where it becomes an impediment to freedom. Obviously to do anything one must have knowledge – to drive a car, to speak a language, to do a technological job – you must have abundance of knowledge, the more efficient, the more objective, the more impersonal, the better – but we are speaking of that knowledge which conditions one, psychologically.
The ‘observer’ is the reservoir of knowledge. The ‘observer’ therefore, is of the past, he is the censor, the entity that judges from accumulated knowledge. He does this with regard to himself. Having acquired knowledge about himself from the psychologists, he thinks he has learnt about himself and with that knowledge he looks at himself. He does not look at himself with fresh eyes. He says, ‘I know, I have seen myself, parts are extraordinarily nice, but the other parts are rather terrible.’ He has already judged and he never discovers anything new about himself because he, the ‘observer’, is separated from that which is observed, which he calls himself. That is what we are doing all the time, in all relationships. Relationships with another or relationships with the machine are all based on the desire to find a place where we can be completely secure, certain. And we seek security in knowledge; the keeper of the knowledge is the ‘observer’, the thinker, the experiencer, the censor, always as being different from the thing observed.
Intelligence is not in the accumulation of knowledge. The accumulation of knowledge is static – one may add to it but the core of it is static. From this static accumulation one lives, one functions, one paints, one writes, one does all the mischief in the world and one calls that freedom. So can the mind be free of knowledge, of the known? This is really quite an extraordinary question, if one asks it not merely intellectually, but really very, very deeply; can the mind ever be free of the known? Otherwise there is no creation; there is nothing new under the sun then; it is always reformation of the reformed.
One has to find out why this division between the ‘observer’ and the observed exists; and can the mind go beyond this division, so as to be freed from the known to function in a different dimension altogether? – which means that intelligence will use knowledge when necessary and yet be free of knowledge.
Intelligence implies freedom; freedom implies the cessation of all conflict; intelligence comes into being and conflict comes to an end when the ‘observer’ is the observed, for then there is no division. After all, when this exists there is love. That word, so terribly loaded, one hesitates to use; love is associated with pleasure, sex and fear, with jealousy, with dependency, with acquisitiveness. A mind that is not free does not know the meaning of love – it may know pleasure and hence know fear, which are certainly not love.
Love can only come into being when there is real freedom from the past as knowledge. Is that ever possible? Man has sought this in different ways; to be free of the transiency of knowledge. He has always sought something beyond knowledge, beyond the response of thought; so he has created an image called God. All the absurdities that arise around that! But to find out if there is something that is beyond the imagery of thought there must be freedom from all fear.
Questioner: Are you differentiating between the brain as intellect and the mind; the mind being something other, an awareness?
Krishnamurti: No, we are using the word ‘mind’ as meaning the total process of thought, as memory, as knowledge, including the brain cells.
Questioner: Including the brain cells?
Krishnamurti: Obviously. One cannot separate the brain cells from the rest of the mind, can one? The brain – what is the function of the brain? A computer?
Questioner: Yes, I think so.
Krishnamurti: A most extraordinary computer, put together over thousands of years; it is the result of thousands of years of experience, to secure survival and safety. And one has so much knowledge of everything that is happening in the outer world, but very little knowledge about oneself.
Questioner: Could not creation depend on memory and therefore depend on the past? You said earlier that there is in fact nothing new under the sun.
Krishnamurti: ‘There is nothing new under the sun, – at least the Bible, Ecclesiastes, says so. Are we not confusing creation with expression – and whether a creative person needs expression? Do think it out: ‘I need to fulfil myself in something that must be expressed’, ‘I have a feeling that I am an artist and I must paint, or write a poem.’ Does creation need expression at all? And does the expression of an artist indicate a mind that is free in creation? You understand? One writes a poem or paints a picture – does that indicate a creative mind? What does creativeness mean? Not the mechanical repetition of the past!
Questioner: I think creativeness does need expression or we would not have a world.
Krishnamurti: Creativeness does need expression? What does creativeness mean? What is the feeling of the mind that is creative?
Questioner: When the mind is inspired; when it can make something good and beautiful.
Krishnamurti: Does a creative mind need inspiration?
Must not the mind be free to be creative – free? Otherwise it is repetitive. In that repetitiveness there may be new expressions but it is still repetitive, mechanical; a mind that is mechanical, can it be creative? The mind of a human being in conflict, in tension, neurotic – though writing marvellous poems, marvellous plays – can it be creative?
Questioner: It must be ‘in the now’ and not...
Krishnamurti: What does it mean, to be ‘in the now’? It cannot be mechanical. It cannot be burdened with all the weight of knowledge, of tradition. It means a mind that is really, profoundly free – free of fear. That is freedom, is it not?
Questioner: But surely it must still seek safety; that is the function of the brain.
Krishnamurti: Of course, it is the function of the brain to seek security. But is it secure when it conditions itself as to nationality and religious belief, in saying this is mine, that is yours and so on?
Questioner: It seems to me that without opposition there is no growth. It is part of neurology.
Krishnamurti: Is it?
Questioner: Without high there is no low, or without wide there is no narrow.
Krishnamurti: Let us find out. We have lived that way, between the good and the bad, between hate, jealousy and love, between tenderness and brutality, between violence and gentleness, for millions of years. And we say we have accepted that because it is something real; is it, to live like that? The quality of mind that wavers between hate and jealousy and pleasure and fear, can it know what love means? Can a mind that is always seeking expression, fulfilment, seeking to become famous, to be recognised – which we call becoming, being, which is part of the social structure, part of our conditioning - can such a mind be creative? When a mind is caught in always becoming something, in the verb ‘to be’, ‘I will be’, ‘I have been’, there is the fear of death, the fear of the unknown, so it clings to the known. Can such a mind ever be creative? Can creation result from stress, opposition, strain?
Questioner: Creativeness is joy, imagination.
Krishnamurti: Do you know what joy means? Is joy pleasure?
Krishnamurti: You say ‘no; but that is what you are seeking, are you not? You may have a moment of great ecstasy, great joy, and you think about it. Thinking about it reduces it to pleasure. We all so easily come to conclusions, and a mind that has reached conclusions is not a free mind. Find out whether one can live without any conclusions; live daily a life without comparisons. You conclude because you compare. Live a life without comparison; do it and you will find our what an extraordinary thing takes place.
Questioner: If there is just the experience and the experience is fear, or anger, what happens?
Krishnamurti: If one lives only in an experience without that experience being recorded and recognised in the future as an experience, what happens? I think one has first to find out what we mean by that word ‘experience’. Does it no mean ‘to go through’? And does it not imply recognition, otherwise one would not know that one had had an experience? If I did not recognise the experience, would it be experienced?
Questioner: Can there not just be the experience?
Krishnamurti: Go a little further. Why do we need experience at all? We all want experience; we are bored with life, we have made life into a mechanical affair and we want wider, deeper experiences, transcendental experiences. So there is the escape from boredom, through meditation, into the so-called divine. Experience implies recognition of what has happened; you can only recognise if there is a memory of that thing which has already happened. so the question is: why do we seek experience at all? To wake us up, because we are asleep? Is it a challenge to which we respond according to our background, which is the known?
So, is it possible to live a life in which the mind is so clear, awake, a light to itself, that it needs no experience? That means to live a life without conflict; that means a mind that is highly sensitive and intelligent, which does not need something to challenge it or to awaken it.