2nd Question & Answer Meeting 4
Truth demands a mind that is totally free
2nd Public Questions, Ojai, California
May 06, 1982
We are very punctual.
In answering these questions we are both of us answering them, you and the speaker. So we are going into it together, and I think what is important is how we approach the problem. We talked a great deal about it the other day, in what manner we approach a problem; whether it is a prejudice, bias, or from a fixed point of view, then the question will be directed or shaped by our motive. Can we approach the problem without a motive, without a direction, so that the problem itself reveals the whole content of itself and therefore it is already answered when the whole content of it is shown.
1st Question: The act of attention for most of us is difficult to maintain. Only a small part of one is willing, interested seriously. What can one do to nourish this attention?
I wonder if we can go into the question together: what do we mean by attention? What is the difference between awareness, concentration, and attention? Could we go into that together? To be aware; as one is sitting under these beautiful trees on a lovely morning, nice and cool, not too hot, one is aware of that woodpecker pecking away, one is aware of the green lawn, the beautiful trees and sunlight, the spotted light, and if you are looking from that direction you are aware of those mountains. How does one look at them? How do you look at this marvellous sight? The beauty of this place. What does it mean to you? Do you observe it, aware of it without any choice, without any desire, urge, just to observe the extraordinary beauty of the land. And when you observe so easily, aware of all this - the light and the shade, the branches, the darkness of the trunks and the light on the leaf, and the extension of this marvellous earth - how does one react to all that? What is the feeling behind that awareness? Is it that beauty of that land and the hills and the shadows, is it related to our life, is it part of our life, or it is there to be observed - if you are a poet, you write about it, if you are an artist you paint it, or if you are good at conversation or description you put it into words. But this beauty, this awareness of this, what is its relationship to one's life? That's part of awareness, the awareness of the external and the awareness of one's own reactions to the external, and to be aware of the movement of this. As you are sitting there, are you aware of the colours of the shirts or robes or whatever the ladies wear, are you aware of all that?
Or when we are aware is there always a choice? 'I prefer this land to another land', 'I prefer this valley to other valleys', so there is always memory and choice operating. And can one be aware without any choice at all, just to be aware of the extraordinary sense of the blue sky, the blue sky through the leaves, and just move with it all. And is one aware of one's reactions, and when one is aware of one's reactions is there a preference? One more desirable than the other, one is more urgent than the other, one is more continuous, habitual, and so on; and so from the outer move to the inner - you understand what I am saying? - so that there is no division between the outer and the inner; it's like a tide going out and coming in. That's an awareness of this world outside of us and an awareness of the world deep inside of us, conscious as well as the unconscious. When one is really deeply conscious or aware, there is no remnant or hidden unconscious movement. I don't know if you have gone through all this, if you have done it, not merely listened do a lot of words. So awareness is this movement of the outer and the inner and discover for oneself whether there is division between the outer and the inner. Of course there is a division between the tree and myself - I am not the tree, I hope. But in observing that thing which we call 'tree', to discover our reactions to it, how we react to beauty, to ugliness, to brutality, to violence, to competition and quietness and so on.
And what do we mean by concentration? Because they are all related: awareness, concentration, and attention. What is concentration? To concentrate upon a page, upon a picture, to concentrate all one's energy on a particular point. In that concentration is there not the effort to concentrate? Whereas - effort to concentrate, that is, you are trying to read a particular page and out of the window you see a marvellous light on a flower and your thought wanders off to that, but then you try then to pull that thought back and concentrate on something. So there is this constant struggle to focus one's energy, visual and so on, so there is a resistance, a struggle, and all the time trying to focus on a particular point. Are we meeting? This is right, isn't it, when we talk about attention, about concentration.
The questioner asks, attention happens occasionally and how is one to nourish that attention so that it is continuous, not haphazard? So we are asking: what is attention, to attend? Are you interested in the question? To attend. To attend to that woodpecker. Did you listen to that woodpecker? There it is!
In concentration there is always the one who tries to concentrate, and in that concentration there is an effort and control. So there is a controller and a controlled in concentration. I hope you see this for yourself. There is the controller who is trying to focus his thought on a particular subject, but thought is all the time moving, wandering around, and so he tries to control it and in that control there is a form of resistance. There is a division between the controller and the controlled. And so there is an effort, a sense of division. Where there is division there must be conflict between the controller and the controlled. That is generally what we call concentration. Now is there in attention this division? You follow? The controller trying to attend and therefore there is a division between the thought that says, I must attend, I must learn how to sustain attention or nourish it. I hope you are following all this. So is there in attention a centre from which you attend, or when you listen to that woodpecker, you are listening.
So is there in attention an entity who is attending or there is only attention? Which means attending with your listening, perception, seeing and giving all your energy to attend to something. Are you listening attentively now? Listening to the speaker, what he is saying about attention. Are you actually listening? And when you really listen, there is no centre as the 'me' who is listening. You are following this? Is this right? Whereas there is always a centre in concentration. We are saying attention has no centre and therefore extensive. And it cannot be nourished - you attend if you are listening, if there is an intensity, you can't - it is attending. Is this fairly clear? May we go?
So, really, awareness without choice, a choiceless awareness, and concentration, and this sense of extensive, vast attention. Attention has no periphery, whereas concentration has - it is limited.
2nd Question: What is an action and state of being that is completely pure?
I wonder what we mean by action. What does action mean to you? To act. Does one act according to a principle, according to a prototype or an ideal, or according to some preconceived idea and act approximating that action to that ideal, prototype, to a concept, to a conclusion. Please follow all this, if you are interested in all this. When we talk about action, do we not mean we are acting either with a motive or with a conclusion which we have come to through experience and set a pattern according to which you are acting, or act according to an ideal, a projected ideal - all ideals are always in the future - or, you act according to some bias, prejudice, or a pattern set by an authority, specialist, and so on. We generally act in that manner. And we are asking, is that action?
Action means the doing now. Not according to something that you have remembered or projected. Then you are acting according to a pattern which has been set by an authority, by your own experience and so on. Right? Are we clear on this matter? So there is an - action is always apparently an act according to something or other. I act - I do something through habit, through my conditioning, through my various accumulated prejudices, which I call knowledge - and for most of us that is action. My father, my country has told me what to do, and I do and I act according to that, or I revolt against the pattern, set my own pattern and act according to that - patterns are the same whether it's given to me or I have made for myself - patterns are patterns. A mould, a norm is a norm. It's not Christian norm or Indian norm or Buddhist norm, it is a norm, a framework within which I act. Right? Now, we are asking - we are exploring together, I am not telling you how to act, because that would be too silly.
Then what do we mean by action? Does action vary according to circumstances, according to climate, to pressure? All these are involved in that one that one word, 'action'. I don't know if you are exploring it with the speaker. So is there - we are investigating - is there an action which is correct, precise, not changing according to one's mood, according to one's temperament, pleasure, and so on, action that is true, not dependent on the past as a memory or the future as an ideal. You are following all this? This is involved in that one word. So we are asking, is there an action totally free from all conditioning? Conditioning is to have an ideal which then dictates or tries to impose upon 'what is'. Right? I am greedy, and I have an idea of not being greedy and I try to act according to 'what should be', not 'what is'. Or, I have been so conditioned by commercialism, by television, greed is non-existent - I want to buy and I buy. They tell me to buy this or that, and I buy.
So, can we find out what is right behaviour, which is action, what is right movement which will not change according to various circumstances. That is really the problem, one of the problems in that question. You have understood? One has exposed the full meaning of that word. Right? The implication of that word, the wide significance of that word. Then is it possible to act without a motive, without an ideal, without any form of conditioning? Conditioning is environmental, conditioning is religious, conditioning is according to what one has read, educated and so on - conditioning. So the problem there is, can the mind, the brain - let's keep to the word 'mind' for the moment - can the mind be free from all conditioning so that it acts? That requires a great deal of attention, a great deal of watching: to be aware that one has ideals and is conforming our actions according to that. I am this, I should be that, which is called self-improvement. Lovely phrase! That is, the self, which is selfishness, trying to improve itself, so it is becoming more selfish. So, is it possible to put away all this and see actually what is and act. You understand? This requires I don't want to go more into this - shall we go more into it?
Is there an action which is not born out of knowledge? Careful now. There is a technological action, physical action, where I must have a great deal of knowledge if I am to be a good engineer, a specialist in computers - I must have a great deal of knowledge about it, or a good carpenter, good builder - there knowledge is necessary. And if I act psychologically according to knowledge, I am accumulating knowledge and acting according to knowledge which is incomplete, therefore it is always in conflict. Right? Do we see this or am I going too That which is incomplete must always be fragmentary in its action; obviously. Is it right? Shall we go on?
So is there an action - please, enquire with me, don't accept, be a little sceptical about this - is there an action - rationally sceptical - is there an action which is not born of psychological memory? If I act according to my psychological knowledge which I have gathered about myself and I know that knowledge is always limited, my actions then will be limited. Right? And therefore any limited action must invariably bring about its own contradiction. Right? So my action must breed regret, pain, contradict that action the next day and so on, so on. So is there an action that is free - please just find out, don't accept all this - is there an action free from the past recollections, past memories, past accumulation of all psychological information which is knowledge, and that knowledge, which is me, and therefore that me is limited, and when I say, I will do this and act in this manner, that action will invariably be limited and contradictory, and therefore confusing and so on.
Right? If this is understood clearly, then is there an action - apart from the technological and all the rest of it - is there an action which is totally free from the accumulated experience of the past as me, as memories, recollections? Probably nobody has asked this question. Not that I am the original, but probably we have not asked that question. And we are asking it now. It is a very interesting question, it is really, because that involves - do you want me to go into all this? Is it an amusement for you? As I was saying, if you are interested, I will go into it. If you are interested in it - the brain is always accumulating, recording, every experience is recorded - the accident or some happening is recorded, and according to that record you act - naturally. If I have had a motor accident, I am very careful next time. There it is necessary. But I am asking, we are asking, is there an action which is not previously recorded? You understand? Right? You see? Does it interest you, this?
Ask yourself this question, sir: our actions are based on past records, like a gramophone, you play the disk over and over and over again; that is your record; the record and action according to that past noise. Now, is there an action which is not born out of psychological recording? You are following all this? How do you find out? Here is a problem put to you. You may reject it, say that's nonsense, that can never happen. That's a possibility. Also, the other possibility - it may happen. Right? It may be true, or it may be false, but you have to investigate it. To investigate it, you can't assert one or the other. Right? So, one must let those two go - the assertive statement that it is not possible, or the negative assertion that it is possible. So they are both put aside. Then, what is the state of your mind - are you interested in all this? - what is the state of your mind which is freed from the sense of past recording, and acting according to that? It's freed. If it is freed, and if it's possible to be freed, then what is the quality of perception, the insight that is instant action? You are following? You understand? Just listen to it, and I'll explain a little more, if I may, and if you are interested in it, if you have the patience to go into it.
I am walking along the mountain, and I suddenly come to a precipice. The action there is instantaneous. The action is brought about by self-preservation, which is intelligence. Right? Self-preservation is natural, bodily response which says, guard yourself. There it is also cultivated. It has been the experience of mankind not to fall over a precipice. That past continuous self-preservative motive is recorded - unconsciously or consciously - and the response there is natural intelligence. Now, similarly we have recorded psychological preservation. Are you following this? That is, what am I if I have no memory? If I have no if there is no recording? I am nobody. So, the fear of being nobody, and the knowledge of that gives a central feeling that you must preserve yourself. Right? You are following all this? And from that you act. Therefore, memory, knowledge, is necessary, and there it is the same movement carried over into the psychological field. Is this clear, or am I muddling it? I am afraid I'm muddling it. Clear as mud! (Laughter)
Now I want to find out - I'm serious in this matter - I'll meditate for hours or think, work, I must find out whether there is an action which is not born out of previous records. If that is your intense demand, that is what you want to find out, then one has to watch very carefully any recording taking place. And a recording will not take place when there is complete attention. It's only inattention, lacking attention, that creates - what was I going to say then? - that creates the recording. Have you noticed this? When you are looking at those mountains or this landscape with all the trees and the sunlight, and you are giving complete attention to it, that is, watching, watching all the trees, all the movement of the leaves and the light on the leaves and the shadows - complete attention, there is no recording. Please experiment as we are sitting here.
So it is possible not to record; which is an action born out of remembrance, an action born of an insight into - an insight, and from that insight there is action. I'll take one example, I hope that'll help; I don't like taking examples, but I will go into it.
One perceives logically that organised religions all over the world, with their beliefs, with their dogmas, with their rituals, with their superstitions, with their particular form of worship, and so on, so on, so on, is just born out of fear, born out of propaganda, born out of the threat of society - threat of society is, if you are a Protestant in a Catholic country, you find it rather difficult. Right? So, to have an insight into the whole nature of the religious organised structure. To have complete insight into it, which means you're neither a Hindu nor Catholic, Protestant, whatever it is. You see the content of that structure instantly, and that perception, immediate perception, frees you from all organising - of religious constructed organisation. Right? That no so-called spiritual structure, spiritual authority will ever free man from sorrow. To have an insight into it means that you don't belong to anything. There is immediate freedom from all that, as when you come to a precipice, there is instant action. You are getting all this? Are we meeting each other somewhat? It can't be somewhat, it must be entirely understood.
So there is an action that is not born out of past remembrances or future hopes and ideals. It is being totally aware of 'what is', and having an insight into 'what is' is the ending of 'what is'. I wonder if you see that? Shall I go on to the next question?
3rd Question: Since the word is not the thing, can we truly be enlightened through words? Can symbols undo the damage done by symbols, or are we being seduced by the illusion of enlightenment?
I wonder if most of us realise that the word is never the thing. My wife is never the woman, or my husband. The word - you know if you go into this problem of the word - do you want to go into all that? If we realise the word is not the actual thing, the description is not the actuality, the symbol is never the fact, the ideal is never 'what is, and if you observe, if you are aware, our brain is caught in words; network of words. I am a Catholic, I am a Protestant, I am an American - you follow? They are all symbols, they are all words, pictures. And the brain is caught in that. That is, thinking is a word; without a word, is there a thinking? I don't want to go into all this.
It is very interesting for you to find out all these things, because then your mind becomes extraordinarily alert, naturally. To be free of the word, but yet use the word accurately. So the word is not the thing; and the symbol is never the actual. Fear, the word fear, is not the reaction. Right? But the word 'fear' shapes our action. Not the feeling of fear, but either the word creates the fear, or, the word shapes the fear; and is it possible to look at that reaction without the word. This is quite simple.
Can we truly be enlightened through words?' Good god! I wonder why we use the word 'enlightenment'? Obviously - we'll go into the word 'enlightenment', it's very interesting to go into what we mean by enlightenment, which all the gurus talk about. It is a word to some people that is a sacred word, to be enlightened. Not through books, not through knowledge, not through time. You understand? It isn't a thing that you gradually work up to - by practice, by meditation, by doing all kinds of tricks. So, obviously, the word 'love' is not love. And, similarly, what is enlightenment? Who is enlightened? Enlightened of what? Enlightened about what? You follow? Enlightened - don't go funny about it. Surely a mind that is enlightened is free from all conditioning. A Hindu, with his superstitions, with all the business of his religious conditioning, as well as psychological and environmental conditioning has made him call himself a Hindu. How can such a mind, which has been so conditioned ever be free? Is enlightenment complete freedom from conditioning? Can a Catholic - I hope there's nobody I am not treading on anybody's toes - can a Catholic, with all his superstition, with his saviours, with his rituals, and the hierarchical authority and so on, can he ever be enlightened? With his conditioning, baptism, you know the whole intellectual, cunning business that holds the people to a pattern. You answer it yourself. Can a mind - can a human being be enlightened when he is frightened? When he is seeking power, position, accumulating money in the name of enlightenment - which is what some of the gurus are doing, vast sums of money; and they talk about enlightenment.
So the word is not the thing. And, the questioner asks, have the symbols done damage to the human psyche? Obviously. If I am a Hindu - personally I am not - if I am a Hindu - I was born in India, but that has no meaning - if I am a Hindu, they've got innumerable symbols, like the Christian world: their goddesses, their gods, tribal gods and smaller gods and higher gods. I have been conditioned in that - if. And how can I Those conditionings, those symbols, have damaged the clarity of a mind, of the psyche. Right? That is obvious. Symbols obviously have done damage. Because that prevents a human being going directly to truth, to the fact, not worship the symbols.
The questioner also asks: are we being seduced by the illusion of enlightenment? Obviously. That sounds lovely. But enlightenment is not of time. It's not a process. It's not something that you gradually come to. To be free from all conditioning, which also implies to be a light to oneself completely, and not depend on any person, any idea, any teacher - a light to oneself. So wholly, from that light there is action.
Ah, this is a lovely question, the next one.
4th Question: Why do we not change?
Yes, sir. I was going to ask that question myself. (Laughter)
I see people here whom I have known for many years come year after year, and I have asked them, too, why do we not change? What will make us change? Do ask this question yourself. What is the energy, the drive, the intensity, that will make us change? Change - what do we mean by that word 'change'? Change from this to that. Right? That is preconceived; therefore it's no change at all. I wonder if you see this? Do we see this? If I change according to some pattern which I have carefully established, it is not change. It's a continuation of 'what is', modified, which I hope will lead me further, and further modification, but it is the same chain. Right? The same movement. So, what do we mean by change? To the speaker it means the ending, not continuation of 'what is' modified. You understand? Take for instance physical revolution; the Communists, the Leninists, the Trotskyites - change. Their idea of revolution is to change the whole structure of society, the outward environment, hoping thereby to bring about a different human being. That is, the outside pressure of change from the Tsar to the Communist, Bolshevik and so on, will ultimately or as soon as possible make man different. So, they have not succeeded; on the contrary, they have done terrible things.
So we are talking about change psychologically. Change completely the content of our consciousness. Right? Not change consciousness into a better consciousness, to a more polished consciousness - less violent but occasionally violent, and so on, so on. The ending of the content of consciousness is radical change radical mutation. I won't use the word 'change' there. So, why don't we change? Move away from this totally. Have we made the question clear? Why, after millions and millions of years, we human beings have reduced ourselves to the present appalling condition - it is appalling, frightening: the violence, the brutality, the killing for a piece of land - for god's sake! Why? And the question is: why don't we bring about ending to all this? Please answer this. You are all educated, workers, intelligent in a certain direction, making money, going to work, and all the rest of it, but you haven't solved the real issue. Why? Will outside pressure change you, bring about a mutation of the psyche? Mutation means total change, that which has been is not. Not change to something. That which has been, that is, my anger, my violence, my stupidity, my holding onto some idiotic illusion, some symbol which perhaps will save me from something or other. What will make us change? Outside pressure obviously has not done it. Right? That's very clear. Is that clear to you? By changing society, you are not going to be changed. Because you have created the society. That's clear? We have made this society what it is: wars, killing each other for some national prestige, honour, a piece of land. You understand what all this is?
And after thousands of years we are not free from fear. What will make us change? More knowledge about yourself? More knowledge of the world, outside of us? Knowledge that we must not kill and we kill? We have accumulated thousands of years of knowledge which has helped us to kill people; and also we have knowledge that we shouldn't kill. Where does it lead us?
Right? So, will suffering, pain, attachment, pressure, the carrot - reward and punishment? You follow? Will all that change us? Apparently it hasn't. So what will make us change? Not change - what will make us transform, what will make us end this terrible confusion, sorrow, pain, anxiety, lonely - all that - end? Tears? We have cried enough. Sorrow? Nothing outside. I wonder if we realise that. No gods, no saviours, no external force, agency is ever going to change us. We are much too clever for all that. Much too cunning.
I think this is a very serious question one should ask oneself: will time bring about this mutation? You have had time, million years, obviously time will not. So nothing outside will change us, will bring about mutation. What will change us is only our own attention, our own awareness of the confusion in which we live, and watching that, remaining with that completely, not trying to change it, not trying to do something about it. You understand this? It is very interesting. We reject - if we do - outside agency altogether - gods and all reject it, any intelligent man does reject it. But he doesn't reject the operator inside. You understand? The actor who says, I will do this. That actor is the past memory, past remembrance, past knowledge. If that could be completely transformed then you observe 'what is' completely freely, and when you observe so totally with complete attention, that which is has completely ended. So it must be one's own perception of one's misery, confusion, and live with it wholly, not trying to act upon it.
It is now an hour and ten minutes, can you stand some more of this?
Krishnamurti: Can you really stand it?
5th Question: Can you speak more deeply about the meaning of holiness and especially its place in the modern world?
The word 'holy' is not the reality. Right? Is thought holy - H-O-L-Y - sacred? Go on, sir, investigate it. Is thought, thinking, which has created the architecture, the cathedrals, the most marvellous l0th, 12th century - extraordinary beauty. If you have been to some of those ancient temples, the ancient cathedrals in Europe, the extraordinary sense of vitality of those pillars, the beauty of the high ceiling. Thought has done all that. And thought also has created all the content within that structure, that marvellous stone structure. Right? That's obvious, isn't it? Right? So what is sacred? That is, what is that which is holy, whole? If thought is sacred, then everything that it creates is holy: the cannon, the atom bomb, the killing of each other, the computer, the saviour - your saviour, not mine - the rituals, the beating of somebody - you follow? - then, if you once admit thought is sacred, everything it does is sacred. Right? And thought has invented that which is not sacred and that which is sacred. It has divided the world as the world, and that which is sacred which is not the world. The saint and the sinner.
So please, this is a very serious question, it's not just a casual question at the end of several other questions. It's very, very serious, this, because thought is tearing man apart: the British, the French, the American, the Russian, the Argentine. You follow? So if you once admit or acquiesce or accept that thought, whatever it does, is sacred, then you have nothing to worry about. Then you will kill each other, you will carry on as you are. That may be what you want. That may be what humanity wants.
If you want to find out that which is most holy, you cannot measure it by words. To measure that which is measureless by words has no meaning. But to come upon that which is holy, sacred. Is love thought? Then is love desire? Without love, that which is sacred cannot be.
So all these explanations are not that which is. That which is eternal cannot be put into words. But when time and thought has come to an end, that which is most sacred is. But if you say, how am I to end my thought, how is time to stop, then you are back to the good old... But to find out, to go into it, what is thought, whether it can end. Thought cannot end as I am going from this place to that place, when I drive a car, or in the very usage of language, in communication. But inwardly, can time stop? Can thought come to an end? Not through control, not through will, but the urge to find out that which is from the beginning, which has no end. To go into it, to find out, requires - this is real meditation, which is the whole movement of life.