4th Question & Answer Meeting 2
Truth demands a mind that is totally free
4th Public Questions Ojai, California
May 13, 1982
This is the last question and answer meeting. Again, there have been so many questions handed in and we cannot answer all of them.
I really would like to ask a question of you, if I may. You have put so many questions for the speaker to answer, the speaker would like to ask you a question, and I hope you don't mind. Why is it, being so educated, living in an affluent society, with marvellous land, with forests, rivers, great mountains, why is it that you do not change? I think that's a very important question to put. Why is it that we are so indifferent - not to outward responses, but to something deep, abiding, something that is worthwhile? Why is it that we don't change?
This has been a question which the speaker has been concerned with wherever he goes. There are large audiences, small discussions, interviews and so on, and at the end of the journey there are so very, very, very few who deeply bring about a radical transformation in themselves. They are very friendly, there are social workers, some are politicians, some are some of the well-known gurus. They all seem to follow the same old pattern, outwardly demanding certain political changes to stop a particular kind of war, to have a little more money and so on. But deeply in their relationships, in their enquiry they go up to a certain point and there it ends. Why? I leave that question with you, and we'll answer these questions and I'll pick up that question again at the end of the several questions that have been put.
1st Question: One sees that chaos in the world is rapidly increasing. Billions are being spent on arms, social justice is being eroded, governments, both totalitarian and democratic are increasingly aggressive, and violent. Though one sees the necessity of much deeper fundamental human change, could the speaker comment on the issue of active political involvement?
Am I Democratic or Republican, is that it? Apart from joking, why, if one may ask, why do we have such great confidence in political leaders? It is the same issue in all the countries - in France, in England, here, in India, and so on. Why? We put such confidence in the economists, in the politicians, in the leaders. Why do we do this? And what do we mean by political action?
Please, we are enquiring together, you are not just listening to the speaker, waiting for his explanation and answer. We are thinking together over this problem which is really a very serious problem, which is affecting the whole of mankind. Some political group, Democratic, comes into power - Conservative or Labour, or Republican or Democrats - and they seem to have such extraordinary power, position and authority, and we follow them. They tell us what to do and we accept them. Why is it that sense of trust in them and accepting their judgements. We are sent to war, according to some rulers, government officials, and thousands are being killed; because a majority has voted them into power, position and direction and we merely like sheep follow them. Generally they appeal to our lowest instincts, to our national pride, honour and all that business. And we are stimulated by all that and we are willing to kill others for this, for a piece of land, and so on. Why? Why do we trust them?
Please, you answer this question. And what do we mean by political action which is different from all other actions? Why do we separate politics from our daily living? Why do we separate a political activity of the left, right, centre, or extreme left, extreme right? Why, if one may ask, why is political action so very different from our action of relationship, action with regard to fear in ourselves, and so on? Or is politics part of our life, not something separate. The politics, as we explained the other day, according to the common usage, which is in the dictionary, is the art of government, science of government. Why do we give this art to the politician? They apparently are a separate breed, different from us. This is really a question that involves, why do we depend on a politician, a guru, a priest, on anybody to govern us? Please answer this question. Why do specialists take charge of our life? Is it that we have no so-called confidence in ourselves? We are not sure of ourselves, and we attribute this clarity to the politicians and to the others. Is it in ourselves that we are insufficient and somebody out there is going to make us sufficient?
So, are we to treat life as separate factors: political, religious, economic, and so on? (Sound of saw) There is a new noise today. Or, are we to treat life as a whole? Please, regard, question this. The questioner asks, what political action is there that one can take? The questioner perhaps - one may be misjudging him, if one is please forgive us - is that action, political, different from religious action, from the action of an idealist, or does one treat life, the whole living, learning in colleges, universities, schools, relationship, fears, faith, anxiety, and political action - isn't that a whole way of living? Am I conveying this?
Is it that we are so fragmented in ourselves - as a religious action, political action, family action, individual action, collective action - you follow? Or do we treat life as a total movement in which all these activities are included. But if we separate one from the other, we'll inevitably bring about contradiction. A religious life is incompatible, one will say with political life; a religious person will have no part with politics, because generally politics is such a crooked affair, controlled by big industrialists, by wanting great deal of money for the party, and they're depending on rich people and so on, so on, so on. So how do we, each one of us, answer this question? There is increase of armaments; just now they are destroying each other, killing each other for - god knows for what. And both the democratic world and the totalitarian world are becoming, as the questioner says, more and more aggressive.
So what is your how do you deal with this question? It's very easy to put questions. Very easy to put a question and try to find an answer from another. But if we have to answer this question ourselves, taking what is actually going on in the world: the national, religious, economic divisions, wars, tremendous spending of money on armaments - what's your answer? How would you answer this question? If you are Americans, we'll say, 'Our way is the best way', and so on, so on, so on. Or, would you consider the right answer, the true answer is, that we cannot separate these activities but treat life as a whole movement?
And what is a political action? Would you like to start a new party, social democratic party? Or, look for a new leader for the next election; condemn the present leader, and when the new leader comes into being next election, again there is doubt about him - you know the whole when the honeymoon is over then begins the whole problem. So, what is your answer? Please sir, go into it for yourselves. What is your answer when you have thought it out deeply? Do you want to ask if there is an activity, if there is action which is not divisible, an action that includes politics, religion, economics, everything - the whole bundle of life. And is that possible?
One sees corruption right through the world - black market, rich people getting tremendously more rich, the privileged classes, and so on. Where do you begin to bring about an action that will include all actions? Where do you begin? To go very far, one must begin very near. Right? So what is very near? Me. I am the nearest person, so I begin - not as a selfish activity, or self-centred movement - I am the nearest, or I am the centre from which I start; not out there. Can I live a life that is absolutely not broken up? A religious life separate from all other lives, activities, but a life that is political, religious - you follow? Can I live that way?
That implies, does it not, do I understand the whole separative activity completely, and in the comprehension of the separate activities which then become contradictory, conflicting, endless divisions - if I understand that very clearly, perceive it not in abstraction or as an ideal or intellectually, but as a factual thing. From that observation one will act which will be complete. Have I answered the question? If you are actually wanting to start a political action, new party, new group, new leader of your own, then I am afraid you and I won't meet; we are back into the same old pattern. But we are saying, a life that is complete, sufficient psychologically, from that quality of mind and heart, then all action is included in that.
2nd Question: You say that out of the negative comes the positive. How does one negate the 'I' without suppression or denial or without conflict? Who is that which does the negating? Can you go into this problem?
You are going to go into this problem, not the speaker.
What is positive action? And what is negative action? The positive action is, I must do that, I will do that, this is right, this is wrong, or what is considered positive following certain idealistic cause which will eventually bring about a different world and so on - the positive action, positive thinking as the evangelists and others propagate. Positive thinking. And what is negative thinking? To think of others badly? I don't know what negative thinking is, really. Thinking is in itself is negative, but it doesn't matter, we'll go into it. (Laughter)
So the questioner wants to know whether the self, the essence of selfishness, the self-centred activity, can be denied without suppression, without conflict, without any form of evasion. That is the question. We are not saying that you must negate the I. How can you negate the I? And who is it, as the questioner says, who negates or asserts? When you say 'I am', who is it that says 'I am' aggressively? And who is it that says, 'I am not'? Both the positive and the negative, who is it? Go on, sirs.
Is there a separate consciousness, a separate state of mind, a separate clarity in our consciousness? You follow all my questions? Is there some element of clarity in this messy consciousness - messy, conflicting, aggressive, fear, their fears, faith, beliefs, superstitions, anxious - all that. In that confusion which is our consciousness, is there a spot of clarity which then can say, I will direct, I won't suppress, I will change this whole confusion. Do you understand my question? Is there? Please if one is terribly honest with oneself, doesn't want to deceive oneself or accept some comforting idea, or merely follow some tradition, then you will say there is a field in this messy consciousness that is clear, unconfused, and that will bring about clarity in the whole field of confusion. You understand my question? This is the old, very old story, that there is, according to the Hindus in the Asiatic world, a certain entity apart from all this - they call it atman, god, or what you like - who is witnessing all this, and seeing all this, through various forms of assertions, conflicts and so on, will ultimately free the mind from the confusion. Right? And probably here too, in the Western world, there is this idea of permanent soul, whatever that may mean, who is gradually asserting himself and will ultimately go to heaven. Right? These are all very comforting utilitarian theories. But they have not so far cleared man's confusion, man's conflict, his agonies, his loneliness, his depression, and so on.
So, why not try - when you are all so practical in the West and the East is also trying to copy you by becoming very practical - why not see that this is so utterly impractical; the god within you or the soul within you, or the clarity within you which will wipe away this confusion so easily. If that is not practical, as it is not, apparently, because it has not succeeded - succeeded in the sense, please let's be clear in the usage of that word, succeeded, not to be something in this world, to have more money and so on - succeeded in bringing about complete comprehension, the ending of conflict and so on. As it has not, let's look at it differently. That means one must deny this, negate this. That's going against all your religious tradition - the Bible, the soul - you understand what I am saying? - negating all that. Then if you do, then we can look at it differently, but if you have slight attachment to all that, conscious or unconscious, then you will not look for anything else.
So, first of all, what is the self, the 'I'? All the attributes, all the tendencies, the various forms of idiosyncrasies, various beliefs, the various hurts, the conflict in relationship, fear, loneliness, agony, seeking some illusive security, suffering - all that - the name, the form, is the 'you'. Right? Or do you doubt that? If you doubt it - one should - then when you doubt something it means you must examine, not just doubt. If you doubt that there is god - doubt - I am not saying you should, if you doubt it, then you must enquire if there is such a thing. But merely to doubt, say, well - has no meaning. Scepticism has great value, but if you are merely sceptic all the time, what's the point, it's like being illusory, caught in an illusion, they are both the same. So where there is doubt there is also the movement of enquiry. So we are enquiring together. This 'I', this separatist activity, so-called individual, which is the essence of the 'I' - and the questioner wants to know how to negate that, the very whole activity of me - my possessions, my qualities, my aggression, you follow, the whole of that - how is one to negate it?
Now, the questioner asks that: how to negate it. Then he goes on to ask, who is it that negates? You follow? First he said tell me how to negate it, then he says, who is it that negates. You follow? I wonder if you understand this. So we are not negating it. We are trying to find out what it has done in the world first, this self-centred egotistic activity, what it has done in the world, and see the reality of it, the actuality of it, and then enquire who is it that is acting all the time from the centre. You understand my question? It is not that we are negating the self, but that the activity of the self in the world, what it has done in the world, what it has done in the family, in the group, in the community, in the nation, in the world, and so on, and seeing the reality of it, not the idea of what it has done in the world, but the actual happening, the actual activity of it, and from there - which is our criteria - from there enquire if that self, which is creating such mischief in the world, can that self be looked at? You follow?
Then we will enquire, what is it that is looking at the self? It is the same question put differently. So, first, what has it done in the world? I don't have to answer that question, obviously. It has separated itself into nations, into communities, into various forms of social divisions, it has divided itself from the rest of the community, society, world, as the family, and from the family, the 'me': my aggression, my happiness, my pursuit, and so on, so on, so on. It has brought about division in the world, because it said, in that division as my particular belief, my particular religion, my particular faith, in that faith, in that belief, in that dogma I will be secure, I will be safe. Right? Are you following all this? So it has created vast division, incredible divisions, and so where there is division there must be conflict. So the I, which is the creator of this division, which is the essence of conflict - right? - can that I come to an end? Not suppressing, not evading not avoiding, and so on, so on. Can that I which has done all this mischief, all these terrible things in the world - separate gods, it has brought about a million wars, thousands of wars. Is that a fact? For you, not for me. Is that a fact? Or is it an exaggeration? Or is it some kind of concept, and you are adjusting yourself to that concept? That is, we think war is cruel, and therefore the 'I' must be - you follow? First conceive an idea, and then adjust ourselves to that idea. We are saying, observe what is happening in the world without bias, without any partiality, and you see what the 'I', the so-called individual expansion, the individual aggression, the individual success, and so on, so on, what it has done in the world.
If you are very clear on that point, then we say, now, seeing what cruelties, bestiality is brought about in the world, can this movement which is the 'me', can this movement ever stop or radically change? When you have put that question to yourself, then who is it that is to bring about a change? The questioner says that. Who is it that will end this self-centred activity. Right? That is what the questioner is saying. That is, we have to go much deeper into that, which is, is there a difference from the observer and the thing he observes? Please just listen to it. Don't agree or disagree or say, 'Oh, you are repeating the old stuff. I have heard this last year' - or two years ago, or twenty years ago - 'you are repeating.' Move out of that rut. We'll move out of that rut. It is not a rut, but you may call it a rut.
When you observe a tree, that thing, can you look at it without the word first? Or when you look at it, the instant response is, that's a tree, oak tree or whatever it is. Can you look at it without the word? Word being the symbol, the idea, the memory, which uses the word as the tree. You follow? Experiment for a minute, for a second or two to look at that thing which is around you now. And when you so look without the word, because we are caught in a network of words. I don't know if one realises that. The word, the symbol has taken the place of reality. When you say, 'My wife', you have the complete picture; or my husband or my son, my country, the flag, and when you use the word 'Communist', it is - you follow? - the whole intonation, the quality, what is behind that word. And when you say, I am an American, or I believe in god, I don't believe in god - you follow? - this vast network of words in which the mind lives, the brain lives. I don't know if you have noticed all this. I hope it interests you. The questioner asks it, and the speaker if you are not interested, it is a nice day. Does one realise that? That one can never look at a thing, living thing, or a dead thing or a thing that is moving - always with a word. To look at a river, at the flowing water, not call it the Mississippi or Thames or the Ganges, or the Nile - just look at the moving water. It has quite a different quality.
Now, so can you observe - is there an observation, not you observe, sorry - is there an observation of the movement of the self which is anger, bitterness, hurt, just to look at all that without the word. Are you following all this? The word is the past. Right? The word indicates the content of the past. 'My wife' - I am taking an ordinary example - my wife; when you use 'my wife' see the content of that word, the enormous implications of various incidents, accidents, ideas, hurt - all that in the past. Right? And that word 'my wife' indicates the tremendous content of the past. But, can you look at the woman or the man without the past, to look at her? Go on, sir, do it, don't listen to me, there's no point in listening to me if you are not applying, if you are not doing it.
So first of all we are asking, is there an observation of the whole movement of the self, which we have described both outwardly and inwardly, can you look at that - no - is there an observation of that without the past? You get it? You understand what I am talking about? Look, I have lived 80 years or more - 87 years. A man who has lived 87 years has collected lots of experience, lots of ideas, met lots of people. There are all these past memories throbbing away. And either he is an idiot to live in the past or memory - with this person being very, very, very, very selective - and not live in the past but watch things are happening - to observe without the observer, which is the past. Have you got it? Am I making it clear? To observe. To observe one's reactions without naming it as jealousy, as anger - just to observe. When you so observe, what happens? Go into it, sir, I hope you are doing this, not just listening or getting bored with the damn stuff. If you are listening, we are asking a question, which is: when there is an observation without direction, without motive, which is the past, what happens? Now, to find out what happens, actually, you must enquire what takes place when you are directing it, when you are remembering it, your reactions, or giving direction to your reactions. That is, there is a separation between the observer and the observed. Then there is a division and hence a conflict - I must not do this/I must do that, this is right/this is wrong, I say this is right according to my motive - and so on, so on, so on. So when I see, when there is an observation that where there is division there must inevitably be conflict, outwardly and psychologically, that is absolute fact. When I call myself British or American, and I am willing - you follow, the whole thing you've right in front of you. You are willing to destroy thousands of people, spend enormous sums of money to do something which your national pride or some nonsense dictates.
So, can this conflict in the human mind, which is your mind, it is not my mind - the human mind, which is in constant travail, constant conflict - we are enquiring whether that conflict can end. It can end only completely when the observer is not, only observation is. Is the thinker different from thought? Look at it. Is the thinker - right? - different from the thought which he has created? The thinker says, I am a Catholic, Protestant, Hindu, I am a Democrat, totalitarian - whatever it is. The thinker says that. But the thinker has created the - right? - the Democrat, the Republican, the left, far left, far right, far centre, and so on. The thinker has done that. And is the thinker different from his thoughts? Oh come on, sir, this is so simple. Obviously not. But we have divided it. Right?
So look at another question: is the experiencer different from experience? Ah, this is, now you - I am glad. Now you are caught! We all want experiences: going to the moon, experience of god, experience of a dozen kinds - of sex, experience of going to the Himalayas and climbing the Everest - you follow? - experiences. Now we are asking, is the experiencer different from his experience? Experiencer must recognise the experience. Right? Right? Otherwise it is not an experience. You follow all this? Am I talking some strange language? I experience - what? - a motor accident, I have an experience in an accident in a car, and that is recorded as pleasant, unpleasant, as hurt, and so on, the expense of it, and so on, that is recorded. Right? The experience of that thing is remembered, and that experience is a memory which is different from that which has happened last year. Right? So the observer is that experience of last year. Right? Oh, come on sir. And that experiencer either wants to avoid future incidents of that kind, or if he is prone to accidents, he's inviting them. We are asking, is the experiencer different from the experience? Of course not.
I have invented god, and I am going to experience that marvellous state. Right? I have visions of - if I you are a Christian, the Virgin Mary, if I was a Buddhist, I've an experience of various types of Buddhist consciousness, or if I'm a Hindu, I have - you follow? Being conditioned to a particular tradition, which is the past, I experience that. Oh, come on, sir. I have projected that and I experience that.
So the experiencer is the experience. And if there is no experience, what is the state of mind? Do you understand all these questions? We are all wanting experiences, and when one actually goes into it very, very deeply, experience, we hope, will bring about more knowledge, more clarity, more this and more that, but the experiencer is the experience, therefore the mind is no longer seeking any experience. Only such a mind is absolutely clear, it requires no challenge. That's a different thing.
So, is there pure observation of the movement of the self? Because in that the self is not different from the observer, there is only observation, without the past accumulated memories interfering with observation. When the past memories and accumulated knowledge interfere, then there is wastage of energy. I don't know if you are following all this. Wastage of energy in conflict, in denying, in suppressing, in arguing why should I, rationalising the whole business, which is a form of conflict. Now, that's a wastage of energy. Whereas when there is observation without the past, there is the all energy is brought into being, all energy comes in that observation, which dispels that which is observed. It's up to you; I've said it ten different ways. So there is no conflict with the self, or denial of the self, or suppression of the self. It is clarity of observation, which is the greatest form of intelligence.
What time is it? Good lord, there are about nine questions - I've only answered two questions.
3rd Question: How does one not become a victim while not becoming a predator?
That is, how does one stop exploiting without being exploited? Right? It's the same question, isn't it? I don't want to exploit you, but you are exploiting me. You actually are. (Laughter) You follow? It is the same - very interesting, this question.
How do I - no - the unconditioning of the mind doesn't become another form of conditioning. You have understood? I move away there is a movement away from this trap, and not be caught in another trap. I am a Hindu, I say it's absurd and become a Catholic; or I am a Catholic and say, what silly stuff and I join Hinduism or Buddhism, or become a Muslim. It is the same phenomena - you understand? So one has to enquire, what is freedom?
Does one realise one is caught in a trap? That is, the same repetitive movement, which the computer is doing, it is repeating much more rapidly, more quickly, more intelligently, more alive, quick, programmed; and we are also programmed to be a Catholic, to be a Protestant, to be a Hindu, to be a Buddhist - you follow? - to be a Democrat, to be right, left, right - we are also programmed, don't let's fool ourselves. Therefore we are repeating, repeating, repeating. Right? Come on sirs, what are you waiting And the questioner asks: is it possible to be free from conditioning - the predator and the victim - and yet not fall into another form of conditioning? Am I being fair to the question? Of course. You agree?
Now - so I have to enquire one has to enquire what is freedom? This movement from one corner to the other corner of the field - you understand? - the field is my consciousness, this whole world is my field, and I move from one corner of this field, psychological field, to another corner, and I call that freedom. Or I choose to move south instead of north, and I call that freedom. So I call choice freedom. I am a Democrat, I choose to become a Republican, but it is the same movement. We are silly enough not to see that. So is that freedom? You are following all this? Does choice bring about freedom? Or where there is choice there is no freedom. I may choose to move from Los Angeles to New York, and I can't do that in the totalitarian state, I have to have permission, special grants and so on; so I feel I am a free man. So at what level, at what depth, or superficial level, do you consider freedom lies? Here in this country you can say what you like, so far. But you cannot say what you like when there is a war. Right? Then we are all united to hate somebody, to kill somebody.
So what is freedom? Enquire, sir. The question is involved in that. What is freedom? To move from trap to trap to trap? To move from one kind of misery to another kind of misery? I am married, I am bored with my wife, I want a divorce and I go, because I like or love, or whatever word one uses, to another woman; but the same pattern is repeated. And I call that freedom. So is there freedom in this moving in the same area - that area may be wide, or very, very narrow, but it is the same movement. That is not freedom. Right? So what then is freedom? Freedom obviously means to totally be free from the whole content of consciousness. You understand? The problem of one corner is different from another corner, but it's in the same field, and we separate the problems, but it's one problem. You understand? I wonder if you see? All problems are interrelated, that's clear - my sexual problem, my problem of earning a livelihood, my problem of god, it's all one movement of this everlasting search for something or other, of becoming. So, freedom is the ending of completely becoming something.
Is it time to stop?
4th Question: What is humility and modesty?
That doesn't exist in this country! (Laughter) Nor in Europe or India. So what is humility? And why have religions all over the world said you must be humble - inherit the land - right? They have, certainly. You understand it? The humble shall inherit the earth. And the empire builders have inherited the earth. I wonder if you see this? No, you don't. It doesn't matter. What is humility? Can one ever know, or aware, of oneself being humble? When you know, are aware, realise that you are humble, you are not. Right? And, modesty - are we modest? Go on, sir.
We were talking the other day to an Indian, in India. He was looking at a magazine printed in this country; it was one of those magazines where you see half-naked ladies. And he said, 'My god, what has happened? Have they lost all modesty?' And was horrified, because he has an idea of modesty - that you must be absolutely up to here. You understand all this? So why do we want to be modest or humble? Please ask all these questions.
When I try to be humble, that is, willing to learn, willing to be told, abnegating myself in front of authority, and hang my head down to the tome to receive something which you are giving me, is that a form of vanity? It's like a man who is vain, as most of us are, and out of that vanity we try to be humble. Is that humility? A man who is full of aggression, violence, tries to be modest. You understand? It's absurd, it's lost its meaning. Whereas, a man who is aggressive realises, sees what aggression has done in this world and all the consequences of that aggression, when he ends that aggression a new thing can begin. The ending - please realise something - the ending of something is the beginning of the new. Right? If I end my vanity, if I have it - I am a big man, I am blah, blah - if I am that and I end it, there is something totally new taking place. But we want to be assured before I end that something will happen; guaranteed. Then what you are receiving is not guarantee, it is the same form, it's the same thing in another form.
Sir, I'd like to come back to our first question. You have heard all this, some many, many, many times, others perhaps for the first time. Why we human beings, who have lived on this marvellously lovely earth, destroying it, why we have become what we are, after so many millennia: vulgar, cruel, bestial, self-seeking, jealous, lonely - you follow? - the whole thing. Why don't we change? Why don't we end what we are? Why? Is it we are lazy? Is it we are caught in a particular rut, pattern, that we haven't the energy to change that pattern? We have plenty of energy when we want to do something. When we want to go to the moon we have incredible energy. When we want to be champion of the world as in the Olympics - run, you have an incredible energy. We have enormous energy when there is an urge, when there is a demand. But apparently there is no urge, there is no demand - why? Is it our food we eat, too much indulgence in sex, in drink, in this and that, too much demand to be entertained? So we are wasting all that extraordinary energy which is part of us in some futile things and therefore no energy to face these things and move, end. Is that it? Please, one can't tell what the cause of all this - there are many causes. But the explanation of the causes is not the ending of the causes.
So why is it, after so many, many years and thousands upon thousands of years we are what we are? So that's for you to answer.
May I get up now?
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Introduction to Krishnamurti’s teachings
J. Krishnamurti (1895-1986) did not expound any philosophy or religion but rather talked of the things that concern all of us in our everyday lives
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I want a permanent relationship with my friend, with my wife, with my whatever it is, and the demand for a permanent relationship is the system…