A transformation which implies freedom
Can a human being undergo a deep, radical transformation?
1st Public Talk, Brockwood Park
August 28, 1976
A bit nervous. What shall we talk about this morning? I would like to talk over together with you, if I may, the very serious problem of how to bring about deep transformation of man, of a human being. That's what I would like to discuss, talk over and share together. If it is at all possible for man, a human being, who represents the whole of the world - every human being is the whole of the world - can that human entity undergo a deep, radical transformation; not superficial changes, not move from one cage to another, or one system to another, one guru to another, or one belief to another, but deep transformation which implies freedom totally from all belief, from all ideals, from all contradictions in our actions in our daily life. And can this be done without any effort, without the battle of the opposites?
That is the problem and that is the question I think we ought to talk over together during these four talks and two discussions. Because I feel that when a human being changes radically he affects the whole consciousness of the world because the world is you and you are the world, basically. You may have different manners, different costumes, different colour, different taste, but essentially, deeply, wherever you go - whether the Far East or the Near East or here or America - human beings are essentially the same; they suffer, they have got great anxieties, deep problems, problems of relationship, problems of war, nationality - great suffering. So, basically, deeply, every human being is the other human being. I think this is not a theory, a concept, a hypothesis, but an actuality. This I think is very important to understand; not intellectually, not verbally, but actually feel the reality of it, the truth of it - that we are essentially the same, right through the world because our foundation, our existence is based, wherever we are, on relationship, on conflict, confusion, pain, anxiety, great fears and deep sorrow. I think this is a fact; not what I would like to believe, or what I would urge you to believe. But when we know this as a truth, not a conclusion, not a thing that intellectually you contrive, and so believe in, but an actual reality. So you are the world and the world is you. And if there is a radical change in that consciousness, then you affect the whole of mankind.
Can we go on from there? Please, this is not an intellectual gathering - whatever that word may mean - nor is it a form of entertainment. We are fairly serious people I hope, and observing what the world is, what is happening both externally and inwardly - the confusion, the wars, the brutality, and so on, so on, so on, to radically bring about a deep change, which is so utterly necessary and important. It seems to me that our chief problem, or our chief concern is whether it is possible to bring about a radical change in man. Because we are conditioned: historically, religiously, by the culture in which we live, our consciousness is enclosed, bound, and we are talking about the content of that consciousness, and the changing of that content. The content makes for consciousness. Doesn't it? Right? Please, though the speaker is expressing this in words we are both of us sharing the thing together. We are not doing a propaganda, we are not trying to convince you of anything, because we are not an authority, we are not a guru. To me it is an abomination in matters of the spirit to have any kind of authority. For authority breeds fear, conformity, acceptance of someone who knows and another who does not know. But when one says, 'I know' you may be sure he does not know.
So, we are sharing this question together; not verbally, not theoretically, but actually, in our life in observing ourselves, in becoming aware of our own activities and our own ways of thinking, acting, believing. So we are concerned in the radical transformation in the content of our consciousness. Our consciousness is made up of those things which man has collected during centuries upon centuries of existence - his ideas, his beliefs, his fears, his pleasures, his great sorrow and fear of death, and all the rest of the content, in which is included knowledge - the known as well as the hope to discover what is beyond the known. All that is in our consciousness. I hope you are not bothered by the flies. (Laughter) They seem to be concentrating on me. (Laughter)
So, please, we are enquiring together into the content of our consciousness which is you, which is yourself, and in that enquiry we are going to discover, if it is at all possible, the nature and the structure of that consciousness, the content of that consciousness, and whether it is possible to empty that consciousness of its content and perhaps come upon a totally different dimension. This is what we are proposing to do during all these four talks and two discussions. So it is not that you merely listen to the speaker, but you are with him enquiring into your consciousness, into your beliefs, into your ideas, fears, pleasures and all the agonies that human beings go through, together. So it is your responsibility much more than the speaker's. If you are serious and if you want to go into it we will go together. But if you are not serious, if you don't want to enquire into all this human misery, and whether it is possible to end it, then please leave! You understand? Leave! It's not worth taking your time and trouble.
So, together we are going to enquire, explore, and to explore there must be freedom. That's necessary isn't it? If you want to enquire into something you cannot come with all your prejudices, with all your beliefs, dogmas, and all the rest of it, or hope, but which will prevent your enquiry. So the first thing - and perhaps the first step is the last step - is that there must be freedom to enquire. So, please, we are asking each other in the process of enquiry, that very enquiry demands that one be free to look, free to observe. And it is impossible to observe if you come to it, if you come to explore with all your previous conclusions, or what you wish it to be. So, there must be freedom to enquire. I hope we are together in this. Ben? Can we go on?
So the first thing is, in enquiry, is the enquirer, the man, the entity different from that which he enquires into? You understand my question? I want to look into myself, into my consciousness. I want to observe the content of that consciousness. I want to be familiar with all the cunning deviations, with all the ideas, thoughts, beliefs, dogmas. I want to look into it. Is the observer different from that which he observes? This is a very important question that you must resolve, otherwise we shall not be able to understand each other. You understand? I hope I am making myself clear. Am I?
That is, I want to observe my fear. Or, I want to observe why I have innumerable beliefs, conclusions, prejudices, and to enquire into it, is the entity who is enquiring different from that which he is enquiring into? You understand my question? Am I different from the content of my consciousness? You understand? Is this mystifying?
Questioner: This we can’t accept.
Krishnamurti: We'll come to it presently. Please, question me a little later. If I am different from the thing I observe in myself, then there is a division between me and thing which I enquire into. Right? When there is a division between me and that which I enquire into then there is conflict. Then I try to suppress it, control it, or run away from it, or try to wish to change it. But if the observer is the observed then there is a totally different action which takes place. Is this somewhat clear?
Q: If by thought you mean the observer is the observed
K: We're going to go into a little more. I observe in myself anger. I am angry. Is that anger different from me who is the observer of that anger? I am that anger, surely. Right? I am not different from that anger. May I go on? Do see. Or I am greedy, envious. Is that envy different from me who is observing that reaction which I call 'envy'? Or, that envy is me; I am not different from that envy. Or take jealousy: that feeling which we name as jealousy, is that different from me who is observing it? Or that jealousy is me. You are following now? So, when I observe, is there a division between the observer and the observed? Are we dissipating the mystery of it? You understand my question? Are we together in this or am I talking to myself? Because this is very important, right from the beginning. Because we are conditioned to this division as me different from that which I observe. We are conditioned to the conflict of this division. We are conditioned to either suppress it, or analyse it or run away from it. Right? So, we are educated, conditioned to accept this division as me being different from that which I observe, and therefore establish a conflict between me and that which I observe. And when one looks into it very, very deeply - not very deeply, it's fairly simple - one sees the observer is the observed, therefore, you eliminate all conflict.
So, we are looking, observing our consciousness - the content of it; which is our attachments - whether to a house, to a piece of furniture, or to a person, or to an idea, and so on, so on, so on. When you observe attachment, is the observer different from that which he is attached to? One is attached to an idea. That idea is created by thought, thought which says to itself, 'I observe 'what is' and I can change 'what is' by having an ideal, and pursuing that ideal and overcoming 'what is'.' This is what we go through. Whereas, the ideal is an escape from 'what is'. No?
And, also, we do not know what to do with 'what is,' therefore we try to create an idea which is the opposite of 'what is' and hope thereby as a leverage to remove 'what is'. Are you following all this? Are we together in all this?, or am I Somewhat. So, it becomes very important when we observe ourselves, which is our consciousness with all its content, whether the observer is different from that which he observes. If he is different then there is a division. That division then brings about conflict - the Hindu, the Muslim, the Jew, the Arab, you know, the whole division of mankind. So where there is division there must be conflict. That is a law. So one observes then that in examining, exploring the content of our consciousness the observer is the observed. Right? The fear in the consciousness is my fear, because I am that consciousness, it is part of me which is afraid. Right? Come on!
You see we think by this division - the observer being different from the observed - we think conflict is necessary to overcome that which is observed. And we are used to that conflict; it's part of our tradition, part of our education, part of our culture. And we are saying something entirely different, therefore there is no proper communication. If the observer is the observed then what takes place? You understand?
I am attached to something, to a person, to an idea, to a belief, to a house, to something or other - I am attached - and in that attachment I discover there is fear. I might lose it, the person might run away from me, and so I hold that person or that thing much more closely. So there is conflict going on, isn't there? And we are used to this conflict; it's part of our tradition, part of our education, and we are saying that the division is illusory, is not real. What is real is that the observer, the person who feels angry, the feeling is not different from himself, he is that. Then what takes place? You follow? Before, we thought by fighting anger, by suppressing it, by rationalising it, by analysing it, we would overcome anger. Right? That is, there is a division between me and the feeling that is different. I wonder Come on, this is fairly simple. So, what is important is to remove all conflict in observation, then we can go beyond 'what is'. But as long as we are in conflict with 'what is' then we are conditioned by 'what is'. So the observer is the observed, the thinker is the thought, the experiencer is the experienced; so when that becomes a truth, that is truth, then we can observe our consciousness totally differently; not as an entity who is different from that which he is seeing. Right?
So, what is it in our consciousness, the three principal things, that gather to itself such tremendous energy and importance? One of them is fear. Right? Then pleasure. Then suffering. These are the three principal elements in our consciousness. Right? Fear, pleasure and sorrow, with all its ramifications, changes, its varieties of fear, varieties of pleasure, multiple changes of sorrow.
So, firstly then, let's examine fear - right? - which is part of our consciousness, which is part of yourself. So it becomes very important how you observe that fear. Whether you observe it as an entity separate from fear, or, you observe it as part of you. You are that fear. Right? So, how do you observe that fear. You understand my question? Some of you? Are you at all serious about all this? Does it mean anything to be free of fear? Not only certain forms of fear, but to be completely and totally free of psychological fears; otherwise, we are slaves, otherwise we live in darkness, we get paralysed. So it is very important when you are talking about transformation of man to understand and to be free of fear; not only the psychological fears but when we understand the psychological fears then biological fears can be dealt with differently - the physical fears. So we are dealing first with psychological fears - fear of losing a job, fear of losing - oh, god knows what - a dozen things - fear of losing the person whom you think you love, fear of not being loved, fear of loneliness, - a dozen things we are afraid of - from darkness to light, to all the peculiar, neurotic fears that one has - so many forms of it.
Now, how does one be free of fear? You understand my question? Because it is absolutely important, if you want to bring about a deep transformation of the human mind, human consciousness, that one should be totally and completely free of psychological fears.
So what is fear? Fear of something. Right? Is that fear merely a word? Do you understand? I'm sure you don't. I must go into it differently. One is afraid of something - has the word created the fear, or the fear exists separate from the word? Please, this is very important, to capture this. We are used to the implications of words, and the reaction to the word. 'Death' is a terrible thing! So, in the same way, does the word create the fear, or the fear exists independent of the word? What do you think? You understand my question? You don't understand my question.
I am afraid; it is a reaction. I'm afraid of losing my reputation. That's a good idea! (Laughter) Otherwise you wouldn't all be here. I'm afraid of losing it. The fear is there, and that fear is caused by the idea that I might lose my reputation. So, I want to understand the whole problem of fear, not just one aspect of fear - but the whole structure and the nature of fear, the enormity of fear. Now, I say to myself, 'Is the fear created by an idea that I might lose my reputation' and therefore I am afraid, and is that fear brought about by an idea; is the idea merely a word? You are following this? So has the word, 'reputation' created the fear, and is there a fear without the word, without the idea that I might lose my reputation? So, is there fear because of a series of words and ideas, or, fear exists apart from the series of words, ideas, implications? Does fear exist by itself? Or, is it a structure of words and ideas and time? You understand? Oh, come on, please!
Q: (Inaudible) some kind of fear seems to come in automatically as though it has been set up by words.
K: Yes, fear exists where there are words and ideas and time; time being tomorrow, apart from yesterday. You follow? Time, words, ideas bring about this sense of fear. Now I say to myself, 'If there was no time, there was no word, no series of conclusions and ideas, would there be fear?' You understand what I am saying now? So, can the mind be free of time, idea and word? If it is not capable of being free then fear will exist. So I have to examine why the mind or the whole thinking process is caught up in words - words, ideas, conclusions, and all the rest of it. So I must go into the question of what is thinking. You understand?
I started out to find out what is the nature of fear; why human beings are caught in this enormous structure of fear and apparently human beings have not been able to be free of fear; they escape from it, they have rationalised it, they do all kinds of things to avoid it but it goes on. So we are enquiring, what is the nature and the structure of this fear. Is it the result of thinking about time, what might happen, or what has happened and hoping that it will not happen, which is the process of time, which is a movement of thought. Thought is a movement of time. Right? I have discovered that. Thought is a movement in time as from yesterday, through today and tomorrow - what might happen tomorrow, or, what has happened in the past, hoping it will not happen again, so all that is a process of time - a movement. Time is movement. And, also, why the mind is caught in words; why words have become of such extraordinary importance - words being the process of thinking, the conclusions, ideas and all that, which is, what is thinking because in thinking, I have found out, there is fear, in thinking I see time is involved, so I must go into this question of what is thinking.
Please, I am putting it into words; you have to share this thing together, co-operate with this thing; otherwise you just remain there and I remain here. Right? So what is thinking? Not what you think about, but how does thinking arise? What is the nature of thinking? Because unless I go into this very deeply and find out the nature of thinking I will never be free from fear. So it is very important for me to find out what is thinking; not what people say what is thinking - you understand? After reading books or hearing somebody, then repeat what others have said what is thinking, which is second-hand, and perhaps we are all second-hand human beings. Whereas we are saying, let's find out for ourselves what is thinking. Thinking surely is the response of memory. Right? Memory is experience, knowledge, stored up in the brain. Right? I think this is an obvious fact. So thinking is the response of memory, stored up in the brain through experience, through collective knowledge. Right? So thinking is this movement from the past to the present, modified and going on. Right? We live in the past, most of us, don't we? I had such happy days; it was so nice when I was a boy; oh, it was so nice when we were first married (laughter) - living all the time in the past, because we don't know what the future is, we are afraid of what the future might be, so, we live in the past. So knowledge is the past. Right? There is no knowledge of the future. There's only: knowledge is the past. So thought is a movement from the past. Oh, come on! Are we meeting together in this?
So thought is a movement from the past, the past being collected experience - innumerable experiences which have become knowledge; so knowledge is essentially the past. So thought is a movement from the past, modifies itself in the present and goes on to the future. Right? So, I have found out - you have found out, not me - you have found out for yourself that thought is a movement from the storehouse of the past. So thought is never free. Right? I wonder if you see this! Thought is a movement of the past, therefore of time, and as long as we operate - no, let me put it differently - we have to operate in thought - right? - where knowledge is necessary, we have to operate there - all the technological knowledge, riding a bicycle, this and that - where knowledge is essential, there thought operates. Is it possible for thought to remain there and not enter into other fields? You are following my question? That is, I realise I am afraid - fear; fear of not being, fear of loneliness, fear of not being loved, or fear of loving and losing, fear of death, fear of losing a job - you know, a dozen fears. But basically there is only one fear which expresses itself in multiple ways. So that fear is the movement of thought. Right?
Now, in observing that movement, is the observer different from that, different from that which he observes? Are we meeting something together or not? My word! Because you see, please, if we can go into this one question completely and when you leave the tent, the marquee, you are free of fear - you understand? - it would be a marvellous thing. That will affect the whole consciousness of mankind if you are free. So, please share this thing together; don't let me talk about it but let us journey into the problem together.
You're afraid of something, aren't you? Every human being is, apparently. Now is that fear different from you? Right? I am asking, is that fear different from you?
Q: I hope so.
K: You hope so. (Laughter) Oh lord! Or, that fear is you. Please do let us be a little serious, is that fear you? Of course. Like anger - is anger different from you or you are part of that? Obviously. So fear is part of you, but we have learnt or been educated to separate ourselves from fear, and therefore we say, I'll control it, I'll change it, I will run away from it, all the rest of it comes into being. But if the fear is you, what will you do? You understand the question now?
Q: I feel that I have to tackle it.
K: Yes, sir.
Q: Are you saying that, or when I hear you say that I and fear is one and this is my fear. Is that right?
K: No sir, no. First, please, get this one thing clear, at least: as anger is not different from you - which is so obvious isn't it? - is not fear part of you? And if it is part of you, what will you do? We are used to separating fear from ourselves and therefore acting upon fear - suppress it, run away from it, all the rest of it. But when fear is you, action comes to an end. Right? This is very difficult for you to see, because we are so conditioned to this division - me different from fear, and therefore acting upon fear. But we are saying something entirely different - fear is you, therefore, you can't act. Then what happens?
Q: Your talk in the morning is from the past.
Q: We hear you ought to be in the present?
K: What ought to be implies that you are not looking at what is.
K: Thought moves from the past through the present to the future. Thought modifies itself through the present to the future, so thought is still the past. It may modify itself, it may change itself, it may put on different coating, different clothing, whatever it is, colouring - it is still the past movement. Please, what is the time?
Q: Twelve thirty.
K: Half past twelve? Already? (Laughter)
No, please, this is very important, I want to stick to this one thing this morning, if I may. As most human beings are afraid and they have accepted fear as part of their life, and therefore live in darkness, therefore live in a kind of paralytic state, and being afraid, all forms of neurotic habits, neurotic activities come, it's very important, if there is to be transformation in the human consciousness, that fear must be totally eliminated. And we say it is possible. It is only possible when conflict between the person who says, I am afraid and I will do something about fear, when that conflict comes to an end, that is when the division comes to an end. And that division is artificial, it's an illusion. What is actuality is, the fear is part of you, therefore you cannot do a thing about it - right? - psychologically. Therefore your whole attention undergoes a change. Before, attention was given to the conflict - suppressing, denying, running away. But now when your fear is you, your whole attention has undergone a change. That is, you have much greater energy to look at this fear. Before you ran away, you suppressed it, did all kinds of things to it; now, fear is part of you, therefore you observe it with a totally different attention. You get this? Please get this!
Q: You can only look at fear if it is separate, surely.
K: When you look at fear, the gentleman says, then it's apart from you. When fear is you what are you looking at? Do please watch it. Don't answer me. Do look at it. When fear is you what are you looking at? You are not looking at fear, you are that. So, your attention has changed.
K: We are coming to that. Attention has changed. Right? Please see that simple thing.
Q: Who is looking at me?
K: I am not looking at you, sir; I am looking at fear. (Laughter) Oh, Jesus - waste of time.
Q: But wouldn’t it be eliminating a part of me?
K: Yes, you are eliminating part of you - which you are afraid of. Part of you is fear. Right? With all the complications of fear. Part of you is pleasure - with all the varieties of pleasure. Part of you is sorrow - different types of sorrow. So, all that is you; you are not different from all that, are you? Or you might think you are god. If you think you are not all that, then you are something different from all that, and being 'different' you are something super-human. This is the old Hindu philosophy that says, 'I am not that. We are the soul, we have something precious inside, we are part of the divine, we are part of the perfect, we are part of the archetype' - you know, all that. So, I personally refuse to accept all that. We must begin with doubt. Right? And when you begin with doubt, completely begin with that, then you end up with complete certainty. But we begin with certainties and end up in nothing. (Laughter) Please give your attention to this question.
As long as there is division between you and fear, then there is conflict, there is wastage of energy - by suppressing it, running away from it, talking about it, going to the analysts and so on and on and on and on. But whereas, when you see the truth that you are that fear, your whole energy is gathered in this attention to look at that thing. Now what is that thing which we call fear? Is it a word which has brought fear, or is it independent of the word? You are following this? If it is the word, the word being the associations with the past - I recognise it because I have had fear before. You understand? I look at that fear though it is part of me because I name it, and I name it because I have known it to happen before. So, by naming it I have strengthened it. I wonder if you see this. So, is it possible to observe without naming it? If you name it, it's already in the past, right? If you don't name it, it's something entirely different, isn't it? So is it possible not to name that thing which you have called 'fear', therefore free of the past so that you can look. You cannot look if you are prejudiced. If I am prejudiced against you, I can't look at you, I am looking at my prejudice. So is it possible not to name the thing at all? And then if you do not name it, is it fear? Or has it undergone a change, because you have given all your attention to it. You understand? I wonder if you get it. When you name it you are not giving attention to it, when you try to suppress it you are not giving your attention to it, when you try to run away from it you are not giving your attention to it - whereas when you observe that fear is you, and not name it - what takes place? What takes place? You are doing it now. What takes place?
Q: It’s an emotion.
K: Wait, it is a sensation, isn't it? A feeling which is sensation. Please watch it, it's a sensation, isn't it? All feelings are sensations. I put a pin in there, and all the rest of it. So it's a sensation. What's wrong with sensation? Nothing is wrong with sensation, is it? But when sensation plus thought, which becomes desire with its images, then the trouble begins. I wonder if you understand all this! This is too much probably in the morning. (Laughter)
You know, this is part of meditation. You understand? This is really part of meditation. Not to sit under a tree and just think about something or other, or try to concentrate, or try to repeat some mantra or some word - Coca Cola - or something or other (laughter) - but this is really meditation because you are enquiring very, very, very deeply into yourself. And you can enquire very deeply only when you are really without any motive, when you are free to look. And you cannot look if you separate yourself from that which you are looking at. Then you have complete energy to look. It is only when there is no attention that fear comes into being. You understand? When there is complete attention which is complete, total energy then there is no fear, is there? It's only the inattentive person that is afraid, not the person who is completely attentive at the moment when that feeling arises. That feeling is a part of sensation. Sensation is normal, natural. It's like looking at a tree, looking at people, you know - sensation. But when sensation plus thought, which is desire with its images, then begins all our problems. You understand? This is simple. Right? Now can you look at your fear - be serious for five minutes! Can you look at your fear, whatever it is; not separate yourself from that fear, but you are that fear, and therefore you give your total attention to that fear. Then is there fear?
K: Then walk out of this tent without fear. Don't say no and then go outside full of fears.
Do you want to ask questions about this?
Q: Sir, I did not grasp, in the beginning you said it is more our responsibility than yours. What did you mean by it?
K: Sir, the word 'responsibility' - what does it mean to be responsible. To respond adequately, isn't it? The word 'responsibility' comes from the root 'respond', to respond. Now, do you respond adequately to this question of fear? Or, do you respond with all your tradition, with your culture, you follow? - all that conditioning and therefore which prevents you from responding fully to this question?
As we said, this is part of meditation. You don't know what meditation is, but this is part of it. When the mind is not afraid then only is it capable of entering into something totally different, but being afraid, to try to meditate only leads to illusion, to all kinds of deceptive experiences. So meditation is the investigation into your consciousness, into yourself; and see if there can be freedom from that, from the fear, and to understand the nature and the structure of pleasure, because we all want pleasure. To understand it, to go into it, to find out what is accurate in pleasure, what is right in pleasure - enjoyment, joy. And also to enquire into the whole problem of fear, not only your particular fear, sorrow, but the sorrow of mankind. All that is involved in meditation which is to discover the truth in yourself, to discover the truth which is a light to yourself so that you don't follow anybody.
That's enough for today, isn't it? Is that enough for today?