Can the brain transform itself?
Why does the mind live in time?
2nd Public Talk, Brockwood Park
August 31, 1980
May we go over a little bit what we said yesterday and we will continue from then on?
To put it briefly, what we were saying yesterday morning was that the world is in such a chaotic condition, fragmented, violence, every kind of human degradation going on. And it is one of the basic irrefutable facts that all human psychology, all human state throughout the world, whatever country one may live in, that all human beings suffer, that all human beings go through various forms of despair, depression, anxiety and innumerable ways of fear and the everlasting pursuit of pleasure. This is a common ground upon which all human beings stand. This one must see very clearly, that there is no actual division psychologically, inwardly, inside the skin as it were; that we human beings are extraordinarily similar. Though we may physically have different shapes and colour and stature but intrinsically we are mankind. You are the world and the world is you. And there is no such thing as really the individual. I know perhaps you will not like this. Because we are all conditioned, educated to think we are separate individual minds, souls, entities, but it is not a fact. We are the result of centuries of conditioning to this idea and the actual fact is that we are like the rest of mankind. Our brains though conditioned to a particular activity of a so-called individual, but actually we are not, we are the whole of mankind. And we said yesterday, when we actually realise this fact, which is irrefutable, you may logically tear it to pieces, but it is so, and then one asks: what is our responsibility? - not only to our own particular family, friends and so on, but to the whole world, to the whole humanity of which we are. What is our responsibility? Do we act as a whole human being? Or as a fragment of that totality, a fragment that is dividing itself all the time, into nationalities, cultures, religions, various sects and gurus and all that business.
And our brains, our mind, our hearts are actually the expression of the world in which we live, the society which we have created, with our violence, greed, anxiety, uncertainty, confusion, longing for some security both physically and psychologically, and we have created such a society which is obviously corrupt. And this corruption, as we said yesterday, comes into being when there is attachment to any particular country, idea, belief, dogma and so on. Where there is attachment there must be corruption. I think this also is an obvious fact. If you are attached to a particular symbol, to a particular image, that must inevitably bring about division and therefore conflict and corruption, which is seen all over the world. And so that is what we said yesterday, more or less.
And also we said, realising all this, which most of us do if you are at all watching, observing what is going on in the world and also within ourselves, what shall we do? We observe this, we see it, we know it, we feel it, and yet we seem to be incapable of breaking through this, breaking through this heavy curtain of tradition, of our conditioning of the brain following a certain pattern: pattern of fear, pleasure, anxiety, nervous responses, hate, jealousy, the old pattern of thousands and thousands of years. And perhaps we are aware of this, and yet we seem to be incapable to finish with it, because we are the result of many, many thousands of generations who have lived in the same way as we are living now, perhaps a little modified, a little more comfortable, a little more sanity, a little more comfort and so on, but inwardly we are almost like the thousand past generations.
So the question arises from that: why is it that we don't change? Change, not only superficially, but deeply, profoundly, so that our way of looking at the world, looking at ourselves is entirely different, a way of living which is not a series of continuous conflict, misery, struggle. Why is it we human beings who have cultivated such an extraordinary technological world, with all its destructive, and perhaps some of it is sanity, why is it that we, as human beings who are supposed to be somewhat intelligent, educated, sophisticated, why is it that we do not radically bring about psychological revolution? If one asks that question, if you have ever asked it of yourself, and find that you are caught in your own experiences, and the images that one has created, not only of the world but of the so-called religious mind, which is essentially based on images and symbols and superstitions and hopeless illusions. And yet we go on, day after day continuing with our fears, with our anxieties, uncertainties, confusions, sorrow and so on.
As we also said yesterday, we are thinking together. We are investigating together. It is not that the speaker is laying down any principles, any ideas, any conclusions or doing any propaganda of any kind. Unfortunately we have been accustomed, or trained, or have accepted that we cannot solve these problems ourselves, we must go to somebody, either the priest or the psychologist or the latest guru, with all their fanciful dress and absurdities and we are so trained and conditioned that we cannot dissolve our own inward struggles, problems and anxieties. That is why you are all sitting here probably, hoping that I will help to solve your problems, hoping that you will have a new kind of enlightenment. You know that is one of the strange things, enlightenment isn't cannot be given by another. It is not a matter of time. It is not a matter of evolution, of gradual growth, moving from one step to another step, higher and higher and higher, till ultimately you come to something called enlightenment. That is a good old tradition, a trap for the human mind. That which is eternal, which is nameless, is beyond time and you cannot approach it through time, through graduation, gradual process.
So we must ask: why is it that our minds and our hearts and our own brain which is the brain of humanity, because your brain is not your brain, it is the brain that has evolved through millennia, and that brain has followed a certain path, a certain route, certain attitudes and so on. And as the brain is the most important factor in our life, can that brain change itself completely? That is a central question. You understand? We are thinking together, you are not listening to me. We are like two friends talking together. There is nobody else but two friends and I hope we are like that in this gathering. You and I are sitting quietly in a comfortable chair, or uncomfortable, or walking along in the wood and talking over this seriously. That is, can the brain, which is evolved through time, has set a pattern for itself, a movement in which it has grown gradually from the most primitive, most backward, to an extraordinary brain that we have now. And that brain has lived always in this pattern - you understand my question? - of fear, greed, violence, brutality, never being satisfied, pursuit of sex, pleasure, you know all the rest of it. That is our brain. Can that brain transform itself? You understand my question? Because the brain is the most important thing in our life. The brain, then the heart, physical heart and all the nervous responses which the brain controls, holds and so on. Can that thing transform itself? That is what we are going to enquire together during all these four talks, if you have the energy and the patience and the desire to discover for yourself.
One of the factors of this brain and mind is that it is controlled by desire. Right? Desire with its will, will is the essence of desire. And we are always trying to become something; like the clerk trying to become the manager, the bishop becoming archbishop and the cardinal and ultimately the pope, and the disciple trying to become like the master. So this constant movement to become something. And if we don't become something then we vegetate. So that is one of the factors which we have to go into: whether there is any becoming at all. And this becoming is the urge of desire, the battle of discontent. It is good to be discontented with everything around one, including with the speaker: to doubt. And in the Christian world doubt is an anathema, you are tortured for it, if you doubt. But in the Eastern world, like Buddhism and Hinduism, doubt is one of the major factors of life. You must doubt because doubt purges the mind. Doubt your own experiences, your own gurus, your own activities, why you put on these strange clothes. So doubt not only experience, doubt the nature of desire, why one is caught in this. Because we are trying to find out whether it is possible to transform the mind, not through more knowledge, not through more experience. Knowledge is always incomplete, and experiences are always incomplete naturally.
So we are trying to find out, investigate together - I am not investigating and you are just merely listening. It is our responsibility together to go into this as deeply as possible. And when you leave the tent this morning, if you are at all serious, to discover for oneself that it is not only possible, it actually can take place. This is not a hope, an idea, a concept, an illusion, an illusion that is satisfying, but to discover for oneself without any persuasion, without any reward, without any punishment, without any direction, which means without any motive - you are following all this? - without any motive, to discover whether it is possible to totally transform the brain and its activities. Its activity is the movement of thought, and its physical neurological responses and sensations and so on.
When this question is understood, that we are together investigating, and one of the factors of this investigation is that the movement of desire is constantly not only changing but trying to move, trying to become something more and more and more and more. Right? It is not what I am saying. It is so. If you go into it you will see it for yourself. So one has to ask why and what is the nature of desire. Why man always, from the very beginning of time, is caught in this thing? And so the pattern has been set to become something, which we are all trying to do all the time. 'I am not so good as I was but I will be.' Or 'I will get over my anger' - jealousy, or envy, or whatever it is. which is the constant movement in time to be something. Right? We are together in this, up to now?
And it has been one of the factors in life that those so-called religious people, the saints who are peculiar people anyhow, the so-called monks, and the real sannyasis in India, not the phoney ones who walk around in strange clothes, the real ones, have always said desire is one of the most destructive factors in life, therefore suppress it, avoid it, go beyond it. And therefore to go beyond it exercise will, control, suppression, but the thing is boiling inside. You may sit quietly in a monastery, or on a hill, or in a wood, or on a bench in this garden, but the thing is burning. So one has to understand its nature, not pervert it, not suppress it, not destroy it, but understand it. One can understand it either verbally, or actually. Verbal understanding has very little meaning. We can go into it step by step, look at it, without analysing just look at it as it moves. Then one begins to have an insight into the whole problem of desire. I am going to go into the question of insight presently. Because as desire is such a violent process - controlled, shaped, but tremendous vitality it has. And it is one of the driving factors in our life, and to merely suppress it, it becomes too childish.
So one has to patiently go into it, observe it, and see where discipline comes into this. You understand? You are following this? I'll sow you. We will go into it. Desire has significance and vitality only when thought creates the image. Right? The seeing of the blue shirt, or the blue dress in the window, and creating the image of oneself in that shirt or in that dress, that is the beginning of desire. You understand what I am saying? Right? Do we meet each other? That is, seeing, contact, sensation, if it stopped there, it is natural. Otherwise, if one is not sensitive you can't perceive the thing clearly, if your touch is not sensitive. Then seeing, contact, sensation. Then begins thought creating the image: you in that shirt, or in that dress, or in that hat, or in that car. Then desire arises. So the image created by thought is the movement of desire, not seeing, contact, sensation, that's natural, healthy. You are following all this?
So discipline as we generally practise is control, accepting the authority of a pattern, obedience, and so on - conformity essentially. Whereas discipline has a totally different meaning, which is to learn. It comes - naturally we all know English - it comes from the word 'disciple', to learn. Disciple is one who is learning, not from a master, from a superstitious guru, but to learn means to observe - to observe the movement of seeing, contact, sensation, then thought creating the image and the flowering of desire. To see how desire arises requires very close observation. Right? That observation has its own discipline. The observation is the learning. I wonder if you catch what I am saying. Right? Can we go on?
Thank god! Somebody says yes. (Laughter)
So as we said, discipline means to learn, not to conform, not to imitate. And one can learn through observation in which there is no compulsion, no comparison, because learning is taking place all the time as it is moving. Therefore there is no sense 'I am learning more'. I wonder if you see that. So we can see now that learning the movement of desire and from that you see that the moment thought arrives with its image desire flowers. And to give an interval, a long interval between seeing, contact, sensation and thought bringing with its image, to postpone the image. You understand? To postpone the image is the learning. Right? Are we following? Right? Good!
And will is part of that desire. So desire is the movement of time. Right? Not the physical time but the time that 'I will have that shirt'. Right? So in enquiring into desire one begins to understand the movement of becoming. Right? That is, is there duality at all? You're following? You understand my question? Please it is related to what we are talking about, it is not something irrelevant, it is related directly to desire. That is, we live in opposites. I am angry. I should not be angry. The fact is I am angry. Right? The non-fact is 'I should be'. And this is part of our becoming. I wonder if you follow all this. You are following? It is rather fun if you can go into this, not as an intellectual game but a human game, it is much more serious than an intellectual game. We are dealing with humanity, with ourselves, who are humanity. And we are asking whether this mind, this brain can totally transform itself so that it is something entirely different. We say it can be done, it is possible. And we are doing it now if you observe it slowly, carefully. That is we have followed the pattern of desire and the conflict between the opposites - 'I am', 'I should be'. The fact is only what I am, not what I should be. What I should be is the invention of thought in order to avoid 'what is'. I wonder if you follow all this? And the understanding of 'what is' is the learning of it, not how to transform it - you are getting all this? Not to transform it, to learn about it. In the very learning about it is the dissolution of it, is its radical change. Right?
So we say it is possible and if one has this insight into the whole nature of desire, insight, then that very insight - I have discussed this with certain scientists, they agree to this, so you may perhaps agree also to it, (laughter) but don't agree because scientists agree, (laughter) but see for oneself the fact. That is, when one has an insight into this movement of desire and becoming, and the conflict of the opposites, which is part of desire, when one has this insight the very brain cells themselves are changed. Don't accept this because I am saying, the speaker is saying it but you can see it for yourself. So we have to enquire into what is insight. Are you all ready? Shall we go on?
You see we are always functioning with knowledge. Right? Knowledge that one has accumulated through education, mathematics, geography, history, that knowledge in order to survive in this world, to get a job and so on, but also we are functioning with our psychological knowledge, the accumulation that one has gathered through thirty years, forty years, or past generations, inherited genetically. So there it is. We are always functioning with knowledge, skilfully or not skilfully. Right? And knowledge, as we said yesterday, is always limited, is always within the shadow of ignorance. There can never be complete knowledge but there can be an ending to knowledge. I wonder if you see the difference. I am going to show you presently.
So knowledge is the movement of time, of experience and that movement is thought. So that is the instrument with which we act. That is the instrument with which we analyse and come to a conclusion and then say that conclusion is right because we have logically explained it, it has been proved and so on, it is acceptable, reasonable, sane, based on thought, which is always limited naturally. You follow this? Please follow this a little bit with attention if you don't mind. That is the field in which we operate all the time, waking and sleeping. And with that knowledge we try to resolve the psychological problems, like desire, for example. And when you examine it, analyse it, which is the movement of thought, that analysis can never dissolve that desire. It can modify it, it can be controlled, it can be given a different direction - instead of clothes and cars it can go towards god. But it is the same movement, right? - god - you know god! (Laughter)
So we are asking: what is insight then? We are saying insight can only take place when knowledge has come to an end and merely pure observation, without any direction - you understand? Then you comprehend the whole movement of desire. When you say, 'I have an insight into the technological problem' - an engineer, or an electrician, or a computer expert, he has sudden insight. That insight is not the result of constant examination, constant analysis, investigating day after day, it is sudden cessation of all knowledge and seeing something directly. I wonder if you follow this. I hope you are doing this as we are talking together. That insight brings about a fundamental change in the very brain cells themselves which carry memory. Right? No, I won't ask you if this is right because it is. If you go into it and do it for yourself you will find out. As we said, doubt, not accept. Doubt what we are saying but if you keep on doubting, doubting, doubting, it leads nowhere. But you must doubt and yet at moments there must be let go, like a dog on a leash.
So in the same manner, one of our factors in life is relationship. Life is relationship, whether one lives in a monastery or an ordinary life, life is a movement in relationship. In that relationship there is constant struggle - man, woman, you know the whole business. And apparently we have never been able to solve it, which is again a factor. Right? So many thousands of divorces, moving from one man to another man, another woman - you follow - trying to find some kind of satisfaction, fulfilment, all that business. And that is what we call relationship. And the older we grow the more dependent are we on relationship. And in that relationship there is always you and me - the two separate entities trying to be related. You understand the absurdity of this? (Laughs) Which means why is there this division? May we go on? Are we following each other? I am sure this will interest you! The other you think is all nonsense, (laughter) or is too idealistic and illusory but this I hope will interest you. A strange world, isn't it? (Laughter) We are only interested in something that is very near to us, something that is biting us. But we are not interested in the global thing, in the whole human existence, so we reduce all this enormous life, with all its complexities into a little thing - me and my struggle, me and my fulfilment, me and my becoming something. This is what we are concerned about. And the tragedy is you will never solve this unless you have understood the wholeness of life and the great beauty, the greatness, the sublimity of the wholeness, which is that you are the entire humanity. You understand this? No. You will leave the tent and go back to your little backyard. Fortunately at Brockwood the backyard is very large! (Laughter)
As we said, one of the factors is relationship. We are always trying to find a way to be related to somebody so completely, in which there is no division - you and me. We try to find it through sex. Right? And unfortunately, one of the philosophies in India is that through sex you can find that ultimate whatever it is. It is another of those nonsenses. It is very popular in India! (Laughter) And that is why all these followers go off to their gurus in India. (Laughter)
So we are trying to find out whether it is possible to live in this world, actually in this world of relationship of man, woman, between each other without any division - you understand? Is that possible? When all our education, all our culture, all our religions, everything is to divide, divide, divide. Now together we are going to investigate this. And in this investigation you are taking part. You are sharing in it. It is not the speaker is investigating and you kind of agree or disagree and then go off, but together investigate it. What makes this division? - apart from the superficial physical division, we are talking about psychological division, the inward sense of me and you, we and they. Why does this division exist? Is it actual? Is it something that we have been conditioned to, like the Arab and the Jew, and the Muslim and the Hindu, this division which has been created through culture and religion, which obviously is the result of thought and propaganda and all that business. Actually there is no division. If I live in India I am not an Indian or a Muslim, there is no division. Does the division exist because of the word? Follow it carefully, please, I am going slowly into this. Of the word - Englishman, Frenchman. Or is it the cultural division? Different, much more intellectual and all that in France, the sense of highly cultivated mind, and here there is a different culture, more buying and selling, which is part of America? Or is it that each one has his own particular image - please follow this, observe it - each one has his own particular image of himself and the image about the other? Right? You are following all this? Right? That is, two people living together intimately, are bound to create these images. Right? I have lived with you and I inevitably, day after day, the monotony of it, the familiarity, the remembrances, the hurts, the flatteries, the encouragements - you know, all that is going on, that inevitably must create the image, right? So I create an image about you and you create an image about me. So this relationship is between the two images. Sorry to be so... And this is what we call relationship. Actual relationship doesn't exist. I wonder if you are following all this.
So is it possible to live together without a single image? You understand my question? We say it is, of course it is. Otherwise there is no love, there is no - you follow? Then there is conflict, you know. Division invariably brings conflict - British and French, and German, you follow? So can this image-making machinery stop? We are investigating together.
Now, why does the mind, thought, create the image? You understand? You have an image about your husband, or your wife, girlfriend or whatever it is, why do you create an image? Is it because in the image there is security? Not in the person (laughs) - right? I wonder if you see this. I am not being cynical, I am just pointing out facts. How stupid all this is, isn't it? (Laughter)
Now can that image-making stop? Then there can be love. Two images having relationship and calling that love, you can see what it is - jealousy, anxiety, quarrels, irritations, bullying each other, possessing each other, dominating and so on, so on, so on, and that is called love. And we are asking: is it possible to end the building of these images? That is, why does the brain register? You understand? When it is not possible to register there is no image-making. You follow this? Is this becoming too intellectual? No, no. The speaker doesn't like to play around with the intellect alone, it is stupid.
So why does the brain register any irritation - you understand? - any sense of anxiety within this relationship, jealousy and so on? Is it possible for the brain not to register? You have understood the question? How are you going to find out? You flatter me, or insult me, which has happened, both. And why should the brain register the insult, or the flattery? I mean if one is called an idiot, immediately it is registered. The registration takes place only when you have an image about yourself. I wonder if you capture all this! This is insight, you understand? So that insight into the whole question of relationship which is based on images - those images are dissolved. Insight dissolves them, not argument, analysis and emotional reactions.
Now have you in talking over together, going into this, have you dissolved it? Otherwise there is no point attending these talks. This is very serious. And as we said this is one of our factors in life, relationship, which is based on fear, you know, all the rest of it, jealousy. Now when one sees the whole of that and the insight that transforms the whole movement of that, the energy of all that, then there is a possibility of having an actual relationship with another. There is no you going off to your office, working yourself step by step in ambition and coming home and being docile and loving and all that business, which has no meaning. You understand all this?
We have spoken for an hour, shall we go on?
Krishnamurti: All right. The meaning of all these gatherings - and we have had it for sixty years, I have had it - either you play with all this and come back next year and say, 'Let's play the same game again', or talking over together seriously as we are doing now, you see for yourself the depth of your own perception, into yourself, unaided by another. You see it in yourself, the whole movement of desire and relationship. And when you have an insight into that your life is transformed vastly. But that requires attention - not in this tent when you are listening to the speaker. Attention, not concentration but attention in your life. When you are sitting in front of your husband at the breakfast table, he with a newspaper and you cooking the egg, or whatever you are doing, watch it. (Laughter) You understand? Actually the terrible reality of no relationship, except sex and all that, but actually there is none. So by your own action you are living a solitary, an isolated life. You understand what I am saying? How can an isolated entity love? And love is relationship, not the thing that we call love now, which is a torture. But that sense of having no division, which means you with your ambitions, with your greeds, with your envies, with your anxieties, and he with his, how can these two ambitions meet? They can never. So when you see the whole pattern of this, and the seeing is the discipline - you understand? Pure learning. And when once that learning has taken place, which is insight, the thing, the image-making machinery comes totally to an end. Totally. So that life is then something entirely different.
I don't know if we have time to go further into this question of becoming. You understand? This is it: desire, relationship. In both is to become. I wonder if you see. That is what our whole way of life is, to become something. You have heard relationship, and the division exists as long as there is that image. Now the natural response would be, :How am I to get rid of the image? - which is to become something else. You understand? Not, the understanding of the nature of images, who builds it, learn about it.
And the other factor in our life is pleasure. And this pleasure is the most isolating factor - sorry. I don't know if you Do you want to go into it? Have we time for that? You see our life is a constant movement in isolation. That is a fact. Each one of us is so occupied with himself, with his ambitions, with his lack of fulfilment, with his progress - you know? The self-centred activity is isolating. Building a wall around yourself and then stretching your hand over the wall to another. And is it possible to live in this world without this movement? Please, this is a very serious question. We are always seeking fulfilment, or being wanting, dissatisfied. You know discontent is good. We are too satisfied with most things, as we are. We accept our politicians, our preachers, our authorities - and I hope you haven't got any gurus, if you have, you accept them and their foolishness and so on, so on. We are so easily satisfied and smother this flame of discontent. Right? Discontent is a factor. The more it burns the clearer the mind becomes. But we are so easily satisfied, gratified. And one asks: can there be an end to all discontent? Because part of this discontent is fear. And why is one discontent? This longing for something which we haven't got - right? - longing for some happy relationship where you can have some peace of mind. That is, where there is discontent there is always the search for content. You understand all this? Move, please, let's move together.
Can there be discontent by itself? Or is it always associated with something? I am dissatisfied with my house, with my wife, with my job, with my looks, with my hair, with all god knows what else. Is discontent born out of comparison? You are following? Why do we compare? I know it is said through comparison there is progress and all the rest of it. But the idea of comparison. You only compare with something that you haven't got. Right? I wonder if you follow. And this comparison is always a battle, a struggle and part of this discontent is comparison. When there is no comparison whatsoever psychologically, or even physically, is there discontent? What is discontent in itself, per se? Is there such a thing as being discontent in itself? Or always with regard to something? You are following my question? Unless we understand this, we will not discover the nature of fear and the ending of fear. But we have to understand this too. I mean all this commercialism is comparison, more, more, more, more, which is different from need and so on - we won't go into all that.
So can the mind be free of all comparison, not only physically, how you look compared to another, you know all that business, it is really commercialism. Also to end comparison with the image you have built so that you are comparing yourself with the image that you have. Can you end all that so that there is never a sense of discontent? Which doesn't mean you are satisfied, which is the opposite. But the understanding, the learning about discontent. It is a flame, it is something that you must have but if it is not understood it destroys everything. And in that also is the question of fear.
Now it is a quarter to one, we better stop today. We will deal with it tomorrow - ah, not tomorrow, next Saturday and Sunday.