Can the mind choicelessly see its conditioning?
A mind that seeks truth must be free of the observer
2nd Public Talk, Saanen
July 17, 1973
Shall we go on with what we were talking about the day before yesterday?
We were saying, seeing what the world is about us, and what we are actually not theoretically, what a world we have created, a world of great brutality, division, wars, appalling cruelties, suffering, seeing all this one feels, if one is at all serious, that there must be great change, not only outwardly but specially within oneself. I do not know if you feel the same thing as the speaker does: how very important it is that there should be this psychological revolution, because every other form of revolution, social reform, a little patchwork here and there, has been of no avail, they haven't fundamentally, deeply changed man. And unless man changes himself he always overcomes whatever the structure be, according to his particular conditioning. I think that is fairly obvious, both historically and actually. And if you also feel the urgency, the seriousness of this change, of this transformation, of this revolution, you must have asked: how is a human mind, which has created the outward environment, how can that, not merely structurally, but how can the outward change be brought about in relation to the inward change? That is, if you see the necessity of this deep inward change of the mind, and if you take it really seriously, then the question inevitably arises: how am I, caught in this world, trapped in this peculiar culture and civilisation, how am I to fundamentally change, and what is involved in this change? I am sure you must have asked it. The more serious one is the more urgent the question becomes.
Can this change be brought about by another, by a philosophy, by a new kind of social structure, by a new religion, or by a new belief? When you put that question to yourself you have seen whether a new belief has any validity at all. Because all belief, however great, however convenient, is always the outcome of a series of process of thought. I believe in something, a beautiful ideal, that ideal is the structure brought about by thought, obviously. When you believe in, or have faith in something, it is the result of the process of mentation. Will a new structure, socially, economically, will that change the human mind? Or will it make it more superficial, more convenient, more attractive, more satisfying? And therefore will not actually bring about this change. Will a new authority? Obviously not because any authority however new is still patterned after the old.
So what will change man? And what is there to be changed? If one observes oneself we are caught in a world of knowledge, of a culture, of a civilisation which has conditioned our mind. Our conditioning is the result of a culture, of a civilisation - the western culture, the eastern culture and so on. That is the result of our conditioning, the culture, the environment, the civilisation has produced this mind. I think we all accept that naturally and logically if you observe it.
Now what am I to do? As a human being living in this world, a monstrous world, with very little meaning, what am I to do? How am I to transform myself? How am I to change radically? Because I see I have to change radically because everything about me, the way I live, working, working, working, frightened, violence, wars, insecurity, all the religious structure which has no meaning at all any more, the political chicanery, corruption, seeing all this how am I to change so that it has an effect on the world and also my conduct, my behaviour, my way of living is totally different? Now is this your problem? If it is not we can't share it. Sharing means to share something together in which we are vitally interested, deeply concerned, totally committed. If we have a motive in sharing then it is not possible to share. If I have a motive, and you have a motive, which must obviously be different, how can we share together a problem? And the problem is: the transformation of the total activity of man.
If you are vitally interested in it, seriously committed to the solution of this problem, that is, how can the mind which has been shaped through time, through culture, through civilisations, how can that mind be totally transformed so that it moves, acts, functions in a different way altogether? If that is your problem then we can share it together. But if you say, I have a personal problem which I must solve with my relationship with my wife, with my neighbour, I have a particular disease, I want to have it cured, I hope you will cure it, do this, then we are not sharing the issue, problem. But we will share this problem if you and I are completely interested, totally committed in the solution of this. For me that is the only problem. In the resolution of that problem I will solve all the other problems - my relationship with another, my loneliness, my despairs, my anxieties, fears, pleasures, the solution of death, meditation, reality - everything is involved in this.
So if it is your interest, your serious intention to go to the very end of it, then we can talk this over together, like two friends, quietly, deeply investigating, tracing out, enquiring. And we can only enquire if you are not committed to any other thing but this. If your mind is not free you can't enquire, you can't investigate. But in the process of investigation of the central issue the other problems which you have will be solved - whether they be economic, social, religious, personal imbalance and all the rest of it. If that is clear then we can proceed and find out together. I am not laying down dogmatically or hesitantly, but enquiring together, in which there is no authority whatsoever, neither your authority nor that of the speaker. We are together enquiring, exploring whether the mind can be totally transformed.
This mind that we have, whether it is a European mind, or the eastern mind, with their peculiarities, superstitions, and the western mind with their absurdities, with their technological knowledge, this mind is what we are concerned with. Now what is this mind? If you observe your own mind, which is the western mind - I am not dividing west and east, I am talking here to you who are the westerners, therefore it is for convenience's sake. I do not regard the human mind as the west or the east, it is a human mind. Now this mind is conditioned by a culture, by an environment - economic, social, climatic - this mind has been shaped through time, through knowledge, through experience, to face the world, to look at the world in terms of money, power, pleasure, and to be able to kill. Right? Look at it. Probably Christians have killed more people than any other people in the world, including Genghis Khan and (name inaudible) - all the rest of that gang! So you are conditioned to kill, not only other human beings through scientific warfare, but also to kill animals for your food. And money has become extraordinarily important - the pursuit of money, because having money gives you pleasure, position, so-called freedom, security. And you have been conditioned religiously to accept an image, transferring all your particular sorrows to that image. Your religion is based on authority, tradition, rituals, dogmas, the infallibility of certain people. Socially you are seeking power, competition is very rampant, and you can compete efficiently when you have great knowledge. So education is the cultivation of memory, so that you have an instrument which is efficient, to kill, to survive. So that is your conditioning, as it is in the east in a different way. I think there is no question about this - right?
That conditioning is knowledge. Right? Please, I am talking; it doesn't mean I am the only person talking. We are investigating together, and in this investigation you see technologically, scientifically, medically, you have advanced tremendously. But also you have destroyed the earth, you have killed thousand and thousands of people, for an idea, or for money or for the exploitation of the earth. You call yourselves Christians, you say you love God - and you kill man! This is your heredity, this is your conditioning and as long as there is no freedom from that conditioning there cannot possibly be a transformation of the mind. Right?
So transformation of the mind implies total negation of this civilisation and this culture. You understand what we are talking about? Total denial of this monstrous culture that made us what we are, each one fighting for himself. And in this culture we say, we must work, change the world, different values, new structure. Why should I work? You say you must work in order to survive, which means maintain the structure as it is. And the reaction to that is, 'I won't work, why should I work?' I hope you are following all this. Life has no meaning as it is now. Has it? You suffer, you are constantly in battle with yourself, with your wife, husband, with your neighbour, conflict, conflict. And your ethic says, work, but your ethic doesn't say, 'What is the meaning of life?' Unless you find the meaning of life, why should I work? Either to support the structure, or the new structure, or a new kind of self denial - you know what is happening in the world. Why should I work at all? And you have given... the culture has given a meaning to life in work, in the Christian gods, a meaning to life in going to the moon, becoming a successful person in the world. Your meaning is out there. And that is losing its significance. These are all facts.
And so seeing all this made sorrow, one has shed tears, not sentimental tears; one has enquired, searched, looked here and there, none of them give the answer. They say, 'Follow me, worship me, accept this pattern of behaviour, work for another, don't work for yourself, be concerned about the society, not about yourself.' But all those statements have no meaning because one has not found the meaning of life, the meaning of existence, which cannot be found in any book, in another, in following a guru, an authority, none of them give you the meaning of existence, you have to find it for yourself. That is what we are going to do. I am... the speaker is not telling you the significance or the meaning of life, but together, and I mean together, like taking a journey, a walk together, we will find out. And to find the meaning, not the purpose - purpose you can invent a purpose; if you are clever, intellectual, or fairly reasonable, fairly balanced, you can either invent or accept or put together a purpose. The purpose has no meaning. Purpose, the end of life, is totally different from the meaning of existence, the meaning of life. The one becomes superficial, whereas if one is really enquiring into the deep meaning of living, then it leads you... leads the mind very, very far.
So our minds are conditioned from the moment we are born, or previously, until we die. And the transformation is the total freedom from this conditioning. And this conditioning exists through the various movements of culture - artistic, religious, technological, political, economic, scientific, and all that. Can this mind be aware of this conditioning? Can you be aware of it? Aware in the sense, I mean by that word, to observe - please listen to this - to observe without any distortion, to observe your conditioning, that is, your culture, your civilisation, all the movements of social reforms, you know all that is going on in the world, of which you are a part, to observe that, to become aware of that. We mean by that word 'aware' to observe without any distortion of opinion, conclusion, without the interference of your tendency, or your particular experience, to be aware of this conditioning without any choice, just to watch. And in the observation of it you will then deny, if you go deeply enough, totally all this culture. And yet you have to live in this world. That is the problem. You understand my... I hope you are following all this. You know, to me this is... I am burning with it.
How can I, how can this mind live in this world, which is so appalling, so destructive, so meaningless, and turn my back on it completely? And I mean by turning back, actually put away all the rubbish it has put in my mind - their religions, their attitudes, their opinions, their immorality, their sense of monetary importance - you know - the whole of that, the killing. Can I turn my back on it and yet live here? Not withdraw, run away into some monastery, that has no meaning. I do not know if you have ever played that game of withdrawing from the world - withdrawing into a monastery, or into your room, cutting everything out of it so that you are completely isolated. And if you have ever done it, even for a day or even for a week, you will soon find out that is not the way out. That is again the movement of thought, which in its reaction to this mad, confused, insane world says, 'I can only solve it by withdrawing from it.'
So my question is: first, can this mind, which is the result of this civilisation and this culture, and therefore has very little meaning, can the mind become aware of it choicelessly, observe? And yet I have to live here, I have to do things every day. How is this possible? You are following all this? First of all we must be very clear that the description is not the described. Right? What we have described, put into words, is not the thing itself. And second, are you very certain, clear that there must be radical transformation, not have your finger in this social order, or in this church, or in this sect, or in this book, or in this - total transformation? And third, this mind, which is the result of this culture, this civilisation, it is the result of that, and to be free of that conditioning, you must totally deny the culture, and yet live in this world. Right? Now how is this to be done? Right? I hope you are following all this. I hope I am making myself clear. I have to live in this world with all the madness around me, this madness which has tried to give a meaning to life, and in the observation of it I see it has no meaning, I have to live with this structure and yet not belong to it in any way. Right? Now is this possible?
I cannot escape into some fanciful world. I cannot escape through any commune. I cannot escape from it by joining another religion, becoming a Hindu instead of a Christian, or a Buddhist or a worshipper of some ugly little guru - and there are plenty of them! So I am stuck with this because I have pushed away all that. I don't look to anybody - not that I am full of confidence in myself, I have no confidence in myself. If I have confidence in myself I am deceiving myself. What can I have confidence in when the whole of me is the result of this structure, of this civilisation, of this culture. So I have no confidence in myself. I have no belief. Please follow all this. I don't look to anybody, to any god, to any image, to any priest, to any structure that thought has put together as religion, whether it is the Christian religion, the Hindu - nothing - because they are the culture which has shaped me, in which I live which has brought about this mad world - the world of insanity, war, brutality, chicanery, deception, hypocrisy. Right? So I am left with my conditioning. I am nothing else. I have no meaning to life because any meaning I invent will be out of my conditioning. Any god I project will be out of my conditioning as a reaction to what I have been conditioned. I have been conditioned as a Christian I will reject and react to that and join... create another. So I have only this left with me. I hope you are following this.
Now how is the mind to free itself from this web, which is very deep, conscious as well as deeply unconscious, how is the mind to disentangle itself and make itself completely free, original, pristine, clear? You have understood my question? Now if this is your problem, not imposed by me, but you have come to it, you have come to it because you have looked round the world, and you have looked at yourself, you have looked at your struggles, your pains, your anxieties, your fears, and you have observed a new structure socially doesn't solve this problem; it may solve some superficial problems, like having a better prison. So if you have come to the same thing, that is, you have observed in your life, not only the way of your life, the conflict, the struggle, the deceptions which you practise on others and about yourself, the sorrow, the irresponsible life that one leads, the meaninglessness of it all, and you have also observed the outward world, the world of the Far East, the world of the Middle East, the world of the European, the American and all the rest. It is all there to be looked at. And if you have really deeply rejected all that, and have only this left, that your mind is conditioned, and any projection from that conditioned mind creates further confusion, further misery, further conflict. Right? So the question then is: can the mind free itself from its conditioning?
Now is this possible? Man has enquired, gone into this as far as this and said, 'It is not possible, I can't do it' - therefore what he has done is, he looks to an outside agency. Please listen to this. That outside agency is God, is some superhuman energy, superhuman consciousness. That superhuman consciousness, superhuman energy, superhuman god is the projection of his conditioning. Are you following all this? So man, being aware of his conditioning, not being able to solve it, moves away from it, creates an illusion and that illusion becomes his reality. But it is his projection, whether in the field of ideology, religion and so on. So there is no outside agency. You understand? I hope you are following all this. What we are doing is, discarding everything that man has tried, or tried in his search, in his enquiry, discarding everything that thought has put together outwardly. So you are left with this, your conditioning. Whether you are aware of it or not, that is up to you. How deeply, or how superficially, it is still up to you. But if you are really, desperately serious, wholly committed to this one thing, then we can take the journey together.
So can the mind... or rather has the mind the energy - please listen - has the mind the energy to explore without any distortion the whole content of the mind which is conditioned? I need energy, don't I? To investigate anything I need energy. To go up to that mountain, I need energy. And here I need tremendous energy and I will have it in abundance if that energy is not dissipated. You are following? I dissipate that energy when I seek an outside agency. I dissipate that energy when I say, 'It cannot be done'. Or I dissipate that energy when I say, 'Oh, yes, it is quite easy, let us work at it'. I dissipate that energy when I want to go beyond it. I dissipate that energy when I look to another, to an authority, to a book. So that energy becomes canalised, vital, immense when there is no escape from the central issue, which is, can the mind be aware of the content of this conditioning only, and not try to go beyond it? I don't know if you follow all this? Right? Nous sommes d'accord?
You know sir, this is the most arduous thing, to be so completely concerned and committed to the solution of this problem. It is like a scientist, not the scientist who is committed to a government, he is not a scientist at all, but like a scientist who is really concerned objectively, without any hypothesis, without any desire to produce a result, observing everything in himself, which is his conditioning, then you have the energy. Right? You are following all this? Not the energy to do more good, not the energy to do more yoga, or to convert others, or to write books. We are talking of a totally different kind of energy; the energy that has been wasted, dissipated, now it is all there, held together.
Now what is the content of this mind, and is the content different from the mind? You are following? I want to find out what the content of my mind is. And is the content different from the mind itself? And is there a mind, consciousness, without the content? Is this all too much, of a morning? Is not the content the mind? The content is not different from the mind. I mean by the mind the totality, the brain with all its memories, the feelings, the heart with its affection, with its care, with its tenderness, the physical organism, all that I call the mind. It isn't just the intellectual mind. The intellect, the capacity to reason sanely, logically, all the feeling that one has, affection, the hurts, the sense of beauty, the sensitivity, the fear - all that. When I use 'the mind' I include all that. Now I am asking myself: my mind is conditioned, obviously, and that conditioning is knowledge, that knowledge is based on experience, whether it is mine or yours or ten thousand people, which is the culture, the civilisation. Now is the content different from the mind? Or the content makes up the consciousness, so there is no division between the content and consciousness. Are you following all this? We are together in this? Now this is important. Please bear this in mind. The content is consciousness. Consciousness is the content. Therefore there is no 'me' different from the content. Right? It is a difficult thing for you to see this. Look... I am trying to find an example, but I can't. I can't think in examples. What I am trying to point out is, there are no divisions in the content as the 'me' different from the thing it observes as the content. Right? Am I conveying anything? Look sir, I'll put it differently.
The mind is conditioned and I am asking: can the mind be ever free from this conditioning? And in this conditioning there is the observer as the 'me', and the thing it observes as the conditioning. Right? So there is a division in this conditioning. The observer who says, 'I am different from the conditioning', therefore the observer can change the conditioning, he can shape it, control it, alter it as long as there is the division between the observer and the observed, which is the content. And the observer says to himself, 'I am different from the content', 'I am the Higher Self' - you know all the tricks that one plays on oneself. Which you have in this culture and in the eastern culture in a different way. So consciousness is made up of the content and the content is consciousness. They are one. So there is no division as the observer and the observed. Please see this. Either you see it intellectually, verbally and therefore it has very little meaning. Or you realise the truth of it. Therefore you eliminate altogether conflict. You understand this? That is, when there is a division between the observer and the observed, the observer is something different from the observed; where there is division in this conditioning there must be conflict. Right? And that is part of our culture. I am different. I am the will exercising over the content to change it. I don't know if you follow all this?
So where there is division there must be conflict - division between Europe and America, between the Communist and the Socialist and the Capitalist, between the nationalities, of Hindu and the Muslim and the Arab and the Jew - you are following all this? - where there is division, that is a truth, an atavism, where there is division there must be conflict. If I am divided from you as my wife, husband, neighbour, whatever it is, brother, in that division there must be conflict. And part of my culture, my conditioning is that I am different from that which I observe. 'I am an Englishman' - you follow? 'I am a Jew', or a Muslim or a Hindu - all that stupid nonsense.
So the content of consciousness is the whole. There is no division. See how the problem becomes much more difficult. Before I solved it, I thought I solved it, by inventing the observer different from the thing he observes, and therefore the whole concept of control, which is part of our civilisation, part of discipline, control, imitation, conformity on which you have been brought up from childhood, which is part of our culture, which is the conditioning. I wonder if you are meeting all this? And my conditioning says, 'I am different from the thing which I observe'. Of course I am different from the thing which I observe as the tree, as the mountain, we are not talking of that. We are talking of the total content of consciousness in which the 'I' is different from the thing which it observes. Therefore there is a division as the observer and the observed. Are you getting all this? So I have eliminated the cause of conflict. You understand this? For God's sake do! Because then you will be free of conflict. Conflict exists in duality, me and you, we and they, I am jealous, I must not be jealous, I am violent, I must not be violent. The 'I' is different from violence. That is the culture in which you have been brought up. And we are saying that culture has conditioned the mind to divide itself, to fragment itself and so the battle goes on endlessly. But when you see the content makes up consciousness, then there is no fragmentation, not one area fighting another area. I wonder if you see this? So we find that any fragmentation is the process of thought. Right? I wonder if you see that? No you don't.
What time is it?
Questioner: Sir you think consciousness is everything, but it is different for everyone, that is the problem. Consciousness is different from everything, it is different from your feelings, from your physical body, from your thoughts.
Krishnamurti: Yes. You are saying we are different from our body, from our feelings, from our thoughts, and that is part of our conditioning. On the contrary I am saying there is no 'you' different from the conditioning. I wonder if you see this?
Q: How can we turn our back on this conditioning if we are not different from it?
K: I am going to show it! You see that is exactly it! You are proving actually how you are conditioned. Just let me answer that question sir, it is an important question, please. He asked me, he asked a question, which is: how can I turn my back if I am not different from that which is conditioned? Right? So he assumes that he is different from the conditioning and therefore being different he can turn his back on it. But is he different? Or he is part of that conditioning, thinking he is different. Look sir, please bear with me a little if I labour the point. We have come to this point, which is: that we know we are conditioned. And not being able to resolve that conditioning thought says, there must be a different force, a different energy, different spirit in me that can say, 'I will turn away from it' - you are following this? This they have done in India in a different way, and as India exploded over the whole of Asia they have caught the Indian spirit, that is, there is a higher self different from the lower self, and therefore the higher self can control the lower self. They have given it a name and they are pursuing that philosophy endlessly because they haven't been able to solve the central issue, which is: can the mind free itself from its conditioning? And as they have not been able to answer it they invent an entity, an outside agency, a super consciousness which will solve it, which will solve... which will dissolve the conditioning. And you do it in the same way here differently. It is the same issue. Which is: the human mind is conditioned, after centuries and centuries of knowledge, experience, so-called culture, civilisation, it is caught in a trap. The trap is not different from the mind itself. The mind is the trap. The content is consciousness. Not being able to solve it we say, 'Please, how can I turn my back if there is not a different entity in me which says, 'I will turn'?' The invention of a different me is part of my conditioning, which is the result of a thought confronted with a problem that is insoluble by thought. Right?
Q: Sir, then the mind says, ‘I won’t look, I can’t look’, and then I go out and not look any more.
K: You are saying the mind says, 'I mustn't look, I won't look, I'll escape, I'll go away from it'. But you haven't solved the problem! The mind hasn't unconditioned itself. What I am trying to point out sir is, that any movement of a conditioned mind is a movement away from it and therefore it cannot solve it. The mind has to live with it - you understand? The mind has no escape from it. The mind cannot say, 'Well I will leave it alone, something will solve it'. I have to be with it... the mind has to be with it, look at it, you know, immovable. I wonder if you understand all this? And because we cannot do it we invent the 'me' different from the thing observed. If you see the truth of this, the logic, the truth, the reason of it, which is the whole of the mind is the content which is the conditioning. Any movement as the observer wanting to change the conditioning is still part of that conditioning. When you see the truth of that there is no movement away from that fact. There is no movement away, or to transform 'what is'. Then what takes place? You understand, that is the problem. We'll deal with it - I'll go into it - when is it? - the day after tomorrow. Please let us see this clearly and then we will come back to it next Thursday. The day after tomorrow.
I realise.. mind realises, after observing the world, the world of Europe, America, Asia, Russia, China, the various systems, the various philosophies, the various teachers, gurus, saviours, the various scientists that are concerned with technology, and the pure scientists, and the medical profession, all that, observing the whole of that, in seeing that the mind is aware that it is part of it. That is 'me' and 'me' is that. The world is me and I am the world, there is no difference, therefore I am not fighting the world because I am the world. And this culture, which is the world, this culture with its - you know what this present culture is, historical process, a growth, democratic, or so-called democracy, tyranny, all that, that is the culture in which the mind has lived, grown, assimilated and is. That mind is conditioned by this culture. And this culture says, 'There is in you something different from the culture'. And I accept it, as they do in India and elsewhere. And when I look at it, when the mind observes it, it says, 'There is only one thing, total conditioning, in which all these fragmentary things exist'.
And that conditioning is the result of time. Can the mind observe it, live with it without any movement away from it? You can only live with it totally if you do not want to go beyond it, escape from it, change it. And the mind will find it tremendously difficult to live with 'what is'. Either it becomes neurotic, as it generally does, psychologically distorted, or it escapes from it, and so it finds devious ways and means of avoiding actually 'what is'. And to remain with it, without any movement, without any distortion requires great energy. And that energy comes only when you don't dissipate it.