Can thought be creative?
Creativity in science
Scientists Talk, Los Alamos, New Mexico
March 20, 1984
M. R. Raju: It is a privilege for me to introduce our speaker today, but Mr Krishnamurti needs no introduction. He is a world-renowned teacher. He has been giving lectures around the world for nearly sixty years now. The more than thirty books which he has had published are never out of date; they maintain their freshness. Dr Oppenheimer was a philosopher-scientist and a Sanskrit scholar. It is a most happy occasion, on the day of the official beginning of the spring today to have Mr Krishnamurti as our colloquium speaker. On behalf of the Laboratory, I want to express our appreciation to him for accepting our invitation, in spite of his busy schedule. So, without taking any more precious time from the speaker, I invite Mr Krishnamurti to give his presentation, and the title of the presentation is Creativity in Science. Thank you very much for your attention. Sir, may I request you to present the talk.
Krishnamurti: If I may, this is not a lecture. This is a conversation between you and the speaker. The subject, I believe, is Creativity in Science. Science, generally means knowledge accumulated knowledge through two or three hundred years, and increase more and more and more knowledge. And what relationship has creativity with knowledge? That is the subject I have been asked to talk about.
What is knowledge? It is acquired through thousands of years through experience, stored in the brain as knowledge and memory. And from that memory thought arises. So knowledge is limited always, whether now or in the future. And so thought is always limited. And where there is limitation there is conflict. So what place has creativity with regard to science? Is there a relationship at all? Please, we are thinking together, we are questioning the very source, the very accumulative process of knowledge. Science means knowledge - Latin and so on. And can creativity in its deepest sense, in its profound activity, what place has creativity or creation with regard to knowledge? We have given tremendous importance to knowledge, from the ancient times, from China, India, before the Christian civilisation came into being they were tremendously respectful, worshipped knowledge. And knowledge, as we said before, is always limited because it is based on experience and so memory, thought, is limited. Thought has created most extraordinary things in the world - all the great monuments, from the ancient of times, great art, vast technology in the present day, and the creation of a nuclear bomb, and so on. Thought has brought about extraordinary state in the world. Thought has created god, built vast cathedrals of Europe, all the things that are filled in the museums - poetry, statue, and all the marvellous things that thought has done. Because thought is the outcome of knowledge, knowledge is science, expressed technologically or otherwise. Thought also has created wars - and we are faced with another war, maybe. And human beings for the last five thousand or more years have been killing each other in the name of god, in the name of peace, in the name of their own particular tribal country. Man has destroyed other human beings, now, in the present civilisation where we are gathered here, where they are producing these enormous destructive things, that is the result of science which is knowledge.
So what place has knowledge, science, with creation? Creation has been one of the most complex problems. Various religions say this is the source of creation - god, and so on. Each tribal country, which is called nationalism has their own particular expression, have their own tribal gods. And science which has produced extraordinary, marvellous things in the world - communication, computers, medicine, surgery - all that has been the result of thought - going to the moon and so on. So can thought ever be creative, in its most profound sense? What is creation? Must creation be always expressed, manifested? That which is manifested must be limited. We are the result of tremendous years, or centuries of endeavour, conflict, struggle, pain, sorrow - we are the result of all that. Our brains have infinite capacity, but it has been conditioned, not only religiously but also nationally. You are all Americans, Chinese, Russians, and so on. We have divided the world geographically, religiously, culturally, and also we have divided human beings - the Caucasians, the blacks and the browns, like us. And so thought has brought about tremendous conflict between human beings - that's a fact - not only between individuals, but also collectively. We have also suffered through wars, through pestilence, every form of disease. And science has been able to help or cure some of all that. But also science has produced most destructive instruments of war. Before, you killed a man perhaps in a war, two or three hundred people, or more, now you can destroy the whole world. Again based on ideals, ideologies, tribal glorification, which is nationalism. Taking all that, what we are after 45,000 years as Homo sapiens, what are we, what have we become? And in this confusion - because most human beings are terribly confused, though they may not admit it - uncertain, not only seeking physical security, but also they want inward psychological security in their relationships, with regard to future, and so on. So taking all this into consideration, our brains are specialised, conditioned by knowledge, and so our activities are conditioned, limited. Wherever there is limitation there must be conflict. When you divide the world into the Americas, the Asiatics, the Europeans, the Jew and the Arab, there must be conflict; not only wars but conflict between individuals, between man and woman. Considering all this, what place has creation?
Knowledge can never be creative. We are going to question all this. Knowledge can bring about a better physical world, externally, and when we give such extraordinary importance to knowledge, which is the intellect - to us intellect is vital, important, essential, but intellect is also limited. We never look at life holistically, as a whole, not as a scientist, a physician, psychiatrist and so on. We are human beings first. And as human beings what are we, what have we become, after millennia upon millennia? Are we civilised? I know you are all very affluent society, you have a great man cars, marvellous country, beautiful roads and so on, but we, as human beings, what are we? And it is human beings that are capable of creation, not only as scientists but also in our daily life. Because after all what is important? We have forgotten, or we never had the art of living, not as scientists, as human beings. We are perpetually in conflict. And can conflict, struggle, pain, anxiety, uncertainty, can such a brain be creative? Or creation is something entirely different?
Please as we said, we are thinking together, if that is possible. Not that the speaker thinks and tells you, or do we together as human beings think about these matters now? That is, to forget our professions, of our vocations of imitation, and as human beings can we be creative? First if we understand the significance of that then we can turn to science, religion and so on. Can we, as human beings, look at the world as we have made of it? I wonder if one realises whether we are individuals at all. Because our consciousness, which is made up of our reactions, physical, biological reactions, our beliefs, our faith, all the prejudices that we have, multiplication of opinions, the fears, the insecurity, the pain, the pleasure, and all the suffering that human beings have born for thousands of years. All that is our consciousness. Our consciousness is what we are. And in this confusion, in this contradiction, can there be creation? And we share the consciousness of entire humanity because you suffer, you have pleasures, beliefs, conclusions, opinions, and all the religious dogmas and faiths, which is shared by all human beings on this earth. So one questions whether we are individuals psychologically. You may be different, you may be tall, you may be short, but as human beings with our consciousness, are we different from the rest of mankind? We have never questioned all this. We trot along all the days of our lives accepting, imitating, conforming. When we rebel, we rebel outwardly: there have been revolutions - Russian, French, and thousands of revolutions have taken place. But inwardly we remain more or less as we have been for thousands of years. So taking all this, not intellectually but as a whole, are we creative? Or creation is something entirely different. You can invent a new method, discover, explore, break up the atom and so on and so on. It is all the activity of thought - cunning, capable, deceptive, creating illusions, and worshipping those illusions. After all, all religions are based on that. Thought has created god. The speaker is not an atheist, but thought has created wars, murdered in the name of god millions of people, and thought has created all the things in the cathedrals, in the churches, in the temples, in the mosques.
So can thought be creative? Because, as we said, thought is limited because it is based on knowledge, and knowledge is the result of vast experience. So we are asking a really very fundamental question: whether thought can ever be creative. It can invent, it can produce new weapons of war, the surgery, medicine and so on. And in our relationship with each other, man, woman, what place has thought in that? Is thought love? I know we say not, but if we look at ourselves and our relationship with each other - husband, wife and boy and a girl, and so on - our relationship is based on the image you have built about her and she has built about him. That relationship is based on thought.
So thought has been extraordinarily capable of certain things, and thought has also brought about the destruction of man, of human beings like ourselves, dividing them into ideologies - the Russian ideology, democratic ideology and so on. So please, thought can never be creative because what it can manifest must be limited. And where there is limitation there must be conflict - between man and woman, between ideologies, between the Arab and the Jew, between the American and the Russian - this division geographically, nationally, religiously. And conflict can never under any circumstances bring about a creativity of creation. So if thought is not the ground of creation then what is creation? When does it take place? Baking a bread is also creation of a certain kind, having babies, also creation, and so on, all the way up. But surely creation can only take place when thought is silent. You may totally disagree with this. I hope you do. I am sure you do! Because to us thought is extraordinarily important, which means the intellect, which is only part of a human being.
So the speaker says creativity can never take place where there is the activity of thought. And the question then arises: can thought be quiet, can thought be put aside for a while? Then who is it that helps thought to put it aside? It is still thought. I don't know if you are following all this. So it is a very complex process. And they have tried every method to quieten thought - drugs, tranquillisers, and also they have tried every form of meditation - the Zen meditation, the Tibetan, the Hindu, the Buddhist, and all the latest gurus with their nonsense (laughter) - they have tried everything to quieten the thought. Because thought has its place. But psychologically, inwardly, can there be certain silence, quietness? And love is that silence, is that quality of great strength, quiet energy.
So we are asking, is love the only factor that is creative? Not sex. I know we have reduced love to pleasure. And we have to ask what is love? If you once comprehend, perceive that thought can never under whatever circumstances be creative, because thought is limited - of that there is no question. If we once see the truth of it then we can begin to ask: is there another instrument, another way of looking at life? Then we can begin to enquire, what is love? What is compassion? What is intelligence? Intelligence is part of that thought; intelligence has created Los Alamos. And what is the nature of love? Is it desire? Is it pleasure? Is it creating images - images about your wife, your husband? Is it the images of ideologies? So to find out, to discover, to come upon that extraordinary thing called love one must have a very clear understanding of our daily life. And that means psychologically, inwardly, we have no freedom. We talk about freedom, especially in this country where you have experts to tell you what to do - specialists. I don't know, you must be aware of all this - how to bring up a baby, how to have sex, how to beautify yourself, what kind of exercise, and so you have specialists in religion, in science, and so on. And this you call freedom. And as our time is very, very limited we cannot possibly go into the question more deeply: what is freedom. Without freedom there is no love. But we are not free. We are anxious, we are frightened of death, frightened of the future, we have carried this burden of fear for thousands of years. We are talking about psychological fears first, and the physical fears later.
So can such a brain which is so conditioned, as a computer, can such a brain love? And is creativity, whether in science, in biology and so on, where there is great activity of thought with its own peculiar intelligence, can that thought create, be creative? If not then how does creation take place? They have asked this question, religious people have asked this question, theologians. If you go to India, they will invent their own theory about creation, so do the Christians, Muslims, and all say god, or some biological reason.
So we are saying that creation is only possible where there is love. Then what is love? Love is not desire, love is not pleasure. Love is not religious entertainment. To understand the complexity of desire, the complexity of sorrow, and the enormous - the thing that we call death, all that is part of our life, our daily living. So is there freedom? Have we love? If there is love we will never kill another human being, never. And this whole world now is collecting armaments. Every country wants the latest instrument of destruction. America is supplying it, England, Russia, Germany, and each country is producing its own deadly instruments, and amongst this chaos we want to have the spirit of creation, creativity. One hand you produce most destructive instruments of war, on the other you talk about love, peace, and so on. We live in a state of contradiction, and where there is contradiction there must be conflict and therefore there can never be creation, or creativity. It is only when the brain is quiet - not controlled quietness - when the brain is absolutely silent, though it has its own rhythm. Man has enquired into this from the ancient of days. Can the brain be utterly still for a while? Not everlastingly chattering, not probing, not enquiring, not searching, but quiet, still.
And to understand that stillness one must understand what is meditation, and so on. Meditation is not conscious meditation, because that is what you have been taught - conscious deliberate meditation, sitting cross legged, lying down, or repeating certain phrases, and so on. That is all deliberate conscious effort to meditate, which is part of desire. And the speaker says such meditation is nonsense. It is like desiring a good house, a good dress, and you desire to have a peaceful mind, which is the same thing. Conscious meditation destroys, prevents the other form of meditation. To go into that we haven't time, because that requires extraordinary perception, without the word, without image.
So, science is the movement of knowledge, gathering more and more and more. The 'more' is the measurement, and thought can be measured because thought is a material process. And knowledge has its own insight, its own limited creation, and therefore it brings conflict. But we are talking about holistic perception, in which the ego, the 'me', the personality doesn't enter at all. Then only there is this thing called creativity.
MR: We have some time for a few questions, maybe for about fifteen minutes or so. Would anybody like to explore the subject further by asking any specific questions?
Questioner: Mr Krishnamurti, it seems one category you have not considered in too much depth is the category of the will.
K: Sorry, sir, I can't hear you.
Q: I was commenting that one category that you seem not to have dealt with in too much detail is the category of the will, as opposed to thought. And could it not be that the problem, the source, the root problem, the source of the conflict is wrong use of the will rather than wrong thought?
K: Yes, sir. You have understood the question? What is will? Is it not the essence of desire? And the gentleman asks is not will and thought - go together, or separate
Q: I would make a distinction between the will, the capacity to make choices, and thought. I would say they are not one and the same, there is a distinction between them. And the problem is in the will rather than in the thought. The thoughts, to a large extent, flow from the will, and until...
K: Yes, sir, that's what I am saying - the same thing. Desire, we are saying, is will.
Q: I would make will a little more fundamental than simply desire. It’s at the very heart of our personality, of who we are, this capacity to make choice, to make choices. Let me ask another I have another issue that I am really concerned about and that is that there may be more than just human thought and human experience. There may be a bigger aspect to reality. And one thing that there may be other wills involved besides human wills. And that there may be a factor of what we might call supernatural evil at work in the world. And there may be a bigger conflict than many people may have given much thought to, much consideration to.
K: So sir, what is the question, sir? (Laughter)
Q: OK. I am saying that regardless of how much attempts we make to quiet our thoughts
K: No, sir, you can't quieten thought. I carefully explained. We haven't time. Sir, what is the question?
Q: OK. As a human being how can I protect myself from supernatural evil? How can I protect from Satan’s authority in this world?
K: Supernatural evil, and protection from that. What is the relationship of the good with the evil? Are we good? What does goodness mean? And what do we mean by evil? Is evil related to goodness? Is love related to hate? If it is related then it is not love. If good is related to evil then it is not good. And are we controlled or shaped by external super-evil? I know this is an old, old theory: there is something beyond us which we haven't created that controls us, that shapes our life, and so on.
Q: Well let me pose another question, let’s...
Audience: No, no.
Q: I’ll make it very brief.
A: No, no.
Q: Sit down.
K: I am sorry, sir. Let's have some fun, shall we? (Clapping)
Q: I have had trouble understanding what you mean by creativity. Could you dwell on that a bit?
K: I don't mean anything by creativity, it was posed to me. (Laughter) Sir, whom are we questioning? Are you questioning the speaker, or questioning what he said, or are you questioning yourself? Which is, together we are questioning the whole problem of existence, with its creation, with its destruction, with its pleasures, and all that - whole of life we are questioning. And we try to find an answer outside the question. But the answer lies in the question, not away from it. That depends how you regard the question. If we want a solution to the question, as most of us do, we have problems, and we are seeking solutions to the problems. Our brain is trained to the solution of problems from childhood. When a child goes to the school he has mathematical problems, problems of how to read and write. So our brains from childhood have been conditioned to solution of problems, and so we never understand the problem itself, we want a solution for it.
So what is a problem? The gentleman said the problem is will, and thought. Now who is going to answer that question? Or what is creativity. You can read books upon books, listen to professors, specialists, and then has one really, deeply, inwardly grasped the truth of something? What is truth, what is reality? The tiger is a reality, thought has not created it - thank god. Thought has not created nature. So reality is what we are, what we have made of ourselves. And we are incapable apparently of facing what we are, and transforming, bringing about a mutation in what we are - actually, not verbally, not theoretically. And then find out for oneself what is creation, what is creativity, what is love, what is the essence of compassion which is intelligence. To find that out for oneself, not selfishly because we are the rest of humanity. That's a marvellous thing to discover that, that we are the rest of humanity, psychologically, inwardly, though outwardly, externally we may be different. So when we understand this thing for ourselves, not be told everlastingly by professors, psychologists and so on, so that we have a clear perception of life, and the art of living, then we will ask nobody to tell us what to do.
Q: Sir, you say that we are the rest of humanity. I am different than you, and I want to tell you that I am glad I am not you and I want to tell you that there is a difference between each person and the rest of humanity, that we are all individuals. You keep implying that we should be individuals, but then you say that we are the rest of humanity. We are not, I am not you, and I am glad of that. (Clapping)
MR: Please, this is really a very serious topic. There is no room for clapping or laughing.
K: May I answer that question? The gentleman said, I am glad I am not you, that he is different from everybody else. Is that so? We will have to enquire, not say, 'Yes, I am different from you'. Don't you suffer? Don't you have conflicts, don't you have problems, don't you quarrel with each other? You have beliefs, don't you, conclusions, fears? Go to India, or Egypt, or anywhere else in the world they have exactly the same thing psychologically, inwardly. They suffer. It's right sir, I know.
Q: I do not suffer when you suffer.
K: What, sir?
Q: I do not die when you die. I do not feel what you feel.
K: I do not die when you die, I do not feel what you feel. But go beyond that a little bit further, deeper. When I die - what is death? You answer - death, dying, biologically, physically one dies. Man on this earth, men have died by the million. And when you die and I die what does that mean? Who dies? The name, the person, the qualities, the images he has built about himself? What dies? Please sir, one has to go into this, not just say, 'Well, I am different from you', and just stop there. Of course we are different from you. Biologically we are different. You are tall, I am short, or I am black or you are blue. Of course there is a difference. You are a woman, I am a man. But inwardly, go into it. What are we, of which you are so proud? A series of memories we are, aren't we? Remembrance of things past. We are a bundle of memories. And to find out if there is something sacred, real truth beyond all these words and impressions and reactions, there must be that quality of investigation, without prejudice, without a conclusion. Sir, to go into these matters very carefully one has to have - not in one talk, you can't understand all this - it requires a great deal of enquiry on the part of all of us, not assertions - I believe, and that is good enough for me. We must question the very nature of belief, the nature of conclusion, our ideologies.
Q: Can you give some concrete examples of creativity from your point of view – some examples, maybe? I, for example, would say that Einstein was creative in a certain way. Can you give some examples from your point of view.
K: I have no point of view. I wouldn't have a point of view. I really mean it. It is not just clever response. Because I am not an Indian, I don't believe all that kind of stuff - not believe - I reject all that. Not that I am vain and superstitious, all that business, but I say, look what has happened to human beings. And each one has a point of view, and he sticks to that point of view. And so there is perpetual division, conflict. And out of that conflict creation cannot exist.
Q: You indicated that when we become very quiet the brain would have its own rhythm. Could you speak about that?
K: Look sir, have you ever been, if I may most respectfully ask, have you ever been quiet? Literally really quiet, both physically and inwardly. The brain to be absolutely quiet - have you ever tried it? And the gentleman asks... right sir, you asked something sir?
Q: I wanted to understand more clearly the reference you made to the rhythm which the brain exhibits.
K: The brain is a muscle. Right? An extraordinary muscle, immense capacity, infinite capacity. You can see what we human beings have produced. But when the brain is quiet in the sense psychologically, inwardly, which means no measurement - I won't go into all this. To have no measure, which means the brain doesn't compare so that there is no 'more'. May I put the question differently? Or rather state something. The now, the present, the now, contains the past and the future. The future is the present. The future is what we are. Right? It is so obvious. I am greedy for power, position - aggression. I am that, now. And the future which is tomorrow, or a thousand tomorrows is what I am now. If there is no radical change in the now the future is what I am. Right? I wonder if you So death - I won't go into this.
Q: Sir, you said many things that were true today such as about the limitations of human thought, and about the all importance of love. But I am a little disappointed that you have not told us the real answer to these things.
K: Oh, yes, I have answered.
Q: The answer has been given to us by the infinite god who is the only creator. He has sent Jesus Christ to this earth who has shown us what love is by dying on the cross for us. And he is love, and he is the personification of love, and without knowing him you cannot know love.
K: Sir, I don't want to know what god is. I don't want to know. What do you mean by knowing? Knowing implies remembrance. This morning we met, you have seen the speaker, his face, you remember it. You may not remember it. And the remembrance is the image you have built about the person. But the person, the thing may be totally different from the image you have built about him. This is so obvious. And we have built this extraordinary thing called god, each civilisation, the past, the present and the future, have their own ideas about what god is. I believe in India there are 330,000 gods, and the Christian world there is only one god. There you can play with 3,000 gods - choose any god you like and have fun. (Laughter) Please I am serious. It sounds rather silly but it is a fact. And when there is no fear inwardly - you understand? - of dying, of insecurity, no fear whatsoever psychologically and therefore biologically, then there is freedom. You understand? And in that freedom there is no it is freedom, which is the essence of energy, and that energy may be called various names, who cares.
Q: He said, ‘Be still and know that I am God’, and Jesus Christ also said, ‘If you keep my commandments, ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free’, and that’s true...
K: I don't quite understand your question, sir.
Q: The question is, how you can have freedom without knowing Jesus Christ.
K: I don't understand your question, sir.
Q: Jesus Christ said, ‘I am the way, the truth and the life’, he is the only way, the only truth, and the only life. And without him there is no truth and no life and it is the only way.
K: Sir, forgive me, two thousand years ago this was stated according to the Bible by disciples who wrote the thing after sixty years or more afterwards. This statement existed long before - every prophet, every guru from the most ancient days have stated this. But what has that to do with our daily life? All the statements of all the religious books - there is a very complex problem in this. Those who live on books - here you have the Bible and the Islamic world has the Koran, and the Indian and the Chinese world, there are a thousand books, or half a dozen books is good enough. (Laughter) So those who rely on one book become terribly dogmatic. If you have watched it carefully, they have called heretics and burnt, in the past. And those they depend on Marx, Lenin, and you can see what is happening there. And if you have several books, all called religious books, they are not so dogmatic, assertive. In India, for example, you can be a good person without believing in god, not doing any ritual, and all rituals become a form of entertainment anyhow, religious or otherwise.
So sirs, if one is dogmatic, assertive, confirming one's own conclusions, then that is what is creating so much trouble, horror in the world. The Russians will not yield an inch in what they believe, their ideology; and those who are Christians and so-called democratic, they will not an inch either, so there is a war. And so please we are not stating anything, we are just observing and moving, not static. Therefore one has to have extraordinary vitality, energy. And we waste our energy in all the absurdities. Is that enough sir?
Q: As I listened, I was thinking that our thoughts and our knowledge can bring us to the crux to the problem, bring us to the foot of the problem, and what I wanted to ask you, sir, is whether you considered it creativity when we stand at the foot of the problem to be able to divorce ourselves from all our knowledge, and all our past that has brought us to the problem, to walk away from that?
K: Yes, sir, we cannot possibly put away all our knowledge. You can't you must have knowledge to go from here to your house. You must have knowledge to write a letter. You must have knowledge to speak English, or French, or Italian, or Russian. Knowledge is necessary. Otherwise we wouldn't be sitting here.
Q: In other words we wouldn’t recognise the problem unless we had knowledge.
K: Sir, knowledge is necessary at a certain level, and I am questioning very deeply whether knowledge, psychological knowledge is necessary at all. Psychological knowledge - you understand what it is implying? The self is the essence of knowledge, which is accumulated through various experiences, incidents, and so on. All that is knowledge, psychological knowledge. And therefore that is unnecessary. One can exist only in that state of freedom when you have relegated knowledge to its right place. Psychologically no recording of reactions. Suppose you insult me, why should I record it, why should the brain record that insult? Or if you flatter me, why should you record it? The recording creates the self, the 'me', and so there is a division. And so on.
Q: Then my question is: is it creative to walk one step further, different from the step you have taken previously.
K: What, sir? I can't understand.
Q: Is it creativity to come to recognise a problem, having all this knowledge that has brought you to where you are, to be able to take a different step. To not be bound by what you know, but to be able to walk away from that?
K: Yes sir. What you are is - you understand? - all this.
Q: Yes, you are the recorded messages.
K: Can there be freedom from all that? Then there is real creativity, that's what he's saying.
Q: Thank you.
K: Is that enough, sir?
Q: Well I wish we had a lot more time. (Laughter)
MR: Thank you very much, sir.