Does compassion flower in the field of desire?
Can the mind be free of every motive to investigate?
4th Public Talk, Saanen
July 17, 1977
If we may we will go on with what we were talking about the other day we met here. Some of you may not have been here and so I will go over it very briefly. First of all I would like to point out that we are a gathering of serious people - at least I hope so. Not a gathering for intellectuals, or romantics, or sentimentalists because we are dealing with facts, the facts of daily life, the way of living. And if one is not at all serious then one doesn't see the point of coming here, taking all the trouble and sitting down here for an hour. And I hope that all of us who are here are really quite serious because we are concerned with our daily living, which are daily facts. And most of us make those facts into an abstraction - to abstract from the fact an idea, a conclusion, and become prisoners to those ideas and conclusions. We may ventilate those prisons but still we live, most of us, because we make abstractions of facts, in prison. Please, therefore, be good enough to understand that we are not dealing with ideas, some exotic philosophy, or dealing with abstractive conclusions. We are here - if I may again point out, as I have been doing for the last three or four gatherings here, that we are sharing this thing together. We are going into problems that require a great deal of care, a great deal of attention. One must be very, very serious because the house is burning. I do not know if you are aware of all this. There is the Communist world pressing all the time - make us believe in certain ideologies and if we don't, we are either sent to a concentration camp or mental hospitals, and so on. That is gradually closing in. One may not be aware of it now, but if you are aware of the world situation, what is happening in the world economically, socially, politically, and in preparation for wars, one has to become terribly serious. It isn't a thing you play around with, one has to act.
And, as we were saying, action based on skill, which we discussed the last time that we met here, last Thursday, action based on skill must inevitably lead to separative, fragmentary action. Please follow it. I will go into it again as we did last Thursday. Because our education, our environment, sociological demands, urge everyone to develop a particular skill. And that skill brings about not only a sense of power, position, but also such action born of that skill is very limiting, emphasises the importance of oneself. One builds the structure of oneself, the I, the ego. And without clarity skill becomes destructive. Clarity - we mean by that, the clarity that comes when there is the art of listening, the art of seeing, the art of learning. And we mean by that word 'art' to put everything in its right place, where it belongs. Then out of that action, which is to give everything its proper place, out of that comes clarity.
Clarity is not born of logic, reason, or objective thinking. But clarity one must have, to act clearly, wholly, completely. One must understand the meaning of listening, the meaning of seeing and the art of learning. We said the art of listening means that you listen not to your own prejudices, not to your own conclusions, to your own experiences, with which you are quite familiar. And with those prejudices, conditions you listen, then you don't listen at all. Then you are merely judging what is being said with what you already know, therefore there is no actual communication or clarity.
And the art of seeing - to look without any direction, without any motive, to look at the world, to look what is happening around you, politically, religiously, and all the things that the gurus unfortunately are bringing over to Europe - to see all that clearly without any personal demand, without any personal prejudice or want. That again needs a great deal of attention one has to have.
And also to learn. And I think this is very important to understand. To learn implies, as most of us know, to learn knowledge, facts, information, and that information, knowledge, experience is stored in the brain and according to that knowledge you act skilfully, or not skilfully. But when thought, which is the result of accumulated knowledge, experience, and memory, and therefore reaction to that memory - which is thought - when thought spills over, as it were, into psychological field then it creates havoc - which we talked about sufficiently the other day. So if you don't mind we will not go into that again, because we have a lot of things to talk about still.
So the art of listening, the art of seeing what is happening around you, what is happening inside you, what is taking place in your relationship with another, man, woman, to see it very clearly, then the art of learning brings about an extraordinary quality of clarity. If you have done it, as you are sitting there if you do it actually, not theoretically, follow it step by step and do it, then you will have an extraordinary clarity from which action takes place. And in that clarity there comes naturally the skill. But what we are doing now is to develop skill without clarity and therefore whatever we do in the world, in our life, daily life, leads to constant conflict, misery, confusion. That again is very obvious. And we were saying that without compassion clarity in itself has very little meaning.
So we are going to go into this question this morning of what is the meaning and the significance of compassion. Before we go into that it becomes important to understand that we are dealing with daily life and nothing else, because that is the basis of all relationship and therefore all life.
And most of us are mediocre. The word 'mediocre' means - the root meaning of that word is to go half way up the hill. You understand? We all do that. We just go half way up, and that is mediocrity. Excellence means going to the very top of it. So we are asking for excellence, not mediocrity - mediocre action. Right? Is that clear? To go all the way, not go half way, otherwise we are going to be smothered, destroyed as human beings by the politicians, by the ideologists, whether they are Communists, Socialists and so on, or Eurocommunists. So we are demanding of ourselves the highest form of excellence. And that excellence can only come into being when there is compassion, clarity, and from this compassion and clarity comes skill - not the other way round. And that is what we are trying to do: to develop a skill and have clarity and then compassion. We are saying quite the contrary.
So we are going into this question of what is compassion. What is the structure and the nature of this extraordinary quality, which if the human mind has not got, it is going to destroy the world, and therefore destroy human beings. We also said in our talks that each human being - you as a human being - is the representative of the whole of humanity. Which is not an idea or an abstraction, but an actual daily fact. That is, wherever you go - India, Asia, America or Europe, or even Russia and China - human beings are going through anxiety, fear, uncertainty, great sense of loneliness, insecurity, they are caught in the stream of sorrow. This is a fact right through the world. So every human being, that is you who are here in this gathering, and outside are actually the entire essence of all humanity. That is a fact: you must not only realise it intellectually but (sound of train) realise this fact not only intellectually but with all your being, in your blood in your guts, which is an absolute fact. So it becomes very important for each human being, when he realises this, to see that he is responsible. When you feel utterly responsible then you care; then you care what kind of education your children have, what kind of literature, everything you care.
So we are going to go into this question of compassion. As we said we are examining the thing together. We are reasoning over it together. We are exercising our highest excellent logic. But reason, clear, objective thinking, and excellent logic does not bring about compassion. But we must exercise the qualities that we have, which is reason, careful observation, and from that, excellency of clear sight. So we are taking the journey together and please see the importance of this. If you merely listen and accept or reject then we are not communicating with each other. The speaker wants to discuss it all with you, go into it, because he feels tremendously urgent, this matter. And as we are sharing together this question: what is the implication of compassion? - then it becomes your responsibility to think clearly, not with your personal prejudices, not with your particular form of experience, or certain conclusions that you have derived through experience or by learning, reading and so on. Then those conclusions, experience will prevent you from sharing together with another. I think that is very clear.
So we are going together to explore, to investigate, not intellectually but factually, in our daily life, whatever that life be, ugly, sometimes happy, sometimes very depressing, and so on, whatever it is we are going to go together and examine all this. So please give your care, your attention, be serious for god's sake, for your own sake. The future is what you make of it today. If you are negligent, if you are merely superficially living, then you are creating a world for the future which will be most destructive. I do not know if you know what is happening in the world, how the technology has so far advanced, military and all the rest of the horror that is going on, and if you realise it you have got to do something. So let's proceed to find out, not from the speaker, because I am not your guru, we are not asking for anyone to follow because the follower destroys truth. There is no guru, there is no follower, there is no authority here of any kind. So we are together as two human beings, deeply concerned, not only with our lives but the lives of humanity, to bring about a radical psychological transformation in our consciousness. The content makes consciousness - the content, what it is, what is inside that consciousness makes consciousness. Sorry if I am rather emphatic about all this. I am not being dogmatic. If you look at it, go into it, you will find it out for yourself.
So we are concerned with the transformation of the content of our human consciousness. The human content is all the things that thought has put into it, like politics, the division in politics, my country and your country, the ideologies, the Communist ideologies according to Marx and Lenin, or Eurocommunism with their particular brand of Communism. The content is all the religious dogmas, rituals, beliefs, the demand that you obey because the priests, or the popes, or the representatives, they think they are the representative of god or Christ. And the content is fear, pleasure, pain, anxiety, loneliness, despair and the enormous sense of great sorrow, and the fear of death. All that is the content, of every human being in the world, whether they live in China, Asia, India, America or here. And when there is a transformation in consciousness it affects the whole of mankind. If you have gone through it you will find out. Do it and you will find out.
So we are going to examine together the various contents of consciousness, in which compassion doesn't exist. There is pity in it, there is sympathy, there is tolerance, there is the desire to help, there is a peculiar form of love, but all that is not compassion. So we are going to examine that thing. Please understand, though the speaker is sitting on a platform it doesn't give him any authority whatsoever. He is sitting there for convenience so that you can see the man who is speaking. That's all. Because we have accepted for so long the feeling of obedience - 'Tell us what to do and we will do it' - that is not what we are saying. When there is understanding of what is compassion and so on, out of that comes your own clarity and action, then you are outside of all the misery and the confusion, and therefore you can bring about a different consciousness in the world.
Now let's proceed. (Sound of train) There's another train coming. We are asking whether compassion or love is pleasure. So we are going to investigate together - please bear in mind, together - what is the significance and the meaning of pleasure, which every human being is seeking, which every human being is pursuing at any cost. What is pleasure? - the pleasure derived from possession, the pleasure derived from capacity, talent, the pleasure when you can dominate another, the pleasure of being, having tremendous power, politically, religiously or economically. Then there is the pleasure of sex, the pleasure that money gives so that you have a great sense of freedom. And there are all multiple forms of pleasure. And if you observe very carefully, look at yourself as though you are looking at yourself in a mirror, you will see that you are pursuing the same - pleasure. It may not be money, it may not be many possessions, but it may be through sex, or clinging to a particular form of experience, which has given you great delight, holding on to that, or a particular conclusion, an ideological conclusion that gives you a sense of great superiority, which is a form of pleasure.
So, what actually is the meaning of pleasure? You understand? The word, not the pleasure derived from something, but the essence of pleasure. Because we discussed the other day when we met, the nature of fear, and whether human beings, you as a human being representative of all humanity, can be free completely, totally of fear. We went into that very carefully and I do not think we will go into it again today because we won't have time. So we are asking: what is the nature and the structure of pleasure, which every human being is seeking? In pleasure there are several things, which is, there is enjoyment, there is a sense of joy - pleasure, enjoyment, joy, and further on, ecstasy. In the field of pleasure these are involved - pleasure, joy, taking delight in something, and the sense of ecstasy. The meaning of the word 'ecstasy' - please understand what it means - the root meaning is, to be beyond yourself. You understand? There is no self to enjoy. The self, that is, the 'me', the ego, the personality has all totally disappeared, there is only that sense of being outside. That is ecstasy. But that ecstasy has nothing whatsoever to do with pleasure. So we are going to look carefully at pleasure - the meaning of it, in which is included joy, taking a delight in something and so on. I hope you want to go into this. And you may not want to go into it because you may be frightened because you say, 'For god's sake, if you take away pleasure what have we in life?' We are not taking away pleasure. We are not saying it is ugly, wrong, anything of that. We are examining it. But if you say, 'Well, don't examine it too closely because I am frightened', then please don't examine. But if you want to understand it, see the significance of it, go into it very deeply, then there must be no blockage by your fear.
We said: what is pleasure? You take a delight in something. The delight that comes naturally when you look at something very beautiful. At that moment, at that second, there is neither pleasure, nor joy, there is only that sense of great observation. And in that observation the self is not. Right? When you look at that mountain with their snow cap, with their valleys, the grandeur, the magnificence, the extraordinary line of it, that drives away all thought. There it is, that great thing in front of you. That is a delight. Then thought comes along and says, what a marvellous thing that was, what a lovely experience that was; then the memory of that perception is cultivated, then that cultivation becomes pleasure. So where thought interferes with the sense of beauty, the sense of greatness, grandeur, of anything, a piece of poetry, a sheet of water, or a marvellous tree in a lonely field - seeing it and not registering it. You follow? This is - please understand - this is important. The moment you register it, the beauty of it, then that very registration sets thought into action. Then the seeing of that beauty and the desire to pursue that beauty becomes pleasure. Get it? Do you understand? Are we moving together somewhere? One sees a beautiful woman, or a man, and instantly it is registered in the brain. Right? Don't you register It is a fact, isn't it? Then that very registration sets thought into motion and you want to be in her company and all the rest of it follows. So pleasure is the continuation and the cultivation of an incident by thought, which gives a continuity. You have had sexual experience last night or two weeks ago, you remember it and the repetition of it, which is the demand for pleasure. This is fairly obvious.
So the point here is: is it possible not to register? You understand? The function of the brain is to register because in registration it is secure, it knows what to do. Right? And in registration, knowing what to do, in which there is security, there is the development of skill. Right? Then that skill becomes a great pleasure which is a talent, a gift - all that is the movement of the continuation of thought through desire and pleasure. You understand this? Bene? Can we go on from there? Please, I can go on, the speaker can go on. But are you going on, going along with the speaker, doing it actually, seeing for yourself what is going on and realise the whole explanation, the discovery, the exploration of it. Right?
So is it possible to register only that which is absolutely necessary, and not register anything else? Look: take a very simple thing. Most of us have had pain, physical pain of some sort or another. And that pain is registered because my brain says I must be very careful not to have that pain again tomorrow, or a week later, because physical pain is distorting. Right? You can't think clearly when there is great pain. So the brain registers it. It is the function of the brain to register that pain so as to safeguard itself, so that it doesn't do things that will bring about pain. So it must register. Then what takes place? Look at it carefully for yourself. It has registered and then there is the fear of that pain happening again later. Right? So, that registration has caused fear. Right? So we are asking: is it possible, having had that pain, to end it, not carry it on? Are you following this? Am I making it clear?
We are talking from actual fact, not a theory, because we have all had pain of some kind or other, great pain or a little pain. And having that pain, end it, not carry it over. Then the brain has the security of being free and intelligent. You see that? Because the moment you carry it over it is never free of fear, it is never free. But having had that pain, at the end of the day end it, don't think about it, don't let it worry you, 'My god, it is going to happen again tomorrow, consult the doctor, take drugs' and all the rest of it, but end it. And then you will see for yourself.
So we are saying, we are asking - together, I am not asking, you are also asking - whether it is possible not to register at all excepting the things that are absolutely necessary. The necessary things are knowledge - how to drive a car, how to speak a language, technological knowledge - please follow this carefully - technological knowledge, the knowledge of reading, writing, and all the things involved in that, but in our human relationship, between man and woman, every incident in that relationship is registered. Right? Are you following this? Oh my god. It is registered and therefore what takes place? The woman gets irritated, nagging, or friendly, kindly, or says something just before you go off to the office, which is ugly - so you build up through registration the image about her, and she builds an image about you. This is an actual fact - no? Oh for god's sake, am I talking, saying something extraordinary? (Laughter)
So in human relationship, between man and woman, or between a neighbour and so on, the image-making is the process of registration. Right? That is when a wife says something ugly, to listen to it and end it, not register it. You understand? Or when the husband says something ugly, listen to it carefully, end it, not carry it on. Then you will find that there is no image making at all, because if there is no image between the man and the woman, then relationship is quite different, entirely different. But when there is an image between the two the relationship is between one thought opposed to another thought. Right? And that we call relationship, which actually is not. It is just an idea that you are my wife or my girl friend, just an idea. Do you get all this? I hope you are equally active, as the speaker is.
So we are enquiring into the question of what is the nature and the structure of pleasure. Pleasure is the continuation of an incident, given that continuation by thought. So thought is the root of pleasure. Right? If you had no thought, you saw a beautiful thing, it would end. But thought says no, I must have that more - you know the whole movement of thought. So what is the relationship of pleasure to joy? You understand this? Joy comes to you uninvited, it happens. You are walking along a street, or sitting in a bus, or wandering in the woods, seeing the flowers, the hills, and the clouds and the blue sky and suddenly there is the extraordinary feeling of great joy. Then registration, thought says what a marvellous thing that was, I must have more of it. So joy is made into pleasure by thought. You are following all this? This is not analysis; this is mere observation. That is, seeing things as they are, not as you want them to be. Seeing things exactly without any distortion, what is taking place. Right? When you do that we are together, we are journeying together, we are exploring together.
So from that: what is love?
What time is it, sir?
Questioner: Eleven twenty
Krishnamurti: Twenty. What is love? Please, again, we all have so many opinions about it. We have got such extraordinary ideas about it: love is this, love is not that, you mustn't talk about love in front of a girl - you know - extraordinary things we have. Now we are going to examine the thing clearly. Right? Examine it together. The speaker is not telling you what love is, or you are telling the speaker what love is; but we are examining it. Right? So you must be free of your prejudice. You must be free of your opinions what love should be. You are free to look. So what is love? Is it pleasure? Is love As we said pleasure is the movement of thought and the continuation of an incident through the movement of thought, which is pleasure, which is explained very carefully - it is not my explanation, you can observe it for yourself. And we say is that pleasure? Is the movement of thought love? You understand? Is love a remembrance, a thing that has happened, a boy and a girl, a man and woman, that happened, and the remembrance of it, and living in that remembrance and feeling that remembrance which is over, resuscitating it and saying, 'What a marvellous thing that was when we were together under that tree; that was love'. That is the remembrance of a thing that has gone. Is that love? Is love the pleasure of sex, in which there is tenderness, kindliness, etc., etc., etc. - is that love? We are not saying it is, or it is not. We are questioning, as you must question everything in life, doubt everything. But if you doubt everything you will have nothing left. But doubt must be kept on a leash; as you keep a dog on a rope or a leash, so doubt must be kept on a leash. And you must know when to let it go and when to hold it back. That is the art of doubt.
So we are doubting, questioning everything that man has put together by saying, 'This is love'. So we say, is love pleasure? If it is, then pleasure gives emphasis to the remembrance, to past things, brings about importance of the 'me' - right? - my pleasure, my excitement, my remembrances. So is that love? And is love desire? Ask these questions, burn with these questions, because you have got to find out because we have reduced love into pleasure, which is a daily fact. Is love desire? So what is desire? I desire a car, I desire a house, one desires prominence, power, position. There are a dozen things one desires. To be beautiful as you are, to be as intelligent, as clever, as smart as you are - desire. Then what is desire? Does desire bring clarity? Please question it with me. The thing you call love, and we are saying is that love based on desire? - desire to possess a woman, to sleep with a woman, or sleep with a man, desire to hold her, possess her, dominate her, control her, she is mine, not yours. And the pleasure derived in that possession, in that dominance. Man dominates the world and so there is the woman fighting the domination. So what is the nature and the structure of desire? Desire, not for something - you understand? - not for the house, or a good car, or position, power, be prominent in your little society, in your little pond. So we have to find out what is desire.
We are not saying we shouldn't have desire. That is what the churches throughout the world say, the organised religions have said suppress desire. If you want to serve god you must be without desire. And the priests have maintained that but though they talk about being without desire they are burning with desire, boiling with it. They may not want worldly things, they want to become the bishop, the archbishop, the pope - you know climb the ladder of spiritual success.
So what is desire? Does desire bring about clarity and therefore that clarity is skill in action? In the field of desire does compassion flower? You have to ask these questions. So to find out the truth of the matter you must examine what is desire, not desire for the object, the objects are not important - you can vary, when you are a child, you desire a toy and so on, so on, as you grow older you desire something else. So we are not discussing, or talking over together the objects of desire, but actually what is desire. If it does not bring clarity, and if desire is not the field in which there is the beauty and the greatness of compassion, then what place has desire? Right? So you must go into it and find out, not according to any psychologist, any preacher, including the speaker, but together to find out. We are insisting that we think together, reason together, find out together. Not, I find and then you accept, or reject, but together find out.
So what is desire? Desire for a better society, and the cultivation of that desire which becomes passion for an idea. Right? People are so committed to Communism, they are passionate about it - or to any other form of ideological projection. So it becomes very important to go into this question of what is desire - not how to suppress it, how to run away from it, how to make it more beautiful, but just what is desire? How does it come about that human beings are caught in this? One year you are a Christian, or for thirty years a Christian, then you throw that out and join some other label called Hindu, or Buddhist, or whatever it is, or Zen.
So in enquiring we must deal with facts, not with opinions, not with judgements - then you have your opinions and the speaker may have he has no opinion, and so there is a battle, therefore there is no communication. But we are going into facts - not your fact or my fact, but the fact that human beings have colossal desires, absurd desires, illusory desires. So what is desire? How does it come? Go into it. Look at it. You have your own desires, unfortunately, or fortunately. Desire to be good - you know. How does that desire arise in you? You see a beautiful woman or a beautiful man - see. Perception - right? - the seeing, then the contact - right? - then the sensation, then that sensation is taken over by thought, which becomes desire with its image. Right? Follow it yourself and you will see it. You see a beautiful vase, a beautiful sculpture - I don't mean the modern sculpture, sorry, somebody may like it, somebody may like that but personally I don't like it (laughter) - you see a beautiful statue, the ancient Egyptian, or the Greek, and you look at it. As you look at it, if they allow you to touch it, you touch it. See the depth of that figure as he sits on a chair, or cross legged. And then from that there is a sensation, isn't there? What a marvellous thing. And from that sensation the desire says, I wish I had that in my room. Right? I wish I could look at it every day, touch it every day. And the pride of possession to have such a marvellous thing like that. You understand? That is desire, isn't it? Seeing, contact, sensation; then thought using that sensation to cultivate the desire to possess, or not to possess. Right? This is obvious, it is not my explanation. It is a factual explanation.
Now comes the difficulty: realising that the religious people throughout the world have said, 'Don't look. When a woman comes near you look at something else. Think of her as your sister, mother, god', or whatever it is! (Laughter) No, no, you laugh, you are born in this. You are conditioned to this. So all the religious people have said, 'Take vows of celibacy. Don't look at a woman. If you do look, treat her as your sister, mother, whatever you like, because you are in the service of god, and you need all your energy to serve him. In the service of god you are going to have great tribulations, therefore be prepared, but don't waste your energy.' But the thing is boiling. Right? So we are trying to understand that which is boiling. Not to look at a woman or a man, but that which is desire that is constantly battling, wants to fulfil, wants to complete itself. So we said desire is the movement of perception, seeing, contact, sensation, thought as desire with its image. Right? Now, we are saying, see, touch - sensation, that is normal, healthy - right? - end it there. Don't let thought come and say, yes, take it over and make it into a desire. You get what I am saying? No, understand this then you will see. Then you will never suppress, there will be no suppression of desire. That is, you see a beautiful house, well proportioned, lovely windows, beautiful garden, well kept, with a roof that melts into the sky, walls that are thick and, you know, part of the earth. You look at it, there is sensation. You touch it, you may not actually touch it, you touch it with your eyes, you smell the air, the herbs, the newly cut grass. And, can't you end it there? Why does sensation become desire? You follow? You are following this? Am I making it clear? When there is perception, contact, sensation, it is natural, it is beautiful to see a lovely thing, or an ugly thing. Then to end it there, say it is a beautiful house. Right? Then there is no registration as thought which says, I wish I had that house - which is desire - you understand? - and the continuation of desire. You can do this so easily! And I mean it, easily, if you understand the nature of desire.
So we are asking: is pleasure love? Is remembrance love? Is desire love? So pleasure, remembrance, desire are the movement of thought. Right? Therefore one asks: does thought cultivate love? Is thought love? You understand? Am I making this clear? Please, come on!
K: So find out! If it is not pleasure, because pleasure has its place, it is not desire, it is not remembrance though they have there places, then what is love? Right? Is love jealousy? Is love a sense of possession - my wife, my husband, my girl - possession? Has love within it fear? Ask these questions to find out. Therefore if it is none of these things - none of these things, entirely wiping away all these things, putting them, putting all these in the right place, then love is. You understand? Then love is.
So we are saying that through the negation the positive is. You understand? Through negation. That is, is pleasure love? And we examined pleasure and we see it is not quite that, though pleasure has its place it is not that. Right? So you negate that. You say it is not remembrance though remembrances are necessary. Right? So we put remembrance in its right place, therefore you have negated remembrance as not being love. You have negated desire, though desire has its certain place. Therefore you say through negation the positive is - you understand? Come on! But we on the contrary posit the positive and then get caught in the negative. Right? That is, one must begin with doubt, completely doubting, then you end up with certainty. But if you start with certainty, as all of you do, then you end up in uncertainty and chaos.
So in negation the positive is born. You understand? I have finished, sir. I have finished for this morning. We will continue next Tuesday.