How is freedom to be understood and lived?
The movement of desire
3rd Public Talk, Brockwood Park
September 02, 1978
We have been talking about various things that concern our daily life. We are not indulging in any form of theories, beliefs, or ideological, speculative entertainment. We are actually deeply concerned - I hope - with our daily life and to find out if it is at all possible to bring about a radical change in the ways of our life. Because our life is not what it should be. We are confused, miserable, sorrow-ridden, struggling, struggling from day after day till we die. And that seems to be our lot. This endless conflict, not only in our personal relationships but also with the world, which is deteriorating from day to day, becoming more and more dangerous, more and more unpredictable, uncertain, where the politicians and the nations are seeking power.
And we should also talk over together this morning, I think, about freedom: whether man or woman - when I use the word 'man' I include the woman, I hope you don't mind, Women's Lib (laughter). It seems to one, as one observes in the world, in our daily life, freedom is becoming less and less. More and more restrictive we are becoming, our actions are limited, our outlooks are very narrow, or bitter, cynical, or very, very hopeful, and we never seem to be free from our own daily conflict and misery, completely free from all the travail of life. And I think we should talk over together this question of freedom. Of course in the totalitarian states there is no freedom. Here in the western world and the eastern world, partly, there is somewhat more freedom - freedom to change your job, freedom to travel, to say what you like, to think what you like, express what you like, write what you like. But even this freedom that one has is becoming more and more mechanical, it is no longer freedom.
So I think we should, if you are at all serious, go into this question rather deeply. That is, if you are willing. The Churches, the religions have tried to dominate our thinking: the Catholic church in the past tortured people for their belief, burnt them, excommunicated them, and even now excommunication is a form of threat for those who are Catholics. Which is exactly the same thing that is happening in the totalitarian states - control of your mind, your thoughts, your behaviour, your action. They are more concerned with the control of the mind, control of thought, and anyone who dissents from that, disagrees, is banished away, or tortured, or sent to mental hospitals and so on. Exactly the same thing as the past Catholic world has done. Now they are doing it in the so-called political, economic states. So freedom is something that we have to find out what it means and whether it is possible for us to be free, not only inwardly, deeply, whether it is at all possible inwardly, psychologically, inside the skin as it were, but also to express ourselves correctly, truly, accurately. Then perhaps we will understand what freedom is.
Is freedom the opposite of slavery? Is freedom the opposite of prison, of bondage, of repression? Is freedom to do what you like? Please, as we said the other day, and we have been talking over together, the speaker is only expressing - I hope - verbally what we are all questioning, therefore you are not listening to the speaker but listening to the questions which you are putting for yourself, therefore the speaker is not here. Is freedom the opposite of non-freedom? And so is there an opposite at all? You understand? That is, if we move away from the bad to the good and think that is freedom, the good being the freedom - if we accept the good, which we can go into presently, what is the good, and the bad. Is the good, the goodness the opposite of that which is not good, which is evil, which is bad? If there are opposites then there is a conflict. If I am not good, I will try to be good. I will make every effort to be good, that is if I am somewhat conscious, somewhat sane, not too neurotic. So we are asking: is freedom the opposite of anything? Or if freedom has an opposite then is it freedom? Please enquire together in this matter. That is, any opposite, the good and the bad, the opposite of the bad which is the good, the good has in it the roots of the bad. Go into it please. Consider it together.
If I am jealous, envious, the opposite of jealousy is a state of mind which is not jealous - a state of feeling. But if it is the opposite of jealousy that opposite has in it its own opposite. Do we see this? Because we want to go this morning into the question of what is love, whether such a thing exists at all. Or is it merely sensation which we call love. So to understand the full significance and the nature and the beauty of that word which we use as love, we must understand, I think, what is the conflict between the opposites, whether this conflict is illusory, in that illusion we are caught, which has become a habit, or there is only 'what is' and therefore there is no opposite to it. I hope this is not becoming too intellectual, is it? Or too verbal, or too nonsensical.
Because as long as we live in opposites, jealousy and non-jealousy, the good and the bad, the ignorant and the enlightened, there must be this constant conflict in duality. Of course there is duality: man, woman, light and shade, dark, light and darkness, morning and evening and so on, but psychologically, inwardly we are asking whether there is an opposite at all. Is goodness the outcome of that which is bad? If it is the outcome of that which is bad, evil - I don't like to use the word 'evil' because that is so appallingly misused, as is every other word in the English language - if goodness is the opposite of the bad then that very goodness is the outcome of the bad, therefore it is not goodness. Right? Do we see in ourselves, not as an idea, as a conclusion, as something somebody has suggested to you, but actually do we see anything born out of an opposite must contain its own opposite? Right? So if that is so, then there is only 'what is', which has no opposite. Right? Is somebody meeting me? We are meeting each other?
So as long as we have an opposite there cannot be freedom. Goodness is totally unrelated to that which is evil, which is bad - in quotes 'bad'. As long as we are violent, to have the opposite which is non-violent, creates a conflict, and the non-violence is born out of violence. The idea of non-violence is the outcome of being aggressive, abrasive, anger and so on. So there is only violence, not its opposite. Then we can deal with violence. As long as we have an opposite, then we are trying to achieve the opposite. I wonder if you see?
So, is freedom the opposite of non-freedom? Or freedom has nothing whatsoever to do with its opposite? Please we have to understand this very carefully because we are going to go into something, which is: is love the opposite of hate, the opposite of jealousy, the opposite of sensation? So as long as we are living in this habit of opposites, which we are - I must, I must not, I am, I shall be, I have been and in the future something will take place - all this is the activity, the movement of the opposites. Right sir? Do we May we go on?
So we are asking: is freedom totally unrelated to that which we call non-freedom? If it is then how is that freedom to be lived, understood and acted, from which action takes place? We have always acted from the opposites. Right? I am in prison and I must be free of it. I must get out. I am in bondage to a habit, psychologically as well as physiologically, and I must be free of it to become something else. Right? So we are caught in the habit of this everlasting corridor of opposites and so there is never an ending to conflict, to struggle, to be this and not that. I think this is fairly clear. Can we go on from there? You are not listening to me: you are discovering this for yourself. If you are, it has significance, meaning and can be lived daily, but if you are merely accepting the idea of it from another, from the speaker, then you are merely living in the world of ideas, and therefore the opposites remain. The word 'idea' - the root meaning of it, from Greek and so on, is to observe. See what we have made of that word! Just to observe, and not conclude, or make an abstraction from what you have observed into an idea. So we are caught in ideas and we never observe. If we do observe we make an abstraction of it into an idea.
So we are saying: freedom is unconnected with bondage, whether it is the bondage of habit - physical or psychological - the bondage of attachment and so on. So there is only freedom, not its opposite. If we understand the truth of it then we will deal only with 'what is', and not with 'what should be', which is its opposite. Have you got it? Are we meeting each other somewhere? Right?
Krishnamurti: May we go on?
K: So if that is very clear that there is only the fact, the 'what is' and there is no opposite to 'what is'. See, if you understand that basically, the truth of it, you are dealing with facts, unemotionally, unsentimentally, then you can do something. The fact itself will do something. But as long as we move away from the fact, the fact and the opposite will continue. You've understood? So we are asking now if that is clear, not because somebody said so, because you have discovered this for yourself, fundamentally, it is yours, not mine. Then we can proceed to enquire into this whole question which is very complex: what is love? If we are sentimental, romantic and imaginative and Raphaelites and mid-Victorians, then we will never even put that question. But if we put aside all sentiment, all emotional response to that word, or having any conclusions about that word, then we can proceed sanely, healthily rationally into this question of what is love. Do you understand? Right? So first of all are we approaching the question without a motive, without sentiment, without prejudice? Because the approach matters enormously, rather than the object itself. Right? Do we meet this? Am I putting you all to sleep or what (Laughter)
So do we know how we approach this question? Are we aware of our approach to it? We say, 'Yes, I know what love is,' and therefore you have stopped enquiring. So, as we said, the approach to the problem is more important than the problem itself. Don't make it into a slogan or a clich, then you have lost it. So are we clear how we approach this question? If the approach is correct, accurate, in the sense there is no personal conclusion, or opinion, or experience, then you are approaching it afresh, then you are approaching it with a sense of deep enquiry.
So we are saying: what is love? Theologians have written volumes about it. The priests throughout the world have given a significance to it. Every man and woman throughout the world gives a specific meaning to it. If they are sensual, they give that meaning and so on, so on, so on. So being aware how we approach it, openly, freely, without any motive, then the door is open to perceive what it is. Right? We close the door to perception if we come to it with an opinion, with some conclusion, with our own personal little experience. We have closed the door and there is nothing to you can't investigate, but if you come to it openly, freely, eagerly to find out then the door opens, you can look through - all right? Please, are we doing this? Because I think this may solve all our human problems. The approach and what is love. In the mechanistic world it doesn't exist. To the totalitarian people, that word is probably an abomination - they only know it as the love of the country, the love of the State. Or if you are a Christian you have love of god or love of Jesus, or love of somebody. In India it is the love of their particular guru, or their particular deity and so on. So we are asking, putting all that aside, not ignorantly but seeing what they have done, what religions have done with that word and perhaps with the feeling behind that word, being aware of all that, we must go into this. Right?
It means we must not only look what others have done to the word, how they have imposed certain conclusions upon our minds throughout the ages, and also what our own inclinations are, being aware of all that, let's approach it tentatively. What is love? Is it pleasure? Go on sir, enquire, dig into yourself and find out. Is it pleasure? For most of us it is, sexual pleasure which is called love, sensory pleasure. And that sensory pleasure, sexual pleasure has been called love. And that apparently dominates the world. It dominates the world because probably in our own lives it dominates us. So we have identified love with that thing called pleasure, and is love pleasure? Which doesn't mean that love is not pleasure. You must enquire into it, it may be totally, something entirely different. But first we must enquire into it. Right? Is love desire? Is love remembrance? Please. Which means, is love the remembered experience as pleasure, and the demand of thought as desire, with its image and the pursuit of that image is called love. Is that love? Right sir?
And is being attached to a person, or to a country, to an idea, is that love? Attachment, dependence. Please look into yourself, not listen to me, I am not worth listening to. But what is significant, what is worthwhile is that you listen to yourself when these questions are being put, you have to answer it for yourself because it is your daily life. And if attachment is not love, and if attachment is love, what are the implications involved in it? You understand my question? If we say love is pleasure then we must see the whole consequences and the implications of that statement. Then we depend entirely on sensory, sexual excitement, which is called love. And with it goes all the suffering, the anxiety, the desire to possess, and from that possessive desire attachment. And where you are attached there is fear, fear of loss. And from that arises jealousy, anxiety, anger, gradual hatred. Right?
And also we must see what are the consequences if it is not pleasure. Then what is love, which is not jealousy, attachment, remembrance, pursuit of pleasure through imagination and desire and so on? Is love then the opposite of all this? You follow? I am lost!
We said is love the opposite of pleasure, of attachment, of jealousy. If love is that, then that love contains jealousy, attachment and all the rest of it. Therefore love, seeing all the implications of attachment, pursuit of desire, the continuous reel of remembrances: I loved and I am not loved, I remember that particular sexual pleasure or that particular incident which gave me delight - so the pursuit of that and the opposite of what is called love, is then love the opposite of hate? Do you understand? Or love has no opposite. You're following all this? It's hot.
So we are finding out - please go with it you will see something extraordinary come out of this. I don't know what is coming out of it myself but I can feel something extraordinary coming out of it. If you all listen to yourselves, actually. And the religions have made love of god, love of Jesus, love of Krishna, love of Buddha - you follow? - totally unrelated to daily life. And we are concerned with the understanding and finding the truth of our daily life, the totality of it, not just sex or power or position, or jealousy, or some idiotic complex one has, but the whole structure and the nature of the extraordinary life in which we live.
So as we said, the opposite is not love. If we understand that, that through negation of what it is not, which means, not negating or denying in the sense of pushing it away, resisting it, controlling it but understanding the whole nature and the structure and the implications of desire, of pleasure, of remembrance. Out of that comes the sense of intelligence which is the very essence of love. Right? Are we meeting each other sir?
You say this is impossible. I am young, I am full of beans and I am full of sex, and I want to indulge in it. You may call it whatever you like but I like that. Till I catch some disease or some man or woman runs away with another then begins the whole circus - jealousy, anxiety, fear, hatred and so on. So what is one to do when one is young, full of life, all the glands highly active, what is one to do? Don't look at me! (Laughter) Look at yourself. Which means - please listen - which means you cannot possibly depend on another to find out the answer. You have to be a light to yourself. You have to be a light to yourself in understanding desire, remembrance, the whole attachment, and all that - understand it, live it, find out. Find out how thought pursues pleasure endlessly. If you understand the depth, and the fullness and the clarity of all that, then one will not be in a state of perpetual control, then guilt and regret - you follow? All that one goes through when one is young - if one is sensitive. If you are merely out for pleasure, well, that is a different matter.
So love is not the opposite of hate, of desire, or pleasure. So love is something entirely different from all that, because love has no opposite. If you really understand this, go into it, not catch my enthusiasm, my vitality, my interest, my intensity, then you will find out what is much more inclusive than that, is compassion. The very word is passion for everything - for the rock, for the stray animal, for the birds, for the trees, for nature, for human beings. How that compassion expresses itself - when there is that compassion, actually, not theoretically and all that nonsense - when there is actually that state of compassion, all action from that is action of intelligence. Because you cannot have love if you haven't understood the whole movement of thought. One cannot grasp the full beauty, the significance and the depth of that word without understanding the whole business of attachment, not intellectually but actually, whether you are free from attachment - from the man or the woman, from the house, from the particular carpet or particular something or other that you own. Right?
So out of that investigation and awareness of all the significance of that, from that there comes intelligence, not born of books and cunning thought and discussions, and clever expressions and all that; but the understanding of what love is not, and putting all that aside. Not say well, I will find out gradually when I am dead and buried, or just before what attachment Now, today, to find out while you are sitting there listening to yourself, to be free completely from all attachment - from your wife, from your husband, from your girl - attachment - do you understand? Can you? Not resist it, not throw it away - I am going to fight it, I am going to exercise my will to resist and so on, so on, so on. Will is part of desire.
So can you put aside attachment, dependence, and not become cynical, bitter, withdraw and resist. Because you have understood it, what attachment implies and in the very understanding of it, it drops away, and it drops away because you are intelligent, there is intelligence. That intelligence is not yours or mine, it is intelligence.
So then the action of compassion can only come through intelligence. It is like those people who love animals, protect animals - and wear their fur, right? You have seen all this, haven't you?
When we have understood this to its very depth then we can proceed to enquire into this problem of fear with regard to death. Right? Do you want to go into it? No, no please, don't (laughs) casually say, 'Yes, let's do it, for fun'. Because most of us whether we are young or old, whether we are diseased, or lame, or blind or deaf or ignorant, poor, we are frightened of death. It is part of our tradition, part of our culture, part of our daily life to avoid this thing called death. We have read all about it. We have seen people die, you have shed tears over them, and felt this enormous sense of isolation, loneliness, and the fear of all that. And from that there is this great sorrow, grief, not only the human sorrow of two human beings but also there is this great sorrow, global sorrow, sorrow in the world. I don't know if you are aware of all this. We have had recently two wars - hasn't that created immense sorrow for mankind? No? Think how many women, children, people have cried and shed tears. They are not yours or my tears, but human tears, of humanity. So there is a global sorrow, the sorrow of the world and a particular human being with his sorrow.
Are you getting mesmerised by me? I am a little anxious I question this all the time because you are so very silent and I hope that silence indicates the non-movement, of physical movement and the non-movement of thought, does it indicate that you are really deeply concerned, deeply enquiring, putting your whole heart and mind and everything that you have into this understanding of all this?
So before we go into the question of death, we must also understand the nature of sorrow: why we shed tears, why we rationalise sorrow, why we hold on to it. In the Christian world sorrow is put on the cross, and it's finished with it. You have idealised or put away that sorrow through one person and that person is going to redeem you from sorrow. You know all this, don't you? So one never goes into this whole question of sorrow. In the Asiatic world sorrow is explained through various theories - very intelligent, very clever. There is great possibility in their theories but yet in the Asian world, including India, there is still sorrow. So we are asking whether man can ever be free from it. Because we are asking this question to find out its right place - the right place of sex, money, physical security, technological knowledge and so on. All these have their right place. When once you have put these in their right place, freedom comes.
So sorrow: the word sorrow, in that is involved passion. Passion, not lust, but that quality of mind when sorrow is completely, totally understood and gone into, seeing the whole significance of it, then out of that comes passion. Not to paint pictures - I don't mean all that kind of stuff. The passion, that quality of energy which is not dependent on anything, environment, good food and so on, it is that tremendous quality of energy, which may be termed as passion. It comes out of the understanding of this burden which man has carried for millennia. Why do we suffer, psychologically? You may have physical pain, injury, disease, crippled, and is it possible - please listen quietly - is it possible to put pain, physical pain in its right place and not let it interfere with the psychological state of the mind - you understand what I am saying?
One has often physical pain in different forms. Or one may have serious sickness, or crippled, and that sickness, that disease, and so on, not to allow all that to interfere with the freedom, with the freshness of the mind. That requires tremendous awareness, watchfulness to say physical pain not to be registered - you understand? - psychologically. Are we meeting each other? You have been to a dentist - haven't you? - so have I, all of us have been, and there is considerable pain sitting there by the hour, and not to register that pain at all. Then, if you register it, then you are frightened to go there again, fear comes in. Whereas if you don't register it - the pain, you follow? - quite a different quality of mind, brain comes into action. So we went into the question of registration very clearly, carefully, so I won't go into it now.
So similarly we live with sorrow and perhaps that is getting more and more expansive, through divorce, people are divorced and their children go through a terrible time, the children suffer, neurotic, all that goes on with the children. They are fed up with their present wife and for various sexual and other reasons and they chase another woman, or man - you follow all this? - this is happening. And, so there is tremendous suffering in the world, the people who are in prison, the poverty that exists in India and Asia - incredible poverty. And the sorrow of a world of those who live in Totalitarian States. We were talking the other day to a person, just in Switzerland we met them, and we asked them a question, saying how do you tolerate all this? He said, 'We get used to it'. No, no, see what the implications are. We get used to oppression, suppression, fear, watching always what we are saying, we get used to it. As we have got used to our own particular little environment - you understand what I am saying?
So, is it possible to be totally free from sorrow? If the mind, if the brain is capable of not indulging in its own misery, in its own loneliness, in its own anxieties, travail and struggle and you know fear and all that, therefore there is no centre from which you act. The centre being the 'me' with all the things that we've included in that, as long as that exists there must be sorrow. So the ending of sorrow is the ending of 'me', the ego. Which doesn't mean the ending of 'me' implies callousness, indifference - on the contrary.
So we know what sorrow is and never to run away from it, just to live with it, capture it, understand it, go into it at the moment, not a few days later after you have been through all kinds of struggle, just to never move from that fact. Then there is no conflict about it. Then out of that comes a totally different kind of energy, which is passion.
So now we'll have to go, if we have time Beg your pardon?
Q: Twenty seven past
K: Oh, we've got some more time. So we can go into the question of what is death. All this is necessary to find out what is meditation, you understand? To be free of hurts, wounds, psychologically, to be free of fear, to understand the whole movement of pleasure, the nature and the structure of thought, and the thought that has created the division: the 'me' and the thing which is observed is not 'me' - you follow? - all the divisions. To understand all this and lay the foundation, then one can really meditate, otherwise you live in illusions, some kind of fanciful day dreaming. Or you go to Japan, or Burma - I don't know if you can go to Burma nowadays - Japan and learn Zen meditation. It is all such nonsense! Because unless you put your house in order, the house that is burning, that is being destroyed, unless you put your house, that is yourself, in order, to sit under a tree in a cross-legged Lotus position, or whatever position you take, is utterly meaningless. You can delude yourself, you can have illusions galore. So that is why it is important to understand and be free of anxiety, fear, attachment, and whether it is possible to find out the ending of sorrow.
Then we can go into the question of death. I wonder why we are all so frightened of it. Have you ever asked: what does it mean to end - anything? What does it mean to end attachment? To end it. Say at this moment, sitting there, observing yourself very carefully and realising that you are attached to a person, or to something or other, ideas, your experience and so on. To end that attachment now without argument, without etc. etc. Just end it. Then what takes place? You understand my question? I am attached to this house, behind me - I hope not! And realising that I am attached, not theoretically or in abstraction, but actually, the feeling of possessing that, being something there, all that nonsense. To observe that, be aware of that attachment and end it instantly. The ending is tremendously important. The ending of a habit, smoking or whatever habit one has, to end it. So one must understand what it means to end something - without effort, without will, without asking, 'If I end this will I get that?' - then you are in the market. When you are in the market place you say, 'I will give you this, give me that' - which most of us consciously or unconsciously do. That is not ending. To end and find out what happens.
So in the same way, death. Please hold on to it for a minute, don't say, 'Is there life after death? Do you believe in reincarnation?' As I said, I don't believe in anything. Full stop. Including reincarnation. But I want to find out, one must find out what it means to die. It must be an extraordinary state. That is freedom from the known - you understand this? I know my life, your life. You know your life very well, if you have gone into it, observed it, carefully watched all the reactions and your behaviour, your lack of sensitivity, or being sensitive escape into insensitivity and so on and so on, so on. You know your life very well, if you have watched it. And all that is going to end. Right? Your attachment is going to end when you die. You can't carry it with you but you may like to have it till the last moment. Right? So can you end your habit, one habit, without arguing, rationalising, fighting it, you know, say finit terminat, finished, over? Then what happens. You will find out only if you don't exercise will. Right? 'I will give up' - whatever your particular habit is. Then you are struggling with it, you are battling with it, you are running away from it, suppressing it and all the rest of it goes on. But if you say, 'Yes, I'll end it, it doesn't matter, I'll end it' - see what happens.
In the same way death implies the ending. The ending of everything that one has collected during this life: the furniture, the name, the form, your experiences, your opinions, your judgements, your jealousies, your gods, your worship, your prayers, your rituals, everything comes to an end. The brain, which has carried immemorial memories and tradition and thoughts, that brain lacking oxygen peters out. That is, the 'me' which has collected so much, the 'me' is the collection of all this. Right? That is obvious. No? The 'me' is my fear, the 'me' is my attachment, my anger, my jealousy, my fears, pleasure, my attachment, my bitterness, my aggression - that is the 'me'. And that 'me' is going to come to an end. That 'me' is projected by thought which is the outcome of knowledge, the knowledge of my fifty, sixty, or thirty or twenty or eighty or a hundred years, that is the fact, the knowledge, the known. The ending of the known, which is the freedom from the known, is death, isn't it? No?
And so one must find out whether the mind can be free from the known. Not at the end of thirty years later but now. The end of the known, which is 'me', the world I live in, all that. The 'me' is memories - please listen to all this - the 'me' is memories, experiences, the knowledge which I have acquired through forty, sixty, thirty, twenty, or a hundred years, the 'me' that has struggled, the 'me' that is attached to this house, to this woman, to this man, to this child, to this furniture, to this carpet, the 'me' that is the experience that I have gathered through a number of years, the knowledge, the pain, and the anxiety, the fears, the jealousies, the hurts, the beliefs being a Christian, love of Jesus, love of Christ, all that is 'me'. And that 'me' is just a lot of words - no? A lot of memories.
So can I be free from the known, end the known now, not when death comes and says, 'Get out old boy, it is your time'. Now. But we cling to the known because we don't know anything else. We cling to our sorrows, that's our we cling to our life, the life which is pain, anxiety - you know all that, you know all this, that is our daily, miserable life. And if the mind doesn't cling to it at all there is an ending to all that. But unfortunately we never end. We are always saying, 'Yes, all right, I'll end it but what is going to happen?' So we want comfort in the ending - do you understand sirs? So somebody comes along and says, 'Old boy, believe in this, that will give you tremendous comfort.' All the priests throughout the world come and pat your shoulder or hold your hand when you are crying, they give you comfort, the love of Jesus, or he will save you, do this and do that. Do you understand? We are saying, the ending in which there is no time, the ending of time, which is death - you understand?
So what takes place when there is the ending of 'me', the known, and when there is freedom from the known? Is that ever possible? It is only possible when the mind has understood and put everything in its right place so there is no conflict. When there is freedom from this known, what is there? Do you understand my question? Do you ask that question? I'll end my attachment to this house, to that woman, or to that boy or to that girl, I'll end it. And then what? Don't you ask that? If you do ask it, 'then what', you have approached the whole problem inadequately. You will never ask that question, 'then what'. The very question, 'then what', implies that you have really not actually dropped, ended something. It is the lazy mind that says, 'then what'. Climb the mountain and you will find out what is on the other side. But most of us sit on our easy chairs, and listen to the description and are satisfied with the description. Finished. Right?