Is it possible to see the limitation of thought?
There is an ending to sorrow when there is no ‘me’
1st Public Talk, Brockwood Park
August 27, 1977
I suppose one must have this direct light on oneself! Sorry. Sorry it isn't on you. (Laughter)
I presume that most of you are here because you are serious people, that you are really concerned with the radical transformation of one's consciousness, its movement which is the structure, and its nature. And if one is not serious I don't see the point of your coming here at all. It is a waste of your energy, it is a waste of your money, waste of all kinds of things that you might be doing otherwise. So please we are rather serious people - at least the speaker is, and we should consider the various issues that face us in our daily life - political, economic, social, personal and global.
Perhaps some of you are already familiar with what we are talking about, but familiarity does not necessarily lead to contempt, or neglect, or saying it is all repetitive stuff. But rather together, and we mean together, actually together, you and I, go into these problems, sharing them together, investigating them together, exploring the whole content of our consciousness, and therefore our action in our daily life. That is what we are primarily concerned with. And if one is at all serious please give your attention to this for at least an hour this morning - at least for an hour.
I don't know quite where to begin but we'll plunge into it - simpler.
I think one should be aware of three fundamental issues in our daily life: which is compassion, clarity and skill. We are educated in the field of being very skilful in dealing with our life - skilful in the sense being clever, applying a great deal of knowledge which we have acquired through education, through experience, and act skilfully, both in a factory, in a business, in our daily life. That skill becomes a routine, a repetitive action. And that skill when it is highly developed, as it should be, becomes, is a means of self-perpetuation, self-importance, self-aggrandisement. So the skill has led us to this present state, both technologically as well as in our relationship, how to deal with each other rather skilfully: not clearly, not with compassion, but skilfully. So is there an action which is skilful in our daily life and yet not perpetuating the self, the 'me', the importance given to oneself and to one's activities, one's self-centred existence - to act skilfully without strengthening the self. Because it's one of our problems - I'm sorry it's raining so much, you are all out there. What shall we do? British climate!
So is there an action in our daily life which is both skilful and not perpetuating the self? That is one problem. Because through our education we have developed, through experience, this enormous skill, and therefore it has given us a great deal of strength, vitality and comfort in the realm of skill and therefore perpetuating the self. Now is there an action which is free of that and yet skilful? And to go into that, one has to question what is clarity, because you cannot act skilfully without clarity. I hope we are travelling together and not my talking to myself, I can do that in my room, but if you will kindly join, take the responsibility to investigate what we are talking about together, then it will have some value.
So what is clarity? Because we see if there is clarity then there is action which is skilful and not self-perpetuating. I'll show we will go into that. Clarity can exist only when there is freedom to observe, when one is capable of looking, observing, watching. That is only possible when there is complete, total freedom, otherwise there is always distortion in our observation. I think that is fairly simple: simple in words but in action it becomes terribly difficult. So is it possible to be free of all the distorting factors in our outlook? When you observe yourself or another, society, the politicians, the environment, the whole cultural, religious movement that is going on in the world - so-called religious movement - can you observe without any prejudice, without taking any sides, without projecting your own personal conclusions, your beliefs, your dogmas, your experience and knowledge, and therefore be totally free of all that to observe clearly? That is the second problem.
The third problem is compassion. The word is not the thing. One may describe what is compassion in a most eloquent and poetic manner, but whatever is expressed in words is not the thing. So we are going to find out these three things: what is compassion, because without compassion there is no clarity, without clarity there is no skill - they are totally interrelated with each other. So we are going to investigate these three problems: whether human beings, as we are now, can have this extraordinary sense of compassion in our daily life, not a theory, not an ideal, not something to be achieved, to be practised and all the rest of it, to have it totally, completely, at the very root of our being. That is one question.
Then from that arises: can there be clarity? Because one can be very clear in our thinking, objectively, rationally, sanely. But reason, however logical, however objective is very limited - obviously. Right? I hope we are travelling together, moving together. And clear thinking has not solved our problems. The philosophers, the scientists, the so-called religious people have thought very clearly about certain things, but in our daily life clear thinking has not resolved our issues. Right? One may think very clearly why one is envious or violent but the ending of violence cannot be brought about through clear thinking. Clear thinking implies a limitation because thought itself is limited, thought itself is conditioned, thought itself has its own boundaries. And thought may try to go beyond its boundaries and invent a logos, a deity, a Utopian State and so on but it is still limited because thought is the movement of memory, which is experience, knowledge and that is always from the past; therefore thought is time-bound. Can I go on with all this? You are following somewhat? Please I am not preaching. I am not doing any propaganda. We are not trying to convince you of anything. And we really mean that - at least I mean it. Absolutely no sense of authority, no sense of trying to persuade you to think in a particular direction, doing any kind of propaganda, trying to convince you of something, or trying to make you join something - nothing.
So is it possible to see the limitations of thought and give it its right place, and therefore giving the right place to thought brings about clarity. Right? We mean by right place - the art of that intelligence which comes through investigation, through exploration, that art - the very meaning of that word is to put everything where it belongs, put everything in our life where it belongs, and to find out where it belongs you need tremendous intelligence. And that intelligence can only come about when there is compassion, not directed by will, not following a certain pattern of thought, but in the process of investigating what is compassion, in that movement, or out of that movement comes an intelligence, which is not personal or individual, it is intelligence. That is what we are going to find out. Right? Is it possible to awaken that intelligence which will bring about order in our daily life, and therefore socially, politically, in every direction? Because we are the centre of society. Right? We make what society is. So we are essentially the product of the past, and whatever we do is limited by the past, by time and any revolution, whether physical or psychological, brought about by thought, is limited.
So we are going to find out, examine together, what is compassion: what is clarity: and a skill that is born out of clarity and compassion - not skill by itself, because that has led us to all kinds of miseries, obviously. One can see it. So where shall we begin? With compassion? Or with clarity? Or with skill? Bearing in mind that clarity can only come out of compassion, and any skill born out of that clarity is not giving importance to the self. Right? I wonder if we we are meeting somewhat with each other? Yes sir?
So I would like to begin with compassion. To understand the whole meaning and the depth of that word one has to investigate the movement of our consciousness, of our consciousness - yours. Which means you are the world, and the world is you. That is an obvious fact, one must go into it a little bit, which is: wherever you go in the world, east or west, north or south, psychologically human beings have great anxiety, uncertainty, are always seeking security in some form or another - physiologically or psychologically. They are full of violence, right through the world. This is an extraordinary phenomenon when you watch it - violence, greed, envy, hatred and in our consciousness there is the good and the bad. We will use those simple words to convey a great deal. So that is our consciousness, in which there is religious beliefs, political adherence to a particular party and so on, so on, so on. All that is our consciousness, which is the consciousness of the whole of humanity. Right? I do not know if you see this or if you want to discuss it. Perhaps we will, on Tuesday when we're going to have discussions.
So in investigating one's consciousness, which is the global consciousness, not your consciousness, because you are the result of all the culture, the social structure, education, the religious assertions, two thousand or ten thousand years of propaganda, you are the result of all that. And in investigating the good and the bad we'll find the bad is increasing (laughs). Right? You understand the word 'bad' - we are using it very simply. The bad is increasing because the good has become static, the good is not flowering. It is accepting the patterns and living according to those patterns, or ideals and so on, therefore instead of flowering it is withering, therefore giving strength to the bad. I don't know if you notice all this. There is more violence, more hatred, national divisions, religious divisions, every form of antagonism, right through the world, racial, communism, and so on, so on. That is on the increase because the good is not flowering. Right? Now to be aware of this fact without any effort - please the moment we make effort we are giving importance to the self, which is the bad (laughs). Right? So to observe the actual fact of the bad without any effort, just to observe it without any choice - because choice is a distorting factor. So to observe the world with all its violence, brutality, all that is going on, the political nastiness, all that, without any choice, but to observe it freely. And when you observe it so openly, so freely, then the good begins to flower. Not that you pursue the good, and thereby give it strength to flower but when the bad, the evil, the ugly is understood completely the other naturally flowers. I wonder if Are we making some sense out of this?
So are we, each one of us who is at all serious, are we aware of this fact? That in us, in our consciousness, there is this duality. and therefore conflict between the two. And the outcome of that conflict is, the bad grows more and more and more. Bene? But when you observe, without any choice, observe without any prejudice, without any conclusion - and therefore without any effort - that which is ugly, evil, the bad, declines and gives strength to the good. Is that clear? Are we doing it now, as we are talking? Or are we going to think over it tomorrow? Because if you think over it tomorrow you are not paying attention to it now. If you are not paying attention now you will not pay attention to it tomorrow. It is so obvious. That is, it is a tremendous thing, what we are talking about. You are in a crisis, the world is in a crisis, there must be different kinds of organisations, political and so on, but that can only come about rationally, sanely when this is understood by every person in the world: that where there is conflict between that which is bad, evil and ugly and when there is conflict that very conflict gives strength to the ugly, to the evil, to the bad. In us is that very clear? Because we are examining our consciousness, we are investigating the way you think, the way you act, the way you live, which is the very essence of our consciousness. Gosh, this rain!
And also in our consciousness we have developed, through a great deal of skill, the structure and the nature of the self. The self is violence, the self is the greed, envy and all the rest of it - that is the very essence of the self. And as long as there is that centre as the 'me' every action must be distorted. Obviously. Because you are acting from a centre, and giving action a direction. And therefore when there is direction in action it is distortion. You may develop a great deal of skill in this way but it is always unbalanced - not balanced - not harmonious - whatever word you like to use. So we are trying to find out in our exploration whether consciousness, with its movement, can undergo a radical transformation, not brought about by will - right? - because will is desire, desire for something, and therefore when there is desire, a motive, it is a distorting factor in observation? Is this somewhat clear between us? Or are we making confusion more confused?
Look sir, let us make it very simple. What is one to do in this world, surrounded by so much violence, where there are so many conclusions about everything, where there are so many gurus with their latest, whatever it is, you are surrounded by all this - propaganda, influence, reward or punishment - facing all this what is one to do?
Krishnamurti: Are you saying drown yourself?
K: Run. When you run away from something it pursues you. No, probably sir, we'll discuss it the day after tomorrow, no, on Tuesday, so, please, what is one to do? What are you going to do? You understand my question? You may escape, go to all these camps, or entertainments that are going on right through England, where thousands and thousands of people are walking in mud and singing and all the rest of it. (Laughter) That is a marvellous escape. But that doesn't solve a thing. So one asks, very seriously, if you are at all deeply concerned with the world, with what is happening with human beings, how they are destroying each other, what are you going to do? What's your action? Follow some guru? Accept a new sense of direction? New ideology? All those are escapes from the fact. Right? From the fact that we human beings are extraordinarily brutal, violent, ugly, occasional flashes of affection, consideration, compassion - occasionally! In asking that question, and if you want a really true an answer which is truthful, therefore which is always true not just now truth and the next day it is false - one has to examine oneself very, very deeply. Right? One has to go into oneself tremendously to find out. And to investigate into oneself you cannot follow anybody. Right? Obviously. If you followed somebody who will tell you how to investigate yourself you are following what he is saying. You are not examining yourself. Therefore in examining yourself all authority of every kind must come to an end - psychologically. Are we capable of that? Are you really capable of putting aside all authority, psychologically - the authority of the priest, the authority of society, the authority of your own experience, the authority of your own knowledge or the knowledge of somebody else - can you put all that aside and begin to look at yourself? Will you? Which means you are brought to that position to look at yourself because it is a crisis. In a crisis, all energy is centred, and that energy demands that you look at yourself. Nobody is forcing you; because you yourself see what is happening, you yourself are fully aware of the social, political, economic conditions of this world, the deteriorating factors and so on and so on, so on. So that very crisis makes you observe. And it doesn't - if you are serious - it doesn't make you run away from it. On the contrary, you are totally committed.
And in examining yourself, since there is no authority, you are looking at yourself as you are. But in our consciousness there is this duality - the good and the bad. So we are always looking with the eyes of the good and also with the eyes of the bad, so there is a conflict. I don't know if you follow? Now we are trying to eliminate all conflict altogether. That is only possible when you observe without any choice - just to observe yourself. Therefore in that way you eliminate the conflict between the good and the bad. You understand? Do it please as we are talking about it, if you are serious, please do it together.
So we are observing ourselves without any sense of compulsion - not according to any psychologist, Freud, Jung and all the old generation or the new generation, but looking at ourselves without any choice. Right? Are we doing it? Which means, are you looking at yourself, recognising that there is violence in you, there is greed, envy, the desire for power, the desire for position, all these factors - can you look at them all without the least effort and without any choice? To be choicelessly aware is the essence of observation. Right? Can we proceed from there?
So: out of that choiceless observation comes clarity, obviously. Because there is no direction, there is no motive, nobody is forcing you to do this or that, nobody is offering you a reward and if you don't do it nobody is going to punish you, you are free of all that nonsense. And in that observation there comes clarity. And if that clarity is not related to compassion your action will be unskilful, because clarity comes with compassion. Clarity by itself has no meaning, any more than skill by itself has any meaning. So compassion, clarity, skill is related to the art of listening, the art of seeing, and the art of learning. There is the art of listening, there is the art of seeing, there is the art of learning. And if you have not the art, which is to put everything in its right place, then you will not understand what is compassion - because we are going to learn about it. Learn that which is not compassionate. Right? Because only through negation you come to the positive, not the other way round. We start with certainties - we all do. I believe, I know, I think. Those are all certainties. And when you begin with certainties you end up in uncertainties. You know a man who has given all his life, seventy years of his life with certainties, at the end he says, 'I am utterly confused, I don't know where I am'. Whereas if we start with uncertainty, not knowing, hesitant, then we end up with clarity, with certainty.
So compassion is related naturally to love. That is, is there a love free of all the taint of civilisation, taint of jealousy, possessiveness, remembrance, the pursuit of pleasure? So is there a love which is free from all this? Please sir, this is a very, very serious question, please. It is your life, not my life, so you have to answer this question. Is there love in our heart, or wherever it is, in which there is not a shadow of corruption - not a remembrance which makes you think that you love? And is love the product of thought? And is there love which is whole, complete, not broken up - 'I love' and 'I hate', or I love, but in me I am possessive of something or other. You understand? So if there is not that quality of love in us, compassion becomes impossible - because compassion is related to sorrow and that is quite an enormous problem. So we will go into it later on perhaps, as we have only four talks we must make it all concise.
So we are concerned with the transformation of our consciousness, the movement of our consciousness. The movement is bound by thought, is propelled by thought, given energy to that movement by thought. But thought, as we said, is very limited because it is the response of the past which is memory, therefore it is of time. Is love of time? You understand? If I remember my sexual pleasure of yesterday, or ten years ago, and I say to the person, 'I love you' - is that love? Go on sir, it's your answer, you have to find this out. Unless you break through this circle there will be no compassion. And when there is no compassion you'll have no clarity. And you may develop skill, but the skill will always be self-centred, distorting, cruel. You understand? So we are investigating very seriously into the whole movement of consciousness.
Do you want to discuss any of this now?
Q: When we come to that point when we see that will is desire, we also can observe that. But in a crisis, there seems to be a natural movement to wish to solve it and the very attempt to solve it is a distorting factor. So it seems.
K: Sir, you see one of our problems in meditation - if you have gone into it, we'll go into it again - is to be free of will, because will is based on desire - desire for enlightenment, desire for truth, desire for happiness. So where there is desire there must be will to fulfil that desire. And in the understanding of desire, is there freedom from choice? Because desire chooses - I like this, I don't like that, I want that, I don't want that. So we have to go into the question again of what is desire. Why do we have desires, so many desires? If we have a little we want more. If we have more we want something much better. We think by putting the parts together we will understand the whole. That is one of the objects of desire. By putting the parts, gathering them together we think we will have comprehended the whole and go beyond the parts, the more. So one has to go into this question of what is desire - not the object of desire, because that varies from time to time, from childhood till death, the objects vary. When you are a child you want something, when you grow up, middle age, so on, so on, so on. So one has to go to the very root of desire. Again to observe desire without any choice - say 'I must not', 'I must' - just to observe desire. What is desire? How does it come about? Go on sirs. Doesn't it come about, to put it very simply, through visual perception first? Seeing something, then contact - right? Touching it, smelling it, tasting it. And from that, sensation. Then thought comes in and says 'more' or 'less'. So the desire is perception, seeing - sensation - contact - sensation - and desire with its image. Right? I am not inventing this, make you to accept it or reject it, just look at it for yourself and you will see how desire comes into being. You see something beautiful and the sensation and the desire to possess it. The desire, because the image that is brought about through desire - having, possessing it and the enjoyment and so on and so on. Or seeing something ugly and not wanting it, and resisting it, which is part of desire. Will to achieve, will to deny, which is born of desire.
Now is there an action, in daily life, please listen to this, find out, is there an action in daily life in which desire doesn't operate? It is really It is very exciting to find out for oneself if there is such an action at all, because we are accustomed, we are trained, it is our condition to act upon desire. The politicians - all the rest of it, the whole world is based on that. We are asking a question quite the contrary and therefore it is difficult to penetrate into that. Unless you are free of the other you cannot go into this question. That is, to find out an action which must be skilful, and yoga is part of skill in action is yoga, not just only doing exercise and so on, skill in action is part of yoga - and to find that out one has to see the whole movement of desire - how it arises, how it demands fulfilment, and then there is frustration when there is not fulfilment, there is anger, bitterness, all the things that follow when there is frustration. And when there is fulfilment of that desire, the opposite to that.
So is there an action without motive, which is desire, without a goal, without an end in view? Because if you have a goal, an end in view, you have already limited your action according to the motive and the end. Action is only the means, there is no other. Right? I wonder if you understand? That is, there is a means of action, right action, when there is no direction. Direction is from the 'me', my demands, my desires, my importance, my security, that gives a distorting factor in action. But when there is no centre as the 'me' then there is action without desire. You have to go into this very much otherwise it becomes merely verbal and meaningless.
Q: Sir, is there an experiencer, as such?
K: Is there an experiencer as such. What is the experiencer? Who is the experiencer? Answer it, sirs. Is there an experiencer without experience? Is there a collection of experiences which becomes knowledge, identified with the 'me'? You understand? The 'me' is the centre of experience - I have experienced happiness. I have experienced sex, I have experienced hurt, I have experienced a dozen things. All these accumulated experiences bring about the experiencer which is 'me', separate from the experience. Right? The 'me' is going to experience something. So we are asking: is the experiencer different from the experience, or both are the same? That is, the experiencer, with all the memories of accumulated past, with all its knowledge, is going to experience something different. Is that thing that is different really different? Or when I recognise it as an experience is it part of me already? I wonder if you see this? You understand sir? I experience something, in that is involved a remembrance of the past, recognition of that experience according to the past. Otherwise it is not experience. If I don't recognise it as an experience, it is not an experience. Right? To recognise it, it must come out of the past, therefore what I am experiencing is already experienced - if I recognise it.
Now it is only a mind that has no centre and therefore very clear, it is only such a mind that has no experience. Please, this is Therefore the observer is the observed. Right? When a man says 'I have had a new experience' - it is not new at all because he has recognised it and he has called it new, and given it a verbal significance. But it is born out of the past and therefore it is not new at all. So why should we have experiences at all? Is it that most of us are asleep, therefore somebody comes along and shakes you, and you call that experience? If you are totally awake, completely awake, there is no need for experience. I wonder if you get it. What, sir?
Q: How does one recognise a new kind of love which one is not used to? One is used to the love which is with jealousy
K: How do you recognise, the gentleman asks, the new kind of love.
Q: I know the love which is with jealousy and possessiveness and...
K: I understand. We said, sir, you can't recognise it. Then if you recognise it, it is not new. (Laughter) We said very clearly that through negation of what it is not, it is - through negation of what it is not. Love is not remembrance. Right? Love is not jealousy. Love is not violence. When you deny all that the other is, you don't even have to say 'I have it' or 'I have not it' - you don't experience it. You experience the negations but the positive you can never experience - it is.
So sirs, we will go on with this tomorrow. But we have to be serious in our investigation about ourselves. It doesn't mean that you become selfish in investigating. On the contrary. In investigation you find you are like the world, like all the rest of humanity. And you are the essence of all that humanity, obviously. Because you suffer, you are in anxiety, a sense of loneliness, despair, unhappy, just like the man in India, just like the man in Russia, or China or America. So you are the essence of humanity psychologically. You may have fair skin, or dark skin, or black skin or whatever, that is all superficial. But when you penetrate into yourself you will find you are like the rest of the world. So you are the world. And that is a profound fact which affects all your thinking, all your observations, if you realise that you are the essence of humanity. Then you are no longer concerned with yourself, with your petty little worries and idiosyncrasies, you are like everybody - you understand? - it gives you an extraordinary strength.
Q: I have a submission, sir, if you don’t mind, sir. One small question sir. Is there psychological time different from chronological time?
K: Oh, that's fairly simple, isn't it?
Q: Thank you very much sir.
K: You don't have to thank me, sir. It is fairly simple, isn't it? When I have hope, I am hoping I will be all right, both mentally, psychologically, in every way, that is psychological time. The other is chronological time. I must catch a bus at a certain time otherwise I will miss my rendezvous. That is all. So, we'll continue, if we may, tomorrow. Is that all right? May I leave?