Is there a non-mechanistic behaviour?
Living, love and death are one movement
2nd Public Talk, Bangalore
January 06, 1974
May we continue with what we were talking about yesterday evening. We were saying, weren't we, that a gathering of this kind is not an intellectual entertainment nor is it a religious amusement, but rather that each one of us should, of necessity, since you are here, partake, share the responsibility of listening to what is being said, to find out for oneself the reality of what is being said and to listen so that one can learn. Learning, I think, has two different meanings: learning to acquire knowledge from which to act, and learning without accumulation which is constant action. I think one should be clear on this matter because we are going to go into a rather complicated and perhaps rather difficult and subtle thing to understand. So we must be very clear in the usage of words and what they mean and whether we understand each other.
Learning has a peculiar quality of attention. If you do not know a subject or a language, you come to it with a fresh mind. But if you already know, then there is nothing to learn; you may add to it or take away from it, but that's not learning; you have already learnt. Whereas there is a learning which is nonabstract, which is a movement out of time. That is, learning as we are going, learning as we are doing, learning as we are listening. In that moment there is no time. Please do understand this because we are going to enquire together into rather complicated things and so we should understand the import of this word 'to learn'.
Most of us have ceased to learn. We have learnt either mathematics, geography, history, or what you will; we have accumulated scientific knowledge, engineering knowledge, and we can add to that; and from what we already know, act. Therefore your action is based on the past and therefore it's not action. Action means the doing now, not what has been done or what you will do. Action means the active present of that word, the verb to act - which means now. So there is a difference between knowing and acting; not knowing, learning, acting - that action is always in the present. I hope you see the difference between the two. All ideologies, whether the communist ideology or the ideology of religious traditions, are the acquired knowledge handed over, handed down to the present generation, and having that knowledge, act from it. Therefore action is already taken place in the past and is the continuity of the past. Bene? I hope we are understanding each other. Whereas there is an action which is the learning, the seeing and the doing.
This is necessary to understand because a mind which is conditioned by the past, according to the culture, the environment - political, social, religious - such a mind becomes mechanical, as most people's minds are; mere repetition of what has been known and the continuity of what has been. And what we are saying is, there is an action which is not based on the past, and that action is the constant learning which requires a mind, alert, eager, interested. And as most of our lives are mechanical - the constant repetition - learning then is merely a mechanical continuity of what has been, a mechanical continuity of the known and therefore there is no freedom, and there must be freedom to learn. And that's where tradition - whether it's the tradition of many centuries or the tradition of the communist - and he will not use the word 'tradition', he will use another series of words like 'ideological continuity', which is really a form of tradition - is the activity in the field of the known. Are we meeting each other? It's up to you. And therefore all action becomes a repetitive mechanical action. And we have made the mind a mechanical instrument. We have never enquired if there is a quality of mind that is not mechanical at all.
Are we meeting each other? Because, please, this is not a discourse, a talk of ideas or ideologies or theories or explanations or the formation of new concepts. What we are dealing with is 'what is', not 'what should be' or 'what has been', with actually 'what is'. And if you have observed your own mind in action - action being behaviour and relationship - in that relationship and behaviour, action has become entirely mechanical. Right? Observe it, please, in yourself, how mechanical our responses are. You are an Indian and therefore that's finished, you are an Indian, you repeat that word. You are this or that - a communist, a socialist, whatever it is - you repeat endlessly, because the mind desiring security finds that security in the field of the known, which is the past. And therefore it is totally mechanical and is incapable of learning, learning anything new. It will memorise what has been said and put it in the field of knowledge and repeat that. That's not learning. Whereas learning is the freedom to listen, to listen without introducing the past thoughts, past conclusions, but actually listening.
Have you ever tried to listen, to your wife, to your friend or to anybody? Or do you listen casually, knowing already what he is going to say, therefore paying very little attention. And if you listen, do you listen not only to the words and their meaning, but listen to the content of what is being said and therefore going beyond the word, and that is real communication between the speaker and you. That is, you not only listen to the verbal expression and understand the verbal expression - if you know English - but also listen with a mind that wants to find out, that wants to learn. If that is clear, that is, our minds, in which is included the brain and the physical organism - when I use the word 'the mind', I mean the physical organism with their senses, the brain which holds memory, and the mind, which is the whole - that mind has become mechanical because in that we find great safety, security. And a mind that is merely functioning in the field of the known is always mechanical and therefore it is really incapable of learning in the deeper sense of that word. Now, we have a problem. The problem is: can the human mind, your mind, be regenerated? That is, reborn spiritually anew so that there is a totally different kind of behaviour and relationship. That is, behaviour and relationship has become mechanical, both sexually, in our attitudes, in our conclusions, all of that is mechanical. Now, can that mechanical mind undergo a radical change? And that radical change must express itself in relationship and in behaviour.
So we are going to examine, if you will, if you have the interest, if you are not already bored, these two factors because all our life is based on that - relationship and behaviour. When behaviour is according to a pattern, according to a conclusion, according to an ideology, it is mechanical. That's obvious. And can there be a behaviour which is not idealistic, which is not based on a formula or according to a pattern? That is, is there an action which is not based on punishment and reward, or pain and pleasure? We are going to find out if a human mind, your mind, which has been trained for centuries, a mind that is functioning mechanically - if you have observed it, your behaviour to your wife, to your husband, to your neighbour, to your politician, doesn't matter who it is, it is always based on this, on the fact of a pattern, a conclusion, an ideology, and therefore mechanical - and we are asking is there a behaviour, which is conduct, which is not which hasn't its roots in an ideology, either in the future or in the past, therefore an action which is immediate and therefore nonmechanical. I wonder if you understand all this. I hope you do because it is a most interesting thing. At least it is extraordinary if you go into it.
So as we said, action, the doing, is always now. That is, when you see a danger, you act instantly. Right? Obviously. When you see a cobra, you don't discuss what to do. You don't say, 'Is it danger?' - there is an instant action. That action is based on your conditioning about cobras, about snakes. Please follow this a little bit. Your action, when you meet a cobra or a dangerous or a danger or a dangerous animal, there is instant response because you have been told for centuries beware of a precipice, beware of a snake, beware of a dangerous animal - your mind is conditioned to the danger and therefore there is instant response. Now your mind is conditioned to ideologies, to formulas, to conclusions, to what others have said, both religious sanctions and personal sanctions and social sanctions. So your mind is conditioned and therefore your conditioning is to postpone action. When you have an ideology, you are not acting. You are carrying out or trying to carry out an idea, and to that you are conditioned. Therefore there is no action in the present.
Do you understand this? Please. Don't let me make tremendous effort to make you understand if you don't understand, because this is very important. Because our minds are mechanical - of that there is no question - and our behaviour has become mechanical and our relationship with each other has become mechanical - your gurus, whatever it is - mechanical, and therefore a mechanical mind is never a free mind, never capable of enquiring anew. And action, which is behaviour, conduct, when based on an ideology, is total inaction - idea is one thing and action is another. You are trying then to conform or modify your action according to the idea, and therefore there is never action now. That is, we are violent people - not gentle people at all though we talk endlessly about nonviolence, being kind, generous and all the rest of that nonsense - actually we are violent people, and we are conditioned to nonviolence which is a conclusion, which is an idea, which should be. That's our conditioning. Therefore violence continues. Whereas if you had no idea, no conclusion, then there would be instant action about violence.
Now, as we said, behaviour, relationship, are the very basis of life, of existence, if you observe it in yourself very carefully. And behaviour, conduct and also relationship is based on reward and punishment, pain and pleasure. That's a fact. Now, people have tried, psychologists, others have tried, have said that environment controls behaviour, environment shapes behaviour; so change the environment, then human behaviour will also change. That has been a revolutionary theory of the communists, of the various types of materialists, of which you are. Don't fool yourself that you are not materialists. You are entirely materialistic people though you may pretend that you are very nonmaterialistic. So, there have been various schools and philosophies - I am using the word 'philosophy' in its ordinary sense; not the love of truth in daily life, that's what the real deep meaning of that word is - various systems, revolutions, ideologies, scientists, psychologists have said, change the environment, for god's sake change society, the structure of society, then because the human mind is so adaptable, it will then behave according to the social change. And it has been proved over and over again it doesn't happen. The mind is so cunning, capable, it transforms the society. And they have tried also - all psychologists, religious people - to establish a real human relationship between each other: 'Love god', 'We are all one in god'. 'We all are brothers' - you know, the whole gamut of all that. And yet they have not succeeded because we human beings are what we are - brutal, cunning, capable of such deception, hypocrisy, greed, envy, anxious, all the rest of that, what we are. And that 'what we are' has become mechanical - I'm a Hindu, I'm not a Hindu, I'm a Muslim, nonMuslim - you follow? - I'm a Communist, non - we are mechanical, our minds have become mechanical.
Now, the problem is this, if you are really interested in this question: whether behaviour and the responsibility of relationship can be free from pleasure, pain, reward and punishment. That is the basis of a mechanical mind, because a mechanical mind is always pursuing pleasure, always seeking reward and afraid of punishment - if you watch yourself. Your temples, your gods, your morality, your religious sanctions are based on this principle of reward and punishment. If you behave properly this life you will be an angel next life, or a little more intelligent next life. If you are good then you will have more money next life, a better palace. If you are bad you will live in a hovel or in hell. This is the principle on which all our conduct is based - pleasure, pain, reward and punishment. And that has become our mechanical process - what gives me pleasure I pursue at any price, god being the highest form of what I think is pleasurable. Or I worship the State because that gives me a position, that gives me a pleasure, that gives me satisfaction and so on, so on, so on.
Now, the question is, all behaviour, conduct based on this principle must be mechanical, as you have observed in your life. Now is there a behaviour, a conduct which is nonmechanistic, which means non which has no friction? Right? Have I - has the speaker made the question clear, the problem? Because if we don't understand the problem, I'll go into it again differently, but if you understand it we can proceed. Now is
Krishnamurti: Just a minute, sir, you can ask afterwards. That is a rhetorical finding out if you are really pursuing or going, taking the journey with the speaker.
Now, what is the action or behaviour or conduct which is nonmechanistic? Having put that question to yourself, if you are a materialist in the sense that matter, humanistic importance, then you will say, 'There is nothing', or, 'There is something, an outside agency, if we could reach that outside agency that will bring us to an action which is nonmechanical'. Therefore you have invented the atman, the superconsciousness, the higher self, which when it is released will be nonmechanistic and therefore nonmaterialistic. I wonder if you I won't ask anymore. Now, again, when you say, 'There is an outside agency', that's also a factor of the known, because you have been told. Therefore that has also become mechanical.
So, is there an action which is not mechanistic, which is not based on reward and punishment? Having put that question to yourself, as I am putting it for you, how do you find out an answer? You understand? I have asked you, is there a behaviour, an action, a conduct, a relationship in which there is no mechanistic movement at all? So how do you find out the answer? You must find out the answer because on that answer your whole way of life will be transformed, because then you will not be dependent on reward or punishment, therefore you will be acting totally afresh. Therefore the mind becomes then nonmechanistic and therefore a regeneration takes place. Now what is that action which is nonmechanistic, nonidealistic, not based on a formula, because all that is within the field of the known and therefore what is known is mechanical. You are following all this? Right, I won't ask. I am going to we are going to point out what is that action.
And please listen to learn, not to accumulate. If you accumulate, it's already mechanical. But if you are learning, it becomes each time anew. The earth is so beautiful, the sunsets, when you look at it, have extraordinary splendour, there is great beauty in a tree and a sheet of water has immense meaning; and a bird that's flying across the sky of an evening tells you a great deal if you know how to look - which is not romanticism, which is not sentimentalism, but the capacity to look, to look at the setting sun, to look at Venus and Jupiter so close together of an evening, and the beauty of that light and that peculiar quality of a bright star - to look and not immediately translate it into poem, into some romantic gesture, but merely to observe with quiet beatitude and affection. That is, to observe. You can't do anything about the sunset, it is there; you can't change it, you can't cover it up, you can't run away from it, it is there. And to look without the gesture of thought - oh, you- without the gesture of thought, to look at a sunset, the beauty of it, the light, the depth of that light, the light of that sun on a cloud, just to observe.
Now, can you observe without the gesture of thought? That is, sir, to look at pleasure, which we are going to do. To look, not say, 'I mustn't have pleasure', or, 'I must suppress pleasure', or, 'Pleasure is unreligious', but to look at the movement of pleasure, as well as look at the movement of pain, which is fear - to look at it, not how to alter it, not how to change it, not how to overcome it or suppress it or run away from it, which are all gestures of thought, but to look at it. I'm going to we are going now to look at pleasure, not what you think about pleasure, how you translate pleasure, but the movement of a mind that is pursuing pleasure. If you don't understand that movement then pleasure becomes mechanical, which it has become for all people, sexually and otherwise. So we are going to observe the movement of pleasure. Which means, can the mind give attention to pleasure? Give total attention, not partial attention, and you give total attention when you are pursuing pleasure. When you want money which is going to give you pleasure, you put your heart and mind into it; sexually in the same way. So now we are asking, can you observe with that same intensity, with that same urgency, the movement of pleasure? When you observe that movement of pleasure, it will reveal its content. You understand? It will reveal, not you translate it. It will show what it is. In the showing of what it is, then you know where pleasure becomes danger. You will see it in a minute. I don't know if I can do it with a large audience like this, but we'll try.
You see, to understand pleasure or to look at pleasure, you must understand the nature and the structure of thought. What is thought? What is thinking? Please, this is very important to understand this because it is related to pleasure. If you don't understand the movement of thought, what is thinking, then you will never be free of the pursuit of pleasure and its pain. So, to understand or to observe pleasure you must there must be the observation of thought. That is, what is thinking? You know, you are all very learned people, aren't you. You have read lots and lots of books about philosophy, Vedas, Gita, Upanishads, or Koran or the Bible or latest psychologists and so on, so on, so on. For the moment, put all that aside, if you can. The speaker is fortunate in that he has not read a single book of all that, and therefore he can look.
What is thinking? Now just listen to my question. I am asking you what is thinking? What is going on in your mind when that question is put to you? Your mind is searching for an answer - right? - searching for a answer in the books you have read, what the Gita has said, or the Koran or the Bible or the Upanishads or the latest philosopher, this, that - you are searching for an answer. So there is an interval between the question and the answer. In that interval is time. Right? You take time to find out, either in books or ask somebody. The searching for an answer is the thinking. Right? Now, I ask you something totally familiar - totally familiar: 'What's your name?' and your response is instant because there is no lag of time, there is no gap between the question and the answer. Observe all this in yourself, please. I am not teaching you a thing. I am not your teacher, your guru, you are not my followers, but all that I am - we are pointing out for you to observe. It is yours, not the speaker's. And I ask you a question whose answer you don't know. Either when you say, 'I am sorry, I don't know the answer to your question', either when you say, 'I don't know', you are expecting, waiting to be told. All that is time.
Now, you don't know what is thinking. We are coming back. You can ask, you can find out, but you have never thought about it probably. You haven't said what is thought, what is my thinking, why do I think that, that, that, or why don't I think that? But you have never gone to the root of the problem, which is, what is thinking? See, look, I asked you, what is thinking? You have taken time to answer it, and the time is necessary for you to find out. If you say, 'I don't know', then you are ready to learn. Like learning a new language, I don't know - what? - Hindi or Telugu or Tamil, whatever language it is - I don't know. Therefore I'm capable of learning. If you said, 'I really don't know what is thinking', then you and I are in communication. What is thinking? Very simply put, thinking is the response of memory. Right? Memory is experience, memory is accumulated knowledge. The accumulated knowledge, experience, memory, from that all thought comes. Therefore - please listen - therefore thought is never free, thought can never be new, and therefore thought is mechanical. And our religious, social relation, everything is based on thought. Governments, all the politicians and their trivialities and their crookedness and their desire, five year plan and new plans, and all based on thought. And thought is the response of the known, the past, which is memory, experience, knowledge. Right? And action based on the known is mechanical. Do see this. See the beauty of it, sir. And we are asking, is there an action which is nonmechanical? And we are asking, can we observe pleasure without the movement of thought interfering with it? Just to observe, as you observe the sunset, as you observe something in the street or in a tree or in a bird, just observe.
What is pleasure? Do you know what pleasure is? There is first perception, seeing, a sensation, a contact, and from that contact, desire. Please, it's very Look at it. You see a nice car. Actually through your eyes, visually, you see a car - nice colour, well proportioned - I am afraid the cars in India are not - and you see it. And the beauty of a car appeals to you. You touch it and the very touching creates the desire to possess it. You see a beautiful man, woman or a child. The woman immediately arouses in you various sensations which are all mechanical, and the desire to possess. Now, from desire, instead how desire arises; from external stimuli to the senses and the senses respond as desire to possess, to enjoy, and that becomes a pleasure. And having had once that pleasure, thought then comes along and says, 'Let's continue with that pleasure, let's have more of it', let's have more sunset, more sex, more amusement, more gods, more gurus - you follow? - let's have more of it. And so you, in observing the movement of pleasure, you discover all this. You discover it, not I discover it and tell you - then it becomes second-hand, then it becomes mechanical. Whereas if you can observe this in yourself then you will see that thought plays an extraordinary role in the pursuit of pleasure, as also thought plays its part in fear, in pain. I have had pain yesterday and I am afraid that it comes back again today. So thought is responsible for the continuity of pleasure and fear. Now, if you understand that, then what is one to do with thought? You are following all this?
Thought, as we said, is mechanical. Thought is the response of the past, of knowledge, of experience, that is the past. Knowledge is the past and thought is the response of the past, therefore never free, never new, therefore mechanical. Now, can you observe - observe - fear without all the interpretations, all the wastage and dissipation of energy which goes into suppressing, trying to overcome it, trying to develop courage and so on, so on, so on - can you look at that fear without a single movement of thought? If you can look at it, then there is a totally different kind of energy. Then you will see that the observer is the observed. Fear is not separate from you. Now you think it is separate, therefore you try to control it, shape it, destroy it, overcome it, all the rest of it, but the observer is the observed. Therefore you eliminate the division between the observer and the observed. This division creates conflict. Right?
So - gosh! - there is an action, which is conduct, which is not based on ideas, which is, the seeing is the doing. As the seeing, when you see a cobra there is the doing. But you have been conditioned to the doing, which is not doing, when you have ideas or ideals. Therefore there is an action which is the seeing and acting without the gesture of thought. This requires tremendous selfexploration, enquiring into oneself, not according to some philosopher and all the rest, to observe yourself so closely, so intimately, with great care and affection, to look at yourself. Then it reveals all this, then you don't have to read a single book about all this. Then your actions are fresh every minute of the day, new, because in that there is no conflict, there is no division between the observer and the observed. I must go into it a little bit and I'll stop.
You see, our minds are fragmented, broken up - the business mind, the religious mind, the family mind, the corrupt mind, the ideological mind, the religious mind, and so on - it is broken up. And thought is responsible for this breaking up. And thought assumes a certain responsibility and says, 'I am different from the thing which I observe'. That is, I am not envy, because I can control envy, I can shape envy, I can run away from envy, but it cannot change envy because it is a fragment of itself. Envy is a fragment of the observer who says, 'I am different from envy'. So, when the observer is the observed then there is no conflict, which means no duality at all, and therefore there is instant action without friction.
Now, if you have listened to this with your heart and with your mind, with care and attention, which means with affection, then you are learning a great deal. Not from the speaker; the speaker cannot teach you. You are both the teacher and the disciple. And if you have heard what was said it's yours. If you have not heard then it is another's, and when you repeat another, something which others have said, you are utterly second-hand human beings. So don't repeat anything that you yourself have not known directly by your understanding of yourself. That's the first thing to learn: don't repeat a thing, either from the Gita - never! Only that which you know, which you have understood by examining yourself. Then you will find out the extraordinary subtleties, the beauty, the immensity of that. It's like looking at an expanding flower. When you know how to look at a flower with eyes that are full of care and love and affection, that flower begins to unfold, show its greatness, its beauty, its perfume. In the same way, when you know, when you can look at yourself, it reveals tremendous things, and therein lies the beauty of living.
Now, would you like to ask any questions? You don't have to ask questions. Or don't invent questions. (Pause) If you have none, may I wish you good night.