Observing my prejudice
What is correct action in a deteriorating world?
2nd Seminar, Brockwood Park
September 14, 1979
Shall we go on where we left off? We were saying, weren't we, that this division between the world and me is really very artificial. The society that man has created is the society that we have created. And we are caught in it. And the question, the subject is: in a deteriorating world, what is one to do, what is the correct action?
We said the world is me, and 'me' is the world. I hope we all see the same fact. Do we? The Communists and the Marxists have more or less said the same thing, so they try to control the environment, manoeuvre man to their particular ideas and ideologies and so on. But we have come to a point which is perhaps totally different from theirs, which is, that you cannot possibly control man through change of environment. The environment is what we have created. Right? And unless man himself changes, environment cannot possibly change him. So that's where we are. Do we all see the same fact? Or is there still some doubt about it.
Go on, sirs.
Questioner: When you say the world is deteriorating, you seem to say that’s a fact, that the world is deteriorating, and yet that is the environment.
Krishnamurti: What sir? I can't hear.
Q: You’re saying that one can’t change the environment, it’s ourselves we have to change. And yet at the same time you were saying the world is deteriorating.
K: That's right.
Q: Which sounds like the environment is deteriorating.
K: No, we were saying the environment can only be, environment in the sense society, the culture, the religion and all that, can only be, radically changed if man himself changes. That's the whole point.
Dorothy Simmons: Why do you say it's deteriorating, Krishnaji, when it's really been like that since the beginning of time.
K: It has been like that from the beginning of time. So do we accept it? It has been like that through all the civilisations, through all the empires, throughout history. Me first and you second. In our relationships, in our activity, in everything that we do, it is me and you, two separate divisions, the world and me, as though they were separate. It has been like that for millennia.
And are we saying that it is impossible to change human nature, because it's been like that for so many million years. Is that what you're saying?
Stephen Smith: Perhaps the important question is: how significant is the factor of deterioration?
K: What do we mean by deterioration, right? Go on, sir, let's talk about it.
SS: Well, as we've defined it so far, it seems to be to go from bad to worse.
K: Not only that, sir. Our minds are becoming more mechanical, more caught in the trap, our education is - you know what it is producing, you know all about that. So what do we mean by deterioration, degeneration, decline - from what?
Q: In a way that’s all we’ve ever really known, that state.
K: When we use the word 'decline', decline from what? Degenerating from what?
Q: From wholeness.
Q: But there’s never been a wholeness in civilisation, that’s only nostalgic remembrances.
K: Sir, let's all talk, please not a few of us or I.
Q: Sir, to me you touched the fundamental question when you talked of human nature. Having been an ex-Marxist for 16 years on public platforms and so forth, for years I saw the way as the Marxists saw it that what we must do. Human nature to the Marxist was determined by the material conditions.
K: Conditions, yes.
Q: Change the environment and we’ll change the nature. Fundamentally they got it wrong. Now I’m along with you, yes, it’s human nature, but where do we go from there? We are human nature – what are we going to do with ourselves? Because that’s what we’ve got to face. Do we want to face that human nature, we are that human nature.
K: Yes sir, but before we come to that, the question was raised, what do you mean by degeneration, decay, like the Russians call the western civilisation degenerate. What do we mean by that word?
Q: Separation, seeing things separately.
K: Is that what we mean by that?
Q: It sounds as though it usually means falling out of a creative state.
Mary Zimbalist: The original question that we were supposed to consider was the world is becoming increasingly violent and disordered. Do we want to go into a definition of whether the world is a little bit worse or not so bad, it's always been that way. Or can we accept the fact that it's rather a mess and concentrate on how we respond to that, rather than define how bad it is.
K: That's what I want to get at. But you raised the question, what do you mean by degenerate?
Q: One can go on discussing that for days. Isn’t that holding up the point of this discussion?
K: It's up to you sirs.
Q: Why not tell them about Cambodia, which has just been published. Don’t they call that degenerate?
K: What sir?
Q: What’s been going on in Cambodia, isn’t that degenerate? Which has just taken place and just been revealed – do they need to go any further? Or is it a wonderful world we’re all living in?
SS: No, the fact is not whether it's a wonderful world - it's perfectly obvious that it's not a wonderful world, but it seems to me that the factor of deterioration is quite significant, and it's not separate from the response that is required because if it is a fact that this deterioration is taking place, then the response is made very much more urgent. In other words, it's not a historical reflection of the condition of the world, but it's as things are happening now. For instance, many people say in so-called spiritual work that there is a break up of civilisation in order that a new birth may take place. This is a very common idea.
K: I know all that. (Laughter)
Q: Doesn’t the word deterioration already imply that there is another state.
K: That's what I asked, deteriorating from what?
Q: Well, we can either look at deterioration as history, over a period of thousands of years or we’re talking about a single life, a baby born whole, sane and healthy, innocent, and then gradually becoming involved in this.
K: Would you say, sir, the constant violence which is spreading right throughout the world, the nationalistic divisions, wars, terror, the disorder, the confusion, all the literature - you follow? - all that, would you consider all that in very good order?
Q: Not at all.
K: Can't we accept this fact, that there is disorder, violence, terror, confusion, misery. That is a fact, throughout the world. Can't we start from there, instead of defining the words, degenerate and so on. Could we start from that?
K: Could we, sir, please.
K: All right. Then what am I to do as a human being, living in this disorderly, violent society, what is my action? That is the real problem. What am I to do, knowing that I am not different from society, that I am the world and the world is me? That's a fact, to me at least, that's an absolute, irrevocable fact. Then what am I to do? That is the whole issue. Can we start from there? Do we all think together on this point?
K: No, don't, please don't casually say yes. Is this a fact to all of us? If it is a fact, then how do we deal with that fact? I am part of the world, and the world is me, and what am I to do with my life, given 20 years, 30 years or 50 years, what am I to do? What is my action - in relation to what? And what is my responsibility - to what? You understand, sirs?
Q: Sir, our responsibility in our actions must be to everything because everything is the world. It can’t just be directed to one thing.
K: Is there a holistic, an action that is whole. Or all my actions must be inevitably fragmented, broken up. That's one of the questions. So first, could we be clear on the word 'action'. Right? Could we discuss a little bit what we mean by action. Come on, sir, please!
Q: Can I ask in connection with action, it suggests to me doing something. And when one thinks of the word, I’m thinking in terms of the many and the one. Some idea of wholeness being equated with perhaps a non-existent one, because it seems to me that wherever I go, the problem that I’m confronted with is there is the many, and it’s all different from all the rest of it.
K: Yes, but what do I mean by action, action with regard to what?
Q: Couldn’t we say that it’s a following through a thought?
K: No. To act, sir, to do.
Q: To do. But there has to be something that prompts the doing.
K: No, we'll come to that. First we are trying to find out what that word means to all of us. It may mean something to you, it may mean something to me. So we'll be always different. So let us find out, if we all agree about that word 'action', what is implied, what is its significance, and whether it is partial, whole, and so on and on and on. So let us go into that. May we?
K: Please sir, it's...
Q: Action to change what? We know what action the Marxist wants to change, he wants to change the environment. You say human nature. I go along with you. Now how are we going to change human nature?
K: We'll come to that, sir. First I must find out as the subject of this Seminar is, what am I to do, first, with regard to what, whether I can change myself and so change the world. But before we enter into that, mustn't we enquire into what do we mean by action. I may think I'm doing 'right' - right in quotes. And I may be acting from an illusion, from a very prejudiced point of view, or from some conclusion which I have derived or gathered or learnt.
Or I might act according to some idealistic formula. Right sir? I might be a Catholic and I think this is action, a Protestant and say this is action, the Marxists would say this is action. So I think we ought to be clear about that word. What do you consider action? Come on, sirs.
Q: I consider it emotion, sir.
K: Is your action motivated by an emotion, by a reward, by a punishment? You see we have to go into this.
SS: Most action is motivated in some way, generally speaking.
K: So your motive is different from mine, and hers. So our action can never be together. Right? So is it possible, is there an action which is not separative? You follow, sir? Which is not yours, mine and his. So we ought to go into that word, or the whole meaning of that word 'action,' to do. That's the questioner who says, 'What am I to do? How am I to act?' Not only think but to act.
Then from that we can go onto what is thinking and all the rest, but I feel we must be together in this word. Could we?
Q: Sir, are we distinguishing two types of action, a selfish action which comes from motive and a non-selfish action, or whole action?
K: How do I know what is non-selfish action? I might think I am acting non-selfishly but it might be the most selfish action.
Q: So that’s one thing we know for sure, that action is not apart from self.
K: So what do you mean by action?
Q: The implications of this are that action is an unbiased movement. Our usual movements are, as you were pointing out, orientated to self-interest and its identifications. So for the self, for us to imagine what for us to move without bias – this is the problem, isn’t it?
K: Yes, sir.
Q: It seems as if action is something from ourselves, that we have to do something or other, so it is always from a centre.
Q: But in order to act I have to see what I think is required.
Q: Action is to respond. How we respond is something which we have to
K: I mean, you're a doctor, and you say my action is to attend to the patient. Or a professor says, I must act. I want to find out, if I may ask you, I am asking myself too, what is action which is not separative, you understand?
Scott Forbes: Sir, would we not have to consider what it is that is doing the acting. If we are the product of our conditioning and its only our conditioning which acts, then that seems always that it will be separative.
K: So you're saying, are you saying, sir, as long as the mind is conditioned in a particular way...
SF: As long as the conditioning is active.
K: ...it is bound to be separative, it is bound to be divisive, bound to act in contradiction with others and so on, so on, so on. Is that it?
K: So we then have to go into the question, why are we conditioned, are we aware of our conditioning?
SF: And also there's the question, is there something else besides our conditioning which can act?
K: That comes much later, very much later.
Q: So the action must be spontaneous.
K: Ah, not, sir, I don't How can I be spontaneous when all my background is not spontaneous? It has been cultivated, forced, pressurised, you know, brainwashed. How can it ever be spontaneous?
Q: If action is going to be of that nature, it’s not possible to act at all, unless one makes judgements, which obviously could be false. And so it seems to me that one has got to be in some kind of relationship with what other people are doing, be sensitive to it in some way. And somehow know that one is in relationship, have confirmation of that.
Q: It seems to me that usually I don’t see a situation clearly and I think of an idea what I should do. And the other person picks another idea and we never agree. Occasionally I agree with one person, but on the whole I can’t go beyond that.
K: Are you saying, sir, we act according to different ideas?
Q: Always from some concept – not always but for most of the time.
Q: Until we see our confusion, can there be action?
Q: There’s action all the time, we’re acting constantly, whether we’re in the kitchen or whatnot, it’s obviously action is coming from thinking and we can’t separate the two, and so we have to may be talk about thinking, because if you’re not thinking, how can there be any action. Or can there be one?
Q: Thinking is action, too.
K: Thinking is action. So what is action then, thinking, self-centred, conditioned, partial, contradictory, idealistic, acting according to a certain pattern, utopia, Marxist, Maoist. (Laughs)
Q: Apart from this action, there is simply an actor, and that actor implies will, the desire to change something, so we come back almost full circle to the predicament of being separate and yet wanting to identify the whole, so we always seem to come back to will. Is this correct?
K: Yes, sir but have we - I don't know how to approach this question, because here we are, each one has a different idea what action is. Right? Right, sir? Now is there an action which we can all, not accept, but see the fact or let me put it differently: is there an action which is not divisive, which is not self-centred, which is not idealistic, and so on, so on? Or must all action be the result of our conditioning, of our ideology, of our self-centred activity?
Q: Wouldn’t an action of common enquiry be non-divisive?
K: We are trying to do that now, aren't we? We are trying to enquire into what is action, which is common to all of us. Right sir? Not similar, not conforming, imitative. Is there an action which we can all accept, which we all see, and act according to that, not according - you understand what I'm saying - I wonder if I am conveying, I'm not quite sure I'm conveying it properly.
Q: If we are all really curious and concerned, this is an action.
K: Is there an action that is accurate, precise, and not self-centred?
Q: That must come from intelligence.
K: Wait, I'm just asking that, sir. A right action, right being precise, accurate, seeing the fact and acting, not translate the fact according to my prejudice, my experience and opinion and act from that. But perceiving the fact and acting to the demands of that fact. I wonder if I am making myself clear.
Q: Yes. Yes, there is such a thing.
K: We are enquiring.
Q: If we see that acting on an idea doesn’t take us anywhere, isn’t that an action?
K: Is an idea a fact? Idea, from what the dictionary says, began from the Greek word which means 'observation, to observe'. Now we're coming closer. May we go on with this a little bit? That is, to observe, not draw a conclusion from that and act, but the very observation is the action.
Q: Sir, that means you have to relate. Relating to a fact can then bring an action.
K: I'm just beginning to enquire into it, sir. That is, I observe. Let's begin - I am the world and the world is me, that is, we can't go back on that, can we? We can't go back on that. Right. I observe I am violent. Right? Which is, the world is me. The me is violent, which is the expression of the world. Right?
So I observe it. Now is my observation clear, pure, or is it diluted, twisted, according to my desire, my desire to escape from it, run away from it, to suppress it - you follow? Can I observe violence without any distortion? And that very observation is the action. I don't know if I'm making myself clear.
Q: That is, from the clarity of an observation.
K: That's all.
K: Now can we all do this?
Q: Is there any more to do after that?
Q: That is it.
Q: That’s it.
MZ: That observation is the action. Do you mean that that observation brings the action, observation is part of it, but it also...
K: I am saying observation is action.
MZ: ...yes, but must it be followed by a continuation of that action?
K: Of course, first let's don't bring have we understood this, or am I talking nonsense?
Q: Krishnaji, if I am self-centred, full of ideas and prejudices and so on, how am I to come upon this action?
K: So you can't, you can't.
Q: That’s right.
K: So you have to see the fact that you're self-centred, therefore you cannot observe, and the very observation of the fact that you're self-centred, to observe it. I don't know if I'm making this clear.
Q: Yes, it’s very clear.
K: Now can we together, is it possible for all of us, to observe this fact - violence? Don't let's define the word 'violence', for the moment - anger is violence, jealousy is violence, conformity is violence - right? - imitation is violence. Competition is violence. Being attached to a particular formula or an idea, and you the opposite, which is a sort of violence, the national divisions are violence and so on, so on. Now do we see that all this is being covered by that word? I don't know if I'm making
Q: But is it possible for a violent mind to see its own violence?
K: To see it is violent, that's all - why not? Is it possible for you to be aware - not you, sir - but aware of one's jealousy.
Q: Because that means jealousy being aware of itself.
K: Yes, as it arises, you can see jealousy. So we are asking: is our observation clear, pure, not twisted? That's the first thing, before I can act. Can I observe myself - myself, which is the society, and therefore can I observe myself very clearly, without any distortion, without any illusion? See myself in a mirror that is reflecting exactly what is? Come on, sirs. Could we all do this?
Q: Sir, what do you mean by a mirror, exactly what is?
K: (Laughs) I mean by mirror, a reaction, to see that you are violent, prejudiced, conditioned by society, by education to function along a particular line, you know, all that. Just to see what you are. Which is the world. Can we do that? And not say, 'Oh, what I see I don't like (laughs), or it's so lovely, I'm going to keep one part of it and discard the other part.' Can I read the whole history of myself. I don't know Go on, sirs. Is that possible?
Q: Sir, I don’t want to seem to quibble with words, but sometimes you can see violence but not recognise it. There seems to be a difference between our ability to see it and actually recognise it as such.
K: No, sir, look. Anger is violence, isn't it? Can you observe anger arising in you? Not in you, I mean generally. I'll say, 'Can I observe anger as it arises, is there an awareness of this movement of anger welling up? And can I observe that anger without explanation, without saying, it's justified, not justified - just to observe it?'
Q: Sir, I think there’s a difference, one can be aware of one’s jealousy, for instance, but there is a difference between being able to observe it which is action, which you were saying just now. The action which is the observation. It’s a difference between just being aware of it, maybe partially, which we, perhaps all of us, but...
K: That's the question, sir, that's what we're asking. Can I be aware of this movement of violence in me, not just one by one, anger or jealousy, but the whole structure of violence.
Q: What is going to make mankind act like that in the way you have put forward, that there’s going to be this clarity, this observation, that I see that my jealousy, my violence and I see what it’s doing to the world. What is going to make man act or think or to bring about that clarity? That’s the problem, as I see it.
K: I'm saying, we are saying, sir, that very observation is action.
Q: Yes, yes.
K: Not what will I do. If I see the whole nature of violence in myself, without any distortion - that is important, because if I distort I can act from that distortion. So my question is: can I observe the whole nature of violence in me?
Q: Can I put it the other way round? What will make man put down his prejudices so he can observe that?
K: What will make man put aside his prejudices.
Q: Mankind. Yes.
Q: We have plenty of those.
K: Crisis, a challenge which you have to answer, a relationship that brings about a sense of responsibility. Right?
K: What will make man, a human, what will make me drop my prejudices?
Q: That’s it.
K: Go on, sir, enquire - you're all in it, not me only. What will make us, each one of us, drop our prejudices?
Q: It seems to me that it is realising that the prejudice is not something outside on the other person, but it’s my very cherished beliefs.
K: Yes, sir.
Q: But what I really stick to is that the other person is doing the same thing and think they’re good and therefore we clash.
K: I'm asking, will you drop your prejudices? What will make you?
Q: I can see
Q: Seeing that...
K: See, sir, we are prejudiced, aren't we? No? You have your own prejudices, your own opinions, your own experiences, which are part of the whole business. Can you drop them?
Q: Only if the prejudices are a challenge to me.
K: Wait, look at it, I'm asking you, don't enlarge it more. I am prejudiced because I think I'm a Hindu, much better than all the rest of the human beings - prejudice. I think I've got a better brain than anybody else. That's prejudice. And so on. Can I drop all that? What will make me drop my prejudice? That is the question.
Q: Danger. Immediacy.
K: Yes, danger. We have no danger, sitting in this room, immediately.
Q: Sir, I don’t want to try and give a whole answer but aren’t we missing out your catalytic action? Isn’t that why we are here just now?
K: Oh, you're saying listening to me acts as a catalyst. Maybe. Or may not be, because my prejudice may be so terribly strong. Right?
Q: Perhaps your compassion.
K: Just a minute - so what will make me drop my prejudice?
Q: Seeing that it prevents you from relationship, from real relationship.
K: No. Will you drop yours? Will I drop my prejudice because I see the importance of having a good relationship. Will that make me do it? You see, in all that is implied a reward, a sense of if you don't do this you will be punished. That again is acting according to a desire of not wanting to be punished or wanting a reward.
So can I drop this prejudice? Can I drop my being a Hindu so completely that I've not a particle of that idiotic idea? Sorry.
Q: If I say I am not impressed with these ideas such as if I drop the idea of myself as an Englishman...
K: I'm asking you, sir.
K: Can you drop being British, French, you know, all the things that go with it?
MZ: Sir, doesn't one have to see the danger and the destructiveness of these categories because otherwise why would we be looking at them? The very question is that the world is violent and disordered and what can we do about it. If the disorder and violence were simply lovely, we wouldn't be asking the question, would we?
MZ: We wouldn't be, would we?
K: Of course not.
MZ: Therefore there is a certain impetus in the...
K: ...the very...
MZ: ...the unpleasantness, to put it mildly
K: Mr Sharpe raised a point, which is, he said 'I am here to listen to what is happening, to all of you and to you, I want to listen'. That may act as a catalyst. That's his point. Now can I listen to what you are saying, which is, drop your prejudice. You understand? You have said that to me. Can I listen so completely that the very listening is the emptying of my prejudice? You understand? Am I making
K: Are you doing it?
Q: There’s the rub – what is going to make us do it? And I say it must be a feeling that man wants to end his inhumanity to his fellow man.
K: Yes, sir, but again that's a motive. Be careful. Sir, the point is this, if I may. You have told me, drop your prejudices. That the very putting aside your prejudice, your mind will be different. That you're telling me. And I listen to you. You follow, sir? Because I'm tremendously interested in the feeling that I might whether I can be free of prejudice. Because I've lived with it, my fathers, my grandfathers the whole past, thousand years of a Brahmanical outlook has prejudiced my mind. And I listen to you. And the very listening may be the act of purgation. I don't know if I'm...
Q: Sir, don’t I have to watch each prejudice as it comes?
K: No. No, no. (Laughs)
Q: Give complete attention to it.
Q: It’s clearly something you can’t will.
K: No, I'm listening. I want to listen to you. I've listened to you to find out if I, part of society, if I can drop my prejudices.
MZ: But sir, why do you listen, why do you wish to examine whether you can drop your prejudice? Why?
K: Because, for a very simple reason, I see as long as I have my prejudices, we can never meet.
MZ: Yes. So is that not a valid motive?
K: No. All right, it's a valid motive. (Laughter) But it doesn't lead me any further.
MZ: But it does lead you to ask, it leads you to look.
K: So there are valid reasons and not valid reasons. Then we go off into that.
MZ: No, but you asked the question: what will make us look?
K: What will make me drop my prejudices?
Q: Seeing the stupidity of having them. If you see something is stupid you drop it.
K: Go on - what will make you drop your prejudices?
Q: I must die past. Yesterday.
K: I don't want time. Time is a prejudice (laughs).
Q: No, sir – I must die now.
K: I'm doing that, sir - I want to know what am I to do? I want to know if it is possible to drop my prejudices.
Q: Is there anything to do?
K: I'm going to find out, sir.
Q: I don’t know. Because it would have to be an action so totally different from any action that we’re ever used to.
Q: Something that I don’t know.
Q: First of all I have to see I have these prejudices, not just because somebody has told me.
K: I've seen my prejudices, I'm not a child any more, I can't keep on repeating I must see it - I've seen it!
Q: Of course.
Q: I’m not sure I see all of mine, you see, like for instance, I don’t feel identified with the country or with the religion.
K: All right, but your experiences are prejudices. Go on, sir. You've had certain experiences.
Q: If I say my experience is better than your experience.
K: Wait, Peter - you've had certain experiences going to India, all the rest of that business.
K: And you're entrenched in that.
Q: Yes, it makes me feel I’m a beautiful human being, but next moment I feel I’m a terrible human being – you know.
K: Do please, let's finish. You're entrenched in that, in those experiences which have become part of you. And can you drop those experiences and say, 'Look, I must look at life differently,' perhaps, or see things which may be more accurate.
Q: Prejudices create conflict because one is part of something greater than yourself, the very carrying around and acting upon that prejudice leads to conflict inevitably, and the conflict is the result of confusion.
K: Yes, sir, but...
K: Yes, but have I got different points of view, have I got a certain view to which I am attached, a certain concept which to me is so deeply-rooted?
Q: You may have.
K: Sir, go to a Catholic, and he'll say, 'What nonsense are you talking about?' Right? Because it's part of me, I accept it. You're not meeting my point. Am I
Q: If I imagine that there is conflict, then there is the inevitable recognition of becoming an observer.
K: Wait, sir. Are you aware of your prejudices?
Q: Unfortunately, yes.
K: Wait, yes, you are aware of your prejudices, can you drop them? What will make you let go?
Q: That’s the question. When I become an observer which is not to often.
K: Not 'when you become' - become, be.
Q: Exactly, but this does not happen frequently enough, but one can do it and it is fear frequently that stops it.
K: Sir, when you say 'when', that means some time later, but I'm saying now, sitting in this room, at this time, can I be aware of my prejudices and let them go?
Q: Then I have to live fully in the present.
K: I don't know what is implied, sir, but can I do it now.
Q: I don’t understand your usage of the word ‘to do.’ I don’t know if I can do it now. Doing, doing – I don’t know.
K: Why not?
Q: What’s involved in that specific kind of doing?
K: No, I'm not saying 'doing'. I say are you aware of your prejudice and realise its consequences at the same time, the whole movement, not just bit by bit by bit. The whole of it, the prejudice, the consequences of it and the motive why you want to get rid of prejudice, the whole movement of this prejudice. Can you be aware of it and say, 'Look, how silly it is!' I'm only - finished.
Q: But surely, the answer most people would give would be that they don’t know but they hope that it is possible, that is as far as they can get.
K: Of course, sir. I know that. But are we like that? Are we in this room saying, 'I hope to eventually get rid of them, when I'm 90 and just about a foot in the grave, then I'm ready to give it up.'
Q: To me it’s very fundamental that we can stay with this, how is mankind going to drop these prejudices?
K: You are the mankind!
Q: Yes, now to me I see it compassionately, I see it as...
K: No - you are the mankind. Have you dropped your prejudices?
Q: Sir, before you seemed to be talking about the essential root of all prejudices, the structure of each of them, rather than each one in turn. Is that correct? You want us to see the whole structure, not each particular prejudice.
Q: Can I see all my prejudices alone? Many I only see in relationship with other people.
Q: Can I drop my prejudices? Is that not a wrong question to ask, one is looking at, it’s just prejudice.
K: I have prejudices, of various kinds, prejudice, opinions, prejudgements, experiences to which my mind in memory is attached. What I think I am, what I must be, what shall - all that, and more, is the whole bag of my prejudice. Right? Now I'm asking, can I open that bag and let it go. You don't answer my question, you're all dissipating my question. As Professor Wilkins pointed out, I hope to get rid of it. Is that what we're doing? You understand, sir? If I go to a politician, in the present government, and say, 'Drop your prejudices.' They will throw me out. Go to Russia and say, 'Please.' Now we are not in that position here, you're not going to throw me out, I'm not going to throw you out. So we are amicably examining this thing.
And we're saying, 'Can you and I, in the process of thinking, watching, observing, talking over together, feel the absolute necessity of dropping prejudices?'
Q: Does the word ‘prejudice’ mean to prejudge, it means to prejudge something before I’ve actually seen it?
K: Yes, madame, don't pick on one word. Prejudices, I've said, the whole of it. The way I think. I've been trained to think along Marxist lines or Mao, or Krishnamurti - I've been trained, read, conditioned. I say, 'For god's sake, can I be free of it.'
Q: Let me put it this way. I have dropped my prejudices, you are my friend, and I see that you haven’t dropped yours. And you’re a good guy etc. etc. And I want you to drop them. What am I to do?
K: All right. I'll tell you. What am I to do? Will you first listen? You understand, sir? Listen. Or are you listening partially, because there are prejudices that are very pleasant, very profitable, and those prejudices are profitable, pleasant, rewarding, you say, 'I will prevent you from listening'. Right?
So can you listen in spite of all that? Because no amount of argument is going to get rid of my prejudices, no amount of rewarding or punishment or anything is going to get rid of it. We have tried all those.
So sitting together in this room, talking over together amicably, because we're interested in, rather, we are concerned with regard to action in a mad world. And one of you says, 'Unless you, as a human being, part of this society, drop your prejudices, your action will always be limited, will always bring about conflict.' And so on. That interests me. Because I see what the world is and instinctively I don't want to live like that.
So can I drop my prejudices, realising all the consequences of it? Go on, Peter. As I listen to you, can I drop them, not sometime later, here in this room finish with them?
Q: But I see that you’ve got to instinctively feel like that.
K: What, sir?
Q: In order for me to get you to drop your prejudices, you’ve got to instinctively feel like you’ve described. That’s important.
K: Whatever it is, will you drop them?
Q: I can’t see how my experience, say my trip to India, is prejudice. Is it because I am giving it a value different to other things?
K: Sir, look, we said, prejudice is to prejudge, opinion, have different points of view, a particular way of thinking, certain concepts which you hold dear, certain experiences which seem to you very important to yourself, and so on, various forms of illusions. All that and more can be summed up in one word, 'prejudice', for the moment. We might change the word 'prejudice' into something else, but for the moment, let's call all that bundle 'prejudice.'
Now can one drop that bundle, that's what I'm asking. Because then my mind, one's mind isn't free. One can't observe clearly. If I, if you have a prejudice against brown skin, you won't even look at me.
Q: But if all I am is prejudice, and if all my vision is prejudice, how can that see itself?
K: Wait, sir.
Q: If it can is it the prejudice vision that sees the prejudice or is it...
K: I'm going to show you.
Q: ...or does there have to be something else that comes from outside the prejudice.
K: We'll go into that, sir, in a minute, just see.
Q: Because it seems mutually exclusive.
K: You see, you are My prejudice is me.
K: Wait. I am a bundle of prejudices. Now is that bundle different from me? Don't - go into it very carefully. Is that bundle, which we have described, various aspects of it, me? I am observing that bundle. Is the observer different from the bundle? Go on, sir. Our tradition says the observer is different from the bundle. Right? Our whole education, our culture, all that says you are different from that. So it's very difficult for me to accept that - 'I am that bundle? How terrible!' I reject that instantly, because my whole upbringing says I am different. Because it says you can then control the bundle, you can get rid of it, or keep parts of it and so on, so on, so on. You can act upon it. But when I really see the fact that the bundle is me, there is no observer. That's the whole.
Q: But it’s obvious that I...
K: Have you listened to this, sir? (Laughs) You haven't.
Q: In other words, one must not interfere with that observation.
K: This is a fact, sir, look. Would you please listen, not go on with your own - we'll come to that later. Which is, the bundle is me. But I reject the idea that me is the bundle, because my whole background, my upbringing, my culture, my religion says, 'You must control it.' Right? 'You must change it, you must go beyond it.'
But when you come along and say, 'You are the bundle', you can't, it is a fact. So what happens, when I realise, when there is the realisation, the bundle is me?
Q: What realises that, if the bundle is prejudice, how can that prejudice...
K: Ah, you haven't listened. Forgive me, sir, I'm not criticising, it's your business, but we don't listen. The bundle is me. So the observer is not separate from the bundle. Ah, this is important to understand, otherwise Because the observer who says, 'I must get rid of the bundle,' thinks himself he's separate from the bundle. So he thinks he can act upon the bundle. We have removed altogether this separative action when I realise that I am the bundle. Can I observe, is there an observation of that bundle without the observer?
Q: Sir, it’s obvious that my effort is...
K: There's no effort.
Q: (Inaudible) didn’t go in this observation.
K: No, I'm not making an effort.
Q: Yes, but...
K: I abhor every form of effort.
Q: It seems that something is coming up preventing this observation from taking place, so one finds oneself trying to see, which is actually nonsense, but this is a real thing happening.
K: Sir, I've listened to you, explaining logically step by step. Though I may object to logic, conclusions, your logic has forced me into a corner, naturally. I am not resisting it because I want to understand. I'm not obstinate, I want to find out. So I listen to you. You have explained very carefully what this whole nature of prejudice is, various aspects of it, and we've come to the point when we call that whole prejudice a bundle.
Now you say to me, observe that bundle. Yes, I say, I'm observing it. Which is, I am observing it as though it were something separate from me, because that's what I've been used to, that's what my education, my religion, my culture has said, 'You are different from that.' And so that culture, that tradition says, 'Act upon it, change it, break it down, or run away from it, suppress it.' But you come along and say, 'Look, you're living in an illusion, the bundle is you!' Right? Which means what? There is no observer who says, 'I am the bundle.' I wonder if you see.
Dr. Bohm, please join us, what do you say? Give me a rest! (Laughter)
David Bohm: I think that the mind has a tendency to try to prepare the ground first by saying that there is something different, that I'm not only the bundle but something more.
K: Oh, I don't know.
DB: And that's almost universal.
K: That's another trick.
DB: And therefore we prepare to a part where there's something more, in which the observer retreats. So I think that the attempt of logic to make sure of the ground beforehand is interfering with the thing.
K: Would you agree or see the logic of the sequence of this?
DB: I think it's a peculiar kind of logic that we are not used to, you see, this is why it's so difficult. As in ordinary logic, we think, we try to see, to form a concept of the totality...
K: Of course, of course, of course.
Q: ...before we act. Right? Now if you say who is it who is going to observe or what is it going to observe, we are trying to have a concept of the totality before you act and then act. Which means, you put back the observer in the place of the, whatever it is that is beyond the bundle of prejudice. So this is a peculiar kind of logic which is correct but it is not common. You don’t do that, but actually just work from the statement of the fact as you have given it. I don’t know if I’ve made myself clear.
K: Yes, sir, it's clear to me, I don't know about the others.
Q: We are not accustomed to this kind of logic because it’s something in which the logic itself will change the totality...
K: No, no.
Q: ...when you observe. But by staying with the way you have put it, rather than going on to ask for what is it that will observe, then that observation can take place which will change the structure, in that very moment of observation.
Q: Don’t we get confused by the original question, which was something like, ‘Can I be free from my prejudices?’ Seems to be a confusing
DB: That's the same question you see. Whenever you say, 'Can I do this?' and we are assuming that I will continue...
K: Of course.
DB: ...through this whole process and therefore that defeats the whole thing. It seems to me that in some way - we were listening to, on the tape, your discussion with the Buddhists, where you say that you die to that prejudice - right? - and therefore you are not the same person any more.
K: Right, sir. Professor, so what do you say to all this?
Q: I was going to say what the bundle requires is the ability to observe itself.
Q: But I don’t think that goes as far as what David Bohm says.
K: Yes. But I'm not saying the bundle can observe itself. It can't. But what we are saying is, you have removed the observer.
SS: Do you mean rather, sir, that the bundle discloses itself?
K: No, sir, it has been disclosed.
SS: Yes, but...
K: By words - you've explained it to me very, very carefully.
SS: ...but you're saying whereas previously by acting on it...
K: You thought you could do something.
SS: ...I thought I was changing it.
SS: Actually it remained the same.
K: Same, yes.
SS: Now by removing the observer, the bundle itself discloses its own features.
K: No, something else takes place. That's what I want to get at.
Q: Is that always silent?
K: No, no. Please! Have we come to this point together, at least that the bundle is me? I am not separate from the bundle, full stop. Could we come to that, all of us together.
Q: Which means there is no part of me which is free from prejudice.
K: Quite right.
Q: Whatever I say, as long as...
K: Of course, obviously.
Q: ...I don’t see, I am prejudice...
K: I said that whole bundle is you, your consciousness is made up of that bundle. But if you see that, that is - only the bundle, nothing else.
Q: So the observer has no escape.
K: Of course, all that's gone, sir - escape and suppression and trying to do something about it - it's all finished.
Q: Quite right.
MZ: Aren't we attempting to do the same thing again, which is instead of having two things, an observer and a bundle, we now think we have only got one thing which is a bundle, but we are still stuck with the idea that the entity, the bundle, will act...
K: I'm going to find out.
MZ: ...instead of...
K: No, something else, I want to find out if I've reached that point, what happens. We haven't reached it, but we're speculating about it. Is there an observation of this bundle without the observer? The observer is the prejudice, so when he observes with prejudice, he still remains with the prejudice.
So I'm asking, do we all of us together here in this room now, quarter to one, before lunch, see this simple point together - the bundle is me. The moment that is a fact, there is already transformation in the observing.
Q: Could we use the word ‘awareness’ instead of observer?
K: It's same thing, sir.
Q: But I think it’s misleading because observing implies some action, whereas awareness implies the state of mind which is not moving.
K: Sir, when you are observing through a telescope, you are observing the thing that is happening under the telescope.
Q: Right, but I’m observing, there isn’t...
Q: I am observing.
K: You are using the eye to observe but there is no observer who comes to it with lots of prejudices and says, I'm observing.' That's a good, that's a top scientist - I mean, sorry, sir, there are two of them here! (Laughter)
Q: It is as though you would have to become unconscious...
K: No, sir, nothing - you see, nothing of that kind! It is a simple fact that I am the bundle and nothing else.
Q: But if the bundle observes itself, then the bundle disappears, surely.
K: That's what I want to come to. When there is no observer, what takes place? You don't come to that point.
Q: If there is no observer there is only observation.
K: No, that's just an idea - sir, don't play with words, for god's sake - come to the point. Have you come to the point that you are the bundle, not that you are observing the bundle? In that observation you have dissipated energy. Right? I don't know if you follow this. Right? Can we go along with this for a few minutes? That when there is division between the observer and the observed, there is a wastage of energy, which is, he says, 'I'm acting upon it, I must do something about it, I must change it to something else.' And so on, so on, which is an indication of wasting energy.
Q: Doesn’t it also make the bundle heavier?
K: No, wait, wait, don't bother about (laughs) - but when there is no dissipation of energy, which means the bundle is you. Right? Have you come to that point? Otherwise we can't talk any further.
Q: This whole bundle is theoretical for me – I can’t grasp this bundle, it looks theoretical, I can’t see it still, touch it.
K: You want to grasp it? Why can't you see the meaning of the word? The significance of prejudice, the consequence of prejudice, can't you see it instantly?
Q: Is it just the sum of my total of my likes and dislikes and that’s all, or is there something else?
K: Yes, sir, you're made up of that, aren't you? Like and dislike.
Q: And that’s all? Likes and dislikes. Finished.
K: Yes, so that's part of your prejudice. I like this, I don't like that. I like you, I don't like the black people, or the white people, or the purple people.
Q: But I’m asking is there anything besides this, this bundle, besides this liking and disliking?
K: I said, sir, that's the whole bundle, whole of it - my experience, my judgement, my opinions, my desires, my longing for something better - all that is part of me, it's me.
Q: What about the enquiry which is trying to find out?
K: We've enquired, we've come to this point through enquiry.
Q: Is that part of the bundle?
K: No, I'm looking, searching. And I discover I've got tons of bundles, prejudices.
Q: But it can’t be a prejudice seeing that, because if it were prejudice realising that you were full of bundles, it would still be a prejudice and you wouldn’t see that as clarity.
K: No, you're missing the point, sir.
Q: There has to be something else.
K: No, you're not to do anything else but listen. Listen to somebody else, not to me only, listen to somebody who says, 'How am I to get rid of my prejudices, so deeply rooted?' He's bothered with it, he's concerned. And I say, 'Look, there's a way, if you listen very carefully I'll show it to you.' You might say, 'Go to hell.' That's all right. Since we have gathered in this room for this purpose, we say, 'Look, will you kindly listen to what the other fellow is saying.' He says the bundle is no different from you. That's a fact.
DB: I think that people are puzzled by your saying that and at the same time saying that when you see that this is prejudice you're not the bundle, you see. This doesn't seem to be clear.
K: Yes, yes, of course, of course.
Q: One becomes the problem.
MZ: Is it that we are still hiding the subject of the verb, the 'I' now in the bundle, instead of having it separate from the bundle, we've now stuffed it into the bundle? (Laughter)
K: I am the bundle.
MZ: That's right, but is that correct?
K: Oh yes. Absolutely.
Q: The one is correct but in the seeing of that, it doesn’t...
K: Not only in the seeing, the feeling of it, in my blood, in my guts I feel this.
Q: Yes, sir
MZ: There is an 'I' now tucked into the bundle - we haven't changed anything, have we? The perception of that changes the whole thing.
K: I have changed completely because I see the truth, the observer is the bundle.
MZ: But can one say that it isn't that 'I' perceive that, but perception
MZ: ...it has occurred, thereby undoing the duality.
K: I am not perceiving the bundle, the bundle is me.
Q: It’s a fact.
MZ: So there's no longer a perceiver or the thing perceived.
K: I've made that clear.
MZ: So there is perception and not who sees it or who...
K: I said that, I said there is only the realisation, the fact that I am the bundle.
Q: But is it not the root of the matter that if we perceive the bundle and then we disappear, we don’t want to disappear.
K: Yes, that's of course, that's the...
Q: I don’t want to disappear. (Laughter) I’m sorry to have to admit it.
Q: One becomes the problem itself, and if one has a sense of awareness, as something which seems to be separate, you know, a manifestation of, then that manifestation of whatever it is we feel, that sense of awareness is the problem, so one hasn’t disappeared, they have just become something which is more involved with, is the thing itself. There is no separation.
K: Sir, Professor Wilkins said, 'I don't want to disappear'. That's probably most of us do. But the 'I' is the very centre of violence. If you are like that, asking the Prime Minister, saying, 'Give up your prejudices', he says, 'Sorry, 10 Downing street is very profitable, nice.'
No, I want to find out as a human being whether it is possible to live without violence. And I see for myself, I mean I'm not asking you to see it, I'm not persuading you or pressurising, putting you into a corner, or brainwashing you - I say, for me the fact is I am that. When there is that absolute realisation, the truth of it, something totally different takes place. If you are interested we can pursue it. We can only pursue it if you have come to that point.
Q: Sir, I am part of the society, whether tradition, the politics, economics, so for more than 20 years I am trained up to see myself different from that bundle of incidents.
K: Yes, sir.
Q: So I listen attentively and I also see the consequence that despite prejudice, it is also the cause of sorrow and it is also not different from me. So for more than 20 years I was trying to change it, to modify it. I always tried to do something because I see also it causes something that is not good for me or for others, so I always try to change it. And now I see that it is not different from me, so surely there is an action.
K: So what is the action?
Q: Because I am not different from that bundle and I am that bundle, surely I am not going to do anything any more.
K: Ah, no, no, no. Something else takes place. You see, that's another, that means you are now come to a state, according to you, sir, that you don't act at all. There is no action.
Q: No, I mean that I am not trying to change anything.
K: No, we've been through all that. I say, when you come to that point and you realise the bundle is you, there is a totally different action takes place. It's not my action or your action, it's action which will be common to all of us.
I think we better stop, it's one o'clock. We'll go on tomorrow. Is that all right?
Q: Yes, yes.