The art of listening, seeing, learning and living
Intelligence is the capacity to see the truth that thought is limited
4th Public Talk, Ojai, California
April 10, 1977
Yesterday morning we were talking about fear, and also we were saying that our consciousness, the structure of our thinking, which is consciousness, is based on thinking, the desire for power, the many wounds that we receive from childhood, and also we talked yesterday about the freedom from all fear, and whether man who has lived for thousands of years, whether it is at all possible to be totally, completely be free of this grate burden of fear. And I would like this morning, if I may, to talk about pleasure. One of the structures of our consciousness is fear, pleasure and sorrow, and before we talk about it, go into it, I think we ought to understand something very clearly and simply: the art of listening, the art of seeing, and the art of learning. The word 'art' is generally applied to artists, those who paint, those who write poems, do sculpture and so on, but the meaning of that word 'art' means giving everything its right place, putting all our thoughts, feelings, anxieties and so on, in their right place. So the word 'art' means giving their proper place, proper proportion, putting everything in harmony - not just paint a picture or write a poem.
So, if you will this morning apply the art, the art of listening. We rarely listen to anybody. We are so full of our own conclusions, our own experiences, our own problems, our own judgements, so we have no space in which to listen. We ought to have some space so that as two friends, you and I, the speaker, are talking over together their problems, amicably, under the shade of a tree, sitting down and looking at the mountains, but concerned with their problems, and so they are willing to listen to each other. And to listen is only possible when you put aside your particular opinion, your particular knowledge or problem, your conclusions; when you're free to listen, not interpreting, not judging, not evaluating, but actually the art of listening. To listen with great care, attention, with affection. And if we have such an art, if we have learnt such rather, if you are capable of such listening, then communication becomes very, very simple. There'll be no misunderstanding. Communication implies to think together, to share the things that we are talking about together, to partake in the problem as two human beings living in a monstrous corrupt world, where everything is so ugly, brutal, violent and meaningless, it is very important, it seems to me, if I may point out, that in the art of listening one learns immediately, one sees the fact instantly. And if you, if one listens rightly, as we pointed out the meaning of that word 'right' - correctly, accurately, not what you think is right or wrong, but in the art of listening there is freedom, and in that freedom every word, every nuance of word has significance, and there is immediate comprehension, which is immediate insight, and therefore immediate freedom to observe.
Also there is the art of seeing, to see things as they are, not as you wish to see them. To see things without any illusion, without any preconceived judgement, opinion, to see actually 'what is', not your conclusions about 'what is'. Then the art of learning, not memorising, which becomes very mechanical, because our minds, our brains have already become so extraordinarily mechanical. So the art of learning implies freedom to observe, to listen without prejudice, without argumentation, without any emotional, romantic responses. If we have these three arts, not merely as a verbal conclusion or an intellectual comprehension, but actually, in our daily life, to put everything in its right place, where they belong, so that one can live a really very quiet, harmonious life. But that is not possible if you haven't learned this art of giving things their proper place.
So we're going to talk over together this morning the problem of fear; not only the problem of fear, and go into it much more, but also the problem, the question why human beings throughout the ages pursue so intensely pleasure. Not that it is wrong or right, but why? Modern civilisation, which is really based on consumerism, is the pursuit of pleasure, if you observe it - the books, your own feelings, is this constant, endless pursuit of pleasure, which we'll go into, because pleasure and fear are the two sides of the same coin, and to understand one and disregard the other becomes rather meaningless. So we have to examine both fear and pleasure. Not as separate things, but flowing into each other, as the two sides of the same tree of the same coin.
We were saying yesterday that fear is time. Not only the chronological time but also psychological time. Time, as we pointed out, is movement, from here to there - physically to go from here to Santa Barbara or to Los Angeles you need time. That's a movement. And also there is psychological time. At least we think there is psychological time. That is, the changing of 'what is' into 'what should be', the pursuit of an ideal away from 'what is'. The 'what is' is violence or grief or pain, and to overcome that or to understand it or to go beyond it, psychologically we say there is non-violence, and to achieve that you need time. So there is both physiological time, the time by the clock, and also we think, unfortunately, that there is psychological time. That is, the pursuit of an ideal, which is time. For the speaker, all ideals are idiotic, because what is important is not ideals but to understand 'what is'. If one understands 'what is', then the ideals become unnecessary. But we think that to overcome 'what is' we need the ideals in order to lever, give pressure to wipe away 'what is'. So that is time.
So thought, which is memory, stored up in the brain as experience and knowledge. So that movement of time is called evolution. Right? To evolve. So we think one can be free of fear through time. Right? Now we are the speaker is questioning the whole process of evolution, psychological evolution. Are you following any of this? Which is, there is fear - all human beings have various types of fears, both biological as well as psychological. And the freedom from it, we have never demanded the freedom from it, we have never asked for the freedom of it; we put up with fear. And that's a part of our conditioning. So we are going to question and investigate together this question of whether the whole structure of human thinking, which is time, which is measure, and as long as that process goes on, there must be fear. We are saying that fear can stop instantly, completely, and has no future. Not that you will have other forms of psychological fears, but the ending totally of fear. And that's only possible when you understand the nature of time, the psychological time. You understand? May I go on?
You see, we are so used to the idea of becoming something, or being something. This is very interesting - may I go into something, deviate a little bit from this? You have all heard, I am pretty sure, because you are probably all acquainted with transcendental meditation - aren't you? Right? Unfortunately. You don't know actually what it means. The word 'mantra' - which you repeat after giving fifty dollars or a hundred dollars to somebody, and he tells you the secret of a new mantra, you know, that game you play - the word 'mantra' - please listen to the word - the Sanskrit word 'mantra' means: 'man' means 'to reflect upon not becoming or being'. To reflect upon not becoming or being. Reflect about it, think about it, ponder about it, meditate about it. And 'tra' means 'destroy or put away, deny, all self-centred activity'. You understand? That is the real meaning of the word 'mantra'. Right?
Krishnamurti: Leave it, sir, I'm talking - we'll talk about it in the discussion tomorrow or day after tomorrow. That is, the total self-denial of not becoming, not being. And look what you have reduced it to: a commercial affair, a twenty million dollar industry, and the real meaning of it is gone. And I brought it in because we want something so quickly, as instant heaven, instant enlightenment - whatever it is. We are afraid to use our reason, afraid to use be logical, sane. And if we want to understand the nature of fear, and see the consequences of fear in action, one must use logic, reason, and approach it sanely. And to approach it sanely you must understand the whole movement of thinking. And we've said over and over again what is the nature and structure of thought. And thought invents time, psychologically, because thought says, as I am myself uncertain, not secure, it invents security in an idea, in an ideal, in a picture, in a symbol, and clings to that symbol. You are following all this?
So, to understand fear and go beyond it completely - not only superficial fears but the deep unconscious unknown fears - is only possible when you know, or when you understand the process of thinking, and give thought its right place. Which is the art of thinking. You understand? Are we following each other, somewhat? That is, as we said, thought is the outcome or the response of knowledge stored up in the brain as memory. So thought has a right place - in building a house, all the technological world, and so on. But thought psychologically breeds fear. So thought psychologically has no place, if you would be free of fear. Are you meeting each other?
Now please listen to this, not how to be free of fear, which is meaningless, because the 'how' implies the invention of thought which creates, which brings about a system. When you say, 'How am I to do it?', you're asking for a system. That system is put together by thought. So thought again is caught in a system, hoping to be free of fear. Right. So what we are saying is, please learn the art of listening. That is, you have fears of many kinds, or you have a fear, or you have fears which if you understand the root of it, all superficial and the very root of fear goes. So please listen, as we said, with the art of listening. Which is, the art of listening is, to put away your prejudices, your conclusions, your wanting to be even free of fear. The very want of to be free of fear, the very desire to be free of fear is a hindrance to listening. Right? So, please learn now the art of listening. And with that attention of listening, which is an art, when the speaker says, thought is time, thought is measure, thought is a movement in time, which creates fear - if you see that, if you actually listen to it, to that statement, and not make a conclusion of that statement, but actually listen with your heart, with your mind, with all your capacity, attention and care, then you will see that fear has no place at all. The art of listening is the miracle. Have some of you got this? So, we'll come back to it a little later.
So now we're going to talk over together what is pleasure, why man has pursued pleasure - because that's part of our consciousness, it's part of our daily life, it's part of our thinking, it is the motive that keeps us pursuing. Why has man made pleasure into such extraordinary importance, into such fantastic proportions - the whole world of entertainment - why? There is not only the world of entertainment from Hollywood and all the rest of the world, but also there is the religious entertainment. I'm not being sacrilegious or insulting, but the whole structure and the nature of religious mass and all the rest of it is a form of entertainment - you are entertained, you are emotionally sustained, excited. So we have to go into this question, if you are willing, and you must be willing because it's part of your life. There is not only sexual pleasure, but also there are various types of psychological pleasures - the pleasure of owning something, the pleasure of possession - please listen, see it in yourself, not just accept the words of the speaker; that has no meaning whatsoever - the pleasure of possession, the pleasure of being attached to something, the pleasure of belonging to something - a group, a community, a sect, a family. Then there is the pleasure of power - power over others, power over oneself, the control, which is a form of asceticism. The word 'asceticism' comes from which means basically 'ash', the word 'ascetic' means 'that which has been made into an ash'; a withered human being - that's what is implied. So there is power, there is pleasure in power, possession, attachment, there is pleasure in belonging to a particular community, the pleasure of following the herd, not swimming against the current; or swimming against the current which becomes also a form of pleasure.
So there are these innumerable forms of pleasure. I hope one is aware of it. That is, if one may ask, are you, as a friend, talking over together, the friend asks: are you aware of the pursuit of pleasure which you follow, which you are pursuing? And we are discussing that pleasure, whether it is the pleasure of taste, food, sex, the biological pleasures, the sensuous pleasures and the psychological pleasures. Why do you as a human being who represent the world, and as a human being you are the world, why do you pursue this pleasure? You understand my question? Why this constant demand? The pleasure of achievement, the pleasure of living up to an ideal, the pleasure of the search for so-called god. God is, after all, the invention of thought, isn't it. Are you willing to look into that? Because, while we are talking about that, it's important to understand what is reality and what is truth. Because we have made god into an absolute truth, not only in this country but all over Europe and over the whole Asiatic world - mention the word 'god' and you are a most respectable person.
So we are asking: what is reality, and what is illusion, and what is truth? Are you getting tired of all this?
K: I hope you're not merely listening to a lot of words. Then it becomes very tiresome, then it becomes rather boring. But if you're listening, which is the art, which is a great art, then you have to find out what is reality. Would you say reality is everything that thought has created; everything - the beautiful building, the temple, the mosque, the cathedral, and all the contents of the cathedral, the mosque, and the temple. That is reality. And thought has not created nature. That is reality - there it is. But thought has created many illusions - the illusion of nationality, which is accepted as a reality, the illusion of war, which is accepted, a necessary, a civilised existence. So thought, whatever thought has created, both technologically as well as that which thought has created as illusions, is a reality. And thought has not created nature, but thought has built a chair out of the wood of nature. You are understanding all this? Are you following all this? Does it interest you, all this?
So, truth has nothing whatsoever to do with reality - which we'll talk about when we go into the whole question of what is meditation. Because what we're talking now is part of meditation; the art of listening is a part of meditation; the art of seeing is part of meditation, and learning. So what we're doing now is the movement of meditation, which is to be free of fear, and the understanding of pleasure. So we're saying, is pleasure love? Right? Please find out for yourself, ask that question: is pleasure love? Is desire love? Is possession love? Is the desire for power love? So, we are asking, desire, pleasure, is it the nature of love? And if it is not, why have we made pleasure more dominant than love? And to understand love - please do go into this with the speaker because this is very important in our life, because we have no love. We know what attachment is, we know what to possess or being possessed, and the pleasures of that. We all know what it means to have sex and the pleasures of sex, the imaginations, the pictures, the thought involved in that act - all pleasure. All that, we're asking, is that love? And we use that word 'love' so easily - I love my country, I love my books, I love what I'm eating, I love my wife, or my girl. So, one has to go into this question very deeply to see and discover for oneself what love is. Without that you have wasted your life; you're just zombies, or just human beings uttering a lot of words, living a useless life, confused, miserable, suffering.
So we can only understand that which is love when there is the understanding, not verbal nor intellectual, but the depth of the meaning of pleasure. There is pleasure, there is enjoyment and there is joy. You understand? There is pleasure and the enjoyment of a morning, when the sun is out, early morning, the birds are singing, the light on the mountains and the leaf, and the colour - that's a great delight, great enjoyment. But when thought comes into it and says, 'What a lovely morning it is! I wish I could have such mornings every day', or the remembrance of such a morning and the pleasure of that morning, remembered, is pleasure, isn't it. You all look so surprised. What's the problem? Look: you have an experience, a pleasurable experience, an experience which is delightful, happy, joyous. And you don't end it there. Thought comes in and says, 'Let's have it again, let's repeat it'. Which is the pursuit of pleasure, that which was delightful, enjoyable, has become instantly a pleasurable thing through the movement of thought. You get it? You understand this? So, there is pleasure, there is enjoyment, there is joy. Joy you can never invite. It comes, happy, an extraordinary harmonious marvellous state. And you don't end it there. Thought says, 'I must have it again'. The desire to have it again is the pursuit of pleasure, not the actual experience.
So there are these factors in pleasure, that which thought pursues as pleasure, the enjoyment independent of pleasure, the delight, the beauty of something. Talking of beauty - would it be right to talk about it a little bit here? What is beauty? You know when you see something extraordinarily beautiful - the mountain, the deep valleys, shadow, a sheet of water - when you see these marvellous intense things, at that moment, at that second, you are not - you with your problems, with your idiocies, with your absurdities, all that's gone - you're not there, because the magnitude and the dignity and the glory of a mountain is so enormous it drives you away. Which means, there is beauty only when you are not. Got it?
So, we are saying, pleasure, enjoyment, and joy. And to put all this in their right place is the art of living. But our consciousness, which is our daily life, is so confused, so contradictory, and we are saying unless you understand very deeply pleasure, enjoyment and joy, which comes which goes into great ecstasy, unless there is order in your consciousness you cannot possibly meditate. And that is what we are doing now, is to live a way of life which is meditative, not meditate and lead a stupid, mischievous, violent life. So if pleasure, desire, is not love, if jealousy is not love, if attachment is not love, if being possessed or to possess is not love, and as most human beings live with the pleasures of possession, then what is the relationship between pleasure and love? What is the relationship between attachment - you know what attachment is, how it comes into being - and love? What is attachment? My country, my god, my belief, my wife, my husband, the dependence on another, whether it is a guru - and I hope none of you have gurus - then you're depending on somebody who thinks he knows. When somebody says, 'I know', beware of that person.
So, to understand what is the relationship between pleasure and love, you must understand what is relationship between human beings. Right? What is the relationship between human beings, actually? Have they any relationship at all? Or it's only relationship of reactions, a sense of dependency, sexual and all the rest of it. When you say, 'I'm related to my wife or to my girlfriend or boyfriend', what does it mean? Go into it, for god's sake, because this is your life. What does it actually mean? Are you really related? Or merely the idea, the thought of being related? You follow what I'm saying? If it is the thought of being related, that relationship is based on remembrance - remembrance of hurts, remembrance of sexual pleasures, remembrance of dependence, and so on. So, your relationship is based on the remembrance of things past, and to that relationship we hold. So she has a remembrance of things past, and you have a remembrance of things past, so you never meet. You are understanding all this? Are you understanding all this? Perhaps you meet in bed, but actually you never meet. Which is, as long as your relationship is based on remembrance of things of the past, then you are not related. You may call it love; it's a dead thing. And that's why there is such conflict between man and woman. Right, sir?
So listen to it, not what to do about it. If you listen, as we said, the art of listening, to be sensitive, to be alert, to be watchful, now. If you are doing that now, the art of listening, you will see you will put thought in its right place. Then you'll have an actual relationship with another, and therefore never conflict with another.
What time is it? It is twelve o'clock. Probably most of you will be glad it is twelve o'clock, but let's go I'll go on a little while and then we will stop because you can't stand more than an hour of this kind of talk. Because if you are working as the speaker is working, for you, your brains will not stand more than an hour. But if you are not working as the speaker is working then you say, 'Please go on'. (Laughter)
So we have come to a point in the understanding of our consciousness, which is our life, which is our daily, everyday life. In that consciousness there is the desire for power, the many hurts that one has received from childhood. Then there is fear, pleasure, and the thing that we call love, which is not love. And the innumerable beliefs that we have - I believe in god, I don't believe in god, I believe in socialism, I believe in - you follow? - belief. And belief indicates a life which is based on make-belief, which is nothing to do with actuality. So, we are bringing order in consciousness. Not by wanting order, not by making an effort to bring about order, but by listening, seeing, learning. To listen there must be no direction. You understand? To see there must be no distortion. And to learn, not to memorise, there must be freedom to observe, to learn, to watch.
So, we will discuss when we meet next time - Saturday - what is love, and its relationship to sorrow. And if there is time, we'll go into the question of what is death, because that's one of the factors of life, the dying. And unfortunately we never face it. To find out what it means to die while living, while you're full of life - not neurotic life, sane, healthy life - to find out the depth and the meaning of that extraordinary thing called death. And it is related to love. Love is not separate from life and death.
Right, sir? Is that enough?