The difficulty of thinking together
2nd Small Group Discussion, Brockwood Park
February 12, 1982
Krishnamurti: Sir, one of our problems of this morning which we were talking about, the difficulty of thinking together. Not about something, but the capacity to think together.
K: I wonder what prevents people doing that. Is it their opinions, is it their conclusions, their concepts, their ideals, their tremendous deep-rooted prejudices?
B: I feel it is because people stick to this thing, you see, that they have an opinion which they are identified with and they don't know it but they are sticking to it.
K: Is that what prevents people from thinking together, co-operating together?
B: Well that is clearly a major factor, you see, you can see it politically, let's say East and West.
K: Oh, politically, of course.
B: Well, but if we wanted to have peace we would have to have the two sides ready to discuss without fixed opinions.
K: Of course, of course. But that's impossible among the politicians. (Laughs)
Wilkens: Well no, I don't agree it is impossible.
K: I mean at present, as it is.
W: Yes, but I mean, as you say, there is nothing like this which is impossible.
K: No, nothing is impossible but if they want to do it they can do it.
W: Yes, and I think if we want them to do it, we can make them do it.
K: Yes, that's right. If we ordinary citizens want them to do it, they will do it. Now how will you help the ordinary citizens to want this?
W: I think they have to have overcome their sense of helplessness and I think ultimately also that they need to recognize their own responsibility, it isn't just the politicians who are being awkward, I think. They are being awkward too.
K: It comes back to be responsible in everything you do, each person. And they don't feel that way, they don't feel responsible. They turn to the leaders, the political leader, religious leader, or some kind of leader and they depend on them.
W: And they blame them.
K: Blame them. (Laughs) Exactly. Sir, the thing is so topsy-turvy, the whole thing is.
B: Well, it seems to me, you know, we can't begin that way either because it is no use blaming people for what they are, you see. People are unwilling to do this.
K: Therefore one has to be (inaudible) within oneself.
B: But is it possible, it occurred to me that if some people could begin anyway, regardless of what the others are doing?
K: Leave the others, I think that's fatal to...
B: Well, we can't affect the others at the moment but maybe you have once suggested that later if some people could do it then eventually others would come in.
K: Yes quite.
B: So it doesn't mean we are neglecting the others but rather...
K: ...we keep the door open.
B: Yes, it is not the right order to begin with the others.
K: Yes. No, no, I agree. One has to begin with oneself.
B: Or with whoever, with ourselves.
W: But if you say that we are ourselves our relationships, that what I am is my relation with other people, and therefore one must look at these, observe these relationships, in that sense one is beginning with others. One is beginning with the...
K: ...with the others and with oneself, it is constant interrelationship.
W: When you said that there were these blocks and that people couldn't...
W: ...between one person and the other, I mean, this isn't always the case that... Is it not relevant that sometimes between two people who have a close relationship and a loving relationship, there is a great deal of being on the same wavelength, and immediately a kind of empathic relationship that one mind is not really separate from the other mind. But is this not possibly relevant to this whole thing of the changing of one's own transformation of one's own mind, that it is through this process of interaction with another.
K: Interaction, quite.
Sir, would it be sufficient if half a dozen of us really understood this business? Could we affect the world? I think we could. Hitler affected the world.
B: Hitler was only one, of course. He did it mostly by himself.
K: Of course. The crazy man, he infected the whole world.
B: Well, there was a programme recently on the BBC about Thomas Pain, and it showed that he actually had a significant affect on the whole world. He had a tremendous energy and passion for what he was doing. It was very clear in that programme that he affected the whole of history.
K: Yes, sir. Then that raises the question: why is it we are not passionate? Why is it that we are all so luke warm? I think we are lustful - for power, for this, or for that, but we seem to have lost, or never had this passion for doing the correct thing, doing the good thing.
B: I was only going to say that I think part of the reason for the lack of passion is just the failure to comprehend this point that, you see, many people might feel that it is very important to do something but they say this society is so big, what can I do
K: You are smothered.
B: I'll be overwhelmed. So the question, there is lack of clarity on this point, that what can we actually do, to make it clear that it is really possible to do something.
K: Yes, sir, absolutely. I feel it is really possible.
B: It has to become so clear that one does not waiver when there is trouble, you see, when it becomes difficult.
W: I think that the society conditions us so that we do feel helpless. That is part of the difficulty.
K: But why are we concerned about society? Why should it smother us, why should it curtail or destroy our passion? And what is passion? How does it come, how does one have that - not 'how', not a method, but when does it take place? That's better. When does passion is let loose? (Laughs)
W: Well, we know when it is not let loose, and that is when all these native forces stop it. And I suppose the basic thing is that if the individuals in society are being dominated by their own self-images then they want to perpetuate the state of affairs where this appears to be so. And so they will exert a conditioning influence through society to keep us all in this state of helplessness and delusion.
K: (Laughs) No. Does passion for responsibility, say for example, if you have tremendous passion, does it come with the end of sorrow? Is it related to suffering, passion? Is the word passion etymologically connected with suffering?
W: Well that is just a question of, in one sense, of scholarship, which I am not up on, but you mean it more deeply presumably.
K: Of course. (Pause)
You see, I have just come from India. There were about five to seven thousand people in Bombay, a whole cross-section of society - the very rich, the middle class and some very poor. I talked to them, in English of course, and you see they really don't understand this extraordinary complexity of life. They just want solutions to problems - personal problems, economic problems, spiritual problems, they want solutions. And seeking solution doesn't solve the problems.
B: No, but I think that is just the point, that people first of all generally don't understand that, that solutions are irrelevant, and that helps to dissipate their energy obviously.
K: So the approach to your problem is important, and the approach is not the resolution of the problem but how you look at the problem. Is the problem different from you? Rather, you are the problem, the problem isn't out there.
B: Yes, but to communicate that is difficult because a person who is unemployed feels that his problem is out there, you see, that if he only had a job he would be all right. Now, you were saying something much deeper. In what sense do we say the problem is you? Suppose somebody starts out, you want to talk with somebody and he is unemployed, you see.
K: Yes, sir. I was listening the other day to the unemployed. They were being interviewed - they were bitter, angry, furious, for three years they haven't been employed, and they were furious about the leaders, conservative leaders or the labour leaders, and so on. They are not concerned about anything except employment, getting money, food, shelter, that's all they are concerned about. I think the vast world is concerned about that and nothing else.
B: Now, suppose you want to talk to this man, how would you make him concerned with something more?
K: 'No', he says, 'bread first, for god's sake bread first. Keep all your spiritual stuff for later after you have given me bread'. I have talked to a lot of people in India and other places, it is the same problem, sir, whether bread comes first or the other thing comes first. If it is the bread then there is no solution. And we are caught in that, all of us are caught in that - bread first. And the other is, if you can have it you are lucky. But as the vast majority of people are concerned with immediacy, how are you going to shown them anything? You can't. Therefore is it only reserved for the well-to-do who have leisure, who have certain opportunity to be alone, to look at themselves, talk about it? That seems so terribly unfair. But that is a fact. So, will the leisure class or people who have leisure, will they understand their relationship? Or they use that leisure to amuse themselves, to entertain.
B: Yes, well, it makes no difference.
K: It makes no difference, that's what I am saying. I think leisure is a marvellous thing. I think you learn infinitely more when you have leisure.
B: Perhaps coming back to this question of sorrow, you see, people who are suffering they are unemployed, they are ill, badly governed and so on. Now you have said that passion is connected with sorrow, so that might be an approach.
K: But you see, will even the leisurely people, even the fairly well educated people, who are really facing the problems of life, and the problems of the world, will they have leisure enough to give their time, their energy, to say, 'Look, let us understand the relationship of each other and go into it all'. It seems so extraordinarily difficult for most people.
B: Well, yes I understand that. I mean maybe that's why we are saying if some people could start this might affect the others. There are people who have leisure and who are interested in things, but I think that they are not quite they do not quite see the real possibility of this. There are people who might be ready to do this but they don't see that anything is possible.
K: Yes, sir, I know.
B: Now if they could see that something is actually possible, more of them might come in, you see.
K: So, how do you help? Say, for instance, help me to see that there is a possibility, there is a door open for me to escape from all this horror - not escape, sorry - to understand this whole business, how will you help me? By talking to me? By pointing out all the miseries, all the confusion, by analysing, by seeking a cause? We have done all that.
B: That's not enough. Now we were saying that people with great energy, like Hitler or Thomas Pain or various other people, have had their effect on history, some good, some bad. And the question is, is it possible that a group of us...
K: Possible to?
B: For a group of us to...
K: Yes, rather Of course, that is the only way.
B: reach that level of energy, which will actually penetrate all this...
K: ...mess. (Laughs) Of course it is possible. That's what we are trying to do. At Brockwood or any of the other places, is to gather a whole group of people who think alike - not alike, who think, who have a good understanding of relationship and go into all that. But it seems so incredibly long and...
Sir, would you say, to go to another subject, would you say we are the masters of time? That we make our own time? Apart from the physical time, the inward time - the inward hope, the inward getting better, the inward idea of becoming something, all that involves time. If we could shorten the time, that is, I am violent, and I think I can get over that violence given time. And so I invent time. Whereas actually if I have no time 'what is' becomes extraordinarily important and it can be changed. But if you allow me time I am lost. I don't know if I am conveying anything.
W: Well, I mean, is the following relevant here, that if you take someone who has lived their whole life and not been able to in any way develop much, and they have a few days to live, and while they are dying they suddenly Well, I mean, I have seen an old man recently who was dying and for the first time in his life he seemed to have a role, he was dying, and no one could take this away from him. Well now, some people would say this is very sad, but it's only for a day or two. But surely the length of time doesn't matter at all.
W: Is this partly the kind of thing you mean, that we are always measuring things, and saying, 'This is important because this is bigger than that in time', but really it is the quality.
K: Can the mind stop measuring? Which means I am the past, the present and the future - I am that. And my time is tomorrow - I hope I will be happy tomorrow. So I am inventing my own time. So I am the master of my time. And if I understood this really deeply then I would deal with 'what is' and finish with it immediately. I don't know if I am conveying something.
W: Yes, you mean that you would be aware of 'what is' instead of being dominated by the thoughts about what was or what might be in the future. So you would...
K: I would give all my energy to that.
W: 'What is'. Yes.
But then do you mean that the sorrow is a question of memory and of the past?
K: Yes, that's right.
W: And so that these memories from the past are preventing you experiencing directly 'what is'.
K: 'What is'. And also if I recognise I am the past, the present and the future, I am all that, and whatever happens I have to deal with what is happening immediately, and not postpone it, not find any excuse and all the rest of it.
I think we'd better stop - it's half an hour. No? Continuez?
W: I thought we'd only begun.
K: Just begun. Right. (Laughs)
And also we were talking about, at Ojai, with Dr Bohm, has man, human being, taken a wrong turn?
W: Well, he's always been on a wrong turn!
K: (Laughs) And therefore there is no way out? That is hopeless, to think in those terms is impossible.
B: Well, it is the same as we were saying this morning about knowledge. That is, knowledge is time.
K: Yes, knowledge is time.
B: Because it's the past coming to the present making the future. It is the same, to be without time and knowledge, that is to end the activity of knowledge. But knowledge is not merely abstract knowledge, but it is very active, because it makes time.
K: Which means, can thought come to Thought is time. Can thought come to a stop? Because thought has created all this mess, thought has invented wars the whole thing is invented by thought.
B: Of course thought has invented all sorts of good things too.
K: Oh, of course, of course. That goes without saying.
B: We want to say that thought comes to an end, which doesn't mean that the useful features of thought will
K: No, no, no - thought has its place.
B: But thought dominating comes to an end.
K: No, no. I mean thought as time coming to an end.
B: What kind of thought is left without time then?
B: Well is that thought as well? Is that thought also.
B: But I meant, suppose you have to think then, to do something.
K: There you have to think.
B: But then does time come in?
K: Time comes in there.
B: When you have to think.
K: Yes, of course. I have a job as a surgeon or whatever it is, and I have to think. That is necessary and right to think there. But I am questioning this whole issue of thought dominating my life.
B: Yes. Thought about oneself.
K: Thought about oneself, thought about the future, thought about the past, thought about my family - thinking, thinking, thinking. Thought is limited, my actions are limited, and therefore more catastrophe, more misery. So, I am asking myself whether thought can come to an end psychologically, inwardly, but outwardly I need to have thought. So we can put that aside. So, can thought come to an end altogether? Thought is knowledge, thought is time, thought is limited, divisive, and thought has created wars and the churches and the things inside the churches and temples, and all the rest of it. So one sees thought is very, very limited, destructive.
B: In that kind of thought.
K: I said that. So, can thought come to an end inwardly? That means, can the content of consciousness, which is the result of thought, can the contents be wiped out? That is fear, anxiety, agony, all the belief - all that is my consciousness. And that is time. And so I am asking: can time, thought, come to an end? But thought as knowledge in occupation, in profession, in a skill, is necessary. We don't have to go back to that, repeat over and over again.
W: But could I transpose this question you are raising to the matter of a relationship, to two people? Then does it go like this, you mean that if thought comes to the end, there is some kind of direct apprehension between the people, but the thought has come to an end in the sense that it is not dominated by thoughts of what these people did before or what they might do in the future, but a direct apprehension of 'what is' at that instant?
K: Now, sir, just a minute. My mind - one's mind, I won't say 'my mind' - one's mind is chattering - talking endlessly, reading, tremendously active all the time about the trivial things and the great things. I am asking, as thought has its place why should I be thinking about anything? You understand my question? Why should I be thinking about my future, about my past, or about myself - why? Why this accumulation of psychological knowledge? That is really my question. Physical knowledge, knowledge to act skilfully in any field, there it is necessary. But is knowledge necessary inwardly?
W: Well it does seem to me that thought is part of a creative relationship, but it is only a component in the whole thing.
K: Yes, but is thought love?
W: No it isn't, but...
W: But I do wonder a little bit whether thought doesn't come into love somewhat. I mean it's bound to, to some extent.
K: I wonder - no - I wonder if love is thought.
W: No, certainly not.
K: No. Therefore is it possible to love another without thought? To love somebody means no thought. And it brings about a totally different relationship, a different action.
W: Yes, well, I think there can be a great deal of thought in a loving relationship, but the thought is not the primary...
K: No. When there is love, thought can be used, but not the other way round.
W: Yes, not the other way round. Yes. The one has a primacy over the other. Whereas the trouble with I suppose in a way the basic trouble is that it tends to be the other way round, that we are like computers which are being run by our programmes.
I think what I was trying to do for a minute was that if you say that we are our relationships, I was trying to transpose what you were saying about can thought come to an end to the relationship, you see, and think what kind of relationship is there without thought. I think that was what I was trying to get clearer.
K: Just see what takes place without thought. I have a relationship with my brother or with my wife and that relationship is not based on thought but deeply on love. And in that love, in that feeling of strange feeling, why should I think at all? Love is comprehensive. And when thought comes into it, it is divisive, it destroys the quality, the beauty of it.
W: But is love comprehensive? Is it not all-pervasive rather than comprehensive because surely love can't express itself adequately without thought.
K: Comprehensive in the sense, whole. I mean, love is not the opposite of hate.
K: So in itself it has no feeling of duality.
W: I suppose love is much more a quality of the relationship, and a quality of being which pervades any activity.
K: Yes. You see, when thought comes into it then I remember all the things she did, or I did, the troubles, the anxieties, all those creep in.
That's one of our great difficulties: we really haven't understood or felt this love which is not possessiveness, attachment, jealousy, hatred and all that.
W: But isn't love sort of largely the awareness of the unity?
K: Would you say love has no awareness; it is love. It isn't that love is aware that we are all one. It's like a perfume. It is a perfume, you can't dissect the perfume or analyse the perfume, it is marvellous perfume. The moment you analyse it you kind of dissipate it.
W: Yes, but I think - all right, if you say it is a perfume, it's somewhat like a quality, but then quality is associated with this sense of unity, is it not, that this is one kind of aspect.
K: But you are giving it a meaning.
W: I am talking around it.
K: I know, I know. (Laughs)
W: (Laughs) I am not trying to pin it down, but I mean, can there be love without any awareness of this unity?
K: It is much more than that.
W: All right, it is more than that, but can it exist unless that sense of unity is there?
K: Sir, just a minute, just a minute. I am a Catholic, and I love, I have compassion. Can there be compassion, love, when there is this deep-rooted belief, idea, prejudice? Love must exist with freedom - not the freedom to do what I like - that is nonsense. Freedom of choice and all that has no value where we are talking about, but there must be total freedom to love.
W: Yes, well I mean, what I was going to say was, which you might say is nonsense, that I mean the Catholic might have quite a lot of love but it has limits to it in certain situations.
K: Of course, of course, of course.
W: But it is like your point: can you have an egg which is partly bad.
K: (Laughs) Yes.
W: But this sense of unity is part of the whole business, is it not?
K: If we have love there is unity.
W: Yes, all right.
K: But not
W: All right. That would satisfy me. I agree with you that having a sense of unity won't turn love on.
K: (Laughs) You see, all religions have, and the people who are religiously minded, have always turned love and devotion to a particular object or a particular idea, a symbol. It isn't love without any hindrance to it. That's the point, sir. Can love exist when there is the self? Of course not.
W: Yes, but if you say the self is a fixed image, then love can't exist with any fixed images, with anything fixed, because it has no limits.
K: That's right, sir.
W: But it seems to me that in the relationship by the dialogue and a movement between two minds with no sense of limit, and necessarily outside time, because time would be putting a limit, then something new can come up.
K: Of course. But can two minds ever meet? It is like two parallel railway lines, they never meet. Is our relationship with each other, as a human being, wife and husband and so on, is it always parallel, each pursuing his own line, and never actually meeting in the sense of real love for another - love even without object.
W: Yes, well if they I mean, in practice of course there always is some degree of preparation because...
K: Yes, that's all I am saying.
W: Yes. But I mean, if the relationship can be on a different level then there are no longer lines separated in space.
K: Of course. But to come to that level seems almost impossible. I am attached to my wife. I tell her I love her. And she is attached to me. And is that love? I possess her, she possesses me, or she likes being possessed, and so on, so on, all the complications of relationship. And I say to her, or she says to me, 'I love you'. And that seems to satisfy us. And I question whether it is love at all.
W: Well it makes people feel more comfortable for a time.
K: Yes. (Laughs) And is comfort love?
W: I mean, it is limited, and then when one partner dies the other is miserable.
K: The loneliness, the tears, the suffering, the - oh. We really should discuss this thing. I used to know a man to whom money was god. And he had plenty of money. And when he was dying he wanted to look at all the things he possessed. And the possessions was him. He was dying to the possessions outwardly, but the outward possessions were himself. I don't know if I am... And he was frightened not of this state of coming to an end but losing that. I don't know if I am conveying that. Losing that, not losing himself and finding something new. Death isn't - well we mustn't begin with that; that delves far. Do we go into it?
W: Well could I just ask you a question about death? What about a man who is dying and wants to see all the people he has known and all his friends before he dies, is that an attachment to these relationships?
K: Yes, that is attachment, isn't it? He is going to die, and death is rather lonely; it is a most exclusive club, exclusive action. And in that state I want to meet all my - my wife, my children, grandchildren, because I know I am going to lose them all and I am going to die, end. It's a terrifying thing. The other day I saw a man who was dying, and, sir, I have never seen such fear in my life. Actually absolutely fearful of anything, of ending. And I said - I knew him so I said, what are you frightened of? He said, 'I am frightened of separation from my family, from the money I have had, from the things I have done'. 'And this', he said, 'is my family, I love them. And I scared stiff of losing them'.
W: But I suppose the man might want to see all his friends and his family to say well...
K: ...goodbye, old boys. (Laughs)
K: That's a different matter. We will meet on the other side. (Laughs)
K: I knew a man, sir - it is very interesting - he told his family, 'Next year in January', any day, 'January, I am going to die', on such and such a date. And on that date he invited all his friends and his family, he said, 'I am dying today. I've made the will. Please leave me'. They all trooped out of the room, and he died.
W: Yes, well if the relationships with all these other people were him, and he was going to die, he would just like to see them the last time, and now it is finished - 'I am finished, I die'. That was not an attachment.
K: No. Of course not. And the consequence of attachment is painful, anxious, there is certain sense of agony, of losing.
W: Constant insecurity.
K: All the rest follows. And that I call love. 'I love my wife'. And I know deeply inside all the travail of this attachment but I can't let go.
W: But you still feel distressed that your wife would be sad when you died.
K: Oh, yes. That is part of game, part of the whole business. And she soon gets over it and marries somebody else, and carries on the game.
W: Yes, one would hope so. But one could be worried and afraid of other people's sorrow.
K: Yes, sir. Yes, sir.
W: But presumably the acceptance of one's own death would reduce their sorrow.
K: No. Is sorrow attached to fear? I am afraid of death, I am afraid of ending my career, all the things I have accumulated both physically and inwardly, all that comes to an end. And fear then invents reincarnation and all the business. So can I really - free from fear of death? Which means can I live with death? Don't misunderstand that - not committing suicide, live with it, (inaudible) with the ending of things, ending of my attachment. Would my wife tolerate it if I said, 'I have ended my attachment to you'? (Laughs) There would be agony. So I am questioning this whole content of consciousness put there by thought. And thought predominates our lives, and I say to myself, hasn't thought its place, and only its place and nowhere else? Why should I have thought in my relationship with my friend or with my wife or some girl, why should I have thought about it? When somebody says, 'I am thinking of you', it sounds so silly.
W: Well one often does need to think about other people for practical reasons, of course.
K: Yes, that's a different matter. But I am saying, where love is why should thought exist? Thought in relationship is destructive. It is attachment, it is possession, it is clinging to each other for comfort, for safety, for security, and all that is not love.
W: No, but as you said love can make use of thought, and there is what you call a thoughtfulness in a relationship, which is an expression of love.
K: Of course, that's a different matter. Yes, yes.
W: So that thought...
K: Look: I am attached to you, I am attached to my wife, or my husband, whatever it is, or to a piece of furniture. I love my wife in that attachment, and the consequences of that are incalculably harmful. And can I love my wife without attachment? Marvellous it is, to love somebody wanting nothing from him.
W: That's a great freedom.
K: Yes, sir. So love is freedom.
I think we'd better stop here, sir. We carried on nearly an hour. No walk - too late.
W: But what you appear to be saying is that if there is love between husband and wife, then one dies, you seem to be implying that the other would not have sorrow. I think maybe that's right.
K: I think so. That's right, sir.
W: You would transcend sorrow.
K: Sorrow is thought, sorrow is an emotion, sorrow is a shock, sorrow is a sense of loss, the feeling of losing somebody and suddenly find yourself utterly desolated and lonely.
W: Yes. You mean a state of loneliness is contrary to nature, so to speak, because you are not alone.
K: So if I could understand the nature of ending; ending something all the time - ending my ambition, ending my whatever it is, to end sorrow, to end fear, to end the complexity of desire - and to end it, which is death.
W: Yes, I think the Christians used to talk about it being necessary to die every day.
K: That's right.
W: The same idea.
K: Necessary to die every day to everything that psychologically you have gathered.
W: And everyone agrees that death is freedom.
K: That is real freedom.
W: There is no difficulty in appreciating that. You mean you want to transpose that ultimate freedom into all one's life.
K: Yes, sir. Otherwise we are slaves; slaves to choice, slave to everything.
We'd better stop.
W: Not masters of time but slaves of time.
K: Slaves of time, yes.
W: I have been interested in this particular topic of death as my father-in-law is dying, and I observe him.
K: Poor chap.
W: (Laughs) I think he is a lucky man. It's been quite an education.
K: I was once invited to a house where the father was dying, and the family asked me to go and see him. Sir, it was incredible. He clung to life as though He clung to life, with such an anxiety, with such fear. And he was dying. And he died the next day holding on to everything he had.
W: And I suppose his death was a sort of epitomised his whole life.
K: His whole life, yes.
I think we'd better stop.