To come upon the new, thought must be quiet
Can there be complete freedom from thought?
4th Public Talk, Brockwood Park
September 17, 1972
Krishnamurti: I believe this is the last talk. So what shall we talk about?
Questioner: Could we go into the question of fear?
K: I thought we went into the question of fear the other day, and on several occasions.
I think we ought to talk over together the question of immortality: if there is a state of mind that is without time, not science fiction timelessness, and a quality which is not measurable. And in this perhaps we can also talk over together the question of meditation, and if there is something beyond all thought, imagination, memory, all the contrivance which man has put together in order to find something which is imperishable. Perhaps we could talk these things over this morning, because we have not touched upon these things before. So may we go on with those?
You know wherever one goes in India, America, all different parts of the world, one observes from the very crudest form to the most subtle, the endeavour of the mind to find something that is sacred, that is really holy. And it takes so many different forms - the temple, the church, the primitives who worshipped a tree and frightened of the thunder; wherever one goes there is this constant enquiry of the human mind, whether there is something really sacred, divine, that is not corruptible. And in the search of that the priests throughout the world have said you must have faith. And that's one of the demands of every religion - you must have faith. Faith in what, I don't know, but faith, in god, in something that man has called god. To find out and to learn about it, whether it exists or doesn't exist, whether it is merely the invention of a mind that is frightened, the invention of a mind that sees everything in a flux, everything transient and seeks something which is permanent, which is beyond time, which is not at the behest of any particular religion or any particular belief. And to learn about it, it seems to me, if you are interested in it, and one must be interested in it whether you believe or don't believe, because unless one comes upon it, learns about it, life will always be superficial. One may be astonishingly moral in the right sense of that word, without any compulsion, without any interference from the environment, from the society, from the culture, really truly be moral, virtuous, which is really to be deeply within the area of order. However much one may be moral, lead a life that is fairly harmonious, not contradictory, not frightened, that is sane, balanced, harmonious, unless one finds that thing which man has been seeking, life becomes rather superficial, however moral one may be, however socially active one is, trying to do good and all the rest of it.
So it seems to me very important, if one is at all serious, really concerned with the whole phenomenon of existence, one must find out, one must learn for oneself whether there is such a thing as something unnameable, beyond time, not put together by thought, which is not an illusion, an experience which the human mind craves beyond experience. One must learn about it, because that gives to life an astonishing depth, to life not only a significance but great beauty, in which there is no conflict, a great sense of wholeness, a completeness, total sufficiency.
Now if we can, this morning, go into this question, it might be worthwhile. Of course first one must totally discard altogether the whole thing of organised religions. Right? That must be completely and totally set aside. Because if you are born in a communist country you are educated not to believe, if you are born in a Catholic country you are educated to believe, or if you go to the East there also the same phenomenon is going on of propaganda, education, conditioning. If a mind would find out, would learn about that thing, naturally it must set aside the things which man has put together which he calls divine, in which he is conditioned, with all its religious rituals, beliefs, dogmas and all the rest of it. I hope we are communicating with each other, and I hope you actually have set aside, not merely verbally but deeply inwardly, so that you are completely capable of standing alone and not depend on anything, psychologically.
If you are so inclined, if you have so perceived the truth or the falseness that exists in mythology, and most religions are myths, which have held together people for a certain period, because that is the function of all myths to hold society together for as long as it is possible, and when that myth is exploded society begins to break up, which is what is happening now. We have lived on myths of various kinds, and they have held man in a particular culture and when that myth ceases to exist there is no raison d'tre to continue, except along our own particular tendency, characteristic, pleasures and so on, which is exactly what is happening in the world now. Nobody believes in anything anymore - thank the Lord! Which has its misfortune because doubt is a good thing - to doubt, but it must be kept on a leash. And to hold it intelligently on a leash is to enquire, but to doubt everything has no meaning.
Now if one has actually set aside all this intelligently, not that you drop one and pick up another, window shopping all the time, then it is utterly futile, but if you have enquired into it, seen the fallacy of it for yourself, seen the implications of all the structure which man has put together in his endeavour to find out if there is, or if there is not, an immortality, a state of mind that is timeless, which is not perishable, then if you have set aside this we can begin to learn.
First of all thought cannot find it because thought with all its cunningness, with all its imagery, with its various remembrances and conclusions, thought is time, thought is measure and thought, however subtle, however disinterested, however far reaching, can never come upon this - which doesn't mean that the mind must be thoughtless, which doesn't mean that the mind must forget everything. As we said the last few times that we've met here, we said that thought must function within the field of knowledge, and it can only function efficiently, truly, beneficially only when there is freedom from thought - the two must go together in harmony: the freedom, the absolute freedom from thought and thought functioning in the field of knowledge objectively, sanely, non-personally. So thought can never find it. I think this must be very clearly understood, if we are to go any further. Because thought is not only time and measure but also the whole content of the past, conscious or unconscious, and when thought says, 'I am going to search out, seek if there is something real', then thought can project what it considers to be the real. Please follow all this. And therefore that becomes an illusion. When thought sets out to practise in order to discipline itself in order to find, as most saints, religions, doctrines, various gurus offer this - that is, train your thought, control it, discipline it, force it to the pattern that we give to you so that you will ultimately come upon the real thing. Right? And when one sees that thought can never find it because thought is essentially not free, thought can never be new, and to find that which must be totally something unperceived, unknowable, unrecognisable, thought must be totally quiet. Right? Are we moving with each other?
So the question is then: can thought, without any effort, not be controlled, because the moment you control it, there is a controller who is also the invention of thought, and the controller then begins to control his thoughts and then there is conflict. Wherever there is conflict there must be the activity of thought. So can the mind, which is the result of time, evolution, which is the storehouse of great knowledge, which is the result of a great many influences, experiences, which is the very essence of thought, can that thought be quiet - without control, without discipline, without any form of effort, because where there is an effort there must be distortion? Please do see this. Because if you and I learn this thing then we will be able to function sanely, normally, healthily in everyday life, and at the same time there is this extraordinary sense of freedom from thought. Now how is this to take place - you understand the question? Because this is what man has been seeking, because he knows very well thought is a transient thing, thought can be changed, modified, enlarged and knows thought cannot really penetrate into something which is not perceivable by any process of thought. So then he begins to say, how can thought be controlled - you are following? How can thought be held? Because one sees very clearly that only when the mind is completely still can you listen to that aeroplane, only when the mind is completely still can you hear something clearly, or see something. I think that is fairly clear.
So how is the mind, which is the and the brain, in which thought as matter lives - how can this whole brain, mind be completely still. Right? Are we following each other? I do not know if you have asked that question ever. And if you have asked and if you have found an answer, the answer must be according to your thinking. Now can thought naturally realise its own limitation, and realising its own limitation be quiet? That is, can the mind, and therefore the brain - the brain-cells themselves, if you have observed your own brain operating, are the content of the past - right? - every cell in it holds the memory of yesterday because yesterday and its memory gives to the brain great security because tomorrow there is uncertainty and in the past there is certainty - in knowledge there is certainty, which is the past; so the brain is the past - right? - and therefore the brain is time; it can only think in terms of time - yesterday, today and tomorrow. The tomorrow is uncertain therefore the past through the present make the tomorrow more certain. So can that brain, which has been trained, educated through millennia, be completely still - you understand the problem? Please understand the problem first. Because when we understand the problem clearly, see the problem with all its implications wisely, intelligently, the answer is in the problem not outside of it. All problems, if you examine, have their answer in themselves, not beyond it.
So the question is then: can the brain, the mind, the whole organic structure, be utterly still? You know there is a different kind of stillness. There is the stillness between two noises. Right? Between two verbal statements there is a silence. There is a silence which can be induced. There is a silence which comes about by tremendous discipline, control. And all such silences are sterile - they are not silence, they are the product of thought which wishes to be silent and therefore it is still within the area of thought. Right? Got it?
So how is the mind, with its the whole thing, how is it to be quiet without a motive? If it has a motive it is still the operation of thought. Do you know what the answer is? You don't, do you?
K: No. Good, I'm so glad! Because this requires tremendous honesty - you understand sir? Really to find out if there is something not of this dimension but of a totally different dimension, you require great honesty in which there is no deception, therefore there is no wanting - you understand? Because the moment the mind desires to find that state it will invent, it will be caught in an illusion, in a vision. That vision, that experience is the projection of the past, however enchanting, however pleasurable, however great it be, it is still of the past.
So if all that is very clear, not only verbally but actually, then the question is: can the content of consciousness, which makes up consciousness, can that content be completely emptied? Is this all Greek? Are we following each other? Do please.
Q: Is consciousness and the content the same?
K: That is what I am asking sir. We're going to Please, give me two minutes. Let me go on for a while.
Our consciousness, the daily, the unconscious and the conscious, the whole inward content of consciousness is its content, is what it has thought, what it has accumulated, what it has received through tradition, through culture, through struggle, through pain, through sorrow, through deception, the whole of that is my consciousness and yours. Without the content, what is consciousness? You understand? I only know my consciousness because of its content - I am a Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, Catholic, Communist, Socialist, an artist, a scientist, a philosopher - you follow? - I am attached to this house, she is my wife, you are my friend, the images, the conclusions, the remembrances, the images that I have built through 40, 50, 100 years is the content. And the content is my consciousness, as yours is. And that area of consciousness is time because it is the area of thought, it is the area of measurement - comparing, evaluating, judging - it is within that area. Within that area of consciousness are all my thoughts, unconscious, conscious, the future - within that area. And any movement within that area is within the movement of consciousness with its content. Therefore space in consciousness with its content is very limited. Gosh! Are you getting all this? Sir, please, learn this together. You understand? If we learn this together it will be yours not mine. Then you are free of all leaders, you will be free of all teaching, it will be your mind learning, therefore there is energy, you will be passionate to find out. But if you are following, like a dog, somebody then you lose all energy.
That is, as we were saying, within the area of consciousness with its content, which is time, space is very small. You can expand the space by imagination, by contriving, by various processes of stretching it out, thinking more, more subtly, more deliberately, but it is still within the limited space of consciousness which is its content. Right sir? Are you getting it?
So any movement to go beyond itself is still within the content. That is why when you take drugs of any kind, LSD, marijuana and all the rest of it, grass, you know, pot, all that, hashish, bhang, opium and all the rest of it, it is the activity of thought within that consciousness, and when you think you are going beyond it you are still within it. It is only an idea. Or you experience more deeply the content. So one sees the content which is the 'me', which is the ego, which is the person, the so-called individual, within that consciousness, however expanded, time and space - limited space - must always exist. Right? So to consciously make an effort to reach something beyond itself invites illusion - I wonder if you understand this. To set out to seek truth, which is so absurd, to be told by a Master, a guru that you will find it, without understanding all the content, and without emptying that content, merely to practise in order to get something is like the blind leading the blind, and generally the gurus are blind anyhow, and so are the followers.
So that is the question: mind is its content; the brain is the past and from that past thought functions, and thought is never free and never new. So the question arises: how can that content be emptied? Not method, because the moment you practise a method, somebody has given it to you, or you invent your own method and that becomes mechanical, and therefore it is still within the field of time and limited space.
I do not know if you have ever thought or gone into yourself to find out what is space - not science fiction space, or time according to science fiction, or timelessness according to them, but to enquire, to learn what is space. We are going to do this. Can the mind see its own limitation? And the very perception of that limitation is the ending of that limitation. Not how to empty the mind, but to see totally the content of it and the consciousness - the content which makes up consciousness, to see that totally, and to see, perceive, listen to all this movement of that consciousness, and the very perception of it is the ending of it, not how to end it. You understand? If I see something false, the very perception of the false is the true - I don't know if you see it. You understand? The very perception of my telling a lie is the truth - you understand this? The very perception of my envy, is the freedom from envy, is the truth. That is, you can only see very clearly, observe very clearly when there is no observer - that the observer is the past, the image, the conclusion, the opinion, the judgement. So can the mind see clearly without any effort its content, the limitation, which means the lack of space, and the time binding quality of consciousness with its content. Right? Can you see this? And you can only see the totality of it, both the unconscious content as well as the conscious content when you can look silently, when the observer is totally silent. You understand? That is if I want to see you my vision mustn't be blurred, I must have very good eyesight to see all the outline of you, the hair, the structure of your face, the bone and so on, so on, I must look very clearly. That means there must be attention, and in that attention there is energy. Whereas when you make an effort to be attentive, that effort is a wastage of energy. When you try to control, that is a wastage of energy - control implies conformity, comparison, suppression - all that is a wastage of energy. Whereas when there is perception there is attention, which is total energy, in which there is not a breath of wastage of energy.
Now when you look with that energy, the whole conscious as well as the unconscious content, the mind then is empty. This is not my illusion - you understand? This isn't what I think, or the conclusion I have come to. If I have a conclusion, if I think this is right, then I am in illusion. And knowing it to be an illusion I wouldn't talk. Because then it is like the blind leading the blind. But you can see for yourself the logic of it, the sanity of it. That is if you are listening, if you are paying attention, if you really want to find out. That is, how is it possible for the unconscious with its content to expose totally all its depth? You have understood? You've got it sir?
First see the question and then we can proceed from there. Like everything else in life we have divided consciousness into the conscious and the unconscious: the artist, the businessman - you follow? - this division, this fragmentation exists, induced by our culture, by our education, by all the rest of it. And you are asking a question, which is: there is this division between consciousness and unconsciousness, unconscious, and the unconscious has its motives, its racial inheritance, its experience and so on, so on - all its - how can that be exposed to the light of intelligence, to the light of perception? Do you ask this question? If you ask this question, are you asking it as an analyser who is going to analyse the content and therefore division, contradiction, conflict, struggle and all the rest of it? Or are you asking this question not knowing the answer? You are following this? Because please, this is important. If you are asking the question, which is: there is all this content in the unconscious, I don't know honestly, seriously, how to expose this whole structure of consciousness which is hidden, I really don't know. Therefore when you approach it not knowing, you are going to learn, but if you have any kind of conclusion, opinion, for or against, that it cannot be, that it can be, then you are approaching with a mind that has already assumed the answer, or no answer. Therefore a mind that says, 'I do not know', which is the truth, which is honesty - I may know it according to some philosopher, some psychologist, some analyst, but it is not your knowing it - it is their knowing it and you interpreting it and trying to understand them, not what is actual. Right? What is there then? You've understood? When you say, 'I do not know' the content has no importance whatsoever - you get it? Oh, do see this sirs. Because the mind then is a fresh mind - you understand? It is a new mind that says, 'I don't know'. Therefore when you say it, not just verbally for amusement, but with depth, with meaning, with honesty, that state of mind that does not know is empty of its consciousness, is empty of its content. It is the knowing that is the content. Oh my Lord! You got it? You see it?
So the mind can never say it knows, therefore it is always moving, living, acting, therefore it has no anchorage. It is only when it is anchored it gathers opinions, conclusions, and separation. Now this is meditation. Which is, meditation is to perceive the truth each second - not the truth ultimately. To perceive the truth and the false each second. To perceive the truth that content is consciousness, that is the truth. To see the truth that I do not know how to deal with this thing. Right? That is the truth - not knowing - therefore not knowing is the state in which there is no content. It is so terribly simple - that is what you are objecting to. You want something clever, complicated, put together, and you object to see something extraordinarily simple, and therefore extraordinarily beautiful.
So can the mind, which is the brain, see its own limitation - limitation of time, which is the bondage of time and the limitation of space? And as long as one lives within that limited space and time-binding movement, there must be suffering, there must be psychological despair, hope and all the anxiety, everything takes place. So when the mind has perceived the truth of this, then what is time? Then is there a different dimension which thought cannot touch, therefore cannot describe? Look sir, we said thought is measure and therefore time. We live by measurement, all our structure of thinking is based on measurement, which is comparison and all that which we have gone into the last few days. And thought as measurement tries to go beyond itself and discover for itself if there is something immeasurable, which is not measurable. And to see the falseness of it is the truth. You understand? I wonder if you see this! The truth is to see the false, and the false is when thought seeks that which is not measurable, which is not of time, which is not of the space with its content of consciousness.
So - you understand? - when you have put all these questions and have enquired, when you have learnt as you go along, then your mind and your brain becomes extraordinarily quiet, there is no need for any discipline, any teacher, any guru, any system to make you quiet. There are various kinds of meditations in the world at the present time - the Zen, the Alpha meditation - have you heard about the Alpha meditation? No? Invented by the gadgeteers, the Americans. Which is, they have an instrument, an electronic instrument, and they put electrodes on their brain and they watch in the measurement whether their brain is quiet or not. (laughter) You've understood this? And any silly ass can do this! And train himself to be quiet. You understand the games that they are all playing. And you go to Asia, or Japan, or various monasteries and learn there to be attentive - you know, trained, like some animal trained to perform. And then there are these other forms of meditation - the latest is Kundalini Yoga - have you heard about all that bilge? You know what that means? I won't go into it all because - you know there are certain things you cannot possibly talk about because man is too eager, too greedy, to experience something which he doesn't know anything about. The whole idea of Kundalini in India is the awakening of energy and - I won't go into all the details of it - that energy completely held, no, that energy without any distortion acting. And some people in the West now, because it has been brought by some Indians, are practising Kundalini Yoga. You know? And there is obviously the fashionable thing now - Yoga. Right? You know all about it, don't you? Yoga means, as it is translated now, joining, yoking two separate things together. I am sure it had quite a different meaning at the beginning. Yoga meant probably harmony, not bringing two things together, the soul and the body and the Atman - and you know all the rest of it. And I once saw at a station in India a beggar doing Yoga most beautifully. They were throwing coins to him from the railway carriages. And he was doing the most complicated Yoga with the greatest of ease. And that Yoga has been brought to the Western world to make people healthy, happy, young, find god - you follow? - everything is involved in it now. Originally, from what I have been told, there was a certain weed, a certain leaf in the Himalayas which only a very few people chewed and it kept their brains and their minds tremendously alert. And as the vine or the bush disappeared then they had to invent a system called Yoga which kept all the glands perfectly healthy, operating efficiently. And that is how Yoga came into being, which is exercises. And also in it is involved a way of life, not just doing some silly little exercise, a way of life in which there are no drugs - you follow sir? - morality, all the rest of it.
So. And also now there is the pursuit of the occult - don't you know all that? More and more because it is more exciting. I have seen everything in the world and I want to see something beyond the world, extrasensory perception and so on and so on. Sir, a man who is pursuing truth, who is trying to understand life totally, who sees the false as the false and in the false the truth, to such a mind the occult things are fairly obvious, such a mind will not touch it. They are totally unimportant: whether I read your thought, or you read my thought, whether I see angels, fairies, some kind of visions which I have not seen before. Because we want something mysterious and we don't see the immense mystery in living, in the love of living - you understand? We don't see that. And therefore we spread out in things that don't matter.
Now, when you have finished with all this, there is the central problem which is: is there something which is not describable, because if you describe, it is not the described; is there something which is not of time, which is without borders as space, which has immense space? I do not know if you have ever watched birds sitting on a telephone wire; if you have watched it you will see that each bird has space very carefully, because when your space is limited you become vicious, which is what is happening in the urban in the cities. Where there is no space you become violent, you want to break things - you know, you want space. The mind cannot, thought cannot give that space. Only when thought is quiet there is this space which has no frontier. And it is only the completely silent mind that knows, that is aware - not 'knows' - that is aware if there is or if there is not something that is beyond all measurement. And that is the only thing that is sacred, not the images, the rituals, the saviours, the gurus, their visions, but that thing which mind has come upon without asking, because in itself it is totally empty and therefore that which has emptiness, a new thing can take place.