What is our brain?
That benediction is where you are
1st Public Talk, Bombay
February 02, 1985
This is a dialogue between us, a conversation between two friends. So this is not a lecture to instruct, inform or guide. We are going to talk over together many things, certainly not to convince you of anything, not a propaganda, not to inform you of new ideas or new concepts, conclusions or ideals. We are going to, together, look at this whole world as it is, not only this part of the world but also what is happening in the rest of the world - together, and the speaker means together. You and he are going to observe, without any bias, without any prejudice, what is happening globally. So, please, this is a serious talk, not an intellectual, verbal or emotional or devotional, but one must exercise our brains. We must have scepticism, doubt, question and not accept anything that anybody says, including all your gurus, sacred books and all the rest of it. Because we are come to a crisis in the world. The crisis is not merely economic or war, but rather psychological, because we have lived on this earth for over fifty thousand years or a million years, during that long period of time we've passed through every kind of catastrophe, every kind of war, civilizations have disappeared, cultures shaping the behaviour of human beings. There have been a great many leaders - political, religious and all the tricks they have played on human beings. And during this enormous evolution of the human brain, we are what we have been - rather primitive, barbarous, cruel and preparing always for war. Every nation now is storing up armaments. Probably you know all this. And we human beings are caught in this, in the wheel of time, and we have not changed very much. We are still barbarians, believing all kinds of superstitions, all kinds of beliefs, following various leaders - political, religious and your own local gurus. And at the end of it all, where are we? You may have money - specially in this town, money and power are the most important things.
Please, as we said, we are talking over together. It's not the speaker is explaining all this - it's so obvious - but together, you and I and the speaker, examine very carefully, diligently, examine what we have become, what we are. And one asks, will time change us? Will time, that is, another million years or fifty thousand years, will time change the human mind, human brain? Or time is not important at all. So we are going to talk about all these things. We are going to talk about, human beings are wounded psychologically, human beings throughout the world are caught in great sorrow, pain, suffering, loneliness, despair. And the brain has created the most extraordinary things, both ideologically, technologically, religiously, built the most extraordinary beautiful monuments. The brain, which is our brain - yours and the speaker's brain - is extraordinarily capable. Right? And that capacity is very limited because we have - technologically we are advancing at an extraordinary speed, and psychologically, inwardly - if I may use the word, and I hope, one hopes you won't mind that word which I personally dislike, the word 'spiritual'. I see a lot of you are here with necklaces and all kinds of dresses. And inwardly, psychologically, we are very primitive, we are barbarians, cruel, thoughtless, careless, indifferent to what is happening, and indifferent to all the corruption - not only environmentally but the corruption that goes on in the name of religion, in the name of politics and business and so on. Corruption is not passing money under the table or smuggling goods into this country. Corruption begins where there is self-interest. Right? Where there is self-interest, that is the origin of corruption.
Are we thinking together or you're merely listening to the speaker? Are you going together as two friends, take a long journey, a journey into the global world, a journey into ourselves, into what we are, what we have become, why we have become like us, what we are. And this requires to take this journey together, not the speaker takes it and points out to you, the map, the road and the way, but rather, together - the speaker means together, because he is not a guru. One should not follow anybody in the world of thought, in the world of the psyche. We have depended so much on others to help us. There it is. And we are not helping you. Let's be very clear on that point. The speaker is not helping you, because you've had helpers galore and we have not been able to stand alone, think out things for ourselves, look at the world and our relationship to the world, whether we are individuals at all or part of a great humanity.
We have not exercised our brain, which is so extraordinarily capable. And we have expended our energy, our capacities, our intellectual understanding in one direction only, that is the technological world, but we have never understood human behaviour; why we are as we are after this long period of evolution. And as the speaker said just now, he is not helping. We are together looking, understanding, because help implies - we are talking about the psyche - of course you need help to go to a doctor or a surgeon, you depend on governments, however rotten they are, you depend on your postman and the milkman and so on - but to ask help through prayer, through meditation seems so utterly futile. You have had such help. You have had thousands of gurus and thousands of books, socalled religious and nonreligious, psychological and so on, and in spite of them all we are helpless. You may earn lot of money, big houses, cars and so on, but psychologically, inwardly, subjectively, of which we are going to talk about most of the time, we are almost helpless because we've depended on other people to tell us what to do, what to think. So, please, the speaker is saying this most respectfully, seriously, earnestly, he is not trying to help you. On the contrary, we are together, and the speaker means together, you and he not only observe impartially what is going on in the world but also why after all this long period of time we still remain cruel, brutal, indifferent, callous, frightened, seeking security, hoping our roots will not be disturbed. And together, you and the speaker, using, exercising their brain, investigate all this.
As we said, not only our relationship to world, which is becoming more and more complex, our relationship to various nations, our relationship to each other, however intimate it might be, our relationship to an ideal, our relationship to so-called god, our relationship to your guru - if you have one, I hope you haven't. And enquire seriously, deeply into the quality of the brain that comprehends or has an insight, grasp of the whole outward and psychological world in which we live. If this is clear, that we are not trying to point out a way, a method, a system or in any way trying to help you. On the contrary, we are independent human beings. This is not a cruel statement or indifferent statement. It's like two friends talking over together, both of them trying to understand not only the world, that is, the environment, and all the complications of the economic world, the separate religions, separate nationalities, but also together as two friends talking over their problems. If you can start from there: two friends. Friendship means that they are not trying to persuade each other, not trying to coerce or trying to impress each other. They are friends and therefore there is a certain quality of affection, understanding, exchange. We are in that position.
So, we'll first begin; what our brain is. The speaker is not a brain specialist but he has talked with the brain specialists. And the brain, which is inside the skull, is a most extraordinary instrument. It has acquired tremendous knowledge about almost everything. It has invented the most incredible things like the computer, like quick communication, instruments of war. And it is free there to investigate, to invent, to search out, research; it's entirely free. And it starts with knowledge, accumulating more and more knowledge, if a certain theory doesn't work, they drop it, and go on adding more and more and more knowledge. And it is not equally free to enquire into oneself. It is conditioned, shaped, programmed. Right? It is programmed to be a Hindu, to be a Muslim, to be a Christian, Buddhist and so on. Like a computer, the human brain is programmed: that you must have war, that you belong to a certain group, your roots are in this part of the world and so on. This is correct, this is not exaggeration. All of us are programmed by tradition, by constant repetition of newspapers, magazines, gurus and the thousands of years of pressure, impressions. Our brain free in one direction, in the world of technology, but that very brain, which is so extraordinarily capable, is limited by its own selfinterest. Are we together or am I talking Greek? Would you kindly find out for yourself if you are really like two friends understanding each other. Or is only one man talking and the other fellow doesn't talk at all? Or is there an observation of one's reactions to all that is being said, one's response to this truth that you're programmed to be a Jew, to be a Muslim, to be a Hindu, to be a Buddhist.
So, our brain being programmed, being conditioned, in one direction it is amazingly free, psychologically it's a cripple. And is it possible for the human brain to be entirely free so that it has tremendous energy, not to do more mischief, not to have more money, power and all that rot - though you must have money - but to be free to enter, enquire, find out a way of life in which there is no fear, no loneliness, no sorrow, and enquire into the nature of death and meditation and truth. Is it possible for the human brain, which has been conditioned for thousands of years, to be entirely free? Or must human beings everlastingly be slaves, never knowing what freedom is? Not abstract freedom but freedom from conflict, because we live in conflict, from childhood till we die, that's one fact for all human beings this constant struggle, both religiously, seeking security and therefore never finding insecurity, or being insecure wanting security. So we are going together to find out for ourselves - for ourselves, not depend on others to find, to tell you how to live without conflict - whether it is possible for human beings, living in the modern world, with all the complexities of the society, to live without a shadow of conflict. Because conflict distorts the brain, lessens its capacity, its energy, it soon wears itself out. You can observe it in yourself as you grow older, this perpetual conflict.
And why do we have conflict? Please ask yourself, don't just listen. Find out for yourself why we live in conflict, not only with our wives and husbands but with our gurus - because you want to be like them and therefore that's a conflict - why this conflict, which becomes more and more intense, which is war, why human beings - you - live in conflict. What is conflict? Oh, please, don't wait for me to answer it. That's no fun at all, but if you ask yourself that question and give your mind to find out. What is the nature of conflict? Conflict exists, surely, when there is duality. Right? There is me and you. Right? When there is my wife separate from me, when there is this division between the meditator and meditation. Are you following all this? I hope all this interests you, does it? So as long as there is division between nationalities, between religions, between people, between the ideal and the fact, between 'what is' and 'what should be', there must be conflict. That's a law. Wherever there is separation, the sense of division as the Arab and the Jew, the Hindu and the Muslim - you know all that division that goes on, not only in the world but also between families, between the son and the father. You know all this, don't you? So wherever there is division there must be conflict. That's a fact. That division is the 'more'. You understand? One does not know but give me a few years, I will know. I hope you understand all this.
Who has created this division between 'what is' and 'what should be', between the Arab and the Jew, between the Hindu and the Muslim, between the guru and the disciple? There is this division between socalled god, if there is such an entity, and yourself. Wanting peace and being in conflict. Right? This is the actual reality of our daily life. And the speaker is asking, as you must be asking too, who has created this division, not only externally but inwardly? Please, ask yourself this question. Who is responsible for all this mess, for all this endless struggle, endless pain, loneliness, despair, a sense of sorrow from which man seems to have never escaped - who is responsible for all this? Who is responsible for the society in which we live? - the society, modern society with all it's complexities - there is this immense poverty in this country, immense, and there are all the social workers. You understand all this? Or we have never thought about it at all. Or we are so occupied with our own meditations, with our own gods, with our own problems that we have never looked at all this, never asked.
There are several things involved in all this. Man has always sought - those who are fairly intelligent, fairly aware, sensitive - can there be egalitarian society ever? You understand? No class difference. Equal opportunity, so that there is no division between the worker and the manager, the carpenter and the politician - there are differences technologically, but as human beings. And one of the problems too is, is there justice in the world?
I hope one hopes you hear clearly now.
We are asking, is there justice in the world. And there have been revolutions - French, recent communist revolution, Bolshevik revolution, trying to establish a society where there was equality, where there was justice, where there was goodness, and they have not succeeded at all - on the contrary, they have gone back to the old pattern in a different setting.
So we have to enquire not only why human beings live in perpetual conflict and sorrow and the search for security but also we should enquire together into the nature of justice, if there is any justice at all in the world. Is there? You're clever, another is not. You have got all the privileges and another has none whatsoever. You live in palatial houses, another lives in a hut, hardly having one meal a day. And if you are rich you can hire lawyers, and you know that business very well. And so is there justice at all? And isn't it important to find out for oneself and therefore help humanity - I am sorry, I don't mean help, I withdraw that word. And so when one understands the nature of justice, is there any justice at all? To find that out one must enquire very, very deeply into the nature of sorrow, whether there can be no selfinterest at all. And also we should enquire, as we shall during these talks, during these conversations rather, what is freedom and what is goodness.
So, who has created this extraordinary complex society? - the division among religions, the division of nations, divisions between the intimate and those who are not intimate and so on. Right? Who has created all this? If the speaker can go into it - not as an informer, not as an instructor, not someone who is telling you it is so, therefore accept it, but you and the speaker are exercising their brains, their intelligence, their capacity to find out. The question is: who has created all this? One can understand the society is created by every human being, in which we live; the society in which we live is created by every human being through their greed, through their envy, through their aggression, through their search for security. We have created this society in which we live and then we become slaves to that society. Right? Are you following all this? Not following - do you understand all this? No? (Laughs) What am I to do if you don't understand this very simple fact that we human beings have created our culture, our society, our religions, our gods - all that. We human beings out of fear, out of our loneliness, in our search for security, never understanding what is insecurity but always wanting security, we have never gone into the question of what is religion, whether it is possible to break away from tradition and find out. So, to come back, who has created this division? Because where there is division there is conflict. Right? That is an absolute certainty.
So, is it not thought? Think it out, sir, don't Put your brains into it. Is it not thought that has divided the world as the Christians, the Buddhists, the Jews and the Arabs, the Hindu, Muslim? Is it not thought? Then one asks: what is thought? Thought is the action by which we live. Thought is our central factor of action. Right? Thought, by which we live to make money, thought, to separate me and you, my husband and my wife, the ideal and 'what is' - is it not thought? Then what is thought, what is thinking? Is not thinking the activity of memory?
Please, sirs, don't accept a thing that the speaker is saying. One must have this quality of doubt. Doubt your own experiences, your own ideas, why you put on these garlands, why you do certain things - doubt, question, and not just merely accept. So, please, do not under any circumstances accept what the speaker is saying. He is saying as a friend, to whom you can listen or not listen as you please, he is saying, thought has created this division, thought has been responsible for wars. Thought has been responsible between all the gods man has invented. Thought has been responsible to put man on the moon, to create a computer. Thought has been responsible for all the extraordinary things that they are doing in the technological world, which we won't go into now. And thought is responsible for this division between 'what is' and 'what should be'. And thought is responsible for that conflict between 'what is' and 'what should be'. 'What should be' is the ideal, something to be achieved, something to be gained, away from 'what is'. For example, human beings are violent. That's an obvious fact. And during the long period of time man is not free of violence, but he has invented nonviolence. Right? He has invented it and is pursuing that. He acknowledges that he is violent - if he is at all honest - he is violent and he is in the pursuit of so-called an ideal called nonviolence. And therefore in that pursuit, in that achieving nonviolence, he is sowing the seeds of violence all the time. Naturally. This is a fact. This country has talked a great deal about nonviolence, which is rather shameful because we are all violent people. Violence is not merely physical. Violence is a form of imitation, conformity, away from 'what is'.
So, violence can only end completely in the human mind, in the human heart, when there is no opposite. The opposite is the nonviolence which is not real, which is another escape from violence. If you don't escape then there is only violence. Right? And we have not been able to face that fact and we are always running away from this fact, finding excuses, finding economic reasons, finding innumerable methods to overcome violence but still violence. The very overcoming is a part of violence. So, to face violence you must give attention to it, not run away from it. Right? See what it is. See the violence between man and woman - both sexually, in different ways. Is there not violence when you are seeking more and more and more, becoming more and more? So, to look at violence and remain with it, not run away from it, not try to suppress it or transcend it - all that implies conflict - but to live with it, look at it, in fact treasure it, not translate it according to your want and dislike or like, just to look and observe with great attention. We won't go into for the moment, what is attention. Let's leave that's very simple, though it sounds complex. When one gives attention to something completely, it's like turning on a bright light and then you see all the qualities, the subtleties, the implications, the whole world of violence. When you see something very clearly, then it's gone - because we refuse to see things clearly.
So, we are asking who has created this complex conflict of human beings, with each other, with the environment, with gods, with everything. We are saying thought has done this. Have you ever considered why you think you are an individual? Are you an individual? Or you've been programmed to think you are an individual. Your consciousness is like every other human being's consciousness - you suffer, you're lonely, you're afraid, you're seeking pleasure, avoiding pain - it is so with every human being on earth. That's a fact, psychological fact. You may be tall, you may be dark, you may be light - those are all external frills of climate, food and so on. And culture is too external. But psychologically, subjectively, our consciousness is similar to, common, one with all other human beings. You mightn't like it but that's a fact. So psychologically you are not separate from the rest of humanity. You are humanity. Don't say, yes. Then it has no meaning, merely accept it as an idea. But it is such a tremendous fact that you are the rest of mankind, not somebody separate. You may have a better brain, more wealth, cunning, better looking, but put aside all that, those are surface things, they are frills. But inwardly, every human being on this earth is one in sorrow with you. You know when you realise that, what it means? No, you wouldn't. You'd make it into an idea or an ideal and pursue it. It requires, it implies, and therefore when you say you are the rest of humanity, it means you have tremendous responsibility. It implies great affection, love, compassion; not some silly idea that you're one.
So we are saying, as two friends talking things over, that thought has been responsible. Thought has created the most extraordinary things, outwardly. In the world of action, in the world of daily life, thought has brought about great convenience, sanity and also insanity, and also the means of war and so on. So we must enquire together what is thinking and why has thinking become so extraordinarily important.
Thinking cannot exist without memory. Right? If I have no if there is no memory there is no thought. Our brain, which is one with all the rest of humanity, not separate little brains, which is such rot - our brains are conditioned by knowledge - right? - by memory. And knowledge, memory are based on experience, both in the scientific world and the subjective world. Right? Our experiences, however subtle, however socalled spiritual and all that business, both scientific, personal experience, are always limited. And so our knowledge, which is the outcome of experience, is also limited. We are adding both scientifically, in this world of science, more and more and more. Right? Where there is addition, that which is being added to is limited. Right? I'm sorry if you're bored. Are you? You're yawning. Good god, what kind of people are you? Sir, please, we are saying something very serious. If you're bored go to sleep, go to sleep here. If you're tired lean on somebody and go to sleep. But this requires a great deal of energy, thought, enquiry, doubt.
So we are saying that experience being limited, therefore knowledge is always limited, either now or in the past or in the future. And knowledge means memory, either the memory which is held in the computer or the memory held inside our brain, so our brain is memory. And that memory directs thought. This is a fact. So thought is always limited. Right? Please, this is logical, rational, nothing invented. This is so. Experience is limited, therefore knowledge is limited and knowledge is memory and memory is the activity of thought. Thought cannot exist without memory. Don't yawn, sir, if you are tired, go to sleep. Yes, sir. I wonder if it's worth talking at all, having a conversation with you, when you're not really serious. Well it's up to you. You know, you can take the horse to the pool but the horse has to drink.
So thought, being limited, has created the world and divided the world, because it is limited it has broken up the world - right? - as the Arab and the Jew, the Hindu, Muslim, the Christian, the Buddhist, the Hindu, and so on, the Sikh, it is the activity of thought, which is in itself always limited, must create division and therefore conflict. Right? Right? Then you say, you will say, is there any other activity which is not divisive, which is not fragmentary, which doesn't break up? Right? Are you asking that question or am I putting that question to you? Is there a holistic activity that can never break up, as a Hindu, me, you? It's the division which creates conflict. Right? Now, how are you going to find out? How are you going to find out for yourself, seeing that thought is divisive, thought creates conflict, thought has created the society and you apart from the society, which you have created and so on and on and on? That's the only instrument we have had so far. You may say there is another instrument which is intuition, which can be desire, that can be modified, explained, irrational too. I can believe, I have an intuition or one has an intuition that one is a - what? Napoleon? Or a guru? You can invent anything, live in any illusion.
So, we're asking very seriously if one has understood the nature of thought. Is there any other action or a way of living which is never fragmentary, never broken up as the world and me, and 'the me' and the world. You understand? Is there such a state of brain or a state of nonbrain which is so completely holistic, whole? Right? We're going to find out, if you are serious, if you are free to be if you are throw away everything that you've accumulated - not physical things, please, don't throw away your bank account, you won't anyhow - but psychologically put away everything that you have collected. That's going to be very difficult. That means there must be freedom. Freedom - you know the word 'freedom' etymologically also means 'love'. When there is freedom at such enormous depth and boundless, there is also love. And to find that out or to come upon that holistic way of living in which there is no selfinterest. Selfinterest is divisive. Right? I wonder if you understand all this.
As we said at the beginning, selfinterest is the origin, the beginning of corruption, whether that selfinterest be in the name of god, in the name of meditation or prayer, seeking power, where there is selfinterest there is corruption, there is something dreadful that is going on. So, to find that out or to come upon it, there must be freedom from the friction, the conflict in relationship. Right? We live by relationship. You may live in the Himalayas or in a monastery or live by yourself in a little hut or in a palace. You cannot live without relationship. Relationship implies to be related to, to be in contact with, not physically only, not sexually only, but to be completely in contact with another. You understand all this? Oh, my god! But we are never completely related to another, even with the most intimate relationship, man and woman, each is pursuing his own particular ambition, his own particular fulfilment - right? - his own way of living opposed to the other, and so on. In this relationship there is always conflict, like two parallel lines never meeting. Face the fact. And what creates conflict between two human beings? In our relationship, with your wife, with your husband, with your children - which is the most intimate relationship - what is it that creates conflict? Ask yourselves, sir. What creates conflict between you and your guru? Is it not that you have an image about your wife and she has an image about you. Right? That image has been built very, very carefully during a short period or a very long period. So the image, the picture, the concept as your wife and your husband, guru and nonguru, all that business, this constant recording - you are following all this? - no, sir, don't (laughs) - constant recording of the brain in relationship with another, this recording is the picture of your wife or your husband or the politician or your guru. It's the picture that you have created about him, as you are creating a picture about the speaker. And therefore that picture divides. Therefore there is no relationship between you and the speaker. It's very simple. And especially so when you're living in the same house and all the turmoil, and to escape from all that you become a monk or whatever it is. But you have your own problems there too. You have your own conflicts, your own desires, your own pursuits, which becomes again conflict. Right?
So, can one live - please listen to this, give your attention a little bit at least - can you live without a single image between you and another? No image at all. Have you ever tried it? If you do - not try it, see the logic of it, the sanity of it, that as long as there is picturemaking machine going on, which is recording the insult, the flattery, saying what a marvellous person you are, and so on, all that is creating the image about another and that image is the divisive factor. Right? That image is created by thought: she hurt me, she wasn't kind this morning, and so on and on. So is it possible to live without a single image, not only the image made out of stone but also the image of your wife, of your guru, of nobody. Then you will find out what true relationship is, because then there is no conflict at all in relationship. That is absolutely necessary, if the brain can understand the limitation of thought and enquiry into a holistic a way of living that is completely nonfragmented, not brokenup.
Another factor in our life is from childhood we have been hurt psychologically, we have been wounded. From childhood we have trained to have problems. Right? Do you understand all this? We've talked for nearly for an hour. Shall I go on? You want me to go on with this? Don't say - sir, I've talked, the speaker is capable of talking serious matters, as we did with a punditji, for hours because there was But if you're really serious and you've not talked about these things, you must be tired. Your brain must be saying, 'Well, that's enough. I'll take it up next day'. But let's finish this.
From childhood, when we were sent to school, there you have to learn how to write, how to read and all the rest of it. How to write becomes a problem to the child. Please, follow this carefully, you will see in a minute. It becomes a problem. Mathematics becomes a problem, history becomes a problem, chemistry. So, he is educated from childhood to live with problems - right? - problem of god, problem of a dozen things. So our brains are conditioned, trained, educated to live with problems. From childhood we have done this. So, what happens when a brain is educated in problems? Please enquire. It can never solve problems. It can create more problems. You understand?
Krishnamurti: Please, sir, I'm sure there's going to be question and answer meeting on Tuesday morning - I don't know where but there's going to be. Then you can bombard me with all your questions. This is very important to understand because we're asking whether the brain can live a daily life in the modern world without a single problem. It's only then it can solve problems. Not a brain trained to have problems, to live with problems, then when it solves one problem, in the very solution of that problem it creates more problems, as they are doing politically. Right? I mean for you, for example, if you meditate - I don't know why you meditate, if you do - it becomes a problem. How to keep your mind quiet, control it, practice, discipline, you know all the rest of that rubbish. That's not meditation. So, please listen. From childhood we are trained, educated to live with problems, and therefore being centred in problems, it can never solve any problem completely. It's only the free brain, that is not conditioned to problems, that can solve problems. Vous avez compris? You understand this or not? Sir, it's one of our constant burdens to have all the time problems and therefore our brain is never quiet, free to observe, to look.
So we're asking, is it possible not to have a single problem but to face problems, because you're going to have plenty of problems. But to understand those problems and totally resolve them the brain must be free. Right? See the logic of it, because logic is necessary, reason is necessary, and then only you can go beyond reason, beyond logic. But if you are not logical, step by step by step, then you may deceive yourself all along and end up in some kind of illusion. So to find out a way of living that can face problems, resolve them and not be caught in problems. Yes, sir, this requires a great deal of observation, attention, awareness to see that never a second you deceive yourself. This all becomes... First there must be order. And order begins only when there is no problem, when there is freedom. Not to do what you like - that's not freedom at all. Or to choose between this guru and that guru or between this book and that book - that's merely another form of confusion. No? Where there is choice there is no freedom. And choice only exists when the brain is confused. When the brain is clear then there is no choice, only direct perception and right action.