What is the function of the brain?
There is an ending to sorrow when there is no ‘me’
2nd Public Talk, Brockwood Park
August 28, 1977
May we continue with what we were talking about yesterday? We were saying yesterday morning, if I remember correctly, that we have developed extraordinary skills, capacities, in almost every direction, in every field of our existence. And these skills, these extraordinary capacities have brought about a great deal of confusion, have exaggerated the importance of the self, the 'me', and perhaps divided people a great deal - those who know, and those who do not know. And without clarity, as we were saying, these skills will be disastrous because unless the mind is very clear, objective, and that clarity can only come about, as we were saying yesterday, through compassion. Compassion, clarity, and skill. Where there is compassion there is clarity and out of that clarity there is intelligence. And that intelligence is not personal - yours or mine. And that intelligence will use the skill without giving importance to the self, the 'me'. That is what we were saying, more or less, yesterday.
And also we were talking about desire. And I think it is very important to understand this factor of desire in our daily life, which is part of our consciousness. As we were saying yesterday - I hope you're not bored by the repetition of what we said yesterday - in our consciousness one of the major factors is this desire, amongst other factors equally important, such as fear, pleasure, so-called love and a great deal of sorrow. And we were talking yesterday about desire, because it is desire that creates illusion, it creates and holds on to various forms of images, conclusions, and concepts. And as most people read a great deal about all these mysterious factors of occultism and mysterious miracles and so on, they have created a great many images to which the mind clings, and therefore it creates illusions. So it is very important, I think, to understand the movement of desire, which is the structure of desire. And most religions throughout the world have said, suppress desire, control it, transform it for other higher, nobler ends. And that brings about a great deal of conflict in oneself. That, again, is fairly obvious.
Now, if I may point out, as we did yesterday, we are exploring the whole thing together, you and the speaker are investigating into this whole problem of consciousness and its content - its content makes up the consciousness - and whether it is possible to radically transform deeply, fundamentally, the whole content of our consciousness. That is what we are concerned with during all these talks and so on - discussions and dialogues. And, as we were saying, one of the factors is desire of our consciousness. The desire may be for nobler ends, or for physical ends, or some projected ideological concepts. And these projections, these future states will inevitably bring about conflict, because then there is 'what is' and 'what should be' or 'what might be', or imitating or conforming to a certain pattern and therefore there is conflict between 'what is' and 'what should be'. And it is important, I think, to understand this conflict which is brought about by desire.
We said that desire has its root, its beginning, in perception, seeing, contact, then sensation, desire and the desire which creates images. This is the whole process, movement of desire. It is fairly simple to understand this. I think most of us know this. But one of the factors of conflict is the achievement, or the fulfilment of desire, therefore there is constant struggle. The whole question of meditation is involved in this too: the desire to achieve some state through conformity, through pattern, through method - the whole structure is based on desire to be something, or to become something.
Are we all together? I hope. We are not talking to ourselves. We are together taking a journey into the whole field of consciousness, which is very complex, and needs very careful, hesitant investigation. And if you are not serious, if you are not concerned with it, then I think you had better go and play golf.
Krishnamurti: Just a minute sir, I haven't finished. Question me much later. We will have questions and dialogues on Tuesday. So if you can have patience till then, of if there is time at the end of the talk we can go into it.
We are investigating into the movement of thought, of desire, of fear, anxiety, greed, violence and the pursuit of pleasure and to find out what love is, and whether there is a possibility of ending sorrow altogether, because this is the content of our consciousness. And, as we were saying, we human beings have created the society in which we live - immoral, divisions - racial, communal, national, religious, the various divisions which gurus have brought about throughout the world, gurus - native gurus and foreign gurus, the priests and so on, so on, so on. This is the whole content of our consciousness. To observe it without choice, to become aware of the whole nature of consciousness without any effort, persuasion, without seeking reward or avoiding punishment, just to observe it in our daily life. And that can only be observed very carefully in relationship between human beings because that is the mirror in which you can see yourself. Yourself being a human being which represents the world's humanity. That again is simple. That is you, as a human being, suffer, go through a great deal of trouble, anxiety, pain, uncertainty, insecurity, which is the nature of all human beings throughout the world. So you in essence are the world, and the world is you. This is not a theory, this is not an ideal, but an actual fact.
So we are together exploring it. So it is your responsibility if you are serious to go into this. No guru, no system can help you to understand yourself. Without understanding yourself there is no raison d'tre to continue, to act, to find out what is right action, what is truth and so on. So in investigating our consciousness we are investigating the human consciousness, not only yours, because you are the world and therefore when you observe your own consciousness you are observing the consciousness of mankind. So it is not something personal, selfish and so on.
One of the factors in that is desire. Desire is perception, contact, sensation and the thought which creates the image, and the pursuit of that image is the desire to fulfil, and the frustrations and the bitterness and all the rest of it following from that. Now can there be an observation, sensation and not ending in desire, just to observe? Which means one has to understand a great deal of the nature of thought, because it is thought that gives it a continuity, it is thought that creates the image out of that sensation and the pursuit of that image. That is fairly simple. May I go on? We are all together in this, I hope.
So thought is the response of memory, experience, knowledge, stored up in the brain, so thought is never new, it is always old. That again is obvious. Thought therefore is limited. It has created innumerable problems and thought has also created the extraordinary technological world, marvellous things it has done. And as thought is limited because it is the outcome of the past, which is time, therefore thought is time-binding, therefore limited. Thought then tries to pretend it can perceive the immeasurable, the timeless, the something beyond itself, therefore it projects all kinds of images. This is obviously so.
So can one observe this whole movement of desire without creating the image and pursuing that image and getting involved in frustration, in the hope of fulfilment and all that - just to observe the whole movement of desire, to become aware of it? I hope we are doing it as we are talking over together.
Then also there is the question of fear, because we are discussing, we are talking over together this question of compassion, clarity, and skill. To come upon this extraordinary quality of compassion which brings about clarity, from which comes skill, one has to understand the nature of the self, the 'me'. Right? It is the 'me' that is the distorting factor in life. It is the factor that divides me and you, we and they, and all the rest of it. In investigating our consciousness we are investigating also at the same time the nature and the structure of the 'me'. Right? I think that is clear.
So to know oneself fundamentally, basically, not according to any philosopher, psychologist or the latest ones, or the ancient ones, we have to abandon all those authorities and observe actually what we are. Which means you have no authority to tell you what to do. Right? If there is an authority to tell you what to do then begin all the conflict, struggle to achieve what we have learnt from others. All right? So we wipe away every form of psychological authority so the mind is free to observe itself, to observe its own consciousness. The content makes up our consciousness. And one of the contents is desire and the other is fear - fear not only physiologically but psychologically. When we understand the psychological fears then we can then deal intelligently with the physiological fears. Not the other way round. Though it is psychosomatic one has to understand the psychological fears.
Now may we together go into it. That is, can you observe your fear - this is not group therapy, this is not confession, I am not your guru, thank god! But we can together examine this fear, which seems to be part of our daily life - and whether one can be psychologically free and not be caught up in an illusion that you are free. That illusion comes about when you say to yourself, 'I must be free from fear', which is the movement of desire. Therefore, having understood the nature of desire and its movement, its images, its conflicts, the whole business of desire, then we can look at fear in ourselves, and not deceive ourselves that we are psychologically free from fear.
To go into the whole question of fear, not a particular form of fear - you may be afraid of your wife or your husband, or the girl-friend, or the boyfriend, or society, it doesn't matter, a dozen forms of fear - but to go to the very root of fear, which would be much simpler, quicker than taking the various branches of fear and trimming them. But we can go together into the very root of fear. To observe the various branches of fear which one has and not say, I must prune them one by one, but rather by observing the totality of fear then come to the root of it. I hope I am making myself clear, am I? That is, one may have the fear of attachment, fear that comes about through attachment - attachment to an idea, to an experience, to an image, or to a person, to something or other psychologically - and try to be free from that attachment, therefore from that particular form of fear. Or one may be afraid psychologically of not becoming something, not being something. The word - if I may here go off a little bit - the word 'mantra', you know the word 'mantra'? - most of you know it. You know you are all familiar with transcendental rubbish. You are all probably very familiar with it. And the word there they use is mantra. The root meaning of that Sanskrit word means - I have talked to, asked many scholars about that word and they have given me this meaning - which is: reflect on not being, meditate on not being or becoming, and wipe away all self-centred activity. That is the real meaning of that word mantra. You understand? Not for $150 or something or other, but to be free from self-centred action, and reflect, think about, observe, meditate on not becoming, being. It is a tremendous thing this - not to be sold for $5. Right? So, that is a deviation, sorry!
So we are saying: is it possible, psychologically, to be free of fear, all fear? We took attachment - shall we examine one by one, each fear, or shall we go to the very root of it? You can only go to the root of it when you observe the totality, the various forms of fear - observe, become aware of them, not try to do something about them. Right? I wonder if I am conveying this. To observe the whole tree of fear, with all the branches, with all the various qualities, divisions of fear, by observing the whole of the tree, go to the very root of it. You understand? That is what we are going to do, not take one fear after another, but go to the very centre of fear. Will you do it together? We are going to do it together.
That is, can you observe not only your particular form of fear, but also various other forms with one glance, just to look - fear of darkness, fear of attachment, fear, being attached, the fear of losing, fear of darkness, fear of domination, the thousand fears one has? So by observing all that, you come to the root of it. Right? What is the root of fear, psychologically? Is it not time? I am putting it, examining it, it may not be right, but we will go into it. Is it not, the root of fear, time - the tomorrow, what might happen tomorrow, or in the future? Or what might happen if one doesn't do certain things. So time as the past, time what might happen now, or time in the future. So is not the root of fear time? And time is movement of thought. Right? That is, one has been hurt in the past psychologically, and one is afraid that one might be hurt again in the future; so there is resistance, building a wall around oneself not to be hurt, and fear of being hurt. That means it is the whole movement of time as thought, time as measure. Right? Is this fairly clear? I am sorry I must go on. If it is not clear, sorry.
So we are saying: the root of fear is the movement of time, which is thought as measure. And can you observe, be aware of this movement, not control it, suppress fear, or escape from it, just to observe it? To be aware of this total movement. Right? Then when one is aware of this total movement of thought as time and measure - I have been, I shall be, and I hope to be - to be choicelessly aware of this fact and remain with it, not move away from actually what is. Which is, what actually is, the movement of thought, which says, 'I have been hurt in the past and I hope I shall not be hurt in the future'. And that very process of thinking is fear. I am only taking that as an example. So where there is fear obviously there is no affection, there is no love. And we are concerned, as we said, with the understanding of compassion, clarity and skill. The skill that does not cultivate, exaggerate, give importance to the 'me' for status, position and all the rest of it, which is what is actually happening in the world when a man is highly skilled. He has a tremendous importance in society, therefore the importance of himself.
And also part of this consciousness is the pursuit of this one enormous desire for pleasure. Again all religions have said, do not pursue pleasure, sexual or any other kind of pleasure because you have given your life over to Jesus, or Krishna, or to somebody or other, therefore suppress desire, suppress fear, suppress any form of pleasure. You know this all. Every religion has talked about it endlessly. We are saying: on the contrary don't suppress anything, don't avoid anything, don't analyse your fear. Just to observe. Because analysis is a waste of time because in that is involved, who is the analyser and what is the analysed. Is the analyser different from the analysed? Obviously not. Right? I want to get on with it.
So as most human beings, all of us are caught in this pursuit of pleasure, and when that pleasure is not given there is hatred, you know all the things that come from it - violence, hatred, anger, bitterness, you know. So one must understand this pursuit why human beings throughout the world have this enormous urge for pleasure.
What is the function of the brain? The function is to register, like a computer, to register. And it has registered a pleasure, and thought gives it the energy, the drive to pursue that pleasure. You are following this? One has had pleasure of various kinds yesterday, suppose. And it is registered. Then thought comes and picks it up and says, there must be more. And thought then pursues the more. The more then becomes pleasure because the continuity of pleasure is given vitality, drive by thought, thinking about it, today or tomorrow, later on. So that is the movement of pleasure. Right? Having registered and thought pursuing that which has happened yesterday and gives to it continuity. Now the question is: is it possible to register only what is absolutely necessary and nothing else. You understand? Does it mean anything, this?
One is hurt at school, college, university, later on in the family and so on, one is hurt. What is hurt is the image that one has about oneself. Right? And that image is hurt and thought then builds round that image not to be further hurt- which is simple. Now is it possible not to register the hurt at all? You understand my question? Am I talking to myself, or you are This is very important, I think, to understand because we are registering so many things unnecessarily and so building up the self, the 'me' - I am hurt, I am not what I should be, I must achieve what I think should be and so on and so on and so on. This whole registration is a form of giving importance to the self. Right? Now we are asking: is it possible to register only what is absolutely necessary? What is absolutely necessary? Not all the things the psyche builds up, which are memories. Right? I wonder if you see it. We are all travelling together?
K: Oh, good - some of us at least.
So what is not necessary? And what is necessary? You understand my question? What is necessary to register, what is not necessary to register? Because the brain is occupied with this, all the time registering, therefore there is no tranquillity, quietness to the brain, because it is registering. Whereas if there is a clarity of what is to be registered and what is not to be registered the brain is quieter, therefore that is part of meditation - not all the silly stuff that is talked about.
So what is necessary to register? Are any of the things that one registered psychologically necessary at all? You understand my question? Anything that you psychologically hold is unnecessary - by holding those things, registering those things, the brain holding on to them gives it a certain security, and that security is the 'me', because it has gathered all the psychological hurts, imprints, you know, all the rest of it - I don't have to repeat over and over again. So we are saying: to register anything psychologically and hold them is absolutely unnecessary - your beliefs, your dogmas, your experiences, your wishes, your desires, all that is totally unnecessary. So when the brain is only registering what is necessary, then what is that which is necessary? Food, clothes, and shelter - and nothing else! You understand? This is a tremendous investigation into oneself, therefore which means the brain is no longer the accumulating factor of the 'me'. Therefore the brain is quieter, rested, because it needs considerable tranquillity but it has sought that tranquillity, that security in the 'me' which is the accumulation of all the past registrations, which are just memories, therefore worthless - like collecting a lot of dead ash, and giving tremendous importance to it. Are we going together? We'll discuss
K: Un momento, signora. I mean I've just come from Saanen where there are Italians and French and all the rest of it.
So we are asking: to register what is absolutely necessary. It is a marvellous thing if you can go into it and do it because then there is real freedom - freedom from all the accumulated knowledge, tradition, superstition, experience, which has all built up this enormous structure to which thought clings as the 'me'. When the 'me' is not then compassion comes into being - you understand? - and that compassion brings clarity. With that clarity there is skill. When the 'me' is not, the skill has tremendous importance. Then that skill will organise a totally different kind of political structure. Because we have tried Communism and that has failed; we have tried every form of government - when we say every form, the world has, perhaps not England, but the world has - Communism, Socialism, various forms of sharing the earth and so on and so on, so on. But they have not tackled it from this end, which is having compassion, clarity and skill, then organisation has quite a different meaning and vitality. It is a living thing then, not patterns set by some politicians. I wonder if you are getting all this! What time is it, sir? Quarter past.
So: that is what we are talking about. We are talking about the fact that our consciousness with all its content has to be observed, to be totally, choicelessly aware of it, which is ourselves. And you can become extraordinarily aware of it fully in relationship, between human beings, man, woman, boy and girl, husband and wife and all the rest of it. That is possible only when there is no creation of images about another. When the man doesn't create an image about the wife, the girl, or the girl doesn't create an image about the man. The image is the registering factor. I don't know if you see this? Do you see this? Between husband and wife, or a boy and a girl there is not only sexual registration and the pursuit of that pleasure, that experience, but also the registration of hurts, the registration of insults, the nagging, the pleasure, you know the whole, what goes on in relationship. And this is the registration which is the image. Do you understand? Now when there is this image between the man and the woman there is no relationship at all; it is a relationship of registration, you register and I register and the registration are the images. Now if we don't register at all anything psychological, then relationship between man and woman is completely different - naturally. I wonder if you see this. Are you doing it as we are talking? Or is it just verbal acceptance because perhaps some of you may think it is very logical, reasonable, sane, or others might think it is much too difficult, sorry I can't pursue all this, I would rather go and sing in a camp, or whatever you do. But we are talking about this very seriously because it affects all human relationship. And where there is image as registration, and it is that registration of the image that brings about jealousy, anxiety, hatred, irritation and all that between two human beings, and that denies love. Right?
Now love, for most of us, is something - you know what it is, I don't have to explain all this. It is biological and also it becomes psychological. One is attached to one's wife, without a wife you feel lonely, you lose all comfort, or the husband. So the more you register, the more attached you are and the more attached you are the greater the fear of losing. And facing that which is loneliness, the emptiness in that loneliness and trying to run away from that loneliness through various forms of entertainment, religious and otherwise. So we are saying where there is registration, unnecessary registration, there is no love. And if we want to understand the nature of compassion one has to go into this question of what is love and whether there is such a thing as love without any form of attachment, with all its complications, with all its pleasure and so on and so on, and fears. And next Saturday and Sunday we will talk about sorrow, death and meditation. Now, you can bully me now.
Q: A man takes a wife out of loneliness.
K: I did not say that, sir. Just listen sir. I said when one becomes aware of oneself there is this factor of loneliness, which is entirely different from being alone. Alone - the word 'alone' means 'all one'. Whereas loneliness is complete isolation from everything, haven't you felt this?
Q: Yes, I have, sir.
K: Not only you sir, all human beings go through this sense of complete isolation in which there is no relationship with anything - you know. You are completely lost. And most of us never remain with it, understand it, go into it, but run away from it. That is, to look at loneliness and not move away from that. You know when you have great pleasure you don't want to move away from it, do you? You don't want to say Everything you do to hold it. You live with it. In the same way to live so completely with that loneliness without a movement away from it. Then out of that living with something which you don't understand, which has got tremendous meaning in one's life, then that begins to flower, come out like a beautiful flower and wither away. But if you run away from it or try to force yourself to understand it, go into it, you are destroying the flower. Whereas if you remain with it completely it is like a thing that flowers and withers away. You understand this?
Q: No, I don’t. All I can see is: why is my life a mess? It is a mess because I don’t want to marry.
K: I didn't say sir, marry, or not marry.
Q: Well, you say stay with your loneliness. It means, it seems to me, to stay in the rotten position I am in now.
K: No, no. If one is neurotic - just a minute, sirs - if one is neurotic and you know you are neurotic - most people don't know that they are neurotic - but if you are aware that you are neurotic and not act from that neuroticism, you will end it. Surely this is simple enough!
Q: How do I stop acting out of neuroticism when I am neurotic? I could put away myself and say I will not act any more.
K: No sir, we are not saying that. We are saying - please, listen, sir - please, as we said there is an art of listening, which is to listen not to the speaker only but to listen to yourself, to listen to the birds, to the movement of the wind amongst the leaves and so on. Just to listen. You know your own opinions, you know your own thoughts, but you have to put those aside to find out what the other fellow is saying. If you are not capable, that is part of neuroticism. But I am sure, though we are, most of us perhaps are neurotic, we can at moments, at least this morning, put away our own thoughts, our own importance, our own opinions and just listen to find out what the other fellow is saying. That is all. The other fellow is saying simply, that to be aware of oneself, and if one is aware you discover that you are neurotic, that you have peculiarities, you have this and that - you know. You hold on to opinions and experiences, all this importance - just to be aware of it. And in that awareness the neuroticism comes out, flowers, withers away - if you give it an opportunity. But if you say, 'No, I am neurotic, I must not act, I must lock myself up', then you are giving importance more and more to the neuroticism. Full stop.
Isn't that enough for this morning?
K: No? Wait a minute sir. You say no - why? (Laughter) Sir, look sir, we have this morning gone into something that demands your total attention, that you have to go into yourself very, very, very deeply, and if you have done it, at the end of an hour, you say, 'Basta, that is enough'.