When the brain is totally unconditioned, the mind is religious
Two public talks in San Francisco, 1983
2nd Public Talk, San Francisco, California
May 01, 1983
May we continue where we left off yesterday morning? We were talking about together having a conversation, friendly, unbiased, careful examination of what is going on in the world, and what is going on in ourselves, in our behaviour, in our ways of life, and we came to the point yesterday about disorder and relationship. And we were pointing out in our conversation together how important relationship is, because all life depends on relationship. All existence, all activity is a movement in relationship. And there is conflict in our relationship however intimate it may be, or it expresses itself outwardly. If we are violent, greedy, aggressive and so competitive and so on, we human beings create a society out of the pattern of our own self. We came to that point yesterday. And as we have got to talk about this evening this morning, pleasure, fear, sorrow, and whether there is an ending to sorrow of mankind. And we will also go together in our conversation about death, and perhaps if there is time, and we will make time, go into the whole question of a religious mind, and which means the investigation of what is meditation, not how to meditate, but what is the nature and structure; structure means movement, this movement of meditation.
So, as we said yesterday, this is not an entertainment, something romantic, sensational, exotic, nor mere intellectual investigation, exploration which satisfies only a part of our own self that is the intellect, and most of us are satisfied with the appreciation and understanding verbally the intellectual activity. But we are concerned with the whole of life, not with theories, not with beliefs, not with some new philosophical concepts, but we are dealing with our daily actual life. Why human beings after living on this earth for so many thousands of years are still what they are: violent, aggressive, brutal, the naughtiness and the ugliness and the brutality of wars. We are together, if you are serious, and one hopes that you are, because only the serious people live rightly, not the flippant, not the generation that does what it likes. So together we are going to investigate the nature of fear because that is part of our life. It is in the very deep recesses of our own brain, this fear that has been the human lot from the beginning of time. And apparently nobody seems to have gone into it very, very deeply - some may have, and perhaps some of you have - to find out for oneself, not to be told, not to be persuaded, not to be rewarded, but to probe into the nature and the structure of fear. I hope we can do it all together.
To understand the nature of fear we must also first investigate what is time. Time by the watch, the chronological time, time to learn a language, a skill, time to go from here to there, time to evolve an intellectual concept and put it into action. Time is necessary for the acorn to become the great tree, to construct a robot. In each, time and energy and knowledge. So there is physical time. Now we are asking: what is time in the psychological world? What is time where the psyche is concerned? I hope we are together in this. It is a pleasant morning, I don't know why we are cooped up here. (Laughter) But since we are cooped up here let us be a little serious, at least for this morning. Because we are going to talk over many things. That requires a great deal of attention, that demands your energy, not just casual listening and saying, 'That was an enjoyable talk'. This is not to be enjoyed. This is a very serious matter. And since man has carried fear, a great burden, all the days of his life, one must find out if it is possible at all whether this fear can end. And in the probing into the question of fear one must go also into the question of time. We live by time - we get up in the morning, go to the office, come back home, and this whole process of time is involved. There is physical time - sun rises, sun sets - and we must find out for ourselves, not to be told, not to be suggested, discover for oneself the nature of time in the psychological realm. Time has built up the egotistic, the personal, the whole psychological world. We think time is necessary in that area. And we are questioning whether the psyche, the 'me', the ego, the self, the centre from which all action takes place, whether it is caught in illusion and therefore pursues the idea of time; whether the psyche, the you, has evolution at all. Or there is no future for the psyche, for the 'me'. The future is the movement of the past, modified by the present, and continues as the future. So the past is maintained, however modified. The past is the accumulated knowledge, experience. The past is the observer. I hope all this is clear. The past is the knowledge that we have accumulated, whether it be of yesterday or thousands upon thousands of yesterdays. That's the past. That past meets the present; the present environment, society and so on. And the past gets modified, slightly changed, but the past remains as the past, and continues as the future. This whole cycle is called time. The accumulation of knowledge in the physical world or in the scientific world needs time. That is, acquiring more and more knowledge, however limited that knowledge is. But we are asking: is time necessary at all? Or time is a factor in the psychological world and the evolution of the psyche, that is, the 'me', the ego, the self, has a future. I hope one hopes this is all clear. May we go on if it is clear?
Knowledge, which is the accumulation of experience, which is tradition, which is the past, is in fact time. Now, we are questioning whether fear which is part of time, whether fear has a process of evolution, gradual growth, ending. Or the future has no time at all. That is, the ending of fear instantly, not gradually. Are we together in all this? Somewhat together? (Laughter) Because our concern is whether fear can end, ever. Or it is the lot of man, as sorrow, to have fear to the end of his days. We tolerate it, we accept it as a part of life, and we try to escape from fear. Fear being something that is painful, dangerous, to be avoided; fear of some incident of the past, continued as memory, and that memory breeding fear. We all know what fear is. Not a particular form of fear - fear of darkness, fear of something or other, but we are concerned with the root of fear, what is the cause of fear. And in asking that question, to discover for oneself the root of it. Not merely the clipping off the branches of fear, the various expressions of fear. If you want to cut down a tree you don't trim the branches, you cut at the very root of the tree.
So we are asking what is the root of fear, and whether that is possible, in the discovering of it, whether it can end, totally, completely. Not partially, not it ends sometimes and begins again. Which means the brain - the speaker is not a specialist in the brain, but he has observed very carefully not only in himself but in the activities of humankind - this fear exists among the animals, and that fear is rewarded or punished. So we depend on reward and punishment. But in the understanding of fear one must go into very, very deeply. That is, we enquire into time, which I think is fairly clear, and also is thought the cause of fear?
Thought is time; they are not two separate activities. Thought has created fear. That is, psychologically one remembers some incident that caused fear and that incident is recorded in the brain and the brain then is afraid of that incident happening again. So thought is responsible for fear, as time is. This is a fact. This is not an invention by the speaker, but when one observers these two elements, time and thought, bring about fear. And out of fear we create a great many illusions. The illusion of god - I hope you don't mind saying this (laughter) - the illusion that one can escape from fear by forgetting it, suppressing it, denying it, or tolerating it. Fear has done a great many horrible things in life; things that any sane man would never do. Fear of war, being destroyed, your homes, yourself, your relations and all the rest of it, but we never enquire into the cause of wars, which we went into yesterday: separate tribalism, and whether it is possible to live without any nationality, without any of division - we talked about it yesterday.
I do not one does not know if one realises we are in a great crisis. Not only outside as war, but also a crisis in our lives, crisis in our consciousness. We are trying to stop a particular kind of war, nuclear war and all the rest of that of business, and that fear, that in finding security in division, that fear No, the desire to find security in division which creates fear, then that fear brings about wars. I hope we all following all this.
Please, we are thinking together. We are walking down a lane in a wood, sitting down on the ground, looking at all the magnificent trees, and talking about serious matter, like two friends who are concerned with the world and with themselves. And in their conversation this question of fear arises. They are asking themselves whether this fear can ever end completely. And one of the friends says it can, it is possible. So one must understand, not intellectually, superficially but very deeply that time and thought are involved in the causation of fear. Now, the friend says, I can't stop time or thought, it is impossible to stop it. But the other friend says it is not a question of stopping it, it is not try to exercise will in order to stop it, but to understand where time and thought are necessary and where they are not. So the friend says time and thought are necessary in the physical world - learning a language, a skill, and so on. To put together a computer requires time, and thought and knowledge. There it is necessary, the friend says. And the other says yes, I accept that. That is natural, it is inevitable, it is necessary. But in the psychological world my brain has been conditioned through time, through thought, so to understand the nature of fear one must understand why the brain - I hope you are following all this, we are two friends talking together - my brain is conditioned by knowledge, which is experience, and that experience and knowledge has been the process of evolution, both outwardly, and, I thought, inwardly. But you are suggesting that what we consider necessary psychologically is an illusion, not a fact.
So they discuss the matter because they have plenty of time, it is a lovely morning, the birds are singing, and the shadows, numberless, of the trees on the ground. It is a pleasant, lovely morning, and the subject is not morbid, but they have to find out. And it is important to find out. So one of the friends says, 'if one can understand the necessity of time and thought, where it should be, but has it any place in the area of the psyche? That is, the psyche is put together by thought, and thought says, I will become better. The 'better' is the movement of time. The 'better' is measurement. The 'more' is measurement, comparison. Now can one live without comparison whatsoever? Of course you have to compare between two cars, two houses, two gardens, two machines and so on. But why should we live always comparing inwardly? Is it possible, he asks his friend, to live without comparison whatsoever? That is, never compare, never try to become something more, because the self, however evolved, however becomes better, will still be the self, still be very, very refined selfishness. So, when one realises the fact, the truth that thought is necessary and time in the physical world, then thought and time have no place in the psychological world. We will explain it a little more, if you will bear with it.
Why does the brain record every incident? Naturally it records when you drive a car carelessly in an accident, and it has recorded the accident as painful or just avoiding injuries, it is recorded. There the recording is necessary, the recording is knowledge. But why do we record inwardly? Why does the brain record if you insult another or flatter another? Which is, when you record the insult you are building up gradually enmity, violence. So is it possible not to record psychologically anything? This is meditation, to find out. It isn't just a verbal dissertation, a verbal argument or deduction. This requires a great deal of enquiry, a great deal of attention, giving your energy to find out. And, the friend says, it is possible not to record anything in the psychological world. Which means the self as we know it is not. And therefore you have tremendous energy that can be used intelligently, wisely, sanely, in the physical world.
In talking about fear, we also should be concerned with pleasure. Why man has pursued pleasure above anything else - above fear, above sorrow, above anything else, even god - if you believe in god. Why? Why the West and the East - there is really no West and the East, there is not Eastern thought and Western thought, there is only thought which can be expressed in the East in a different way, and in the West perhaps in another way, but thought is the ground upon which all human beings live, exist. It is neither East nor West. Expressions may vary, and we cling to expressions. So, we are enquiring why pleasure has become so important. Not that there is not pleasure, a delight in watching a sunset or the rising of a moon or seeing something beautiful, not only in museums but in the world of nature. To see a tiger in the wild is an extraordinary thing. And what is pleasure? Is it memory? When the actual fact of pleasure of something happening there is neither pleasure or displeasure, there is just the happening. But a moment later thought says that was a most pleasurable thing I have had; and that means the remembrance of something that has happened before, and that remembrance as pleasure and pursuing that pleasure. And we are caught up or conditioned in fear, in pleasure. Reward and punishment. That's the way of our life.
And we are not advocating the ending of pleasure, which would be stupid, but to understand why the brain, thought, your whole energy, is spent on pleasure, entertainment, whether the entertainment be religious, in a church or a cathedral, or on the football field, or sexually, sensory pleasures. Why are we a slave to all this? To answer a definite, say this or that, would be rather unnecessary, but if one understands the whole movement of it, which is to understand desire. Why are we so crippled, or pursue so energetically desire? What is desire? I wonder if one ever has asked this question. Or the moment you see something you like in the window and you go in and feel it, and you buy it. But you never ask, perhaps, what is the nature and structure of desire. Why man has tried to escape from desire - all the monks, the sannyasis of the world. The word 'sannyasi' is used in Sanskrit and so on. Why has man tried to escape from desire, suppress desire or overcome desire and so on? You cannot possibly suppress desire, it is always there. Whether that desire is identified with a symbol, with a person, a concept, that desire is still there. Desire exists in the monk; desire to be saved by some imaginary person, and so on.
So we are enquiring into the nature of desire because that is part of pleasure and part of fear. What is desire? It is important to understand this, if one may point out. In this world desire is rampant. The whole commercial world is based on it, and also in the technological world, ambition, success and all that. So what is desire? We live by sensation, sensory responses. That's natural. Seeing something clear, beautiful, that very seeing and the contact, physical contact with it brings about a sensation. This is a fact. Then thought creates the image - you in the car, you in that shirt or you in that garden, house, or whatever it be. There is sensation then thought creates the image - you in the car or in the house; at that moment desire arises. Are we together in this, somewhat? One wonders why you find it all so difficult. You're all making a tremendous effort I hope - I didn't mean 'I hope' - you are making effort to understand the speaker. Don't, if I may say so. Understand your own desire. Look at it: desire to be beautiful, desire to be tall, desire to be successful, desire to be noble, desire to find out if there is god - you know all the whole business of desire. The objects of desire may vary but it is still desire.
So we are saying sensation is natural, is obviously a fact, and when thought creates the image, then at that moment desire begins. This is again a fact carefully looked at and examined. So if one understands that very clearly, even intellectually because we are all first we say understand intellectually, but that understanding is very, very partial. It is not real understanding, because when there is depth of understanding there is action. So, to observe this whole movement of desire, as we pointed out, to observe it, not wanting to change it, control it, suppress it and so on, but to be totally aware, giving one's whole attention to the whole movement of desire. That very attention becomes intelligence. That intelligence will know when desire must act and not. So intelligence is the factor which then acts where desire is concerned.
So we ought to go also, next question, into the nature of what is love. We have got so much to talk about. Is love desire? Apparently it has become that. Is love pleasure? Which now is common; love is equated with pleasure - sensory, sexual, and so on. Is that love? To understand the nature and the beauty and the depth and the quality of love and compassion, one must understand what is suffering, why human beings suffer. This has been one of the major problems of humanity because all human beings, however well placed, however powerful, suffer. And common man, the man who doesn't know how to read or write, he suffers because he has lost his wife or son, or husband, and wants to know why they are gone. He's shed tears, seeks comfort, but suffering goes on. The suffering of these wars, the bombing, killing many people, and all their friends dead, wives and their mothers, their husbands crying. I wonder if we are aware how the world is suffering. Not only personal suffering, the pain, the agony of loss, the loneliness, the unbearable sense of separation, and that suffering is not only so-called personal but it is the suffering of whole of mankind. We have tried to escape from it, saying that one person has suffered for whole humanity, but that suffering still goes on. You have all shed tears. You see the poor man in a far away village, and he will never know a clean bath, a hot bath, clean clothes, ride in a car, not that he should ride in a car, but he sees all the others, and there is the suffering of that man. Suffering has existed from time immemorial till now. We still suffer, and we have never been able to resolve it, end it. Because where there is suffering there can be no love. I know it is difficult to accept that statement. When you suffer you are only concerned with yourself, or with suffering of mankind. Concerned, wanting to help.
I wonder if you have ever asked why we seek help at all from another. You are all sitting here, and I hope, one hopes, the speaker hopes that he is not helping you. Right? Because it is a matter that you yourself have to understand and nobody in the world can help you. That appears to be a cruel statement but it is not. We have had a thousand helpers, leaders, politicians, or the present politician is no good but the next one will be better, and we keep this game going. The helper is the helped. I wonder if you understand that. So, when we suffer we are always wanting comfort, to be helped out of it. And there are people who will do this, help us to escape from it. But the deep-rooted agony goes on. Superficially you may smile but the agony of pain and loneliness goes on. And one asks whether there is an end to all that. If my son dies, he is gone. But the memory of it remains. The memory of playing together, talking together, walking together, holding hands, looking at the trees and the beauty of the earth. That son is gone but the photograph, the picture, the memory remains. That is, the memory is something of that is gone. So memory is not actual, living, it is something that is finished, gone. And we think that is disloyal to move away from all this memory. It is like living with a dead thing. Again, can we look at it without running away from it? Observe the nature of this suffering, remain with it, not run away or suppress or seek comfort. That is, to give all your attention to the loneliness. Then if one so gives whole attention to that there is an ending of that loneliness, that division. So there is a possibility there is an ending to sorrow. Then only love is. Then love is not pleasure, is not desire. It is as strong, as deeply-rooted in one's heart as one of those marvellous trees. It can never die.
And we also talk over together what is death. It is not a morbid subject, but one should consider death because it is part of our life. It is part of our existence. My brother and my mother, my son may die. But we all are going to die, that is inevitable, that is the one absolute fact. Whether you die of old age, senile, gaga, or you die through an accident, some disease, and so on - death is inevitable for all of us. Thank god! (Laughter) Imagine a world where all the people who are dead living. It would be impossible. So we are enquiring, the ending, which is called death. The ending of what? The ending of one's bank account? (Laughter) Don't please laugh, this is much too serious. Perhaps you are laughing because you see what it means - the ending, the total separation from your family, the ending of all the things that you have cherished, the ending of your memories, idiosyncrasies - the ending. Ending of your attachments - to a picture, to your furniture, to your house, to a person, to an ideal, to an ideology and so on - attachment. That's what it means. Death means the ending completely of all attachment.
And is it possible to live a life without any attachment? Because that is what is going to happen. We are concerned mostly what happens after, after death. Is there a continuity of me, the self? The whole world of the East believes in some form of incarnation next life, called reincarnation, but what is it that reincarnates? The psyche? Not your bank account, surely, (laughter) but the psyche, the 'me'. The 'me' is put together by thought. It may think that 'me' is super, super something, but it is still thought. The psyche, the 'me' is time and thought, pain, anxiety, loneliness, a sense of utter futility of all this life, the weariness, and so on. That's me. There is no doubt about that. That's me - my name, my form, my bank account if I have one - all that is me. That they believe will continue next life. So that each life will become more and more - less and less, rather - conflict, less and less loneliness and so on. That is admitting the psyche has evolution, which obviously seems so absurd.
So, are we concerned with what happens after death, or are we concerned what happens before death, this whole life? It may be the life of ten days or the life of eighty years. What is that life? The life that you lead, what is that life? Not what happens when you die, which becomes so unnecessary, rather infantile, but what is your life - pain, ambition, failure, depression, anxiety, uncertainty, conflict - all that's your life. That's a fact. You can't escape from it. And in that life you are attached - to your memories, to your experiences, to your knowledge, to a person, to an ideology. And when death comes it is the end of everything that you are attached to. So, please just listen, for the fun of it even. Is it possible to live a life in which there is no psychological attachment whatsoever? Which means living with all your capacities and energies, and at the same time dying, which is the ending of attachment. Not committing suicide, that's too... But a life that is so totally aware of all its activities, its thoughts, its actions, and its actions based on attachment for example, and ending that attachment now while living with all your capacities. That is living with death all the time. You understand all this? That requires also deep meditation.
Krishnamurti: We ought to talk over finally, if we have time - there is plenty of time - what is meditation? The very word means to ponder over. That is the dictionary meaning. To ponder over, to think over, to be concerned, to be concerned diligently, using common sense. So we are going to find out together what it means to meditate. Not how to meditate. If you ask how to meditate, another, then you want a system, a method, a practice. When you practice, if you are a pianist you practice, and you practice the wrong note, you are practicing the wrong note. So this is what is considered meditation: following a system, a method, and practising that method, that system. This has been brought over in recent years by those Indians who think, or know, how to meditate. And they have made a lot of money out of it, enormous amount, fantastic amounts because people in this country are very gullible. (Laughter) There has been the different types of meditation - transcendental, Buddhist meditation, Zen meditation, the Tibetan form of meditation, the Hindu. They all come over here - I don't know why; I know why - money! In India if you talk about meditation they know all about it already. At least they think they do. Here it is something new. And you live on fads - right? - change from one thing to another.
So we are going together find out what is meditation. Which is to ask what is a religious mind, what is religion? One can see what religion is not. Religion is not all the things that are going on in the world, the churches, look at what happens in the churches, in the cathedrals, in the temples, in the mosques, in the Tibetan shrines and so on, that's all put together by thought, of centuries of thought. And is thought sacred, and the things thought has created, apart from the technological world? Is thought and the thing that it has created, are those things sacred? Please ask this yourself. The content of a church, the practice, the mass, the rituals that are daily perpetuated in the name of god, in the name of saviours, in the name of - all over the world they have their own particular gods. In India there are, I believe, one believes, one is told, 330,000 gods! It is nice to have so many gods. (Laughter) You can choose any one of them according to your pleasure, according to your comfort, according to your personal inclination, but to have only one god is rather tiresome.
Q: Why is it tiresome to have one god?
K: Just a moment, please. Wait. May I - I am not being rude - may I finish the talk, and if we have time you can ask the question. I hope you don't mind my saying this.
All that is put together by thought. So one asks, is thought sacred, holy? Or is it only a material process? Thought is a material process, stored in the brain, in the very cells of the brain. The cells are matter, and thought is the outcome of knowledge, experience and so on, so thought, whatever thought creates is not sacred. So meditation is to find out if there is anything sacred or not. But if you practice, following a system and so on, it is merely making the mind, brain, more dull, more repetitive, mechanical. If I practice some system of meditation - yoga, breathing, you know, I won't go into all that business - if you practice all that, your brain which should be extraordinarily active, full of energy, have a sense of deep perception, that brain if you keep on repeating, repeating, repeating, becomes more and more mechanical, more and more dull. And those people who have meditated for twenty five years, and we happen to know a great many of them, are extraordinarily dull people. (Laughter) (Clapping) I am not laughing at it. They have spent their life on something that's so cruel, that's so limited, that's so mechanical, so superficial.
So we are going together find out what is a religious mind. The brain is conditioned - by our culture, by our knowledge, by our experience, by all the impressions that we receive, conditioned by newspapers, television, by the books we read and so on, the beliefs, the faiths, all that has conditioned our brain. The language - I question whether language ever conditions the brain but that is a different matter altogether. We are conditioned, the brain is conditioned. And when the brain is not conditioned then it has got infinite capacity. As is shown in the technological world, it has got extraordinary capacity. Look at all the things it has invented, from the most convenient things to the most complex, subtle things. But psychologically we are conditioned, the brain is conditioned, and therefore its energy is very, very limited. And meditation is to find out, come upon that freedom which comes from total unconditioning. When the brain is totally unconditioned then the mind is the religious mind. Not the mind that believes in some ideology and all the rest of that immature stuff. So we are going to find out together, if you wish, if you are concerned, if there is something utterly beyond thought, something that is sacred beyond all words, something that is not measurable, something that is totally free from all contamination of thought.
When you begin to enquire, when one begins to enquire one must put aside totally and completely the whole world of belief and faith and all the things that thought has put together as religious activity. Totally, completely. You are neither a Hindu, Roman Catholic, Protestant, Buddhist, Tibetan, and Zen - all that is finished because you have understood them. Not that you have read all about it or talked to a great many people about these various matters, but you see they are all the activities of a material process which is thought. So if one is really concerned, enquiring, probing, doubting, all illusion through doubt ends. That is, then you give complete total attention.
Illusion, the word 'illusion' means, the root meaning, etymological meaning both in Sanskrit and English, which is Latin and Greek, illusion is to play with something. To play with something. And we play with illusions. So all illusions there is an ending to all illusions. You are then only facing facts and nothing else. The fact that there is no attachment. Not the pretension of not being attached. That there is no psychological fear. And in this meditation there is love and compassion. That love is not within the brain, because love is outside of it. It is not the effort and the convenience of thought. Where there is love there is compassion, passion for everything in life. And where there is compassion and love there is intelligence. Not the intelligence of books and cunning thought and professorial minds, or the intelligence of great knowledge. The very word 'intelligence' is something totally different.
Now we can When there is that complete attention which comes about naturally, not learning what attention is, going to a college or somebody to learn and practice attention which becomes so silly. To be so diligently aware in life, whatever one is thinking, doing, and when there is that total attention the brain is silent. It is not everlastingly chattering. The brain then becomes quiet, though it has its own rhythm. Then in that stillness of the brain and mind there is that which is not to be measured by words, that which is holy, which is completely utterly sacred, which is the strength of all life, which is the basis of all life.
May I get up please? Don't clap.