You can learn only if you do not know
Can there be complete freedom from thought?
1st Public Discussion, Brockwood Park
September 12, 1972
Krishnamurti: This morning, if we may, we are going to have a conversation, talk over things together in a form of dialogue, to discuss, not opinions, not some kind of conclusions that you have come to, but rather go into the problems that one has, whether they are superficial or deep, and really see if we cannot radically bring about a psychological revolution in ourselves. I think it would be worthwhile and it would be also both interesting and quite fun if we could do this together. So what shall we begin with? What shall we talk over together, like two friends, who have got the same common problem, using the same common words, without any distortion of words, without any ulterior motive, if we could so talk over things together, I think it would be worthwhile.
Questioner: Could we hear more of the nature of awareness? The way you speak of it almost seems to be so pointed and direct that it is like a concentration exercise. I am sure that is wrong.
K: Would you like to discuss that? Would you like to talk over this question of awareness?
Q: Mr Krishnamurti, may I briefly ask you something which is a very, very common problem. A woman I know well, she is in her fifties, her husband has died of cancer, very, very painful to have cancer, very unhappy about. She keeps on ringing up and saying, ‘Oh I am so unhappy.’
K: Yes, so you want to discuss...
Q: Can you say something, I want to say something to cheer her up.
K: Oh. Then go to a cinema. I am sorry I cannot possibly discuss these things to cheer people up, to give them comfort, to give them a sedative. But let us...
Q: But you see you talk about this view, the problem outside you, so can you explain...
K: We will go into that perhaps. If we could talk over together this question of awareness. Is that what you want to discuss?
Q: Awareness – most people are afraid of being aware.
K: So do you want to discuss, do you want to talk over that? Right? Right.
The meaning of that word 'aware', as far as I can make out from the dictionary, as well as from one's own interpretation of that word, is to be conscious, is to be cognisant of the things about you, and also to be aware of the movement of your own feelings and thoughts inwardly, to be aware, to be conscious, to be alert, to be in contact with, to be in relationship with the thing that you are observing, of which you are aware. I think that is the general meaning of that word. Right? Do we all agree to the meaning of that word? Conscious of what one feels, what one thinks, conscious of the environment in which one lives, being aware of the beauty of nature - the clouds, the sky, the water, the various colours and so on and on. Awareness is not a limitation, I am not just aware of this microphone - please listen to this, it is very interesting - I am aware of this microphone in the space which this tent holds. The microphone has its own space, it creates its own space in the space of the tent. And the outer space is beyond - to be aware of this space. Right? To be conscious of it, to see the quality of space. I am only talking
Now shall we discuss, we will go into it. We are generally, as the lady pointed out earlier, afraid to be aware, afraid to be aware of our environment, if we are aware, from that awareness we come to a conclusion - right? - and that conclusion puts an end to further awareness. I am not giving a talk, please, we are discussing, we are exchanging, we are exposing. So when we say we are aware, we are aware of things very, very superficially. Right? I am aware that you have long hair, or short hair, I am aware of the colour that you are wearing. And I react to the short hair, or the long hair, calling you a hippie, non hippie, square and you know all the rest of it. I react to it and my reaction is the response of my conditioning. The other day I saw a rather good cartoon in the New York, I think I saw it. There was a boy and a girl standing at the window looking out on the street, and two or three hippies were walking down the street, and the boy says to the girl, 'There goes the Establishment'. (laughter) Got it? We react to any form of stimuli, that is an obvious fact. And I am aware of that reaction but I don't penetrate further into that reaction. I am not aware what is the source of that reaction. I am aware of the reaction - like, dislike, pleasure, jealousy, hate, whatever it is - but that awareness brings a conclusion that I am angry, I like and dislike, but we don't allow that awareness to penetrate further. Right?
Now let us experiment, learn what it means to be aware of the things outwardly, that is, the tent, the various poles, the colour of the jerseys people are wearing, the coats, you know, aware outwardly. And then move from that awareness inwardly and see what our reactions are to that which we have visually perceived. And our reactions depend on our temperament and idiosyncrasies. Right? If my temperament is artistic, whatever that word may mean for the moment, I react or I see something much more than the man who is not an artist, in a tree, in a cloud, in the curve of a branch. And my temperament, idiosyncrasy, is the response of my conditioning also. Right? When we say, 'It is my temperament', I think it is a marvellous thing to say that, but the temperament is the response, or the reaction of my conditioning, obviously. Right sirs, are we meeting each other? I don't want to talk all by myself. So see what happens. I am aware of the cloud, the beauty of the cloud, the light in it, the shape of it, the glory of that extraordinary cloud, being an artist, which is my temperament, I want to express it and I pursue that expression, more and more and more. And I separate myself by my temperament from you, who are not an artist. Right? And if I pursue that further inwardly, my conditioning is what is bringing about a temperament, a characteristic, a tendency, an idiosyncrasy. Now I want to find out further if the mind can be free from that conditioning, from all conditioning - you follow? And this is not analysis. I don't know if you Right?
Q: You mean, since we tend to be creatures of habit, we must have the ability to break straight through the habit.
K: That's right sir.
Q: To be instantaneous.
K: That's right. After all I am - you follow? - I am moving steadily from the outer to the inner. I don't disregard the outer, or neglect the outer; there is poverty, starvation, I am fully aware of it, I have to act about it. I can't just say I am just aware and just sit back. I have to act. And I see this starvation, the poverty, the degradation, the horror of all poverty. And I want to go into it, not say, 'Well, let's organise to feed the poor', or this or I want to go to the very root of all this. So I move from the obvious to the not so obvious. To me this whole process is to be aware, and I can't move to the root of it if there is any form of prejudice along the line. I don't know if you are If I have any bias, an opinion, a conclusion, I can't go to the root of it. So my concern is then: have I opinions - you follow sir? Have I any form of conclusions about Nixon, Heath - you follow? - about anybody? Because if I have a conclusion, an opinion, a dogmatic, assertive attitude I can't penetrate, obviously. The mind cannot proceed further. So my awareness reveals that I have a prejudice, that I have a conclusion from which I act. So I then pick up that opinion - you follow? - in that awareness I say, 'Why have I an opinion about something?' - you follow sir? It is a marvellous movement of releasing energy. I don't know if you see the point. A conclusion prevents the flow of energy - get that point sir, get that point. I am just looking at it for myself, I am getting excited about it.
Q: You mean a conclusion is...
K: That's right. If I say, 'There is god' - finished! Or if I say, 'Communists are terrible', or 'The Capitalists are the most marvellous group' and so on and so on, so on. So in this awareness I discover, the mind discovers that any form of conclusion, opinion, prevents the free flow of energy. Then my problem is: how to be free of conclusions and opinions, that's my next... I am talking by myself, won't you join me?
Q: Can’t you be unattached to opinions, like there are opinions but you don’t take them seriously. I can’t exactly explain it.
K: Why should I have opinions?
Q: I see that it is absurd to have opinions, then it doesn’t matter whether one says something or says nothing. The two are just equally...
K: Ah, no, no, no. Look sir: opinion is a form of conclusion, isn't it?
Q: Yes, but you are aware that that conclusion does exist in the world.
K: Yes. I am aware that my friend has an opinion, and therefore I realise that opinion blocks him; and I have an opinion also about somebody or other, or about something, that prevents further enquiry. So see what I have discovered.
Q: Well how do you not have opinions when you have got millions of them.
K: How do you not have opinions. How can you be free of opinions when you have got so many of them? You tell me.
Q: I don’t know.
K: Wait. That is right. Just start from there, please start from there. I have hundreds of opinions about everything and I say, 'I don't know why I have them, and I don't know how to be free of them'. Right? So you start with not knowing. Right? Then you are able to learn. I don't know You get it? If you begin to say, 'I must have a few opinions, the good opinions, I'll discard the bad opinions, I'll keep those which are comforting, which are fashionable, which are satisfactory, which gratify', then you are still playing with opinions. Right? So what am I to I don't know how I have acquired them, I don't know what to do about them. So my mind doesn't know. Right? See the beauty, come on, sir. Now it is capable of learning. That is, I don't know Russian, therefore I want to learn. I want to learn. So my mind now is capable of learning, and learning then becomes a passionate thing, not why you should have opinions, or why you should not have opinions, but not knowing I want to learn, and that gives me tremendous vitality. I don't know if you follow?
Q: It gives me tremendous weariness.
K: Ah, because you want to solve it, you want to get rid of them. You want to conquer them, you want to go beyond them, you want to be free of them. I don't. I know nothing about it, I don't know how I have got it, I don't know how to get rid of them, therefore I am willing to learn.
Q: If you start from not knowing then you can put the question rightly to yourself, which brings interest.
K: Yes, that is right. Now are we doing this together? Please sir, this is fun then, you know.
Q: Isn’t there some residue of knowledge?
K: Wait a minute. So you are saying: what is the difference between knowledge and learning. Is that right sir? In learning - let us put it round the other way - in learning do you acquire knowledge and use that knowledge as a means of getting rid of the opinions?
Q: When you look at the world you tend to see things like say, Mr. Heath, if you see politicians working, you realise this kind of energy creates problems, it doesn’t solve them and this remains in the mind as knowledge. I mean one isn’t just a blank state when you see this.
K: What do you mean by that word 'knowledge' sir? To know.
Q: I think when you see external things...
K: Yes sir, let us go very simply at it sir. Let's begin very simply. What do you mean by that word 'knowledge'? To know. I know you because I met you yesterday, I know your name, I have seen your face, so I say, 'I know you'. Right? I know your name and where you live because we have been introduced, we have talked about it. So what is that? That is a stored-up memory of yesterday's rencontre meeting and that is part of my knowledge. So knowledge is always in the past. Right?
Q: There is always more to learn about anything.
K: It's always I am adding to it, there is the adding process going on. That is, knowledge is the residue of experience, of accumulated knowledge of the race, of society, of the scientist, biotic, all that, all the accumulation of human endeavour as experience scientifically or personally, is knowledge, to which you are adding or taking away. Knowledge which has no basis, knowledge which has basis. Right?
Q: Are you saying that knowledge and memory are the same?
K: Yes, obviously, obviously. If I have no memory I have no knowledge. What sir? You don't think they are the same.
Q: I said this doesn’t mean they are the same if you have no memory you have no knowledge. Knowledge can be a qualification of memory.
K: Let's look at it. Look at it. You have flattered me or insulted me. I react to that. And that remains a memory, it has become my memory - your insult. And the brain retains that memory. I meet a snake or whatever it is, that is again an experience which has been transmitted to me from my generations past that it is a dangerous snake, which is knowledge. Or I experience something totally new and remember it, the remembrance is stored in the brain and that is my memory. So knowledge is either in the books, written down by others, or by myself, and the knowledge which I have kept for myself. This is simple enough, sir.
Now is there a difference between acquiring knowledge and learning? Go on, sir. Enquire. This is fun.
Q: Is there a structure for knowledge, a function of knowledge and the transcendence of knowledge?
K: Yes sir, that is right. Let's use knowledge as functional, because if I don't know how to write, I don't know how to speak, I don't know how to do a job - knowledge is necessary. To function knowledge is necessary. And is learning different from the acquisition of knowledge?
Q: It must be.
K: We are going to find out, we are going to learn. Please sir
Q: Don’t you ask questions out of knowledge. You have certain pre-occupations and then you ask your question. Then you ask your question not of the past.
K: Sir, wait. I have no preoccupation now. All that I am concerned with now is to find out if there is a difference between knowledge and learning. That is not a pre-occupation, I want to find out.
Q: The meaning of the word ‘know’ is not to acquire knowledge, there is knowing. Like the words ‘Know yourself’, it is not acquiring knowledge of yourself, it is something new all the time.
K: Ah wait sir, wait, wait. When you use the words 'Know yourself', see how complex it is. To know myself. Right? It has been said, 'Know yourself', you said. To know myself, what does that mean? I must know myself, knowing myself means I must know myself as I am, or as I will be, or as I have been. Right?
Q: It could mean I have organised my memory so that I can predict what I might do in the future.
K: Yes, all that is implied.
Q: I mean in the sense that it is fairly obvious that oneself is not an idea of oneself, so that when there is no idea of oneself, oneself is there.
K: No, if there is no idea of oneself, is there oneself? Don't let's enter into this. I want to stick to one thing at a time, which is: what is the difference, is there a difference between knowledge and learning?
Q: It seems that learning is only perception, when perception moves to conclusion then it has function which makes it knowledge.
K: That's all. That is - he has said it! (laughter) Need I say anything more? I see the importance of learning. I don't know why I have prejudices, I don't know how to be free of them, so I start with not knowing, therefore my mind is capable of learning. Now I must find out the difference between knowledge and learning. Will learning bring knowledge: how to be free from opinions - you follow? - or will learning, which will be constant, in this constant movement no opinion can be formed. I don't know if you see the difference.
Q: You’d say that learning is something vital and in the present, whereas knowledge is always dead, in the past.
K: Always in the past - yes, that is right. First see this sir. I have caught on to something!
Knowledge I can have, knowledge how to get rid of opinions: I must struggle against them, I must control them, I must say, 'I must not have opinions', and keep on repeating, repeating, mechanically. So I say that will not free the mind from opinions. So learning implies never accumulating knowledge, never coming to a conclusion, therefore in the movement of learning how can the mind form a conclusion, or an opinion?
Q: Are you saying...
K: Wait. I don't know what I am saying, (laughter) I am just capturing it.
Q: Where does necessary knowledge stop?
K: Sir, just play with this a little. I am moving - learning implies movement, constant movement and that which is moving can never accumulate, and when you accumulate it becomes knowledge, which is necessary to function. But in learning which is a constant movement, no opinion, no conclusion can ever be formed. Ah, I have got it! Right?
Now are we together now learning? Can you honestly and without any sense of distortion say, 'I really don't know how to get rid of opinions', and, you are beginning to learn. In learning you are asking, 'Am I accumulating'? I know accumulation is necessary - to speak a language, to function - but in the movement of learning is the mind acquiring knowledge in order to be free of opinions? Right? But I say you have put a wrong question because in the movement of learning there can be no accumulation. Right? Now are we doing that together now? So that you, in the movement of learning, have banished opinions, put away opinions? But if you say, 'Wait a minute, I must get rid of opinions', you are acting from a conclusion, which is your knowledge which you have acquired in learning and therefore you have stopped. Therefore you are collecting barnacles, which are opinions. I don't know if you see. Right?
Q: Each time I look intensely, the idea of not seeing it as a leaf – when I am seeing a leaf now I find that when I am looking, actually seeing, in this state of intensive looking I seem to not be able to see myself. It’s as if I can just see the intensity of the colours and I’m not there. There are moments when I see...
K: Yes sir, and that of course. So what is the question sir?
Q: I am just amazed!
K: Ah! I understand sir.
Q: How does one change the direction in which one learns. In learning one first chooses a direction...
K: Ah, no. No sir, I have not chosen a direction. Just look what has happened! We said we are going to discuss awareness - just follow this sir, put your mind to it a little bit - we said we were going to talk over together, awareness. I said, we are aware from the outside movement to the inner. In seeing that blue colour I say, 'How terrible that colour is!' - which is the response of my conditioning, my temperament, my etc. etc. And we never go beyond the conclusion. If we go beyond the conclusion I discover there are a thousand opinions I have, then having them I justify them, rationalise them, say these are good opinions, these are bad opinions, the bad opinions I must get rid of and I'll keep the good opinions. There are no good opinions or bad opinions, there are only opinions, which are conclusions.
Q: They are like the currency of psychological life, you just play around with them like cigarette cards.
K: Quite right sir. Quite right, you play with them.
Q: Squirm with them.
K: Squirm with them and bite with them, whatever it is. And you go further. Say, 'How have I got these opinions?' - culture, society, the family, tradition, the mother saying, 'Do this, don't do that', the father saying, 'That is good' - you follow? - society, the culture has given me these opinions, these conclusions and now I am faced with them I say, I don't know how to get rid of them. So I don't know how to get rid of them, there is only one factor: I don't know.
Q: I am lazy.
K: No, no wait, I don't know. Then it may be I am lazy. I am lazy and decide I don't know and remain there because I am indolent, my brain is sluggish, so I say, 'I don't know, it is very nice' and remain. The brain is active, I am not going to let my stupid brain become lazy - you understand? The brain itself now is enquiring. Now I don't know and then I ask: what is the difference between knowledge and learning? We have explained that. Learning is a constant movement in which at no time can it collect, which becomes knowledge, which is essential for functioning. But learning goes on and therefore in the movement of learning nothing can be collected, except as a function. As a function if you introduce opinions, the function becomes non-functional. Right? That's all.
So I have discovered all this in awareness, which is, I see all this instantly. It takes time to explain but the perception is instantaneous and therefore doesn't require analysis. I don't know if you are getting all this.
Q: Does it require effort to keep the movement going?
K: Ah, does it require effort to keep learning going? What do you say?
Q: No effort at all.
K: Why do you say that?
Q: Chapter 1 verse 6 – no effort required! (laughter)
K: What is that sir?
Q: Chapter 1 verse 6 – no effort required.
Q: One is passive, one is receiving.
Q: What happens when some great cop sticks a gun in your face, what happens when the balloon goes up?
K: I don't know then.
Q: No, nor do I.
K: Then why do you put the question then?
Q: Well, because, because, because
Q: It creates its own energy.
K: Obviously. Please, are we learning or are we just waiting to be fed?
K: How does one slow down the movement of thought so that you can observe one thought? Is that it?
Now how does one slow down thought so as to observe the movement of thought? You understand? Because thought is like a chain, going on so quickly through association, through the habit of association, thought is constantly moving and to observe it, it must slow down. Right? And you say, 'I can't slow down, I don't know what to do'. Now we are going to learn about it. Right sir? Learn, not form an opinion or a conclusion. Right. How do I slow down, how does the mind slow down thought so as to observe it closely? Are you waiting for me? Wait sir, do listen quietly, we'll stick to this thing. Are you waiting for me to tell you?
Q: What do you want to slow down thought for?
K: What do you want to slow down thought for?
Q: Mine crawls at snail’s pace, I’d like to speed it up.
K: The gentleman, sir, asked: the speed of my thoughts is so rapid, so related, so sequential, logical or illogical, that I can't follow them. That is his question. Your question may be: I would like to speed it up. That is quite a different matter.
Q: But sir when I observe myself, many times I am in control, I am controlling my thoughts and I know exactly what I am doing. But when I observe myself, when I am learning about myself I see that I am the thought and I see that...
K: That's right sir, that's right.
Q: What observes the thought? Is that thought as well?
K: Of course.
Q: It is just thought observing thought – how are you going to slow down thought?
K: I am going to show - we are going to learn about it, sir. You don't give a chance to learn. How can thought be slowed down?
Q: If you can see that thought is observing thought and the perception is instantaneous, it will work itself.
K: Is this a fact to you or you are just offering an opinion?
Q: That would be awareness.
K: I don't want to be rude madam, but I am just asking, or being personal: are you aware of the rapidity of your thoughts, and being aware of the rapidity of your thoughts you say, 'Now, is it possible to slow them down so that I can look, taste one thought completely?' - you understand? To see the significance of one thought, all its content, its beauty or its ugliness, its depth or its shallowness - you follow?
Q: Who is it that is tasting thought?
K: That is just a phrase which I used to see the content of a thought, that is all.
Q: Is that thought turned back on itself?
K: We are going to discover it sir, we are going to learn about it. Now first of all why do I want to slow it down? Wait, wait, watch it sir. I am asking, don't answer, wait. Why do I want to slow it down? You say, 'I want to slow it down in order to look more closely at it'. Right? Who is the entity that is going to look at it more closely? It is still thought, the observer.
Q: It is still opinion, sir.
K: Yes, still an opinion. The observer says, 'I must slow it down in order to observe it more closely'. Watch this sir, watch this. The observer is saying that. Is the observer different from the thing which he is observing? Is that a fact, not just an idea, is that a fact?
Q: Quite different from someone who is threatening to beat me up.
K: That is a different matter sir.
Q: It will be yes and no. The observer and the thought would be identified as one and yet separate.
K: I want to slow it down, my thinking, hoping thereby to observe the machinery of thinking, to observe one thought so clearly, understand it so fully that other thoughts are included in that one thought. And I say, 'Who is the person who is observing? Is he the product of thought?' And if it is the product of thought it is the past, so the past says, 'I must watch this rapid movement of thought' - the past being inactive, thought which is the response being active. I wonder is you are getting all this!
Q: Living – going back to the original awareness as knowledge – living for everyone is instantaneous. The awareness immediately becomes the past and you can examine that and then...
K: No, madam, we were saying...
Q: And the forward looking is conditioned by your memory, education etc. and your knowledge and you are preoccupied with what is going to happen, but you yourself, the ego, the personality, can only be aware of a second at a time. The rest is memory and speculation.
K: You are saying, are you, madam, that you, the ego, the person, is only capable for a second to be aware?
Q: Of your life. You don’t know, I don’t know that you might drop down dead, I might drop down dead in a second. We can only live a second minutely at a time.
K: But madam, is that a fact? Is that a theory, an idea, a conclusion, a hope? But actually is that a fact in my life, that I am only living for one second?
Q: You can only be aware for a second.
K: Ah, wait. I don't know. You see you are coming to a conclusion. You have made a statement that you can only be aware for one second. I say, 'How do you know this?' It may not be.
Q: Eternity is one second.
K: You see you are using the word 'eternity', that is, to be out of time. Do you know what it means to be out of time? - actually, not just theoretically, from a book, from somebody saying eternity, god, or the church saying eternity.
Q: For a second, once or twice in my life I have had this feeling of being out of time when my thoughts actually stood still but that was never by any kind of conscious effort, this was from some outside stimulus, fear or something of this sort.
K: That's right sir. That is when there is a crisis, when there is a tremendous shock, either the shock of beauty or a shock of pain, or a shock of deep challenge, thought is driven out. At that moment you feel, by Jove what an extraordinary state of intensity! Which is dependent on an external stimuli, and knowing that state, or having had an experience, you want to reach it again, then begins the whole problem. The observer is different from the observed and wants to pursue the observed, which becomes pleasure and he is pursuing pleasure and not the actual moment of that extraordinary state.
Q: There is no understanding of that type of experience.
K: That's right, sir.
Q: You can’t even ask a question of that experience.
K: That's right.
Q: You are seeking that experience but as it is not an experience, therefore what you are left with is a question.
K: Sir, please, you have asked a question, which is quite important and essential, which is: thought is in constant movement, can that thought which is constantly revolving from one thing to another, can there be a gap between two thoughts and observe what takes place in that gap? You are asking that question, aren't you, sir? Because in that gap you may see things which you have never seen before. You may, I don't say you will, you may. So we have to find out, we have to learn, see the movement of thought, the rapid movement of thought, and to slow it down - is that possible?
Q: That is why one aspect of my life will always hold my interest, and in that intense interest thought is observable or slows down. If I find that I have opinions in being intensely concerned about opinion, thought, the nature of thought will be observed too.
K: Yes sir but I am asking something different from that. We are asking: is there a gap between two thoughts? And if there is a gap, in that gap is it possible to observe the coming of thought and the going away of thought? You understand? Then I have slowed it down, then thought has slowed down. I don't know if you follow this sir.
Q: But in the gap...
K: Wait, wait. We are just learning.
Q: Thought doesn’t slow down by any effort.
K: Now wait a minute. Effort implies division, doesn't it? Right? Effort basically implies conflict. Effort, conflict, struggle between two countries, division, between two people, division, between two beliefs, division, between two conclusions a division and conflict. So where there is division there must be conflict. That is a fact. It is not my invention or yours, that is a fact. Now if I try through effort to slow down thought then it becomes conflict, I am battling. In that battle I never discover anything. So to see the truth that division is conflict, to see it, to perceive it, is to end division. You understand sir? As a Hindu, if I am still a Hindu, meeting a Pakistani that is a division, that is a quarrel, a war and all the beastly business of it. If I see the truth of it I am no longer a Hindu, or a Muslim - you follow? I see the truth of it and therefore it goes, it is finished. The seeing is the learning, which has nothing to do with a conclusion. Right.
Now, I am asking, can thought be slowed down? Not controlled slowed down, not thought made to go slowly by concentration, by effort, by struggle - I am asking if it can naturally be slowed down.
Q: Talking about is it possible to have a gap between thoughts, or whether thought can be slowed down – are we agreed what thought is? As far as we can be.
K: I thought we went into that. All right, what is thought? Again, no conclusions, we are going to learn. What is thought? I ask you a question - do listen to this - I ask you a question: what is your name, and your response is instantaneous, isn't it? Because you are familiar with it, you have repeated it a thousand times and you say, 'My name is so and so'. There is no interval between the question and the answer; but there is an interval between the question and the answer when the question is a little more complex, with which you are not familiar. Right? I ask you something and you are not familiar, then what takes place? Thought is searching in its memory for the answer, if it cannot find it it looks into books, if it cannot find it in the books, it will ask somebody else. So the interval is longer between the question and the answer. Follow all this sir. And if I ask you something of which you don't know, you say, 'I don't know'. Right? Because 'I don't know' is an instant response of truth, about which you say, 'I don't know'.
So thought is the response of memory, memory being experience that has been accumulated in the brain cells through generations and generations and generations, tradition, culture, all that is stored up in the brain.
Q: I wonder if we can say that thought is conclusion.
K: Yes, obviously. Sir, don't jump, I want to learn. So I know what thought is. And I am asking whether that thought can be quiet, slowed down and in that slowing down is it capable of being observed without the observer? The observer is the past, and the thought is the response of the past. So if the observer observes thought as an outsider he is still playing the part in the past. See that. So how is thought to slow down?
Q: Well one way is to have an intensive experience, like a shot.
K: If you have a shot, oh, take a drug, or have a shot, or take LSD or whatever it is. Now let us go into that.
Q: I have found that when I am thinking a lot that if my thought subsides, I find there is a certain amount of pain within myself. When I am thinking I am not experiencing the pain
K: Oh, I see what you are saying: you are saying thought is a means of escape from my suffering or from my misery, or from my frustration, so I think.
Q: And it is not being able to resist the pain which I have that one keeps thinking.
K: Yes sir, but we are not asking thought as a means of escape from pain. We are examining thought itself.
Q: It is easier to see the gap between thought than to see how to slow thought down.
K: Is your thought sir, sitting there, discussing, talking things over, have you discovered that you can slow down thought? Actual, don't theorise.
Q: I can experience the space between thoughts.
K: Wait, wait. Can you? If you can, what is that space?
Q: Thinking of it.
Q: It’s attention.
K: Then if it is still thinking of it - Ah, no, no, no, no. Do please find this out, because I'll tell you why it is important. Meditation is the emptying of the mind of its content, that is the real meditation, not all the phoney business that is going on. Emptying consciousness of its content. Its content being the furniture, the house, the memories, the images, the various conditionings - you follow? - the whole content is consciousness, and to meditate outside that consciousness, or to go beyond that consciousness is illusion; until you empty the consciousness of its content meditation becomes merely a means of further distortion.
Q: When you say emptying consciousness of its content are you implying consciousness is...?
K: I said madam, no, I said consciousness is its content. Wait, wait. The content of my consciousness and your consciousness is made up of all your memories, not only conscious and unconscious memories but also all the remembrances, the hurts, the agonies, the pain, the physical pain, the psychological hurts, your attachments and your fears, your pleasures, the accumulation that you have gathered is the content which is your consciousness. The understanding of the content and the emptying of that content is the process of meditation. The process of meditation is to empty consciousness otherwise you are still a prisoner in it. You may invent, you may think, well I have seen Christ, I have seen Krishna, I have seen the Buddha, but it is all within that, therefore no reality. Right? And thinking is the basic content of consciousness, which is the response of my conditioning. If I am a Communist, a hard-boiled Communist, I have been indoctrinated by Marx, Lenin and all the rest of it, and that is my conditioning and I think from that. If I am a devout, practising Catholic, my conditioning is such and I think from that - or a business man or whatever it is. And to meditate, having this content, being conditioned, is like playing a childish game. So in asking this question: can thought be slowed down, I am enquiring into the whole content of my consciousness - you follow sir? Not just, thought can be slowed down, that is fairly easy. But in asking the question I am asking a much deeper question, which is: can the mind with its content empty itself without the least effort?
Q: Earlier on you were going to talk about the effect of certain drugs, LSD
K: Would you please go on about LSD and various other forms of drugs slowing down the mind. I have never taken any kind of drugs. Your LSD, marijuana, pot, grass, hash, hard drugs of any kind, but I have seen and talked to a great many people who have taken it, serious people who have - scientists, experimenters who have gone into this. First of all why do we take drugs at all, including tobacco - you follow?
K: Go into it, sir, I want to learn, I am not going to say 'escape', I want to learn why I smoke.
Q: We are looking for something we think we don’t have.
K: So you want to experience something which you don't know, is that right? But do you know all experiences in living before you ask that question, something I don't know? Which means you are bored with the present living and you want to experience something more.
Q: Mr. Krishnamurti, what about people who are suffering from severe mental illness?
K: Ah, who are suffering from severe mental illness. Ah, what happened, madam? Just a minute. You are suffering from severe mental illness.
Q: I want to help them.
K: Wait, madam.
Q: Not dangerous drugs like this mescaline and hashish.
K: I don't know they are dangerous, they say they are not, some of them say they are perfectly healthy, marvellous.
Q: They are. They work wonders.
K: Good! (laughter) Please madam. Look, first of all I am asking myself, why do I take drugs, alcohol, smoke, why?
Q: For a breakthrough from your limited consciousness.
K: So you are saying, chemically - listen to it sir, carefully listen - through chemical processes I will break through the limitation of my consciousness. Right? I will fast, not eat food for many days and that sharpens the mind and that will help me to break through. Right? I will practise certain systems and that in the practice of it I will strengthen my mind and that will be a breakthrough. It is all implied in all this. You understand sir? My intention is I want to break through my petty little consciousness - Christian, Hindu, whatever it is. And drugs, systems, anything that will help me to break through I will accept. Right?
Q: It is a matter of experiencing, not accepting. There is no acceptance until you have experienced.
K: Yes, that is what I mean. You take drugs, you accept it and then take it because you want to break through. My God! You don't Go at it sanely sir, step by step. Now I am asking: can you break through, or you break through, or you expand your consciousness and you call that breaking through?
Q: No but on the acceptance – you accept that you don’t know the experience. You just take the drugs and then have the experience. You don’t accept the drug as being that which will break through consciousness, you accept the drug that will give you an experience.
K: Yes sir, that is what I mean. You accept the drug because somebody has said if you take this drug you will have an extraordinary experience.
Q: Well, the matter of it being extraordinary is up to your own judgement.
K: Yes sir, that is what I am saying. Don't quibble over words, sir. You will have an experience. I accept you as my authority because you have taken it and you say, 'Take this, old boy, and you will have a breakthrough'. And I say to myself: why do I take it, is it a break through at all? Or the breakthrough is the extension of my conditioning, which I think is a breakthrough. Look sir, have you ever observed a tree closely? - without the image of the tree, without a conclusion of the tree, actually observed it so that there is no gap between you and the tree, no distance, so that you observe this extraordinary phenomenon called the tree. If you can observe it without the word, without the image, without the knowledge, there is a tremendous contact with that tree - not that you become the tree, that would be absurd, but you have direct relationship with it. You see things that you have never seen before. Now that is a break through.
Q: What about the grass under your feet while you are looking at the tree?
K: Oh, for goodness sake, I am talking of the tree sir. Then you can look at the grass too.
Q: It would be a heightened awareness without identification.
K: I said sir, it is not identification, I can't identify. I am too alive to identify with a tree. I am not the tree.
Q: In resonance then.
K: No. I explained it sir. Look sir, you have an image about me and I have an image about you, haven't you? You have an image about your girlfriend, your husband, your wife. You have an image. The images have relationship. Right? I have an image about my wife and she has an image about me, this image has been created through years, and our relationship is between these two images. I don't know her and she doesn't know me actually, but I think I know her through the images which I have about her. Now if there was no image at all, then my relationship with my wife is entirely different - my wife or friend, whatever it is. Similarly when I watch a tree, or a cloud, or a bird, without this screen of words, knowledge, conclusion, then there is direct relationship with it. Now the content of my consciousness cannot be broken through through any chemical. If it is as simple as that, by taking a drug, it is all finished. That would be marvellous. Then why aren't we all happy human beings - you follow? Those who have taken drugs.
Q: Mate, it is not a drug, it is the experience that comes from it.
K: I explained sir. Experience. Now why do you want experience? Why this craving for experience?
Q: To be satisfied
K: That is not an answer, is it?
Q: I am bored.
K: Which is, you are bored with all the experiences you have had, right? That is right, sir. You are bored with all the experiences you have had and you want to experience something more. You have had sex, you have had every kind of silly and good experience and you say, 'For goodness sake, these are all rather trivial and I want something more'.
Q: For myself anyway, it wasn’t a case of wanting something more, it was a correlating factor, to tie everything together, the experiences in my life.
K: That is the same thing, wait, all right. Correlating all the factors of experiences so that you are made a whole. Watch it sir. Correlate all the experiences one has accumulated, there are different kinds of experiences, sexual, mental, you know dozens and dozens of separated experiences. And you hope by taking a drug they will all be joined, or see the experience as a total. Which is: asking further experience, which is the same thing - you understand, sir? I ask: the experience, what happens if I take a drug, perhaps I will break through, whatever that word 'breakthrough' is to my consciousness, and you say, 'I want to experience that state of mind when the fragmentation of experiences don't exist'. It is exactly the same thing, only you put it in one way and I put it in another way, but we both want experience. I say, why? We need experience, as when there is a challenge you respond, that is an experience, and that challenge keeps one awake - right? - if there wasn't the Communists, the Capitalists would be further Capitalists, if there wasn't somebody - you follow? Challenge is necessary to keep us awake. Now you say the drug will act as a challenge to further response which will be beyond. Right? So you are looking for a challenge which is the drug. Right? And I say, why do you want a challenge at all? You say, 'My friend I want it because I am asleep'. Right? Right sir? 'I am asleep, I don't know how to keep awake so that I see the whole thing.' So you are dependent on a drug to keep you awake. Right? Be clear, don't accept what I am saying.
Q: I suppose we are bored.
K: Yes, you are bored, we said that.
Q: It is better to be awake on something than asleep on nothing, isn’t it?
K: Why aren't you awake? Much more important than saying drugs will keep me awake. Why aren't you awake, what is wrong?
Q: Well a lot of people I know have said that in taking LSD that it has shown them how sharp they are – they weren’t aware of really how thorough enlightenment was until they took the drug.
K: Yes sir, that is right. The drug gave you a sense of awareness and then you began to live and see what you were doing - put it differently.
Q: You can see how you live, how squalid you are, how you squirm, you portray it out, and you terrorise yourself with the way you usually are.
K: Yes sir, I understand that.
Q: If you get something beyond that, well then that is a bit of good luck for you.
K: Yes I understand that. That is, by taking a drug...
Q: It is no easy matter, not really, not really, not really.
K: I know it is not an easy matter, nothing is an easy matter except the drug.
Q: It is easy to do that, it is easy to roll up a cigarette.
K: That's right sir, you want the easiest way out.
Q: I don’t want the easiest way out, and don’t want the hardest way out, just a way out.
K: You want a way out, way out of our misery, out of our problems, financial, emotional, intellectual problems, our suffering, our pettiness - you follow? - we want a way out of all that. And I say, 'Why do you take the longest method to do it'?
Q: Because of suffering.
K: Wait sir. Why do you take the most complicated, the most unrealistic, impractical way to live differently? You follow sir? You answer me. Why have you become so impractical? By taking drugs you are not any more happier at the end of it, you are not much more alive, active, creative.
Q: Mr. Krishnamurti, may I very politely point out if you are really ill you just take drugs for a little while to get back to normal...
K: Madam, look, when the dentist gives me a novocaine, or whatever it is, that is a sedative, isn't it, it prevents the pain and he can extract or whatever he wants to do, that is natural, isn't it? But to say I'll take drugs in order to - that is what we are talking about.
Q: Sir, that lady is talking about psychological medicine, when people are depressed they take medicines.
K: Sir, do you know how we began this - do you know how we began this discussion? We said, what is thinking, can the mind investigate, learn, the whole machinery of thinking and in the very act of learning there is the slowing down of thinking. That is all what we are discussing. Not how to break through, not which are the beneficial drugs, what the effects of drugs are. The effects of the drugs you can see, those people who have taken them for a long time, their brain deteriorates.
Q: There are exceptions.
K: Of course there are exceptions. You may be the exception! (laughter) But generally, as I have seen many of them, it is terrible what goes on with drugs. That is an irrelevant question. The question is: in learning about thought, the machinery of thought, the necessary function of thought, in learning about it, the slowing takes place without control, without subjugation, without effort. And to learn about thinking one has to watch the machinery of thinking, be aware of it, how you think, what makes you think. Prejudice? A conclusion? A conditioning? All in the past. So thought can never be free because it has its roots in the past, so thought can never be new. What is new is when thought comes to an end and there is a new...
Q: Didn’t you say we have to keep on thinking to learn?
K: Ah, no. You say you keep on thinking to learn, no. I didn't say that. To learn - we'll go again - what does it mean to learn? Does it mean thinking? Learning a language needs thinking, which is accumulation of words and their meanings, in Italian or in French or whatever it is. There I have to exercise thought and relate each word and so on and so on, so on. Now I am saying: does learning require thinking, or only a perception and the continuing of that perception, which is learning?
That is, I'll begin again. That is, I am aware of the necessity and the functional value of knowledge. And has knowledge any relationship with learning? I see learning is constant movement, in that I have to function and knowledge is necessary but it is a constant movement. And that movement is not thought but constant awareness, perception, insight. The moment that insight makes a conclusion then it becomes knowledge and an impediment to further enquiry. That is all.