Urgency of Change

Urgency of Change
By J. Krishnamurti
E-Text Source: www.jiddu-krishnamurti.net

Is There A God?
How To Live In This World
The Religious Life
Seeing The Whole
What is
The Seeker
Love And Sex
The Heart And The Mind
Beauty And The Artist
The Individual And The Community
Meditation And Energy
Ending Thought
The New Human Being

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Questioner: I should like to know what you mean by awareness because you have often said that awareness is really what your teaching is about. I've tried to understand it by listening to your talks and reading your books, but I don't seem to get very far. I know it is not a practice, and I understand why you so emphatically repudiate any kind of practice, drill, system, discipline or routine. I see the importance of that, for otherwise it becomes mechanical, and at the end of it the mind has become dull and stupid. I should like, if I may, to explore with you to the very end this question of what it means to be aware. You seem to give some extra, deeper meaning to this word, and yet it seems to me that we are aware of what's going on all the time. When I'm angry I know it, when I'm sad I know it and when I'm happy I know it.

Krishnamurti: I wonder if we really are aware of anger, sadness, happiness? Or are we aware of these things only when they are all over? Let us begin as though we know nothing about it at all and start from scratch. Let us not make any assertions, dogmatic or subtle, but let us explore this question which, if one really went into it very deeply, would reveal an extraordinary state that the mind had probably never touched, a dimension not touched by superficial awareness. Let us start from the superficial and work through. We see with our eyes, we perceive with our senses the things about us - the colour of the flower, the humming bird over the flower the light of this Californian sun, the thousand sounds of different qualities and subtleties, the depth and the height, the shadow of the tree and the tree itself. We feel in the same way our own bodies, which are the instruments of these different kinds of superficial, sensory perceptions. If these perceptions remained at the superficial level there would be no confusion at all. That flower, that pansy, that rose, are there, and that's all there is to it. There is no preference, no comparison, no like and dislike, only the thing before us without any psychological involvement. Is all this superficial sensory perception or awareness quite clear? It can be expanded to the stars, to the depth of the seas, and to the ultimate frontiers of scientific observation, using all the instruments of modern technology.

Questioner: Yes, I think I understand that.

Krishnamurti: So you see that the rose and all the universe and the people in it, your own wife if you have one, the stars, the seas, the mountains, the microbes, the atoms, the neutrons, this room, the door, really are there. Now, the next step; what you think about these things, or what you feel about them, is your psychological response to them. And this we call thought or emotion. So the superficial awareness is a very simple matter: the door is there. But the description of the door is not the door, and when you get emotionally involved in the description you don't see the door. This description might be a word or a scientific treatise or a strong emotional response; none of these is the door itself. This is very important to understand right from the beginning. If we don't understand this we shall get more and more confused. The description is never the described. Though we are describing something even now, and we have to, the thing we are describing is not our description of it, so please bear this in mind right through our talk. Never confuse the word with the thing it describes. The word is never the real, and we are easily carried away when we come to the next stage of awareness where it becomes personal and we get emotional through the word.

So there is the superficial awareness of the tree, the bird, the door, and there is the response to that, which is thought, feeling, emotion. Now when we become aware of this response, we might call it a second depth of awareness. There is the awareness of the rose, and the awareness of the response to the rose. Often we are unaware of this response to the rose. In reality it is the same awareness which sees the rose and which sees the response. It is one movement and it is wrong to speak of the outer and inner awareness. When there is a visual awareness of the tree without any psychological involvement there is no division in relationship. But when there is a psychological response to the tree, the response is a conditioned response, it is the response of past memory, past experiences, and the response is a division in relationship. This response is the birth of what we shall call the "me" in relationship and the "non-me". This is how you place yourself in relationship to the world. This is how you create the individual and the community. The world is seen not as it is, but in its various relationships to the "me" of memory. This division is the life and the flourishing of everything we call our psychological being, and from this arises all contradiction and division. Are you very clear that you perceive this? When there is the awareness of the tree there is no evaluation. But when there is a response to the tree, when the tree is judged with like and dislike, then a division takes place in this awareness as the "me" and the "non-me", the "me" who is different from the thing observed. This "me" is the response, in relationship, of past memory, past experiences. Now can there be an awareness, an observation of the tree, without any judgement, and can there be an observation of the response, the reactions, without any judgement? In this way we eradicate the principle of division, the principle of "me" and "non-me", both in looking at the tree and in looking at ourselves.

Questioner: I'm trying to follow you. Let's see if I have got it right. There is an awareness of the tree, that I understand. There is a psychological response to the tree, that I understand also. The psychological response is made up of past memories and past experiences, it is like and dislike, it is the division into the tree and the "me". Yes, I think I understand all that.

Krishnamurti: Is this as clear as the tree itself, or is it simply the clarity of description? Remember, as we have already said, the described is not the description. What have you got, the thing or its description?

Questioner: I think it is the thing.

Krishnamurti: Therefore there is no "me" who is the description in the seeing of this fact. In the seeing of any fact there is no "me". There is either the "me" or the seeing, there can't be both. "Me" is non-seeing. The "me" cannot see, cannot be aware.

Questioner: May I stop here? I think I've got the feeling of it, but I must let it sink in. May I come again tomorrow?

* * *

Questioner: I think I have really understood, non-verbally, what you said yesterday. There is the awareness of the tree, there is the conditioned response to the tree, and this conditioned response is conflict, it is the action of memory and past experiences, it is like and dislike, it is prejudice. I also understand that this response of prejudice is the birth of what we call the "me" or the censor. I see clearly that the "me", the "I", exists in all relationships. Now is there an "I" outside of relationships?

Krishnamurti: We have seen how heavily conditioned our responses are. When you ask if there is a "me" outside of relationship, it becomes a speculative question as long as there is no freedom from these conditioned responses. Do you see that? So our first question is not whether there is a "me" or not outside of conditioned responses, but rather, can the mind, in which is included all our feelings, be free of this conditioning, which is the past? The past is the "me". There is no "me" in the present. As long as the mind is operating in the past there is the "me", and the mind is this past, the mind is this "me".

You can't say there is the mind and there is the past, whether it is the past of a few days ago or of ten thousand years ago. So we are asking: can the mind free itself from yesterday? Now there are several things involved, aren't there? First of all there is a superficial awareness. Then there is the awareness of the conditioned response. Then there is the realization that the mind is the past, the mind is this conditioned response. Then there is the question whether this mind can free itself of the past. And all this is one unitary action of awareness because in this there are no conclusions. When we say the mind is the past, this realization is not a verbal conclusion but an actual perception of fact. The French have a word for such a perception of a fact, they call it "constatation". When we ask whether the mind can be free of the past is this question being asked by the censor, the "me", who is that very past?

Questioner: Can the mind be free of the past.

Krishnamurti: Who is putting that question? Is it the entity who is the result of a great many conflicts, memories and experiences - is it he who is asking - or does this question arise of itself, out of the perception of the fact? If it is the observer who is putting the question, then he is trying to escape from the fact of himself, because, he says, I have lived so long in pain, in trouble, in sorrow, I should like to go beyond this constant struggle. If he asks the question from that motive his answer will be a taking refuge in some escape. One either turns away from a fact or one faces it. And the word and the symbol are a turning away from it. In fact, just to ask this question at all is already an act of escape, is it not? Let us be aware whether this question is or is not an act of escape. If it is, it is noise. If there is no observer, then there is silence, a complete negation of the whole past.

Questioner: Here I am lost. How can I wipe away the past in a few seconds?

Krishnamurti: Let us bear in mind that we are discussing awareness. We are talking over together this question of awareness.

There is the tree, and the conditioned response to the tree, which is the "me" in relationship, the "me" who is the very centre of conflict. Now is it this "me" who is asking the question? - this "me" who, as we have said, is the very structure of the past? If the question is not asked from the structure of the past, if the question is not asked by the "me", then there is no structure of the past. When the structure is asking the question it is operating in relationship to the fact of itself, it is frightened of itself and it acts to escape from itself. When this structure does not ask the question, it is not acting in relationship to itself. To recapitulate: there is the tree, there is the word, the response to the tree, which is the censor, or the "me", which comes from the past; and then there is the question: can I escape from all this turmoil and agony? If the "me" is asking this question it is perpetuating itself.

Now, being aware of that, it doesn't ask the question! Being aware and seeing all the implications of it, the question cannot be asked. It does not ask the question at all because it sees the trap. Now do you see that all this awareness is superficial? It is the same as the awareness which sees the tree.

Questioner: Is there any other kind of awareness? Is there any other dimension to awareness?

Krishnamurti: Again let's be careful; let's be very clear that we are not asking this question with any motive. If there is a motive we are back in the trap of conditioned response. When the observer is wholly silent, not made silent, there is surely a different quality of awareness coming into being?

Questioner: What action could there possibly be in any circumstances without the observer - what question or what action?
Krishnamurti: Again, are you asking this question from this side of the river, or is it from the other bank? If you are on the other bank, you will not ask this question; if you are on that bank, your action will be from that bank. So there is an awareness of this bank, with all its structure, its nature and all its traps, and to try to escape from the trap is to fall into another trap. And what deadly monotony there is in all that! Awareness has shown us the nature of the trap, and therefore there is the negation of all traps; so the mind is now empty. It is empty of the "me" and of the trap. This mind has a different quality, a different dimension of awareness. This awareness is not aware that it is aware.

Questioner: My God, this is too difficult. You are saying things that seem true, that sound true, but I'm not there yet. Can you put it differently? Can you push me out of my trap?

Krishnamurti: Nobody can push you out of your trap - no guru, no drug, no mantra, nobody, including myself - nobody, especially myself. All that you have to do is to be aware from the beginning to the end, not become inattentive in the middle of it. This new quality of awareness is attention, and in this attention there is no frontier made by the "me". This attention is the highest form of virtue, therefore it is love. It is supreme intelligence, and there cannot be attention if you are not sensitive to the structure and the nature of these man-made traps.

Is There a God?

Questioner: I really would like to know if there is a god. If there isn't life has no meaning. Not knowing god, man has invented him in a thousand beliefs and images. The division and the fear bred by all these beliefs have divided him from his fellow men. To escape the pain and the mischief of this division he creates yet more beliefs, and the mounting misery and confusion have engulfed him. Not knowing, we believe. Can I know god? I've asked this question of many saints both in India and here and they've all emphasized belief. "Believe and then you will know; without belief you can never know." What do you think?

Krishnamurti: Is belief necessary to find out? To learn is far more important than to know. Learning about belief is the end of belief. When the mind is free of belief then it can look. It is belief, or disbelief, that binds; for disbelief and belief are the same: they are the opposite sides of the same coin. So we can completely put aside positive or negative belief; the believer and the non-believer are the same. When this actually takes place then the question, "Is there a god?" has quite a different meaning. The word god with all its tradition, its memory, its intellectual and sentimental connotations - all this is not god. The word is not the real. So can the mind be free of the word?

Questioner: I don't know what that means.

Krishnamurti: The word is the tradition, the hope, the desire to find the absolute, the striving after the ultimate, the movement which gives vitality to existence. So the word itself becomes the ultimate, yet we can see that the word is not the thing. The mind is the word, and the word is thought.

Questioner: And you're asking me to strip myself of the word? How can I do that? The word is the past; it is memory. The wife is the word, and the house is the word. In the beginning was the word. Also the word is the means of communication, identification. Your name is not you, and yet without your name I can't ask about you. And you're asking me if the mind can be free of the word - that is, can the mind be free of its own activity?

Krishnamurti: In the case of the tree the object is before our eyes, and the word refers to the tree by universal agreement. Now with the word god there is nothing to which it refers, so each man can create his own image of that for which there is no reference. The theologian does it in one way, the intellectual in another, and the believer and the non-believer in their own different ways. Hope generates this belief, and then seeking. This hope is the outcome of despair - the despair of all we see around us in the world. From despair hope is born, they also are two sides of the same coin. When there is no hope there is hell, and this fear of hell gives us the vitality of hope. Then illusion begins. So the word has led us to illusion and not to god at all. God is the illusion which we worship; and the non-believer creates the illusion of another god which he worships - the State, or some utopia, or some book which he thinks contains all truth. So we are asking you whether you can be free of the word with its illusion.

Questioner: I must meditate on this.

Krishnamurti: If there is no illusion, what is left?

Questioner: Only what is.

Krishnamurti: The "what is" is the most holy.

Questioner: If the "what is" is the most holy then war is most holy, and hatred, disorder, pain, avarice and plunder. Then we must not speak of any change at all. If "what is" is sacred, then every murderer and plunderer and exploiter can say, "Don't touch me, what I'm doing is sacred".

Krishnamurti: The very simplicity of that statement, " `what is' is the most sacred", leads to great misunderstanding, because we don't see the truth of it. If you see that what is is sacred, you do not murder, you do not make war, you do not hope, you do not exploit. Having done these things you cannot claim immunity from a truth which you have violated. The white man who says to the black rioter, "What is is sacred, do not interfere, do not burn", has not seen, for if he had, the Negro would be sacred to him, and there would be no need to burn. So if each one of us sees this truth there must be change. This seeing of the truth is change.

Questioner: I came here to find out if there is god, and you have completely confused me.

Krishnamurti: You came to ask if there is god. We said: the word leads to illusion which we worship, and for this illusion we destroy each other willingly. When there is no illusion the "what is" is most sacred. Now let's look at what actually is. At a given moment the "what is" may be fear, or utter despair, or a fleeting joy. These things are constantly changing. And also there is the observer who says, "These things all change around me, but I remain permanent". Is that a fact, is that what really is? Is he not also changing, adding to and taking away from himself, modifying, adjusting himself, becoming or not becoming? So both the observer and the observed are constantly changing. What is is change. That is a fact. That is what is.

Questioner: Then is love changeable? If everything is a movement of change, isn't love also part of that movement? And if love is changeable, then I can love one woman today and sleep with another tomorrow.

Krishnamurti: Is that love? Or are you saying that love is different from its expression? Or are you giving to expression greater importance than to love, and therefore making a contradiction and a conflict. Can love ever be caught in the wheel of change? If so then it can also be hate; then love is hate. It is only when there is no illusion that "what is" is most sacred. When there is no illusion "what is" is god or any other name that can be used. So god, or whatever name you give it, is when you are not. When you are, it is not. When you are not, love is. When you are, love is not.


Questioner: I used to take drugs but now I am free of them. Why am I so frightened of everything? I wake up in the mornings paralysed with fear. I can hardly move out of bed. I'm frightened of going outside, and I'm frightened of being inside. Suddenly as I drive along this fear comes upon me, and I spend a whole day sweating, nervous, apprehensive, and at the end of the day I'm completely exhausted. Sometimes, though very rarely, in the company of a few intimate friends or at the house of my parents, I lose this fear; I feel quiet, happy, completely relaxed. As I came along in my car today, I was frightened of coming to see you, but as I came up the drive and walked to the door I suddenly lost this fear, and now as I sit here in this nice quiet room I feel so happy that I wonder what I was ever frightened about. Now I have no fear. I can smile and truthfully say: I'm very glad to see you! But I can't stay here for ever, and I know that when I leave here the cloud of fear will engulf me again. That is what I'm faced with. I've been to ever so many psychiatrists and analysts, here and abroad, but they merely delve into my memories of childhood - and I'm fed up with it because the fear hasn't gone at all.

Krishnamurti: Let's forget childhood memories and all that nonsense, and come to the present. Here you are, and you say you are not frightened now; you're happy for the moment and can hardly imagine the fear you were in. Why have you no fear now? Is it the quiet, clear, well-proportioned room, furnished with good taste, and this sense of welcoming warmth which you feel? Is that why you are not frightened now?

Questioner: That's part of it. Also perhaps it is you. I heard you talk in Switzerland, and I've heard you here, and I feel a kind of deep friendship for you. But I don't want to depend on nice houses, welcoming atmospheres and good friends in order not to be afraid. When I go to my parents I have this same feeling of warmth. But it is deadly at home; all families are deadly with their little enclosed activities, their quarrels, and the vulgarity of all that loud talk about nothing, and their hypocrisy. I'm fed up with it all. And yet, when I go to them and there is this certain warmth, I do feel, for a while, free of this fear. The psychiatrists can't tell me what my fear is about. They call it a "floating fear". It's a black, bottomless, ghastly pit. I've spent a great deal of money and time on being analysed and it really hasn't helped at all. So what am I to do?

Krishnamurti: Is it that being sensitive you need a certain shelter, a certain security, and not being able to find it, you are frightened of the ugly world? Are you sensitive?

Questioner: Yes, I think so. Perhaps not in the way you mean, but I am sensitive. I don't like the noise, the bustle, the vulgarity of this modern existence and the way they throw sex at you everywhere you go today, and the whole business of fighting your way to some beastly little position. I am really frightened of all this - not that I can't fight and get a position for myself, but it makes me sick with fear.

Krishnamurti: Most people who are sensitive need a quiet shelter and a warm friendly atmosphere. Either they create it for themselves or depend on others who can give it to them - the family the wife, the husband, the friend. Have you got such a friend?

Questioner: No. I'm frightened of having such a friend. I'm frightened of being dependent on him.

Krishnamurti: So there is this issue; being sensitive, demanding a certain shelter, and depending on others to give you that shelter. There is sensitivity, and dependence; the two often go together. And to depend on another is to fear losing him. So you depend more and more, and then the fear increases in proportion to your dependence. It is a vicious circle. Have you enquired why you depend? We depend on the postman, on physical comfort and so on; that's quite simple. We depend on people and things for our physical well-being and survival; it is quite natural and normal. We have to depend on what we may call the organizational side of society. But we also depend psychologically, and this dependence, though comforting, breeds fear. Why do we depend psychologically?

Questioner: You're talking to me about dependence now, but I came here to discuss fear.

Krishnamurti: Let's examine them both because they are interrelated as we shall see. Do you mind if we discuss them both? We were talking about dependence. What is dependence? Why does one psychologically depend on another? Isn't dependence the denial of freedom? Take away the house, the husband, the children, the possessions - what is a man if all these are removed? In himself he is insufficient, empty, lost. So out of this emptiness, of which he is afraid, he depends on property, on people and beliefs. You may be so sure of all the things you depend on that you can't imagine ever losing them - the love of your family, and the comfort. Yet fear continues. So we must be clear that any form of psychological dependence must inevitably breed fear, though the things you depend on may seem almost indestructible. Fear arises out of this inner insufficiency, poverty and emptiness. So now, do you see, we have three issues - sensitivity, dependence and fear? The three are interrelated. Take sensitivity: the more sensitive you are (unless you understand how to remain sensitive without dependence, how to be vulnerable without agony), the more you depend. Then take dependence: the more you depend, the more there is disgust and the demand to be free. This demand for freedom encourages fear, for this demand is a reaction, not freedom from dependence.

Questioner: Are you dependent on anything?

Krishnamurti: Of course I'm dependent physically on food, clothes and shelter, but psychologically, inwardly, I'm not dependent on anything - not on gods, not on social morality, not on belief, not on people. But it is irrelevant whether or not I am dependent. So, to continue: fear is the awareness of our inner emptiness, loneliness and poverty, and of not being able to do anything about it. We are concerned only with this fear which breeds dependence, and which is again increased by dependence. If we understand fear we also understand dependence. So to understand fear there must be sensitivity to discover, to understand how it comes into being. If one is at all sensitive one becomes conscious of one's own extraordinary emptiness - a bottomless pit which cannot be filled by the vulgar entertainment of drugs nor by the entertainment of the churches, nor the amusements of society: nothing can ever fill it. Knowing this the fear increases. This drives you to depend, and this dependence makes you more and more insensitive. And knowing this is so, you are frightened of it. So our question now is: how is one to go beyond this emptiness, this loneliness - not how is one to be self-sufficient, not how is one to camouflage this emptiness permanently?

Questioner: Why do you say it is not a question of becoming self-sufficient?

Krishnamurti: Because if you are self-sufficient you are no longer sensitive; you become smug and callous, indifferent and enclosed. To be without dependence, to go beyond dependence, doesn't mean to become self-sufficient. Can the mind face and live with this emptiness, and not escape in any direction?

Questioner: It would drive me mad to think I had to live with it for ever.

Krishnamurti: Any movement away from this emptiness is an escape. And this flight away from something, away from "what is," is fear. Fear is flight away from something. What is is not the fear; it is the flight which is the fear, and this will drive you mad, not the emptiness itself. So what is this emptiness, this loneliness? How does it come about? Surely it comes through comparison and measurement, doesn't it? I compare myself with the saint, the master, the great musician, the man who knows, the man who has arrived. In this comparison I find myself wanting and insufficient: I have no talent, I am inferior, I have not realised; I am not, and that man is. So out of measurement and comparison comes the enormous cavity of emptiness and nothingness. And the flight from this cavity is fear. And the fear stops us from understanding this bottomless pit. It is a neurosis which feeds upon itself. And again, this measurement, this comparison, is the very essence of dependence. So we are back again at dependence, a vicious circle.

Questioner: We have come a long way in this discussion and things are clearer. There is dependence; is it possible not to depend? Yes, I think it is possible. Then we have the fear; is it possible not to run away from emptiness at all, which means, not to escape through fear? Yes, I think it is possible. That means we are left with the emptiness. Is it possible then to face this emptiness since we have stopped running away from it through fear? Yes, I think it is possible. Is it possible finally, not to measure, not to compare? For if we have come this far, and I think we have, only this emptiness remains, and one sees that this emptiness is the outcome of comparison. And one sees that dependence and fear are the outcome of this emptiness. So there is comparison, emptiness, fear, dependence. Can I really live a life without comparison, without measurement?

Krishnamurti: Of course you have to measure to put a carpet on the floor!

Questioner: Yes. I mean can I live without psychological comparison?

Krishnamurti: Do you know what it means to live without psychological comparison when all your life you have been conditioned to compare - at school, at games, at the university and in the office? Everything is comparison. To live without comparison! Do you know what it means? It means no dependence, no self-sufficiency, no seeking, no asking; therefore it means to love. Love has no comparison, and so love has no fear. Love is not aware of itself as love, for the word is not the thing.

How to Live in This World

Questioner: Please, sir, could you tell me how I am to live in this world? I don't want to be part of it yet I have to live in it, I have to have a house and earn my own living. And my neighbours are of this world; my children play with theirs, and so one becomes a part of this ugly mess, whether one wants to or not. I want to find out how to live in this world without escaping from it, without going into a monastery or around the world in a sailing boat. I want to educate my children differently, but first I want to know how to live surrounded by so much violence, greed, hypocrisy, competition and brutality.

Krishnamurti: Don't let's make a problem of it. When anything becomes a problem we are caught in the solution of it, and then the problem becomes a cage, a barrier to further exploration and understanding. So don't let us reduce all life to a vast and complex problem. If the question is put in order to overcome the society in which we live, or to find a substitute for that society, or to try to escape from it though living in it, it must inevitably lead to a contradictory and hypocritical life. This question also implies, doesn't it, the complete denial of ideology? If you are really enquiring you cannot start with a conclusion, and all ideologies are a conclusion. So we must begin by finding out what you mean by living.

Questioner: Please, sir, let's go step by step.

Krishnamurti: I am very glad that we can go into this step by step, patiently, with an enquiring mind and heart. Now what do you mean by living?

Questioner: I've never tried to put it into words. I'm bewildered, I don't know what to do, how to live. I've lost faith in everything - religions, philosophies and political utopias. There is war between individuals and between nations. In this permissive society everything is allowed - killing, riots, the cynical oppression of one country by another, and nobody does anything about it because interference might mean world war. I am faced with all this and I don't know what to do; I don't know how to live at all. I don't want to live in the midst of such confusion.

Krishnamurti: What is it you are asking for - a different life, or for a new life which comes about with the understanding of the old life? If you want to live a different life without understanding what has brought about this confusion, you will always be in contradiction, in conflict, in confusion. And that of course is not a new life at all. So are you asking for a new life or for a modified continuity of the old one, or to understand the old one?

Questioner: I'm not at all sure what I want but I am beginning to see what I don't want.

Krishnamurti: Is what you don't want based on your free understanding or on your pleasure and pain? Are you judging out of your revolt, or do you see the causation of this conflict and misery, and, because you see it, reject it?

Questioner: You're asking me too many things. All I know is that I want to live a different kind of life. I don't know what it means; I don't know why I'm seeking it; and, as I said, I'm utterly bewildered by it all.

Krishnamurti: Your basic question is, isn't it, how are you to live in this world? Before you find out let us first see what this world is. The world is not only all that surrounds us, it is also our relationship to all these things and people, to ourselves, to ideas. That is, our relationship to property, to people, to concepts - in fact our relationship to the stream of events which we call life. This is the world. We see division into nationalities, into religious, economic, political, social and ethnical groups; the whole world is broken up and is as fragmented outwardly as its human beings are inwardly. In fact, this outer fragmentation is the manifestation of the human being's inner division.

Questioner: Yes, I see this fragmentation very clearly, and I am also beginning to see that the human being is responsible.

Krishnamurti: You are the human being!

Questioner: Then can I live differently from what I am myself? I'm suddenly realizing that if I am to live in a totally different way there must be a new birth in me, a new mind and heart, new eyes. And I realize also that this hasn't happened. I live the way I am, and the way I am has made life as it is. But where does one go from there?

Krishnamurti: You don't go anywhere from there! There is no going anywhere. The going, or the searching for the ideal, for what we think is better, gives us a feeling that we are progressing, that we are moving towards a better world. But this movement is no movement at all because the end has been projected out of our misery, confusion, greed and envy. So this end, which is supposed to be the opposite of what is, is really the same as what is, it is engendered by what is. Therefore it creates the conflict between what is and what should be. This is where our basic confusion and conflict arises. The end is not over there, not on the other side of the wall; the beginning and the end are here.

Questioner: Wait a minute, sir, please; I don't understand this at all. Are you telling me that the ideal of what should be is the result of not understanding what is? Are you telling me that what should be is what is, and that this movement from what is to what should be isn't really a movement at all?

Krishnamurti: It is an idea; it is fiction. If you understand what is, what need is there for what should be?

Questioner: Is that so? I understand what is. I understand the bestiality of war, the horror of killing, and because I understand it I have this ideal of not killing. The ideal is born out of my understanding of what is, therefore it is not an escape.

Krishnamurti: If you understand that killing is terrible do you have to have an ideal in order not to kill? Perhaps we are not clear about the word understanding. When we say we understand something, in that is implied, isn't it, that we have learnt all it has to say? We have explored it and discovered the truth or the falseness of it. This implies also, doesn't it, that this understanding is not an intellectual affair, but that one has felt it deeply in one's heart? There is understanding only when the mind and the heart are in perfect harmony. Then one says "I have understood this, and finished with it", and it no longer has the vitality to breed further conflict. Do we both give the same meaning to that word understand?

Questioner: I hadn't before, but now I see that what you are saying is true. Yet I honestly don't understand, in that way, the total disorder of the world, which, as you so rightly pointed out, is my own disorder. How can I understand it? How can I completely learn about the disorder, the entire disorder and confusion of the world, and of myself?

Krishnamurti: Do not use the word how, please.
Questioner: Why not?

Krishnamurti: The how implies that somebody is going to give you a method, a recipe, which, if you practise it, will bring about understanding. Can understanding ever come about through a method? Understanding means love and the sanity of the mind. And love cannot be practised or taught. The sanity of the mind can only come about when there is clear perception, seeing things as they are unemotionally, not sentimentally. Neither of these two things can be taught by another, nor by a system invented by yourself or by another.

Questioner: You are too persuasive, sir, or is it perhaps that you are too logical? Are you trying to influence me to see things as you see them?

Krishnamurti: God forbid! Influence in any form is destructive of love. Propaganda to make the mind sensitive, alert, will only make it dull and insensitive. So we are in no way trying to influence you or persuade you, or make you depend. We are only pointing out, exploring together. And to explore together you must be free, both of me and of your own prejudices and fears. Otherwise you go round and round in circles. So we must go back to our original question: how am I to live in this world? To live in this world we must deny the world. By that we mean: deny the ideal, the war, the fragmentation, the competition, the envy and so on. We don't mean deny the world as a schoolboy revolts against his parents. We mean deny it because we understand it. This understanding is negation.

Questioner: I am out of my depth.

Krishnamurti: You said you do not want to live in the confusion, the dishonesty and ugliness of this world. So you deny it. But from what background do you deny it, why do you deny it? Do you deny it because you want to live a peaceful life, a life of complete security and enclosure, or do you deny it because you see what it actually is?

Questioner: I think I deny it because I see around me what is taking place. Of course my prejudices and fear are all involved. So it is a mixture of what is actually taking place and my own anxiety.

Krishnamurti: Which predominates, your own anxiety or the actual seeing of what is around you? If fear predominates, then you can't see what is actually going on around you, because fear is darkness, and in darkness you can see absolutely nothing. If you realize that, then you can see the world actually as it is, then you can see yourself actually as you are. Because you are the world, and the world is you; they are not two separate entities.

Questioner: Would you please explain more fully what you mean by the world is me and I am the world?

Krishnamurti: Does this really need explaining? Do you want me to describe in detail what you are and show you that it is the same as what the world is? Will this description convince you that you are the world? Will you be convinced by a logical, sequential explanation showing you the cause and the effect? If you are convinced by careful description, will that give you understanding? Will it make you feel that you are the world, make you feel responsible for the world? It seems so clear that our human greed, envy, aggression and violence have brought about the society in which we live, a legalized acceptance of what we are. I think this is really sufficiently clear and let's not spend any more time on this issue. You see, we don't feel this, we don't love, therefore there is this division between me and the world.
Questioner: May I come back again tomorrow?

* * *

He came back the next day eagerly, and there was the bright light of enquiry in his eyes.

Questioner: I want, if you are willing, to go further into this question of how I am to live in this world. I do now understand, with my heart and my mind, as you explained yesterday, the utter importance of ideals. I had quite a long struggle with it and have come to see the triviality of ideals. You are saying, aren't you, that when there are no ideals or escapes there is only the past, the thousand yesterdays which make up the "me"? So when I ask: How am I to live in this world?" I have not only put a wrong question, but I have also made a contradictory statement, for I have placed the world and the "me" in opposition to each other. And this contradiction is what I call living. So when I ask the question, "How am I to live in this world?" I am really trying to improve this contradiction, to justify it, to modify it, because that's all I know; I don't know anything else.

Krishnamurti: This then is the question we have now: must living always be in the past, must all activity spring from the past, is all relationship the outcome of the past, is living the complex memory of the past? That is all we know - the past modifying the present. And the future is the outcome of this past acting through the present. So the past, the present and the future are all the past. And this past is what we call living. The mind is the past, the brain is the past, the feelings are the past, and action coming from these is the positive activity of the known. This whole process is your life and all the relationship and activity that you know. So when you ask how you are to live in this world you are asking for a change of prisons.

Questioner: I don't mean that. What I mean is: I see very clearly that my process of thinking and doing is the past working through the present to the future. This is all I know, and that's a fact. And I realize that unless there is a change in this structure I am caught in it, I am of it. From this the question inevitably arises: how am I to change?

Krishnamurti: To live in this world sanely there must be a radical change of the mind and of the heart.

Questioner: Yes, but what do you mean by change? How am I to change if whatever I do is the movement of the past? I can only change myself, nobody else can change me. And I don't see what it means - to change.

Krishnamurti: So the question "How am I to live in this world?" has now become "How am I to change?" - bearing in mind that the how doesn't mean a method, but is an enquiry to understand. What is change? Is there any change at all? Or can you ask whether there is any change at all only after there has been a total change and revolution? Let's begin again to find out what this word means. Change implies a movement from what is to something different. Is this something different merely an opposite, or does it belong to a different order altogether? If it is merely an opposite then it is not different at all, because all opposites are mutually dependent, like hot and cold, high and low. The opposite is contained within, and determined by, its opposite; it exists only in comparison, and things that are comparative have different measures of the same quality, and therefore they are similar. So change to an opposite is no change at all. Even if this going towards what seems different gives you the feeling that you are really doing something, it is an illusion.

Questioner: Let me absorb this for a moment.

Krishnamurti: So what are we concerned with now? Is it possible to bring about in ourselves the birth of a new order altogether that is not related to the past? The past is irrelevant to this enquiry, and trivial, because it is irrelevant to the new order.

Questioner: How can you say it is trivial and irrelevant? We've been saying all along that the past is the issue, and now you say it is irrelevant.

Krishnamurti: The past seems to be the only issue because it is the only thing that holds our minds and hearts. It alone is important to us. But why do we give importance to it? Why is this little space all-important? If you are totally immersed in it, utterly committed to it, then you will never listen to change. The man who is not wholly committed is the only one capable of listening, enquiring and asking. Only then will he be able to see the triviality of this little space. So, are you completely immersed, or is your head above the water? If your head is above the water then you can see that this little thing is trivial. Then you have room to look around. How deeply are you immersed? Nobody can answer this for you except yourself. in the very asking of this question there is already freedom and, therefore, one is not afraid. Then your vision is extensive. When this pattern of the past holds you completely by the throat, then you acquiesce, accept, obey, follow, believe. It is only when you are aware that this is not freedom that you are starting to climb out of it. So we are again asking: what is change, what is revolution? Change is not a movement from the known to the known, and all political revolutions are that. This kind of change is not what we are talking about. To progress from being a sinner to being a saint is to progress from one illusion to another. So now we are free of change as a movement from this to that.

Questioner: Have I really understood this? What am I to do with anger, violence and fear when they arise in me? Am I to give them free reign? How am I to deal with them? There must be change there, otherwise I am what I was before.

Krishnamurti: Is it clear to you that these things cannot be overcome by their opposites? If so, you have only the violence, the envy, the anger, the greed. The feeling arises as the result of a challenge, and then it is named. This naming of the feeling re-establishes it in the old pattern. If you do not name it, which means you do not identify yourself with it, then the feeling is new and it will go away by itself. The naming of it strengthens it and gives it a continuity which is the whole process of thought.

Questioner: I am being driven into a comer where I see myself actually as I am, and I see how trivial I am. From there what comes next?

Krishnamurti: Any movement from what I am strengthens what I am. So change is no movement at all. Change is the denial of change, and now only can I put this question: is there a change at all? This question can be put only when all movement of thought has come to an end, for thought must be denied for the beauty of non-change. In the total negation of all movement of thought away from what is, is the ending of what is.


Questioner: I have come a long way to see you. Although I am married and have children I have been away from them, wandering, meditating, as a mendicant. I have puzzled greatly over this very complicated problem of relationship. When I go into a village and they give me food, I am related to the giver, as I am related to my wife and children. In another village when somebody gives me clothes I am related to the whole factory that produced them. I am related to the earth on which I walk, to the tree under which I take shelter, to everything. And yet I am alone, isolated. When I am with my wife, I am separate even during sex - it is an act of separation. When I go into a temple it is still the worshipper being related to the thing he worships: separation again. So in all relationships, as I see it, there is this separation, duality, and behind or through it, or around it, there is a peculiar sense of unity. When I see the beggar it hurts me, for I am like him and I feel as he feels - lonely, desperate, sick, hungry. I feel for him, and with him, for his meaningless existence. Some rich man comes along in his big motor car and gives me a lift, but I feel uncomfortable in his company, yet at the same time I feel for him and am related to him. So I have meditated upon this strange phenomenon of relationship. Can we on this lovely morning, overlooking this deep valley, talk over together this question?

Krishnamurti: Is all relationship out of this isolation? Can there be relationship as long as there is any separateness, division? Can there be relationship if there is no contact, not only physical but at every level of our being, with another? One may hold the hand of another and yet be miles away, wrapped in one's own thoughts and problems. One may be in a group and yet be painfully alone. So one asks: can there be any kind of relationship with the tree, the flower, the human being, or with the skies and the lovely sunset, when the mind in its activities is isolating itself? And can there be any contact ever, with anything at all, even when the mind is not isolating itself?

Questioner: Everything and everybody has its own existence. Everything and everybody is shrouded in its own existence. I can never penetrate this enclosure of another's being. However much I love someone, his existence is separate from mine. I can perhaps touch him from the outside, mentally or physically, but his existence is his own, and mine is for ever on the outside of it. Similarly he cannot reach me. Must we always remain two separate entities, each in his own world, with his own limitations, within the prison of his own consciousness?

Krishnamurti: Each lives within his own tissue, you in yours, he in his. And is there any possibility, ever, of breaking through this tissue? Is this tissue - this shroud, this envelope - the word? Is it made up of your concern with yourself and his with himself, your desires opposed to his? Is this capsule the past? It is all of this, isn't it? It isn't one particular thing but a whole bundle which the mind carries about. You have your burden, another has his. Can these burdens ever be dropped so that the mind meets the mind, the heart meets the heart? That is really the question, isn't it?

Questioner: Even if all these burdens are dropped, if that were possible, even then he remains in his skin with his thoughts, and I in mine with my thoughts. Sometimes the gap is narrow, sometimes it is wide, but we are always two separate islands. The gap seems to be widest when we care most about it and try to bridge it.

Krishnamurti: You can identify yourself with that villager or with that flaming bougainvillaea - which is a mental trick to pretend unity. Identification with something is one of the most hypocritical states - to identify oneself with a nation, with a belief and yet remain alone is a favourite trick to cheat loneliness. Or you identify yourself so completely with your belief that you are that belief, and this is a neurotic state. Now let's put away this urge to be identified with a person or an idea or a thing. That way there is no harmony, unity or love. So our next question is: can you tear through the envelope so that there is no more envelope? Then only would there be a possibility of total contact. How is one to tear through the envelope? The "how" doesn't mean a method, but rather an enquiry which might open the door.

Questioner: Yes, no other contact can be called relationship at all, though we say it is.

Krishnamurti: Do we tear the envelope bit by bit or cut through it immediately? If we tear it bit by bit, which is what analysts sometimes claim to do, the job is never done. It is not through time that you can break down this separation.

Questioner: Can I enter into the envelope of another? And isn't his envelope his very existence, his heartbeats and his blood, his feelings and his memories?

Krishnamurti: Are you not the very envelope itself?

Questioner: Yes.

Krishnamurti: The very movement to tear through the other envelope, or extend outside of your own, is the very affirmation and the action of your own envelope: you are the envelope. So you are the observer of the envelope, and you are also the envelope itself. In this case you are the observer and the observed: so is he, and that's how we remain. And you try to reach him and he tries to reach you. Is this possible? You are the island surrounded by seas, and he is also the island surrounded by seas. You see that you are both the island and the sea; there is no division between them; you are the entire earth with the sea. Therefore there is no division as the island and the sea. The other person doesn't see this. He is the island surrounded by sea; he tries to reach you, or, if you are foolish enough, you may try to reach him. Is that possible? How can there be a contact between a man who is free and another who is bound? Since you are the observer and the observed, you are the whole movement of the earth and the sea. But the other, who doesn't understand this, is still the island surrounded by water. He tries to reach you and is everlastingly failing because he maintains his insularity. It is only when he leaves it and is, like you, open to the movement of the skies, the earth, and the sea, that there can be contact. The one who sees that the barrier is himself can no longer have a barrier. Therefore he, in himself, is not separate at all. The other has not seen that the barrier is himself and so maintains the belief in his separateness. How can this man reach the other? It is not possible.

* * *

Questioner: If we may I should like to continue from where we left off yesterday. You were saying that the mind is the maker of the envelope around itself, and that this envelope is the mind. I really don't understand this. Intellectually I can agree, but the nature of perception eludes me. I should like very much to understand it - not verbally but actually feel it - so that there is no conflict in my life.

Krishnamurti: There is the space between what the mind calls the envelope which it has made, and itself. There is the space between the ideal and the action. In these different fragmentations of space between the observer and the observed, or between different things it observes, is all conflict and struggle, and all the problems of life. There is the separation between this envelope around me and the envelope around another. In that space is all our existence, all our relationship and battle.

Questioner: When you talk of the division between the observer and the observed do you mean these fragmentations of space in our thinking and in our daily actions?

Krishnamurti: What is this space? There is space between you and your envelope, the space between him and his envelope, and there is the space between the two envelopes. These spaces all appear to the observer. What are these spaces made of? How do they come into being? What is the quality and the nature of these divided spaces? If we could remove these fragmentary spaces what would happen?

Questioner: There would then be true contact on all levels of one's being.

Krishnamurti: Is that all?

Questioner: There would be no more conflict, for all conflict is relationship across these spaces.

Krishnamurti: Is that all? When this space actually disappears - not verbally or intellectually - but actually disappears - there is complete harmony, unity, between you and him, between you and another. In this harmony you and he cease and there is only this vast space which can never be broken up. The small structure of the mind comes to an end, for the mind is fragmentation.

Questioner: I really can't understand this at all, though I have a deep feeling within me that it is so. I can see that when there is love this actually takes place, but I don't know that love. It's not with me all the time. It is not in my heart. I see it only as if through a misty glass. I can't honestly grasp it with all my being. Could we, as you suggested, consider what these spaces are made of, how they come into being?

Krishnamurti: Let's be quite sure that we both understand the same thing when we use the word space. There is the physical space between people and things, and there is the psychological space between people and things. Then there is also the space between the idea and the actual. So all this, the physical and psychological, is space, more or less limited and defined. We are not now talking of the physical space. We are talking of the psychological space between people and the psychological space in the human being himself, in his thoughts and activities. How does this space come about? Is it fictitious, illusory, or is it real? Feel it, be aware of it, make sure you haven't just got a mental image of it, bear in mind that the description is never the thing. Be quite sure that you know what we are talking about. Be quite aware that this limited space, this division, exists in you: don't move from there if you don't understand. Now how does this space come about?

Questioner: We see the physical space between things....

Krishnamurti: Don't explain anything; just feel your way into it. We are asking how this space has come into being. Don't give an explanation or a cause, but remain with this space and feel it. Then the cause and the description will have very little meaning and no value. This space has come into being because of thought, which is the "me", the word - which is the whole division. Thought itself is this distance, this division. Thought is always breaking itself up into fragments and creating division. Thought always cuts up what it observes into fragments within space - as you and me, yours and mine, me and my thoughts, and so on. This space, which thought has created between what it observes, has become real; and it is this space that divides. Then thought tries to build a bridge over this division, thus playing a trick upon itself all the time, deceiving itself and hoping for unity.

Questioner: That reminds me of the old statement about thought: it is a thief disguising himself as a policeman in order to catch the thief.

Krishnamurti: Don't bother to quote, sir, however ancient it is. We are considering what actually is going on. In seeing the truth of the nature of thought and its activities, thought becomes quiet. Thought being quiet, not made quiet, is there space?

Questioner: It is thought itself which now rushes in to answer this question.

Krishnamurti: Exactly! Therefore we do not even ask the question. The mind now is completely harmonious, without fragmentation; the little space has ceased and there is only space. When the mind is completely quiet there is the vastness of space and silence.

Questioner: So I begin to see that my relationship to another is between thought and thought; whatever I answer is the noise of thought, and realizing it, I am silent.

Krishnamurti: This silence is the benediction.


Questioner: I find myself in a great deal of conflict with everything about me; and also everything within me is in conflict. People have spoken of divine order; nature is harmonious; it seems that man is the only animal who violates this order, making so much misery for others and for himself. When I wake up in the morning I see from my window little birds fighting with each other, but they soon separate and fly away, whereas I carry this war with myself and with others inside me all the time; there is no escaping it. I wonder if I can ever be at peace with myself. I must say I should like to find myself in complete harmony with everything about me and with myself. As one sees from this window the quiet sea and the light on the water, one has a feeling deep within oneself that there must be a way of living without these endless quarrels with oneself and with the world. Is there any harmony at all, anywhere? Or is there only everlasting disorder? If there is harmony, at what level can it exist? Or does it only exist on the top of some mountain which the burning valleys can never know?

Krishnamurti: Can one go from one to the other? Can one change that which is to that which is not? Can disharmony be transformed into harmony?

Questioner: Is conflict necessary then? It may perhaps, after all, be the natural order of things.

Krishnamurti: If one accepted that, one would have to accept everything society stands for: wars, ambitious competition, an aggressive way of life - all the brutal violence of men, inside and outside of his so-called holy places. Is this natural? Will this bring about any unity? Wouldn't it be better for us to consider these two facts - the fact of conflict with all its complicated struggles, and the fact of the mind demanding order, harmony, peace, beauty, love?

Questioner: I know nothing about harmony. I see it in the heavens, in the seasons, in the mathematical order of the universe. But that doesn't give me order in my own heart and mind; the absolute order of mathematics is not my order. I have no order, I am in deep disorder. I know there are different theories of gradual evolution towards the so-called perfection of political utopias and religious heavens, but this leaves me where I actually am. The world may perhaps be perfect in ten thousand years from now, but in the meantime I'm having hell.

Krishnamurti: We see the disorder in ourselves and in society. Both are very complex. There are really no answers. One can examine all this very carefully, analyse it closely, look for causes of disorder in oneself and in society, expose them to the light and perhaps believe that one will free the mind from them. This analytical process is what most people are doing, intelligently or unintelligently, and it doesn't get anybody very far. Man has analysed himself for thousands of years, and produced no result but literature! The many saints have paralysed themselves in concepts and ideological prisons; they too are in conflict. The cause of our conflict is this everlasting duality of desire: the endless corridor of the opposites creating envy greed ambition aggression, fear, and all the rest of it. Now I wonder if there isn't an altogether different approach to this problem? The acceptance of this struggle and all our efforts to get out of it have become traditional. The whole approach is traditional. In this traditional approach the mind operates but, as we see, the traditional approach of the mind creates more disorder. So the problem is not how to end disorder, but rather whether the mind can look at it freed from tradition. And then perhaps there may be no problem at all.

Questioner: I don't follow you at all.

Krishnamurti: There is this fact of disorder. There is no doubt about it: it is an actual fact. The traditional approach to this fact is to analyse it, to try to discover the cause of it and overcome the cause, or else to invent its opposite and battle towards that. This is the traditional approach with its disciplines, drills, controls, suppressions, sublimations. Man has done this for thousands upon thousands of years; it has led nowhere. Can we abandon this approach completely and look at the problem entirely differently - that is, not try to go beyond it, or to resolve it, or to overcome it, or to escape from it? Can the mind do this.

Questioner: Perhaps....

Krishnamurti: Don't answer so quickly! This is a tremendous thing I am asking you. From the beginning of time man has tried to deal with all his problems, either by going beyond them, resolving them, overcoming them or escaping from them. Please do not think you can push all that aside so lightly, simply with a verbal agreement. It makes up the very structure of everybody's mind. Can the mind now, understanding all this non-verbally, actually free itself from the tradition? This traditional way of dealing with the conflict never solves it, but only adds more conflict: being violent, which is conflict, I add the additional conflict of trying to become non-violent. All social morality and all religious prescriptions are that. Are we together?

Questioner: Yes.

Krishnamurti: Then do you see how far we have come? Having, through understanding, repudiated all these traditional approaches, what is the actual state of the mind now? Because the state of the mind is far more important than the conflict itself.

Questioner: I really don't know.

Krishnamurti: Why don't you know? Why aren't you aware, if you have really abandoned the traditional approach, of the state of your mind? Why don't you know? Either you have abandoned it or you haven't. If you have, you would know it. If you have, then your mind is made innocent to look at the problem. You can look at the problem as though for the first time. And if you do this, is there a problem of conflict at all? Because you look at the problem with the old eyes it is not only strengthened but also moves in its well-worn path. So what is important is how you look at the problem - whether you look at it with new eyes or old eyes. The new eyes are freed from the conditioned responses to the problem. Even to name the problem through recognition is to approach it in the traditional way. Justification, condemnation, or translation of the problem in terms of pleasure and pain, are all involved in this habitual traditional approach of doing something about it. This is generally called positive action with regard to the problem. But when the mind brushes all that aside as being ineffectual, unintelligent, then it has become highly sensitive, highly ordered, and free.

Questioner: You're asking too much of me, I can't do it. I'm incapable of it. You're asking me to be superhuman!

Krishnamurti: You're making difficulties for yourself, blocking yourself, when you say you must become superhuman. It's nothing of the kind. You keep on looking at things with eyes that want to interfere, that want to do something about what they see. Stop doing anything about it, for whatever you do belongs to the traditional approach. That's all. Be simple. This is the miracle of perception - to perceive with a heart and mind that are completely cleansed of the past. Negation is the most positive action.

The Religious Life

Questioner: I should like to know what a religious life is. I have stayed in monasteries for several months, meditated, led a disciplined life, read a great deal. I've been to various temples, churches and mosques. I've tried to lead a very simple, harmless life, trying not to hurt people or animals. This surely isn't all there is to a religious life? I've practised yoga, studied Zen and followed many religious disciples. I am, and have always been, a vegetarian. As you see, I'm getting old now, and I've lived with some of the saints in different parts of the world, but somehow I feel that all this is only the outskirts of the real thing. So I wonder if we can discuss today what to you is a religious life.

Krishnamurti: A sannyasi came to see me one day and he was sad. He said he had taken a vow of celibacy and left the world to become a mendicant, wandering from village to village, but his sexual desires were so imperious that one morning he decided to have his sexual organs surgically removed. For many months he was in constant pain, but somehow it healed, and after many years he fully realized what he had done. And so he came to see me and in that little room he asked me what he could do now, having mutilated himself, to become normal again - not physically, of course, but inwardly. He had done this thing because sexual activity was considered contrary to a religious life. It was considered mundane, belonging to the world of pleasure, which a real sannyasi must at all costs avoid. He said, "Here I am, feeling completely lost, deprived of my manhood. I struggled so hard against my sexual desires, trying to control them, and ultimately this terrible thing took place. Now what am I to do? I know that what I did was wrong. My energy has almost gone and I seem to be ending my life in darkness." He held my hand, and we sat silently for some time.

Is this a religious life? Is the denial of pleasure or beauty a way that leads to a religious life? To deny the beauty of the skies and the hills and the human form, will that lead to a religious life? But that is what most saints and monks believe. They torture themselves in that belief. Can a tortured, twisted, distorted mind ever find what is a religious life? Yet all religions assert that the only way to reality or to God, or whatever they call it, is through this torture, this distortion. They all make the distinction between what they call a spiritual or religious life and what they call a worldly life.

A man who lives only for pleasure, with occasional flashes of sorrow and piety, whose whole life is given to amusement and entertainment is, of course, a worldly man, although he may also be very clever, very scholarly, and fill his life with other people's thoughts or his own. And a man who has a gift and exercises it for the benefit of society, or for his own pleasure, and who achieves fame in the fulfilment of that gift, such a man, surely, is also worldly. But it is also worldly to go to church, or to the temple or the mosque, to pray, steeped in prejudice, bigotry, utterly unaware of the brutality that this implies. It is worldly to be patriotic, nationalistic, idealistic. The man who shuts himself up in a monastery - getting up at regular hours with a book in hand, reading and praying - is surely also worldly. And the man who goes out to do good works, whether he is a social reformer or a missionary, is just like the politician in his concern with the world. The division between the religious life and the world is the very essence of worldliness. The minds of all these people - monks, saints, reformers - are not very different from the minds of those who are only concerned with the things that give pleasure.

So it is important not to divide life into the worldly and the non-worldly. It is important not to make the distinction between the worldly and the so-called religious. Without the world of matter, the material world, we wouldn't be here. Without the beauty of the sky and the single tree on the hill, without that woman going by and that man riding the horse, life wouldn't be possible. We are concerned with the totality of life not a particular part of it which is considered religious in opposition to the rest. So one begins to see that a religious life is concerned with the whole and not with the particular.
Questioner: I understand what you say. We have to deal with the totality of living; we can't separate the world from the so-called spirit. So the question is: in what way can we act religiously with regard to all the things in life?

Krishnamurti: What do we mean by acting religiously? Don't you mean a way of life in which there is no division - division between the worldly and the religious, between what should be and what shouldn't be, between me and you, between like and dislike? This division is conflict. A life of conflict is not a religious life. A religious life is only possible when we deeply understand conflict. This understanding is intelligence. It is this intelligence that acts rightly. What most people call intelligence is merely deftness in some technical activity, or cunning in business or political chicanery.

Questioner: So my question really means how is one to live without conflict, and bring about that feeling of true sanctity which is not simply emotional piety conditioned by some religious cage - no matter how old and venerated that cage is?

Krishnamurti: A man living without too much conflict in a village, or dreaming in a cave on a "sacred" hillside, is surely not living the religious life that we are talking about. To end conflict is one of the most complex things. It needs self-observation and the sensitivity of awareness of the outer as well as of the inner. Conflict can only end where there is the understanding of the contradiction in oneself. This contradiction will always exist if there is no freedom from the known, which is the past. Freedom from the past means living in the now which is not of time, in which there is only this movement of freedom, untouched by the past, by the known.

Questioner: What do you mean by freedom from the past?

Krishnamurti: The past is all our accumulated memories. These memories act in the present and create our hopes and fears of the future. These hopes and fears are the psychological future: without them there is no future. So the present is the action of the past, and the mind is this movement of the past. The past acting in the present creates what we call the future. This response of the past is involuntary, it is not summoned or invited, it is upon us before we know it.

Questioner: In that case, how are we going to be free of it?

Krishnamurti: To be aware of this movement without choice - because choice again is more of this same movement of the past - is to observe the past in action: such observation is not a movement of the past. To observe without the image of thought is action in which the past has ended. To observe the tree without thought is action without the past. To observe the action of the past is again action without the past. The state of seeing is more important than what is seen. To be aware of the past in that choiceless observation is not only to act differently, but to be different. In this awareness memory acts without impediment, and efficiently. To be religious is to be so choicelessly aware that there is freedom from the known even whilst the known acts wherever it has to.

Questioner: But the known, the past, still sometimes acts even when it should not; it still acts to cause conflict.

Krishnamurti: To be aware of this is also to be in a state of inaction with regard to the past which is acting. So freedom from the known is truly the religious life. That doesn't mean to wipe out the known but to enter a different dimension altogether from which the known is observed. This action of seeing choicelessly is the action of love. The religious life is this action, and all living is this action, and the religious mind is this action. So religion, and the mind, and life, and love, are one.
Seeing the Whole

Questioner: When I listen to you I seem to understand what you are talking about, not only verbally, but at a much deeper level. I am part of it; I fully grasp with my whole being the truth of what you say. My hearing is sharpened, and the very seeing of the flowers, the trees, and those mountains with snow, makes me feel I am part of them. In this awareness I have no conflict, no contradiction. it is as though I could do anything, and that whatever I did would be true, would not bring either conflict or pain. But unfortunately that state doesn't last. Perhaps it lasts for an hour or two while I'm listening to you. When I leave the talks it all seems to evaporate and I'm back where I was. I try to be aware of myself; I keep remembering the state I was in when I listened to your talks, keep trying to reach it, hold on to it, and this becomes a struggle. You have said, "Be aware of your conflict, listen to your conflict, see the causes of your conflict, your conflict is yourself". I am aware of my conflict, my pain, my sorrow, my confusion, but this awareness in no way resolves these things. On the contrary, being aware of them seems to give them vitality and duration. You talk of choiceless awareness, which again breeds another battle in me, for I am full of choice, decisions and opinions. I have applied this awareness to a particular habit I have, and it has not gone. When you are aware of some conflict or strain, this same awareness keeps looking to see if it has already gone. And this seems to remind you of it, and you never shake it off.

Krishnamurti: Awareness is not a commitment to something. Awareness is an observation, both outer and inner, in which direction has stopped. You are aware, but the thing of which you are aware is not being encouraged or nourished. Awareness is not concentration on something. It is not an action of the will choosing what it will be aware of, and analysing it to bring about a certain result. When awareness is deliberately focused on a particular object, as a conflict, that is the action of will which is concentration. When you concentrate - that is, put all your energy and thought within your chosen frontiers, whether reading a book or watching your anger - then, in this exclusion, the thing you are concentrating upon is strengthened, nourished. So here we have to understand the nature of awareness: We have to understand what we are talking about when we use the word awareness. Now, you can either be aware of a particular thing, or be aware of that particular as part of the total. The particular by itself has very little meaning, but when you see the total, then that particular has a relationship to the whole. Only in this relationship does the particular have its right meaning; it doesn't become all-important, it is not exaggerated. So the real question is: does one see the total process of life or is one concentrated on the particular, thus missing the whole field of life? To be aware of the whole field is to see also the particular, but, at the same time, to understand its relationship to the whole. If you are angry and are concerned with ending that anger, then you focus your attention on the anger and the whole escapes you and the anger is strengthened. But anger is interrelated to the whole. So when we separate the particular from the whole, the particular breeds its own problems.

Questioner: What do you mean by seeing the whole? What is this totality you talk about, this extensive awareness in which the particular is a detail? Is it some mysterious, mystical experience? If so then we are lost completely. Or is this perhaps what you are saying, that there is a whole field of existence, of which anger is a part, and that to be concerned with the part is to block out the extensive perception? But what is this extensive perception? I can only see the whole through all its particulars. And what whole do you mean? Are you talking about the whole of the mind, or the whole of existence, or the whole of myself, or the whole of life? What whole do you mean, and how can I see it?

Krishnamurti: The whole field of life: the mind, love, everything which is in life.

Questioner: How can I possibly see all that! I can understand that everything I see is partial, and that all my awareness is awareness of the particular, and that this strengthens the particular.

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