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Jiddhu Krishnamurti (1895 - 1986)


During the past several weeks that we have met, we have been considering the problems that affect our whole being, not at any one particular level but the whole process of consciousness, the way of thinking and the effects that produce the false process of thought. We see that the process of thinking is a deteriorating factor. Perhaps this may be, for those who are here for the first time, rather startling or surprising; or they may think that it is rather an idiotic statement; but those who have been earnestly pursuing these talks, need no further explanations. For, explanations are really detrimental to understanding; we are so easily fed by words; we are so easily satisfied by explanations, by a sound sensation; the oft-repeated explanation, or the word is sufficient to make the mind dull.

So, those who have carefully and somewhat seriously followed these talks will, I think, have observed or be aware that thinking, as we now practice it, indulge in it, is one of the major factors that divide man from man; it is one of the factors that bring about no action that postpone action; because ideas are the result of thought and they can never produce action. There is a gap between idea and thought, and our difficulty is to bridge the gap into which we have fallen.

I would like to discuss or consider this evening this question of self-deception, the delusions that the mind indulges in and imposes upon itself and upon others; that is a very serious matter, especially in a crisis of this kind which the world is facing. But in order to understand this whole problem of self-deception, we must follow it, not merely verbally, not at the verbal level, but intrinsically, fundamentally and deeply. As I was saying, we are too easily satisfied with words and counter-words; we are worldwise; and being world wise, all that we can do is to hope that something will happen. We see that the explanation of war does not stop war; there are innumerable historians, theologians and religious people explaining war and how it comes into being; but wars still go on, perhaps more destructive than ever. Those of us who are really earnest, must go beyond the word, must seek this fundamental revolution within oneself; that is the only remedy which can bring about a lasting, fundamental redemption of mankind.

Similarly, when we are discussing this kind of self-deception, I think we should guard ourselves against any superficial explanations and rejoinders; we should, if I may suggest, not merely listen to a speaker, but follow the problem as we know it in our daily life; that is, we should watch ourselves in thinking and in action, watch ourselves how we affect others and how we proceed to act from ourselves.

What is the reason, the basis, for self-deception? How many of us are aware actually that we are deceiving ourselves? Before we can answer the question `What is self-deception and how does it arise?', must we not be aware that we are deceiving our selves? Do we know that we are deceiving ourselves? What do we mean by this deception? I think iL is very important; because the more we are deceived, the more we deceive ourselves, the greater is the strength in the deception which gives us a certain vitality, a certain energy, a certain capacity which entails the imposing of my deception on others. So, gradually I am not only imposing deception on myself but on others. It is an interacting process of self deception. Are we aware of this process because we think we are very capable of thinking clearly, purposefully and directly. Are we aware that, in this process of thinking, there is self-deception?

Is not thought itself a process of search, a seeking of justification, seeking security, self-protection, a desire to be well thought of, a desire to have position, prestige and power? Is not this desire to be, politically or religious-sociologically, the very cause of self-deception? The moment I want something other than the purely materialistic, do I not produce, do I not bring about, a state which easily accepts? Take for example this: I want to know what happens after death, which many of us are interested in - the older we are, the more interested we are. We want to know the truth of it. How will we find it? Certainly not by reading, nor through the different explanations.

Then, how will you find it out? First, you must purge your mind completely of every factor that is in the way - every hope, every desire to continue, every desire to find out what is on that side. Because, the mind is constantly seeking security, it has the desire to continue, and hopes for a means of fulfilment, for a future exis- tence. Such a mind, though it is seeking the truth of life after death, reincarnation or whatever it is, is incapable of discovering that truth. Is it not? What is important is, not whether reincarnation is true or not, but how the mind seeks justification, through self-deception, of a fact which may or may not be. So, what is important is the approach to the problem, with what motivation, with what urge, with what desire you come to it.

The seeker is always imposing upon himself this deception; no one can impose it upon him; he himself does it. We create deception and then we become slaves to it. So, the fundamental factor of self-deception is this constant desire to be something in this world and in the world hereafter. We know the result of wanting to be something in this world; it is utter confusion where each is competing with the other, each is destroying the other in the name of peace; you know the whole game we play with each other, which is an extraordinary form of self-deception. Similarly, we want security in the other world, a position.

So, we begin to deceive ourselves the moment there is this urge to be, to become or to achieve. That is very difficult for the mind to be free from. That is one of the basic problems of our life. Is it possible to live in this world and be nothing? Because, then only there is freedom from all deception, because then only the mind is not seeking a result, the mind is not seeking a satisfactory answer, the mind is not seeking any form of justification, the mind is not seeking security in any form, in any relationship. That takes place only when the mind realizes the possibilities and subtleties of deception, and therefore, with understanding, the mind abandons every form of justification, security - which means, the mind is capable then of being completely nothing. Is that possible?

Surely as long as we deceive ourselves in any form, there can be no love. As long as the mind is capable of creating and imposing upon itself a delusion, it obviously separates itself from collective or integrated understanding. That is one of our difficulties; we do not know how to cooperate; all that we know is to work together towards an end which both of us bring into being. Surely, there can be cooperation only when you and I have no common aim created by thought. Go slowly with me because I see several people are not following me. What is important to realize is that cooperation is only possible when you and I do not desire to be anything. When you and I desire to be something, then belief and all the rest of it become necessary, a self-projected utopia is necessary; but it you and I are anonymously creating without any self-deception, without any barriers of belief and knowledge, without a desire to be secure, then there is true cooperation.

Is it possible for us to cooperate, for us to be together without an end, without a result, which you and I are not seeking? Can you and I work together without seeking a result? Surely that is true cooperation. Is it not? If you and I think out, work out, plan out a result, and we are working together towards that result, then what is the process involved in it? Our minds are meeting, our thoughts, our intellectual minds are of course meeting; emotionally, the whole being may be resisting it, which brings about deception, which brings about conflict between you and me. It is an obvious and observable fact in our every day life. You and I agree to do a certain piece of work intellectually; but unconsciously, deeply, you and I are at battle with each other; I want a result to my satisfaction; I want to dominate; I want my name to be ahead of yours though I am said to be working with you. So, we both who are creators of that plan, are really opposing each other, even though outwardly you and I agree as to the plan; inwardly, we are at battle with each other, though consciously we may agree.

So, is it not important to find out whether you and I can cooperate, commune, live together in a world where you and I are nothing; whether we are able really and truly to cooperate, not at the superficial level but fundamentally? That is one of our greatest problems, perhaps the greatest. I identify myself with an object and you identify your self with the same object; both of us are interested in it; both of us are intending to bring it about. Surely, this process of thinking is very superficial, because through identification, we bring about separation - which is so obvious in our every day life. You are a Hindu and I a Catholic; we both preach brotherhood and we are at each other's throats. Why? That is one of our problems, is it not? Unconsciously and deeply, you have your beliefs and I have mine. By talking about brotherhood, we have not solved the whole problem of beliefs, but we have only theoretically and intellectually agreed that this should be so; inwardly and deeply, we are against each other.

Until we dissolve those barriers which are a self-deception, which give us a certain vitality, there can be no cooperation between you and me. Through identification with a group with a particular idea, with a particular country, we can never bring about cooperation.

Belief does not bring about cooperation; on the contrary, it divides. We see how one political party is against another, each believing in a certain way of dealing with the economic problems, and so they are all at war with one another. They are not resolved in solving the problem of starvation, for instance. They are concerned with the theories which are going to solve that problem. They are not actually concerned with the problem itself but the method by which the problem will be solved. So, there must be contention between the two, because they are concerned with the idea and not with the problem. Similarly, religious people are against each other though they verbally say they have all one life, one God; you know all that. But inwardly, their beliefs, their opinions, their experiences are destroying them and are keeping them separate.

So, experience becomes a dividing factor in our human relationship; experience is a way of deception. If I have experienced something, I cling to it; I do not go into the whole problem of the process of experiencing; but because I have experienced, that is sufficient and I cling to it and thereby I impose, through that experience, self-deception.

So, our difficulty is that each of us is so identified with a particular belief, with a particular form or method in bringing about happiness, economic adjustment, that our mind is captured by that and we are incapable of going deeper into the problem; therefore, we desire to remain aloof individually in our particular ways, beliefs and experiences. Until we dissolve and understand them, not only at the superficial level but at the deeper level, there can be no peace in the world. That is why it is important for those who are really serious, to understand this whole problem - the desire to become, to achieve, to gain - not only at the superficial level but fundamentally and deeply; other wise, there can be no peace in the world. Truth is not something to be gained. Love cannot come to those who have a desire to hold on to it or who like to become identified with it. Surely such things come when the mind does not seek, when the mind is completely quiet, when the mind is no longer creating movements and beliefs upon which it can depend or from which it derives a certain strength, which is an indication of self-deception. it is only when the mind understands this whole process of desire, can the mind be still. Only then, the mind is not in movement to be or not to be; then only is there the possibility of a state in which no deception of any kind is possible.

Question: One starts with good will and the desire to help; but unfortunately, to help constructively, one joins various organizations, political or religious-sociological. Presently, one finds oneself cut off from all goodness and charity. How does this happen?

Krishnamurti: Can we think out the problem now together? That is, don't merely listen to me explaining the question, but observe yourself in action in daily life. Most of us, especially if we are young and still sensitive and impressionable, want to do something about this world with its misery and starvation. As we grow older, unfortunately, that sensitivity gets dull.

Being sensitive, desiring to do good, being compassionate, you see all this misery, the village next door, hunger, squalor, every form of desire, corruption; and you want to do some thing. So, you look around. Then what happens? You go to various meetings of the extreme left, middle or of the right, or pick up a religious book and try to solve the problem. If you are religiously inclined, you explain it away - Karma; reincarnation, growth, evolution, `It is so' or `It is not so', and so on. But if you are politically mindful of it, then you attend various meetings; the more left promise immediate results; they show what can be done immediately; they are completely adhering to a particular idea, particular concept, particular formula; they keep photographs of what they have done or what they will do and they have all their literature; all that convinces you more than what others say, and so you are caught in it. You start out wanting to do good with a certain compassionate desire to bring about a result, and you end up in a political organization which promises a future reward, a future utopia.

You who are so eager to bring about a result, join the organization; your eagerness has gone into political activity, into an idea and not immediate action but a future through certain ideological methods, practices and discipline and so on. You are concerned then more with the method, with the party, with the group, with the particular dialectical ideas and so on, rather than with how you should act now to produce a change. Have we not introduced deception, a postponement, a forgetfulness, a deception not of the problem, of the evil that creates the problem, but the deception of the opposing parties which prevents us from doing anything? The result is that we have lost goodness, we have lost charity, we are cut off from all that, from all the source of compassion and love. We call this immediate action. That is the case with most of us. Is it not?

We join groups, we join societies hoping something good will come out of it; and soon we are lost in beliefs, in contention, in ambitions, in appalling stupidities. The difficulty with most of us is that we are cut off; we are in the midst of the society, the group, the political party; we are all prisoners, and it is so difficult to break away, because the parties, the groups, the religious organizations have the power to excommunicate you; they threaten you because they have the power, economic and psychological power, and you are at their mercy; you have committed yourself, and your interests are with them, both psychologically and economically. It requires a great deal of understanding to break away from all this. No one will help us because every body believes something and has committed himself to something or other. Being caught in all this one grows old; then there is despair and tragedy, and one accepts it as the inevitable.

Is it possible to see this whole total process of how goodness, charity, love, are destroyed by our stupidity because we are all so eager to do some thing? The very desire, to want to do something, brings about self-deception. We have not the patience to wait, to look, to observe, to know more deeply. The very desire to be active in doing good is a deception because the clever man is waiting there to use your goodness, your desire to help; we give ourselves over to him, to be exploited, to be used.

Is it not possible to look at all this, be aware of the whole content of this problem, and to break away, not theoretically but actually, face the problem so as to revive again that pristine goodness, that sense of being intimate with people, which is really being in a state of love? That is the only way to act. When there is love, that will bring about an extraordinary state, an extraordinary result, which you and I cannot plan to produce, cannot think out. All the clever people have planned, thought out; look at what is happening; they are at each others' throats, each destroying the other.

Seeing this whole problem, those who are serious have obviously to break away. In the very breaking is the renewal; in the very seeing is the action which is not idea first and action afterwards.

Question: Why do you say that knowledge and belief must be suppressed for truth to be?

Krishnamurti: What is your know ledge and what is your belief? Actually when you examine your knowledge or your belief, what is it? Memories, are they not? What have you knowledge of? Of your past memories, knowledge of other peoples' experiences written down in a book! Actually when you think about your knowledge, what is it? It is past memory; you are acquiring certain explanations from others, and you have your own experiences based upon your memories. You meet an incident and you translate that incident according to your memory which you call experience. Your knowledge is a process of recognition. We know what beliefs are. They are created by the mind in its desire to be certain, to be safe, to be secure.

So, how can such a mind, crippled with knowledge which is the accumulation of the past translating the present in terms of its own convenience, how can such a mind burdened with such knowledge, understand what truth is? Truth must be something beyond time. It cannot be projected by my mind; it cannot be carved out of my experience; it must be something unknowable from my past experience. If I know it is from the past, I recognize it. therefore it is not true. If it is merely a belief, then it is a projection of my own desires.

Why are we so proud of our knowledge? We are enclosed in our beliefs, in the state of knowledge in the sense it is understood commonly. You are afraid to be nothing. That is why you put so many titles; you give your selves names, ideas, reputation, a vulgar show. With all this burden on your mind, you say `I am seeking truth, I want to understand the truth'. When you closely examine the whole process of acquisition of knowledge and the erection of belief, what happens? Surely, you see that they are the tricks of the mind, to believe, to know; because they give you a certain prestige, certain powers; people respect you as an extraordinary man who has read so much and who knows so much. As you grow older, you demand more respect because you have grown in wisdom, at least you think so; all that you have done is to be ripened in your own experience. Belief destroys human beings, separates human beings. A man who believes, can never love; because to him belief is greater than being kind, gentle, thoughtful; belief gives a certain strength, a certain vitality, a false sense of security.

So, when you examine this whole thing, what have you? Nothing but words, nothing but memory. Truth is something that must be beyond the imagination, beyond the process of the mind. It must be eternally new, a thing that cannot be recognized, that cannot be described. When you quote what Sankara, Buddha, X Y Z has said, you have already begun to compare - which shows that through comparison you have stopped thinking, feeling, experiencing. That is one of the tricks of the mind. Your knowledge is destroying the immediate perception of what is truth.

That is why it is important to understand this whole process of knowledge and belief and to put them away. Be simple, see these things simply, not with a cunning mind. Then you will see the mind which has acquired so much experience, so many explanations. which is bound by so many beliefs, itself becoming new. Then the mind is no longer seeking the new, it is no longer recognizing, it has ceased to recognize; and there fore, it is in a state of constant experiencing, not in relation to the past; there is a new movement which is not repeatable.

That is why it is important that all knowledge, all belief, should be understood. You can't suppress knowledge; you have to understand it; you can't lock the door on knowledge. Now what is your reaction? You will go away from here and proceed in the same old manner because you are afraid to move from the old pattern.

To find the truth there is no guru, there is no example, there is no path; virtue will not lead to truth; practice of virtue is self-perpetuation. Knowledge obviously leads only to respectability. That man who is respectable and enclosed by his own importance will never find truth. The mind must be completely empty, not seeking, not projecting. It is only when the mind is utterly still, that there is possibility of that which is immeasurable.

Question: What is the relationship between what the psychologists call intuition and what you call understanding?

Krishnamurti: Don't let us bother about what the psychologists say. What do you mean by intuition? We use that word. Don't we? I have used the word `understanding' very often. Let us find out what it means.

What do we mean by intuition? Don't introduce what other people say. You use that word intuition. What is an intuitive feeling? Whether it is right or wrong, you have a feeling that it must be so or it must not be so. By intuitive feeling, we mean a feeling that is not rationalized, that is not very logically thought out, a feeling which you subscribe to beyond the mind, which you call a flash from higher consciousness. We are not seeing if there is intuition or not, but we want to find out the truth of it.

First of all, it is very easy to deceive oneself. Is it not? I have an intuitive feeling that reincarnation is true. Don't you have it? Not because you have read about it, but you have a feeling about it; your intuition says so and you grant it. I am only taking that as an example; we are not considering the truth of the matter whether there is or there is not continuity. Now, what is involved in the intuitive feeling? Your hope, your desire, continuity, fear, despair, feeling of emptiness, loneliness, all these are driving you; all these urge you to hold on to the idea of reincarnation. So, your own desire unconsciously projects that intuitive feeling.

Without understanding this whole process of desire, you cannot depend on intuition which may be extraordinarily deceptive. In some cases, in tuition is deceptive. Don't talk about scientists having intuitive perception of a problem; you are not scientists. We are just ordinary people with our every day problems. The scientists work impersonally about a mathematical problem; they work at it, work at it, can't see an answer and then let it go; as they work, they suddenly see the answer; and that is their intuition. But we don't tackle our problems that way. We are too intimate with our problems; we are confined, limited by our own desires; and our own desires dictate, consciously or unconsciously, the attitude, the response, the reaction. We use the word `intuition' in this connection.

Understanding is the whole perception of the problem; which is, understanding the desire and the ways it acts. When you understand, you will see there is no entity as the examiner who is looking at the examined problem. This understanding is not in tuition. This understanding is the seeing of the process how the desire works, entirely, not just at the superficial level; it is going completely into the thing, in which every possibility of deception is revealed.

Understanding is an integrated process, whereas intuition, as we use it, is departmental. The latter operates occasionally; the rest of the time, we are all stupid. What is the good of having such intuition? One moment, you see things clearly; and for the rest of the time, you are just the old stupid entity that you were. Understanding is an integrated process, functioning all the time; and that comes into being when we are aware of the total process of desire.

Question: You say that life, as we live, is negation and so there cannot be love. Will you please explain?

Krishnamurti: Why do you want my explanation? Don't you know this? Are our lives very creative, very positive? At least we think we are positive. But the result is negation. We are very positive in our greed, in our hatreds, in our envy, in our ambition. We know that. Don't we? Class division, communal division, natural divisions, every form of destruction, separation, isolation - all these are there.

Our life, though it appears positive, is actually a negation because it leads to death, destruction, misery. You will not accept that because you will say `We are doing everything positive in this world; we can't live in a state of negation'. But what you are doing is a negative act. Whatever you are doing is an act of death. How can such an activity be anything but negation? If you are ambitious, you are destructive, corrupting, corroding in your relationships; Every act of yours is a negative act.

How can a mind whose whole existence is a series of negation, know love? Then you ask me what love is. Imitation is death; yet, we have examples which we want to follow, we have power; we have gurus; we follow the process of repetition, imitation, routine - which is what? Death, abnegation! Is it not? How can such a thing comprehend any thing? Such an entity can't know love.

The only thing that is positive is love. That comes into being only when the negative state is not, when you are not ambitious, when you are not corrupt, when you are not envious. First you must recognize that which is, and in understanding that which is, the other comes into being.

February 9, 1952