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Jiddhu Krishnamurti (1895 - 1986)


It is important, I think, to understand the nature and the beauty of observation, of seeing. As long as the mind is in any way distorted - by neurotic promptings and feelings, by fear, sorrow, by health, by ambition, snobbishness and the pursuit of power - it cannot possibly listen, watch, see. The art of seeing, listening, watching, is not a thing to be cultivated, it is not a question of evolution and gradual growth. When one is aware of danger there is immediate action, the instinctual, instantaneous response of the body and memory. From childhood one has been conditioned that way to meet danger, so that the mind responds instantly, otherwise there is physical destruction. We are asking whether it is possible to act in the very seeing in which there is no conditioning at all. Can a mind respond freely and instantly to any form of distortion and therefore act? That is, perception, action and expression are all one, they are not divided, broken up. The very seeing is the acting which is the expression of that seeing. When there is an awareness of fear, observe it so intimately that the very observation of it is the freeing of it, which is action. Could we go into that this morning? I feel this is very important: we might be able to penetrate into the unknown. But a mind that is in any way deeply conditioned by its own fears, ambitions, greed, despair and all the rest of it, cannot possibly penetrate into something that requires an extraordinarily healthy, sane, balanced and harmonious being.

So our question is whether a mind - meaning the whole being - can be aware of a particular form of perversion, a particular form of striving, of violence, and seeing it can end it, not gradually but instantly. This means not allowing time to occur between perception and action. When you see danger there is no time interval, instant action takes place.

We are used to the idea that we will gradually become wise, enlightened, by watching, practicing, day after day. That is what we are used to, that is the pattern of our culture and our conditioning. Now we are saying, this gradual process of the mind to free itself from fear or violence is to further fear and to encourage further violence.

Is it possible to end violence - not only outwardly but deep down at the very roots of our being - end the sense of aggression, the pursuit of power? In the very seeing of it completely, can we end it without allowing time to come into being? Can we discuss that this morning? Usually we allow time to enter the interval between seeing and acting, the lag between `what is' and `what should be.' There is the desire to get rid of what is in order to achieve or to become something else. One must understand this time interval very clearly. We think in those terms because from childhood we are brought up and educated to think: eventually, gradually, we will be something. Outwardly, technologically one can see that time is necessary. I can't become a first-class carpenter, or physicist, or mathematician, without spending many years at it. One may have the clarity - I dislike to use the word `intuition' - to see a mathematical issue when one is quite young. And one realizes that to cultivate the memory that is demanded in learning a new technique or a new language, time is absolutely necessary. I can't speak German tomorrow, I need many months. I know nothing about electronics and to learn about it I need perhaps many years. So don't let's confuse the time element that is necessary in order to learn a technique with the danger of allowing time to interfere with perception and action.

Questioner: Should we talk about children about growing up? Krishnamurti: A child has to grow up. He has to learn so many things. When one says, `You must grow up,' it is a rather derogatory word.

Questioner: Sir, partial psychological change does take place within us.

Krishnamurti: Of course! One has been angry, or one is angry, and one says `I mustn't be angry' and gradually one works at it and brings about a partial state when one is a little less angry, less irritable and more controlled.

Questioner: I don't mean that.

Krishnamurti: Then what do you mean, Madam?

Questioner: I mean something that you have and you have dropped. There may be confusion again, but it's not the same.

Krishnamurti: Yes, but is it not always the same confusion, only a little modified? There is a modified continuity. You may stop depending on somebody, going through the pain of dependence and the ache of loneliness, and saying, `I will no longer be dependent.' And perhaps you will be able to drop it. So you say a certain change has taken place. The next dependence will not be exactly the same as it was before. And again you go into it and you drop it and so on. Now we are asking whether it is possible to see the whole nature of dependence and instantly be free of it - not gradually - as you would act immediately when there is danger. This is really an important issue into which we should go not only verbally but deeply, inwardly. Watch the implication of it. The whole of Asia believes in reincarnation: that is, one will be born again in the next life depending on how you have lived in this life. If you have lived brutally, aggressively, destructively, you are going to pay for it in the next life. You don't neces- sarily become an animal, you go back to a human state living a more painful, more destructive life, because before you have not lived a life of beauty. Those who believe in this idea of reincarnation, believe only in the word, but not in the depth of the meaning of that word. What you do now matters infinitely for tomorrow - because tomorrow, which is the next life, you are going to pay for it. So the idea of gradually attaining different forms is essentially the same in the East and in the West. There is always this time element, the `what is' and `what should be.' To achieve what should be requires time, time being effort, concentration, attention. As one has not got attention or concentration, there is a constant effort to practice attention, which requires time.

There must be a different way altogether of tackling this problem. One must understand perception, both seeing and action; they are not separate, they are not divided. We must equally inquire into the question of action, of doing. What is action, the doing?

Questioner: How can a blind man who has no perception, act?

Krishnamurti: Have you ever tried putting a band round your eyes for a week? We did, for fun. You know, you develop other sensitivities, your senses become much sharper. Before you come to the wall or the chair or the desk, you already know it is there. We are talking of being blind to ourselves, inwardly. We are terribly aware of things outwardly, but inwardly we are blind.

What is action? Is action always based on an idea, a principle, a belief, a conclusion, a hope, a despair? If one has an idea, an ideal, one is conforming to that ideal; there is an interval between the ideal and the act. That interval is time. `I shall be that ideal' - by identifying myself with that ideal, eventually that ideal will act and there will be no separation between action and the ideal. What takes place when there is this ideal and the action that is approximating itself to the ideal? In that time interval what takes place?

Questioner: Incessant comparison.

Krishnamurti: Yes, comparison and all the rest of it. What action takes place, if you observe?

Questioner: We ignore the present.

Krishnamurti: Then, what else?

Questioner: Contradiction.

Krishnamurti: It is a contradiction. It leads to hypocrisy. I am angry and the ideal says, `Don't be angry.' I am suppressing, controlling, conforming, approximating myself to the ideal and therefore I am always in conflict and pretending. The idealist is a person who pretends. Also, in this division there is conflict. There are other factors which come into being.

Questioner: Why aren't we allowed to remember our former lives? Our evolution would be much easier.

Krishnamurti: Would it?

Questioner: We could avoid mistakes.

Krishnamurti: What do you mean by former life? The life of yesterday, twenty-four hours ago?

Questioner: The last incarnation.

Krishnamurti: Which is a hundred years ago? How would it make life easier?

Questioner: We would understand better. Krishnamurti: Please follow it step by step - you would have the memory of what you did or did not do, of what you suffered a hundred years ago, which is exactly the same as yesterday. Yesterday you did many things which you like or regret, which caused you pain, despair and sorrow. There is the memory of all that. And you have the memory of a thousand years, which is essentially the same as yesterday. Why call that reincarnation, and not the incarnation of yesterday, which is being born today. You see, we don't like that because we think we are extraordinary beings, or we have time to grow, to become, to reincarnate. What it is that reincarnates you have never looked at - which is your memory. There is nothing sacred or holy about it. Your memory of yesterday is being born today in what you are doing; the yesterday is controlling what you are doing today. And a thousand years of memories is operating through yesterday and through today. So there is constant incarnation of the past. Don't think this is a clever way out of it, an explanation. When one sees the importance of memory and the utter futility of it, then one will never talk about reincarnation.

We are asking what action is. Is action ever free, spontaneous, immediate? Or is action always bound by time, which is thought, which is memory?

Questioner: I was watching a cat catching a mouse. She doesn't think, `It's a mouse; immediately, instinctively, she catches it. It seems to me we must also act spontaneously.

Krishnamurti: Not `we must,' `we should.' Sir, please - I think we shall never say `we should' `we must' when we understand the time element essentially. We are asking ourselves, not verbally, not intellectually, but deeply, inwardly, what is action? Is action always time-binding? Action born out of a memory, out of fear, out of despair, is always time-binding. Is there an action which is completely free and therefore free of time? Questioner: You say one sees a snake and acts immediately. But snakes grow with action. Life is not so simple, there is not only one snake, but two snakes, and it becomes like a mathematical problem. Then time comes in.

Krishnamurti: You are saying we live in a world of tigers and one doesn't meet only one tiger but a dozen tigers in human form, who are brutal, violent, avaricious, greedy, each one pursuing his own particular delight. And to live and to act in that world you need time to kill one tiger after another. The tiger is myself - is in me - there are a dozen tigers in me. And you said, to get rid of those tigers, one by one, you need time. That is just what we are questioning altogether. We have accepted that it requires time to gradually kill those snakes which are in me one after the other. The `me' is the `you' - the `you' with your tigers, with your serpents - all this is also the `me.' And we say, why kill those animals which are in me one after the other? There are a thousand `me's' inside me, a thousand snakes, and by the time I have killed them all I shall be dead.

So is there a way - do please listen to it, don't answer it, find out - of getting rid of all the snakes at once, nor gradually? Can I see the danger of all the animals, all the contradictions in me and be free of them instantly? If I cannot do it, then there is no hope for me. I can pretend all kinds of things but if I cannot wipe away everything that is in me immediately, I am a slave forever, whether I am reborn in a next life or in ten thousand lives. So I have to find a way of acting, of looking, that brings to an ending the instant of perception, brings to an end the particular dragon, the particular monkey in me.

Questioner: Do it!

Krishnamurti: No, Madam, please, this is really an extraordinary question, you can't just say `do this' or `don't do that. This requires a tremendous inquiry; don't tell me that you have got it or that you should do this or that, that doesn't interest me - I want to find out.

Questioner: If only I could see it!

Krishnamurti: No, please, not `if.'

Questioner: If I perceive something, should I put it into words or just let it remain in me?

Krishnamurti: Why do you translate what has been said in very simple language into your own words - why can't you see what is being said? We have got many animals in us, many dangers. Can I be free of them all with one perception - seeing immediately? You may have done it, Madam, I am not questioning whether you have done it or not, that would be impudence on my part. But I am asking, is this possible?

Questioner: Action has two parts. The inner, decisional part takes place immediately. The action toward the outer world needs time. Decision means inner action. To bridge over these two aspects of action necessitates time. This is a problem of language, of transmission.

Krishnamurti: I understand, Sir. There is outward action which needs time, and inward action which is perception and action. How is this inward action, with its perception, decision and immediate action, to be bridged over to the other action which needs time? Is the question clear?

If I may point out, I do not think it requires a bridge. There is no bridging over or connecting the two. I'll show you what I mean. I realize very clearly that to go from here to there takes time, to learn a language needs time, to do anything physically needs time. Is time necessary inwardly? If I can understand the nature of time, then I will deal with the time element in the outer world rightly, and not let that interfere with the inward state. So I am not beginning with the outer, because I recognize the outer needs time. But I am asking myself whether in inward perception, decision, action, time is there at all. Therefore I am asking, `Is decision necessary at all?' - decision being an instant part of time - a second, a point. `I decide' means there is an element of time; decision is based on will and desire, all that implies time. So I am asking, why should decision enter into this at all? Or is that decision part of my conditioning which says. `You must have time.'

So is there perception and action without decision? That is, I am aware of fear, a fear brought about by thought, by past memories, by experiences, the incarnation of that yesterday's fear into today. I have understood the whole nature, the structure, the inwardness of fear. And the seeing of it without decision is action which is the freedom from it. Is this possible? Don't say yes, I have done it, or somebody else has done it - that's not the point. Can this fear end instantly on its arising? There are the superficial fears, which are the fears of the world. The world is full of tigers and those tigers, which are part of me, are going to destroy; therefore there is a war between me - a part of the tiger - and the rest of the tigers.

There is also inward fear - being psychologically insecure, psychologically uncertain - all brought about by thought. Thought breeds pleasure, thought breeds fear - I see all that. I see the danger of fear as I see the danger of a snake, of a precipice, of deep running water - I see the danger completely. And the very seeing is the ending, without the interval of even the slightest second of making a decision.

Questioner: Sometimes you can recognize a fear and yet you still have that fear.

Krishnamurti: One has to go into this very carefully. First of all, I don't want to get rid of fear. I want to express it, to understand it, to let it flow, let it come, explode in me, and all the rest of it. I don't know anything about fear. I know I am afraid. Now I want to find out what level, at what depth I am afraid, consciously, or at the very root, at the deep levels of my being - in the caves, in the unexplored regions of my mind. I want to find out. I want it all to come out, be exposed. So how shall I do that? I must do it - not gradually - you understand? It must come out of my being completely.

Questioner: If there are a thousand tigers and I sit on the ground I can't see them. But if I move to a plain above I can deal with them.

Krishnamurti: Not `if'. `If I could fly I would see the beauty of the earth., I can't fly, I am here. I am afraid these theoretical questions have no value at all and apparently we don't realize that. I am hungry and you are feeding me with theories. Here is a problem, do please look at it, because we are all afraid, everyone has fear of some kind or another. There are deep, hidden fears and I am very well aware of the superficial fears, the fears of the world; the fears that arise out of losing a job or of this and that - losing my wife, my son. I know that very well. Perhaps there are deeper layers of fears. How am I, how is this mind to expose all that instantly? What do you say?

Questioner: Do you say that we must chase the animal away once and for all or do we have to hunt it every time?

Krishnamurti: The questioner says, you are suggesting that it is possible to chase the animal away entirely, forever, not chase it one day and let it come back the next day. That is what we are saying. I don't want to chase the animal repeatedly. That is what all the schools, all the saints and all the religions and psychologists say: chase it away little by little. It doesn't mean a thing to me. I want to find out how to chase the animal away so that it will never come back. And when it comes back I know what to do, I won't let it enter the house. You understand?

Questioner: We must now give the animal its right name: it is thought. And when it comes back we'll know what to do with it.

Krishnamurti: I don't know what to do - we'll see. You are all so eager!

Questioner: This is our life - we have to be eager!

Krishnamurti: Eager to answer (was meant). Of course we have to be eager. This is such a difficult subject; you can't just throw in a lot of words. This requires care.

Questioner: Why don't we actually do perception right now?

Krishnamurti: That is what I am proposing.

Questioner: What happens if I look at you? First I get a presentation of you. Please look at me. The first thing that happens is the visual presentation of me, right? Then what happens? Thought happens about the presentation.

Krishnamurti: That's what the lady was saying, exactly the same thing. Thought is the animal. Stick to that animal, please. Don't say the animal is thought, or the self, the me, the ego, fear, greed, envy, and then go back to another description of it. That animal, we say, is all this. And we see that animal cannot be chased out gradually, because it will always come back in different forms. Being somewhat aware, I say: how stupid all this is, this constant chasing of the animal - its coming back and chasing it again. I want to find out if it is possible to chase it completely away so that it will never come back. Questioner: I see different functions in myself, with different velocities. If one function pursues another, nothing happens. For instance, if emotion pursues idea. One must look with all functions.

Krishnamurti: It is the same thing you are putting into different words.

Questioner: You started to give an explanation which was interrupted. You began to say that you did not want to get rid of fear at all.

Krishnamurti: I said to you, first of all, I don't want to get rid of the animal. I don't want to chase him out. Before I take the whip or the velvet glove, I want to know who is chasing him out. Perhaps it may be a bigger tiger that is chasing him out. So I say to myself, I don't want to chase anything out. See the importance of it!

Questioner: Chasing out might be your eventual death sentence.

Krishnamurti: No, I don't know. Go slow, Sir, let me explain. I say before I chase the animal, I want to find out who is the entity that is going to chase it. And I say, it may be a bigger tiger. If I want to get rid of all the tigers, it is no good getting a bigger tiger to chase the little tiger. So I say wait, I don't want to chase anything out. See what is happening to my mind. I don't want to chase anything out but I want to look. I want to observe, I want to be very clear whether a bigger tiger is chasing a little tiger. This game will go on forever, that's what is going on in the world - the tyranny of one particular country chasing a smaller country.

So I am now very aware - please follow this - that I mustn't chase anything. I must root out this principle of chasing something out, overcoming it, dominating it. Because the decision which says `I must get rid of that tiny little tiger' may grow in to the big tiger. So there must be complete cessation of all decision, of all the urge to get rid of something, to chase away anything. Then I can look. Then I say to myself (I mean this verbally), `I won't chase anything away.' Therefore I am free of the burden of time, which is to chase one tiger with another tiger. In that there is a time interval and so I say, `Therefore I won't do a thing, I won't chase, I won't act, I won't decide, I must first look.'

I am looking - I don't mean the ego, but the mind is looking, the brain is watching. I can spot the various tigers, the mother tiger with her cubs and the husband; I can watch all that but there must be deeper things inside me and I want them all exposed. Shall I expose them through action, through doing? Getting more and more angry and then calming down, and a week later again getting angry and then calming down? Or is there a way of looking at all the tigers, the little one, the big one, the one just being born - all of them? Can I watch them all so completely that I've understood the whole business? If I am not capable of that, then my life will go on in the old routine, in the bourgeois way, the complicated, the stupid, the cunning way. That's all. So if you have known how to listen the morning's sermon is over.

Do you remember the story of a master speaking to his disciples every morning? One day he gets onto the rostrum and a little bird comes and sits on the window-sill and begins to sing and the master lets it sing. After it has been singing for a while it flies away. And the master says to the disciples, 'This morning's sermon is over.'