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Jiddhu Krishnamurti (1895 - 1986)


Could we discuss the problems of deterioration and death? Why is it that the mechanism of the mind has an inbuilt tendency to deteriorate, an ebbing away of energy?

K: Why does the body, the mind deteriorate?

P: With age, with time, the body deteriorates; but why does the mind deteriorate? At the end of life, there is the death of the body and the death of the mind. But the death of the mind can take place even when the body is alive. If, as you say, the brain cells contain consciousness, then, with the deterioration of the cells of the human body, is it not inevitable that the cells of the human mind, the brain, will also deteriorate?

K: Are we talking about the deterioration of the whole structure of the mind and the brain with age, with time? The biologists have given the answer. What do they say?

M: The cells of the brain and the body deteriorate because there is no process of elimination. They are not made for perpetual functioning. They do not completely eliminate the products of their own metabolism. If they were given a chance to wash themselves out completely, they could live for ever.

K: The question is: Why does the brain, which has been active during a certain period of time, deteriorate? And the biological answer to that is, given sufficient cleansing power, it can go on living for ever. What is the cleansing element?

M: Adequate elimination.

K: It is much deeper than that, surely.

M: Adequate elimination is the outer expression of the cleansing process. P: That's not adequate. If that were so the human body if adequately cleansed, would not deteriorate. But death is inevitable. Is the mind different from the brain cells?

K: Is it a deterioration of energy or a deterioration of the brain cells in their capacity to produce energy? Let us first put the question clearly.

B: When we say that the brain deteriorates, the assumption is that the brain is very alive at some stage, but one of the problems of existence is the mediocrity of the mind.

K: The question is: Why does the brain not keep its quality of sharpness, clarity, deep energy? As it gets older, it seems to deteriorate. This happens even at the age of twenty. It is already held in a groove and gradually peters out. I want to find out if it is a matter of age. You can see that certain minds, even though they are quite young, have already lost this quality of swiftness. They are already caught in a groove and the deteriorating factor has already begun.

S: Is it that we are born with a certain conditioning? Is that the determining factor?

K: Is it a matter of conditioning and the breaking through of that conditioning which frees energy and therefore enables the mind to go on indefinitely; or has the deterioration to do with a mind that functions in decisions?

S: What do you mean by functioning in decisions?

K: That which operates through choice and will. One decides the course of action one is going to take, and that decision is based not on clarity, not on the observation of the total field, but according to satisfaction and enjoyment, which are fragments of that field. And one continues to live in that fragmentation. That is one of the factors of deterioration. My choice to be a scientist may be based on environmental influence, family influence, or my own desire to achieve success in a certain direction. These many considerations being about the choice of a particular profession, and that decision, that choice and the action from that choice, is one of the factors of deterioration. I disregard the rest of the field and only follow a particular narrow corner of that field. The brain cells do not function totally but only in one direction. See, this is rather interesting. Don't accept this. We are examining it.

P: Are you saying that the brain functions not fully, but only in one direction.

K: The whole brain is not active, and I think that is the factor of deterioration. You asked what are the factors of deterioration, not whether the mind is capable of seeing the total or not. I have observed for these many years that a mind that has followed a certain course of action disregarding the totality of action, deteriorates.

P: Let us explore that. The brain cells themselves have an inbuilt sense of time, sense of memory, instinct. They operate as reflexes. The very nature of operating in reflexes limits the brain from functioning totally. And we know no other way.

K: We are trying to find out what are the factors of deterioration. When we see what the factors are, perhaps we may get to the other, see the total.

P: One can think of twenty factors of conflict, for instance.

K: Let us not take too many. A pursuit, based on choice, which has the motive of satisfaction of fulfilment or the desire to achieve, that action must create conflict. So, conflict is one of the factors of deterioration. Perhaps that is the major factor of deterioration. I decide to become a politician. I decide to become a religious man. I decide to become an artist, a sannyasi; that decision is made by a conditioning brought about by a culture which is in its very nature fragmentary. That is, I decide to be a bachelor because from what I have seen, from what I have heard, I think that to attain God, Truth, Enlightenment, I must remain celibate. I disregard the whole structure of human existence, the biological, the sociological, and all the rest of it. That decision obviously brings about a conflict in me, a sexual conflict, a conflict in keeping away from people, and so on. That is one of the factors of the deterioration of the brain. I am only using one part of it. The very factor of dividing one sector of my life from the rest is a factor of deterioration. So, choice and will are factors of deterioration.

P: And yet they are the two instruments of action we have.

K: That's right. Let us look at it. All our life is based on these two factors: discrimination or choice and the action of will in the pursuit of satisfaction.

S: Why discrimination?

K: Discrimination is choice. I discriminate between this and that. We are trying to see what is the factor of deterioration, the root factor of deterioration. We may come upon something different also. I see choice and will in action are the factors of deterioration, and if you see that, then the question is, Is there an action which does not have in it these two elements, these two principles?

P: Let us take the other factors because there are many other factors; there is the inherited, there is also shock, for instance.

K: If I have inherited a dull, stupid mind, I am finished. I can go to various temples and churches but my brain cells themselves have been affected.

P: Then there is shock.

K: Which is what?

P: The action of life itself.

K: Why should life itself produce a shock?

P: It happens.

K: Why? My son dies, my brother dies. It produced a shock because I never realized that my son would die. I suddenly realize he is dead, it is neurological shock. Are you using the word `shock' psychologically or physically?

P: It is a physical shock, it is neurological shock, the coming into actual contact with the validity of something which ends. K: All right. Let us take shock - physical, psychological, emotional shock of suddenly losing something, losing somebody, the shock of being alone, the shock of something that has suddenly come to an end. The brain cells receive this shock. Now what will you do about it? Is that shock a factor of deterioration?

S: No, the way we respond to the shock is the factor.

P: Can one respond with a total quiet? The mind has registered something which it is unable to understand. There are depths beyond which it cannot respond. We are talking of shock and of new responses. To what depth has one penetrated?

K: Wait Pupulji, just go slowly. My son is dead, my brother is dead. It is a tremendous shock because we have lived together, played together. That shock has paralysed the mind, and the shock does paralyse it for the time being. How the mind comes out of it is the important factor. Does it come out with a hurt, with all the implications of hurt or does it come out without a single hurt?

S: I may not know. Consciously I may say I have worked it out. How do I know that there is not a trace of hurt?

D: Sir, Could it be that in the case of shock, there is a death, there is an ending completely of the pattern of mind and the very seeing of that is the ending of it?

K: That is all implied. When my brother dies or my son dies, my whole life changes. The change is the shock. I have to leave this house, I have to earn a different kind of livelihood, I have to do a dozen things. All that is implied in the word `shock'. Now, I am asking whether that shock has left a mark or hurt, or not. If it has not left a single mark, a single hurt, a single scratch or a shadow of sorrow, then the mind comes out of it totally refreshed, totally new. But if it has been hurt, brutalized, then that is a factor of deterioration. Now, how does the mind consciously know that it is not hurt deeply, profoundly?

P: If it is hurt deeply, profoundly, does it mean that there is no hope and it is all over? Or is there a way of wiping away? K: We are going to go into that, Pupulji. The shock is natural because I have suddenly been thrown out on the street, metaphorically speaking. Neurologically, psychologically, inwardly, outwardly, the whole thing has changed. How does the mind come out of this? That is the question. Does it come out with hurt or does it come out totally purged of all hurt? Are the hurts superficial, or so profound that the conscious mind cannot possibly know them at a given moment and, therefore, they will keep on repeating, repeating? All that is wastage of energy. How does the mind find out whether it is deeply hurt?

P: The superficial hurts one can dismiss, deal with, but the deep hurts...

K: How will you deal with them?

P: There is brutality, death, there is violence.

K: Don't bring in violence. How does the mind come upon the deep hurts? What is a hurt?

P: Deep pain.

K: Is there a deep hurt?

P: Yes.

K: What do you mean by deep hurt?

P: The really deep hurts are because of a crisis, the very nature of your being is on the edge of sorrow.

K: My brother dies, my son dies; husband, wife, whatever. It is a shock. The shock is a kind of hurt. I am asking is the hurt very deep and what do I mean by 'very deep'?

P: The depths of the unconscious are thrown up.

K: What is being thrown up?

P: Pain.

K: Pain, of which you have not been aware and shock reveals the pain. Now, was the pain there or the cause of pain there? P: The cause of pain was there. The cause of pain was there of which I was not conscious. The shock comes and makes me aware of that pain.

M: What do you mean by saying shock creates pain?

K: Pain was there. It is one of the factors. My brother is dead, that is absolutely final. I cannot bring him back. The world faces this problem, not you and I alone, everybody faces this problem. There is a shock. That shock is a deep hurt. Was the cause of the hurt there before and the shock has only revealed it? Was the hurt there because I never faced it? I have never faced loneliness. I have never faced the sense of loneliness which is one of the factors of hurt.

Now, can I, before the shock comes, look at loneliness? Can I, before the shock comes, know what it is to be alone? Before the shock comes, can I go into this question of reliance, dependency, which are all factors of hurt, the causes of hurt, so that when the shock comes, they are all brought out. Now, when the shock comes, what happens? I have no hurt. This is right.

M: What makes you prepare yourself?

K: I don't prepare. I watch life. I watch what are the implications of attachment or indifference or the cultivation of independence because I must not depend. Dependence causes pain, but to cultivate independence may also bring pain. So, I watch myself, I watch and see that dependence of any kind must inevitably bring about deep hurt. So, when the shock comes, the cause of hurt is not. A totally different thing takes place.

S: It can happen that in order to prevent suffering, we do all that you have described.

P: Sir, all these things one has done. One has observed, one has gone into the problems of attachment.

K: Would you say shock is `suffering'?

P: Shock seems to touch the depths of my being which I have never been able to touch before, to which I have had no access. K: What do you mean by that? If you have gone through loneliness, attachment, fear, not seeking independence or detachment as an opposite to attachment, then what takes place? When shock comes, the shock of death, what takes place? Are you hurt?

P: That's a word I would like to enlarge upon. It seems to bring out all the pains I have had.

K: Which means what? You have not resolved the pain - not resolved the pain of loneliness. I am taking that as an example.

P: What I want to ask is: Is there a resolution of the pain of attachment or is it a complete comprehension of whatever is, an awakening to the total process of pain?

K: No. Look, suffering is pain. We use that suffering to cover loneliness, attachment, dependence, conflict. We use the whole field of man's escape from suffering and the cause of suffering. We use the word `suffering' to include all that. Or, would you like to use the term `the totality of pain'? The hidden and the observable totality of suffering - the pain of a villager, the pain and sorrow of a woman who has lost her husband, the sorrow of a man, ignorant, unlettered, always in poverty; and the sorrow of man, the pain of man who is ambitious, frustrated - all that is suffering and the shock brings all that pain, not only yours, to the surface. Agreed? What takes place? I don't know how to deal with it. I cry, I pray and go to the temple. This is what takes place. I hope to meet my brother or son in the astral plane. I do everything, trying to get out of this torture of pain. Why should the shock reveal all this?

P: The roots of pain have never been revealed.

K: Seeing that beggar on the road, leprous, or the villager endlessly working in sorrow, why has that not touched the human mind? Why should shock touch it?

P: Is there a why?

K: Why does that beggar not shock me personally and the whole of society? Why does it not move me? D: The shock attacks the whole structure of pain and makes the structure of pain act.

K: I am asking you a simple question. You see the beggar on the road. Why is that not a shock to you? Why do you not cry? Why do I cry only when my son dies? I saw a monk in Rome. I cried to see the pain of someone tied to a post called religion. We don't cry there but we cry here. Why? There is a `why', obviously. There is a `why' because we are insensitive.

B: The mind is asleep. The shock wakes it up.

K: That's it. The shock wakes it up and we are awakened to pain, which is our pain: we were not awakened to pain before. This is not a theory.

P: No, sir, when you make a statement like that, I am awakened to pain and it is not a question of my pain...

K: It is pain. Now, what do you do with pain? Pain is suffering. what takes place?

P: It is like a storm. If one is in the middle of a storm, you don't ask `why'. In it is every pain.

K: I said that it is not your pain; it is pain. I felt pain when I saw that beggar. When I saw that monk, I cried. When I saw that villager, I was tortured. When I saw the rich man, I said, `My God, look.' Society, culture, religion, the whole life of man is also the pain of my losing my brother. So it is pain. What do I do with pain? Is it deep or superficial? You say it is very deep.

A: It is very deep.

K: What do you mean by `deep'?

P: What I mean by `deep' is that it goes through every part of my being. It is not sectional; it is not operating only in one part of my life.

K: You say `It is very deep'. Don't call it deep. It has no measurement. It is not deep or shallow. Pain is pain. Then what? You remain in it, bear this hurt? B: We cannot escape from it or substitute it.

K: So, what shall I do with the pain? Ignore it? We are going to find out. Do I go to the analyst to get rid of the pain, or do I read a book or go to Tirupati or to Mars to get rid of the pain? How shall I get rid of it? What shall I do with it?

P: I am in the position of standing still.

K: You are in pain. You are that pain. Hold it. You are there. You hold it. It is your baby, and then what? Let us find out. I am that pain - the pain of the villager, the pain of the beggar, the pain of that man who is rich who goes through agonies, the monk and all the rest of it. I am that pain. What shall I do?

B: Is there not a transformation of this pain into wakefulness?

K: That is what I want to find out.

S: At the moment of death, everything is thwarted.

K: At the moment of death, a few days after, my whole nervous, biological, psychological system is paralysed. I am not talking about that moment. Don't go back to it again. Now it has passed. It is a year old. I am left with this pain. What shall I do?

B: When there is an unintelligent operation of this brain, suffering does wake it up. Apparently, it is a very unintelligent operation.

K: A mother loses her son in Vietnam and yet mothers don't seem to learn that their sons might be killed through nationalism, through concepts and formulas. They don't realize it. That's pain. I realize that for them. I suffer. We suffer. There is suffering. What shall I do?

Rad: I will see what it is.

K: I see what it is. That beggar can never become a minister and that monk is tortured by his own vows, by his own ideas of God. I see all that. I see it so clearly. I don't have to examine it any more. What shall I do with it?

M: The understanding by which the beggar's pain and another's pain becomes your own pain is unknown to us. Not everybody can see the beggar's pain as his own pain.

K: I have that pain, what shall I do? I am not concerned whether everybody sees it or not. Many people do not see things. What shall I do? My son is dead.

P: You are in the middle of it. I am talking of being held by it and of being in it.

K: You heard that beggar singing last night. It was a terrible thing. The fact is there - the pain, the suffering. What will you do?

M: You act, try to change the condition of the beggar.

K: That is your fixed idea. You want to do it your way and somebody else wants to do it another way but I am talking about pain. We asked what are the factors of deterioration of the brain cells and the mind. We said one of the major factors is conflict. Another factor is hurt, pain. And what are the factors? - fear, conflict, suffering, and the pursuit of pleasure, call it God, social service, work for the country. So, these are the factors of deterioration. Who is to act? What am I to do? Unless the mind solves this, its action will produce more suffering, more pain.

P: The deterioration will be accelerated.

K: That's an obvious fact. We have come to the point of pain, hurt, suffering and the factor of fear, and the pursuit of pleasure, as a few factors that bring about deterioration. What shall I do? What shall the mind do?

SWS: By asking this, the mind tries to become something other than what it is.

K: If it is in pain, how can it act?

S: How can it become something else? Becoming is another factor of deterioration. Becoming is a factor because in it, there is conflict. I want to be something; therefore, becoming is the avoidance of pain, therefore conflict. So, what shall I do? I have tried village work, I have tried social work, cinemas, sex, and yet pain remains. What shall I do?

Q: There must be some way to let the pain go.

K: Why should it go? All you are concerned with is to make it go. Why should it go? There is no way out, is that it?

SWS: You have to live with it.

K: How do you live with something which is pain, which is sorrow? How do you live with it?

Rad: When I stop doing anything about it.

K: Are you doing it or are you just saying it as a theory? What is the mind to do with this tremendous hurt which causes pain, suffering, this everlasting battle that brings about the deterioration of the brain cells?

B: One should try to watch it.

K: Watch what, sir? Is my suffering, is my pain different from the watcher? Is it? Is the pain different from the watcher? So, what takes place? The observer says, `I must get rid of pain'. But it is still there at the end of the journey. Now, what takes place when the observer is the observed?

M: We started with what is the factor of deterioration. We have come to the conclusion that pain is the factor of deterioration. If we don't want deterioration, we must not suffer pain. Therefore, doing away with pain is important and we cannot say: `I am pain,' `I have to live with pain'. This is endless. We must cease to suffer. Now, what is the secret of it? You tell us.

K: Secret of what? You introduce words which I never used. I am using words according to the dictionary. I don't want to be a blank wall which does not feel.

M: Immunity does not mean insensitivity.

K: We all want to get rid of pain. It would be idiotic to say: `I must endure pain`, and that is what most people do, and because they endure pain, they take neurotic action like going off to temples and so on. So, it is absurd to say that we must endure pain. On the contrary, knowing that pain is one of the major factors of deterioration, how does it come to an end? Sir, at the end of pain, the mind becomes extraordinarily passionate; it is not just a dull, painless mind. You want the secret of it?

M: Do you know the secret?

K: I will tell you. Do you want it? Let us approach it in a different way. Is it possible for a mind never to be hurt? Education hurts us, the family hurts us, society hurts us. I am asking: `Can the mind, living in a world in which there is hurt, never be hurt?' You call me a fool. You call me a great man. You call me enlightened or wise or a stupid old man. Call me anything; can I never be hurt? It is the same problem put differently.

S: There is a slight difference. There the problem was one of being hurt and how to solve it. Here the question is: Is there a possibility of never being hurt?

K: I am showing it to you. That is the secret. What will you do with all the hurts that human beings have accumulated? If you don't solve this problem, do what you will, it will lead to more sorrow. Let us proceed. We just now asked what takes place when the observer is the observed.

SWS: There should be an observation without the centre.

K: Observation without the centre means there is only that thing which you call pain. There is no entity that says I must go beyond the pain. When there is no observer, is there pain? It is the observer that gets hurt. It is the centre that gets flattered. It is the centre that says it is shocked. It is the centre that says `I know pain'. Now, can you observe this thing called pain without the centre, without the observer? It is not a vacuum. What takes place? M: The pain changes the feeling.

K: What do you mean by saying that the pain changes the feeling? Sir, this is a difficult thing because we are always looking at pain from the centre as the observer who says: `I must do something.' So, action is based on the centre doing something about pain, but when the centre is pain, what do you do? What is there to be done?

What is compassion? The word `compassion' means passion and how does that come? By chasing around activity? How does it come? When suffering is not, the `other' is. Does this mean anything to you? How can a mind that suffers know compassion?

M: The knowledge that there is pain is compassion.

K: Forgive me. I never said become compassionate. We are seeing the fact, the `what is', which is suffering. That is an absolute fact. I suffer and the mind is doing everything it can to run away from it. When it does not run away, then it observes. Then the observer, if it observes very very closely, is the observed, and that very pain is transformed into passion, which is compassion. The words are not the reality. So, don't escape from suffering, which does not mean you become morbid. Live with it. You live with pleasure, don't you? Why don't you live with suffering completely? Can you live with it in the sense of not escaping from it? What takes place? Watch. The mind is very clear, very sharp. It is faced with the fact. The very suffering transformed into passion is something enormous. From that arises a mind that can never be hurt. Full stop. That's the secret.