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Word Gems 

exploring self-realization, sacred personhood, and full humanity


Jiddu Krishnamurti
1895 - 1986

Thought begins to judge, to evaluate, now there is space between the thinker and the thought. In this division is the whole problem of existence, there is conflict, there is choice. Can we observe without the thinker, without that space?




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Editor’s prefatory comments:

Jiddu Krishnamurti has been an important teacher in my life. I began learning about the “true” and “false” selves about 15 years ago, and his insights served to inaugurate this vital area of enquiry.

He was the one to make clear that “guru” signifies merely “one who points,” not “infallible sage.” Pointing the way is what even the best teachers provide, but no more. One must walk the path of enlightenment alone, no one can do this for us.




Public Talk 2, Amsterdam - 12 May 1968

IF WE MAY, we will continue with what we were talking about yesterday. When you look at a field stretching out to the horizon - a field of tulips - words come into your mind: how beautiful it is, the colour, the brilliancy, the texture, the depth of the colour. This whole field of colour with its beauty is put into words. Or you translate it in terms of some symbol; or you want to write about it, paint it, carry some of those flowers back to your house. And as you observe, thought begins to discern, to judge, to evaluate. And as you still go on looking, there is a space between you and the flower, between you and that field of brilliant colour. This space, this division between the observer and the thing observed, the thinker and the thought, means there are two separate things. In this division between the observer and the thing observed is the whole issue of life, the whole problem of existence. In that division there is conflict, there is choice, there is constant struggle.

As we said yesterday morning, we have many problems at all levels of our existence. And we ask ourselves if it is not possible to find the root of all these innumerable, complex, subtle problems, instead of dealing with each problem by itself; whether we could not by observing the very core, the very root of our problems, go beyond, by finding that one root from which all our problems spring.

And we also asked yesterday whether it is possible for man, living in modern society, with its tremendous pressures, with its competition, with its corrupt morality, with its total disorder, whether it is at all possible to be free of fear. Not only the fear of something we do not know - as death - but also the fear of life, this daily, monotonous life of routine, of strife, of endless competition; this constant measuring of oneself with something more, the measurement of success, of achievement, in which there is frustration, agony, an incessant struggle within and without. Can man - that is, you and I - ever be free from this central issue, or rather one of the main issues of life, which is fear?

We also said yesterday that thought is the origin of fear; thought which divides the observer from that beautiful field of tulips. And we asked whether thought - which interferes, which gives shape, a certain contour of judgment - whether that thought (which breeds pain and pleasure, upon which we depend so much to solve all our problems) can ever resolve any problem. Now that may be the central issue, that may be the core which, if we understand it, may resolve all our problems. Because man has relied on thought. Everything we do or don't do is born out of thought. Organized thought is idea and according to an idea, an ideal, we act. Action, if you observe, is always a living thing: to do, to be, to act, is always in the living present; and the idea, the ideal, is in the future, unreal. So in action, when there is a division between the act and the doing, there is always conflict - doing, which is now, and comparing the doing with the ideal; then in that there is conflict. And so there is no action at all. Action then is merely an approximation to what should be.

So one asks oneself whether it is possible to act - please just listen to it first, don't say 'it is', or 'it is not' - whether it is possible to act without idea; which means that the seeing is the doing. We do this when there is grave danger, when we are confronted with a tremendous crisis. In great danger there is instant action, there is not the idea or the ideal according to which you are acting, there is instant response to an immediate challenge. Then thought has no time to operate. You must have noticed this yourselves, in your own lives.

That when there is some grave danger or immediate demand for action, thought has no time to come and interfere with the doing. And as we said yesterday, fear, with which we are concerned this morning, is born out of thought. Thought of tomorrow, of what was a pleasure or a pain yesterday, the sustaining of that pain or pleasure through thought, gives a continuity to pleasure or pain. That's fairly clear, I think, isn't it?

Take any problem that one has, national, international, the feeling of isolation, the feeling of being one group opposed to another group or community, white against black and so on. The problem was created by thought, which is fairly clear. Thought, which has sought security through division, through nationality, through separatism, has created the problem. Then thought sets about to resolve that problem. And thought cannot resolve that problem. One may pass laws, but legislation does not destroy separateness, the sense of isolation, exclusion through opposition to others. And yet we employ thought all the time to resolve all our problems. But if you observe, thought has created the problem.

Take war. Historically for 5,000 years men has had 12,000 wars; that means two and a half wars every year! Thought has bred war, antagonism. Thought has built a way of life which must inevitably lead to war. One realizes that; then thought says, 'there must be peace'. So it sets about inventing various plans, ways, methods, by strengthening itself on the one hand as a nationalist army, and yet on the other by striving for international peace and brotherhood - all this contradiction is brought about by thought. And as one observes in all human relationship, thought by seeking comfort, security, pleasure - sexual or otherwise - creates many problems. And so we resort to thought to resolve these very problems which thought has created. One can see how fear comes into being. There is the physical fear of pain, of disease, of old age and death, or of the pain that one had some time ago and which may come back. Thought remembers the past experience and remembering it, reacting to that remembrance, thought produces fear. One can see this clearly in one's life. One has a disease, physical pain, cancer, or some other disease and thought, which remembers a state of mind when there was no pain, no disease, gets frightened of it. Then thought says: what are the ways out of it, physically? When one has a disease, and most of us do have some kind of physical disorder and pain, why should thought interfere at all? - thought as a response of memory of when one had no pain at all. Why should such thought interfere - which only breeds further anxiety?

And psychologically, inwardly, inside the skin, we have many problems of fear, from the most simple, like fear of darkness, to the most complex problem of human relationship, which is called love. And there is fear of death.

As one observes within oneself, not according to any philosopher, any analyst or any specialist (for when you do observe according to another, then you are not observing yourself, you are observing yourself according to some specialist, then what he says becomes far more important than what actually you are), but if you put aside all the specialists and assertions, you can see for yourself the innumerable contradictory states, the anxiety, the guilt, the sense of loneliness, despair, routine, the way of life which becomes mechanical. Thought breeds this. So one asks oneself whether thought - which has its place, thought being mechanical, thought being old, thought which is the result of experience, memory, knowledge that must operate when you do mechanical things, like remembering one's address, like remembering a technological activity, otherwise we couldn't possibly live or do anything - whether thought has any place other than that. Because as we have said, thought breeds fear - fear not only of our neighbour, fear of life, fear of ourselves, fear of so many things. And as one observes oneself, within oneself, as a human being, one can see very well how fear has come into existence. Is it possible to be completely free of fear? Which means really the whole investigation of the structure and nature of thought.

As one observes, man has lived on thought. Life is something that is constantly new. Life is challenging us all the time with new demands, with new phases, with new ways of living. And to that challenge we always respond according to our old pattern, which is thought. And so there is a contradiction. So, is it possible - please don't think I'm crazy - is it possible to end thought? Is it possible to look at that field of tulips without the interference of thought or of the word? I do not know if you have ever tried (or if you have ever done it) to look at a flower, at a cloud, or at a tree, without the word, without the memory, the knowledge of that thing which you have seen before; and to look at it as though you were looking at it for the very first time - to look at it without the thinker and therefore without thought. So that space between you, as the observer, and the thing observed, ceases. Not that you become the flower, or identify yourself with the flower - which would be absurd, you can't be a tulip. People try to identify themselves with what they see; that is too infantile, too immature. But to see that field of tulips without the centre, without the observer, the thinker - if you have ever done it you will see that space disappears.

And when there is no space between the observer and the observed, then the observer is the observed. That's fairly easy to do outwardly, with a flower, with a cloud, with a bird that is flying across the sky. And this can be done through various forms of drugs with which they have been experimenting; because a drug, a chemical, removes that space instantly and there is that sense of complete, total observation of 'what is'. Please do follow this because we're going into something very complex presently. Just listen to it. We are not advising that you should take drugs in order to destroy the separateness. It doesn't actually destroy it at all. A drug brings about a chemical change in the nerves, in the whole system, making the system highly sensitive and this sensitiveness to the flower on the table destroys that space, but it is artificial. You have to take the drug again in order to have that experience. We have not taken it, though we have talked to those who have taken it, and you can see what actually takes place. As we said, when you observe the tulip sensuously, with your eyes, and this colour stretching right to the other end, without word, without any movement of mind or thought, then space disappears and there is quite a different state of mind which looks. That's fairly easy to do with objective things. But it becomes much more complex, much more subtle, when you have to do with inward things, such as fear, such as anger, aggression, violence; when there is violence which is the inheritance of the animal in man, because we are all extraordinarily violent, aggressive people.

One has to recognise first of all inwardly that one is violent, which takes so many different forms - violence of opinion, of judgement, in assertion, domination, the violence of self-discipline, the violence of conformity to a pattern, the violence of acceptance and obedience, the violence that exists in each one of us, the violence to dominate, to assert, to attain power, position, prestige. In almost all human beings this violence exists, sexually, and in other ways.

Now, how to deal with violence so that it is completely, totally eradicated from the mind, from the whole structure of thought? When you observe that violence in yourself (if you are at all aware of that violence) as you observe, you see that there is a thinker and the thing called violence, aggression, anger and so on. Please, as we are talking, do it, observe it (if I may suggest) in yourself. At this present moment you may not be angry, violent. But as you observe you can see there are times when you have been greatly angry. And as you observe you will see that there is a division between the thing called anger and the observer. The observer says: 'I have been angry', or, 'I must not be angry any more'. There is violence and non-violence.

As you observe, naturally, there is a division between so-called anger and the entity that says: 'I am angry, I have been angry'. Right? That's fairly simple. Then when there is this division between the thought and the thinker, who says 'I have been angry', there is a separation. Right? In that time interval, in that space, there is a conflict of overcoming anger, trying to control it, trying to pass beyond it or accepting it as being natural, inevitable. So in that interval begins all the conflict. Right? Please do it as we're talking, actually do it. And you'll see for yourself the fact that emerges out of this.

We have accepted this division for centuries, for thousands of years that has become part of our tradition. The way to deal with anger - I'm only taking that as an example - is to overcome, control, suppress it and so on. The entity who suppresses it, controls it, is something separate, we think. Now, is it separate? Or is the entity who thinks he is angry, is he anger himself? - that is not separate at all? There is only a state of anger, a state of violence. When we recognize the fact that we are violent, then we invent the ideal of non-violence, hoping thereby to overcome violence, using the idea of non-violence as a means, or as a lever, to get rid of violence. This is our traditional way of dealing with anything.

Now is there a different way, so that there is no conflict at all when one meets violence in oneself? I hope you're following my question. We know that the normal, accepted, traditional way of dealing with any problem, is violence. All that involves conflict, struggle, pain, and at the end of it you are not rid of violence - it is still there. So one asks, is there a different way altogether which is not traditional at all? Which is, to observe that anger without the interference of thought - as you observed that flower in the field; and as you observed that flower without any thought, there was neither the observer nor the observed, there was only a state of seeing. In the same way, is it possible to look at violence without the interference of thought, to merely observe it? This becomes quite a complex problem, because when we say we are violent, the very process of recognition of violence is the product of thought. Right? That is, you have been angry before, yesterday, and there is the remembrance of it today and when you are angry a little later, the remembrance of that experience (which you have called anger yesterday), that memory responds to the new reaction, which is called anger. So thought in the process of recognizing anger, or violence, and of wanting to get rid of it, is still a way to conflict, suppression, or imitation. Right?

Are you following some of this or not at all? (It doesn't matter. It's up to you anyhow). Because one must be totally free of violence, otherwise we are not human beings. The mind is violent in any form; in the expression of a word, a look, a gesture, you destroy love. And when you have no love, there will be no peace in the world. You may have all the Leagues of Nations and 'United Nations' and every thing that's happening in the world, more and more, but you'll never have peace. And without peace you cannot see clearly. There is no love, there is only this ugly, monstrous civilization of the machine.

I do not know if you have ever talked to the specialists who are concerned with the electronic brain, with the computers - what they are doing. The computers are taking over all the activities of man, almost all the activities. They are building a society where the machine is going to rule. This obviously is coming. Man is going to have a great deal of leisure and perhaps only the specialists will be the masters and the rest like you and I will be slaves. Probably a new culture is being built, of which we are not at all aware. Those who are concerned with it, involved in it, are greatly perturbed. Unless we human beings bring about a total mutation in the way of our living, which is the way of life, then thought - which is merely mechanical, for thought is not new, not fresh, the quality of freshness isn't in it at all - thought is going to control our life; thought, as the computer, is going to guide our life. That's why it is enormously important - please do look at it for yourselves - to find out a way of living where thought, which is mechanical, doesn't intervene except when it has to function mechanically.

And that's why it is very important to understand the nature and the structure of thought. What is thought? What is thinking? Don't wait for me, for the speaker, to answer it. Here is a challenge - do please listen to it - what is thought? What is thinking? What is the origin of thought? That's a challenge which is something new; and how do you respond to it? Do you begin to search for an answer, wait for someone to tell you the answer, or do you say, I don't know? And in the very saying 'I don't know' are you waiting to find out and say: 'I do know the answer now'? Or when you meet such an immense challenge, what happens? If the challenge is really vital, important, then the mind becomes quiet, doesn't it? Thought is in abeyance, because it has no answer. But we, wanting an answer, wanting to find a way out of this mechanical way of life, we use thought to find out. And so we reduce the new challenge to the old, and challenges are always new if they're vital - and they are vital. Our houses are burning, our morality, our churches, our society is in disintegration, corrupt. There is an immense challenge, which we have to meet - the challenge of the computer and the relation of man to it.

If you wait for the specialist to answer that question, then you are back again, caught. So the question is, how to bring about a complete mutation, a complete change in our life, a change, a mutation that will solve all our problems? I think the root of our problems - of fear, violence, the immense sorrow of life, the everlasting search for pleasure - the root cause, the core of all this problem, is thought. And is it possible to put a stop to time, time which is thought. You know, we are used to the idea, to the tradition, that eventually, gradually, slowly, day after day, we will be different, there will be a mutation of the mind through evolution, so that we shall have human beings who have a totally different mind. When you admit that 'eventually' - that eventually you will have a new mind, a totally different quality in the structure and nature of the mind - when you admit that, you're still living in a world of mechanical existence. And this generation will be responsible for the next, through education and all the rest of it, so there is no 'eventual' change at all. We are becoming more and more mechanical, not less.

So the fundamental question is - not how to get rid of fear, violence, the innumerable problems that each of us has - but the fundamental question is, whether thought, as time, can come to an end. So that there is no actual tomorrow, psychologically. Do you understand? Please do be concerned with it, be involved in it, in this question. You know, we so easily commit ourselves to a course of action. I think there is a difference between being committed and being involved. We are involved with life, we are not committed to life. When you are committed to a course of action, as a Communist, a Socialist, a Catholic or what you will, that commitment is a deliberate process of the intellect and thought. There's nothing new in that. But if you are involved, as we are, in daily life, involved in all the problems, then there is no separation, it's not the function of thought which says 'I'm involved'. You are involved. And so one asks: is it possible for thought as time and fear to come to an end?

We have explained sufficiently in detail the way of thought, the way of time. We'll go into it differently another time. But the explanation, the description of the cause, will never put an end to time. Giving a description of what good food is, to a hungry man, has no value - he wants food. So if you are satisfied merely with the description of the way of thought, and reconcile yourself with the description, then there is no ending. But if you are involved in the question, as you must be involved if you are at all serious - and to the very serious man only that is living, (not the man who is committed to some form of activity, political, social, religious, which makes him serious - such a person is not serious) - but only a man who is involved and is concerned with the problems of the whole of life; not casually, not as an observer just looking on from the outside, but being involved in it, completely, with the heart and with the mind.

Then you have to answer this question about the mind, which is the result of thought, which is the result of time - time as evolution, time from the animal till now, millions of years - which has produced this brain. And now that brain is acting mechanically, it's so heavily conditioned. Can there be a total mutation, so that we live in a different dimension altogether? That is the real problem. How do you answer this question? The traditional way to answer this question is to analyse, to analyse the whole process of our living, step by step - not only the conscious, but the unconscious mind, analysing every feeling, every thought, every movement - which the analysts and the psychologists are doing. That involves time. And in that process there is a great danger. Because to analyse, you must not only have the capacity to analyse extraordinarily clearly, without any bias, without any misjudgement - and you cannot possibly so analyse because the analyser himself is conditioned. Also the whole analytical, intellectual, verbal process involves time: whilst you are analysing, day after day, the mechanical process of society, culture, is shaping your mind, forcing you, directing you, driving you.

So analysis is not the way. You must see the truth of that. Because if you see the truth of that and the falseness of analysis, then you will reject it totally. Then when you do reject, totally, the way of analysis, (as we have tried to point out today), then seeing the falseness of it is seeing the truth of it. Right? When you see something false and recognize it as being false, that very action is truth. When you do that, when you completely see the falseness of analysis, then what have you? You are faced with the problem of looking without the drive of the analyser. Right? You're looking without analysis at the fact. Then you are looking at fear as though with fresh eyes, aren't you? There is no overcoming it, there is no analysing it, but a looking at it as you look at that field of tulips. When you look at fear without the analyser, without the thinker, without the observer, then is there fear at all?

You can only look when the mind is completely quiet. When you look at that field of tulips and your mind is chattering, inattentive, then you're not really looking at those flowers. But when you give your total, complete attention, which is to give your mind, your heart, your nerves, your ears, your eyes to look totally, then you will see there is no division at all and therefore there is no fear at all. You can't accept this: you have to do it! That means you have to be involved in it; and you are involved in it. It's your life. Therefore to look is the greatest of miracles. You have to do nothing else but to give complete attention to looking at that field, to looking at your wife or your husband, to looking at your belief, to looking at your opinions, judgments, evaluations. Then you will see there is no state of fear at all. The mind has undergone a tremendous change. It's only a mind that is inattentive that makes mischief.



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