J. Krishnamurti – Brockwood Park 1976 – Public Talk 4 – Freedom is the first and last step

We have been talking, during
these four discussions, dialogues about many things, things which are concerned
with our daily, human living – the problems of fear, pleasure and the great burden
of sorrow of human beings. And yesterday we talked about,
went into together, time, the nature of time,
the nature of love and death. I think this morning,
we ought to talk over, together, something that is
of fundamental importance, which every human being
should be involved in, because it concerns our life,
our daily activity, how we waste our days and years and what is it all about,
and what is it all for? We’re born and we die and during those years of pain,
joy and pleasure and sorrow, the everlasting struggle and effort, what is it all about,
what is it all for? I think this is a very important
question, one should ask oneself. It’s very easy to reply, a rational explanation
or a neurotic one, or a very intellectual, emotional,
romantic explanation. But if you put aside all those,
naturally and, obviously,
being rather superficial – however intellectual it may be, I think this is a very
important question to ask, and to find an answer for oneself, not dependent on some priest,
on some guru, on some philosophical concept
or formula which do not answer the real question. They offer very obvious, superficial,
non-realistic theories. And so, it seems to me, it’s very
important to go into this question. What does it all mean – our existence? Has it any meaning at all,
as we live it – going to the office or the factory for the next forty years
or fifty years, trying to climb the ladder of success,
accumulate money, pleasure, experience, knowledge – and so, at the end die? And some of the scientists say,
‘Through knowledge, we ascend’ – the ascent of man,
through knowledge. Is that so? We have an infinite amount
of knowledge, about many things – biologically, archaeologically,
historically, and so on and so on – but, apparently, knowledge has
not changed man radically, deeply. We are, more or less, what we have
been for a million years and more – struggle, conflict, pain, pleasure, and the everlasting
battle of existence. Seeing all that in every country
and in every climate, what is it all about? To find that out,
not asserting anything, not believing in anything,
not having any ideals, but merely observing, very deeply, it becomes necessary to find out, otherwise, we lead
a very mechanistic life. Our brains have become used
to a mechanical way of life. Part of this brain must be
mechanical and necessarily so, in the acquisition of knowledge
and the expression of that knowledge, skilfully, in every way of life,
in every action, outwardly, technologically. But this knowledge
that one has acquired – and we can pile up knowledge
more and more and more, but that does not answer
the fundamental question: what is the meaning,
the depth of our life? One sees, one observes
that there must be unity of mankind, because that’s the only way
we’ll survive physically, biologically not divisions –
the Europeans, the Americans, the Russians, the Hindus and so on, not divisions,
the complete, total unity of mankind. And politics and politicians are not
going to solve that problem, ever. On the contrary, they will maintain
the division, it’s very profitable. So, as that is an important and
an essential necessity of existence that there must be
unity of all mankind, and that cannot be
brought about through legislation, through bureaucratic dogmas
or rules and all the rest of it. So, when you observe all this
as a human being, living in chaos in a world that has, almost, gone mad – the armaments,
the selling of them for profit, killing people,
in the name of ideas and countries, for God, and all the rest of it. Observing, seeing all this,
all over the world, what is a human being to do
and what for? So, I think it becomes
very important to find out, to discover for oneself,
if one is at all serious – and one must be serious in life, otherwise, one does not
really live at all, it’s only the very, very serious man – which doesn’t mean he has
no laughter, no smile – but that seriousness
which demands a total commitment to the whole issue of life. And religions have tried
to offer the meaning to life – that is, organised, propagandistic,
ritualistic religion. But, in spite of 2,000 years
or 10,000 years, as in Asia, man has merely asserted
certain principles, certain ideals, certain conclusions, but they’re all verbal,
superficial, non-realistic. So, we are faced, then,
when we look at all this, and realising that our brain
is almost mechanical, caught in a groove, caught in a habit,
caught in tradition, in the conditioning
which education has given, cultivating only knowledge,
information and so making the brain
more and more mechanistic, one inevitably demands or asks
– if one is, again, serious – what does life mean?
What is it all about? If we are to enquire into this,
very deeply, there must be great doubt. Doubt, scepticism is essential, because that brings
a certain quality of freedom of mind, through negation of everything
that man has put together. His religions, his rituals,
his dogmas, his beliefs, his faith are all the movement of thought, and thought is a material process,
as we’ve been talking about, which even the scientists accept. And thought has not
solved the problems, thought has not been able
to delve deeply into itself. Thought has merely,
being itself a fragment, broken up all existence
into fragmentations. So, there is the quality
of this brain, which is mechanistic – and necessarily so,
in certain areas, and psychologically, inwardly, in the very psychological structure of
the human mind, there is no freedom. It is conditioned,
it is bound by belief, by so-called ideals, by faith. So, when one doubts all that,
sets all that aside, actually – not theoretically –
factually, accurately, meticulously, puts aside all that,
then what have you left? Many people have gone that far
– total negation – and that gives you
a certain quality of freedom – total negation of everything
that thought has constructed, projected, divided –
religiously, economically, socially, and when you negate all that,
because they have not answered, they have not solved any
of our human, deep problems, like sorrow, fear and death. So, is a mind capable
– your mind – capable, if you’re at all serious,
to put aside all that, and begin? One is afraid to do that because one says to oneself,
‘If I deny everything that thought…’ which is a mechanical
process of time, measure, which is the response of memory
and, therefore, a material process, and that material process
brings more and more suffering, more agony, more anxiety,
fear to mankind, when you see that, and when you realise the nature
of thought and go beyond, negate it, then what is there? And to find out what is there,
we must begin with freedom, because freedom is
the first and last step, both democratically, inwardly –
otherwise, man is merely a machine, if there is no freedom
– not to choose. We have said, we think, rather,
that through choice, we are free – because we can choose, we are free. But choice exists, only,
when the mind is confused. There’s no choice
when the mind is very clear. When you see things very clearly,
without any distortion, without any illusion, then there is no choice. A mind that is choiceless
is a free mind, and a mind that chooses and, therefore, establishes
a series of conflicts, contradictions, such a mind is never free
because it is, in itself, confused, divided, broken up. So, if one is willing to go so far, then we can begin to find out what is the meaning
of all this existence. Please, as we said,
during these talks and before, we are exploring together, we are sharing
our explorations together, because there is no authority. Though the speaker sits on a platform
because it’s convenient, people can see, the platform doesn’t
give him any authority, and he doesn’t accept any authority. So, we are together
and we mean together, exploring and finding out
for ourselves, together, if there is any meaning
to life at all, any depth to life at all or, merely, a passing event in a long series
of historical processes. So, to explore in any field,
there must be freedom, freedom to examine so that, in that very examination,
there is no distortion. When there is distortion, there is
a motive behind that distortion, a motive to find an answer,
a motive which you would like to have or which you think
will solve our problems, a motive which may be based
on past experience, past knowledge – and all knowledge is the past – and if there is any motive,
there must be distortion. So, can the mind, can our mind,
which is our common mind because we have the same
content in our consciousness, all human beings, whether they live in
the Far East, Middle East or Far West, go through this process of fear,
agony, torture, anxiety, fear and endless conflict
– inwardly and outwardly. That’s the common
consciousness of mankind. So, when you examine
your own consciousness, you’re looking into
the consciousness of man and, therefore, it’s not a personal,
individualistic examination. On the contrary, you are looking
into the consciousness of the world – which is you – which is a fact,
when you go into it, very deeply. So, a mind that is free,
which is a tremendous demand, which demands that you, as
a human being, are committed totally to the transformation
of the content of consciousness – because the content
makes the consciousness. And we are concerned
with the transformation, with the total psychological
revolution of this consciousness, and to explore it,
you need great energy. And that energy comes into being when
there is no dissipation of energy. One dissipates through
trying to overcome ‘what is,’ to deny ‘what is,’ to escape
from ‘what is,’ or analyse ‘what is.’ Because the analyser, as we said, during all these many talks
over many years, the analyser is the analysed. The analyser is not different
from that which he analyses. When you’re envious or angry
or greedy – whatever it is – when you analyse the process of greed,
the analyser is, himself, ‘greed’ – that which he analyses
is not separate from him. And this is a fundamental reality. So, we’re asking what is the meaning
and the significance of life, if there is any, at all. If we say there is, you’ve already
committed yourself to something, therefore, you cannot examine, you’ve already started
with distortion. Or if you say, there is nothing,
no meaning to life, that, also,
is another form of distortion. So, one must be
completely free of both – both the positive
and the negative assertions. So, as we said,
this is part of meditation. This is the real
beginning of meditation. The gurus that come over
to this country from India, and are springing up all over
the world, like so many mushrooms, they have brought to this word,
a great many meanings. There is the transcendental meditation – and I wish they hadn’t
used that lovely word – which is the repetition
of certain words and there’re really, in Sanskrit,
very, very few mantras, which we won’t go into, now. And the repetition of those words, given at a certain price
on the market, give you, if you repeat
every morning for twenty minutes, in the afternoon, twenty minutes, and another twenty minutes
in the evening, they bring you a certain quality
of quietness, constant repetition. You can just as well repeat
‘Ave Maria’ or ‘Coca Cola’ or any other mechanical repetition. It’ll certainly give you
a certain quality of quietness, but this is mechanistic quietness because you have reduced the brain
to constantly repeat, repeat, repeat – if you have tried it,
even for two minutes, how mechanical it becomes,
it becomes quiet. But that’s no more transcendental
than anything else. And, thereby,
we think we’ll experience something that’s beyond
the material process of thought. So, there is this,
that man seeks experience, he seeks experience other than
the ordinary, daily experience. We are bored or tired or fed up with
all the experiences we have of life, and we hope to capture some experience
which is not the product of thought. And to experience
– the word means ‘to go through,’ to go through with anything
and end it, not remember it and carry it on. But we don’t do that. To recognise an experience,
you must have already known it, otherwise, it’s not a new experience. So, a mind that demands experience
– please, listen to this – other than the mere, physical,
psychological, everyday experience – that demands something
far greater and above all this, what it will experience
is its own projection and, therefore, it is still
mechanistic, still materialistic, which is the product of thought. So, when you do not demand
any experience, when there is no distortion
and, therefore, no illusion and one has understood
the whole meaning of desire, which we went into many times
during these and other talks, which is sensation plus thought
is desire, with its image. And so, desire is also a distortion
in the process of examination. I hope you are following all this. Then only, the mind,
the whole structure of consciousness, being free,
is capable of looking at itself, looking at itself
without any distortion, as you see, in a clear mirror,
your face. The mirror reflects exactly
what your face is. There is no distortion
– unless the mirror is distorted. So, in that way, the mind, which includes the brain
and all the nervous organisms, the whole totality which is the mind,
is now free – absolutely without
any distorting movement. Distortion takes place
when there is effort. Right? Effort implies ‘me’ and
something I’m going to achieve – division between me and that. That division, invariably,
brings conflict, as in the nationalities and so on. Wherever there is division,
there must be conflict, and so meditation comes only when there is
the complete ending of conflict. Therefore,
every other form of meditation where there is effort,
practice, control has no meaning. Right? Please don’t accept
what the speaker is saying but examine, we are examining
together, sharing together, therefore, it’s very important not
to accept a thing that’s being said, but examine it. Questioner: (Inaudible) K: Later on, we’ll ask questions, sir,
if you don’t mind. So, we have to go
into the question of control, because we’re going to go
into the question of control, awareness and attention. All these are necessary to find out
if there is a meaning to life, or no meaning, at all. We are educated from childhood
to control our feelings, you know,
the whole process of control. In control, there is the controller and the thing
that is being controlled. Right? The controller thinks he’s different
from that which he desires to control. So, he has already divided himself as
the ‘controller’ and the ‘controlled.’ And hence, there is always conflict. That is, one fragment of thought
says to itself, ‘I must control
other fragments of thought.’ But thought which says,
‘I must control other fragments’ is, itself, a part of thought
– a fragment of thought. So, when you see all that,
the controller is the controlled. Right? I hope you see this. This is very important because when this is realised
completely, deeply, not verbally, not theoretically,
but actually, then conflict comes to an end. That is,
there is no division in oneself. There is not the controller
and the controlled different from the controller. The experiencer is the experience. They are not two different
entities or movements. The thinker is the thought, there is no thinker
if there is no thought. So, when one realises this profoundly,
as a truth, as a law, then all effort comes to an end. And it’s very important
in the investigation with which we are concerned, now, that this effort comes to an end. Because effort, also,
is a distorting factor. So, meditation can only
come into being when there is no effort of any kind, and it is necessary
to meditate to find out if there is any meaning
to life at all, or if there is a meaning. And meditation is also laying
the foundation of right conduct, right in the sense, accurate,
not according to an ideal, not according to a pattern,
not according to any formula – but action which takes place when there is complete observation
of what is going on, in oneself. From that, action takes place. So, one must establish this through
meditation and right relationship. Relationship between human beings, which means no conflict
between human beings. The conflict exists only when there is
division between the two images, which we have talked about
a great deal. The image which you have and which she
has about you and you have about her. The images make the division,
which we have gone into, we won’t go into it, now,
because it would take too long. And, if there is to be meditation, there must be no psychological fear,
whatsoever. Therefore, the ending of sorrow
and what we talked about yesterday, compassion, and love. That’s the basis,
the foundation of meditation. Without that, you can sit under a tree for the rest of your life,
cross-legged, and you’ll still be sitting there
under the tree for ever and ever. Or, you may breathe properly
– you know all the tricks one plays – none of those is going to help. You may remember a certain teacher,
and to him came a disciple. And the disciple took a position – sitting properly, cross-legged,
the so-called Indian lotus posture, and shut his eyes. And the teacher says,
‘My friend, what are you doing?’ He said, ‘I’m breathing properly,
I’m sitting straight, and controlling my thoughts so that I
can reach the highest consciousness.’ So, the teacher picks up two stones
and keeps on rubbing them. And the disciple wakes up, looks,
says, ‘Master, what are you doing?’ He says, ‘I’m rubbing two stones
to make one of them into a mirror.’ And the disciple says, ‘Master, don’t
you know, you can never do that?’ He said, ‘I know that, but do you know you can sit like that
for the next ten thousand years…?’ – all the rest of it. So, when you have really, deeply
established a way of life which, in itself, is not an end. That’s only the beginning of it. Then, we can proceed to find out whether the mind,
which is the totality – the brain and all the rest –
which is the entire consciousness, is quiet, without any distortion, because it’s necessary to be quiet. Because it’s only
when the mind is quiet, still, you can hear properly. We never hear anything, completely. We never listen to anything, totally. While we are listening, there’s
already a distortion taking place – what you hear,
either you agree or disagree, or you compare what you hear
with what you already know, or your mind is chattering. So, it’s never actually listening either to your wife,
to your husband – anything, because it’s already crowded. So, it is necessary
for the mind to be quiet to listen to any conversation,
like now. To listen to any person,
to a bird, to the wind, the mind must, naturally, be quiet to listen to the beauty
of a bird singing. So, the mind must be quiet
to find out, to investigate, to look, to observe
if life has any meaning at all, or if there is something most profound – which we are doing now,
I hope, together. That is, your mind after laying down
the foundation of behaviour, conduct, order in this confusion of existence, naturally, the mind becomes quiet. Now, in that quietness, is there
an observer who says, ‘I am quiet’? You understand my question? When you’re happy, walking
along a street, or in the woods, or sitting in the sun,
when you’re quietly happy, when you say, ‘Am I happy?’,
then that happiness has gone. Right? Have you not noticed?
It’s a very simple fact. The moment you’re conscious of
something which gives you happiness, that happiness disappears. So, when you say,
‘Am I silent, is my mind silent? ’, it is no longer silent. Right? There are different kinds of silence: the silence between two words, the silence between
two notes of the piano, the silence between two noises, the silence between two thoughts
– an interval between two thoughts – the silence after a long battle
with oneself – the weariness, the silence between two wars,
which we call ‘peace.’ So, all those are silences
which are the product of noise – between two noises, between
two thoughts, between two notes, between two wranglings. That is not silence. There is silence which is
not produced or cultivated, so that there is no ‘me’
to observe that silence, there’s only silence, quietness. Then we can ask that question,
in that silence, if there any meaning or not at all. You really don’t ask
that question in that silence but we have started
with that question. We have not answered that question. We must find an answer
to that question. We have prepared
the field or, rather, the mind, that is capable, now, of finding out. Have we gone together, so far?
A little bit, at least? Where do you find the answer? You understand my question? We put a question which is,
has life any meaning? We have said various religions
have offered a substitute, a symbol. A symbol, a myth is not actual,
it’s a romantic thing. But when we have started
with that question, we must find out
who is going to answer that question. Am I going to answer it,
that is, as a human being – answer that question – or, in that very silence,
the answer is? You understand my question? Am I making myself somewhat clear? That is, when there is no distortion – and distortion exists only
when there is motive, distortion exists
when there is effort, distortion exists where there is
a demand for experience, distortion exists
when there is division between the observer and the observed, the thinker and the thought and so on – all those are distorting factors. When there is no distortion
and therefore, no wastage of energy, now, in that silence,
there is this energy which has been dissipated, but now, that dissipation has ceased. So, in that silence,
there is great energy. Right?
Is that actual, with each of us – or we are still floundering
somewhere in the middle? You understand my question? Because there must be
that energy, that vitality, that strength to see… words! Because the word is not the thing,
the description is not the described. So, is there anything
beyond this energy and silence? Is this energy a mechanical thing – because mechanical thought
has tremendous energy – to go to the moon, to create
the instrument to go to the moon. There must be a great deal of energy
to put all that together, a million parts together. That demands great co-operation
of three hundred thousand people to put that thing together. That is, that energy is derived
from knowledge, experience, memory,
response of thought. And thought in its activity has
its own energy which is mechanistic, which is a material process. Now, that energy is totally different from the energy
which we are talking about. I wonder if you’re aware
of what we’re talking about? Am I mesmerising all of you? You see, the speaker is
very serious about all this. He has spent fifty years
and more in this and as most minds are caught
in grooves, deep or shallow, one is constantly watching
if the brain forms a groove and feels secure in that groove
and remains in that groove. We are asking the same thing
of each one of us. And when one stays in a groove
– belief, dogmas, religions – whatever the groove be,
however beautiful, however pleasant, however comforting, then that mind becomes
mechanical, repetitive, so it loses its depth, its beauty. So, we are asking,
is the silence mechanistic – a product of thought which says,
‘There must be something beyond me and, therefore, to find that out,
I must be silent, I must control myself, I must
subjugate everything to find out’ – which is still
the movement of thought. Right? So, we must find out
the difference between concentration, awareness and attention, because these three
we’re concerned with. Concentration implies, to focus one’s
energy in a particular direction, excluding all other directions. Right? I concentrate on a page, on a word. The word near
or the word very far away, to concentrate on that
demands your energy applied to that one particular thing, therefore, you are excluding
all other things, you are building a wall – resistance. That is concentration. Then, there is awareness,
which is fairly simple if you don’t give
a lot of complications to it. To be aware. To be aware of the marquee, its shape,
the people sitting round you, the colour of their dress
– to be aware of all this. But that awareness
then begins to choose. To choose that colour better
than the other colour, to choose what it would like,
what it would not like. So, to be aware without choice
– you understand? – just to observe the total thing
without any choice. I hope you’re doing this,
as we are talking. And there is attention. Attention implies there is no centre
from which you are attending. When there is a centre
from which you’re attending, that’s merely an extension
of the centre. Right? The centre is me or you, and if you’re aware from that centre
that attention is limited. Right? But there is an attention
which has no centre. The centre exists
when there is choice, in awareness. Are you following all this? You understand? Concentration,
awareness, awareness with choice. When there is choice,
there is always ‘me’ – my experience, my knowledge –
‘me,’ separate from you. That ‘me’ chooses, where there is choice, there is ‘me’
and, therefore, it’s still limited. Now, we’re talking about attention,
in which there is no centre at all. Therefore, if you do it now,
as you’re sitting there, you will see, when there is no centre,
your attention is vast, there is no boundary. And this is necessary because…
it is necessary so that the mind is now
without choice, completely attentive. Completely.
With your nerves, with everything – it’s completely attentive
and, therefore, no centre. There is no ‘me,’
who says, ‘I am attentive.’ Now, in that attention,
there is silence, silence which contains this energy
which is no longer dissipated. Then, let’s proceed from there. To proceed from here
must be either actual or verbal. You understand? Either your mind is moving,
not in time – I won’t go into that – is capable of
a different kind of movement, and when you describe that movement,
it’s either verbal or actual. If you’re caught in the verbal
description, then you’re lost. Right? Then you’re playing with words,
arguments and all the rest. But if it is actual, real,
that which is going on, then, that question
is still unanswered: is there a meaning to life,
or none at all? Which is, to put it differently,
is there anything sacred in life? Sacred in the sense – holy. The word ‘whole’ means health,
sanity and a quality of sacredness, that’s the word ‘whole.’ The word ‘whole’ means that:
health, sanity and holy. Now, is the mind, your mind, healthy? That is, both your body and
your mind completely healthy, so that there is no neurotic movement. Right? Even though your body may not
be healthy, if it interferes then that illness distorts the mind,
the activity of mind, then it’s impossible. Right? But even though you can be
not completely healthy, you can know you’re not healthy,
be aware of it, know its limitation and therefore,
leave it there. You follow? So, we are now asking
if the whole of the mind is whole – healthy, sane and holy? Is your mind like that? Please,
this requires tremendous enquiry – you understand? –
into oneself, so that there is
no false note in it, no hypocrisy, never going beyond actually ‘what is.’ That requires great attention,
great energy to look at yourself. Not to analyse yourself,
but to observe what is going on. So, it is only such a mind
that can find the answer. It’s only such a mind that discovers
– you have to, at least… unfortunately, I describe it and
therefore, it becomes something unreal – there is something beyond
all this travail, all this misery, if you are capable, if you give your
whole energy, time, capacity to this. Otherwise, one leads
a very shallow, meaningless life – and the inevitable death
coming after. So, the whole of this is meditation,
from the beginning to the end. The beginning is
to understand oneself, not according to any philosopher,
any psychologist or any analyst, but for yourself, yourself is mankind,
the rest of the world. When you look at yourself you’re looking at every
human being in the world. And then, you have to see
what your consciousness is – your consciousness is its content – the misery, the confusion,
the anxiety, the fears, the attachments, the property,
the wife – you follow? – all that is your consciousness, which is the consciousness
of every human being. It may have frills around it,
but in its essence it is the same. From there, you can go
into the question of fear. Psychological fear
must be totally ended. We went into that
and also, we went into pleasure. We talked about sorrow
and the ending of sorrow. The ending of sorrow –
then only there is love, compassion. Otherwise, there is no compassion. That is the solid earth upon which your feet
are firmly established, rooted – so that there is no deception. Then, effort. Where there is effort,
there must be distortion. So can one live a life, a daily life,
without a single effort? Find out what it means. It is possible to live
without a single effort. That comes only when you understand
contradictions in yourself. Observe the contradiction in oneself, not try to change it, not try to alter
the contradiction, just to observe. The very observation is its own
ending of the contradiction. You understand? When there is a total observation
in which is total attention then any contradiction in yourself,
comes to an end. You can test it out, actually,
everyday, for yourself. So, one can live a life
in which there is no conflict. Then only, the real,
deeper meditation begins, and then you have
that energy of silence, in which there is no illusion, and that is,
as we said at the beginning, the first step is the last step,
which is freedom.

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