Urgency of Change
Beauty and The Artist
Questioner: I wonder what an artist is? There on the banks of the Ganges, in a dark little room, a man sits weaving a most beautiful sari in silk and gold, and in Paris in his atelier another man is painting a picture which he hopes will bring him fame. Somewhere there is a writer cunningly spinning out stories stating the old, old problem of man and woman; then there is the scientist in his laboratory and the technician putting together a million parts so that a rocket may go to the moon. And in India a musician is living a life of great austerity in order to transmit faithfully the distilled beauty of his music. There is the housewife preparing a meal, and the poet walking alone in the woods. Aren't these all artists in their own way? I feel that beauty is in the hands of everybody, but they don't know it. The man who makes beautiful clothes or excellent shoes, the woman who arranged those flowers on your table, all of them seem to work with beauty. I often wonder why it is that the painter, the sculptor, the composer, the writer - the so-called creative artists - have such extraordinary importance in this world and not the shoemaker or the cook. Aren't they creative too? When you consider all the varieties of expression which people consider beautiful, then what place has a true artist in life, and who is the true artist? It is said that beauty is the very essence of all life. Is that building over there, which is considered to be so beautiful, the expression of that essence? I should greatly appreciate it if you would go into this whole question of beauty and the artist.
Krishnamurti: Surely the artist is one who is skilled in action? This action is in life and not outside of life. Therefore if it is living skilfully that truly makes an artist. This skill can operate for a few hours in the day when he is playing an instrument, writing poems or painting pictures, or it can operate a bit more if he is skilled in many such fragments - like those great men of the Renaissance who worked in several different media. But the few hours of music or writing may contradict the rest of his living which is in disorder and confusion. So is such a man an artist at all? The man who plays the violin with artistry and keeps his eye on his fame isn't interested in the violin, he is only exploiting it to be famous, the "me" is far more important than the music, and so it is with the writer or the painter with an eye on fame. The musician identifies his "me" with what he considers to be beautiful music, and the religious man identifies his "me" with what he considers to be the sublime. All these are skilled in their particular little fields but the rest of the vast field of life is disregarded. So we have to find out what is skill in action, in living, not only in painting or in writing or in technology, but how one can live the whole of life with skill and beauty. Are skill and beauty the same? Can a human being - whether he be an artist or not - live the whole of his life with skill and beauty? Living is action and when that action breeds sorrow it ceases to be skilful. So can a man live without sorrow, without friction, without jealousy and greed, without conflict of any kind? The issue is not who is an artist and who is not an artist but whether a human being, you or another, can live without torture and distortion. Of course it is profane to belittle great music, great sculpture, great poetry or dancing, or to sneer at it; that is to be unskilled in one's own life. But the artistry and beauty which is skill in action should operate throughout the day, not just during a few hours of the day. This is the real challenge, not just playing the piano beautifully. You must play it beautifully if you touch it at all, but that is not enough. It is like cultivating a small corner of a huge field. We are concerned with the whole field and that field is life. What we always do is to neglect the whole field and concentrate on fragments, our own or other people's. Artistry is to be completely awake and therefore to be skilful in action in the whole of life, and this is beauty.
Questioner: What about the factory worker or the office employee? Is he an artist? Doesn't his work preclude skill in action and so deaden him that he has no skill in anything else either? Is he not conditioned by his work?
Krishnamurti: Of course he is. But if he wakes up he will either leave his work or so transform it that it becomes artistry. What is important is not the work but the waking up to the work. What is important is not the conditioning of the work but to wake up.
Questioner: What do you mean, wake up?
Krishnamurti: Are you awakened only by circumstances, by challenges, by some disaster or joy? Or is there a state of being awake without any cause? If you are awakened by an event, a cause, then you depend on it, and when you, any dependence is the end of skill, the end of artistry.
Questioner: What is this other awakened state that has no cause? You are talking about a state in which there is neither a cause nor an effect. Can there be a state of mind that is not the result of some cause? I don't understand that because surely everything we think and everything we are is the result of a cause? There is the endless chain of cause and effect.
Krishnamurti: This chain of cause and effect is endless because the effect becomes the cause and the cause begets further effects, and so on.
Questioner: Then what action is there outside this chain?
Krishnamurti: All we know is action with a cause, a motive, action which is a result. All action is in relationship. If relationship is based on cause it is cunning adaptation, and therefore inevitably leads to another form of dullness. Love is the only thing that is causeless, that is free; it is beauty, it is skill, it is art. Without love there is no art. When the artist is playing beautifully there is no "me; there is love and beauty, and this is art. This is skill in action. Skill in action is the absence of the "me". Art is the absence of the "me". But when you neglect the whole field of life and concentrate only on a little part - however much the "me" may then be absent, you are still living unskilfully and therefore you are not an artist of life. The absence of "me" in living is love and beauty, which brings its own skill. This is the greatest art: living skilfully in the whole field of Life.
Questioner: Oh Lord! How am I to do that? I see it and feel it in my heart but how can I maintain it?
Krishnamurti: There is no way to maintain it, there is no way to nourish it, there is no practising of it; there is only the seeing of it. Seeing is the greatest of all skills.
Questioner: I should like to understand the nature of dependence. I have found myself depending on so many things - on women, on different kinds of amusement, on good wine, on my wife and children, on my friends, on what people say. Fortunately I no longer depend on religious entertainment, but I depend on the books I read to stimulate me and on good conversation. I see that the young are also dependent, perhaps not so much as I am, but they have their own particular forms of dependence. I have been to the East and have seen how there they depend on the guru and the family. Tradition there has greater importance and is more deeply rooted than it is here in Europe, and, of course, very much more so than in America. But we all seem to depend on something to sustain us, not only physically but, much more, inwardly. So I am wondering whether it is at all possible to be really free of dependence, and should one be free of it?
Krishnamurti: I take it you are concerned with the psychological inward attachments. The more one is attached the greater the dependence. The attachment is not only to persons but to ideas and to things. One is attached to a particular environment, to a particular country and so on. And from this springs dependence and therefore resistance.
Questioner: Why resistance?
Krishnamurti: The object of my attachment is my territorial or my sexual domain. This I protect, resisting any form of encroachment on it from others. I also limit the freedom of the person to whom I am attached and limit my own freedom. So attachment is resistance. I am attached to something or somebody. That attachment is possessiveness; possessiveness is resistance, so attachment is resistance.
Questioner: Yes, I see that.
Krishnamurti: Any form of encroachment on my possessions leads to violence, legally or psychologically. So attachment is violence, resistance, imprisonment - the imprisonment of oneself and of the object of attachment. Attachment means this is mine and not yours; keep off! So this relationship is resistance against others. The whole world is divided into mine and yours: my opinion, my judgement, my advice, my God, my country - an infinity of such nonsense. Seeing all this taking place, not in abstraction but actually in our daily life, we can ask why there is this attachment to people, things and ideas. Why does one depend? All being is relationship and all relationship is in this dependence with its violence, resistance and domination. We have made the whole world into this. Where one possesses one must dominate. We meet beauty, love springs up, and immediately it turns to attachment and all this misery begins and the love has gone out of the window. Then we ask, "What has happened to our great love?" This is actually what is happening in our daily life. And, seeing all this, we can now ask: why is man invariably attached, not only to that which is lovely, but also to every form of illusion and to so many idiotic fancies?
Freedom is not a state of non-dependence; it is a positive state in which there isn't any dependence. But it is not a result, it has no cause. This must be understood very clearly before we can go into the question of why man depends or falls into the trap of attachment with all its miseries. Being attached we try to cultivate a state of independence - which is another form of resistance.
Questioner: So what is freedom? You say it is not the negation of dependence or the ending of dependence; you say it is not freedom from something, but just freedom. So what is it? Is it an abstraction or an actuality?
Krishnamurti: It is not an abstraction. It is the state of mind in which there is no form of resistance whatsoever. It is not like a river accommodating itself to boulders here and there, going round or over them. In this freedom there are no boulders at all, only the movement of the water.
Questioner: But the boulder of attachment is there, in this river of life. You can't just speak about another river in which there are no boulders.
Krishnamurti: We are not avoiding the boulder or saying it doesn't exist. We must first understand freedom. It is not the same river as the one in which there are the boulders.
Questioner: I have still got my river with its boulders, and that's what I came to ask about, not about some other unknown river without boulders. That's no good to me.
Krishnamurti: Quite right. But you must understand what freedom is in order to understand your boulders. But don't let us flog this simile to death. We must consider both freedom and attachment.
Questioner: What has my attachment to do with freedom or freedom with my attachment?
Krishnamurti: In your attachment there is pain. You want to be rid of this pain, so you cultivate detachment which is another form of resistance. In the opposite there is no freedom. These two opposites are identical and mutually strengthen each other. What you are concerned with is how to have the pleasures of attachment without its miseries. You cannot. That is why it is important to understand that freedom does not lie in detachment. In the process of understanding attachment there is freedom, not in running away from attachment. So our question now is, why are human beings attached, dependent?
Being nothing, being a desert in oneself, one hopes through another to find water. Being empty, poor, wretched, insufficient, devoid of interest or importance, one hopes through another to be enriched. Through the love of another one hopes to forget oneself. Through the beauty of another one hopes to acquire beauty. Through the family, through the nation, through the lover, through some fantastic belief, one hopes to cover this desert with flowers. And God is the ultimate lover. So one puts hooks into all these things. In this there is pain and uncertainty, and the desert seems more arid than ever before. Of course it is neither more nor less arid; it is what it was, only one has avoided looking at it while escaping through some form of attachment with its pain, and then escaping from that pain into detachment. But one remains arid and empty as before. So instead of trying to escape, either through attachment or through detachment, can we not become aware of this fact, of this deep inward poverty and inadequacy, this dull, hollow isolation? That is the only thing that matters, not attachment or detachment. Can you look at it without any sense of condemnation or evaluation? When you do,are you looking at it as an observer who looks at the observed, or without the observer?
Questioner: What do you mean, the observer?
Krishnamurti: Are you looking at it from a centre with all its conclusions of like and dislike, opinion, judgement, the desire to be free of this emptiness and so on - are you looking at this aridness with the eyes of conclusion - or are you looking with eyes that are completely free? When you look at it with completely free eyes there is no observer. If there is no observer, is there the thing observed as loneliness, emptiness, wretchedness?
Questioner: Do you mean to say that that tree doesn't exist if I look at it without conclusions, without a centre which is the observer?
Krishnamurti: Of course the tree exists.
Questioner: Why does loneliness disappear but not the tree when I look without the observer?
Krishnamurti: Because the tree is not created by the centre, by the mind of the "me". But the mind of the "me', in all its self-centred activity has created this emptiness, this isolation. And when that mind, without the centre, looks, the self-centred activity ends. So the loneliness is not. Then the mind functions in freedom. Looking at the whole structure of attachment and detachment, and the movement of pain and pleasure, we see how the mind of the "me" builds its own desert and its own escapes. When the mind of the "me" is still, then there is no desert and there is no escape.
Questioner: I am one of those people who really believe in God. In India I followed one of the great modern saints who, because he believed in God, brought about great political changes there. In India the whole country throbs to the beat of God. I have heard you talk against belief so probably you don't believe in God. But you are a religious person and therefore there must be in you some kind of feeling of the Supreme. I have been all over India and through many parts of Europe, visiting monasteries, churches and mosques, and everywhere I have found this very strong, compelling belief in God whom one hopes shapes one's life. Now since you don't believe in God, although you are a religious person, what exactly is your position with regard to this question? Why don't you believe? Are you an atheist? As you know, in Hinduism you can be an atheist or a theist and yet be equally well a Hindu. Of course it's different with the Christians. If you don't believe in God you can't be a Christian. But that's beside the point. The point is that I have come to ask you to explain your position and demonstrate to me its validity. People follow you and therefore you have a responsibility, and therefore I am challenging you in this way.
Krishnamurti: Let us first of all clear up this last point. There are no followers, and I have no responsibility to you or to the people who listen to my talks. Also I am not a Hindu or anything else, for I don't belong to any group, religious or otherwise. Each one must be a light to himself. Therefore there is no teacher, no disciple. This must be clearly understood from the very beginning otherwise one is influenced; one becomes a slave to propaganda and persuasions. Therefore anything that is being said now is not dogma or creed or persuasion: we either meet together in understanding or we don't. Now, you said most emphatically that you believe in God and you probably want through that belief to experience what one might call the godhead. Belief involves many things. There is belief in facts that you may not have seen but can verify, like the existence of New York or the Eiffel Tower. Then you may believe that your wife is faithful though you don't actually know it. She might be unfaithful in thought yet you believe she is faithful because you don't actually see her going off with someone else; she may deceive you in daily thought, and you most certainly have done the same too. You believe in reincarnation, don't you, though there is no certainty that there is any such thing? However, that belief has no validity in your life, has it? All Christians believe that they must love but they do not love - like everyone else they go about killing, physically or psychologically. There are those who do not believe in God and yet do good. There are those who believe in God and kill for that belief; those who prepare for war because they claim they want peace, and so on. So one has to ask oneself what need there is to believe at all in anything, though this doesn't deny the extraordinary mystery of life. But belief is one thing and "what is" is another. Belief is a word, a thought, and this is not the thing, any more than your name is actually you.
Through experience you hope to touch the truth of your belief, to prove it to yourself, but this belief conditions your experience. It isn't that the experience comes to prove the belief, but rather that the belief begets the experience. Your belief in God will give you the experience of what you call God. You will always experience what you believe and nothing else. And this invalidates your experience. The Christian will see virgins, angels and Christ, and the Hindu will see similar deities in extravagant plurality. The Muslim, the Buddhist, the Jew and the Communist are the same. Belief conditions its own supposed proof. What is important is not what you believe but only why you believe at all. Why do you believe? And what difference does it make to what actually is whether you believe one thing or another? Facts are not influenced by belief or disbelief. So one has to ask why one believes at all in anything; what is the basis of belief? Is it fear, is it the uncertainty of life - the fear of the unknown the lack of security in this ever-changing world? Is it the insecurity of relationship, or is it that faced with the immensity of life, and not understanding it, one encloses oneself in the refuge of belief? So, if I may ask you, if you had no fear at all, would you have any belief?
Questioner: I am not at all sure that I am afraid, but I love God, and it is this love that makes me believe in Him.
Krishnamurti: Do you mean to say you are devoid of fear? And therefore know what love is?
Questioner: I have replaced fear with love and so to me fear is non-existent, and therefore my belief is not based on fear.
Krishnamurti: Can you substitute love for fear? Is that not an act of thought which is afraid and therefore covers up the fear with the word called love, again a belief? You have covered up that fear with a word and you cling to the word, hoping to dissipate fear.
Questioner: What you are saying disturbs me greatly. I am not at all sure I want to go on with this, because my belief and my love have sustained me and helped me to lead a decent life. This questioning of my belief brings about a sense of disorder of which, quite frankly, I am afraid.
Krishnamurti: So there is fear, which you are beginning to discover for yourself. This disturbs you. Belief comes from fear and is the most destructive thing. One must be free of fear and of belief. Belief divides people, makes them hard, makes them hate each other and cultivate war. In a roundabout way, unwillingly, you are admitting that fear begets belief. Freedom from belief is necessary to face the fact of fear. Belief like any other ideal is an escape from "what is". When there is no fear then the mind is in quite a different dimension. Only then can you ask the question whether there is a God or not. A mind clouded by fear or belief is incapable of any kind of understanding, any realization of what truth is. Such a mind lives in illusion and can obviously not come upon that which is Supreme. The Supreme has nothing to do with your or anybody else's belief, opinion or conclusion.
Not knowing, you believe, but to know is not to know. To know is within the tiny field of time and the mind that says, "I know" is bound by time and so cannot possibly understand that which is. After all, when you say, "I know my wife and my friend", you know only the image or the memory, and this is the past. Therefore you can never actually know anybody or anything. You cannot know a living thing, only a dead thing. When you see this you will no longer think of relationship in terms of knowing. So one can never say, "There is no God", or "I know God". Both these are a blasphemy. To understand that which is there must be freedom, not only from the known but also from the fear of the known and from the fear of the unknown.
Questioner: You speak of understanding that which "is" and yet you deny the validity of knowing. What is this understanding if it is not knowing?
Krishnamurti: The two are quite different. Knowing is always related to the past and therefore it binds you to the past. Unlike knowing understanding is not a conclusion, not accumulation. If you have listened you have understood. Understanding is attention. When you attend completely you understand. So the understanding of fear is the ending of fear. Your belief can therefore no longer be the predominant factor; the understanding of fear is predominant. When there is no fear there is freedom. It is only then that one can find what is true. When that which "is" is not distorted by fear then that which "is" is true. It is not the word. You cannot measure truth with words. Love is not a word nor a belief nor something that you can capture and say, "It is mine". Without love and beauty, that which you call God is nothing at all.
Questioner: I have been told by professionals that dreaming is as vital as daytime thinking and activity, and that I would find my daily living under great stress and strain if I did not dream. They insist, and here I'm using not their jargon but my own words, that during certain periods of sleep the movement of the eyelids indicates refreshing dreams and that these bring a certain clarity to the brain. I am wondering whether the stillness of the mind which you have often spoken about might not bring greater harmony to living than the equilibrium brought about by patterns of dreams. I should also like to ask why the language of dreams is one of symbols.
Krishnamurti: Language itself is a symbol, and we are used to symbols: we see the tree through the image which is the symbol of the tree, we see our neighbour through the image we have about him. Apparently it is one of the most difficult things for a human being to look at anything directly, not through images, opinions, conclusions, which are all symbols. And so in dreams symbols play a large part and in this there is great deception and danger. The meaning of a dream is not always clear to us, although we realize it is in symbols and try to decipher them. When we see something, we speak of it so spontaneously that we do not recognise that words are also symbols. All this indicates, doesn't it, that there is direct communication in technical matters but seldom in human relationships and understanding? You don't need symbols when somebody hits you. That is a direct communication. This is a very interesting point: the mind refuses to see things directly, to be aware of itself without the word and the symbol. You say the sky is blue. The listener then deciphers this according to his own reference of blueness and transmits it to you in his own cipher. So we live in symbols, and dreams are a part of this symbolic process. We are incapable of direct and immediate perception without the symbols, the words, the prejudices and conclusions. The reason for this is also quite apparent: it is part of the self-centred activity with its defences, resistances, escapes and fears. There is a ciphered response in the activity of the brain, and dreams must naturally be symbolic because during the waking hours we are incapable of direct response or perception.
Questioner: It seems to me that this then is an inherent function of the brain.
Krishnamurti: Inherent means something permanent, inevitable and lasting. Surely any psychological state can be changed. Only the deep, constant demand of the brain for the physical security of the organism is inherent. Symbols are a device of the brain to protect the psyche; this is the whole process of thought. The "me" is a symbol, not an actuality. Having created the symbol of the "me", thought identifies itself with its conclusion, with the formula, and then defends it: all misery and sorrow come from this.
Questioner: Then how do I get around it?
Krishnamurti: When you ask how to get around it, you are still holding on to the symbol of the "me", which is fictitious; you become something separate from what you see, and so duality arises.
Questioner: May I come back another day to continue this?
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Questioner: You were good enough to let me come back, and I should like to continue where we left off. We were talking about symbols in dreams and you pointed out that we live by symbols, deciphering them according to our gratification. We do this not only in dreams but in everyday life; it is our usual behaviour. Most of our actions are based on the interpretation of the symbols or images that we have. Strangely, after having talked with you the other day, my dreams have taken a peculiar turn. I have had very disturbing dreams and the interpretation of those dreams took place as they were happening within the dreams. It was a simultaneous process; the dream was being interpreted by the dreamer. This has never happened to me before.
Krishnamurti: During our waking hours, there is always the observer, different from the observed, the actor, separate from his action. In the same way there is the dreamer separate from his dream. He thinks it is separate from himself and therefore in need of interpretation. But is the dream separate from the dreamer, and is there any need to interpret it? When the observer is the observed what need is there to interpret, to judge, to evaluate? This need would exist only if the observer were different from the thing observed. This is very important to understand. We have separated the thing observed from the observer and from this arises not only the problem of interpretation but also conflict, and the many problems connected with it. This division is an illusion. This division between groups, races, nationalities, is fictitious. We are beings, undivided by names, by labels. When the labels become all important, division takes place, and then wars and all other struggles come into being.
Questioner: How then do I understand the content of the dream? It must have significance. Is it an accident that I dream of some particular event or person?
Krishnamurti: We should really look at this quite differently. Is there anything to understand? When the observer thinks he is different from the thing observed there is an attempt to understand that which is outside himself. The same process goes on within him. There is the observer wishing to understand the thing he observes, which is himself. But when the observer is the observed, there is no question of understanding; there is only observation. You say that there is something to understand in the dream, otherwise there would be no dream, you say that the dream is a hint of something unresolved that one should understand. You use the word "understand", and in that very word is the dualistic process. You think there is an "I", and a thing to be understood, whereas in reality these two entities are one and the same. Therefore your search for a meaning in the dream is the action of conflict.
Questioner: Would you say the dream is an expression of something in the mind?
Krishnamurti: Obviously it is.
Questioner: I do not understand how it is possible to regard a dream in the way you are describing it. If it has no significance, why does it exist?
Krishnamurti: The "I" is the dreamer, and the dreamer wants to see significance in the dream which he has invented or projected, so both are dreams, both are unreal. This unreality has become real to the dreamer, to the observer who thinks of himself as separate. The whole problem of dream interpretation arises out of this separation, this division between the actor and the action.
Questioner: I am getting more and more confused, so may we go over it again differently? I can see that a dream is the product of my mind and not separate from it, but dreams seem to come from levels of the mind which have not been explored, and so they seem to be intimations of something alive in the mind.
Krishnamurti: It is not your particular mind in which there are hidden things. Your mind is the mind of man; your consciousness is the whole of man. But when you particularize it as your mind, you limit its activity, and because of this limitation, dreams arise. During waking hours observe without the observer, who is the expression of limitation. Any division is a limitation. Having divided itself into a "me" and a "not me", the "me", the observer, the dreamer, has many problems - among them dreams and the interpretation of dreams. In any case, you will see the significance or the value of a dream only in a limited way because the observer is always limited. The dreamer perpetuates his own limitation, therefore the dream is always the expression of the incomplete, never of the whole.
Questioner: Pieces are brought back from the moon in order to understand the composition of the moon. In the same way we try to understand human thinking by bringing back pieces from our dreams, and examining what they express.
Krishnamurti: The expressions of the mind are the fragments of the mind. Each fragment expresses itself in its own way and contradicts other fragments. A dream may contradict another dream, one action another action, one desire another desire. The mind lives in this confusion. A part of the mind says it must understand another part, such as a dream, an action or a desire. So each fragment has its own observer, its own activity; then a super-observer tries to bring them all into harmony. The super-observer is also a fragment of the mind. It is these contradictions, these divisions, that breed dreams.
So the real question is not the interpretation or the understanding of a particular dream; it is the perception that these many fragments are contained in the whole. Then you see yourself as a whole and not as a fragment of a whole.
Questioner: Are you saying, sir, that one should be aware during the day of the whole movement of life, not just one's family life, or business life, or any other individual aspect of life?
Krishnamurti: Consciousness is the whole of man and does not belong to a particular man. When there is the consciousness of one particular man there is the complex problem of fragmentation, contradiction and war. When there is awareness of the total movement of life in a human being during the waking hours, what need is there for dreams at all? This total awareness, this attention, puts an end to fragmentation and to division. When there is no conflict whatsoever the mind has no need for dreams.
Questioner: This certainly opens a door through which I see many things.
Questioner: Can one really be free of tradition? Can one be free of anything at all? Or is it a matter of sidestepping it and not being concerned with any of it? You talk a great deal about the past and its conditioning - but can I be really free of this whole background of my life? Or can I merely modify the background according to the various outward demands and challenges, adjust myself to it rather than become free of it? It seems to me that this is one of the most important things, and I'd like to understand it because I always feel that I am carrying a burden, the weight of the past. I would like to put it down and walk away from it, never come back to it. Is that possible?
Krishnamurti: Doesn't tradition mean carrying the past over to the present? The past is not only one's particular set of inheritances but also the weight of all the collective thought of a particular group of people who have lived in a particular culture and tradition. One carries the accumulated knowledge and experience of the race and the family. All this is the past - the carrying over from the known to the present - which shapes the future. Is not the teaching of all history a form of tradition? You are asking if one can be free of all this. First of all, why does one want to be free? Why does one want to put down this burden? Why?
Questioner: I think it's fairly simple. I don't want to be the past - I want to be myself; I want to be cleansed of this whole tradition so that I can be a new human being. I think in most of us there is this feeling of wanting to be born anew.
Krishnamurti: You cannot possibly be the new just by wishing for it. Or by struggling to be new. You have not only to understand the past but also you have to find out who you are. Are you not the past? Are you not the continuation of what has been, modified by the present?
Questioner: My actions and my thoughts are, but my existence isn't.
Krishnamurti: Can you separate the two, action and thought, from existence? Are not thought, action, existence, living and relationship all one? This fragmentation into "me" and "not-me" is part of this tradition.
Questioner: Do you mean that when I am not thinking, when the past is not operating, I am obliterated, that I have ceased to exist?
Krishnamurti: Don't let us ask too many questions, but consider what we began with. Can one be free of the past - not only the recent but the immemorial, the collective, the racial, the human, the animal? You are all that, you are not separate from that. And you are asking whether you can put all that aside and be born anew. The "you" is that, and when you wish to be reborn as a new entity, the new entity you imagine is a projection of the old, covered over with the word "new". But underneath, you are the past. So the question is, can the past be put aside or does a modified form of tradition continue for ever, changing, accumulating, discarding, but always the past in different combinations? The past is the cause and the present is the effect, and today, which is the effect of yesterday, becomes the cause of tomorrow. This chain is the way of thought, for thought is the past. You are asking whether one can stop this movement of yesterday into today. Can one look at the past to examine it, or is that not possible at all? To look at it the observer must be outside it - and he isn't. So here arises another issue. If the observer himself is the past then how can the past be isolated for observation?
Questioner: I can look at something objectively....
Krishnamurti: But you, who are the observer, are the past trying to look at itself. You can objectify yourself only as an image which you have put together through the years in every form of relationship, and so the "you" which you objectify is memory and imagination, the past. You are trying to look at yourself as though you were a different entity from the one who is looking, but you are the past, with its old judgements, evaluations and so on. The action of the past is looking at the memory of the past. Therefore there is never relief from the past. The continuous examination of the past by the past perpetuates the past; this is the very action of the past, and this is the very essence of tradition.
Questioner: Then what action is possible? If I am the past - and I can see that I am - then whatever I do to chisel away the past is adding to it. So I am left helpless! What can I do? I can't pray because the invention of a god is again the action of the past. I can't look to another, for the other is also the creation of my despair. I can't run away from it all because at the end of it I am still there with my past. I can't identify myself with some image which is not of the past because that image is my own projection too. Seeing all this, I am really left helpless, and in despair.
Krishnamurti: Why do you call it helplessness and despair? Aren't you translating what you see as the past into an emotional anxiety because you cannot achieve a certain result? In so doing you are again making the past act. Now, can you look at all this movement of the past, with all its traditions, without wanting to be free of it, change it, modify it or run away from it - simply observe it without any reaction?
Questioner: But as we have been saying all through this conversation, how can I observe the past if I am the past? I can't look at it at all!
Krishnamurti: Can you look at yourself, who are the past, without any movement of thought, which is the past? If you can look without thinking, evaluating, liking, disliking, judging, then there is a looking with eyes that are not touched by the past. It is to look in silence, without the noise of thought. In this silence there is neither the observer nor the thing which he is looking at as the past.
Questioner: Are you saying that when you look without evaluation or judgement the past has disappeared? But it hasn't - there are still the thousands of thoughts and actions and all the pettiness which were rampant only a moment ago. I look at them and they are still there. How can you say that the past has disappeared? It may momentarily have stopped acting....
Krishnamurti: When the mind is silent that silence is a new dimension, and when there is any rampant pettiness it is instantly dissolved, because the mind has now a different quality of energy which is not the energy engendered by the past. This is what matters: to have that energy that dispels the carrying over of the past. The carrying over of the past is a different kind of energy. The silence wipes the other out, the greater absorbs the lesser and remains untouched. It is like the sea, receiving the dirty river and remaining pure. This is what matters. It is only this energy that can wipe away the past. Either there is silence or the noise of the past. In this silence the noise ceases and the new is this silence. It is not that you are made new. This silence is infinite and the past is limited. The conditioning of the past breaks down in the fullness of silence.
Questioner: You have talked a great deal about conditioning and have said that one must be free of this bondage, otherwise one remains imprisoned always. A statement of this kind seems so outrageous and unacceptable! Most of us are very deeply conditioned and we hear this statement and throw up our hands and run away from such extravagant expression, but I have taken you seriously - for, after all, you have more or less given your life to this kind of thing, not as a hobby but with deep seriousness - and therefore I should like to discuss it with you to see how far the human being can uncondition himself. Is it really possible, and if so, what does it mean? Is it possible for me, having lived in a world of habits, traditions and the acceptance of orthodox notions in so many matters - is it possible for me really to throw off this deep-rooted conditioning? What exactly do you mean by conditioning, and what do you mean by freedom from conditioning?
Krishnamurti: Let us take the first question first. We are conditioned - physically, nervously, mentally - by the climate we live in and the food we eat, by the culture in which we live, by the whole of our social, religious and economic environment, by our experience, by education and by family pressures and influences. All these are the factors which condition us. Our conscious and unconscious responses to all the challenges of our environment - intellectual, emotional, outward and inward - all these are the action of conditioning. Language is conditioning; all thought is the action, the response of conditioning.
Knowing that we are conditioned we invent a divine agency which we piously hope will get us out of this mechanical state. We either postulate its existence outside or inside ourselves - as the atman, the soul, the Kingdom of Heaven which is within, and who knows what else! To these beliefs we cling desperately, not seeing that they themselves are part of the conditioning factor which they are supposed to destroy or redeem. So not being able to uncondition ourselves in this world, and not even seeing that conditioning is the problem, we think that freedom is in Heaven, in Moksha, in Nirvana. In the Christian myth of original sin and in the whole eastern doctrine of Samsara, one sees that the factor of conditioning has been felt, though rather obscurely. If it had been clearly seen, naturally these doctrines and myths would not have arisen. Nowadays the psychologists also try to get to grips with this problem, and in doing so condition us still further. Thus the religious specialists have conditioned us, the social order has conditioned us, the family which is part of it has conditioned us. All this is the past which makes up the open as well as the hidden layers of the mind. En passant it is interesting to note that the so-called individual doesn't exist at all, for his mind draws on the common reservoir of conditioning which he shares with everybody else, so the division between the community and the individual is false: there is only conditioning. This conditioning is action in all relationships - to things, people and ideas.
Questioner: Then what am I to do to free myself from it all? To live in this mechanical state is not living at all, and yet all action, all will, all judgements are conditioned - so there is apparently nothing I can do about conditioning which isn't conditioned! I am tied hand and foot.
Krishnamurti: The very factor of conditioning in the past, in the present and in the future, is the "me" which thinks in terms of time, the "me" which exerts itself; and now it exerts itself in the demand to be free; so the root of all conditioning is the thought which is the "me". The "me" is the very essence of the past, the "me" is time, the "me" is sorrow - the "me" endeavours to free itself from itself, the "me" makes efforts, struggles to achieve, to deny, to become. This struggle to become is time in which there is confusion and the greed for the more and the better. The "me" seeks security and not finding it transfers the search to heaven; the very "me" that identifies itself with something greater in which it hopes to lose itself - whether that be the nation, the ideal or some god - is the factor of conditioning.
Questioner: You have taken everything away from me. What am I without this "me"?
Krishnamurti: If there is no "me" you are unconditioned, which means you are nothing.
Questioner: Can the "me" end without the effort of the "me"?
Krishnamurti: The effort to become something is the response, the action, of conditioning.
Questioner: How can the action of the "me" stop?
Krishnamurti: It can stop only if you see this whole thing, the whole business of it. If you see it in action, which is in relationship, the seeing is the ending of the "me". Not only is this seeing an action which is not conditioned but also it acts upon conditioning.
Questioner: Do you mean to say that the brain - which is the result of vast evolution with its infinite conditioning - can free itself?
Krishnamurti: The brain is the result of time; it is conditioned to protect itself physically, but when it tries to protect itself psychologically then the "me" begins, and all our misery starts. It is this effort to protect itself psychologically that is the affirmation of the "me". The brain can learn, can acquire knowledge technologically, but when it acquires knowledge psychologically then that knowledge asserts itself in relationship as the "me" with its experiences, its will and its violence. This is what brings division, conflict and sorrow to relationship.
Questioner: Can this brain be still and only operate when it has to work technologically - only operate when knowledge is demanded in action, as for example in learning a language, driving a car or building a house?
Krishnamurti: The danger in this is the dividing of the brain into the psychological and the technological. This again becomes a contradiction, a conditioning, a theory. The real question is whether the brain, the whole of it, can be still, quiet, and respond efficiently only when it has to in technology or in living. So we are not concerned with the psychological or the technological; we ask only, can this whole mind be completely still and function only when it has to? We say it can and this is the understanding of what meditation is.
* * *
Questioner: If I may I should like to continue where we left off yesterday. You may remember that I asked two questions: I asked what is conditioning and what is freedom from conditioning, and you said let us take the first question first. We hadn't time to go into the second question, so I should like to ask today, what is the state of the mind that is free from all its conditioning? After talking with you yesterday it became very clear to me how deeply and strongly I am conditioned, and I saw - at least I think I saw - an opening, a crack in this structure of conditioning. I talked the matter over with a friend and in taking certain factual instances of conditioning I saw very clearly how deeply and venomously one's actions are affected by it. As you said at the end, meditation is the emptying of the mind of all conditioning so that there is no distortion or illusion. How is one to be free of all distortion, all illusion? What is illusion?
Krishnamurti: It is so easy to deceive oneself, so easy to convince oneself of anything at all. The feeling that one must be something is the beginning of deception, and, of course, this idealistic attitude leads to various forms of hypocrisy. What makes illusion? Well, one of the factors is this constant comparison between what is and what should be, or what might be, this measurement between the good and the bad - thought trying to improve itself, the memory of pleasure, trying to get more pleasure, and so on. It is this desire for more, this dissatisfaction, which makes one accept or have faith in something, and this must inevitably lead to every form of deception and illusion. It is desire and fear, hope and despair, that project the goal, the conclusion to be experienced. Therefore this experience has no reality. All so-called religious experiences follow this pattern. The very desire for enlightenment must also breed the acceptance of authority, and this is the opposite of enlightenment. Desire, dissatisfaction, fear, pleasure, wanting more, wanting to change, all of which is measurement - this is the way of illusion.
Questioner: Do you really have no illusion at all about anything?
Krishnamurti: I am not all the time measuring myself or others. This freedom from measurement comes about when you are really living with what is - neither wishing to change it nor judging it in terms of good and bad. Living with something is not the acceptance of it: it is there whether you accept it or not. Living with something is not identifying yourself with it either.
Questioner: Can we go back to the question of what this freedom is that one really wants? This desire for freedom expresses itself in everybody, sometimes in the stupidest ways, but I think one can say that in the human heart there is always this deep longing for freedom which is never realized; there is this incessant struggle to be free. I know I am not free; I am caught in so many wants. How am I to be free, and what does it mean to be really honestly free?
Krishnamurti: Perhaps this may help us to understand it: total negation is that freedom. To negate everything we consider to be positive, to negate the total social morality, to negate all inward acceptance of authority, to negate everything one has said or concluded about reality, to negate all tradition, all teaching, all knowledge except technological knowledge, to negate all experience, to negate all the drives which stem from remembered or forgotten pleasures, to negate all fulfilment, to negate all commitments to act in a particular way, to negate all ideas, all principles, all theories. Such negation is the most positive action, therefore it is freedom.
Questioner: If I chisel away at this, bit by bit, I shall go on for ever and that itself will be my bondage. Can it all all wither away in a flash, can I negate the whole human deception, all the values and aspiration and standards, immediately? Is it really possible? Doesn't it require enormous capacity, which I lack, enormous understanding, to see all this in a flash and leave it exposed to the light, to that intelligence you have talked about? I wonder, sir, if you know what this entails. To ask me, an ordinary man with an ordinary education, to plunge into something which seems like an incredible nothingness.... Can I do it? I don't even know what it means to jump into it! It's like asking me to become all of a sudden the most beautiful, innocent, lovely human being. You see I am really frightened now, not the way I was frightened before, I am faced now with something which I know is true, and yet my utter incapacity to do it binds me. I see the beauty of this thing, to be really completely nothing, but....
Krishnamurti: You know, it is only when there is emptiness in oneself, not the emptiness of a shallow mind but the emptiness that comes with the total negation of everything one has been and should be and will be - it is only in this emptiness that there is creation; it is only in this emptiness that something new can take place. Fear is the thought of the unknown, so you are really frightened of leaving the known, the attachments, the satisfactions, the pleasurable memories, the continuity and security which give comfort. Thought is comparing this with what it thinks is emptiness. This imagination of emptiness is fear, so fear is thought. To come back to your question - can the mind negate everything it has known, the total content of its own conscious and unconscious self, which is the very essence of yourself? Can you negate yourself completely? If not, there is no freedom. Freedom is not freedom from something - that is only a reaction; freedom comes in total denial.
Questioner: But what is the good of having such freedom? You are asking me to die, aren't you?
Krishnamurti: Of course! I wonder how you are using the word "good" when you say what is the good of this freedom? Good in terms of what? The known? Freedom is the absolute good and its action is the beauty of everyday life. In this freedom alone there is living, and without it how can there be love? Everything exists and has its being in this freedom. It is everywhere and nowhere. It has no frontiers. Can you die now to everything you know and not wait for tomorrow to die? This freedom is eternity and ecstasy and love.
Questioner: What is happiness? I have always tried to find it but somehow it hasn't come my way. I see people enjoying themselves in so many different ways and many of the things they do seem so immature and childish. I suppose they are happy in their own way, but I want a different kind of happiness. I have had rare intimations that it might be possible to get it, but somehow it has always eluded me. I wonder what I can do to feel really completely happy?
Krishnamurti: Do you think happiness is an end in itself? Or does it come as a secondary thing in living intelligently?
Questioner: I think it is an end in itself because if there is happiness then whatever you do will be harmonious; then you will do things effortlessly, easily, without any friction. I am sure that whatever you do out of this happiness will be right.
Krishnamurti: But is this so? Is happiness an end in itself? Virtue is not an end in itself. If it is, then it becomes a very small affair. Can you seek happiness? If you do then probably you will find an imitation of it in all sorts of distractions and indulgences. This is pleasure. What is the relationship between pleasure and happiness?
Questioner: I have never asked myself.
Krishnamurti: Pleasure which we pursue is mistakenly called happiness, but can you pursue happiness, as you pursue pleasure? Surely we must be very clear as to whether pleasure is happiness. Pleasure is gratification, satisfaction, indulgence, entertainment, stimulation. Most of us think pleasure is happiness, and the greatest pleasure we consider to be the greatest happiness. And is happiness the opposite of unhappiness? Are you trying to be happy because you are unhappy and dissatisfied? Has happiness got an opposite at all? Has love got an opposite? Is your question about happiness the result of being unhappy?
Questioner: I am unhappy like the rest of the world and naturally I don't want to be, and that is what is driving me to seek happiness.
Krishnamurti: So happiness to you is the opposite of unhappiness. If you were happy you wouldn't seek it. So what is important is not happiness but whether unhappiness can end. That is the real problem, isn't it? You are asking about happiness because you are unhappy and you ask this question without finding out whether happiness is the opposite of unhappiness.
Questioner: If you put it that way, I accept it. So my concern is how to be free from the misery I am in.
Krishnamurti: Which is more important - to understand unhappiness or to pursue happiness? If you pursue happiness it becomes an escape from unhappiness and therefore it will always remain, covered over perhaps, hidden, but always there, festering inside. So what is your question now?
Questioner: My question now is why am I miserable? You have very neatly pointed out to me my real state, rather than given me the answer I want, so now I am faced with this question, how am I to get rid of the misery I am in?
Krishnamurti: Can an outside agency help you to get rid of your own misery, whether that outside agency be God, a master, a drug or a saviour? Or can one have the intelligence to understand the nature of unhappiness and deal with it immediately?
Questioner: I have come to you because I thought you might help me, so you could call yourself an outside agency. I want help and I don't care who gives it to me.
Krishnamurti: In accepting or giving help several things are involved. If you accept it blindly you will be caught in the trap of one authority or another, which brings with it various other problems, such as obedience and fear. So if you start off wanting help, not only do you not get help - because nobody can help you anyway - but in addition you get a whole series of new problems; you are deeper in the mire than ever before.
Questioner: I think I understand and accept that. I have never thought it out clearly before. How then can I develop the intelligence to deal with unhappiness on my own, and immediately? If I had this intelligence surely I wouldn't be here now, I wouldn't be asking you to help me. So my question now is, can I get this intelligence in order to solve the problem of unhappiness and thereby attain happiness?
Krishnamurti: You are saying that this intelligence is separate from its action. The action of this intelligence is the seeing and the understanding of the problem itself. The two are not separate and successive; you don't first get intelligence and then use it on the problem like a tool. It is one of the sicknesses of thinking to say that one should have the capacity first and then use it, the idea or the principle first and then apply it. This itself is the very absence of intelligence and the origin of problems. This is fragmentation. We live this way and so we speak of happiness and unhappiness, hate and love, and so on.
Questioner: Perhaps this is inherent in the structure of language.
Krishnamurti: Perhaps it is but let's not make too much fuss about it here and wander away from the issue. We are saying that intelligence, and the action of that intelligence - which is seeing the problem of unhappiness - are one indivisibly. Also that this is not separate from ending unhappiness or getting happiness.
Questioner: How am I to get that intelligence?
Krishnamurti: Have you understood what we have been saying?
Krishnamurti: But if you have understood you have seen that this seeing is intelligence. The only thing you can do is to see; you cannot cultivate intelligence in order to see. Seeing is not the cultivation of intelligence. Seeing is more important than intelligence, or happiness, or unhappiness. There is only seeing or not seeing. All the rest - happiness, unhappiness and intelligence - are just words.
Questioner: What is it, then, to see?
Krishnamurti: To see means to understand how thought creates the opposites. What thought creates is not real. To see means to understand the nature of thought, memory, conflict, ideas; to see all this as a total process is to understand. This is intelligence; seeing totally is intelligence; seeing fragmentarily is the lack of intelligence.
Questioner: I am a bit bewildered. I think I understand, but it is rather tenuous; I must go slowly. What you are saying is, see and listen completely. You say this attention is intelligence and you say that it must be immediate. One can only see now. I wonder if I really see now, or am I going home to think over what you have said, hoping to see later?
Krishnamurti: Then you will never see; in thinking about it you will never see it because thinking prevents seeing. Both of us have understood what it means to see. This seeing is not an essence or an abstraction or an idea. You cannot see if there is nothing to see. Now you have a problem of unhappiness. See it completely, including your wanting to be happy and how thought creates the opposite. See the search for happiness and the seeking help in order to get happiness. See disappointment, hope, fear. All of this must be seen completely, as a whole, not separately. See all this now, give your whole attention to it.
Questioner: I am still bewildered. I don't know whether I have got the essence of it, the whole point. I want to close my eyes and go into myself to see if I have really understood this thing. If I have then I have solved my problem.
Questioner: You have often talked about learning. I don't quite know what you mean by it. We are taught to learn at school and at the University, and life also teaches us many things - to adjust ourselves to environment and to our neighbours, to our wife or husband, to our children. We seem to learn from almost everything, but I am sure that when you speak about learning this isn't quite what you mean because you also seem to deny experience as a teacher. But when you deny experience aren't you denying all learning? After all, through experience, both in technology and in human everyday living, we learn everything we know. So could we go into this question?
Krishnamurti: Learning through experience is one thing - it is the accumulation of conditioning - and learning all the time, not only about objective things but also about oneself, is something quite different. There is the accumulation which brings about conditioning - this we know - and there is the learning which we speak about. This learning is observation - to observe without accumulation, to observe in freedom. This observation is not directed from the past. Let us keep those two things clear.
What do we learn from experience? We learn things like languages, agriculture, manners, going to the moon, medicine, mathematics. But have we learnt about war through making war? We have learnt to make war more deadly, more efficient, but we haven't learnt not to make war. Our experience in warfare endangers the survival of the human race. Is this learning? You may build a better house, but has experience taught you how to live more nobly inside it? We have learnt through experience that fire burns and that has become our conditioning but we have also learnt through our conditioning that nationalism is good. Yet experience should also teach us that nationalism is deadly. All the evidence is there. The religious experience, as based on our conditioning, has separated man from man. Experience has taught us to have better food, clothes and shelter, but it has not taught us that social injustice prevents the right relationship between man and man. So experience conditions and strengthens our prejudices, our peculiar tendencies and our particular dogmas and beliefs. We do not learn what stupid nonsense all this is; we do not learn to live in the right relationship with other men. This right relationship is love. Experience teaches me to strengthen the family as a unit opposed to society and to other families. This brings about strife and division, which makes it ever more important to strengthen the family protectively, and so the vicious circle continues. We accumulate, and call this "learning through experience", but more and more this learning brings about fragmentation, narrowness and specialization.
Questioner: Are you making out a case against technological learning and experience, against science and all accumulated knowledge? If we turn our backs on that we shall go back to savagery.
Krishnamurti: No, I am not making out such a case at all. I think we are misunderstanding each other. We said that there are two kinds of learning: accumulation through experience, and acting from that accumulation, which is the past, and which is absolutely necessary wherever the action of knowledge is necessary. We are not against this; that would be too absurd!
Questioner: Gandhi tried to keep the machine out of life and started all that business which they call "Home industries" or "Cottage industries" in India. Yet he used modern mechanized transport. This shows the inconsistency and hypocrisy of his position.
Krishnamurti: Let's leave other people out of this. We are saying that there are two kinds of learning - one, acting through the accumulation of knowledge and experience, and the other, learning without accumulation, but learning all the time in the very act of living. The former is absolutely necessary in all technical matters, but relationship, behaviour, are not technical matters, they are living things and you have to learn about them all the time. If you act from what you have learnt about behaviour, then it becomes mechanical and therefore relationship becomes routine.
Then there is another very important point: in all the learning which is accumulation and experience, profit is the criterion that determines the efficiency of the learning. And when the motive of profit operates in human relationships then it destroys those relationships because it brings about isolation and division. When the learning of experience and accumulation enters the domain of human behaviour, the psychological domain, then it must inevitably destroy. Enlightened self-interest on the one hand is advancement, but on the other hand it is the very seat of mischief, misery and confusion. Relationship cannot flower where there is self-interest of any kind, and that is why relationship cannot flower where it is guided by experience or memory.
Questioner: I see this, but isn't religious experience something different? I am talking about the experience gathered and passed on in religious matters - the experiences of the saints and gurus, the experience of the philosophers. Isn't this kind of experience beneficial to us in our ignorance?
Krishnamurti: Not at all! The saint must be recognised by society and always conforms to society's notions of sainthood - otherwise he wouldn't be called a saint. Equally the guru must be recognised as such by his followers who are conditioned by tradition. So both the guru and the disciple are part of the cultural and religious conditioning of the particular society in which they live. When they assert that they have come into contact with reality, that they know, then you may be quite sure that what they know is not reality. What they know is their own projection from the past. So the man who says he knows, does not know. in all these so-called religious experiences a cognitive process of recognition is inherent. You can only recognise something you have known before, therefore it is of the past, therefore it is time-binding and not timeless. So-called religious experience does not bring benefit but merely conditions you according to your particular tradition, inclination, tendency and desire, and therefore encourages every form of illusion and isolation.
Questioner: Do you mean to say that you cannot experience reality?
Krishnamurti: To experience implies that there must be an experiencer and the experiencer is the essence of all conditioning. What he experiences is the already-known.
Questioner: What do you mean when you talk about the experiencer? If there is no experiencer do you mean you disappear?
Krishnamurti: Of course. The "you" is the past and as long as the "you" remains or the "me" remains, that which is immense cannot be. The "me" with his shallow little mind, experience and knowledge, with his heart burdened with jealousies and anxieties - how can such an entity understand that which has no beginning and no ending, that which is ecstasy? So the beginning of wisdom is to understand yourself. Begin understanding yourself.
Questioner: Is the experiencer different from that which he experiences, is the challenge different from the reaction to the challenge?
Krishnamurti: The experiencer is the experienced, otherwise he could not recognise the experience and would not call it an experience; the experience is already in him before he recognises it. So the past is always operating and recognising itself; the new becomes swallowed up by the old. Similarly it is the reaction which determines the challenge; the challenge is the reaction, the two are not separate; without a reaction there would be no challenge. So the experience of an experiencer, or the reaction to a challenge which comes from the experiencer, are old, for they are determined by the experiencer. If you come to think of it, the word "experience" means to go through something and finish with it and not store it up, but when we talk about experience we actually mean the opposite. Every time you speak of experience you speak of something stored from which action takes place, you speak of something which you have enjoyed and demand to have again, or have disliked and fear to have repeated.
So really to live is to learn without the cumulative process.
Questioner: Expression seems to me so important. I must express myself as an artist otherwise I feel stifled and deeply frustrated. Expression is part of one's existence. As an artist it is as natural that I should give myself to it as that a man should express his love for a woman in words and gestures. But through all this expression there is a sort of pain which I don't quite understand. I think most artists would agree with me that there is deep conflict in expressing one's deepest feelings on canvas, or in any other medium. I wonder if one can ever be free of this pain, or does expression always bring pain?
Krishnamurti: What is the need of expression, and where does the suffering come into all this? Isn't one always trying to express more and more deeply, extravagantly, fully, and is one ever satisfied with what one has expressed? The deep feeling and the expression of it are not the same thing; there is a vast difference between the two, and there is always frustration when the expression doesn't correspond to the strong feeling. Probably this is one of the causes of pain, this discontent with the inadequacy of the utterance which the artist gives to his feeling. In this there is conflict and the conflict is a waste of energy. An artist has a strong feeling which is fairly authentic; he expresses it on canvas. This expression pleases some people and they buy his work; he gets money and reputation. His expression has been noticed and becomes fashionable. He refines it, pursues it, develops it, and is all the time imitating himself. This expression becomes habitual and stylized; the expression becomes more and more important and finally more important than the feeling; the feeling eventually evaporates. The artist is not left with the social consequences of being a successful painter: the market place of the salon and the gallery, the connoisseur, the critics; he is enslaved by the society for which he paints. The feeling has long since disappeared, the expression is an empty shell remaining. Consequently even this expression eventually loses its attraction because it had nothing to express; it is a gesture, a word without a meaning. This is part of the destructive process of society. This is the destruction of the good.
Questioner: Can't the feeling remain, without getting lost in expression?
Krishnamurti: When expression becomes all-important because it is pleasurable, satisfying or profitable, then there is a cleavage between expression and feeling. When the feeling is the expression then the conflict doesn't arise, and in this there is no contradiction and hence no conflict. But when profit and thought intervene, then this feeling is lost through greed. The passion of feeling is entirely different from the passion of expression, and most people are caught in the passion of expression. So there is always this division between the good and the pleasurable.
Questioner: Can I live without being caught in this current of greed?
Krishnamurti: If it is the feeling which is important you will never ask about expression. Either you have got the feeling or you haven't. If you ask about the expression, you are not asking about artistry but about profit. Artistry is that which is never taken into account: it is the living.
Questioner: So what is it, to live? What is it to be, and to have that feeling which is complete in itself? I have now understood that expression is beside the point.
Krishnamurti: It is living without conflict.