Wholly Different Way of Living
9th Conversation with Dr. Allan W. Anderson
San Diego, California
22nd February 1974
Inward or True Beauty
A: Mr Krishnamurti, in our last conversation together we had moved from speaking together concerning fear and the relation between that and the transformation of the individual person which is not dependent on knowledge or time, and from that we went to pleasure and just as we reached the end of that conversation the question of beauty arose. And if it's agreeable with you I should like very much for us to explore that together.
K: One often wonders why museums are so filled with pictures and statues. Is it because man has lost touch with nature and therefore has to go to museums to look at other people's paintings, famous paintings and some of them are really marvelously beautiful? Why do the museums exist at all? I'm just asking. I'm not saying they should or should not. And I've been to many museums all over the world, taken around by experts, and I've always felt as though I was being shown around and looking at things that were so, for me, artificial, other peoples' expression, what they considered beauty. And I wondered what is beauty. Because when you read a poem of Keats, or really a poem that a man writes with his heart and with very deep feeling, he wants to convey something to you of what he feels, what he considers to be the most exquisite essence of beauty.
And I have looked at a great many cathedrals, as you must have, over Europe and again this expression of their feelings, their devotion, their reverence to, in masonry, in rocks, in buildings, in marvelous cathedrals. And looking at all this, I'm always surprised when people talk about beauty, or write about beauty, whether it is something created by man or something that you see in nature; or it has nothing to do with the stone or with the paint or with the word, but something deeply inward. And so often in discussing with so called professionals, having a dialogue with them, it appears to me that it is always somewhere out there, the modern painting, modern music, the pop and so on, so on, it's always somehow so dreadfully artificial. I may be wrong.
But what is beauty? Must it be expressed? That's one question. Does it need the word, the stone, the colour, the paint? Or it is something that cannot possibly be expressed in words, in a building, in a statue? So if we could go into this question of what is beauty. I think to really go into it very deeply one must know what is suffering. Or understand what is suffering, because without passion you can't have beauty - passion in the sense, not lust, not the passion that comes when there is immense suffering. And the remaining with that suffering, not escaping from it, brings this passion. Passion means the abandonment, the complete abandonment of the 'me', of the self, the ego. And therefore a great austerity, not the austerity of - the word means ash, severe, dry which the religious people have made it into - but rather the austerity of great beauty.
A: Yes, yes I'm following you, I really am.
K: A great sense of dignity, beauty, that is, essentially, austere. And to be austere, not verbally or ideologically, but being austere means total abandonment, letting go of the 'me'. And one cannot let that thing take place if one hasn't deeply understood what suffering is. Because passion comes from the word, sorrow. I don't know if you have gone into it, looked into that word, the root meaning of that word passion is sorrow, from suffering.
A: To feel.
K: To feel. You see, sir, people have escaped from suffering. I think it is very deeply related to beauty, not that you must suffer.
A: Not that you must suffer but - yes.
K: That is, no we must go a little more slowly. I am jumping too quickly. First of all, we assume we know what beauty is. We see a Picasso or a Rembrandt or a Michelangelo and we think how marvelous. We think we know. We have read it in books, the experts have written about it and so on. One reads it and say, yes. We absorb it through others. But if one was really enquiring into what is beauty there must be a great sense of humility. Now, I don't know what beauty is actually. I can imagine what beauty is. I've learned what beauty is. I have been taught in schools, in colleges, in reading books and going on tours, guided tours and all the rest, visiting thousands of museums, but actually to find out the depth of beauty, the depth of colour the depth of feeling, the mind must start with a great sense of humility. I don't know. You see, as one really wonders what meditation is. One thinks one knows. We will discuss meditation when we come to it. So one must start as feeling if one is enquiring into beauty with a great sense of humility, not knowing. That very not knowing is beautiful.
A: Yes, Yes, I've been listening and I've been trying to open myself to this relation that you are making between beauty and passion.
K: You see, sir, let's start, right: man suffers, not only personally, but there is immense suffering of man. It is a thing that is pervading the universe. Man has suffered physically, psychologically, spiritually, in every way for centuries upon centuries. The mother cries because her son is killed, the mother cries because her husband is mutilated in a war, or accident - there is tremendous suffering in the world. And it is really a tremendous thing to be aware of this suffering.
K: I don't think people are aware, or even feel this immense sorrow that is in the world. They are so concerned with their own personal sorrow, they overlook the sorrow that a poor man in a little village in India, or in China or in the Eastern world, where they never possibly have a full meal, clean clothes, comfortable bed. And there is this sorrow of thousands of people being killed in war. Or in the totalitarian world, millions being executed for ideologies, tyranny, the terror of all that. So there is all this sorrow in the world. And there is also the personal sorrow. And without really understanding it very, very deeply and resolving it, passion won't come out of sorrow. And without passion, how can you see beauty? You can intellectually appreciate a painting, or a poem, or a statue, but you need this great sense of inward bursting of passion, explosion of passion. You know, that creates in itself the sensitivity that can see beauty. So it is I think rather important to understand sorrow. I think it is related, beauty, passion, sorrow.
A: I'm interested in the order of those words. Beauty, passion, sorrow. If one is in relation to the transformation we have been speaking about, to come to beauty I take it, it's a passage from sorrow to passion to beauty.
K: That's right, sir.
A: Yes. Please do go on. I understand.
K: You see, in the Christian world, if I am not mistaken, sorrow is delegated to a person, and through that person we somehow escape from sorrow, that is, we hope we escape from sorrow. And in the Eastern world sorrow is rationalized through the statement of karma. You know the word karma means to do. And they believe in karma. That is, what you have done in the past life you pay for in the present or reward in the present, and so on, and so on. So that there are these two categories of escapes. And there are thousands of escapes - whiskey, drugs, sex, going off to attend a mass and so on, and so on. Man has never stayed with a thing. He has always either sought comfort in a belief, in an action, in identification with something greater than himself and so on, so on, but he has never said, look, I must see what this is, I must penetrate it and not delegate it to somebody else. I must go into it, I must face it. I must look at it. I must know what it is. So, when the mind doesn't escape from this sorrow, either personal or the sorrow of man, if you don't escape, if you don't rationalize, if you don't try to go beyond it, if you are not frightened of it, then you remain with it. Because any movement from 'what is', or any movement away from 'what is', is a dissipation of energy. It prevents you actually understanding 'what is'. The 'what is', is sorrow. And we have means and ways and cunning to escape. Now if there is no escape whatsoever then you remain with it. I do not know if you have ever done it. Because in everyone's life there is an incident that brings you tremendous sorrow, an happening. It might be an incident, a word, an accident, a shattering sense of absolute loneliness, and so on. These things happen and with that comes the sense of utter sorrow. Now when the mind can remain with that, not move away from it, out of that comes passion. Not the cultivated passion, not the artificial trying to be passionate, but the movement of passion is born out of this non-withdrawal from sorrow. It is the total completely remaining with that.
A: I am thinking that we also say when we speak of someone in sorrow that they are disconsolate.
K: Yes. Disconsolate.
A: Disconsolate and immediately we think that the antidote to that is to get rid of the 'dis', not to stay with the 'dis'. And in an earlier conversation we spoke about two things related to each other in terms of opposite sides of the same coin, and while you have been speaking I've been seeing the interrelation in a pole sense between action and passion. Passion being able to undergo, able to be changed. Whereas action is doing to effect change. And this would be the movement from sorrow to passion at the precise point, if I have understood you correctly, where I become able to undergo what is there.
K: So, if, when there is no escape, when there is no desire to seek comfort away from 'what is', then out of that absolute inescapable reality comes this flame of passion. And without that there is no beauty. You may write endless volumes about beauty, or be a marvelous painter, but without that inward quality of passion which is the outcome of great understanding of sorrow, I don't see how beauty can exist. Also one observes man has lost touch with nature.
A: Oh yes.
K: Completely, specially in big towns, and even in small villages, and hamlets man is always outwardly going, outward, pursued by his own thought, and so he has more or less lost touch with nature. Nature means nothing to him. It is very nice, very beautiful. Once I was standing with a few friends and my brother many years ago at the Grand Canyon, looking at the marvelous thing, incredible, the colours, the depth and the shadows; and a group of people came and one lady says, yes isn't it marvelous, and the next says, let's go and have tea. And off they trotted. You follow? That is what is happening in the world. We have lost touch completely with nature. We don't know what it means. And also we kill. You follow me. We kill for food, we kill for amusement, we kill for sport. I won't go into all that. So there is this lack of intimate relationship with nature.
A: I remember a shock, a profound shock that I had in my college days, I was standing on the steps of the administration building and watching a very, very beautiful sunset and one of my college acquaintances asked me what I was doing, and I said, well, I am not doing anything, I'm looking at the sunset. And you know what he said to me? This so shocked me that it's one of those things that you never forget. He just said, well there's nothing to prevent it, is there.
A: Nothing to prevent it, is there? Yes, I know. I follow you.
K: So, sir, you see we are becoming more and more artificial, more and more superficial, more and more verbal, a linear direction, not vertical at all, but linear. And so naturally artificial things become more important - theatres, cinemas, you know the whole business of modern world. And very few have the sense of beauty in themselves, beauty in conduct. You understand, sir?
A: Oh yes.
K: Beauty in behaviour. Beauty in their usage of their language, the voice, the manner of walking, the sense of humility. With that humility everything becomes so gentle, quiet, full of beauty. We have none of that. And yet we go to museums, we are educated with museums, with pictures, and we have lost the delicacy, the sensitivity, of the mind, the heart, the body, and so when we have lost this sensitivity how can we know what beauty is? And when we haven't got sensitivity we go off to some place to learn to be sensitive. You know this.
A: Oh, I do.
K: Go to a college or some ashrama or some rotten hole and there I am going to learn to be sensitive. Sensitive through touch, through you know. It becomes disgusting. So now how can we, as you are a professor and teacher, how can you, sir, educate, it becomes very, very important, the students to have this quality? Therefore one asks, what is it we are educating for? What are we being educated for. Everybody is being educated. Ninety per cent of the people probably in America, are being educated, know what to read and write and all the rest of it, what for?
A: And yet, it's a fact, at least in my experience of teaching class after class, year after year, that with all this proliferation of publishing and so called educational techniques, students are without as much care to the written word and the spoken word as was the case that I can distinctly remember years ago. Now perhaps other teachers have had a different experience, but I have watched this in my classes, and the usual answer that I get when I speak to my colleagues about this is, well, the problem is in the high school. And then you talk to a poor high school teacher, he then puts it on the poor grade school. So we have poor grade school, poor high school, poor college, poor university because we are always picking up where we left off, which is a little lower next year that where it was before.
K: Sir, that's why when I have talked at various universities and so on, I've always felt what are we being educated for? To just become glorified clerks?
A: That's what it turns out to be.
K: Of course it is. Glorified business men and god knows what else. What for? I mean if I had a son that would be a tremendous problem for me. Fortunately, I haven't got a son, but it would be a burning question to me: what am I to do with the children that I have? To send to all these schools, where they are taught nothing but just how to read, and write a book, and how to memorize, and forget the whole field of life? They are taught about sex and reproduction and all that kind of stuff. But what? So I feel, sir, I mean to me this is a tremendously important question because I am concerned with seven schools in India and in England there is one, and we are going to form one here in California. It is a burning question: what is it that we are doing with our children? Making them into robots or into other clever, cunning clerks, great scientists who invent this or that and then be ordinary, cheap, little human beings, with shoddy minds. You follow, sir?
A: I am, I am.
K: So, when you talk about beauty, can we, can a human being tell another, educate another to grow in beauty, grow in goodness, to flower in great affection and care? Because if we don't do that we are destroying the earth, as it is happening now, polluting the air. We human beings are destroying everything we touch. So this becomes a very, very serious thing when we talk about beauty, when we talk about pleasure, fear, relationship, order and so on, all that, none of these things are being taught in any school.
A: No. I brought that up in my class yesterday and I asked them directly, that's very question. And they were very ready to agree that here we are, we are in an upper division course and we had never heard about this.
K: Tragic, you follow, sir.
A: And furthermore we don't know whether we are really hearing it for what it really is, because we haven't heard about it, we have got to go through that yet to find out whether we are really listening.
K: And whether the teacher or the man, who is a professor, is honest enough to say, I don't know. I am going to learn about all these things. So sir, that is why western civilization, I am not condemning it, western civilization is mainly concerned with commercialism, consumerism, and a society that is immoral. And when we talk about the transformation of man, not in the field of knowledge or the field of time, but beyond that, who is interested in this? You follow, sir? Who really cares about it? Because the mother goes off to her job, earns a livelihood, the father goes off and the child is just an incident.
A: Now, as a matter of fact I know this will probably appear like an astonishingly extravagant statement for me to make, but I think it's getting to the place now where if anyone raises this question at the level that you have been raising it, as a young person who is growing up in his adolescent years, let's say, and he won't let it go, he hangs in there with it, as we say, the question is seriously raised whether he is normal.
K: Yes, quite, quite.
A: And it makes one think of Socrates, who was very clear that he knew only one thing, that he didn't know, and he didn't have to say that very often, but he said it even the few times enough to get him killed, but at least they took him seriously enough to kill him.
K: To kill him.
A: Today I think he would be put in some institution for study. The whole thing would have to be checked out.
K: That's what is happening in Russia. They send them off to an asylum...
A: That's right,
K: ...mental hospital and destroy him. Sir, here we neglect everything for some superficial gain, money. Money means power, position, authority, everything, money.
A: It goes back to this success thing that you mentioned before. Always later, always later. On a horizontal axis. Yes. I want to share with you as you were speaking about nature, something that has a sort of wry humour about it in terms of the history of scholarship: I thought of those marvelous Vedic hymns to Dawn.
K: Oh yes.
A: The way Dawn comes, rosy fingered, and scholars have expressed surprise that the number of hymns to her are, by comparison, few compared with some other gods, but the attention is drawn in the study not to the quality of the hymn as revealing how it is that there is such consummately beautiful cadences associated with her, for which you would only need one, wouldn't you, you wouldn't need 25. The important thing is, isn't it remarkable that we have so few hymns and yet they are so wonderfully beautiful. What has the number to do with it at all, is the thing that I could never get answered for myself in terms of the environment in which I studied Sanskrit and the Veda. The important thing is to find out which god, in this case Indra, is in the Rig Veda, is mentioned most often. Now, of course, I'm not trying to suggest that quantity should be overlooked, by no means, but if the question had been approached the way you have been enquiring into it, deeper, deeper, deeper, then, I think, scholarship would have had a very, very different career. We should have been taught how to sit and let that hymn disclose itself, and stop measuring it.
K: Yes sir.
A: Yes, yes, please do go on.
K: That's what I am going to say. You see when discussing beauty and passion and sorrow we ought to go into the question also of what is action? Because it is related to all that.
A: Yes, of course.
K: What is action? Because life is action. Living is action. Speaking is action. Everything is action, sitting here is an action. Talking, a dialogue, discussing, going into things, is a series of actions, a movement in action. So what is action? Action, obviously means, acting now. Not having acted or will act. It is the active present of the word act, to act, which is acting all the time. It is the movement in time and out of time. We will go into that a little bit later. Now what is action that does not bring sorrow? You follow? One has to put that question because every action, as we do now, is either regret, contradiction, a sense of meaningless movement, a repression, conformity and so on. So that is action for most people, the routine, the repetition, the remembrances of things past and act according to that remembrance. So unless one understands very deeply what is action, one will not be able to understand what is sorrow. So action, sorrow, passion and beauty. They are all together, not divorced, not something separate with beauty at the end, action at the beginning. It isn't fragmented at all, it is all one thing. But to look at it, what is action? As far as one knows now, action is according to a formula, according to a concept or according to an ideology. The communist ideology, the capitalist ideology, or the socialist ideology, or the ideology of a Christian, Jesus Christ, or the Hindu with his ideology. So action is the approximation of an idea. I act according to my concept. That concept is traditional, or put together by me, or put together by an expert. Lenin, Marx have formulated, and they conform according to what they think Lenin, Marx formulated. And action is according to a pattern. You follow?
A: Yes I do. What's occurring to me is that under the tyranny of that, one is literally driven.
K: Absolutely. Driven, conditioned, brutalized. You don't care for anything, except for ideas, and carry out ideas. See what is happening in China, you follow, in Russia.
A: Oh yes, yes, I do.
K: And here too, the same thing in a modified form. So action as we know it now is conformity to a pattern, either in the future or in the past, an idea which I carry out. A resolution, or a decision which I fulfil in acting. The past is acting, so, it is not action. I don't know if I am.?
A: Yes, yes, I'm aware of the fact that we suffer a radical conviction that if we don't generate a pattern there will be no order.
K: So you follow what is happening, sir? Order is in terms of a pattern.
A: Yes, preconceived, yes.
K: Therefore it is disorder, against which an intelligent man fights - fights in the sense revolts. So that's why it is very important if we are to understand what beauty is we must understand what action is. Can there be action without the idea? Idea means, you must know this from Greek, means to see. See what we have done, sir. The word is to see. That is seeing and the doing. Not the seeing, draw a conclusion from that and then act according to that conclusion. You see.
A: Oh yes, oh yes.
K: Perceiving, and from that perception draw a belief, an idea, a formula, and act according to that belief, idea, formula. So we are removed from perception. We are acting only according to a formula, therefore mechanical. You see, sir, how our minds have become mechanical.
A: Necessarily so.
K: Yes sir, obviously.
A: I just thought about Greek sculpture, and its different character from Roman sculpture, the finest of ancient Greece.
K: The Periclean age and so on.
A: Sculpture is extremely contemplative. It has sometimes been remarked that the Romans have a genius for portraiture in stone and, of course...
K: Law and order and all that.
A: Yes, and of course one would see their remarkable attention to personality. But what occurred to me while listening to this, something that had never occurred to me before, that the Greek statue with which one sometimes asks oneself, well the face doesn't disclose a personality. Perhaps the quiet eye recognized that you don't put onto the stone something that must come out of the act itself.
K: Quite, quite.
A: Because you're doing something that you must wait to come to pass. The Greeks were correct. It's an expression of that relation to form which is an interior form. Marvelous grasp of that. It's a grasp that allows for splendour to break out rather than the notion we must represent it. Yes, I am following you, aren't I?
K: You see sir, that's why one must ask this essential question: what is action? Is it a repetition? Is it imitation? Is it an adjustment between 'what is' and 'what should be' or 'what has been'? Or is it a conformity to a pattern? Or to a belief, or to a formula? If it is, then inevitably there must be conflict. Because idea, action, there is an interval, a lag of time between the two, and in that interval a great many things happen. A division in which other incidents take place and therefore there must be inevitably conflict. Therefore action is never complete, action is never total, it is never ending. Action means ending. You know, you used the word Vedanta the other day. It means the ending of knowledge, I was told. Not the continuation of knowledge, but the ending. So now, is there an action which is not tied to the past as time or to the future or to a formula, or to a belief or to an idea, but action? The seeing is the doing.
K: Now, the seeing is the doing becomes an extraordinary movement in freedom. The other is not freedom. And therefore, sir the communists say there is no such thing as freedom. That's a bourgeois idea. Of course it is, a bourgeois idea, because they live in ideas, concepts, not in action. They live according to ideas and carry those ideas out in action, which is not action, the doing. I don't know if -
A: Oh, yes, yes. I was just thinking.
K: This is what we do in the western world, the eastern world, all over the world, acting according to a formula, idea, belief, a concept, a conclusion, a decision; and never the seeing and the doing.
A: I was thinking about the cat, the marvelous animal the cat.
K: Oh, yes, the cat.
A: Its face is almost all eyes.
A: I don't mean that by measure with calipers, of course not. And we don't train cats like we try to train dogs. I think we have corrupted dogs. Cats won't be corrupted. They simply won't be corrupted. And it seems to me great irony that in the middle ages we should have burned cats along with witches.
K: The ancient Egyptians worshipped cats.
A: Yes. The great eye of the cat, I read sometime ago that the cat's skeletal structure is among animals the most perfectly adapted to its function.
K: Quite, quite.
A: And I think one of the most profound occasions for gratitude in my life was the living with a cat, and she taught me how to make an end. But I went through a lot of interior agony before I came to understand what she was doing. It's as though one would say of her that she was performing a mission, you might say, without, of course, being a missionary in the ordinary sense of that word.
K: Sir, you see one begins to see what freedom is in action.
A: That's right.
K: And it is the seeing in the doing is prevented by the observer who is the past, the formula, the concept, the belief. That observer comes in between perception and the doing. That observer is the factor of division. The idea and the conclusion in action. So can we act only when there is perception? We do this, Sir, when we are at the edge of a precipice; the seeing danger is instant action.
A: If I remember correctly the word alert comes from the Italian which points to standing at the edge of a cliff.
K: Cliff, that's right.
A: That's pretty serious.
K: You see, but it's very interesting, we are conditioned to the danger of a cliff, of a snake or a dangerous animal and so on, we are conditioned. But we are conditioned also to this idea you must act according to an idea, otherwise there is no action.
A: Yes, we are conditioned to that.
K: To that.
A: Oh, yes, terribly so.
K: Terribly. So we have this condition to danger. And conditioned to the fact that you cannot act without a formula, without a concept, belief and so on. So these two are the factors of our conditioning. And now, someone comes along and says, look, that's not action. That is merely a repetition of what has been. modified, but it is not action. Action is when you see and do.
A: And the reaction to that is, oh, I see he has a new definition of action.
K: I'm not defining.
A: Yes, of course not.
K: And I've done this all my life. I see something and I do it.
K: Say, for instance, as you may know, I am not being personal or anything, there is a great big organization, spiritual organization, thousand of followers with a great deal of land, 5000 acres, castles and money and so on were formed around me as a boy. And in 1928 I said this is all wrong. I dissolved it, returned the property and so on. I saw how wrong it was. The seeing; not the conclusions, comparison, see how religions have done it. I saw and acted. And therefore there has never been a regret.
K: Never say, oh, I have made a mistake because I shall have nobody to lean on. You follow?
A: Yes, I do. Could we next time, in our next conversation relate beauty to seeing.
K: I was going there.
A: Oh, splendid. Yes that's wonderful.
10th Conversation with Dr. Allan W. Anderson
San Diego, California
22nd February 1974
The Art of Listening
A: Mr Krishnamurti, last time we were speaking together, we were going into beauty, and just as we came to the end of our conversation the question of seeing and its relation to the transformation of man which is not dependent on knowledge or time, was something we promised ourselves we would take up next time we could come together.
K: Sir, what is seeing, and what is listening, and what is learning? I think the three are related to each other: learning, hearing and seeing. What is seeing, perceiving? Do we actually see, or do we see through a screen darkly? A screen of prejudice, a screen of our idiosyncracies, experiences, our wishes, pleasures, fears, and obviously our images about that which we see and about ourselves? So we have this screen after screen between us and the object of perception. So do we ever see the thing at all? Or is it the seeing is coloured by our knowledge, mechanical, experience, and so on and so on, or our images which we have about that thing, or the beliefs in which the mind is conditioned, and therefore prevents the seeing, or the memories which the mind has cultivated prevents the seeing? So seeing may not take place at all. And is it possible for the mind not to have these images, conclusions, beliefs, memories, prejudices, fears, and without having those screens just to look? I think this becomes very important because when there is a seeing of the thing which I am talking about, when there is a seeing you can't help but acting. There is no question of postponement.
A: Or succession.
A: Or interval.
K: Because when action is based on a belief, a conclusion, an idea, then that action is time-binding. And that action will inevitably bring conflict and so on, regrets and all the rest of it. So it becomes very important to find out what it is to see, to perceive. What it is to hear. Do I ever hear? When one is married, as a wife or a husband, or a girl or a boy, do I ever hear her or him? Or I hear her, him, through the image I have built about her or him? Through the screen of irritations, screen of annoyance, domination, you know all that, the dreadful things that come in relationship. So do I ever hear directly what you say, without translating, without transforming it, without twisting it? Do I ever hear a bird cry, or a child weep, or a man crying in pain? You follow, sir? Do I ever hear anything?
A: In a conversation we had about a year ago, I was very struck by something you said which I regard, for myself, personally, immensely valuable. You said that hearing was doing nothing to stop, or interfere with seeing. Hearing is doing nothing to stop seeing. That is very remarkable because in conversation the notion of hearing is regarded an intimately associated with command. We will say, won't we, now hear me, hear me out. And the person thinks that they have to lean forward in the sense of do something voluntarily.
K: Quite, quite.
A: It's as though they have to screw themselves up into some sort of agonized twist here. Not only to please the one who is insisting that they are not hearing, but to get up some hearing on their own.
K: Quite. So does a human being, Y or X, listen at all? And what takes place when I do listen? Listen in the sense without any interference, without any interpretation, conclusion, like and dislike, you know all that takes place, what happens when I actually listen? Sir, look, we said just now, we cannot possibly understand what beauty is if we don't understand suffering, passion. You hear that statement, what does the mind do? It draws a conclusion. It has formed an idea, verbal idea, hears the words, draws a conclusion, and an idea. A statement of that kind has become an idea. Then the man says, how am I to carry out that idea? And that becomes a problem.
A: Yes, of course it does. Because the idea doesn't conform to nature and other people have other ideas and they want to get theirs embodied. Now we are up against a clash.
K: Yes. So can I listen to that, can the mind listen to that statement without any forming an abstraction. Just listen. I neither agree nor disagree, just actually listen completely to that statement.
A: If I am following you, what you are saying is that were I to listen adequately, or just let's say listen - because it's not a question of more or less - I am absolutely listening or I am absolutely not listening.
K: That's right, sir.
A: Yes. I would not have to contrive an answer.
K: No. You are in it.
A: Yes. So like the cat, the action and the seeing are one.
A: They are one act.
K: That's right.
A: They are one act.
K: That's right. So can I listen to a statement and see the truth of the statement or the falseness of the statement, not in comparison but in the very statement that you are making. I don't know if I am making myself clear.
A: Yes, you are making yourself very clear.
K: That is, I listen to the statement: beauty can never exist without passion, and passion comes from sorrow. I listen to that statement. I don't abstract an idea from it, or make an idea from it. I just listen. What takes place? You may be telling the truth, or you may be making a false statement. I don't know because I am not going to compare.
A: No. You are going to see.
K: I just listen. Which means I am giving my total attention - just listen to this, sir, you will see what is going to happen - I give my total attention to what you are saying. Then it doesn't matter what you say, or don't say. You see this thing?
A: Of course, of course.
K: What is important is my act of listening. And that act of listening has brought about a miracle of complete freedom from all your statements - whether true, false, real - my mind is completely attentive. Attention means no border. The moment I have a border I begin to fight you - agree, disagree. The moment attention has a frontier then concepts arise. But if I listen to you completely without a single interference of thought or ideation or mentation, just listen to that, the miracle has taken place. Which is my total attention absolves me, my mind, from all the statement. Therefore my mind is extraordinarily free to act.
A: This has happened for me on this series of our conversations. With each one of these conversations, since this is being video-taped, one begins when one is given the sign and we're told when the time has elapsed; and one ordinarily, in terms of activity of this sort, is thinking about the production as such.
K: Of course.
A: But one of the things that I have learned is in our conversations, I've been listening very intensely, and yet I've not had to divide my mind.
K: No, sir, that's the...
A: And yet this is, if I'm responding correctly to what you have been teaching - well I know you don't like that word, but to what you have been saying, and I understand why teaching was the wrong word here - there is that very first encounter that the mind engages itself in.
A: How can I afford not to make the distinction between paying attention to the aspects of the programme, on the production aspect of it, and still engage our discussion?
A: But the more intensely the discussion is engaged...
K: You can do it.
A: ...the more efficiently all the mechanism is accomplished.
A: We don't believe that, in the sense that not only to start with we will not believe but we won't even try it out. There is no guarantee from anybody in advance. What we are told rather is this, well you get used to it. And yet performers have stage fright all their lives, so clearly they don't get used to it.
K: No, sir, it is because, sir, don't you think it is our minds are so commercial, unless I get a reward from it I won't do a thing. And my mind lives in the market place - one's mind: I give you this, you give me that.
A: And there's an interval in between.
K: You follow?
K: We are so used to commercialism, both spiritually and physically that we don't do anything without a reward, without gaining something, without a purpose. It all must be exchange, not a gift, but exchange: I give you this and you give me that; I torture myself religiously and God must come to me. It's all a matter of commerce.
A: Fundamentalists have a phrase that comes to mind with respect to their devotional life. They say, I am claiming the promises of God. And this phrase in the context of what you are saying is, my goodness, what that couldn't lead to in the mind.
K: Oh yes. So you see when one goes very deeply into this: when action is not based on an idea, formula, belief, then seeing is the doing. Then what is seeing and hearing, which we went into? Then the seeing is complete attention, and the doing is in that attention. And the difficulty is people will ask, how will you maintain that attention?
A: Yes, and they haven't even started.
K: No, how will you maintain it. Which means they are looking for a reward.
K: I practise it, I will do everything to maintain that attention in order to get something in return. Attention is not a result, attention has no cause. What has cause has an effect and the effect becomes the cause. It's a circle. But attention isn't that. Attention doesn't give you a reward. Attention, on the contrary, there is no reward or punishment because it has no frontier.
A: Yes, this calls up an earlier conversation we had when you mentioned the word virtue, and we explored it in relation to power.
K: Yes, exactly.
A: And we are told what is difficult for a thinking child to believe, given the way a child is brought up, but he's required somehow to make his way through it, that virtue is its own reward.
K: Oh, that.
A: And, of course, it is impossible to see what is sound about that under...
K: Yes, quite.
A: ...under the conditioned situation in which he lives.
K: That's just an idea, sir.
A: So now we cut that back and then later when we need to remind somebody that they are asking too much of a reward for something good that they did, we tell them, have you forgotten that virtue is its own reward. Yes, yes. It becomes a form of punishment.
K: Then, you see, seeing and hearing, then what is learning? Because they are all interrelated: learning seeing, hearing, and action, all that. It is all in one movement. They are not separate chapters, it's one chapter.
A: Distinction is no division.
K: No. So what is learning? Is learning a process of accumulation? And is learning non accumulative? We are putting both together. Let's look at it.
A: Let's look at it, yes.
K: I learn - one learns a language - Italian, French, whatever it is - and accumulate words and the irregular verbs and so on, and then one is able to speak. There is learning a language and being able to speak. Learning how to ride a bicycle, learning how to drive a car, learning how to put together a machine, electronics and so on. Those are all learning to acquire knowledge in action. And I am asking, is there any other form of learning? That we know, we are familiar with the acquisition of knowledge. Now is there any other kind of learning, learning which is not accumulated, and acting?
A: Yes, and when we have accumulated it all we haven't understood anything on that account.
K: Yes. And I learn in order to gain a reward, or in order to avoid punishment. I learn a particular job, or particular craft in order to earn a livelihood. That is absolutely necessary otherwise... Now I am asking, is there any other kind of learning? That's routine, that's the cultivation of memory and the memory, which is the result of experience and knowledge that is stored in the brain, and that operates, when asked to ride a bicycle, drive a car, and so on. Now is there any other kind of learning? Or only that? When one says, I have learned from my experience, it means I have learned, stored up from that experience certain memories, and those memories either prevent, reward, or punish. So all such forms of learning are mechanical. And education is to train the brain to function in routine, mechanically. Because in that there is great security. Then it is safe. And so our mind becomes mechanical. My father did this, I do it - you follow, the whole business is mechanical. Now, is there a non mechanical brain at all? A non-utilitarian, in that sense, learning which has neither future not past, therefore not time-binding. I don't know if I am making it clear.
A: Don't we sometimes say, I have learned from experience, when we wish to convey something that isn't well conveyed by that expression. We wish to convey an insight that we don't feel can be, in a strict sense, dated.
K: You see, sir, do we learn anything from experience? We have had, since history began, written history, five thousand wars. I read it somewhere. Five thousand wars. Killing, killing, killing, maiming. And have we learned anything? Have we learned anything from sorrow? Man has suffered, have we learned anything from the experience of the agony of uncertainty and all the rest of it? So when we say, we have learned, I question it. You follow? It seems such a terrible thing to say, I have learned from experience. You have learned nothing, except in the field of knowledge.
A: Yes. May I say something here that just passed in recall. We were talking about sorrow before, and I was thinking of a statement of St Paul's in his letter to the Romans, where there is a very unusual sequence of words where he says, we rejoice in tribulations. Now some people have thought he must have been a masochist, or something, in making such a statement; but that certainly seems to me bizarre. We rejoice in tribulations. And then he says, because tribulation works - and in the Greek this means there is energy involved - works patience. Patience, experience. Now that's a very unusual order because we usually think that if we have enough experience we'll learn to be patient. And he completely stands that on its head. And in the context of what you are saying that order of his words makes eminent sense. Please go on.
K: No, no.
A: Yes, that's really very remarkable.
K: You see, sir, that's why our education, our civilization, all the things about us, has made our mind so mechanical, repetitive reactions, repetitive demands, repetitive pursuits. The same thing being repeated year after year, for thousands of years: my country, your country, I kill you and you kill me. You follow, sir, the whole thing is mechanical. Now that means the mind can never be free. Thought is never free, thought is always old. There's no new thought.
A: No. It is very curious in relation to a movement within the field of religion which called itself: 'New Thought'. Yes, I was laughing at the irony of it. Yes, goodness me. Some persons I imagine would object to the notion that we don't learn from experience in terms of the succession of wars, because wars tend to happen sequentially, generation to generation, and you have to grow up. But that is not true because more than one war will happen very often in the same generation and there hasn't been anything learned.
K: That is what we have been talking about, two wars.
A: There hasn't been anything learned at all. It's a terrifying thing to hear someone just come out and say, nobody learns anything from experience.
K: No, the word experience also means to go through.
A: Yes, yes.
K: But you never go through.
A: That's exactly right.
K: You always stop in the middle. Or you never begin.
A: Right. It means, if I'm remembering correctly, in terms of its radical root it means to test, to put to the test, to, well to put a thing to the test and behave correctly while that's going on, you certainly have to see, you just have to look, don't you.
K: Of course. So as our civilization, our culture, our education has brought about a mind that is becoming more and more mechanical, and therefore time-binding, and therefore never a sense of freedom. Freedom then becomes an idea, you play around philosophically, but it has not meaning. But a man who says, now I want to find out, I want to really go into this and discover if there is freedom. Then he has to understand the limits of knowledge, where knowledge ends - or rather the ending of knowledge and the beginning of something totally new. I don't know if I am conveying anything?
A: You are. Oh yes, yes.
K: That is, sir, what is learning? If it is not mechanical then what is learning? Is there a learning at all, learning about what? I learn how to go to the moon, how to put up this, that and drive and so on. In that field there is only learning. Is there a learning in any other field, psychologically, spiritually? Can I learn - can the mind learn about what they call god?
A: If in learning, in the sense that you have asked this question - no, I must rephrase that. Stop this 'ifing'. When one does what I am about to say; when one learns about god, or going to the moon, in terms of the question you have asked, he can't be doing what you are pointing to if this is something added on to the list.
K: Sir, it is so clear.
A: Yes, it is.
K: I learn a language, ride a bicycle, drive a car, put a machine together. That's essential. Now I want to learn about god. Just listen to this. The god is my making. God hasn't made me in his image. I have made him in my image. Now I am going to learn about him.
A: Yes, I am going to talk to myself.
K: Learn about the image which I have built about Christ, Buddha, whatever it is. The image I have built. So I am learning what?
A: To talk about talk. Yes.
K: Learning about the image which I have built.
A: That's right.
K: Therefore is there any other kind of learning except mechanical learning? I don't know if you see? You understand my question?
A: Yes, I do. Yes, I do, I certainly do.
K: So there is only learning the mechanical process of life. There is no other learning. See what that means, sir.
A: It means freedom.
K: I can learn about myself. Myself is known. Known in the sense I may not know it, but I can know by looking at myself, I can know myself. So myself is the accumulated knowledge of the past. The 'me' who says I am greedy, I am envious, I am successful, I am frightened, I have betrayed, I have regret, all that is the 'me', including the soul which I have invented in the 'me' - or the Brahman, the Atman, it's all me still. The 'me' has created the image of god and I am going to learn about god. It has no meaning. So if there is - when there is - now I am going to use the word 'if', if there is no other learning what takes place? You understand? The mind is used in the acquisition of knowledge in matter. We'll put it differently. In mechanical things. And when the mind is employed there, are there any other processes of learning? Which means psychologically, inwardly - is there? The inward is the invention of thought as opposed to the outer. I don't know if you see. If I have understood the outer I have understood the inner. Because the inner has created the outer. The outer in the sense the structure of society, the religious sanctions, all that is invented or put together by thought - the Jesus's, the Christ, the Buddhas, all that. And what is there to learn?
A: In listening to you...
K: See the beauty of what is coming out.
A: Oh yes, yes, it goes back to your remark about Vedanta as the end of knowledge.
K: That's what I was told.
A: Yes. The interesting thing to me about the Sanskrit construction is that unless I am mistaken, it doesn't mean the end of it as a terminus, as a term because that would simply start a new series. It is the consummation of it which is the total end in the sense that a totally new beginning is made. That very point.
K: That means, sir, I know - the mind knows the activity of the known.
A: That's right, yes. That's the consummation of knowledge.
K: Of knowledge. Now what is the state of the mind that is free from that, and yet functions in knowledge?
A: And yet functions in it.
K: You follow?
A: Yes, yes. It is seeing perfectly.
K: Do go into it, you will see very strange things take place. Is this possible first? You understand? Because the brain functions mechanically, it wants security, otherwise it can't function. If we hadn't security we wouldn't be here sitting together. Because we have security we can have a dialogue. The brain can only function in complete security. Whether that security is found in a neurotic belief - all beliefs and all ideas are neurotic in that sense. So he finds it somewhere, in accepting nationality as the highest form of good, success is the highest virtue. He finds belief, security there. Now you are asking the mind, the brain, which has become mechanical, trained for centuries to see the other field which is not mechanical. Is there another field?
K: You follow the question?
A: Yes, I do. Yes, that's what so utterly devastating.
K: Is there - wait, wait - is there another field? Now unless the brain and the mind understands the whole field - not field, understands the movement of knowledge, it is a movement.
A: It is a movement, yes.
K: It is not just static, you are adding, taking away, and so on. Unless it understands all that it cannot possibly ask that other question.
A: Exactly. Exactly.
K: And when it does ask that question, what takes place? Sir, this is real meditation, you know.
A: This is, yes, yes.
K: Which we will go into another time. So you see that's what it means. One is always listening with knowledge, seeing with knowledge.
A: This is the seeing through a glass darkly.
K: Darkly. Now is there a listening out of silence? And that is attention. And that is not time-binding, because in that silence I don't want anything. It isn't that I am going to learn about myself. It isn't that I am going to be punished, rewarded. In that absolute silence I listen.
A: The wonder of the whole thing is that it isn't something which is done, this meditation, in succession.
K: Sir, when we talk about meditation we will have to go very deeply into that because they have destroyed that word. These shoddy little men coming from India or anywhere, they have destroyed that thing.
A: I heard the other day about someone who was learning transcendental meditation.
K: Oh, learning.
A: They had to do it at 3 o'clock in the afternoon.
K: Pay 35 dollars or 100 dollars to learn that. It's so sacrilegious.
A: That is, at 3 o'clock in the afternoon was judgement day. If you didn't do it according to your schedule then the world has obviously come to an end. But ostensibly you are doing it to get free of that. Do go ahead.
K: So you see, sir, that's what takes place. We began this morning about beauty, then passion, then suffering, then action. Action based on idea is inaction. It sounds monstrous, but there it is. And from that we said what is seeing, and what is hearing. The seeing and the listening has become mechanical. We never see anything new. Even the flower is never new which has blossomed over night. We say, that's the rose, I have been expecting it, it has come out now, beautiful. It's always from the known to the known. A movement in time, and therefore time-binding, and therefore never free. And yet we are talking about freedom, you know philosophy, the lectures on freedom and so on and so on. And the communists call it a bourgeois thing, which it is, in the sense when you limit it to knowledge it is foolish to talk about freedom. But there is a freedom when you understand the whole movement of knowledge. So can you observe out of silence, and observe and act in the field of knowledge, so both together in harmony?
A: Seeing then is not scheduled. Yes, of course, of course. I was just thinking about, I suppose you would say the classical definition of freedom in terms of the career of knowledge would be that it is a property of action, a property or quality of action. For general uses either word would do, property or quality. And it occurred to me in the context of what we have been saying, what a horror that one could read that statement and not let it disclose itself to you.
A: If it disclosed itself to you, you would be up against it, you'd have to be serious. If you were a philosophy student and you read that and that thing began to operate in you, you'd say, I've got to get this settled before I go on. Maybe I'll never graduate, that's not important.
K: That's not important, quite right. And I was thinking, in the West as well as in the East you have to go to the factory, or the office, every day of your life. Get up at 8 o'clock, 6 o'clock, drive, walk, work, work, work for fifty years, routine, and get kicked about, insulted, worship success. Again repetition. And occasionally talk about god if it is convenient, and so on and so on. That is a monstrous life. And that is what we are educating our children for.
A: That's the real living death.
K: And nobody says, for god's sake let's look at all this anew. Let's wipe our eyes clear of the past and look at what we are doing, give attention, care what we are doing.
A: Now we have this question instead: what shall we do about it? Yes, that's the question. And then that becomes the next thing done that is added to the list.
K: It is a continuity of the past, in a different form.
A: And the chain is endlessly linked, linked, linked, linked.
K: The cause becoming the effect and the effect becoming the cause. So it's a very serious thing when we talk about all this, because life becomes dreadfully serious. And it's only this serious person that lives. Not those people who seek entertainment, religious or otherwise.
A: I had a very interesting occasion to understand what you are saying in class yesterday. I was trying to assist the students to see that the classical understanding of the four causes in operation is that they are non-temporarily related. And I said when the potter puts his hand to the clay, the hand touching the clay is not responded to by the clay after the hand has touched it. And one person who was visiting the class, this person was a well educated person and a professor, and this struck him as maybe not so, and I could tell by the expression on the face that there was a little anguish here, so I said, well, my radar says that there is some difficulty going on, what's the matter? Well, it seems like there is a time interval. So I asked him to pick something up that was on the desk. And I said, touch it with your finger and tell me at the moment of the touching with the finger whether the thing reacts to the finger after it is touched. Now do it. Well, even to ask somebody to apply a practical test like that with respect to a datum of knowledge like the four causes are... is to interrupt the process of education as we have known it. Because you teach a student about the four causes and he thinks about them, he never goes out and looks at things, or does anything about it. And so we were picking stuff up in class, and we were doing this until finally it seemed like a revelation that what has been said, in the classical teaching of it, which of course in modern society is rejected, happens to be the case. And I said, this has to be seen, watch. This is what you mean.
K: Seeing, of course.
A: Of course, of course. But we are back to that step there: why was that person and so many other students following suit, anguished at the point where the practical issue arose? There was a feeling, I suppose, that they were on the cliff.
K: Quite, quite.
A: That, and naturally alertness was required. But alertness registers that we are on a cliff, so therefore the best thing to do is to turn around and run back. Yes, yes.
K: Sir, I think, you see, we are so caught up in words. To me the word is not the thing. The description is not the described. To us the description is all that matters because we are slave to words.
A: And to ritual.
K: Ritual and all the rest of it. So when you say, look, the thing matters more than the word, and then they say, how am I to get rid of the word, how am I to communicate if I have no word? You see how they have gone off? They are not concerned with the thing but with the word.
K: And the door is not the word. So when we are caught up in words the word door becomes extraordinarily important, and not the door.
A: And I don't really need to come to terms with the door, I say to myself, because I have the word. I have it all.
K: So education has done this. A great part of this education is the acceptance of words as an abstraction from the fact, from the 'what is'. All philosophies are based on that: theorize, theorize, theorize, endlessly, how one should live. And the philosopher himself doesn't live.
A: Yes, I know.
K: You see this all over.
A: Especially some philosophers that have seemed to me quite bizarre in this respect. I have asked my colleagues from time to time, if you believe that stuff why don't you do it? And they look at me as though I am out of my mind, as thought nobody would really seriously ask that question.
K: Quite, quite.
A: But if you can't ask that question, what question is worth asking?
K: Quite right.
A: I was thinking about that marvelous story you told in our previous conversation about the monkey, while you were speaking about this, when she shook hands with you, nobody had told her how to shake hands.
K: No, it stretched out.
K: And I took it.
A: It wasn't something that she was taught how to do through a verbal communication, it was the appropriate thing at the time.
K: At the time, yes.
A: Without anyone measuring its appropriateness.
A: Isn't that something. Yes, I can't tell you how grateful I am to have been able to share this with you. I have seen in respect to my own activity as a teacher where I must perform therapy even on my language.
K: Quite, quite.
A: So that I don't give the student an occasion for thinking that I am simply adding to this endless chain, link after link after link. There are two therapies here then: there's the therapy that relates to words and that flows out naturally. It is not a contrivance, it flows out naturally, if I've understood you correctly, from the therapy within. Now this relates directly, as you were saying earlier, to meditation. Are we ready, do you think to...
K: I think that's too complicated.
A: I don't mean right now. But maybe in one of our next conversations.
K: Oh yes, we must discuss several things yet, sir.
K: What is love, what is death, what is meditation, what is the whole movement of living. We've got a great deal to do.
A: Oh, I do look forward to that very much. Splendid. Right.
11th Conversation with Dr. Allan W. Anderson
San Diego, California
25th February 1974
The Nature of Hurt
A: Mr Krishnamurti, during our conversations one thing has emerged for me with I'd say an arresting force. That is, on the one had we have been talking about thought and knowledge in terms of a dysfunctional relationship to it, but never once have you said that we should get rid of thought, and you have never said that knowledge, as such, in itself, has something profoundly the matter with it. Therefore the relationship between intelligence and thought arises, and the question of what seems to be that which maintains a creative relationship between intelligence and thought - perhaps some primordial activity which abides. And in thinking on this I wondered whether you would agree that perhaps in the history of human existence the concept of god has been generated out of a relationship to this abiding activity, which concept has been very badly abused. And it raises the whole question of the phenomenon of religion itself. I wondered if we might discuss that today?
K: Yes. You know, a word like religion, love, or god, has almost lost all its meaning. They have abused these words so enormously, and religion has become a vast superstition, a great propaganda, incredible beliefs and superstitions, worship of images made by the hand or by the mind. So when we talk about religion I would like, if I may, to be quite clear that we are both of us using the word religion in the real sense of that word, not either in the Christian, or the Hindu, or the Muslim, or the Buddhist, or all the stupid things that are going on in this country in the name of religion.
I think the word 'religion' means gathering together all energy, at all levels, physically, moral, spiritual, at all levels, gathering all this energy which will bring about a great attention. And in that attention there is no frontier, and then from there move. To me that is the meaning of that word: the gathering of total energy to understand what thought cannot possibly capture. Thought is never new, never free, and therefore it is always conditioned and fragmentary, and so on, which we discussed. So religion is not a thing put together by thought, or by fear, or by the pursuit of satisfaction and pleasure, but something totally beyond all this, which isn't romanticism, speculative belief, or sentimentality. And I think if we could keep to that, to the meaning of that word, putting aside all the superstitious nonsense that is going on in the world in the name of religion, which has become really quite a circus, however beautiful it is. Then I think we could from there start, if you will. If you agree to the meaning of that word.
A: Yes. I have been thinking as you have been speaking that in the biblical tradition there are actual statements from the prophets which seem to point to what you are saying. Such things come to mind as Isaiah, taking the part of the divine, when he says, my thoughts are not your thoughts, my ways are not your ways, as high as the heavens are above the earth so are my thoughts and your thoughts, so stop thinking about me in that sense. And don't try to find a means to me that you have contrived since my ways are higher than your ways. And then I was thinking while you were speaking concerning this act of attention, this gathering together of all energies of the whole man; the very simple, be still and know that I am God. Be still. It's amazing when one thinks of the history of religion, how little attention has been paid to that as compared with ritual.
K: But I think when we lost touch with nature, with the universe, with the clouds, lakes, birds, when we lost touch with all that, then the priests came in. Then all the superstition, fears, exploitation, all that began. The priests became the mediator between the human and the so-called divine. And I believe, if you have read the Rig Veda, I was told about it because I don't read all this, that there, in the first Veda there is no mention of God at all. There is only this worship of something immense, expressed in nature and in the earth, in the clouds, in the trees, in the beauty of vision. But that being, very, very simple, the priests said, that is too simple.
A: Let's mix it up.
K: Let's mix it up, let's confuse it a little bit. And that began. I believe this is traceable from the ancient Vedas to the present time, where the priests became the interpreter, the mediator, the explainer, the exploiter, the man who said, this is right, this is wrong, you must believe this or you will go to perdition, and so on and so on. He generated fear, not the adoration of beauty, not the adoration of life lived totally wholly without conflict, but something placed outside there beyond and above what he considered to be God and made propaganda for that.
So I feel if we could from the beginning use the word religion in the simplest way. That is, the gathering of all energy so that there is total attention, and in that quality of attention the immeasurable comes into being. Because as we said the other day, the measurable is the mechanical. Which the west has cultivated, made marvelous, technologically, physically, medicine, science, biology and so on and so on, which has made the world so superficial, mechanical, worldly, materialistic. And that is spreading all over the world. And in reaction to that, this materialistic attitude, there are all these superstitious, nonsensical unreasoned religions that are going on. I don't know if you saw the other day the absurdity of these gurus coming from India and teaching the west how to meditate, how to hold breath, they say, "I am god, worship me" - it has become so absurd, and childish, so utterly immature. All that indicates the degradation of the word religion, and the human mind that can accept this kind of circus and idiocy.
A: Yes. I was thinking of a remark of Sri Aurobindo's in a study that he made on the Veda, where he traced its decline in the sentence. He said it issues as language from sages, then it falls to the priests, then after the priests it falls to the scholars or the academicians. But in that study there was no statement that I found as to how it ever fell to the priests.
K: I think it is fairly simple, sir.
A: Yes, please.
K: I think it is fairly simple, sir, how the priests got hold of the whole business. Because man is so concerned with his own petty little affairs, petty little desires, and ambitions, superficiality, he wants something a little more: he wants a little more romantic, a little more sentimental, something other than the daily beastly routine of living. So he looks somewhere and the priests say, come over here, I've got the goods. I think it is very simple how the priests have come in. You see it in India, you see it in the west. You see it everywhere where man begins to be concerned with daily living, the daily operation of bread and butter, house and all the rest of it, he demands something more than that. He says, after all I'll die but there must be something more.
A: So fundamentally it's a matter of securing for himself some...
K: ...heavenly grace.
A: ...some heavenly grace that will preserve him against falling into this mournful round of coming to be and passing away. Thinking of the past, on the one had, anticipating the future on the other, you're saying he falls out of the present now.
K: Yes, that's right.
A: I understand.
K: So, if we could keep to that meaning of that word religion then from there the question arises, can the mind be so attentive in the total sense that the unnameable comes into being? You see, personally I have never read any of these things, Veda, Gita, Upanishads, the Bible, all the rest of it, or any philosophy. But I questioned everything.
K: Not question only, but observe. And I - one sees the absolute necessity of a mind that is completely quiet. Because it's only out of quietness you perceive what is happening. If I am chattering I won't listen to you. If my mind is constantly rattling away, to what you are saying I won't pay attention. To pay attention means to be quiet.
A: There have been some priests, apparently, who usually ended up in a great deal of trouble for it, there have been some priests who had, it seems, a grasp of this. I was thinking of Meister Eckhardt's remark that whoever is able to read the book of nature doesn't need any scriptures at all.
K: That's just it.
A: Of course, he ended up in very great trouble. Yes, he had a bad time toward the ends of his life, and after he died the church denounced him.
K: Of course, of course. Organized belief as church, and all the rest of it, is too obvious. It isn't subtle, it hasn't got the quality of real depth and real spirituality. You know what it is.
A: Yes, I do.
K: So I'm asking, what is the quality of a mind, and therefore heart and brain, what is the quality of a mind that can perceive something beyond the measurement of thought? What is the quality of a mind? Because that quality is the religious mind. That quality of a mind that is capable, that has this feeling of being sacred in itself, and therefore is capable of seeing something immeasurably sacred.
A: The word devotion seems to imply this when it is grasped in its proper sense. To use your earlier phrase, gathering together toward a one pointed attentive...
K: Would you say attention is one pointed?
A: No, I didn't mean to imply focus when I said one pointed.
K: Yes, that's what I wondered.
A: I meant rather, integrated into itself as utterly quiet and unconcerned about taking thought for what is ahead, or what is behind. Simply being there. The word 'there' isn't good either because it suggests that there is a 'where' and all the rest of it. It is very difficult to find, it seems to me, language to do justice to what you are saying, precisely because when we speak utterance is in time and it is progressive, it has a quality, doesn't it, more like music than we see in graphic art. You can stand before a picture, whereas to hear music and grasp its theme you virtually have to wait until you get to the end and gather it all up. And with language you have the same difficulty.
K: No, I think, sir don't you, when we are enquiring into this problem, what is the nature, the structure of a mind, and therefore the quality of a mind, that is not only sacred and holy in itself, but is capable of seeing something immense? As we were talking the other day about suffering, personal and the sorrow of the world, it isn't that we must suffer, suffering is there. Every human being has a dreadful time with it. And there is the suffering of the world. And it isn't that one must go through it, but as it is there one must understand it and go beyond it. And that's one of the qualities of a religious mind, in the sense we are using that word, that is incapable of suffering. It has gone beyond it. Which doesn't mean that it becomes callous. On the contrary it is a passionate mind.
A: One of the things that I have thought much about during our conversations is language itself. On the one hand we say such a mind as you have been describing is one that is present to suffering. It does nothing to push it away, on the one hand; and yet it is somehow able to contain it, not put it in a vase, or barrel, contain it in that sense, and yet the very word itself, to suffer, means to under-carry. And it seems close to understand. Over and over again in our conversations I have been thinking about the customary way in which we use language as a use that deprives us of really seeing the glory of what the word points to itself, in itself. I was thinking about the word religion when we were speaking earlier. Scholars differ as to where that came from: on the one hand some say it means to bind, the church fathers spoke about that. And then others say, no, no, it means the numinous or the splendour that cannot be exhausted by thought. It seems to me that, wouldn't you say, that there is another sense to bind that is not a negative one, in the sense that if one is making this act of attention, one isn't bound as with cords of rope. But one is there, or here.
K: Sir, now again let's be clear. When we use the word attention there is a difference between concentration and attention. Concentration is exclusion. I concentrate. That is, bring all my thinking to a certain point, and therefore it is excluding, building a barrier so that it can focus its whole concentration on that. Whereas attention is something entirely different from concentration. In that there is no exclusion. In that there is no resistance. In that there is no effort. And therefore no frontier, no limits.
A: How would you feel about the word receptive, in this respect?
K: Again, who is it who is to receive?
A: Already we have made a division.
K: A division.
A: With that word.
K: Yes. I think the word attention is really a very good word. Because it not only understands concentration, not only sees duality of reception, the receiver and the received, and also it sees the nature of duality and the conflict of the opposites; and attention means not only the brain giving its energy, but also the mind, the heart, the nerves, the total entity, the total human mind giving all its energy to perceive. I think that is the meaning of that word for me at least, to be attentive, attend. Not concentrate, attend. That means listen, see, give your heart to it, give your mind to it, give your whole being to attend, otherwise you can't attend. If I am thinking about something else I can't attend. If I am hearing my own voice, I can't attend.
A: There is a metaphorical use of the word waiting in scripture. It's interesting that in English too we use the word attendant in terms of one who waits on. I'm trying to penetrate the notion of waiting, and patience in relation to this.
K: I think, sir, waiting again means one who is waiting for something. Again there is a duality. And when you wait you are expecting. Again a duality. One who is waiting about to receive. So if we could for the moment hold ourselves to that word, attention, then we should enquire what is the quality of a mind that is so attentive that it has understood, lives, acts, in relationship and responsibility as behaviour, and has no fear psychologically in that, we talked about, and therefore understands the movement of pleasure. Then we come to the point, what is such a mind? I think it would be worthwhile if we could discuss the nature of hurt.
A: Of hurt? Yes.
K: Why human beings are hurt. All people are hurt.
A: You mean both physically and psychologically?
K: Psychologically especially.
A: Especially the psychological one, yes.
K: Physically we can tolerate it. We can bear up with a pain and say I won't let it interfere with my thinking. I won't let it corrode my psychological quality of mind. The mind can watch over that. But the psychological hurts are much more important and difficult to grapple with and understand. I think it is necessary because a mind that is hurt is not an innocent mind. The very word innocent comes from innocere, not to hurt. A mind that is incapable of being hurt. There is a great beauty in that.
A: Yes, there is. It's a marvelous word. We have usually used it to indicate a lack of something.
K: I know.
A: Yes, and there it's turned upside down again.
K: And the Christians have made such an absurd thing of it.
A: Yes, I understand that.
K: So I think we ought in discussing religion we ought to enquire very, very deeply into the nature of hurt, because a mind that is not hurt is an innocent mind. And you need this quality of innocency to be so totally attentive.
A: If I have been following you correctly I think may be you would say, wouldn't you, that man becomes hurt when he starts thinking about thinking that he is hurt.
K: Look sir, it's much deeper than that, isn't' it? From childhood the parents compare the child with another child.
A: That's when that thought arises.
K: There it is. When you compare you are hurting.
K: No, but we do it.
A: Oh yes, of course we do it.
K: Therefore is it possible to educate a child without comparison, without imitation? And therefore never get hurt in that way. And one is hurt because one has built an image about oneself. The image which one has built about oneself is a form of resistance, a wall between you and me. And when you touch that wall at its tender point I get hurt. So not to compare in education, not to have an image about oneself. That's one of the most important things in life, not to have an image about oneself. If you have you are inevitably going to be hurt. Suppose one has an image that one is very good, or that one should be a great success, or that one has great capacities, gifts, you know the images that one builds, inevitably you are going to come and prick it. Inevitably accidents and incidents happen that's going to break that, and one gets hurt.
A: Doesn't this raise the question of name.
K: Oh yes.
A: The use of name.
K: Name, form.
A: The child is given a name, the child identifies himself with the name.
K: Yes, the child can identify itself but without the image, just a name: Brown, Mr Brown. There is nothing to it. But the moment he builds an image that Mr Brown is socially, morally different, superior, or inferior, ancient or comes from a very old family, belongs to a certain higher class, aristocracy. The moment that begins, and when that is encouraged and sustained by thought, snobbism, you know the whole lot of it, then you are inevitably going to be hurt.
A: What you are saying, I take it, is that there is a radical confusion here involved in the imagining oneself to be his name.
K: Yes. Identification with the name, with the body, with the idea that you are socially different, that your parents, your grandparents were lords, or this or that. You know the whole snobbism of England, and all that, and the different kind of snobbism in this country.
A: We speak in language of preserving the name.
K: Yes. And in India it is the Brahmin, the non Brahmin, the whole business of that. So through education, through tradition, through propaganda we have built an image about ourselves.
A: Is there a relation here in terms of religion, would you say, for the refusal, for instance in the Hebraic tradition to pronounce the name of God.
K: The word is not the thing anyhow. So you can pronounce it or not pronounce it. If you know the word is never the thing, the description is never the described, then it doesn't matter.
A: No. One of the reasons I've always been over the years deeply drawn to the study of the roots of words is simply because for the most part they point to something very concrete.
A: It's either a thing or it's a gesture, more often than not it's some act.
K: Quite, quite.
A: Some act. When I use the phrase, thinking about thinking, before, I should have been more careful of my words and referred to mulling over the image, which would have been a much better way to put it, wouldn't it?
K: Yes, yes. So can a child be educated never to get hurt? And I have heard professors, scholars, say, a child must be hurt in order to live in the world. And when I asked him, do you want your child to be hurt, he kept absolutely quiet. He was just talking theoretically. Now unfortunately through education, through social structure and the nature of our society in which we live, we have been hurt, we have images about ourselves which are going to be hurt, and is it possible not to create images at all? I don't know if I am making myself clear.
A: You are.
K: That is, suppose I have an image about myself - which I haven't fortunately - if I have an image, is it possible to wipe it away, to understand it and therefore dissolve it, and never to create a new image about myself? You understand? Living in a society, being educated, I have built an image inevitably. Now can that image be wiped away?
A: Wouldn't it disappear with this complete act of attention?
K: That's what I'm coming to gradually. It would totally disappear. But I must understand how this image is born. I can't just say, well, I'll wipe it out.
K: Use attention as a meant of wiping it out - it doesn't work that way. In understanding the image, in understanding the hurts, in understanding the education in which one has been brought up in the family, the society, all that, in the understanding of all that, out of the understanding comes attention; not the attention first and then wipe it out. You can't attend if you're hurt. If I am hurt how can I attend? Because that hurt is going to keep me, consciously, or unconsciously, from this total attention.
A: The amazing thing, if I'm understanding you correctly, is that even in the study of the dysfunctional history, provided I bring total attention to that, there's going to be a nontemporal relationship between the act of attention and the healing that takes place.
K: That's right.
A: While I am attending the thing is leaving.
K: The thing is leaving, yes, that's it.
A: We've got 'thinging' along here throughout. Yes, exactly.
K: So, there are two questions involved: can the hurts be healed so that not a mark is left; and can future hurts be prevented completely, without any resistance. You follow? Those are two problems. And they can be understood only and resolved when I give attention to the understanding of my hurts. When I look at it, not translate it, not wish to wipe them away, just to look at it - as we went into that question of perception. Just to see my hurts. The hurts I have received, the insults, the negligence, the casual words, the gesture, all those hurts. And the language one uses, specially in this country.
A: Oh yes, yes. There seems to be a relationship between what you are saying and one of the meanings of the word, salvation.
K: Salvare, to save.
A: To save.
K: To save.
A: To make whole.
K: To make whole. How can you be whole, sir, if you are hurt?
K: Therefore it is tremendously important to understand this question.
A: Yes, it is. But I am thinking of a child who comes to school who has already got a freight car filled with hurts.
A: We are not dealing with a little one in a crib now, we're already...
K: We are already hurt.
A: Already hurt. And hurt because it is hurt. It multiplies endlessly.
K: Of course. From that hurt he's violent. From that hurt he is frightened and therefore withdrawing. From that hurt he will do neurotic things. From that hurt he will accept anything that gives him safety - god, his idea of god is a god who will never hurt.
A: Sometimes a distinction is made between ourselves and animals with respect to this problem. An animal, for instance, that has been badly hurt will be disposed toward everyone in terms of emergency and attack. But over a period of time, it might take three or four years, if the animal is loved and...
K: So, sir, you see, you said, loved. We haven't got that thing.
K: And parents haven't got love for their children. They may talk about love. Because the moment they compare the younger to the older they have hurt the child. Your father was so clever, you are such a stupid boy. There you have begun. In school where they give you marks it is a hurt, not marks, it is a deliberate hurt. And that is stored, and from that there is violence, there is every kind of aggression, you know all that takes place. So a mind cannot be made whole, or is whole, unless this is understood very, very deeply.
A: The question that I had in mind before regarding what we have been saying is that this animal, if loved, will, provided we are not dealing with brain damage or something, will in time love in return. But the thought is that with the human person love cannot be in that sense coerced. It isn't that one would coerce the animal to love, but that the animal, because innocent, does in time simply respond, accept.
K: Accept, of course.
A: But then a human person is doing something we don't think the animal is.
K: No. The human being is being hurt and is hurting all the time.
A: Exactly. Exactly. While he is mulling over his hurt then he is likely to misinterpret the very act of generosity of love that is made toward him. So we are involved in something very frightful here: by the time the child comes into school, seven years old...
K: He is already gone, finished, tortured. There is the tragedy of it, sir, that is what I mean.
A: Yes, I know. And when you ask the question, as you have, is there a way to educate the child so that the child...
K: ...is never hurt. That is part of education, that is part of culture. Civilization is hurting. Sir, look, you see this everywhere all over the world, this constant comparison, constant imitation, constant saying, you are that, I must be like you. I must be like Krishna, like Buddha, like Jesus, you follow. That's a hurt. Religions have hurt people.
A: A child is born to a hurt parent, sent to a school where it is taught by a hurt teacher. Now you are asking, is there a way to educate this child so the child recovers.
K: I say it is possible, sir.
A: Yes, please.
K: That is, when the teacher realizes, when the educator realizes he is hurt and the child is hurt, he is aware of his hurt and he is aware also of the child's hurt then the relationship changes. Then he will in the very act of teaching, mathematics, whatever it is, he is not only freeing himself from his hurt but also helping the child to be free of his hurt. After all that is education: to see that I, who am the teacher, I am hurt, I have gone through agonies of hurt, and I want to help that child not to be hurt, and he has come to the school being hurt. So I say, all right, we both are hurt my friend, let us see, let's help each other to wipe it out. That is the act of love.
A: Comparing the human organism with the animal, I return to the question whether it is the case that this relationship to another human being must bring about this healing.
K: Obviously, sir, if relationship exists, we said relationship can only exist when there is no image between you and me.
A: Let us say there is a teacher who has come to grips with this in himself, very, very deeply, has, as you put it, gone into the question deeper, deeper and deeper, has come to a place where he no longer is hurt-bound. The child that he meets or the young student that he meets, or even a student his own age, because we have adult education, is a person who is hurt-bound and will he not...
K: Transmit that hurt to another?
A: No, will he not, because he is hurt-bound, be prone to misinterpret the activity of the one who is not hurt-bound?
K: But there is no person who is not hurt-bound, except very, very few. Look, sir, lots of things have happened to me personally, I have never been hurt. I say this in all humility, in the real sense, I don't know what it means to be hurt. Things have happened to me, people have done every kind of thing, praised me, flattered me, kicked me around, everything. It is possible. And as a teacher, as an educator, to see the child, and it is my responsibility as an educator to see he is never hurt, not just teach some beastly subject. This is far more important.
A: I think I have some grasp of what you are talking about. I don't think I could ever in my wildest dreams say that I have never been hurt. Though I do have difficulty, and have since a child, I have even been taken to task for it, of dwelling on it. I remember a colleague of mine once saying to me with some testiness when we were discussing a situation in which there was conflict in the faculty: 'Well the trouble with you is you can't hate.' And it was looked upon as a disorder in terms of being unable to make a focus towards the enemy in such a way as to devote total attention to that.
K: Sanity is taken for insanity.
A: So my reply to him was simply, well that's right and we might as well face it and I don't intend to do anything about it. But it didn't help the situation in terms of the interrelationship.
K: So the question is then: in education can a teacher, educator, observe his hurts, become aware of them, and in his relationship with the student resolve his hurt and the student's? That's one problem. It is possible if the teacher is really, in the deep sense of the word, educated, that is, cultivated. And the next question, sir, from that arises, is the mind capable of not being hurt, knowing it has been hurt? Not add more hurts. Right?
K: I have these two problems: one, being hurt, that is the past; and never to be hurt again. Which doesn't mean I build a wall of resistance, that I withdraw, that I go off into a monastery, or become a drug addict, or some silly thing like that, but no hurt. Is that possible? You see the two questions? Now, what is hurt? What is the thing that is hurt? You follow?
K: We said the physical hurt is not the same as the psychological.
K: So we are dealing with psychological hurt. What is the thing that is hurt? The psyche? The image which I have about myself?
A: It is an investment that I have in it.
K: Yes, it's my investment in myself.
A: Yes. I've divided myself off from myself.
K: Yes, in myself. That means, why should I invest in myself. What is myself? You follow?
A: Yes, I do.
K: In which I have to invest something. What is myself? All the words, the names, the qualities, the education, the bank account, the furniture, the house, the hurts, all that is me.
A: In an attempt to answer the question, what is myself, I immediately must resort to all this stuff.
A: There isn't any other way. And then I haven't got it. Then I praise myself because I must be so marvelous as somehow to slip out.
K: Quite, quite.
A: I see what you mean. I was thinking just a moment back when you were saying it is possible for the teacher to come into relationship with the student so that a work of healing, or an act of healing happens.
K: See sir, this is what happens if I were in a class that's the first thing I would begin with, not some subject. I would say, look, you are hurt and I am hurt, we are both of us hurt. And point out what hurt does, how it kills people, how it destroys people; out of that there is violence, out of that there is brutality, out of that I want to hurt people. You follow? All that comes in. I would spend ten minutes talking about that, every day, in different ways, till both of us see it. Then as an educator I would use the right world and the student will use the right word, there will be no gesture, we are both involved in it. But we don't do that. The moment we come into class we pick up a book and there it goes off. If I was an educator, whether with the older people, or the younger people, I would establish this relationship. That's my duty, that's my job, that's my function, not just to transmit some information.
A: Yes, that's really very profound. I think one of the reasons that what you have said is so difficult for an educator reared within the whole academic...
K: Yes, because we are so vain.
A: Exactly. We want not only to hear that it is possible for this transformation to take place, but we want it to be regarded as demonstrably proved and therefore not merely possible but predictably certain.
K: Certain, yes.
A: And then we are back into the whole thing.
K: Of course we are back into the old rotten stuff. Quite right.
A: Next time could we take up the relationship of love to this?
A: I would very much enjoy that, and it would seem to me...
K: ...it would all come together.
A: Come together, in the gathering together.