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NY71T4 - Can the mind become quiet?
New York - 25 April 1971
Public Talk 4

0:31 Krishnamurti: I think we said that we would talk over together a very complex problem, which is, if there is a religious experience, and what are the implications of meditation. If one observes, right throughout the world, man has always, it appears, been seeking something beyond his own death, his own problems, something that will be enduring, true and timeless. He's called it God, he's given it so many names, and most of us believe in something of that kind without ever actually experiencing.
2:29 Various religions throughout the world have promised that if you believed in certain forms of rituals, dogmas, saviours, you might, if you lead a certain kind of life, come upon this strange thing called whatever name one likes to give to it. And those who have directly experienced it, either experience it according to their conditioning, to their belief, according to their environmental, cultural influence. If you are born in India you have the various forms of beliefs, gods, and all the rest of that. If you are born in the West, again you are conditioned by propaganda of two thousand years, and one is caught in a series of beliefs, dogmas and rituals.
4:23 And apparently religion has lost its meaning, because there have been religious wars, religion doesn't answer all our problems, religions have separated man, Catholic, Protestant, Hindu, Buddhist, and so on, it has brought about some kind of civilising influence, but radically it has not changed man. And when one begins to enquire if there is such a thing as religious experience, and what is that experience, and why does one call it religious, if one goes into it, obviously one must first have a great deal of honesty. Not to be honest to a principle or a belief or to any form of commitment but to see things exactly as they are, without any distortion, not only outwardly but also inwardly, never to deceive oneself. For deception is quite easy if one craves for some kind of experience, call it religious or otherwise, take a trip and so on, then you are bound to be caught in some kind of illusion, or experience according to your conditioning.
7:13 But to find out for oneself, if one can, what is the religious experience, one needs a great sense of humility and honesty, which means never to ask for experience, never to demand for oneself a reality or experience or an achievement. So one has to look very closely at one's own desires, attachments, fears, and understand them wholly, if one can, so that the mind is in no way distorted, so that there will be no illusion, no deception. And one has to ask also, what does it mean to experience?
9:13 I do not know if you have gone into that question at all. Most of us are tired, bored with the usual experiences of every day. We are tired of them all and the more one is sophisticated, the more one is intellectual, one wants to live only in the present, whatever that may mean, and invent a philosophy of the present. But to find out for oneself what it means to experience, the word itself means to go through, to finish, to go right to the end and finish with it. But unfortunately, for most of us, every experience leaves a scar, a memory, pleasant or unpleasant, and we want only to retain the pleasant ones. And when we are asking for any kind of spiritual, religious, or transcendental experience, we are trying to find out, aren't we, whether, first of all, there is such an experience, and also what experience itself means. If you experience something and you cannot recognise that experience then that experience ceases to be. One of the essential meanings of experience is recognition, and when there is recognition it has already been known, already been experienced, otherwise you cannot possibly recognise.
12:20 So, when they talk about religious experience, spiritual experience, or that word which is so misused - transcendental experience - you must have already known it to be able to recognise that you are experiencing something other than the ordinary experience, that seems so logical and true, that the mind must be able to recognise, and recognition implies something which you have already known, therefore it is not new. And when you are wanting more experience in the religious field, either you want it because you have not solved your problems, your daily anxieties, despairs and fears and sorrows, and therefore you are wanting something more. And in that demand for the more, lies deception. I think, again, that's fairly logical and true. Not that logic is always true but when one uses logic, reason, healthily, sanely, one knows the limitation of reason. And the demand for wider, deeper, more fundamental experiences only leads to further extension of this past of the known. I think that is clear and I hope we are communicating, sharing with each other.
14:58 Then also in this religious enquiry, one is seeking, one is seeking to find out what truth is, if there is a reality, if there is such a thing as a state of mind that is beyond time. Search again implies a seeker, doesn't it? And what is he seeking? How will he know that which he has found in his search is true? Again, if he finds what is true, at least what he thinks is true, that depends on his conditioning, on his past, on his knowledge, on his past experiences, and search then merely becomes a further projection of his own past, hopes and fears and longings.
16:50 So a mind that is enquiring, not seeking, a mind that is enquiring without wanting experience must be totally free of these two, that is, the demand for experience and the search for truth. One can see why, because when you are seeking, you go to various teachers, various books, join various cults, follow various gurus, teachers, etc., like window shopping. And such search has no meaning whatsoever.
18:04 So, when you are enquiring into this question: what is a religious mind, and what is a quality of mind that is no longer experiencing anything at all, and can the mind be free from the demand for experience and completely end all seeking but only investigate without any motive, without any purpose, the fact of time and if there is a timeless state. To enquire into that, which means no belief whatsoever, not committed to any religion, to any so-called spiritual organisation, not following any guru, therefore no authority whatsoever, including that of the speaker especially. Because you are very easily influenced, terribly gullible, though you may be sophisticated, know a great deal, but you are always eager, always wanting and therefore gullible.
20:44 So, a mind that is enquiring into the question of what is religion, must be free entirely of any form of belief, any form of fear, because fear, as we explained the other day, is a distorting factor, bringing about violence, aggression. Therefore a mind that is enquiring into the quality of a religious state, movement, must be free of this, and that demands great honesty and a great sense of humility.
21:48 For most of us, vanity is one of the major impediments, because we think we know, because we have read a great deal, we have committed ourselves, we have practiced this or that system, followed some guru peddling his philosophy. And we think we know, at least a little bit, and that's the beginning of vanity. And when you are enquiring into such an extraordinary question there must be the freedom of actually not knowing a thing about it. You really don't know, do you? You don't know what truth is, what God is, if there is such thing, or what is a truly religious mind. You have read about it, people have talked for millennia, built monasteries, but actually they are living on other people's knowledge, experience, propaganda. Surely one must put aside all that completely, mustn't one, to find out? Therefore the enquiry into this is a very, very serious matter. And if you want to play with all this there are all kinds of entertainments, so-called spiritual, religious entertainments, but they have no value whatsoever to a serious mind.
24:35 To enquire into what is a religious mind, one must not only, as we explained yesterday, be free of our conditioning, be free of our Christianity, of our Buddhism, Hinduism, with all the propaganda of five thousand or two thousand years, so the mind is really free to observe. That's very difficult because we are afraid to be alone, to stand alone, because we want security both outwardly and inwardly, therefore we depend on people, whether it's the priest or the new leader or the guru who says he knows, or he says, I have experienced therefore I know. So one has to stand completely alone, not isolated, there is a vast difference between isolation and being completely alone, integral. Isolation is a state of mind in which relationship ceases, when actually through your daily life and activity you have built a wall around yourself, consciously or unconsciously, not to be hurt. That isolation obviously prevents every form of relationship, which we went into, somewhat, yesterday evening. And aloneness implies a mind that does not depend on another psychologically, is not attached to any person, which does not mean that there is no love. Love is not attachment. Aloneness implies a mind that is really, deeply, inwardly, without any sense of fear, therefore any sense of conflict.
28:04 Then we can proceed, if you go so far, to find out what discipline means. For most of us, discipline is a form of drill, a repetition, either overcoming an obstacle, resisting or suppressing, controlling, shaping, conforming, all that is implied in that word discipline. But the root meaning of that word is to learn, a mind that is willing to learn, not conform. A mind that is willing to learn must be curious, must have great interest. And a mind that already knows cannot possibly learn. If you want to learn a language, you come to it not knowing that language and therefore your mind is learning. And when you are learning what the meaning of that word discipline means, not drill, not repetitive, not mechanical, not conforming or suppressing, controlling, etc., you are learning about it, therefore, in that very learning there is order. Are we following each other in all this? Can I go on? If we don't communicate with each other, I'm sorry. There is a great deal to be gone into, therefore I must get on with it. So discipline, the root meaning of that word means to learn, to learn why one controls, why one suppresses, why there is fear, why does one conform, compare, and therefore conflict. And in that learning there is order, that very learning brings about order, not order according to any design, pattern, but in the very enquiry into the confusion, into the disorder, there is order. Most of us are confused for a dozen reasons, which we needn't go into for the moment. To learn about confusion, to learn about the disorderly life one leads, not try to bring order into confusion or order in disorder, but to learn about disorder, to learn about confusion. Then as you are learning, order comes into being.
33:03 So order is a living thing, not a mechanical order, and order is surely virtue. It is the mind that is disorderly that is not virtuous. A mind that's confused, conforming, imitating, is not orderly, it is in conflict. And a mind that's in conflict is disorderly and therefore such a mind has no virtue, it's only the mind that's learning, learning about disorder, conforming, and so on. Out of this enquiry, learning, comes order, and therefore order is virtue. Not the morality of society, the social morality, as you observe, is totally immoral. It may be respectable, and what is respectable is generally disorderly. Please, observe it in yourself, see how one is, in one's life, so disordered, so confused, so mechanical. And in that state, one tries to find a moral, a way of living which will be orderly, sane, etc. How can a mind that is confused, conforming, imitative, have any kind of order, any kind of virtue? But order is necessary, because only out of order can there be a total action. May I go on? I won't ask anymore whether I can go on, I'll just go on. Action is life, but our action brings disorder. There is political action, religious action, business action, family action, fragmented actions. And naturally such action is contradictory, you are a businessman and at home you're a kindly human being, at least you pretend to be. There is contradiction and therefore there is disorder. And a mind that is in disorder cannot possibly understand what virtue is. And nowadays, when there is permissiveness of every kind, virtue, order, is denied. And a religious mind must have this order, not according to a pattern or a design laid down by you or by another, but that order, that sense of moral rectitude, comes only when you understand the disorder, the confusion, the mess that one lives in.
38:30 Now, all this is to lay the foundation for meditation. If you don't lay the foundation, meditation then becomes an escape, and you can play with that kind of meditation endlessly. That's what most people are doing, lead an ordinary, confused, messy life, and somehow find a corner to bring about a quiet mind. And there are all the people who will give you a quiet mind, whatever that may mean.
39:44 So for a serious mind, and this is a very serious thing, not a play thing, one must have this freedom from all belief, from all commitment, because you are committed to the whole of life, not to one segment of life. Because most of us are committed to revolution, physical revolution, or to political this or that, or the religious activity, to some kind of religious, monastic life and so on, those are all fragmentary commitments. We are talking of freedom so that you can commit yourself, your whole being, your whole energy, vitality and passion to the whole of life, not to one part of it. Then we can proceed to find out what it means to meditate.
41:33 I don't know if you have gone into this at all. Probably some of you have played with it, tried to control your thoughts, followed various systems, but that's not meditation at all. So one has to dispose of the various systems that one has been offered, the Zen, the transcendental, the things that have been brought over from India or Asia, in which various people are caught. So one has to go into this question of systems, methods. And I hope you will too, we are sharing this problem together.
42:54 When you have a system to follow, what happens to the mind? What does a system, a method imply? A guru - I don't know why they call themselves gurus - I can't find a strong word to deny that whole world of gurus, of their authority, because they think they know. And a man who says, I know, such a man does not know. Or a man who says, I have experienced truth, distrust him completely. These are the people who offer systems. System implies practice, following, repetition, denying what actually is, and therefore increasing your conflict. The system promises nirvana or enlightenment. Just think of it, promising somebody enlightenment. And therefore you have the guru who says he knows more and the other guru says he knows still more. And the disciples fight amongst themselves, say, my guru is better than your guru. So you observe this, that systems make the mind mechanical, they don't give you freedom. They may promise freedom at the end, but freedom is at the beginning, not at the end. If you have no freedom at the beginning, to enquire into the truth of any system, then you are bound to end up with a system, and therefore a mind which is incapable of subtlety, swiftness, sensitivity. So one can totally dispose entirely of all systems so that your mind is really enquiring, is really learning, not according to any system, any philosophy, any guru, but being free to enquire, to see what actually takes place. The mind, which is the result of thousands of years of thought, that mind, that thought wanders. You want to fix your mind, your thought, on a particular phrase, a symbol, an idea, and so on, and your thought wanders off, and you say you must control it. So again you have a battle, you want to fix your mind on something and you're thinking about the drive that you're going to take. So there is conflict.
47:46 What is important is not controlling thought but understanding thought, therefore understanding the origin, the beginning of thought, which is in yourself. That is, the brain stores up memory, you can observe this yourself, you don't have to read all the books about it, your brain stores memory. And if it hasn't stored memory you wouldn't be able to think at all. That memory is the result of experience, knowledge, whether yours or of the community or the family, and so on, of the race. And from that storehouse of memory, thought springs. And thought is never free, it's always old. There is no such thing as freedom of thought. Thought can never be free in itself, it can express or talk about freedom, but in itself it is the result of past memories, experiences, knowledge, and therefore it's old. Right? I mustn't say right. One must have this accumulation of knowledge, otherwise you couldn't function, you couldn't do a thing, couldn't speak to each other, couldn't go home, and so on - knowledge is essential.
50:32 So, in meditation one has to find out whether there is an end to knowledge and a freedom from the known. Because if meditation is the continuation of knowledge, that is, the continuation of everything that man has accumulated, then there is no freedom, is there? There is only freedom when there is an understanding of the function of knowledge and the freedom from the known.
51:56 We are enquiring into the field of knowledge, where it has its function and where it becomes an impediment to further enquiry. If the brain cells continue to operate, and they can only operate in the field of knowledge, because that's the only thing the brain cells can do, it has known experience, in the field of time which is the past. And to find out if there is a field which is not already contaminated by the known. This is meditation. Are we meeting each other? You see my point?
53:25 If I meditate and continue with what I have already learned, with what I already know, then I am living in the past, living within the field of my conditioning, within the field of what I have already known. In that there is no freedom. I may decorate the prison in which I live, I may do all kinds of things in that prison, but it's still a limitation, a barrier. So the mind has to find out whether the brain cells which have developed through millennia in knowledge can be quiet, totally quiet, and respond to a field, a dimension it does not know. Which means, can the mind be totally still?
55:03 This has been the problem of all the religious people throughout the centuries, because they realise that you must have a very quiet mind, because then only you can see. If you are chattering, if your mind is constantly in movement, rushing all over the place, obviously it cannot look, it cannot listen totally, that's simple. To listen, to observe totally, the mind must be completely quiet. So they say, control. Control, hold it, train it, put it in a prison, because they haven't found a way of bringing about a mind that is completely and utterly quiet. They say control, don't yield to any desire, don't look at a woman, don't look at a man, don't look at the beautiful hills, trees, and the beauty of the earth, because if you do, it might remind you of the woman or the man. Therefore control, hold and concentrate. And when you do all that, concentrate, don't look at the loveliness of the earth, of the sky, of the cloud, you are in conflict, and therefore more control, more subjugation. This has been going on for a millennia, for thousands of years, because they all realise they must have a quiet mind. How does the mind become quiet, without effort, without control, without being drilled, without following, shaping, giving it a border, how to make the mind - no, not how, because the moment you ask how, you are introducing a system, therefore there is no how -
58:45 can the mind become quiet? I don't know what you're going to do about it, when you see the problem, when you see the necessity, the truth of having a quiet, delicate, subtle mind, which is absolutely quiet. How are you going to do it, how is it to happen? Because only such a mind is a religious mind. It is only such a mind that sees the whole of life as a unit, as a unitary movement, not fragmented. Therefore such a mind when it acts, it acts totally, not fragmentarily, because it acts out of complete stillness.
1:00:20 How is that to happen? That is the problem of meditation. You have laid the foundation of a life of complete relationship, which we went into yesterday, a life that is orderly and therefore virtuous, a life that is extraordinarily, inwardly simple and therefore totally austere. Not the austerity of the priest which is harsh, brutal, but the austerity of deep simplicity, which means a mind is not in conflict. And when you have laid that foundation, easily, without any effort, because the moment you introduce effort there's conflict, because you see the truth of it, and therefore it is the perception of what is that brings about a radical change.
1:01:52 So when you perceive, when the mind sees clearly that it's only a quiet mind, which means the brain cells which carry the memories of centuries, they must also become quiet and only respond when necessary, and not otherwise. Only respond when challenged completely, but otherwise remain completely quiet.
1:02:37 That's the problem. It's only a quiet mind, a totally still mind that understands. In that still mind there is a movement which is totally different, of a different dimension, of a different quality. That can never be put into words, because that is indescribable. But what can be described is up to this point, to the point when you have laid the foundation and see the necessity, the truth and the beauty of a still mind.
1:03:36 For most of us, beauty is in something, in the building, in the cloud, in the shape of a tree, in a beautiful face. Is beauty out there, or is it a quality of mind that has no self-centred activity? Because like joy, beauty is essential in meditation, the understanding of beauty. And beauty is really the total abandonment of the me. And the eyes that have abandoned the me can see the tree and the beauty of it, and the loveliness of a cloud. That is, when there is no centre as the me. It happens to each one of us, doesn't it? When you see a lovely mountain, when you come upon it suddenly, there it is. Everything has been pushed aside except the majesty of that hill. That hill, that mountain, that tree, absorbs you completely.
1:05:55 It's like a child with a toy, the toy absorbs the child. And when the toy is destroyed the child is back again in whatever he's doing, in his mischief, in his crying, etc. Likewise with us, when you see the mountain or the single tree on a hilltop, it absorbs you. And we want to be absorbed by something, by an idea, by an activity, by a commitment, by a belief, or be absorbed by another, which is like the child with a toy.
1:07:14 Beauty, which means sensitivity, the body that is sensitive, which means right diet, right way of living, I won't go into all that, there's no time. When you have all this, and if you've gone that far, and I hope you will, or you are doing it now, then the mind will inevitably and naturally, unknowingly, become quiet. You can't make the mind quiet, because you are the mischief-maker, you are yourself disturbed, anxious, confused, how can you make the mind quiet? But when you understand what quietness is, when you understand what confusion is, what sorrow is, whether sorrow can ever end, when you understand pleasure, then out of that comes an extraordinarily quiet mind, you don't have to seek it. You must begin at the beginning and the first step is the last step, and this is meditation.
1:09:26 Would you like to ask any questions? Yes?
1:09:45 Questioner: When you make the analogy of the mountain, the hills, the beautiful sky, that's wrong for these people, that's not the analogy for them. The analogy is the dirt.
1:09:59 K: Right, take that, the analogy of the dirty street of New York, the analogy of the dirt, the squalor, the poverty, the ghettos, the war, which we have made, to which each one of us has contributed, we are responsible, each one of us, for the war in Vietnam, for the war in the Middle East, in Pakistan, each one of us is responsible. You don't feel that way because you have separated yourself, isolated yourself, therefore having no relationship with another you become corrupt and therefore allow corruption to spread in the world. That's why this corruption, this pollution, this war, this hatred, cannot be stopped by a system, political, religious, or any organisation. You have to change. Don't you see this? You have to cease to be, completely, what you are. Not through will. Meditation is the emptying of the mind of will, then totally different action takes place. Yes?
1:12:19 Q: If one can have the privilege of becoming aware, totally aware, shall I say, how can we then help those that are conditioned, that have deep resentment within them, to become receptive and aware.
1:12:38 K: If one is privileged to be totally aware, how can one help another to uncondition and so on. Why, if I may ask, do you use the word privilege? What is there sacred or privileged about being aware? That's a natural thing, isn't it, to be aware? And if you are aware of your own conditioning, of the turmoil, the dirt, the squalor, the war, the hatred, you know what is happening in the world, the tears, the sorrow of those poor people being killed, the children, the mothers, all that. If you are aware of all that you will establish a relationship with another so complete, so that when you are so completely related to another you are related to every other human being in the world. You understand this? If I am related to my wife, to my husband, to somebody completely, totally, not as an idea or an image, completely, then I am related to every human being in the world, then I will see I will not hurt another. They are hurting themselves. Then I can go, preach, talk about it, not with the desire to help another, that's the most terrible thing to say, I want to help another. Who are you to help another, including the speaker?
1:15:03 The beauty of the tree or the flower doesn't want to help you, it is there, it is for you to look at the squalor or at the beauty. And if you are incapable of looking at it then find out why you are incapable, why you have become so indifferent, so callous, so shallow and empty. If you find that out then you are in a state where the waters of life flow, you don't have to do a thing.
1:16:11 Q: What is the relationship between seeing things exactly as they are, and consciousness?
1:16:17 K: What is the relationship between seeing things as they are, and consciousness. Consciousness is the content of it. The content of consciousness is consciousness. Has everything got to be explained? That's a simple thing. The content of your consciousness is your greed, envy, ambition, comparison, struggle, pain, sorrow, all that is consciousness, because the content of it makes consciousness. Remove the content, is there consciousness as you know it? Of course not, you only know consciousness by its content. And its content is what is happening in the world, of which you are a part. Now, to empty all that is not to have this consciousness but a totally different dimension. And that dimension you cannot speculate about, leave it to the scientists, to the philosophers. What we can do is to find out whether it is possible to uncondition the mind by becoming aware, by becoming totally attentive.
1:18:33 Q: I don't know myself what love is or truth is or God is, but when you describe it: love is God, instead of love is love. Can you explain why you say love is God?
1:18:43 K: I didn't say love is God.
1:18:45 Q: Well, in your book, I read one of your books.
1:18:47 K: Oh, I'm so sorry, don't read books. That word has been used so much, loaded by man's despairs and hopes. You having God, the communists have their gods, loaded. So find out, if I may suggest, what love is. You can only find out what love is by knowing what it is not. Not knowing intellectually but actually in life putting aside what it is not: jealousy, ambition, greed, all the division that goes on in life, the me and the you, we and they, the black and the white. You won't do it, unfortunately, you won't do it because it needs energy. And energy comes only when you observe actually what is, not run away from it. When you see actually what is, then in the observing of it you have the energy to go beyond it. You cannot go beyond it if you are trying to escape from it, if you are trying to translate it, if you are trying to overcome it, just to observe actually what is, then you have an abundance of energy, then you can find out what love is. Love is not pleasure. And to find that out, to really inwardly find out for yourself that love is not pleasure. You know what that means? It means that there is no fear, that there is no attachment, no dependency, but a relationship in which there is no division.
1:22:05 Q: I would like, if you would, to talk about the role of the artist in society. Does he serve a function beyond his own function?
1:22:33 K: The role of the artist in society. Who is an artist? Who paints a picture? Writes a poem? Who wants to express himself through painting or through writing a book, a play? Why do we divide the artist from the rest of us, the intellectual from the rest of us? Why this division? Because we have placed the intellectual at one level, the artist perhaps at a higher level, and the scientist at a still higher level. And then we say, what is their role in society? The question is not what is their role but what is your role in society, because you have created this awful mess. What is your role? Find out. That is, find out why you live within this world of squalor, hatred and misery. Apparently it doesn't touch you.
1:24:33 You have listened to these four talks, shared some of the things together, understood, let's hope, a great deal. Then you become a centre of right relationship and therefore it's your responsibility to change this terrible, corrupt, destructive society.
1:25:09 Isn't it time now to stop? What time is it? Quarter past seven.
1:25:25 Any more questions?
1:25:28 Q: Could you go into psychological time?
1:25:35 K: I will. I've got it. This is the last question, I'm afraid. I'll have to stop. The questioner wants to know what time is, could you go into it. Time is old age, time is sorrow, time doesn't heed. So what is time? There is chronological time by the watch. That must exist, otherwise you won't be able to catch your bus, cook a meal, all the rest, time. But there is another kind of time which we have accepted. That is we say, tomorrow I will be, tomorrow I will change, tomorrow I will become. Psychologically, we have created time, haven't we? You know, tomorrow. Is there a tomorrow, psychologically? To put that question seriously is a most dreadful question, because we want tomorrow, I am going to see you tomorrow, I am going to have the pleasure of meeting you tomorrow, I am going to understand tomorrow, my life will be different tomorrow, I will realise enlightenment tomorrow. Therefore tomorrow becomes the most important thing in our life. You have had sex yesterday, all the pleasures, all the agony, whatever you have in that mess, and you want it tomorrow, because you want that same pleasure repeated tomorrow.
1:28:19 So to put that question to yourself and find out the truth of it, which is, is there a tomorrow at all? Except - please follow - thought projects tomorrow. So, tomorrow is the invention of thought as time. And if there is no tomorrow psychologically, what happens to the life, to today? What happens today if there is no tomorrow, psychologically? Then there is a tremendous revolution, isn't there? Then your whole action undergoes a radical change, doesn't it? Then you are completely whole now. Then you are not projecting from the past, through the present, the future. That means to live, dying every day. Do it and you will find out what it means to live so completely today. Isn't that what love is? You don't say, I will love tomorrow, do you? You love or you don't love. So love has no time, only sorrow has time. Sorrow is thought as pleasure. So to find out for oneself what time is, and find out if there is no tomorrow. Then there is a life which is eternal, because eternity has no time.