J. Krishnamurti New Delhi India 3rd Public Talk, 19th December, 1948
Understandig the causes of psychological problems
As this is the last talk, perhaps it might be just as well if I made a brief summary of what we have been discussing for the last six weeks. Our life is beset with so many problems at different levels. We have not only the physical problems, but the much more subtle and more intricate psychological problems; and without solving the psychological problems or even trying to understand their subtleness, we seek merely to rearrange their effects. We try to reconcile the effects without really understanding the causes which produce these effects. Therefore, it seems to me much more important to understand the psychological conflicts and sorrows than merely to rearrange the pattern of effects; because, the mere reconciliation of effects cannot profoundly and ultimately solve the problems that are produced. If we merely rearrange the effects without understanding the psychological struggles that produce these effects, we will naturally produce further confusion, further antagonism, further conflict. So, in understanding the psychological factors that bring about our well-being, there may be a possibility - and I think there is a definite possibility - of creating a new culture and a new civilization; but it must begin with every one of us, because, after all, society is my relationship with you, and your relationship with another. Society is the outcome of our relationship, and without under standing relationship, which is action, there can be no cessation of conflict. So, relationship and its effect and cause must be thoroughly understood before I can transform or bring about a radical revolution in the ways of my life.
We are concerned, then, with the individual problem and our own psychological sufferings. In understanding the individual problem we will naturally bring about a different arrangement in its effects, but we should not begin with the effects; because, after all, we do not live by the effects alone but by the deeper causes. So, our problem is how to understand suffering and conflict in the individual. Mere verbal explanation of suffering, mere intellection, the perception of the causes of suffering, does not resolve suffering. That is an obvious fact; but as most of us are fed on words, and as words have become of such immense importance, we are easily satisfied by explanations. We read the Bhagavad Gita, the Bible, or any other religious book which explains the cause of suffering, and we are satisfied; we take the explanation for the resolution of suffering. Words have become much more significant than the understanding of suffering itself; but the word is not the thing. Any amount of explanation, any amount of reasoning, will not feed a hungry man. What he wants is food, not the explanation of food, or the smell of food. He is hungry, and he must have the substance that nourishes. Most of us are satisfied by the explanation of the cause of suffering. Therefore, we don't take suffering as a thing to be radically resolved, a contradiction in ourselves that must be understood. How is one to understand suffering? One can understand suffering only when explanation subsides and all kinds of escapes are understood and put aside, that is, when one sees the actual in suffering. But you see, you don't want to understand suffering; you run away to the club, you read the newspaper, you do puja, go to the temple, plunge into politics or social service - anything rather than to face that which is. So, the cultivation of escapes has become much more important than the understanding of sorrow; and it requires a very intelligent mind, a mind that is very alert, to see that it is escaping and to put an end to escapes.
How, I have explained that conflict is not productive of creative
thinking. To be creative, to produce what you will, the mind must
be at peace, the heart full. If you want to write, to have great thoughts,
to enquire into truth, conflict must cease; but in our civilization, escapes
have become much more significant than the understanding of conflict.
Modern things help us to escape, and to escape is to be utterly uncreative,
it is self-projection. That does not solve our problem. What
does solve our problem is to cease to escape and to live with suffering;
because, after all, to understand something, one must give full attention
to it, and distractions are mere escapes. To understand escapes, which
is to put an end to them by seeing their falseness, and to perceive the whole
significance of suffering, is a process of self-knowledge; and without self-knowledge,
without knowing yourself fundamentally, not the mere superficial effects
of your actions, but the whole total process of yourself, both the thinker
and the thought, the actor and the action - without that self-knowledge, there
is no basis for thought.
You can repeat like a gramophone, but you will not be the music-maker, there will be no song in your heart.
So, through self-knowledge alone an suffering come to an end. After all, what does suffering mean - not as a verbal explanation, but as a fact? How does suffering arise, not merely as a scientific observation, but actually? In order to know, to find out, surely discontent is essential. One must be thoroughly discontented in order to find out. But when there is discontent - and most of us are discontented - we find an easy way of smothering that discontent. We become something - clerks, governors, ministers, or what you will - , anything to smother that flame, that spark, that dissatisfaction. Materially as well a psychologically we want to be sure, we want to be secure, we do not want to be disturbed. We want certainty, and where the mind is looking for certainty, security, there is no discontent; and most of us spend our lives doing this, we are all seeking security. Obviously there must be physical security, food, clothing and shelter; but that is denied when we seek psychological security - psychological security being self-expansion through physical necessities. A house in itself is not important except as shelter, but we use the house as a means of self-aggrandizement. That is why property becomes very important, and hence we create a social system which denies the right distribution of food, clothing and shelter.
So, it is discontent that drives, that creates, that urges us on; and if we can understand discontent without smothering it by the search for certainty, psychological security, if we can keep that discontent and its flame alive, then our problem is simple; because, that very discontent is creative, and from that we can move on. But the moment we smother discontent, put it away, resist it, hide it, then the mind is concerned merely with the reconciliation of effects, and discontent is no longer a means of going forward, plunging into something unknown. That is why it is so important for each one really to understand oneself. The study of oneself is not an end, but a beginning; because, there is no end in understanding oneself, it is a constant movement. If you observe yourself very carefully, you will see that there is no fixed moment when you can say, `I understand the whole totality of myself', it is like reading many volumes. The more one studies oneself, the more there is to be studied. Therefore, the movement of the self is timeless; and that self is not the high or the low, but the self which is from moment to moment, with its actions, its thoughts, its words. That self-knowledge is the beginning of wisdom, and in that self-knowledge one discovers a state of utter tranquillity in which the mind is not made still, but is still; and only when the mind is still, when it is not caught up in the thought process or occupied with its own creations - only then is there creativeness, is there reality. It is this creativeness, this perception of reality which will free us from our problem, not the search for an answer to the problem.
So, self-knowledge is the technique of meditation, and without self-knowledge there is no meditation. Self-knowledge is not something acquired from a book, or from a guru or teacher. Self-knowledge begins in understanding oneself from moment to moment, and that understanding requires one's full attention to be given to each thought at any particular moment without an end in view; because, there cannot be complete attention when there is condemnation or justification. When the mind condemns or justifies, it does so either to deny or to escape what it perceives. It is much easier to condemn a child than to understand a child. Similarly, when a thought arises, it is easier to put it away or discipline it than to give it your undivided attention and thereby discover its full significance. Therefore, the problem is to understand oneself, and one can approach it rightly only when there is no justification, condemnation or resistance - and then you will find that the problem unfolds like a map.
To discover what is eternal, the process of the mind must be understood. You cannot think about the unknown; you can think only about the known, and what is known is not the real. Reality cannot be thought about, meditated upon, pictured, or formulated; if it is, it is not real, because it is merely the projection of the mind. It is only when the thought process ceases, when the mind is literally and utterly still - and stillness can come about only through self-knowledge - , that reality is understood; and it is the real that resolves our problems, not our cunning distractions and formulated escapes.
I have several questions here, and I shall try to answer them as
briefly and clearly as possible.
[ answers are in separate documents. Links provided here]
- Question: I have parents who are orthodox and who depend on me, but I myself have ceased to believe in their orthodoxy. How am I to deal with such a situation? This is a real problem to me.
- Question: It us the universally accepted conclusion of modern intellectuals that educators have failed. What is, then, the task of those whose function it is to teach the young?
- Question: Marriage is a necessary part of any organized society, but you seem to be against the institution of marriage. What do you say? Please also explain the problem of sex. Why has it become, next to war, the most urgent problem of our day?
- Question: In my view, the guru is one who awakens me to truth, to reality. What is wrong in my taking to such a guru?
1948 3rd Public Talk, New Delhi, India, Available as: Report - 'Poona, Delhi & Madras 1948, Verbatim Report' and in bookform: 'The Collected Works of J. Krishnamurti, Vol V'