India is the land of world’s greatest thinkers, philosophers and mystics. Jiddu Krishnamurti was one among them. He travelled throughout the world talking to large audiences and to individuals about the need for a radical change in mankind. Ironically, it is still a matter of concern how much impact they have on our society/on our daily lives in his own country.
“He did not expound any philosophy or religion, but rather talked of the things that concern all of us in our everyday lives, of the problems of living in modern society with its violence and corruption, of the individual’s search for security and happiness, and the need for mankind to free itself from inner burdens of fear, anger, hurt, and sorrow. He explained with great precision the subtle workings of the human mind, and pointed to the need for bringing to our daily life a deeply meditative and spiritual quality.”
I am sharing a section of one of his talks – The Book of life. To read it complete, please click here
The whole story of mankind is in you – the vast experiences, the deep-rooted fears, anxieties, sorrow, pleasure, and all the beliefs that man has accumulated throughout the millennia. You are that book. And it is an art to read that book. It is not printed by any publisher. It is not for sale. You can’t buy it in any book shop. You can’t go to any analyst because his book is the same as yours; nor to any scientist. The scientist may have a great deal of information about matter, and the astrophysics, but his book, the story of mankind, is the same as yours. That’s what we said yesterday afternoon. And without carefully, patiently, hesitantly reading that book, you will never be able to change the society in which we live, the society that is corrupt, immoral, there is a great deal of poverty, injustice and so on. Any serious man concerned with the things as they are in the world at present, with all the chaos, corruption, war – the greatest crime, which is war – and in order to bring about a radical change in our society and its structure, one must be able to read the book which is yourself, and that society is brought about by each one of us, by our parents, grandparents and so on. All human beings have created this society, and when the society is not changed there will be more corruption, more wars and greater destruction of the human mind. That’s a fact.
So, to read this book, which is yourself, one must have the art of listening to what the book is saying. That is, to listen to it, which means to listen implies not to interpret what the book is saying. Just to observe it as you would observe a cloud. You can’t do anything about the cloud, nor the palm leaf swaying in the wind, nor the beauty of a sunset. You cannot alter it, you cannot argue with it, you cannot change it. It is so. So one must have the art of listening to what the book is saying. The book is you, so you can’t tell the book what it should reveal. It will reveal everything. So that must be the first art, to listen to the book. And there is another art, which is the art of observation, the art of seeing. When you read the book which is yourself, there is not you and the book. Please understand this. There is not the reader and the book separate from you. The book is you. So you are observing the book, not telling the book what it should say. Am I making this clear? That is, to read, to observe all the reactions that the book reveals. To see very clearly without any distortion what the lines, the chapters, the verse, the poems, the beauty, the struggle, everything that it is telling you, revealing. So there is the art of seeing and the art of listening.
There is also another art: the art of learning. The computers can learn. They can be programmed and they will repeat what it has been told. If a computer plays with a master of chess, the master may beat it two or three or four times, but it is learning where it has made a mistake, where it can correct it, so through experience it is learning so that after a few games the computer can beat the master chess player. That’s how our mind works, our mind. We first experience, accumulate knowledge, store in the memory, in the brain, then thought as memory, and then action. From that action, you learn. And so the learning is the accumulation of further knowledge. So you begin again. Knowledge – experience, knowledge, memory, and thought and action. This cycle is going on all the time with all of us. I hope I am making this clear, that every action either gives further knowledge, and though the mind changes, modifies its past experience, and goes on. This is what a mind that is aware, awake is doing this all the time, like the computer. Experience, knowledge, memory, thought, action, and the action modifies or adds more knowledge, and you go on that way.
So this is what we are doing all the time, which is called learning. Learning from experience. This has been the story of man. Constant challenge and response to that challenge. And that response can be equal to the challenge, or not quite up to the challenge. But it learns, and accumulates knowledge, and the next challenge it responds again more fully, or less fully. So this process is going on all the time in our minds, which is called learning. Right? You learn a language. That is, you learn the meaning of the words, the syntax, the grammar, put two sentences together and gradually accumulate a vocabulary, and then, if you have got a good memory, you begin to talk that particular language which you have spent time on. This is the human process of learning. That is, always moving from knowledge to knowledge. And the book is the whole knowledge of mankind, which is you. Am I making all this clear? Which is you. And either you keep that circle going all the time, or find a way of moving out of that circle. I am going to show it to you in a minute. That is, we are always functioning from the past – knowledge – modified by the present, and moving forward. The forward is modified again which becomes the past, and this process is part of our life.
I know you are probably very learned, very educated – but I am putting all this into very, very simple language; but the word is not the thing. Right? Ceylon… Sri Lanka – forgive me – is not the land, the beauty of the land, the palm trees, the rivers, the marvelous trees and the fruit and the flowers. So the word is not the thing. Right? Please bear that in mind all the time when are talking together – that the word is not the thing. The word ‘husband’ is not the man, it’s a word. By word we measure. So please bear in mind that the word is never the thing. The symbol is never the actual. The picture is not that which is. So if that is deeply rooted in our mind, then words have very little significance. You follow? The thing matters, not the word.
There is the art of seeing, the art of listening and the art of learning. The learning is movement from the past to the present, modified, the future, and that is experiencing, and so on. This whole cycle is what we call learning. That is psychological learning as well as technological learning. Right? Which means what? The mind is never free from the known. Our learning is always within the field of the known, and so the mind becomes mechanical. If I believe in something and that I repeat, repeat, repeat, it becomes mechanical. So we are saying that we are living always within the area of the known, and so our minds have become a network of words, never the actual, but words, words, words, and moving, changing, altering within the narrow, limited area of knowledge.
So, learning implies something totally different. We have said very clearly what is seeing, how to see the book, read the lines, how to listen… no, the art of listening to the book, never distorting, never interpreting, never choosing what you like and don’t like, what you appreciate and don’t appreciate – then you are not reading a book. Right? And we are saying also that we all live within the narrow limits of the known. And that has become our constant habit. Therefore our minds, if you examine your mind, is repetitive, habitual, accustomed, you believe in god, and you believe in god for the rest of your life. If anybody says there is no god perhaps, then you call him irreligious. So you are caught in habit. Now we are saying that is not learning at all. Learning is something entirely different. Learning means enquiring into the limits of knowledge and moving away from it.
So, there is the art of seeing, the art of learning, the art of listening, and the art of learning, never to be caught in the same pattern, or invent another pattern. The constant breaking down of patterns, the norms, the values, which doesn’t mean living without any restraint. Society is now permissive. It doesn’t mean that at all. This constant awareness of this pattern formation of the mind, and breaking it down, so that the mind is constantly aware, alert. Right?