The Courage to Stand Alone

Conversations with U.G. Krishnamurti

Amsterdam, September 1982

Transcribed and Edited by

Ellen Chrystal

Original tapes produced and edited by Henk Schonewille

My teaching, if that is the word you want to use, has no copyright. You are free to reproduce, distribute, interpret, misinterpret, distort, garble, do what you like, even claim authorship, without my consent or the permission of anybody.

Part I

You Don't Have To Do A Thing

Q: U.G., do you agree with me that you live in frictionless state?

U.G.: ... not in conflict with the society. This is the only reality I have, the world as it is today. The ultimate reality that man has invented has absolutely no relationship whatsoever with the reality of this world. As long as you are seeking, searching, and wanting to understand that reality (which you call "ultimate reality," or call it by whatever name you like), it will not be possible for you to come to terms with the reality of the world exactly the way it is. So, anything you do to escape from the reality of this world will make it difficult for you to live in harmony with the things around you.

We have an idea of harmony. How to live at peace with yourself -- that's an idea. There is an extraordinary peace that is there already. What makes it difficult for you to live at peace with yourself is the creation [of the idea] of what you call "peace," which is totally unrelated to the harmonious functioning of this body. When you free yourself from the burden of reaching out there to grasp, to experience, and to be in that reality, then you will find that it is difficult to understand the reality of anything. You will find that you have no way of experiencing the reality of anything, but at least you will not be living in a world of illusions. You will accept that there is nothing, nothing that you can do to experience the reality of anything, except the reality that is imposed on us by the society. We have to accept the reality as it is imposed on us by the society because it is very essential for us to function in this world intelligently and sanely. If we don't accept that reality, we are lost. We will end up in the loony bin. So we have to accept the reality as it is imposed on us by the culture, by society or whatever you want to call it, and at the same time understand that there is nothing that we can do to experience the reality of anything. Then you will not be in conflict with the society, and the demand to be something other than what you are will also come to an end.

The goal that you have placed before yourself, the goal which you have accepted as the ideal goal to be reached, and the demand to be something other than what you are, are no longer there. It is not a question of accepting something, but the pursuit of those goals which the culture has placed before us, and which we have accepted as desirable, is not there any more. The demand to reach that goal also is not there any more. So, you are what you are.

When the movement in the direction of becoming something other than what you are isn't there any more, you are not in conflict with yourself. If you are not in conflict with yourself, you cannot be in conflict with the society around you. As long as you are not at peace with yourself, it is not possible for you to be at peace with others. Even then there is no guarantee that your neighbors will be peaceful. But, you see, you will not be concerned with that. When you are at peace with yourself, then you are a threat to the society as it functions today. You will be a threat to your neighbors because they have accepted the reality of the world as real, and because they are also pursuing some funny thing called "peace". You will become a threat to their existence as they know it and as they experience it. So you are all alone -- not the aloneness that people want to avoid -- you are all alone.

It's not ultimate reality that one is really interested in, not the teachings of the gurus, not the teachings of the holy men, not the umpteen number of techniques you have, which will give you the energy which you are seeking. Once that movement [of thought] is not there, that will set in motion and release the energy that is there. It doesn't have to be the holy man's teaching. It doesn't have to be any techniques that man has invented -- because there is no friction there. You really don't know what it is.

The movement there [pointing to the listeners] and the movement here [pointing to himself] are one and the same. The human machine is no different from the machine out there. Both of them are in unison. Whatever energy is there, the same energy is in operation here. So, any energy you experience through the practice of any techniques is a frictional energy. That energy is created by the friction of thought -- the demand to experience that energy is responsible for the energy you experience. But this energy is something which cannot be experienced at all. This is just an expression of life, a manifestation of life. You don't have to do a thing.

Anything you do to experience that [energy] is preventing the energy which is already there, which is the expression of life, which is the manifestation of life, from functioning. It has no value in terms of the values we give to whatever we are doing -- the techniques, meditation, yoga, and all that. I am not against any one of those things. Please don't get me wrong. But they are not the means to achieve the goal that you have placed before yourself -- the goal itself is false. If the suppleness of the body is the goal you have before you, probably the techniques of yoga will help you to keep the body supple. But that is not the instrument to reach the goal of enlightenment or transformation or whatever you want to call it. Even the techniques of meditation are self-centered activities. They are all self-perpetuating mechanisms which you use. So the object of your search for ultimate reality is defeated by all these techniques because these techniques are self-perpetuating instruments. You will suddenly realize, or it will dawn on you, that the very search for ultimate reality is also a self-perpetuating mechanism. There is nothing to reach, nothing to gain, nothing to attain.

As long as you are doing something to attain your goal, it is a self-perpetuating mechanism. I use the word self-perpetuating mechanism, but I don't mean that there is a self or an entity. I have to use the word "self" because there is no other word. It's like the self-starter you have in the car. It perpetuates itself. That is all that it is interested in. Anything you want to achieve is a self-centered activity. When I use the term "self-centered activity," you always translate it in terms of something that should be avoided, because selflessness is your goal. As long as you are doing something to be selfless, you will be a self-centered individual. When this movement in the direction of wanting to be a selfless man is not there, then there is no self and there is no self-centered activity. So it is the very techniques, the systems and methods which you are using to reach your goal of selflessness, which are self-centered activities.

Unfortunately, society has placed that goal before us as the ideal goal, because a selfless man will be a great asset to the society, and the society is interested only in continuity -- the status quo. So all those values, which we have accepted as values that one should cultivate, are invented by the human mind to keep itself going.

The goal is what is making it possible for you to continue in this way, but you are not getting anywhere. The hope is that one day, through some miracle or through the help of somebody, you will be able to reach the goal. It is the hope that keeps you going, but, actually and factually, you are not getting anywhere. You will realize somewhere along the line that whatever you are doing to reach your goal is not leading you anywhere. Then you will want to try this, that, and the other. But if you try one and you see that it doesn't work, you will see that all the other systems are exactly the same. This has to be very, very clear, you see.

Whatever pursuit you are indulging in, somewhere along the line it has to dawn on you that it is not leading you anywhere. As long as you want something, you will do that. That want has to be very, very clear. What do you want? All the time I ask you the question, "What do you want?" You say, "I want to be at peace with myself." That is an impossible goal for you because everything you are doing to be at peace with yourself is what is destroying the peace that is already there. You have set in motion the movement of thought which is destroying the peace that is there, you see. It is very difficult to understand that all that you are doing is the impediment, is the one thing that is disturbing the harmony, the peace that is already there.

Any movement [of thought], in any direction, on any level, is a very destructive factor for the smooth and peaceful functioning of this living organism which is not at all interested in your spiritual experiences. It has no interest in any one of those spiritual experiences, however extraordinary they may be. When once you have one spiritual experience there is bound to be a demand for more and more of the same, and ultimately you will want to be in that state permanently. There is no such thing as permanent happiness or permanent bliss at all. You think that there is, because all those books talk of eternal bliss, permanent bliss, or permanent happiness. Yet you know jolly well that it [the pursuit] is not leading you anywhere. So, the mechanism that is involved, the instrument that you are using, is the one that keeps you going because it does not know anything else. It has come into being through so many years of hard work, effort and will. Your wanting to be in a state of effortlessness through the use of effort is not going to succeed. So forget about the effortless state -- it doesn't exist at all. You want to achieve an effortless state through effort -- how the hell are you going to achieve that goal? You forget that everything that you are doing, any movement that is there, any want that is there, for whatever reason, is effort.

Effortlessness is something which cannot be achieved through effort. Anything that you do to stop the effort, is itself an effort. It's really a maddening thing. You have not really pushed yourself into that corner. If you do, then you will really go crazy; but you are frightened of that. You have to see that everything that you are doing to be in that effortless state, for whatever reason you want to be there, is effort. Even wanting not to use effort also is effort. The total absence of will and the total absence of effort, all and every kind, may be called an effortless state; but that effortless state is not something that you can achieve through effort.

If you ever understood the meaninglessness of what you are doing -- you can change the techniques, you can change the teachers, but basically and essentially, the very teaching that you are using to reach your goal is the obstacle. It doesn't matter what teacher you follow. If you question the teaching, unfortunately, you have to question the teacher himself -- but then comes the sentiment: "Something is wrong with me, one day I am going to understand." If it is not possible for you to understand today, you are not going to understand at all. So the understanding is the absence of the demand for understanding -- now or tomorrow.

Now, there is no understanding necessary. The understanding is only for the purpose of understanding something tomorrow -- not today. Today you don't have to understand a thing at all.

It may sound funny to you, but that's the way it is. So what do you want to understand? You can't understand me at all. I have been talking for 20 days and I can go on, but you are not going to understand anything at all. It's not that it is difficult. It is so simple. The complex structure that is involved is the very thing that does not accept the simplicity of it. That is really the problem. "It can't be that simple," you think. Because that structure is so complex that it doesn't want even to consider the possibility that it could be so simple. So you are going to understand tomorrow, not today. Tomorrow it is the same story, and then after 10 years it is the same story. So what do you do about this situation? We all have been through that. Either you flip or fly. The chances of flipping are really good if you push yourself into a corner. You are not going to do that.

What do you want to understand? I am not saying anything profound. I have been repeating the same thing day after day, day after day. Basically, it sounds very contradictory to you. What I am doing -- you don't understand what I am doing -- is I make a statement; and the second statement negates the first statement. Sometimes you see contradictions in what I am saying. Actually they are not contradictions. This statement does not express what I am trying to express, so the second statement is negating the first statement. The third statement is negating the first two statements, and the fourth statement is negating the previous three statements. Not with the idea of arriving at any goal. Not with the idea of communicating anything to you. There is nothing to be communicated. Only this series of negations. Not with the idea of arriving at any goal. Your goal is understanding. You want to understand, you see. There is nothing to understand here. Every time you make some sense out of it, I try to point out that is not it. It is not the doctrine of neti-neti.

You know, in India they have evolved this negative approach. But the so-called negative approach is a positive approach, because they are still interested in reaching a goal. They have failed through the positive approaches, so they have invented what is called the negative approach. "Not this, not this, not this." The unknown cannot be reached, you see, nor can it be experienced through the positive approach. The so-called negative approach is not really a negative approach because there is still the positive goal of knowing the unknown, or wanting to experience something -- which cannot be experienced. It's only a trick. That's all it is -- playing with itself. As long as the goal is a positive goal, no matter what the goal is -- whether it is called positive or negative -- it is not a negative approach, it is a positive approach. It's all right to play games, it's interesting, but there is no such thing as "the beyond," no such thing as "the unknown." If you accept that there is such a thing as the unknown, you will do something or the other to know the unknown. Your interest is to know. So this movement is not going to stop as long as it is interested in experiencing something that cannot be experienced.

There is no such thing as the unknown at all. How can I say that there is no such thing as the unknown? How can I make such a dogmatic assertion -- you will find out. As long as you are pursuing the unknown, this movement is in operation. There is something that you can do -- that gives you the hope -- maybe one day you will stumble into this experience of the unknown. How can the unknown ever become the known. Not a chance. Even assuming for a moment that this movement (which is demanding to know the unknown) is not there, what is there you will never know. You have no way of knowing it at all, no way of capturing that and experiencing that or giving expression to it.

So to talk of that bliss, the eternal bliss, love -- all of that is romantic poetry. Because you have no way of capturing that and containing it and giving expression to it. So it may dawn on you that this is not the instrument that can help you to understand anything, and there is no other instrument. Then there is nothing to understand.

I don't want to give a talk. You help me.

You see, if you translate what I am saying in terms of your values, in terms of particular codes of conduct, you are really missing the point. It is not that I am against the moral codes of conduct. They have a social value. They are essential for the smooth functioning of society. You have to have some code of conduct to function in this world intelligently. Otherwise there will be utter chaos in this world. That is a social problem. It is not an ethical problem, nor a religious problem. You see, you have to separate the two things, because we are living in a different world today. We have to find another way of keeping ourselves in harmony with the world around us. As long as you are in conflict within yourself, it will not be possible for you to be in harmony with the society around you. You are yourself responsible for that.

I am afraid if you translate the statements that I am making within the framework of your religious thinking you are really missing the point. It has nothing to do with religion at all. I am not suggesting that you should change yourself into something other than what you are. It is just not possible. I am not trying to free you from anything. I don't think there is any purpose in this talking. You can brush aside my description and say it is nonsense -- that's your privilege. But maybe it will occur to you that the image you have of your goal or the image of what you are going to do one day, through all the effort and will which you are using, has absolutely no relationship whatsoever with what I am describing. What I am describing is not really what you are interested in.

I was telling you the other day, I wish I could give you just a glimpse of it. Not glimpse in the sense in which you use the word "glimpse". A touch of it. You wouldn't want to touch this at all. And what you want, what you are interested in doesn't exist.

You can have a lot of petty experiences, if that is what you are interested in. Do all the meditations, do everything you want, you will have lots of them. It's a lot easier to experience those things by taking drugs. I am not recommending drugs, but they are the same, exactly the same.

The doctors say that drugs will damage the brain, but meditation will also damage the brain if it is done very seriously. They have gone crazy, jumped into a river and killed themselves. They did all kinds of things -- locked themselves up in caves -- because they couldn't face it.

You see, it is not possible for you to watch your thoughts, it is not possible for you to watch every step you take. It will drive you crazy. You can't walk. That's not what is meant by this idea that you should be aware of everything -- watch every thought -- how is it possible for you to watch every thought of yours -- and for what do you want to watch your thoughts? What for? Control? It's not possible for you to control. It is a tremendous momentum.

When you succeed in your imagination, that you have controlled your thoughts and experienced some space between those thoughts or some state of thoughtlessness, you feel that you are getting somewhere. That is a thought-induced state of thoughtlessness, a space between two thoughts. The fact that you experience the space between two thoughts and the thoughtless state means that the thought was very, very much there. It surfaces afterwards like the river Rhone which flows through France, disappears and then it comes up again. It has gone underground. The river is still there. You can't use it for purposes of navigation, but ultimately it comes up again. In exactly the same way, all these things which you are pushing down into the subterranean regions (feeling that you are experiencing something extraordinary), surface again -- and then you will find that those thoughts are welling up inside of you.

You are not aware that you are breathing now. You don't have to be conscious of your breathing. Why do you want to be conscious of your breathing? To control your breathing, to expand your lungs, to do what you like with your chest -- that's a different matter. But why do you want to be aware of the movement of breath from the origin to the end? You suddenly become conscious of your breathing. Your breath and thought are very closely related. That's why you want to control your breath. And that, in a way, is controlling the thought for a while. But if you hold your breath for long, it is going to choke you to death in exactly the same way that anything you do to hold or block the flow of thoughts is going to choke you to death, literally to death, or damage something. Thought is a very powerful vibration, an extraordinary vibration. It is like an atom. You can't play with those things.

You are not going to reach your goal of completely controlling your thought. Thought has to function in its own way, in its disconnected, disjointed way. That is something which cannot be brought about through any effort of yours. It has to fall into its normal rhythm. Even if you want to make it fall into a normal rhythm, you are adding momentum to that. It has a life of its own which has, unfortunately, established a parallel life within the movement of life. These two are always in conflict. That will come to an end only when the body comes to an end.

Thought has become the master of this body. Thought has totally mastered the whole thing. It is still trying to control everything that is there. You cannot pull the servant out of the household, no matter what you do. If you forcibly do it, he will burn the whole household, even knowing very well that he will also be burned. It's a foolish thing for him. But that's what you are going to do if you try. Don't push these similes to their logical conclusion, but find out for yourself when you do these things, not just take them lightly. Or, take them lightly and play with them, it's all right. Toys.

Q: Just float along? Nothing to pursue, just float?

U.G.: Even that "floating" is not a voluntary thing on your part. You don't have to do a thing. You are not separate from that. That's all that I am emphasizing. You cannot separate yourself from the thought and say "these are my thoughts." That is the illusion you have, and you cannot be without any illusion. You always replace one illusion with another illusion. Always.

Q: And I accept that as well.

U.G.: You accept that you are always replacing one illusion with another illusion; so your wanting to be free from illusion is an impossibility. That itself is an illusion. Why do you want to be free from illusions? That's the end of you. It's not that I am frightening you, I am just pointing out that it is not just a lighthearted game to play. That is you, you as you know yourself. When that knowledge you have of yourself is not there any more, the knowledge you have about the world also is not there any more. It can't be there any more. It is not going to come to an end that easily. It will always be replaced by another illusion.

You don't want to be a normal person, you don't want to be an ordinary person. That is really the problem. It is the most difficult thing to be an ordinary person. Culture demands you must be something other than what you are. That has created a certain momentum -- a tremendous, powerful movement of thought which demands that you should be something other than what you are. That's all that it is. You can use it to achieve something; otherwise it has no use.

The only use you have for thought is to feed this body and to reproduce. That's all the use you have for thought. It has no other use at all. It cannot be used to speculate.

You can build a tremendous philosophical structure of thought, but that has no value at all. You can interpret any event in your life, and build up another philosophical structure of thought, but it [thought] is not intended for that.

At the same time, you forget that everything you have around you is the creation of thought. You are yourself born out of the thought, otherwise you would not be here at all. In that sense it has a tremendous value, yet it is the very thing that will destroy you.

That's the paradox. Everything that you have created in this world has become possible through the help of that thought, but unfortunately that very thing has become the enemy of man, because you are using thought for purposes for which it is not intended. It can be used for solving the technical problems very well and efficiently, but it cannot be used to solve the problems of life.

Positive thinking, positive living, very interesting, you know. You can't always be positive. How can you be positive? Anything that does not suggest your positive thinking, you call it negative. But positive and negative are only in the field of your thinking. When the thought is not there, it [what is there] is neither positive nor negative. As I was saying, there is no such thing as a negative approach at all. It's a gimmick.

I am telling you to stand on your own -- you can walk, you can swim, you are not going to sink. That's all that I can say. As long as there is fear, the danger of your sinking is almost certain. Otherwise, there is a buoyancy there in the water that keeps you afloat. The fear of sinking is the very thing that makes it impossible for you to let the movement happen in its own way. You see, it has no direction: it is just a movement with no direction. You are trying to manipulate and channel that movement along a particular direction so that you can have some benefits. You are just a movement without a direction.

Q: Actually as human beings, we are rather fond of thinking. But why is this rather funny animal thinking all the time?

U.G.: I will ask you the question. You tell me, when do you think? Not why do you think. That's not the question. When do you think? I am asking you a question, when do you think?

Q: As far as I know, all the time.

U.G.: All the time, and for what? What is responsible for your thinking? When do you think? When you want something, [that's when] you think. It is very clear to me.

Q: Not at all.

U.G.: Of course. You don't even know that you are thinking. Do you know that you are thinking now? It's an automatic thing.

Q: It's an automatic thing, that's right.

U.G.: You don't even know that you are thinking and so why this sudden interest in wanting to find out why you are thinking? I don't even know that I am talking. You don't even know that you are talking. When you asked your questions, "Am I thinking?" you would say, "Yes". That "yes" also is an automatic thing.

Q: I don't care if it's automatic.

U.G.: The whole thing is on automatic. Whatever is put in there, when you are stimulated, it comes out. In the jargon of computer language, the input has to be there. So, this has been going on and on and on and on. When there is stimulation, it comes out. If it [the stimulation] is not there, you see, it [thinking] stops. So that's the reason why you go on, acquiring this knowledge, feeding it all the time.

So, what do you know? You know a lot. You have gathered all this knowledge from various sources and filled it up. Most of it is not necessary. You know a lot and you want to know more and more and more -- to use it. Of course. There's no such thing as knowledge for the sake of knowledge. It gives you power. Knowledge is power. "I know; you don't know." That gives you power. You may not even be conscious that your knowing more than the other gives you power. In that sense, knowledge is power. To acquire more and more knowledge, more than the knowledge that is essential for the survival of the living organism, is to acquire more and more power over others.

The technical knowledge that you need to make a living is understandable. That's all. I have to learn a technique. The society is not going to feed me unless I give something in return. You have to give them what they want, not what you have to give. What do have you to give? You have nothing to give anyway.

Otherwise, what value has this knowledge for you? To know more about something which you really do not know.

We are always talking about thought and thinking. What is thought? Have you ever looked at thought, let along controlling thought; let alone manipulating thought; let alone using that thought for achieving something material or otherwise? You cannot look at your thought, because you cannot separate yourself from thought and look at it. There is no thought apart from the knowledge you have about those thoughts -- the definitions you have. So if somebody asks you the question, "what is thought?" any answer you have is the answer that is put in there -- the answers that others have already given.

You have, through combinations and permutations of ideation and mentation about thoughts, created your own thoughts which you call your own. Just as when you mix different colors, you can create thousands of pastel colors, but basically all of them can be reduced to only seven colors that you find in nature. What you think is yours is the combination and permutation of all those thoughts, just the way you have created hundreds and hundreds of pastel colors. You have created your own ideas. That is what you call thinking. When you want to look at thought, what there is is only whatever you know about thought. Otherwise you can't look at thought. There is no thought other than what there is in what you know about thought. That's all that I am saying. So when that is understood the meaninglessness of the whole business of wanting to look at thought comes to an end. What there is is only what you know, the definitions given by others. And out of those definitions, if you are very intelligent and clever enough, you create your own definitions. That's all.

When you look at an object the knowledge you have about that object comes into your head. There is an illusion that thought is something different from objects, but it is you who creates the object. The object may be there, but the knowledge you have about that object is all that you know. Apart from that knowledge and independent of that knowledge, free from that knowledge, you have no way of knowing anything about it. You have no way of directly experiencing anything. The word "directly" does not mean that there is any other way of experiencing things other than the way you are experiencing things now. The knowledge you have about it is all that is there and that is what you are experiencing. Really, you do not know what it is.

In exactly the same way, when you want to know something about thought, or experience thought, it is the same process that is in operation there. There is no inside or outside. What there is is only the operation, the flow of the knowledge. So you cannot actually separate yourself from thought and look at it.

So when such a question is thrown at you, what should happen is [the realization] that none of the answers have any meaning, because all that is acquired and taught. So that movement stops. There is no need for you to answer the question. There is no need for you to know anything about it. All that you know comes to a halt. It has no momentum any more. It slows down, and then it dawns upon you that it is meaninglessness to try to answer that question, because it has no answer at all. The answers that others have given are there. So you have nothing to say on that thing called thought, because all you can say is what you have gathered from other sources. You have no answer of your own.

Q: Even then we can have a conversation.

U.G.: All right. All right.

Q: Apart from the question . . . .

U.G.: All right, yes.

Q: There still are things, like walls and people around you. And what we know about them, what we see about them.

U.G.: But that is not what that person is. You don't actually know anything about that person or that thing, except what you are projecting on that object or the individual. The knowledge you have about it is the experience. It goes on and on. That's all. What that really is, you have no way of knowing.

Q: That is what I understand. When we are speaking about reality, we can only speak of our knowledge about it and call this knowledge reality.

U.G.: What for? Then it becomes a classroom discussion or a discussion in a debating society, each one trying to show that he knows more, a lot more, than the other. What do you get out of it? Each one is trying to prove that he knows more than you, to bring you over to his point of view.

Q: What I am asking is, is there any chance -- I understand that there is no method -- but is there any chance of getting out of this knowledge of reality to [actual] reality.

U.G.: If you are lucky enough (it's only luck), to get out of this trap of knowledge, the question of reality is not there any more [for you]. The question arises from this knowledge, which is still interested in finding out the reality of things, and to experience directly what that reality is all about. When this [knowledge] is not there, the question is also not there. Then there is no need for finding any answer. This question which you are posing to yourself, and also to me, is born out of the assumption that there is a reality, and that assumption is born out of this knowledge you have of and about the reality. ... The knowledge is the answer you already have. That is why you are asking the question. The question automatically arises.

What is necessary is not to find out the answer to the question, but to understand that the question which you are asking, posing to yourself, and putting to somebody else, is born out of the answer you already have, which is the knowledge. So, the question and answer format, if we indulge in it for long, becomes a meaningless ritual. ... If you are really interested in finding reality, what has to dawn on you is that your very questioning mechanism is born out of the answers that you already have. Otherwise there can't be any question.

First of all, there is an assumption on your part that there is a reality, and then, that there is something that you can do to experience that reality. Without the knowledge [about reality], you have no experience of reality, that is for sure. "If this knowledge is not there, is there any other way of experiencing the reality?" You are asking the question. The question goes with the answer. So there is no need to ask questions and there is no need to answer.

I am not trying to be clever. I am just spotlighting what is involved in the question and answer business. I am not actually answering any of your questions. I am just pointing out that you cannot have any questions when you have no answers.

Q: I do understand. Even then I would like to continue the game.

U.G.: Fine. Maybe you are good at the game. I am not. Anyway we will see what we can do.

Q: Even though you know our preoccupation with knowledge, you are talking about reality to us and about accepting reality.

U.G.: As it is.

Q: As it is?

U.G.: As it is imposed on us by our culture for purposes of intelligent and sane functioning in this world, and yet, realizing that it has no other value than its functional value. Because, otherwise, we will be in trouble, you see. If you don't call this a microphone, and you decide to call it a monkey, we will all have to relearn, and every time we look at it we will have to call it a red or black monkey instead of a microphone. It [thought or language] is very simply for purposes of communication.

Q: I wonder what would happen if we did call that chair a lamp and this table a hat, because a lot of our philosophies and ideas are also linked with it.

U.G.: It is interesting to build a philosophical structure. That's why we have so many philosophers and so many philosophies in this world.

Q: As far as I understand, there is only one thing worth striving for: acceptance.

U.G.: Don't you see the contradiction in those terms? If you accept, where is the need for striving. It comes to an end. If you accept something, you cannot talk of striving at all. You accept it, you believe. You believe in something, you accept it as an act of faith, and that's the end of it. If you question that, it means you have not accepted it. You are not sure of it.

Q: I had to accept my job as a legal officer before I could acquire the knowledge that was necessary to get the job.

U.G.: You had to struggle, and put in a lot of effort to acquire the necessary legal knowledge to get the job. That's understood. So, that is the only way. There is no other way. You are applying that same technique to achieve your so-called spiritual goals. This is the difference that I am pointing out. As a legal officer, you know what they do in the courts. You have to rely upon precedents and previous judgments. Both sides quote previous judgments and argue it [the case] out. The judge either accepts your argument or the other fellow's, and he gives a decision either in favor of your client or in favor of the other client. Then you go to a higher court. There it is the same. Finally you go to the Supreme Court where the judge makes the final decision. You can disagree with the judgment, the client can do everything possible to reject it, and refuse to accept it, but that judgment can be enforced through the law. If it is a civil case you will lose what you are claiming. If it is a criminal matter, you will end up in prison. Ultimately that's the way who is telling a lie and who is telling the truth is decided. It is arbitrary in the final analysis.

So it is very essential for you to be conversant with the whole structure of law. It is essential for you to acquire the legal knowledge [necessary] for your job. The more efficient you are, the better are your chances. The cleverer you are, the better are your prospects. That is understood.

So, you have to put in struggle and effort, use your will and then you arrive at success. But there is always more and more to achieve.

[But] you are using that same instrument to achieve your spiritual goals. This is all that I am pointing out.

You cannot conceive of the possibility of understanding anything except in time. Everything takes time. It has taken so many years for you to be where you are today, and you are still striving and struggling to reach a higher plateau -- higher and higher and higher. That instrument [mind] which you are using cannot conceive of the possibility of understanding anything without effort, without striving, without producing results. But the issues that you have to deal with in life are the living issues [of how to live]. This [the mind] has not helped us to solve the problems. Temporarily you can find some solution, but that creates another problem, and it goes on and on and on and on. These are all life issues. The living problems. The instrument which we are using [thought] is a dead instrument and cannot be used to understand anything living. You cannot but think in terms of striving, effort, time -- one day you are going to reach the spiritual goal -- just the way you have succeeded in the goal which you have placed before yourself.

Q: But are you saying that there is some knowledge which solves the real problems of life?

U.G.: No. Not at all. That knowledge cannot help you to understand or solve living problems. Because there are no problems at all in that sense. We have only solutions. You are interested only in solutions, and those solutions have not solved your problems. So you are trying to find different kinds of solutions. But the situation will remain exactly the same. There is somehow the hope that maybe you will find the solution for solving your problems.

So your problem is not the problem but the solution. If the solution is gone, there is no problem there. If there is a solution, the problem shouldn't be there anymore. If the answers given by others [the "wise men"] are the answers, then the questions shouldn't be there at all. So they are obviously not the answers.

If they were the answers, the questions would not be there. So why don't you question the answers? If you question the answers, you must question those who have given the answers. But you take it for granted that they are all wise men; that they are spiritually superior to us all; and that they know what they are talking about. They don't know a damn thing!

Why are you asking these questions? -- if I may ask you that counter-question. Where do these questions come from, first of all? Where do they originate in you? I want you to see very clearly the absurdity of asking these questions. It is essential to ask questions to learn the technical know-how of certain things. Somebody can help you, if something is wrong with the television, with the help of his technical know-how. That is understood. I am not talking about that at all. But the questions which you are asking, you see, are of a different kind.

Where do you think these questions take their birth? How do they formulate themselves in you? They are all mechanical questions. What I am trying to emphasize all the time is that it is essential for you to understand how mechanical the whole thing is.

There is nobody who is asking the questions there. There is no questioner who is asking the questions there. There is an illusion that there is a questioner who is formulating these questions and throwing them at somebody and expecting somebody to answer them.

The answers that you get really are not the answers, because the questions persist in spite of the answers you think the other chap is giving you. The question is still there. This answer, which you think is the answer (satisfactory or otherwise), is really not the answer. If it were, the question should go once and for all. All questions are variations of the same question. You already have the answer, and all these questions are the questions that are not interested in getting any answers. The answer, if there is any to that question, should destroy the answer you already have. There is no questioner there. If the answer goes, along with the question, the questioner -- the non-existent questioner -- also has to go. I don't know if I make myself clear.

Do you have any question which you can call your own? If you can come out with a question which you can call your own, a question that has never, never been asked before, then there is a meaning in talking things over. Then you don't have to sit and ask anybody those questions, because such questions don't exist at all. A question which you can call your own, has never been asked before. All the answers are there for those questions. You probably do not realize that the questions which you are asking are born out of the answers you already have, and that they are not your answers at all. The answers have been put in there.

So, why are you asking these questions, why are you not satisfied with the answers that are already there? That is my question. Why? If you are satisfied, yes, it's alright, you see. [Then you would say:] "I don't want any answers." Still, the question is there inside of you. Whether you go and ask somebody or expect an answer from some wise man, it is still there. Why is it there?

What happens if the question comes to an end? You come to an end. You are nothing but the answers. That's all that I am saying. If you understand that there is no questioner who is asking the questions, the answer that is there is in great jeopardy. That is why it does not want any answer. The answer is the end of that answer you have, which is not yours.

So, what the hell if it is gone. The answers you have are already dead, they have been given by dead persons. Anybody who repeats those answers is a dead person. A living person cannot give any answer to those questions, because any answer that you get from anybody is a dead answer, because the question is a dead question. That's the reason why I am not giving any answer to you at all. You are living in a world of dead ideas.

All thoughts are dead, they are not living. You cannot invest them with life. That's what you are trying to do all the time: you invest them with emotions. But they are not living things. They can never touch anything living. The spiritual and psychological problems you think you have are really living problems.

So, the solutions that you have are not adequate enough to handle the living problems. They are good enough to discuss in a classroom or in some sort of question- and-answer ritual -- repeating the same old dead ideas -- but those things can never, never touch anything living, because the living thing will burn out the whole thing completely and totally.

So, you are not going to touch anything living at any time. You are not looking at anything; you are not in contact with anything living, as long as you use your thoughts to understand and experience anything. When that is not there, there is no need for you to understand and experience anything. So anything you experience only gathers momentum -- adds to that -- that's all. There is nothing that you can call your own.

I have no questions of any kind. How come you have so many questions? I am not giving any answers. I repeat this same point day after day, day after day. Whether you understand it or not is of no importance to me.

What exactly do people mean when they talk of consciousness? There is no such thing as unconsciousness. Medical technology can find out the reason why a particular individual is unconscious, but the individual who is unconscious has no way of knowing that he is unconscious. When he comes out of that unconscious state, he becomes conscious. So do you think you are conscious now? Do you think you are awake? Do you think you are alive?

It is your thinking that makes you feel that you are alive, that you are conscious. That is possible only when the knowledge you have about things is in operation. You have no way of knowing or finding out whether you are alive or dead. In that sense, there is no death at all, because you are not alive. You become conscious of things only when the knowledge is in operation. When the knowledge is absent, whether the person is dead or alive is of no importance to this movement of thought which comes to an end before what we call "death" takes place.

So, it really doesn't matter whether one is alive or dead. Of course, it does matter to one who considers that it [being alive] is very important and those who are involved with that individual, but you have no way of finding out whether you are alive or dead, or whether you are conscious or not. You become conscious only through the help of thought. But unfortunately it is there all the time. So, the suggestion that it is not possible to experience anything makes no sense to you at all, because you have no reference point there when this movement is absent. When this movement is absent, all those questions about consciousness are not there. That is what I mean when I say that the questions are absent.

How can you bring about a change in consciousness which has no limits, which has no boundaries, which has no frontiers? They can spend millions and millions and millions of dollars and do every kind of research to find the seat of human consciousness, but there is no such thing as the seat of human consciousness at all. They can try -- and they are going to spend billions of dollars to try to find out -- but the chances of their succeeding in that are slim. There is no such thing as a seat, located in any particular individual. What there is is thought.

Whenever a thought takes its birth there, you have created an entity or a point, and in reference to that point you are experiencing things. So, when the thought is not there, is it possible for you to experience anything or relate anything to a non-existing thing here?

Every time a thought is born, you are born. Thought in its very nature is shortlived, and once it is gone, that's the end of it. That is probably what the traditions meant by rebirth -- death and birth and death and birth. It is not that this particular entity, which is non-existing even while you are living, takes a series of births. The ending of births and deaths is the state that they are talking about.

But that state cannot be described in terms of bliss, beatitude, love, compassion and all that poetic nonsense and romantic stuff, because you have no way of experiencing what is there between these two thoughts.

The world you experience around you is also from that point of view. There must be a point and it is this point that creates the space. If this point is not there, there is no space. So, anything you experience from this point is an illusion.

Not that the world is an illusion. All the Vedanta philosophers in India, particularly the students of Shankara, indulge in such frivolous, absolute nonsense. The world is not an illusion, but anything you experience in relationship to this point, which itself is illusory, is bound to be an illusion, that's all. The Sanskrit word "maya" does not mean illusion in the same sense in which the English word is used. "Maya" means to measure. You cannot measure anything unless you have a point. So, if the center is absent, there is no circumference at all. That is pure and simple basic arithmetic.

This point has no continuity. It comes into being in response to the demands of the situation. The demands of the situation create this point. The subject does not exist there. It is the object that creates the subject. This runs counter to the whole philosophical thinking of India. The subject comes and goes and comes and goes in response to the things that are happening there. It is the object that creates the subject and not the subject that creates the object. This is a simple physiological phenomenon which can be tested. For example, if there is no object there, there is no subject here. What creates the subject is the object.

There is light. If the light is not there you have no way of looking at anything. The light falls on that object, and the reflection of that light activates the optic nerves, which in turn activate the memory cells. When the memory cells are activated, all the knowledge you have about that object comes into operation. It is that process which is happening there that has created the subject. And the subject is the knowledge you have about it. The word "microphone" is the eye. There is nothing there other than the word microphone. When you reduce it to that you feel the absurdity of talking about the self -- the lower self, the higher self and self knowing, self-knowledge, knowing from moment to moment is absolute rubbish, balderdash! You can indulge in such absolute nonsense and build up philosophical theories, but there is no subject there at all at any time. There is no subject creating the object.

So, not only the "I" but all the physical sensations are involved in this. Sound, the olfactory nerves, smell, and the sense of touch, the operation of any one of these sensations necessarily creates the subject. It's not one continuous subject which is gathering all these experiences, piling them up together, and then saying "this is me," but everything is discontinuous and disconnected. The sound is one, the physical seeing is one, the smelling is one. (Unfortunately man, they say, has developed 4,000 olfactory nuances which are worthless for the purpose of the survival of the living organism.)

So, the sense of touch means the vibration of the sound, which creates the subject there. So it comes and goes, comes and goes, comes and goes. There is no permanent entity there at all. What is there (what you call "I") is only a first person singular pronoun. Nothing else. If you don't want to use that word "I" to prove that you are a man without "I", it is your privilege. That's all that is there. There is no permanent entity there at all.

While you are living, the knowledge that is there does not belong to you. So, why are you concerned as to what will happen after what you call "you" is gone? The physical body is functioning from moment to moment because that is the way the sensory perceptions are. To talk of living from moment to moment, by creating a thought induced state of mind, has no meaning to me except in terms of the physical functioning of the body.

When thought is not there all the time, what is there is living from moment to moment. It's all frames, millions and millions and millions of frames, to put it in the language of film. There is no continuity there, there is no movement there. Thought can never, never capture the movement. It is only when you invest a thought with motion, you try to capture the movement; but actually thought can never capture any movement that is there around you.

The movement of life is the movement of life out there and here. They are together always.

So, thought is essential only for the survival of this living organism. When it is necessary, it is there. When it is not necessary, the question of whether it is there or not is of no importance at all. So, you cannot talk of that state in a poetic, romantic language.

If there is one [a person in that state], he won't be hiding somewhere. He will be there shining like the star. You can't keep such people under a bushel. To be an individual is not an easy thing, you see. That means you are very ordinary. It is very difficult to be ordinary, you know. You want to be something other than what you are. To be yourself is very easy, you don't have to do a thing. No effort is necessary. You don't have to exercise will, you don't have to do anything to be yourself. But to be something other than what you are, you have to do a lot of things.

Go to Part II