The Network of Thought – J Krishnamurti

Thought, being limited, creates problems: national, economic, and religious divisions; then thought says, ‘I must solve them.’ So thought is always functioning in the solution of problems. And the computer, a mechanism which has been programmed, can outstrip all of us because has no problems; it evolves, learns, moves.

Our consciousness has been programmed as an individual consciousness. We are questioning whether that consciousness, which we have accepted as individual, is actually individual at all. Do not say, ‘What will happen if I am not an individual?’ Something totally different may happen. You may have an individual training in a particular trade, in a particular profession, you may be a surgeon, a doctor, an engineer, but that does not make you an individual. You may have a different name, a different form. That does not make individuality; nor the acceptance that the brain through time has affirmed: ‘I am an individual, it is my desire to fulfil, to become, through struggle.’ That so-called individual consciousness, which is yours, is the consciousness of all humanity.

If your consciousness, which you have accepted as separate, is not separate, then what is the nature of your consciousness? Part of it is the sensory responses. Those sensory responses are naturally, necessarily, programmed to defend yourself, through hunger to seek food, to breathe, unconsciously. Biologically you are programmed. Then the content of your consciousness includes the many hurts and wounds that you have received from childhood, the many forms of guilt. It includes the various ideas, imaginary certainties, the many experiences, both sensory and psychological; there is always the basis, the root, of fear in its many forms. With fear naturally goes hatred. Where there is fear, there must be violence, aggression, the tremendous urge to succeed, both in the physical and the psychological world. In the content of consciousness there is the constant pursuit of pleasure: the pleasure of possession, of domination, the pleasure of money which gives power, the pleasure of a philosopher with his immense knowledge, the guru with his circus. Pleasure again has innumerable forms. There is also pain, anxiety; the deep sense of abiding loneliness and sorrow, not only the so called personal sorrow but also the enormous sorrow brought about through wars, through neglect, through this endless conquering of one group of people by another. In that consciousness there is the racial and group content. Ultimately there is death.

This is our consciousness: beliefs, certainties and uncertainties, anxiety, loneliness, and endless misery. These are facts. And we say this consciousness is mine! Is that so? Go to the Far East or the Near East, America, Europe, anywhere where human beings are; they suffer, they are anxious, lonely, depressed, melancholic, struggling, and in conflict. They are just the same as you. So, is your consciousness different from that of another? I know it is very difficult for people to accept. You may logically accept it, intellectually you may say, ‘Yes, that is so, maybe.’ But to feel this total human sense that you are the rest of mankind requires a great deal of sensitivity. It is not a problem to be solved. It is not that you must accept that are not an individual, that you must endeavour to feel this global human entity. If you do, you have made it into a problem which the brain is only too ready to try to solve! if you really look at it with your mind, your heart, your whole being totally aware of this fact, then you have broken
programme. It is naturally broken. But if you say, ‘I will break it’, then you are again back into the same pattern.

To the speaker this is utter reality, not something bally accepted because it is pleasant; it is something t is actual. You may have logically, reasonably, and sanely mined and found that it is so. But the brain which has been programmed to the sense of individuality is going to revolt against it (which you are doing now). The brain is unwilling to learn. Whereas the computer will learn cause it has nothing to lose. But here you are frightened of losing something.

Can the brain learn? That is the whole point. So now have to go into this question of what learning is. Learning for most of us is a process of acquiring knowledge. I do not know the Russian language, but I will learn it. I will learn day after day, memorizing, holding on to certain words, phrases, and the meanings, syntax and grammar. If apply myself, I can learn almost any language within a certain time. To us, learning is essentially the accumulation of knowledge or skill. Our brains are conditioned to this pattern. Accumulate knowledge and from that act. When I learn a language, there knowledge is necessary. But if I am learning psychologically about the content of my mind, of my consciousness, does learning there simply examining each layer of it and accumulating knowledge about it and from that knowledge acting-following the same pattern as learning a language? If the brain repeats that pattern when I am learning about the content of my consciousness, it means that I need time to accumulate knowledge about myself, my consciousness. Then I determine what the problems are, and the brain is ready to solve them-it has been trained to solve problems. It is repeating this endless pattern, and that is what I call learning. Is there a learning which is not this? Is there a different action of learning which is not the accumulation of knowledge? You understand the difference?

Let me put it differently. From experience we acquire knowledge, from knowledge memory. The response of memory is thought, then from thought action, from that action you learn more, so the cycle is repeated. That is the pattern of our life. That form of learning will never solve our problems because it is repetition. We acquire more knowledge which may lead to better action, but that action is limited, and this we keep repeating. The activity from that knowledge will not solve our human problems at all. We have not solved them; it is so obvious. After millions of years we have not solved our problems: we are cutting each other’s throats, we are competing with each other, we hate each other, we want to be successful. The whole pattern is repeated from the time man began, and we are still at it. Do what you will along this pattern, and no human problem will be solved, whether it be political, religious, or economic, because it is thought that is operating.

Now, is there another form of learning, learning not in context of knowledge, but a different form, a non-accumulative perception-action? To find out we have to inquire whether it is possible to observe the content of our conciousness and to observe the world without a single prejudice. Is that possible? Do not say it is not possible; just ask the question. See whether, when you have a prejudice, you can observe clearly. You cannot, obviously. If you have a certain conclusion, a certain set of beliefs, concepts, ideals, and you want to see clearly what the world is, all those conclusions, ideals, prejudices, and so on will wally prevent it. It is not a question of how to get rid of your prejudices but of seeing clearly, intelligently, that any form of prejudice, however noble or ignoble, will actually prevent perception. When you see that, prejudices go. What is important is not the prejudice but the demand to see clearly,

If I want to be a good surgeon, I cannot do so with ideals or prejudices about surgeons; I must actually perform surgery. Can you see that a new form of action, a new form of non-accumulative knowledge is possible which will break the pattern, break the programme, so that you are acting totally differently?

The way we have lived, over millions of years, has been he repetition of the same process of acquiring knowledge and acting from that knowledge. That knowledge and action is limited. That limitation creates problems and the brain has become accustomed to solving the problems which knowledge has repeatedly created. The brain is caught in that pattern, and we are saying that that pattern will never, in any circumstance, solve our human problems. Obviously we have not solved them up till now. There must be a different, a totally different, movement, which is a non accumulative perception-action. To have non-accumulative perception is to have no prejudice. It is to have absolutely no ideals, no concepts, no faith because all those have destroyed man; they have not solved his problems.

So, have you a prejudice? Have you a prejudice which has something in common with an ideal? Of course. Ideals are to be accomplished in the future, and knowledge becomes tremendously important in the realizing of ideals. So, can you observe without accumulation, without the destructive nature of prejudice, ideals, faith, belief, and your own conclusions and experiences? There is group consciousness, national consciousness, linguistic consciousness, professional consciousness, racial consciousness, and there is fear, anxiety, sorrow, loneliness, the pursuit of pleasure, love, and finally death. If you keep acting in that circle, you maintain the human consciousness of the world. Just see the truth of this. You are part of that consciousness, and you sustain it by saying, ‘I am an individual. My prejudices are important. My ideals are essential’-repeating the same thing over and over again. Now, the maintenance, the sustenance, and the nourishment of that consciousness takes place when you are repeating that pattern. But when you break away from that consciousness, you are introducing a totally new factor in the whole of that consciousness.

Now, if we understand the nature of our own conciousness, if we see how it is operating in this endless cycle of knowledge, action, and division-a consciousness which has been sustained for millennia-if we see the truth that all this is a form of prejudice and break away from it, we introduce a new factor into the old. It means that you, as a human being who is of the consciousness of the rest of mankind, can move away from the old pattern of obedience and acceptance. That is the real turning point in your life. Man cannot go on repeating the old pattern; it has lost its meaning-in the psychological world it has totally lost its meaning. If you fulfil yourself, who cares? If you become a saint, what does it matter?

Whereas if you totally move away from that, you affect the whole consciousness of mankind.
Many of you, fortunately or unfortunately, have heard the speaker for many years, and one sees that this breaking of the ‘programme’ of the brain has not come about. You repeatedly listen to that statement year after year, and it has not come about. Is it because you want to attain, to become, to have that state in which the pattern of the brain has been broken? You have listened, and it has not come about, and you are hoping that it will come about-which is another form of striving to become. So you are still in conflict. So you brush it all aside and say you will not come here any more because you have not got what you want: ‘I want that but have not got it.’ That wanting is the desire to be something and is a cause of conflict. That desire comes from the ‘programmed’ brain. We are saying: to break that programme, that pattern, observe without the movement of thought. It sounds very simple, but see the logic of it, the reason, the sanity of it, not because the speaker says so but because it is sane. Obviously, one must exercise the capacity to be logical, rational and yet know its limitation because rational, logical thinking is still part of thought. Knowing that thought is limited, be aware of that limitation and do not push it further, because it will still be limited however far you go, whereas if you observe a rose, a flower, without the word, without naming the colour, but just look at it, then that look brings about great sensitivity, breaks down this sense of heaviness of the brain and gives extraordinary vitality. There is a totally different kind of energy when there is pure perception, which is not related to thought and time.
So we should inquire together, deeply, into what meditation is and whether there is anything sacred, holy. Not the thing that thought has invented as being holy; that is not holy. What thought creates is not holy, is not sacred, because it is based on knowledge, and how can anything that thought invents, being incomplete, be sacred? But all over the world we worship that which thought has invented.

There is no system, no practice, but the clarity of perception of a mind that is free to observe, a mind which has no direction, no choice. Most systems of meditations have the problem of controlling thought. Most meditation, whether the Zen, the Hindu, the Buddhist, the Christian, or that of the latest guru, tries to control thought. Through control you centralize, you bring all your energy to a particular point. That is concentration, which means that there is a controller different from the controlled. The controller is thought, memory, and that which he is controlling is still thought which is wandering off, so there is conflict. You are sitting quietly, and thought goes off. You are like a schoolboy looking out of the window and the teacher says, ‘Don’t look out of the window, concentrate on your book.’ We have to learn the fact that the controller is the controlled. The controller, the thinker, the experiencer, are, we think, different from the controlled, from the movement of thought, from the experience. But if we observe closely, the thinker is the thought. Thought has made the thinker separate from thought, who then says, ‘I must control.’

So when you see that the controller is the controlled, you totally remove conflict. Conflict exists only when there is the division. Where there is the division between the observer, the one who witnesses, the one who experiences and that which he observes and experiences, there must be conflict. Our life is in conflict because we live with this division. But this division is fallacious, it is not real; it has become our habit, our culture, to control. We never see that the controller is the controlled.

So when one realizes that fact-not verbally, not idealistically, not as a utopian state for which you have to struggle-actually in one’s life that the controller is the controlled, the thinker is the thought, then the whole pattern of one’s thinking undergoes a radical change, and there is no conflict. That change is absolutely necessary if one is meditating because meditation demands a mind that is highly compassionate, and therefore highly intelligent, with an intelligence which is born out of love, not out of cunning thought.

Meditation means the establishment of order in one’s daily life so that there is no contradiction. It means having rejected totally all the systems of meditation so that one’s mind is completely free, without direction, so that one’s mind is completely silent. Is that possible? Because one is chattering endlessly; the moment one leaves this place one will start chattering. One’s mind will continue everlastingly occupied, chattering, thinking, struggling, and so there is no space. Space is necessary to have silence, for a mind that is practising, struggling to be silent is never silent. But when it sees that silence is absolutely necessary-not the silence projected by thought, not the silence between two notes, between two noises, between two wars, but the silence of order-then in that silence, truth, which has no path to it, exists. Truth that is timeless, sacred, incorruptible. That is meditation, that is a religious mind.

20 September 1981


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