Jiddu Krishnamurti - What matters is to be totally conscious of habits
Jiddu Krishnamurti : This morning I would like to talk about the quality of freedom and see if we can together feel our way into it, but I do not know how you listen to what is being said. Do you listen merely to the words? Do you listen in order to understand, in order to experience? If you listen in either of these ways, then what is being said will have very little significance. What is important is to listen, not just to the words, or in the hope of experiencing this extraordinary quality of freedom, but to listen without effort, without striving, with a sense of ease.
But this demands a certain quality of attention. By attention I mean being completely there with all your mind and heart. And then you will discover for yourself, if you so listen, that this freedom is not a thing to be pursued; it is not the result of thought or of emotional, hysterical demands. Freedom comes without your seeking it when there is total attention. Total attention is the quality of a mind that has no' border, no frontier, and is therefore capable of receiving every single impression, seeing and hearing everything. And this can be done; it is not something enormously difficult. It is difficult only because we are so caught up in habits - and that is one of the things I would like to talk about this morning.
Most of us have innumerable habits. We have physical habits and idiosyncrasies as well as habits of thought. We believe in this and do not believe in that; we are patriotic, nationalistic; we belong to a certain group or party and hold on to its particular pattern of thought. All these things become habits, and the mind likes to live in habits because habits give us certainty, a sense of security, a feeling of having no fear. When established in a series of habits, the mind seems to function a little more easily, but it is really thoughtless, unaware.
Please do not merely listen to my words, but observe as in a mirror your own mind and see how it is caught in habits. Habits, which give a sense of security, only make the mind dull; however subtle they may be, and whether one is conscious of them or not, they invariably darken the mind. This is a psychological fact; whether you like it or not, it is so.
Partly because of our education at school, partly because of the conditioning which society psychologically imposes upon us, and also because of our own laziness, our minds function in a series of habits. If we do not approve of a particular habit of which we are conscious, we struggle to break it, and in breaking one habit, we form another. There seems to be no moment when the mind is free from habit. If you observe yourself, you will see how difficult it is for the mind not to be caught in habit.
Take a simple habit that many people have: the habit of smoking. If you smoke and you want to give it up, the idea of giving it up creates a resistance against smoking; therefore, there is a conflict between the habit and the desire to break that habit. Now, through conflict or resistance, you may break one particular habit but that does not free the mind from the whole process of forming habits; the habit-creating mechanism hasn't come to an end. And what I am talking about is not just getting rid of one particular habit but ceasing to create habits.
I don't know if you have ever observed yourself in the act of smoking. By observing yourself I mean being aware of every movement you make: how your hand goes to your pocket, takes out a cigarette, puts it in your mouth, returns to your pocket for a match, lights the cigarette; and how you then take a few puffs and throw away the match. What is important is to be aware of that whole process without resisting, without denying, without wanting to be free of it - just to be totally aware of every movement involved in that habit.
Similarly, you can be aware of the habit of envy, the habit of acquisitiveness, the habit of fear; and then, as you observe, you will see what is implied in that particular habit. You will see instantly the whole implication of envy, but you cannot see the whole implication of envy if in your observation of envy there is the time element. I will explain what I mean.
We think that we can get rid of envy gradually, and we make an effort to put it away little by little, thereby introducing the idea of time. We say, ''I will try to get rid of envy tomorrow, or a little later on'' - and in the meantime we are envious. The words try and in the meantime are the very essence of time, and when you introduce the time factor, there can be no freedom from habit. Either you break a habit immediately or it goes on, gradually dulling the mind and creating further habits.
Please observe your own habits and your own attitude towards those habits. We have habits of thought, sexual habits - oh, innumerable habits, which may be either conscious or unconscious; and it is especially difficult to be aware of the unconscious habits. Socially and at school and college we are trained in this element of time. Our whole psychology is based on time, the idea that there will eventually be brotherhood and peace, but in the meantime we must go through all the horrors of war.
Now, is it possible for the mind to get rid instantly of this idea of gradually arriving somewhere, gradually transcending something, gradually being free? To me, freedom is not a question of time - there is no tomorrow in which to get rid of envy or to acquire some virtue. And if there is no tomorrow, there is no fear. There is only a complete living in the now; all time has ceased, and therefore there is no formation of habit. I mean by that word now the immediate, and this state of immediacy is not a reaction to the past nor an avoidance of the future. There is only the moment of total awareness; all one's attention is here in the now. Surely, all existence is in the now; whether you have immense gladness or great sorrow or whatever it is, it happens only in the immediate. But through memory the mind gathers experience from the past and projects it into the future.
Please be aware of your own mind; in the mirror of these words observe how your own mind operates, and then we can go very far together. So, is it possible to break totally away from the past? The past is really the essence of habit; it is made up of all the knowledge, the suffering, the insults, the innumerable experiences you have had, not only individually, but racially and collectively. You have to step completely out of this framework of the past psychologically, actually; otherwise, there is no freedom, and you cannot do that if in your mind there exists the idea of continuity.
For most of us, continuity is very important, but after all, continuity in relationship is merely habit. Continuity in thought is what sustains the limitations of the mind, and is it possible to explode this idea of continuity and be free from the past? Without freedom from the past, there is no freedom at all because the mind is never new, fresh, innocent. It is only the fresh, innocent mind that is free. Freedom has nothing to do with age; it has nothing to do with experience, and it seems to me that the very essence of freedom lies in understanding the whole mechanism of habit, both conscious and unconscious.
It is not a question of ending habit but of seeing totally the structure of habit. You have to observe how habits are formed and how, by denying or resisting one habit, another habit is created. What matters is to be totally conscious of habit, for then, as you will see for yourself, there is no longer the formation of habit. To resist habit, to fight it, to deny it, only gives continuity to habit. When you fight a particular habit, you give life to that habit, and then the very fighting of it becomes a further habit. But if you are simply aware of the whole structure of habit without resistance, then you will find there is freedom from habit, and in that freedom a new thing takes place.
It is only the dull, sleepy mind that creates and clings to habit. A mind that is attentive from moment to moment - attentive to what it is saying, attentive to the movement of its hands, of its thoughts, of its feelings - will discover that the formation of further habits has come to an end.
This is very important to understand because as long as the mind is breaking down one habit and in that very process creating another, it can obviously never be free; and it is only the free mind that can perceive something beyond itself. Such a mind is religious. The mind that merely goes to church, repeats prayers, clings to dogmas, or that leaves one sect and joins another, is not religious; it is just stupid. The religious mind is the free mind, and the free mind is in a state of constant explosion; and in this state of constant explosion, there is the seeing of that truth which is beyond words, beyond thought, beyond all experience.