Krishnamurti & the Art of Awakening
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What does it mean to be serious?

Total Freedom | First Talk at Rajghat School, Varanasi, 1955

Questioner: There is only one problem, and that is to find out what is the end of life.

KRISHNAMURTI: Can we discuss that really seriously, go into it completely, so that we know for ourselves what is the end of life? What is life all about, where is it leading? That is the question, not what is the purpose of life. If we merely seek a definition of the purpose of life, you will define it in one way and I in another, and we shall wrangle and choose which is the better definition according to our idiosyncrasies. Surely, that is not what the questioner means. He wants to know what is the end of all this struggle, this search, this constant battle, this coming together and parting, birth and death. What is the whole of existence leading to? What does it mean?

Now, what is this thing which we call life? We know life only through self-consciousness, do we not? I know I am alive because I speak, I think, I eat, I have various contradictory desires, conscious and unconscious, various compulsions, ambitions, and so on. It is only when I am conscious of these, that is, as long as I am self-conscious, that I know I am alive. And what do we mean by being self-conscious? Surely, I am self-conscious only when there is some kind of conflict; otherwise, I am unconscious of myself. When I am thinking, making effort, arguing, discussing, putting it this way or that, I am self-conscious. The very nature of self-consciousness is contradiction.

Consciousness is a total process, it is the hidden as well as the active, the open. Now, what does this process of consciousness mean, and where is it leading? We know birth and death, belief, struggle, pain, hope, ceaseless conflict. What is the significance of it all? To find out its true significance is what we are trying to do. And one can find out its true significance only when the mind is capable of investigation, that is, when it is not anchored to any conclusion. Is that not so?

Questioner: Is it investigation, or reinvestigation?

KRISHNAMURTI: There is reinvestigation only when the mind is tethered, repetitive, and therefore constantly reinvestigating itself. But to be free to investigate, to find out what is true, surely that requires a mind that is not held in the bondage of any conclusion.

Now, can you and I find out what is the significance of this whole struggle with all its ramifications? If that is one's intention and one is serious, earnest, can one's mind have any conclusion about it? Must one not be open to this confusion? Must one not investigate it with a free mind to find out what is true? So, what is important is not the problem but to see if it is possible for the mind to be free to investigate and find out the truth of it.

Can the mind be free from all conclusions? A conclusion is merely the response of a particular conditioning, is it not? Take the conclusion of reincarnation. Whether reincarnation is factual or not is irrelevant. Why do you have that conclusion? Is it because the mind is afraid of death? Such a mind, believing in a certain conclusion which is the result of fear, hope, longing, is obviously incapable of discovering what is true with regard to death. So, if we are at all serious, our first problem, even before we ask what this whole process of life means, is to find out whether the mind can be free from all conclusions.

Questioner: Do you mean that for serious thinking the mind must be completely empty?

KRISHNAMURTI: What do we mean by freedom? What does it mean to be free? You assume that if the mind is free, not tethered to any conclusion, it is in a state of vacuum. But is it? We are trying to find out the truth of what is a free mind. Is a mind free that has concluded? If I read Shankara, Buddha, Einstein, Marx, it does not matter who it is, and reach a conclusion or believe in a certain system of thought, is my mind free to investigate?

Questioner: Has comparison no place in the process of investigation?

KRISHNAMURTI: Comparing what? Comparing one conclusion with another, one belief with another? I want to find out the significance of this whole process of life with its struggle, its pain, its misery, its wars, its appalling poverty, cruelty, enmity; I want to find out the truth of all that. To do so must I not have a mind that is capable of investigation? And can the mind investigate if it has a conclusion, or compares one conclusion with another?