Question: You say that memory is a barrier. Why?
Krishnamurti: Anything that we perceive directly, understand completely, leaves no scar on the mind. If you live in an experience wholly, although you may recall the incident, it will not produce those reactions which you use for your self-defense. If I have an experience whose significance I do not completely understand, then mind but becomes a centre of conflict and this conflict continues till I understand that experience wholly. As long as the mind is burdened with these conflicts, it is but a storehouse of defensive reactions, called memories, and with such protective memories we approach life, thus creating a barrier between life and ourselves, from which ensues all conflict, fear and suffering. This is what we are doing most of the time. Instead of being in that state of creative emptiness, mind becomes merely a storehouse of defensive memories. This bundle of defensive reactions we call the "I", that limited consciousness.
With that limited consciousness, which is but a series of self-protective, invulnerable layers of memories, you approach life and all its experiences. Experiences, instead of dissipating these many layers and so releasing the creative force of life, merely create and add further defensive memories, and so life becomes a continued conflict, confusion and suffering. Instead of being completely vulnerable to life, being completely empty - not in the negative sense of the word - being wholly without self-defense, mind has become a machine of warning, of guiding, to protect and defend itself. To me, such self-protective, defensive memories are fundamental barriers, for they prevent the complete fruition of life, which alone is truth.
Consider for yourself how your mind is not vulnerable. Complete vulnerability is wisdom. When you have an experience, observe what happens. All your prejudices, your memories, your defensive responses come forward and tell you how to act, how to conduct yourself. So already you have made up your mind how to deal with the new, the fresh.
After all, to understand truth, God, the unknown, or whatever name you care to give to it, mind and heart must come unprepared, insecure. In the vitality of insecurity, there is the eternal.
In protecting yourselves, you have built up cunning securities, certainties, subtle memories, and it requires great intelligence to free yourselves from them. You cannot brush them aside or try to forget them. You can discover these barriers only, in the full awareness of action itself.
Your listening to me must also be an experience. If you are at all interested and alive to what I am saying, you will see that you are meeting it with all kinds of objections. You do not approach openly, with a desire to find out, to experiment. It is only when the mind and heart are pliable, alert, and are not slaves to theories, certainties, assurances, that you begin to discover the barriers of memories as self-protective, defensive reaction. These scars which we call memories continually come between the movement of life, which is eternal, and ourselves, causing conflict, suffering.
New York City
2nd Public Talk 13th March, 1935