Krishnamurti & the Art of Awakening

Krishnamurti Quote of the Day

To Be Human | Sixth Talk in Poona, India 1948

Questioner: Memory, you say, is incomplete experience. I have a memory and a vivid impression of your previous talks. In what sense is it an incomplete experience? Please explain this idea in all its details.

Krishnamurti: What do we mean by memory? You go to school and are full of facts, technical knowledge. If you are an engineer, you use the memory of technical knowledge to build a bridge. That is factual memory. There is also psychological memory. You have said something to me, pleasant or unpleasant, and I retain it; and when I next meet you, I meet you with that memory, the memory of what you have said or have not said. So, there are two facets to memory, the psychological and the factual. They are always interrelated, therefore not clear cut. We know that factual memory is essential as a means of livelihood. But is psychological memory essential? And what is the factor which retains the psychological memory? What makes one psychologically remember insult or praise? Why does one retain certain memories and reject others? Obviously, one retains memories which are pleasant and avoids memories which are unpleasant. If you observe, you will see that painful memories are put aside more quickly than the pleasurable ones. And mind is memory, at whatever level, by whatever name you call it; mind is the product of the past, it is founded on the past, which is memory, a conditioned state. Now, with that memory we meet life, we meet a new challenge. The challenge is always new, and our response is always old because it is the outcome of the past. So, experiencing without memory is one state, and experiencing with memory is another. That is, there is a challenge, which is always new. I meet it with the response, with the condition of the old. So, what happens? I absorb the new, I do not understand it, and the experiencing of the new is conditioned by the past. Therefore, there is a partial understanding of the new, there is never complete understanding. It is only when there is complete understanding of anything that it does not leave the scar of memory.

When there is a challenge, which is ever new, you meet it with the response of the old. The old response conditions the new, and therefore twists it, gives it a bias, and therefore there is no complete understanding of the new; hence the new is absorbed into the old, and therefore strengthens the old. This may seem abstract, but it is not difficult if you go into it a little closely and carefully. The situation in the world at the present time demands a new approach, a new way of tackling the world problem, which is ever new. We are incapable of approaching it anew because we approach it with our conditioned minds, with national, local, family, and religious prejudices. That is, our previous experiences are acting as a barrier to the understanding of the new challenge, so we go on cultivating and strengthening memory, and therefore we never understand the new, we never meet the challenge fully, completely. It is only when one is able to meet the challenge anew, afresh, without the past, only then does it yield its fruits, its riches.

Tags: memory, thought

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Question: You say that memory is a barrier. Why?
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Memory acts as a resistance against the movement of life.
The mind has become merely a record of the various lessons of experience.
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Memory is ever conditioning the mind and creating for it an environment of values in which it becomes a prisoner.
I have tried to explain that conduct born of compulsion, whether it be the compulsion of reward or of punishment, of fear or of love, is not right conduct.
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What is the good of your listening to me if the obvious thing is escaping your consideration?
All habit must prevent clarity of perception and must conceal one's own integrity.
Memory must become as a shell without a living organism in it.
The accumulation of memory is called knowledge; with this burden, with the scars of experience, thought is ever interpreting the present and so giving continuity to its own scars and conditioning.
A mind-heart that is burdened with the memory of yesterday cannot live in the eternal present.
Should we not, as the questioner points out, be aware of the two kinds of memories: the indispensable, relating to facts and figures, and the psychological memory?
he eternal is ever the unknown for a mind that accumulates; what is accumulated is memory, and memory is ever the past, the time-binder.
Questioner: Why is memory an impediment?
Surely what I am saying is meant for all: for those who have renounced the world and for those who live in the world, for he who has renounced is still in the world because he is in the world of his own making, just as the worldly person is in the world of his own desires.
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When you attempt to avoid disturbance you don't want memory; but when you want to improve in the field of your choice you really want memory; thus there is contradiction.
An incomplete experience leaves a scar or a residue whereas a completed experience does not leave any residue.
To understand a challenge, which is always new, I must also meet it anew, there must be no residue of yesterday; so, I must say adieu to yesterday.
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Memory is time, and time is not the door to reality;
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If you have no thoughts, there is no thinker; so it is thought that creates the thinker.
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Is there any thought which is not conditioned?
The thinker is the thought. They are not separate, they are a joint phenomenon and not separate processes.
Thought is the outcome of incomplete experience.
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Thought is a very strange thing, is it not?
Thinking and feeling are to me the same, because I have lost the distinction of what you call thought and emotion.
Thought is like the waters of a river. It must be in continual movement. Eternity is that movement.
when thought, which is emotion, which is action itself, is unimpeded in its movement, is not compelled or influenced or bound by an idea, and does not proceed from the background of tradition or habit, then that movement is creative.
What do I mean by right thinking?
Our daily thought and action are controlled by the past, by the concealed motives, memories, and hidden cravings.
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If you would understand something do you compare it with something else or do you study it for itself?
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Is the thinker different from his thought?
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How can thought which is the outcome of time, of self-protective activity, comprehend that which is not of time?
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When we are thinking about something beyond, it is also the process of the mind and therefore it is unreal.
Thought is always moving from the known to the known, from memory to memory, from continuity to continuity, and it cannot think of the unknown.
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So, as long as the thinker is separate from his thought, there will be problems, one after the other, innumerable problems;
My thought, which is the outcome of yesterday, can respond only in terms of yesterday; and when it asks, 'how can I go beyond?', it is asking a wrong question.
To be free from the background, from the conditioning influences, from memory, there must be freedom from continuity; and, there is continuity as long as thought and feeling are not ended completely.
If the thinker can understand himself, then the whole problem is solved.
Thoughts themselves are the thinker, they are not separate.
Question: Why is your teaching so purely psychological?
If you have no thoughts, there is no thinker.
Understanding the thought process is the beginning of meditation, which is self-knowledge.
What is the necessary impetus to bring about a revolution leading to individual action?
Are emotions the instruments of transformation?