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Question: Sometimes, a challenge is such that it paralyses one and there is no proper response. Is it possible not to feel paralysed but respond immediately to the challenge?
Krishnamurti: The gentleman says, one is overwhelmed by the reaction to a challenge. My son dies, and there is immediate reaction; and that reaction is so overwhelming, so shocking that I am paralysed. It may take me a year, two years, or a day. The question is, if I understand the gentleman rightly: Is it possible to respond immediately without being overwhelmed by the response? My son dies and it is a shock; it is an unexpected, unfortunate, not wanted incident in my life, it leaves me in a paralysed condition. And the question is: need I be paralysed, need I be overwhelmed by the reaction? Surely, one cannot lay down a general principle on this. It depends on the sensitivity, on the dullness, on the so-called affection, on many interrelated reasons for this extraordinary sense of being paralysed, overwhelmed; but we do not have such extraordinary incidents all the time of our lives. There are one or two challenges which really overwhelm us; but, there are minor challenges all the time, of which we are conscious or unconscious - minor, not of an extraordinarily major kind. Most of us do not know that they are taking place; we are so dull, we are so immune, we live in a world of our own making. And for such a mind `response and challenge' is non-existent - and that is what most of the sannyasis, saints and monks do; they live behind a wall of ideas. So, they have rejected the world, and live in a world of their own, in a world of ideas; they do not want to be disturbed, they have no challenge, they have found an asylum, an abode which will always be satisfactory; and so, they have no response and challenge. Most of us would like to be in that position where nothing touches us. Most of us want that - that is our idea of God, having peace of mind and all the rest of it where nothing will touch us. But life won't leave you alone. My son dies, my wife turns to somebody else, I lose a job, I lose my money, there is disease, there is death; everything is a challenge. And I have always relied on a conclusion, the things which I have learnt, tradition and all the rest of it. So, my response is weak.
If I may go further into it, the question really is: is it possible for the mind to be so attentive all the time, so sensitive that every challenge is answered completely and immediately, and to come to a state when there is no challenge and no response, when it is no longer in a state of experiencing? Do think about it. You may deny it, you may say it is a very nice theory; but do look at it. When you understand something totally, say for instance, when you understand authority totally, all its peculiarities, its tendency, where you have completely read the whole book of authority which is yourself, in yourself, when you have completely understood authority, then there is no problem any more about authority, no experiences of authority can ever touch you. In the same manner, if you regard the totality of life with all its intricacies, and therefore be free of envy, greed, jealousy, ambition, authority, then, is there a need for experiencing? I say it is only such a mind that can understand what is true, what is false, and if there is something beyond time; it is only such a mind that is free from the known and therefore not in a world of experience, challenge and response, and knowledge; it is only such a mind that can discover the timeless.
Varanasi, India | 7th Public Talk 14th January 1962 Read full text