On Thinking III
It is really extraordinarily interesting to watch the operation of one’s own thinking, just to observe how one thinks, where that reaction we call thinking, springs from. Obviously from memory. Is there a beginning to thought at all? If there is, can we find out its beginning—that is, the beginning of memory, because if we had no memory we would have had no thought?
We have seen how the thought sustains and gives continuity to a pleasure that we had yesterday and how thought also sustains the reverse of pleasure which is fear and pain, so the experiencer, who is the thinker, is the pleasure and the pain and also the entity who give nourishment to the pleasure and pain. The thinker separates pleasure from pain. He doesn’t see that in the very demand for pleasure he is inviting pain and fear. Thought in human relationship is always demanding pleasure which it covers by different words like loyalty, helping, giving, sustaining, serving. I wonder what we want to serve? The petrol station offers good service. What do those words mean, to help, to give, to serve? What is it all about? Does a flower full of beauty, light and loveliness say, “I am giving, helping, serving”? It is! And because it is not trying to do anything it covers the earth.
Thought is so cunning, so clever, that it distorts everything for its own convenience. Thought in its demand for pleasure brings its own bondage. Thought is the breeder of duality in all our relationships: there is violence in us which gives us pleasure but there is also the desire for peace, the desire to be kind and gently. This is what is going on all the time in our lives. Thought not only breeds this duality in us, this contradiction, but it also accumulates the innumerable memories we have of pleasure and pain, and from these memories it is reborn. So thought is the past, thought is always old, as I have already said.
As every challenge is met in terms of the past—a challenge being always new—our meeting of the challenge will always be totally inadequate, hence contradiction, conflict and all the misery and sorrow we are heir to. Our little brain is in conflictwhatever it does. Whether it aspires, imitates, conforms, suppresses, sublimates, takes drugs to expand itself—whatever it does—it is in a state of conflict and will produce conflict.
Now when you hear a statement like “Thought is always old” or “Time is sorrow”, thought begins to translate it and interpret it. But the translation and interpretation are based on yesterday’s knowledge and experience, so you will invariably translate according to your conditioning. But if you look at those statements and do not interpret them all but just give them your complete attention (not concentration) you will find there is neither the observer nor the observed, neither the thinker nor the thought. Don’t say “Which began first?” That is a clever argument which leads nowhere. You can observe in yourself that as long as there is not thought—which doesn’t mean a state of amnesia, of blankness—as long as there is no thought derived from memory, experience or knowledge, which are all of the past, there is no thinker at all. This is not a philosophical or mystical affair. We are dealing with actual facts, and you will see, if you have gone this far in the journey, that you will respond to a challenge, not with the old brain, but totally anew.
“Freedom from the Known,” Jiddu Krishnamurti, Harper San Francisco