What Is Guilt? Saanen Switzerland July, 1985

Watch Video Here.   

Transcript follows:

Guilt, I don’t have to read the question.  It is all rather mixed up here.  Why do we feel guilty?  You know what that word means.  Culpability.  Culpa. Why do we feel guilty?  Many people do.  It tortures their life.  Then it becomes an enormous problem.

And that is the background of guilt, with many, many people.

Guilt, in not believing; in guilt not being the rest of the group.

Guilt, you know the feeling, not the word but the feeling behind that word?  That we have done something wrong and feel guilty about remorse, anxious, therefore frightened, uncertain.  And this guilt,  it is a very distorting, it is a very distorting factor in our life, this is obvious.

So why do we have this feeling?  (Train goes by)

At Brockword (U.K.), there are no trains, no airplanes, we can talk quietly together.  But you will miss these mountains.  Probably that is why you are sad.  (laughter)

We are asking: Why do we have this feeling of remorse?

Is it that we have not done something which is correct, which is not pragmatic, which is not put together by an environment, against which we have to go?  The guilt of a man who feels, or a woman who feels, he hasn’t supported the war of his own country?

You know the various forms of guilt and the causes of it?  We are asking why does this feeling exist?

Is it because we are not responsible, we are not responsible, demanding the excellence of ourselves?

You are following me… Now, just a minute, The speaker is asking: Is it that we are lazy, indolent, inattentive and therefore slightly irresponsible, and facing that irresponsibility, we feel guilty?

I’ve followed somebody, suppose I have followed somebody, my guru, who has indulged in all kinds of things, sex and so on, and I too have, as he does, but he changes his mind, he has become old, and he says: “No more.”  And his disciples say: “No more.”  You understand, one has done all these things to follow that guru, and the guru has gotten rather old, and says no more.  And I feel, by Jove, I shouldn’t have done this, I have been wrong, You follow, 

The whole issue of guilt- why, and how do we deal with it?  That is more important.  How do we know, or feel, have the remorse, of being not what we are?

And therefore doing things which would cause us damage.  And therefore, . . . .

…Airplanes going by,  “the mountains echo, more noise, they create more noise,…

So let us find out how to deal with it, let us find out what to do about it, shall we, 

Not investigate the causes of it–we know.

I haven’t done something, which is not proper. which is not correct, which is not true.  And I realize later the action which has produced that is rather regrettable, unfortunate, causing unhappiness to others and I feel guilty.  And various forms of the same thing having different causes.  Right?

So, what shall we do when we have guilt and how to deal with it?

How would you deal with it?

What’s your approach to it?  You understand my question?

How do you come near the problem? Is it that you want it resolved, that you want it wiped away? So that your brain is no longer caught in that?

So how do you approach it, with a desire to resolve it?  You understand?  To be free of guilt?

How do you come to it?

That’s very important, isn’t it?   How you approach a problem.

If you have a direction for that problem, it must be solved that way or that way, as long as there is a direction, you “follow”, or a motive, then that motive or direction directs the issue.

You understand?  So do we approach a problem like this guilt without any motive?  You understand my question?  Or always approach any problem with a motive?  Right?

I wonder, are we meeting this thing together?  Is it possible to approach a problem without any sense of the background knowledge – which is motive-and look at it as though for the first time?  Can we do that?  You understand?

(10:39 minute mark in video)

So there are two things involved: how you approach and what is a problem.  Right?

You have problems, yes, but?  Many, many of them – why?

Not only problems of money, sex… Plane roaring by…

it is a lovely morning, clear blue sky without a cloud and they are having fun!

What is a problem?

Not that we are condemning the problem or saying it must be solved this way or that way.

We are questioning the problem itself, the word and the content of that word, an issue, something which you have to answer, whether it is a business problem, family problem, sexual problem, spiritual problem,

-sorry, quotes-

‘spiritual’ problem, problems of whom to follow, leader, political, it is a problem.  

Why do we have problems?  Plane in the distance…

“Could we ask them to go somewhere else?”

All right.  So first let’s examine the word ‘problem’.

According to the dictionary, a problem means:
Something thrown at you. Right?  Something propelled against you.  A challenge, a thing you have to answer – right?  The meaning of that word is, something thrown at you.

Right?  And we call that a problem.  Why does our brain have problems?  You understand my question?  May we go into it a little bit?  Right?

Please don’t accept anything the speaker say, anything!  But let’s examine it together. 

Let us explore into this question, ‘the problem’.

From childhood, when you are first, …’plane roars… Can we all shout at him to buzz off…’

From childhood, when you send a girl or a boy to school, he has to learn how to read and write, right?  Read, write.  And the child has never read or written, so writing, reading becomes a problem to him, right?

And as he grows up, his brain has been trained to problems.  Obvious.  School, I have to learn mathematics, chemistry, biology, science, physics, then the whole college, high school, college, university, the whole process of that, learning all that is a problem.  And so the brain is conditioned in problems, right? 

This is a fact.  My wife becomes a problem.  To her, I become a problem.  Business, God, everything you have a problem.  How to live, what to do, etc and so on and so on.  So our brain, your brain, is conditioned, educated to live with problems.  This is a fact, not an invention by the speaker.  It is so.  So our whole life, living becomes a problem.  Right? 

So, can we look at this as a fact, not as an idea or theory?  But as a fact.  And see what we can do. 

Whether the brain can be free to solve problems.

(17:13 in video)

Not approach it with a mind that is already crowded with problems.  You understand my question?  No?

I have been to school.  I have been to a school.  There, I am not interested in anything the teacher is saying.   I am looking out the window, enjoying myself and he bangs me on the head.  And I come to.

And he says, ‘Write’.  He holds my hand, guides it and I say, “Good lord, I must learn”, you follow?  It becomes a problem, right?

And I have to learn not only reading, writing, mathematics, geography, history, politics, you know.  So my whole education, “I am not against education but I am pointing out”- my whole education becomes a tremendous problem.  And if I can pass a PhD., become somebody, it is still a problem.  So the brain from childhood is conditioned to live with problems – right? 

Now our question is:

Is it possible to be free of problems and then attack problems?  You understand?  There are problems, but I cannot resolve them unless the brain is free.
If it is not free, in the solution of one problem other problems are created, like in politics.  I don’t know if you are aware of it.  The poor chaps solve one problem, and there are a dozen problems involved in it.  And they can’t deal with a dozen problems–they move away from that and tackle something else.  And keep on this. . . . right?  So, the speaker is asking: “Can we be free of problems first?”  Not, uncondition the brain, which has been educated to live with problems.  Right, is it clear?  At last. . . .

Now let’s proceed.  Is it possible?  You answer me.

Is it possible to be free and then tackle problems?  (Planes go by)  “Good lord what a noisy place this is?

(20:33 in video)

How do you answer that question?  Do you say it is possible, or do you say, no, it is impossible?   When you say it’s possible or impossible, you’ve already blocked yourself.  Right?  You have already closed the doors.  You have prevented yourself from investigating, going into the question.  So, we are saying to free the brain, from its educated world of problems, it’s condition, can that brain be unconditioned?

First,  I must understand the question – what the question involves.   Investigate that. Then come to the point,  can it be free from its condition- you understand?  What do you do or not do?  Don’t go to sleep, please.  What do you do or not do?

(Train goes by) 

That is, how do you listen to the noise of that train, the rattling, how do you listen to it?  It is there.  How do you listen to it?  Do you resist it?  Or, I won’t tell you further.  Do you resist it?  Or do you say it is part of life, let it through.   Do you understand?  This noise is going on, the rattle, the vulgarity, all the music the so-called music is pouring, right, do you resist all that?  Or let it flow, flow away?  Do you understand?

So, here is a question:

Is it possible to free the brain from the condition of this education which has brought about a state in which the brain is conditioned?  And to be free of that conditioning?  May I go into it.  Right?   I am going it, the speaker is going into it.  Not to convince you of anything.  Just to show. You pass by a window, and you look at the window, the shop, and you look at all the dresses, and all the things are in it, and  you go away from it and look at another shop.  You are window shopping.  You are not to do anything.  Just find out what he is saying.  Listen to what he is saying.  Not accepting or denying.  Just look, listen.   

The brain is conditioned to this whole culture of problems.  It is conditioned to that.  That is a nice word: “Culture of problems.”    And is the conditioned brain different from the observer?  You understand my question?:   “Is the brain, my brain, different from me, who is analyzing, looking, tearing, examining, accepting, not accepting?  Is that observer, the person who says I am looking at it, is he different from the brain?   You understand my question, it is a very simple question, don’t complicate it.

(25:43 in video) Is anger, envy or greed different from me?  Or I am anger, anger is me.  Greed is me.  The quality is me.  There is no difference but culture and education has made us separate the two.  Right?

There is Envy, I am different from it,  I must control it or indulge in it.  And thereby there is conflict.  I don’t know if you are following.

Or is violence me?  Violence is not something different from me.   I am – Me is violent.   Do we see this? Once one realizes this fact, there’s no difference between the quality and me, then there is a totally different movement taking place.  There is no conflict.  You understand?   

There is no conflict.  As long as there is separation, there’s conflict in me.  Right?

Now, I’ve realized this, that I am the quality,  I am violence, the me is greedy, envious, jealous and all the rest of it.  So I’ve abolished all together this division in me.  I am that.   Not, I am the Supreme, Sanskrit, I won’t go into it.  I am that quality. 

(27:53 in video)

So, can my brain  remain with that fact–stay with that fact?   You understand my question?  Can I stay, can my Brain (which is so active, so alive,  thinking, watching, listening, trying,  effort)   Can that Brain stay with the fact that I am that?  Stay with it.  Not run away, not try to control, because the moment you control, there’s a controller and a controlled. Therefore they become separate.   Right?  Please, very simple,  if you really grasp this truth, this fact, you eliminate all together effort.   Effort means contradiction, effort means I am different from that.   You know, all that business.  So, once you see the actual fact, not the idea, but the actuality that you are your quality, your anger, your envy, your jealousy, your hate, your uncertainty, your confusion, you are that; not verbally acknowledge or verbally agree, then we don’t meet each other, but if you actually see this fact and stay with it.  Can you?

When you stay with it, what is  implied in that?- Attention.   No movement away from it.   Right?  Just stay with it; not, if you have acute pain you can’t stay with it, but if you, psychologically, stay with it, inwardly, say yes it is so.  That means no movement, right?  I don’t know if you follow this.  No movement away from the fact.

So, when there is no movement away from the fact, the  essence is no conflict.  Then you have broken the pattern of the brain.  Right?  Because, I must do something, what is the right thing to do, who will tell me the right thing to do, you follow, I must go to a psychiatrist, all that stuff takes place.

Once you hold the jewel, Train wheels squeak. . . .

It’s like holding a jewel marvelously put together, carved and you are holding it, you are looking at it, seeing all the Inside, Outside.   How it’s put together, the platinum, the gold, the diamonds all that you watch it, because you are the jewel, you are the center of all this, the most intricate subtle Jewel of which you are.  The moment one sees that fact, the whole thing is different, right?

So, guilt, you thought we had gone away from it, we had to.  Guilt.  It’s not a problem, you understand now, it’s a fact.  It’s not a something to be resolved, something to be got over.   You have done something, which is a fact and you feel guilty, that’s a fact and you stay with it, like a jewel you stay with it; a rather unpleasant jewel, but it is still your jewel.  So you stay with it.

When you stay with it, it begins to, please listen, it begins to flower and whither away.  You understand, sir?  Like a flower if you continue to pull at it to see if the roots are working properly, the flower will never bloom; but once you see the fact, which is the seed, and then stay with it, then it becomes, it shows itself fully.

All the implications of guilt, all the implications of its subtlety, where it hides, it’s like a flower, blooming, and if you let it bloom, not say actually I must do or not do, then it begins to wither away and die.

Please understand this, with every issue you can do that; about God, about anything, then you have an insight into all that.  That is insight, not merely remembering, adding.  

If you discover it it is something, psychologically, enormously effective; it frees you from all the past struggles and present struggles.

Saanen, Switzerland July 1985

Commentary on What is Guilt?

How are Guilt and Desire are related? Krishnamurti talks about a process for Desire starting with Seeing, which leads to sensation and Contact (you touch it). He describes seeing a shirt in the window, especially a ‘blue’ shirt. Then Image comes along and Thought saying “I must have that Blue shirt.” Upon thought, Desire is born.

Mukesh Gupta describes Image >>> Self-serving expectation >>> Security. So maybe we can argue that ultimately, Desire is for Security. Many have described consciousness as a mechanism for us to survive. That is is not overly interested in facts. More on survival. Perhaps this is why we run into such problems when we try to solve our psychological and spiritual problems.

In the video What is Guilt, where the transcript is above, and you can view the video by clicking the link at the top of the original post, there is a line where Krishnamurti begins talking about how to deal with guilt. He begins the video discussing guilt and the various causes. He asks the question Why do we experience Guilt? Although important to know why, more important, he says, is to explore what to do about guilt.

And as I have commented before, Krishnamurti doesn’t often say how to do things. For example, he won’t say “how” to meditate. He says that is too childish. In the video “Be a Light Unto Yourself,” he provides guideposts. As he does in this video. I believe there is a 7 step process in meditation.

So back to Desire. He poses the question at the 8:47 mark:

“So how do you approach it? With the desire to resolve it? You understand? To be free of guilt? How do you come to it? That is very important, isn’t it? How you approach a problem. If you have a direction for that problem, it must be solved that way or that way, as long as there is a direction, you follow, or a motive, then that motive or direction directs the issue. You understand? So do we approach a problem like this guilt without any motive? You understand my question? Or always approach any problem with a motive? I wonder, are we meeting this thing together? Is it possible to approach a problem without any sense of the background knowledge, which is motive, and look at it as though for the first time? Can we do that? You understand?

~ Jiddu Krishnamurti “What is Guilt?” Saanen Switzerland July 1995

He uses terms like motive and direction, which feels like Desire to me. The thread above Seeing >>> Sensations>>> Contact >>> Image >>> Self-serving expectation >>> Security happens so quickly. I like to follow thoughts when my thinking has slowed down in the early hours of the morning. I call it Krishnamurti’ing. I often tap my fingers simultaneously and once I notice I am doing that, the tapping stops. I can see how my image and thoughts are self-serving and how it might lead to my feeling secure. So, Krishnamurti feels Desire is born when this image comes up and thoughts of wanting the object arise. Prior to that, it is normal to see things and feels sensations. We would be dead if we didn’t experience this. It is when thoughts come in and “feed” the sensations.

Another thing about Desire is from the Book Of Life where K encourages us to look at desire as a whole. Even wanting to get rid of desire. Desire is always here. I have even heard talk about Desire and Will in the same breath. He also uses Will as control. This is huge. In my studies of Albert Low and Zen and Creative Management, Will is talked about quite a bit. Here are a couple quotes:

Will is the urge towards self-actualization.

~Albert Low, Zen and Creative Management

Will is the source of those unknown and uncontrollable sources by which we are lived.

~Albert Low, Zen and Creative Management

So back to Guilt. There appears to be this Desire to get rid of Guilt. Makes sense. It is an unpleasant feeling and experience. It is hard to stay with it. Our training from childhood teaches us to solve problems. And we are conditioned to do so. It happens so fast. We don’t really stand a chance, do we? So maybe seeing this is important. Seeing may help us to look with fresh eyes.

Krishnamurti talks about not being separate. That we are our quality, our guilt, anger, anxiety. That our quality is ‘me’. Will, in Low’s work is the center-periphery or self-other paradox. There is a tremendous amount of tension and the potential of growth. K says that we are the center of this jewel that guilt makes up. He describes it as a rather unpleasant jewel but it is still our jewel. Here in the west, due to our high sense of ego, the potential for guilt is high. But there is tremendous energy stored up that potentially can be released.

What do you think?


As in most posts on Zentrepreneurial.com, italicization of words refers to the words of either Jiddu Krishnamurti or Albert Low.  The website writer’s words are in regular text.

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