Rajghat 5th Talk to Boys and Girls 15th December 1952
We have been talking the last three or four times about fear; and as it is one of the fundamental causes of our deterioration, I think we ought to look at it from a different angle, from a different point of view.
Are you interested in all this? I wonder if you think over these talks afterwards. Or, do you think it is a morning outing and forget about it?
You know we are always told what to think and what not to think. Books, teachers, parents, the society around us, all tell us what to think, but that never helps us to find out how to think. There is a difference, is there not? Between what to think and how to think. Now what to think is comparatively easy because from early childhood and as we grow into maturity and depth, our minds are conditioned in words, in phrases, in attitudes, in prejudices, in the way to think, in what to think. I do not know if you have noticed how the minds of older people are already set, like clay in a mould. Their minds are set already and it is very difficult to break through that mould. So the moulding of the mind is the conditioning of the mind.
Here in India, you are conditioned to think by centuries of tradition, by economic reasons, by religious reasons. So the mind here is set in a certain pattern, in a certain mould; it is conditioned according to all these causes. In Europe, it is conditioned in one way; and in Russia, after the revolution, the political leaders have set their minds in a certain other way. So, the mind is conditioned. Do you understand what I mean by conditioned - conditioned not only superficially in the conscious mind but also in the hidden mind, conditioned by the race, by the climate, by unverbalised and unuttered imitations?
The mind can never be free if it is moulded. Most people say that you can never free the mind from its conditioning, and that it must always be conditioned. That is, you must always have certain limitations, certain ways of thinking, certain prejudices, so that there can be no release, no freedom for the mind to be other than conditioned. The older the civilization, the more weighed down it is by tradition, by authority, by discipline. An old race like in India is more conditioned than in America where there is more freedom because of economic and social reasons and also because they have been pioneers. Here, we are enclosed.
A conditioned mind can never be free. Such a mind can never go beyond its border, its barrier; that is obvious. It is difficult for a mind which is conditioned, built round, to free itself from the conditioning and go beyond. And this conditioning is not only imposed by society, but it is also liked by you because you dare not go beyond. You are frightened at what the mother will say or what the father will say, with what the teacher will say or what the society will say, what the priest will say. You are frightened; therefore, you create barriers that hold you. So you are always telling your children, and your children will in their turn tell their children, not to do this or that.
The mind is always held in, specially in a school where you like a teacher. Because, if you like the teacher, you want to follow him. You want to do what he does. So, conditioning becomes much more settled, much more permanent. Say, for instance, there is a teacher who does puja and you are in a hostel under him. You may like the show of it or the beauty of it; so, you begin to do it. So, you are being conditioned. That conditioning is very effective, because when one is young, one is eager, creative, alive. I do not know if you are creative, because your parents will not allow you to go beyond the wall to look. You are married off and are fitted into a mould, and there you are for the rest of your life.
While you are young, you are easily conditioned, shaped, forced into a pattern. If you give a child - a good, alert, child - to a priest, then within seven years the child will be so conditioned by him that for the rest of his life he will be the same, with certain modifications. And so in a school of this kind, where the teachers are not unconditioned, they are just like everybody else. They have their puja, their fears, their desires for gurus, their rituals; they do all these things; and unconsciously you, being under them and because you like the teacher and because you see something beautiful, want to do it and, within a couple of months, you are caught, your imitation begins.
Why do older people do puja? I do not know, you do not know and they do not know. They do it, because their fathers have done it and also because they think it gives them a certain feeling, certain sensations, because it makes them quiet. They chant some shlokas. They feel that if they do not do it, they are lost. Therefore, they do it. And you young people copy them and your imitation begins. If the teacher goes into it, thinks about it - which very few people do - if he really uses his intelligence - which is to investigate, to question and not to be prejudiced - then he will find there is no meaning in it. But to find out what the truth of the matter is requires a great deal of freedom; then only can you investigate and find out the truth. If you say you like it, and then try to investigate, it means you are only going to strengthen your likes; and that is not investigation. If you are already prejudiced in favour of it and then you proceed to investigate it, you only strengthen your bias, your prejudice.
So, surely it is very important in a school of this kind that the teachers not only must be unconditioning themselves but must also help the children never to condition themselves; and when they know the conditioning influence of society, of parents, of the world, they must help the child not to accept but to investigate, to find out the truth of the matter. As you grow, you will begin to see how various influences are beginning to mould you, not helping you how to think, but telling you what you should think. Ultimately, you become an automatic machine, functioning without much vitality, without much original thought, like a cog in a vast social machine. All of you are afraid that if you do not fit into society, you will not be able to earn a livelihood. Your father is a lawyer and you must be a lawyer. If you are a girl, you must be married off. So, what actually happens? You start out as a boy or girl with a lot of vitality, with a lot of vigour which is cruelly destroyed by the teacher who is conditioned by his prejudices, by his fears, by his superstitions, by his pujas, by his guru. You go out of the school, filled with information which you can pick up at any time; but you have lost the vitality to enquire, the vitality to revolt against your parents or society.
You listen to all this and what is going to happen? You know very well what is going to happen when you pass your B.A. or M.A examination. You will be like the rest of the world, because you dare not be otherwise. You will be so conditioned, so moulded, that you dare not strike out. Your husbands will control you, your wives will control you, or society will control you; and so generation after generation of imitation goes on. There is no initiative, there is no freedom, there is no happiness; there is nothing but slow death. What is the point of being educated? Why not just learn to read and write, get married and carry on like machines? That is what parents want, that is what the world wants. The world does not want you to think, to be free to find out; because then you will be a dangerous citizen, because then you will not fit into a pattern. No real thinker can ever belong to any particular country or class or type of thinking. Freedom means not only freedom here, but everywhere, right through. To think along a particular line, is not freedom.
So while you are young, it is very important to be free, not only consciously but also deep inside, to be watchful of yourself when you see the influences controlling or dominating you, to investigate, never to accept but always to question and to be in revolt.
Question: How can we make our minds free when we live in a society full of tradition?
Krishnamurti: First, you have to have the urge to be free, the demand to be free. It is the demand of the bird to fly, of the waters of the river to flow. Have you such a feeling to be free? If you have it, then what happens? Your parents, your society is going to force you to a certain mould. Can you resist them? You find it difficult, because you are afraid. You are afraid you will not find the right husband, you will not have the right wife, you will not have a job, you will starve, people will talk about you. As you are afraid, you are not going to resist, though you want to be free. Your fears of what people may say, what your parents may say, block you and you do what they want you to do. Can you say, `I want to know. I do not mind starving. I do not mind battling against this rotten set of barriers. I want to be free to find out'? This does not mean to be free to do whatever you want. That is not freedom. You may want to be free; but when you yourself are frightened, can you withstand all these barriers, all these impositions? Is it not very important even from childhood not to encourage fear but, on the contrary to help the child to see the implications of fear, and help him to be free? If you are frightened, there is an end to freedom.
Question: We have been brought up in society. How is it possible to be free?
Krishnamurti: Are you conscious of the fear? Are you aware that you are frightened? If you are, what are you going to do? How are you going to be free from fear? You and I have to find out. How are you to find out? First you must be conscious that you are afraid. Are you? Then what are you going to do? Do think it out with me. What are you going to do when you are conscious that you are frightened? What do you do actually? You run away from it, don't you? You pick up a book, or go out for a walk; you run away from it. You are afraid of your parents, of society; you are conscious of that fear; and you do not know how to solve it. You are really frightened even to look at it, so you want to run away from it. That is why you all want to be educated, to keep on passing examinations till the last moment when you have to face the inevitable and act. So, you continually escape from your problem. That will not help you to dissolve your difficulty. You have to look at it. Can you look at it?
If you want to look at a bird, you must go very close to it, observe it, see the shape of the wings, the legs, the beak; you must examine it. Similarly, if you are afraid, you must look at your fear. You are so frightened that you increase fear. Say, for instance, you want to do something which you feel is good for you. But there are your parents, and they tell you not to do it or they will do something terrible to you. They will not give you money. So you are frightened of what they are going to do to you. You are so frightened that you dare not look at the results of it. So you give way and your fear continues. Question: What is real freedom? How to acquire real freedom?
Krishnamurti: Real freedom must be the product of intelligence. Freedom is not to be acquired. You cannot go out and buy it in the market. You cannot get it by reading a book or by listening to some talk. It is a thing that comes with intelligence. But what is intelligence? Can there be intelligence when there is fear, when the mind is conditioned? You understand what I mean by conditioned? When the mind is prejudiced, when you think you are a marvellous human being, or when you are very ambitious and want to go on succeeding, can there be intelligence? When you are concerned about yourself - which expresses itself through ambition in different forms, not only worldly ambition but ambition to be spiritually great - when you follow somebody, when you worship somebody, can there be intelligence? When your mind is crippled with authority, can there be intelligence? So, intelligence comes when there is freedom from all this. Then only can there be freedom. So, you have to set about it; the mind has to set about to free itself from all this; and then there is intelligence which brings freedom. You have to find the answer. What is the use of someone else being free, someone else having food when you are hungry? You want freedom really to be creative.
To have initiative there must be freedom; and for freedom there must be intelligence; and you have to ask and find out how to create that intelligence and what prevents that intelligence. You have to investigate life, social values, everything; not accept anything because you are frightened.
December 15, 1952
Rajghat 5th Talk to Boys and Girls 15th December 1952
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