Ojai 6th Public Talk 5th July, 1953
I think that it would be worth while and quite important to go into the question of what is true religion; and perhaps in going into this matter rather deeply, we might be able to discover, directly experience for ourselves, that state which is not of the mind and which must be something unknown, totally new, never experienced before. But to discover and experience that state, it seems to me that we will first have to understand the process of the intellect, the mind. The mind is made up not only of the conscious, but also of the many layers of that which we call the unconscious; it is a total process, though for convenience we may divide it as the conscious and the unconscious, with the different gradations of consciousness that lie between the two. To understand the various activities of the mind, surely we must not only inquire at the superficial or verbal level, but also go deeply into the process of thought itself.
What I would like to do this morning, if it is possible - and I don't know if it is - is to bring about that state which is not conceivable, which is not imaginable, which cannot be systematized or speculated upon; and surely that requires, not a condition of self-hypnosis or mere autosuggestion, but rather the gradual unfolding, as I talk, of the process of your own mind. Can we discover together and directly experience that state to which all religions, stripped of their churchianity, their dogmas, their rituals and innumerable stupidities, always refer? I am not going to lead you to discover it, because discovery is spontaneous. You must discover it for yourself. What I shall try to do is to describe how that state comes into being; but if you merely follow the verbal description, then you will obviously not comprehend or experience that state which arises only when the mind is no longer projecting or resisting.
As I was saying, we have first to understand the intellect, the process of consciousness, not only the superficial, but also the deeper layers; and to do that we must obviously begin with the verbal reactions and responses. Besides their outward meaning, words like "God", "communist", "capitalist", "greed", "progress", "death", have very great significance for most of us, have they not? They have a neurological as well as psychological significance. Words are symbols; and if we do not use words, we have symbols in other forms, like the cross and the religious symbols of India. And is it possible to abstain from reacting, from throwing up barriers in response to symbols? Can the mind, at that superficial level, put aside the imaginative, the speculative, the verbal process, with all its responses? To do so is quite arduous, because at present the mind thinks only in terms of words, symbols, images.
And must we not go into the process of desire? Surely, desire is part of the mind, of the intellect, of the intelligence which we use in every day life. Desire is the very process of the mind, of the mind that accumulates, holds, that has innumerable motives, that pursues sensations, that demands more, that avoids pain and is caught in the urgency of pleasure. The mind is continually seeking a place of safety where it can dwell without disturbance, is it not? It tries to be permanently secure in an idea, in a belief, in an experience, in a relationship. All that is the process of the mind, of what we call the intellect, the individual intelligence; it is all part of consciousness, either open or hidden, and it is all we know.
Now, knowing the total process of itself, can the mind go beyond this process? Can it be quiet so as to discover what is true, what is real, what is God? That is what I would like to go into this morning. Can the mind be aware of its many layers, of the verbal responses, of the purely physical appetites, the biological urges, of the imprint of tradition and environment, of the open and hidden memories - can it be aware of all this without in any way interfering? Thought is always conditioned as long as it is the verbal expression of memory; and until the mind is totally free of this extraordinary accumulation of the past, the unknown is obviously not possible. Until the process of recognition ceases, the new cannot be.
Please, let us talk it over a little more. After all, what we call experience is a process of recognition, is it not? When you see a certain animal you know it is a dog because you have had previous experience of the species and given it a name. When you meet a friend you recognize him because you have already experienced the friendship. When there is a psychological experience, that experience has been tasted before, and you have given it a name; and from that there is a further experiencing. The mind can recognize only that which has been experienced; it cannot recognize something new, because what is new is not recognizable. So truth, God, or what name you will, must be totally new, it cannot be recognized. If it is recognized, it has already been experienced and what has been experienced is within the field of time. Please see this clearly and you will understand something. It is not difficult. The words I am using may be difficult, but the feeling, the import of what I am saying is quite simple.
The function of the mind is cognitive, is it not? The mind recognizes, thinks; and its thinking, recognizing, experiencing, all comes from the background of memory. After all, if I am a Hindu, my conditioning limits my thinking; I think of God, of morality, in terms of tradition, according to what I have read in the the various Hindu scriptures. And those who are Christians, or Buddhists or what you will, and who are religiously inclined, are equally conditioned by all that they have been taught.
Now, what we are trying to - not only now, but always - is to find out if the mind can free itself from its conditioning and thereby experience that which has never been experienced before. Surely, that is reality, that is true religion, is it not? Religion has nothing to do with beliefs, with symbols, with rituals, with the promises, hopes and fears around which creeds and churches are built. Nor is it a question of morality. The moral person may never know reality - which does not mean that to know reality he must be immoral. Morality which is the result of conscious effort circumscribes the mind. Virtue is necessary only because it gives freedom, but a man who is trying to become virtuous is never free.
So, knowing the whole content of the mind - its denials, its resistances, its disciplinary activities, its various efforts at security, all of which condition and limit its thinking - can the mind, as an integrated process, be totally free to discover that which is eternal? Because without that discovery, without the experiencing of that reality, all our problems with their solutions only lead to further misery and disaster. That is obvious, you can see it in everyday life. Individually politically internationally, in every activity we are breeding more and more mischief, which is inevitable as long as we have not experienced that state of religion, that state which is experienceable only when the mind is totally free.
Now, after hearing this, can you, if only for a second, know that freedom? You cannot know it merely because I am suggesting it, for then it would be only an idea, an opinion without any significance. But if you have followed all these talks very seriously, you are beginning to be aware of the process of your own thought, of its direction, its purposes, its motives; and being aware, you are bound to come to a state in which the mind is no longer seeking, choosing, struggling to achieve. Having perceived its own total process, the mind becomes extraordinarily still, without any direction, without any volition, without any action of will. Will is still desire, is it not? The man who is ambitious in the worldly sense has a strong desire to achieve, to be successful, to become famous, and he exercises will for his self-importance. Likewise we exercise will to develop virtue, to achieve a so-called spiritual state. But what I am talking about is totally different, it is devoid entirely of any desire, of any action towards escape, of any compulsion to be this or that.
In examining what I am saying, you are exercising reason, are you not? But reason can lead only so far and no further. We must obviously exercise reason, the capacity to think things out completely and not stop half way. But when reason has reached its limit and can go no further, then the mind is no longer the instrument of reason, of cunning, of calculation, of attack and defence, because the very centre from which arise all our thoughts, all our conflicts, has come to an end.
So, now that you have listened to these talks, surely you are beginning to be aware of yourself from moment to moment during the day in your various activities; the mind is coming to know itself, with all its deviations, its resistances, its beliefs, its pursuits, its ambitions, its fears, its urge to fulfil. Being aware of all this, is it not possible for the mind, if only for an instant, to be totally still, to know a silence in which there is freedom? And when there is that freedom of silence, then is not the mind itself the eternal?
To experience the unknown, the mind itself must be the unknown. The mind, so far, is the result of the known. What are you but the accumulation of the known, of all your troubles your vanities, your ambitions, pains, fulfilments and frustrations? All that is the known, the known in time and space; and as long as the mind is functioning within the field of time, of the known, it can never be the unknown, it can only go on experiencing that which it has known. Please, this is not something complicated or mysterious. I am describing obvious facts of our daily existence. Burdened with the known, the mind seeks to discover the unknown. How can it? We all talk of God; in every religion, in every church and temple that word is used, but always in the image of the known. It is only the very, very few who leave all the churches, the temples, the books, who go beyond and discover.
At present the mind is the result of time, of the known, and when such a mind sets out to discover, it can discover only what it has already experienced, which is the known. To discover the unknown, the mind has to free itself completely from the known, from the past, not by slow analysis, not by delving step by step into the past, interpreting every dream, every reaction, but by seeing the truth of all this completely, instantaneously, as you are sitting here. As long as the mind is the result of time, of the known, it can never find the unknown, which is God, reality, or what you will. Seeing the truth of that frees the mind from the past. Don't immediately translate freedom from the past as not knowing the way to your home. That is amnesia. Don't reduce it to such infantile thinking. But the mind is freed the moment it sees the truth that it cannot find the real, this extraordinary state of the unknown, when it is burdened with the known. Knowledge, experience is the "me", the ego, the self which has accumulated, gathered; therefore all knowledge must be suspended, all experience must be set aside. And when there is the silence of freedom, then is not the mind itself the eternal? Then it is experiencing something totally new, which is the real; but to experience that, the mind must be that. Please don't say the mind is reality. It is not. The mind can experience reality only when it is totally free from time; and this whole process of discovery is religion. Surely, religion is not what you believe, it has nothing to do with whether you are a Christian or a Buddhist, a Mussulman or a Hindu; those things have no significance, they are a hindrance, and the mind that would discover must be totally stripped of them all. To be new, the mind must be alone; for eternal creation to be, the mind itself must be in that state to receive it. But as long as it is full of its own travails and struggles, as long as it is burdened with knowledge and complicated by psychological blockages, the mind can never be free to receive, to understand, to discover.
So, a truly religious person is not one who is encrusted with beliefs, dogmas, rituals. He has no beliefs; he is living from moment to moment, never accumulating any experience, and therefore he is the only revolutionary being. Truth is not a continuity in time, it must be discovered anew at every moment. The mind that gathers, holds, that treasures any experience, cannot live from moment to moment discovering the new.
Those who are really serious, who are not dilettante, not merely playing with all this, have an extraordinary importance in life, because it is they who will become a light unto themselves and therefore, perhaps, to others. To talk of God without experiencing, without having a mind that is totally free and thereby open to the unknown, has very little value, it is like grown-up people playing with toys; and when we play with toys, calling it religion, we are creating more confusion, greater misery. It is only when we understand the whole process of thinking, when we are no longer caught in our own thought, that it is possible for the mind to be still; and only then can the eternal come into being.
Question: To help my three children, do I just watch myself? And how am I to instruct them?
Krishnamurti: Is not life, everyday living, a process of educating the children and yourself too? Please, this question with its answer is not limited to teachers and students; you are all concerned with this, because you are parents.
Now is education merely the imparting of knowledge? Is it a matter of teaching the children how to read, how to add, how to get a job? But that is what we are now chiefly concerned with, is it not? And what is the result? The boy either ends up in the army, to be destroyed, or he destroys himself in a job. So what does it mean to educate oneself and the children? Does it mean spending years in learning a technique, and then becoming cannon fodder, or a machine in the social structure? Please just follow this; I am asking you to find out for yourself. Does it mean surrounding oneself with innumerable gadgets, with things or beliefs, in order to safeguard oneself and not to be afraid? Does it mean the superficial covering of the mind with information? But that is what we call education, is it not? We spend enormous sums of money to train a boy, and then he ends up in a war in Korea, or in Germany, or in Russia. We are everlastingly creating wars, destroying each other, from the most ancient of times until now. So education as we know it has obviously failed; it has no meaning any more. And if education is none of these things for any intelligent man who thinks about it, then what do we mean by education? Does it not mean an integrated view of life, which will bring about integrated human beings? And one obviously cannot be an integrated human being if one is an American, or a Russian, or a Hindu; those are mere labels without much significance. An integrated human being is one who is no longer caught in fear, who is not shaped by society into a particular pattern of thought, either Catholic communist, or any other. Each sect, each national or religious group, wants to educate its children according to a certain formula; and is that education? Will it bring about integrated human beings? To educate the children, must one not begin to free oneself from fear, from all these limitations of thought as the Christian, the communist, or the idealist?
Surely, to educate oneself and others, one must become aware of oneself, of one's thoughts, of one's motives, of one's contempt and fears; one must become aware of the words one uses, and of the psychological response of the mind to words like "American", "Russian", "German". To educate others, one must begin to educate oneself; and is that not the right process of education? True education exists when the educator is being educated as well as the children, and that implies freedom for the child as well as for yourself. Freedom is not at the end of a long course of discipline, coercion. There is no freedom at the end of compulsion; the outcome of compulsion is still compulsion. If you dominate the child, compel him to fit into a pattern, however idealistic, will he be free at the end of it? If we want to bring about a true revolution in eduction, there must obviously be freedom at the very beginning, which means that both the parent and the teacher must be concerned with freedom, and not with how to help the child to become this or that.
The right kind of education also implies freedom from competition, does it not? We give marks, compare children and encourage competition because when there is the competitive spirit it is much easier to discipline the child, and through fear he is forced to conform, to study more. But if we want to create the right kind of education we will be concerned with freeing the mind so that it is able to look at life with an integrated outlook and meet all its complications as they arise from moment to moment. Surely, that is far more important than the mere drudgery of learning. Book knowledge may or may not come in, but what we are concerned with is to bring about a new human being who is no longer coerced, no longer competitive, no longer seeking success, but who understands what is and is therefore freeing himself from what is. But that requires an extraordinary patience, an integrated understanding which comes only through self-knowledge; and that is why it is so important that both the educator and the educated, the teacher and the taught, should be fully aware of the process of the mind, of their own being.
I believe it used to cost twenty-five cents to kill a Roman soldier, or for the Roman soldier to kill some other soldier; and now, to kill a soldier, it costs something like a hundred thousand dollars. We go on developing mere technique, the ways of memory, of the cunning intellect, and there is no revolt against all this. And when we do revolt, we become pacifists, idealists, or adopt some other label. There can be fundamental revolution only when there is an integrated outlook on life, when each individual is a total being; and that totality, that integration of the individual cannot exist as long as there is fear, competition, ambition, this constant urge to fulfil oneself in some activity, all of which implies "me" against the whole. The world is ours, the riches of the earth are yours and mine. No one can be prosperous while others are starving; but to see this requires an integrated outlook, and we cannot have that integrated view of life as long as you remain an American and I a Hindu. We are human beings, but we cannot partake of this earth if you are competing with me and I with you. As long as you and I are ambitious to fulfil, to become, we must be in constant conflict not with each other. If you see all this, not merely verbally, but inwardly, deeply, I assure you, you will be in revolt; and then, perhaps, we shall be able to produce a new culture, a new world.
Question: The basic struggle throughout history, as in the modern world, seems to be the clash between the forces of tradition and conservatism on the one hand, and the progressive forces on the other. To which side should one give one's support in this great battle to advance human welfare?
Krishnamurti: Cannot we look at this problem without taking sides? Because the moment you take sides, you have not an integrated outlook, you are not free. If you are a progressive and I am a conservative, we clash, we are against each other. Instead of looking at the problem from your point of view or from my point of view, can we not find out what it is that makes the mind conservative or progressive? Do you understand the problem? If I am conservative and you are progressive, we must inevitably be in conflict. I want to conserve, to retain, to keep things very much as they are; and you want to bring reform, you want to produce revolution. We are in constant battle with each other, and so we never solve the problem. But if you and I are intent on solving the human problem, then we will be neither progressive nor conservative; we will be concerned with the problem itself, not with how you look at it or how I look at it. I hope the question is now clear; but the question will never be clear if we have already taken sides. So let us inquire into the conservative and the progressive mind.
Both the conservative and the progressive desire change. That is obvious. It is only the most stupid, the totally blind who want no change at all. Those who have all the things of this world, a large bank account, comfort, luxury, who are satisfied and want everything guarded - such people do not want change. But those who observe, who are aware of the world problem, not just the American or Indian problem, who see this whole human struggle - they all want change. There is starvation in Asia of which you know nothing. Millions and millions have only half a meal a day, and not even that. There is famine, disease, superstition, the degradation of poverty, the multiplication of children, everincreasing populations, poor soil. Naturally they are clamouring for change. And there must obviously be a change from war. Something must be done to stop all wars, so that man can be free to educate himself, to live peacefully, harmoniously, creatively. So, if we are at all thoughtful, we all want change, the conservative as well as the progressive.
The problem, then, is not whether to support the conservative or the progressive, but how to bring about change. Isn't it? Please, one can answer superficially, but I want to tackle this problem fundamentally, deeply. What brings about change? Do revolutions bring about change? There have been revolutions in the past, the French and the more recent ones; and have they brought about change? They may have brought about superficial political changes, but not a basic change of mind and heart, not a fundamental, integrated change in which the individual is no longer nationalistic, no longer French, Russian, German, Hindu, but a human being. So, when we are inquiring into change, revolution, must we not ask if the mind, regardless of whether it is conservative or progressive, can ever bring it about? Does change, revolution come into being through a process of the mind, or does it come about entirely differently? Have you ever observed how you change as an individual human being? When do you change? Surely, not when you are trying to change through the exercise of thought. You change in spite of yourself, when the mind is no longer planning to change.
It is very, very important to understand this, so please have the patience to inquire into it. If envious, how am I to change? Can I change by volition? When I try to get rid of greed, is not that very effort the result of greed in another form? When I say, "I must not be greedy", why do I say it? Because it no longer pays me to be greedy, it causes me pain, so now I have a different motive, a different urge, there is a new sensation which I am after; therefore, in discarding greed, I am still greedy. As long as change is the result of thought, it is not change, regardless of whether that thought is conservative or progressive. Change, revolution can come into being only when calculated thought has come to an end. Please think it over, see the truth of what I am saying. The change that is brought about by thought, by calculation, is a modified continuity. All political revolutions are merely a modified continuity, a reaction to the past, and therefore not a change at all.
So if they are concerned with change both the progressive and the conservative must inquire whether thought can ever bring it about. Change comes into being when there is the perception of what is true; and the perception of what is true is not of the mind. The mind may translate history according to its prejudi- ces, according to its bourgeois or proletarian instincts; but the revolt of those who have nothing, like the conservatism of those who have everything, is always a reaction; and reaction is not change. Change comes about when the mind sees what is true; and it cannot see what is true as long as it is thinking in terms of the progressive or the conservative. You and I must be concerned directly with the problem of change. Change cannot be brought about by any act of will, by any application of knowledge; it comes into being only when reality is seen by you and me. And reality can be seen only when the mind is no longer caught in reaction, when it is neither dreaming of Utopia nor wanting to conserve everything as it is. There is transformation when you and I are truly religious, and that is the only revolution, the only permanent change.
July 5, 1953
Ojai 6th Public Talk 5th July, 1953
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