Stockholm, Sweden 3rd Public Talk 21st May 1956
To those of us who are serious it must be a real problem to find out how to bring about a fundamental change in ourselves. It is obvious that such a change is necessary, and not merely a change forced by circumstances, which is no change at all. The pressure of circumstances may bring about a change, but such change invariably leads to further conflict and stagnation. But if one is concerned with a fundamental change, how is it to be brought about?
One sees in the world a great deal of misery, not only physical but psychological: the limitations of the conditioned mind, the constant threat of war, the national and racial divisions, as well as those which the organized religions create with their dogmatism and vain, repeated rituals - we all know of these things. And seeing all this, it must surely be a matter of serious concern for each individual to find out for himself how he can bring about a fundamental, radical change within himself, a change that will set free the mind from the constant pressure of conflict, suffering and limitation. It is obvious that there must be a change; but the difficulty with most of us is, I think, that we do not know how to change.
Now, what I mean by change is not merely conforming to a new pattern of thinking, to a new ideology, but a change that is brought about without any form of compulsion or pressure, without influence, and even without motive. Because if one has a motive in bringing about a change, one is back in the old pattern of achievement, ambition. So it must be our concern, I think, to inquire into this question and find out for ourselves how a deep, inward transformation can be brought about.
I am going to talk as usual this evening for about twenty or thirty minutes, and then I suggest that we discuss together. You ask me questions, and there will be an exchange between us, so that you and I will get to know what we actually feel and think about this problem. I hope you will agree to this.
We think ideals are necessary to bring about this change, do we not? Being violent, we say that the ideal of non-violence will help us to put away that which is violent; we seek to replace violence by what we call non-violence, to replace greed by generosity, and so on. But to me, ideals do not bring about a change; on the contrary, ideals are impediments to a fundamental, radical change. Ideals are merely a means of postponing, an excuse to avoid bringing about a real change. So long as we have an ideal, there is always a conflict between what is and what should be, and we spend a great deal of energy in this inward conflict, through which we hope to bring about a fundamental change. If we are envious, we set up the ideal of non-envy, hoping thereby to free the mind from envy. But if you examine closely this whole process, you will see that the ideal actually prevents the understanding of what is, which is envy. So the ideal is not important, it is an impediment, a thing to be put away completely.
Now, what is it that will bring about a change? Can the mind which has been conditioned in a particular pattern, bring about a change? Or does such a mind merely modify the pattern of its thinking, and imagine that it has thereby radically changed? Does not a fundamental change come about only in understanding the whole background in which one has been brought up? Surely, so long as the mind operates within the pattern of a particular society, or a particular religion, there can be no change. However much we may struggle within the pattern, however much we may suffer, a change is not possible so long as we do not understand the pattern in which we live and in which our whole being is caught. The desire to change within the pattern only creates further complications. We spend our time in ceaseless struggle, making vain efforts to change, and there is constant friction between what is and what should be, which is the ideal.
So it seems to me that if we are to bring about a fundamental change, it is first necessary to understand the background in which we have been brought up, the pattern in which the mind operates. If we do not understand that pattern, if we are not familiar with our own conditioning, if the whole trend of our education, in which the mind is caught, is not understood, then we merely follow a tradition, which invariably leads to mediocrity. Tradition inevitably cripples and dulls the mind. So it is imperative, surely, to bring about a fundamental change within ourselves; because, though we may be very clever and know a great deal, most of us are very mediocre, empty, shallow, inwardly insufficient, are we not? And to bring about such a change, it is necessary to understand the totality of our background. Until we understand that background, however much we may struggle to change ourselves, it will lead us nowhere.
What do we mean by the background? The background is made up of the traditions, the influences in which we have been raised, and the education, the theories, the formulas, the conclusion that we have acquired. If we are not free of all that, which is mere occupation with ideas, any effort to change ourselves must invariably lead to the same kind of respectability or mediocrity; and this struggle, in which we are all caught, can only bring about non-creative thinking.
It is only the free mind, surely, that can find out what is true, not the mind that is conditioned by beliefs, ideals and compulsions. If we want to find out if there is a reality beyond the limitations and projections of thought, surely the mind must first be free of all the beliefs, dogmas and traditions, of all the patterns in which it is caught. For it is only the free mind that can discover, and not the mind that is constantly struggling to adjust itself to a particular pattern or ideal, whether imposed upon it by society, or by the mind itself.
It seems to me that one of our main difficulties is that we really want to live casual, sluggish, dull lives, with perhaps a little excitement now and then. Our pattern of existence is very shallow, and we are everlastingly struggling in a superficial way to deepen this shallowness through various formulas. I think this shallowness, this emptiness within ourselves, is brought about by not understanding the whole background in which we live, the habitual ways of our thinking; we are not aware of that at all. We are not aware of our thoughts, we do not see from whence they come, what their significance is, what values we are giving to them, and how the mind is caught in dead dreaming, in competition, in ambition, in trying to be something, in adjusting to all the narrow formulas of society.
Therefore it is really important, if one would bring about a fundamental change, to be totally free of society. And that is the real revolution: the revolution which comes when we begin to understand the whole pattern of society, of which we are a part. We are not different from society, we are the result of social influences; and we cannot be free from the stamp of social influences so long as we do not understand the whole composition of society. The composition of society is a mixture of greed, envy, ambition, and of all those conditioning beliefs based on fear which are called religion. So it is only the man who steps out of society, who is free from the compulsion of neighbours and tradition, as well as from his own inward envy and ambition - it is only such a man who is really revolutionary, really religious, and only he can find out if there is a reality beyond the projections of our petty little minds.
I think this is a very important problem, especially in our world today, which is facing such great crises. Science and so-called civilization may bring about a change, but any such change is invariably superficial; it is merely a yielding to the pressure of circumstances, and so it is no real change at all. Therefore there is no creative release, but merely the pursuit of a routine which is called virtue. But if we can go very deeply into this problem, as we should, then I think we shall be able to understand the background of which we form a part. The background is not different from ourselves, because we are the background. Our minds are a result of the past, with all its traditions, beliefs and dogmas, both conscious and unconscious. And can such a mind ever be free? It can be free only when it begins to understand the whole structure of this background, of the society in which we live. Then only is it possible for the mind to be truly religious, and therefore truly revolutionary.
To go into this a little more, verbally at least - and non-verbally also - , perhaps we can try discussing it together. What I have said may be contradictory to what you think, and it might be profitable if we could discuss it easily, naturally, and in a friendly manner, so as to find out more about this problem. But to discuss it is going to be quite difficult. We must all stick to the point and not bring in various issues which are irrelevant. And obviously, to discuss wisely we must not make long speeches.
Questioner: Can we reach an understanding of ourselves other than by conscious effort?
Krishnamurti: Do we understand anything through effort? If I make an effort to understand what you say, do you think I shall understand? All my attention is given to making the effort, is it not? But if one can listen effortlessly, then perhaps there is a possibility of understanding.
In the same way, how am I to understand myself? First of all, surely, I must not assume anything about myself, I must not have a mental picture of myself. I must look at my thoughts, at the way I talk, at my gestures, at my beliefs, as easily as I look at my face in a mirror - just watch them, be aware of them without condemnation; because the moment I condemn, there is no furthering of understanding. If I want to understand, I must look; and I cannot look if I condemn. If I want to understand a child, it is no good comparing him with his older brother, or condemning him. I must watch him when he is playing, crying, eating; and I can watch him only if I have no sense of condemnation or evaluation. In the same way, I can watch myself - not little bits of myself, but the totality of myself - only when there is an awareness in which there is no choice, no condemnation, no comparison.
Questioner: Is it possible for any of us, who are living in this particular society, to bring about the change of which you are talking?
Krishnamurti: If we as individuals do not bring about this change, how is it to be done? If you and I, living in this society, do not do it, who will? The powerful, the millionaires, the people of great possessions, are not going to do it. It must surely be done by ordinary people like you and me - and I am not saying this rhetorically, stupidly. If you and I see the importance of this change, then it is not courage, but the very perception of the importance of change, which will bring it about. A man may have the courage to stand against the dictates of society; but if is the man who understands the complex problem of change, who understands the whole structure of society, which is himself - it is he alone who becomes an individual and is not merely a representative of the collective. Only the individual who is not caught in society, can fundamentally affect society. You think that courage, strength, conviction is necessary to understand and withstand society. I think that is entirely false. If one deeply feels it is important to effect a real change, that very feeling brings about such a change within oneself.
Questioner: A man has a right to go his own way; and if he does so, will not this change come about?
Krishnamurti: Are you suggesting, sir, that there can be change through an action of will? Most of us are accustomed to the idea that through will we can bring about a change. Now, what do we mean by will? We generally mean, do we not?, making an effort in one particular direction, suppressing what is in order to reach something else. We exercise will in order to achieve, or to bring about a certain desired change. Will is another word for desire, is it not? Each one of us has many contradictory desires; and when one desire dominates other desires, this domination of one desire over the others we call will. But it is still the domination of one desire over other desires; so there is contradiction, suppression, a ceaseless conflict going on between the dominant desire, which we call will, and the other desires.
Now, this conflict can never bring about a change - which is psychologically obvious. So long as I am in conflict within myself there can be no change. There can be a change, not by one desire dominating other desires, but only when I understand the whole structure of desire. That is why it is important to understand the background, the values, the influences, the motives in which the mind is caught.
Questioner: You say that in order to bring about a change we must understand the background. Do you mean by this that we must understand reincarnation and karma?
Krishnamurti: Karma is a sanskrit word which means action. And reincarnation - you know what that means!
I think it is fairly clear that a mind that believes in anything, that adheres to any psychological wish or hope - which comes from fear - lives always within the pattern of that belief; and to struggle within the pattern of any belief is no change at all. A man who merely believes in reincarnation has not understood the whole problem of death and sorrow, and when he believes in that particular theory he is trying to escape from the fact of death.
The word `karma' has many problems involved in it. One has to understand the motives of one's actions - the influences, the compulsions, the causes which have brought about the action. Surely, all this is part of the background which must be understood; and belief in reincarnation is also part of the background. The mind that believes is not capable of understanding, because belief is obviously an escape from reality.
Questioner: I think it is rather important to know what we mean by seeing and watching. You have said that there is no motive or centre, but only a process. How can a process watch another process?
Krishnamurti: This is like a cross-examination! Surely you are not trying to trap me, and I am not trying to answer cleverly. What we are trying to do is to understand the problem, which is very complex; and one or two questions and responses are not going to solve it. But what we can do is to approach it from different directions and look at it as patiently as possible.
So the question is this: If there is only a process, and not a centre which observes the process, then how can a process observe itself? The process is active, moving, changing, all the time in motion; and how can that process watch itself if there is no centre? I hope the question is clear to you, otherwise what I am going to say will have no meaning.
If the whole of life is a movement, a flux, then how can it be watched unless there is a watcher? Now, we are conditioned to believe, and we feel we know, that there is a watcher as well as a movement, a process; so we think we are separate from the process. To most of us there is the thinker and the thought, the experiencer and the experience. For us that is so, we accept it as a matter of fact. But is it so? Is there a thinker, an observer, a watcher apart from thought, apart from thinking, apart from experience? Is there a thinker, a centre, without thought? If you remove thought, is there a centre? If you have no thought at all, no struggle, no urge to acquire, no effort to become something, is there a centre? Or is the centre created by thought, which feels itself to be insecure, impermanent, in a state of flux? If you observe, you will find that it is the thought process that has created the centre, which is still within the field of thinking. And is it possible - this is the point - to watch, to be aware of this process, without the watcher? Can the mind, which is the process, be aware of itself?
Please, this requires a great deal of insight, meditation and penetration, because most of us assume that there is a thinker apart from thinking. But if you go into it a little more closely, you will see that thought has created the thinker. The thinker who is directing, who is the centre, the judge, is the outcome of our thoughts. This is a fact, as you will see if you are really looking at it. Most people are conditioned to believe that the thinker is separate from thought, and they give to the thinker the quality of eternality; but that which is beyond time comes into being only when we understand the whole process of thinking.
Now, can the mind be aware of itself in action, in movement, without a centre? I think it can. It is possible when there is only an awareness of thinking, and not the thinker who is thinking. You know, it is quite an experience to realize that there is only thinking. And it is very difficult to experience that, because the thinker is habitually there, evaluating, judging, condemning, comparing, identifying. If the thinker ceases to identify, evaluate, judge, then there is only thinking, without the centre. What is the centre? The centre is the `me' - the `me' that wants to be a great person, that has so many conclusions, fears, motives. From that centre we think; but that centre has been created by the reaction of thinking. So, can the mind be aware of thinking without the centre - just observe it? You will find how extraordinarily difficult it is just to look at a flower without naming it, without comparing it with other flowers, without evaluating it out of like or dislike. Experiment with this and you will see how really difficult it is to observe something without bringing in all your prejudices, all your emotions and evaluations. But however difficult, you will find that the mind can be aware of itself without the centre watching the movement of the mind.
Questioner: If anyone wishes to find freedom along the lines you have spoken of, is it not also necessary for that person to renounce the church or whatever other religious organizations he is taking an interest in?
Krishnamurti: If one wishes to free oneself should one give up, renounce, or set aside organizations that demand belief? Obviously. If one belongs to an organization which demands belief, which is based on fear, on dogma, then the mind is a slave to that organization and cannot be free. Only the mind that is free - and this is an extraordinarily complex and difficult problem - can find out if there is reality, if there is God, not the mind that believes in God.
Now, why do we cling to the dogmas, beliefs and rituals which religions introduce? When we understand that, then they will drop away like leaves in the autumn, without any effort.
Why do you belong to any particular religious organization? We must obviously have organizations to deliver letters, milk, and so on; but why does the mind cling to dogmas? Does it not cling because in dogma, in belief, it finds security, something to rely on? Being uncertain, fearful, insecure, it projects a belief or clings to a dogma that some church or other organization offers. The mind clings to dogma, to belief, as an escape from its own uncertainty, its inward poverty, insufficiency. It tries to fill that emptiness with dogmas, beliefs, superstitions, rituals. You may renounce a belief and put aside a dogma; but so long as you have not understood this inward poverty, insufficiency, so long as the mind has not understood its own emptiness, merely relinquishing organized religion has no meaning. It will have meaning only when you understand the inward nature that forces you to cling to a conclusion, a belief. That is why it is very important to have knowledge of oneself, to know why one believes, rejects, renounces. It is only through self-knowledge that there is wisdom - not in beliefs, not in books, but in understanding the whole structure of the mind. Only the free mind can understand that which is beyond time.
May 21, 1956
Stockholm, Sweden 3rd Public Talk 21st May 1956
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