Hamburg, Germany 6th Public Talk 16th September 1956
It seems to me that the whole world is intent on capturing the mind of man. We have created the psychological world of relationship, the world in which we live, and it in turn is controlling us, shaping our thinking, activities, our psychological being. Every political and religious organization, you will find, is after the mind of man - ' after' in the sense of wanting to capture it, shape it to a certain pattern. The powers that be in the Communist world are blatantly conditioning the mind of man in every direction, and this is also true of the organized religions throughout the world, who for centuries have tried to mould the way of man's thought. Each specialized group, whether religious, secular, or political, is striving to draw and to hold man within the pattern of that which its books, its leaders, the few in power, think is good for him. They think they know the future; they think they know what is the ultimate good for man. The priests, with their so-called religious authority, as well as the worldly powers - whether it be in Rome, in Moscow, in America, or elsewhere - are all trying to control man's thought process, are they not? And most of us eagerly accept some form of authority and subject ourselves to it. There are very few who escape the clutches of this organized control of man and his thinking.
Merely to break away from a particular religious pattern, or from a political pattern of the left or of the right, in order to adopt another pattern, or to establish one of our own, will not, it seems to me, simplify the extraordinary complexity of our lives, or resolve the catastrophic misery in which most of us live. I think the fundamental solution lies elsewhere, and it is this fundamental solution that we are all trying to find. Groping blindly, we join this organization or that. We belong to a particular society, follow this or that leader, try to find a Master in India or somewhere else - always hoping to break away from our narrow, limited existence, but always caught, it seems to me, in this conflict within the pattern. We never seem to get away from the pattern, either self-created, or imposed by some leader or religious authority. We blindly accept authority in the hope of breaking through the cloud of our own strife, misery and struggle; but no leader, no authority is ever going to free man. I think history has shown this very clearly, and you in this country know it very well - perhaps better than others.
So if a new world is to come into being, as it must, it seems to me extremely important to understand this whole process of authority - the authority imposed by society, by the book, by a set of people who think they know the ultimate good for man and who seek to force him through torture through every form of compulsion, to conform to their pattern. We are quick to follow such people because in our own being we are so uncertain, so confused; and we also follow because of our vanity and arrogance, and out of desire for the power offered by another.
Now, is it possible to break away from this whole pattern of authority? Can we break away from all authority of any kind in ourselves? We may reject the authority of another, but unfortunately we still have the authority of our own experience, of our own knowledge, of our own thinking, and that in turn becomes the pattern which guides us; but that is essentially no different from the authority of another. There is this desire to follow, to imitate, to conform in the hope of achieving something greater, and so long as this desire exists there must be misery and strife, every form of suppression, frustration and suffering.
I do not think we sufficiently realize the necessity of being free of this compulsion to follow authority, inward or outward. And I think it is very important psychologically to understand this compulsion; otherwise we shall go on blindly struggling in this world in which we live and have our being, and we shall never find that other thing which is so infinitely greater. We must surely break away from this world of imitation and conformity if we are to find a totally different world. This means a really fundamental change in our lives - in the way of our action, in the way of our thought, in the way of our feeling.
But most of us are not concerned with that, we are not concerned with understanding our thoughts, our feelings, our activities. We are only concerned with what to believe or not to believe, with whom to follow or not to follow, with which is the religious society or political party, and all the rest of that nonsense. We are never concerned deeply, inwardly, with a radical change in the way of our daily life, in the way of our speech, the sensitivity of our thought towards another; so we are not concerned with any of that. We cultivate the intellect and acquire knowledge of innumerable things, but we remain inwardly the same - ambitious, cruel, violent, envious, burdened with all the pettiness of which the mind is capable. And seeing all this, is it possible to break away from the petty mind? I think that is the only real problem. And I think that in breaking away from the petty mind we shall find the right answer to our economic, social and other problems.
Without understanding the pettiness of ourselves, the narrow, shallow thoughts and feelings that we have - without going into that very deeply and fundamentally, merely to join societies and follow leaders who promise better health, better economic conditions, and all the rest of it, seems to me so utterly immature. Our fear may perhaps be modified, moved to another level, but inwardly we remain the same; there is still fear and the sense of frustration that goes with self-centred activity. Unless we fundamentally change that, do what we will - create the most extraordinary legislative order, bring about a Welfare State which guarantees everyone's social well-being, and all the rest of it - , inwardly we shall always remain poor.
So how is the mind to break away from its own pettiness? I do not know if you have ever thought about this, or if it is a problem to you. Perhaps you are merely concerned with improving conditions, bringing about certain reforms, establishing a better social order, and are not concerned with a radical change in human thinking. It seems to me that the real problem is whether a fundamental change comes about through outward circumstances, or through any form of compulsion, or whether it comes from a totally different direction. If we rely on any form of compulsion, on outward changes in the social order, on so-called education, which is the mere gathering of information, and so on, surely our lives will still be shallow. We may know a great deal about many things, we may be able to quote the various authorities and be very learned in the expression of our thought; but our minds will be as petty as before, with the same ache of deep anxiety, uncertainty, fear. So there is no fundamental transformation through outward change, or through any form of pressure, influence. Fundamental transformation comes from quite a different direction, and this is what I would like briefly to talk about, even though I have already talked about it a great deal during the last five meetings; because it seems to me that this is the only real issue.
So long as we ourselves are confused, small, petty, whatever our activity may be, and whatever concept we may have of truth, of God, of beauty or love, our thinking and our action are bound to be equally petty, confused, limited. A confused mind can only think in terms of confusion. A petty mind can never imagine what God is, what truth is; and yet that is what we are occupied with. So it seems to me important to discover whether the mind can transform itself without any compulsion, without any motive. The moment there is compulsion, the mind is already conforming to a pattern. If there is a motive for change, that motive is self-projected; therefore the change, being a product of self-centred activity, is no change at all. It seems to me that this is the real thing which we have fundamentally to tackle, put our teeth into - and not whom to follow, who is the best leader, and all that rubbish.
The question is, can the mind, without any form of compulsion, without a motive, bring about a transformation within itself? A motive is bound to be the result of self-centred desire, and such a motive is self-enclosing; therefore there is no freedom, there is no transformation of the mind. So, can the mind break away from all influence and from all motive? And is not this very breaking away from all influence and from all motive in itself a transformation of the mind? Do you follow what I mean?
You see, we must abandon this in which we are caught - the world of authority, of power, of influence, or, the world of conditioning, of fear, of ambition and envy - if we are to find the other world. We must let this world go, let it die in us without compulsion, without motive; because any motive will be a mere repetition of the same thing in different terms.
I think just to look at the problem, just to comprehend the problem, brings its own answer. I see that, as a human being, I am the result of innumerable activity influences, social compulsions, religious impressions, and that if I try to find reality, truth, or God, that very search will be based on the things I have been taught, shaped by what I have known, conditioned by my education and by the influences of the environment in which I live. So, can I be free of all that? To be free, I must first know for myself that my mind is conditioned, I must be fully aware that I am not really a human being, but a Hindu, a Catholic, a German, a Protestant, a Communist, a Socialist, or whatever it may be. I am born with a label; and this, or some other label of my own choosing, sticks to me for the rest of my life. I am born and die in one religion, or I change from one religion to another, and I think I have understood reality, God; but I have only perpetuated the conditioned mind, the label. Now, can I, as a human being, put all that away from me without any compulsion?
I think it is very important to understand that any effort made to free oneself from one's conditioning, is another form of conditioning. If I try to free myself from Hinduism, or any other ism, I am making that effort in order to achieve what I consider to be a more desirable state; therefore the motive to change conditions the change. So I must realize my own conditioning, and do absolutely nothing. This is very difficult. But I must know for myself that my mind is small, petty, confused, conditioned, and see that any effort to change it is still within the field of that confusion; therefore any such effort only breeds further confusion.
I hope I am making this clear. If your mind is confused, as the minds of most people are, then your thought, your action, and your choice of a leader, will also be confused. But if you know that you are confused, and realize that any effort born of that confusion can only bring still further confusion, then what happens? If you are fundamentally, deeply aware of that fact, then you will see quite a different process at work. It is not the process of effort; there is no wanting to break through your confusion. You know that you are totally confused, and therefore there is the cessation of all thinking.
This is a very difficult thing to comprehend, because we are so certain that thinking, rationalizing, logical reasoning, can resolve our problems. But we have never really examined the process of thinking. We assume that thinking will solve our problems, but we have never gone into the whole issue of what thinking is. So long as I remain a Hindu, a Christian, or what you will, my thinking must be shaped by that pattern; therefore my thinking, my whole response to life, is conditioned. So long as I think as an Indian, a German, or whatever it is, and act according to that petty, nationalistic background, it inevitably leads to separation, to hatred, to war and misery. So we have to inquire into the whole problem of thinking.
There is no freedom of thought, because all thought is conditioned. There is freedom only when I understand that all thought is conditioned, and am therefore free of that conditioning - which mean, really, that there is no thought at all, no thinking in terms of Catholic, Hindu, Buddhist, German, or what you will, but pure observation, complete attention. In this, I think, lies the real revolution in the immense understanding that thought does not solve the problem of existence. Which does not mean that you must become thoughtless. On the contrary. To understand the process of thinking requires, not acceptance or denial, but intense inquiry. When the mind under - stands the whole process of itself, there is then a fundamental revolution, a radical change, which is not brought about through conscious effort. It is an effortless state, out of which comes a total transformation.
But this transformation is not of time. It is not a thing about which you can say to yourself" It will come eventually; I must work at it, I must do this and not that." On the contrary, the moment you introduce time as a factor of change, there is no real change at all.
The immeasurable is not of this world, it is not put together by the mind; because what the mind has put together, the mind can undo. To understand the immeasurable, which is to enter into a different world altogether, we must understand this world in which we live, this world which we have created and of which we are a part: the world of ambition, greed, envy, hatred, the world of separation, fear and lust. That means we must understand ourselves, the unconscious as well as the conscious, and this is not very difficult if you set your mind to it. If you really want to know the totality of your own being, you can easily discover it. It reveals itself in every relationship, at every moment - when you are entering the bus, getting a taxi, or talking to someone.
But most of us are not concerned with that, because it requires serious endeavour, persistent inquiry. Most of us are very superficial; we are easily satisfied with such words as `God', `love', `beauty'. We call ourselves Christians, Buddhists, or Hindus, and think we have solved the whole problem. We must shed all that, let it drop away completely; and it will drop away only when we begin to know ourselves deeply. It is only through understanding ourselves that we shall find something which is beyond all measure.
These are not mere words for you to learn and repeat. What you repeat will have no meaning unless you directly experience this. If you do not have your own direct understanding of it, the world of effort and sorrow, of misery and chaos, will continue.
Question: You talk so much against the church and organized religion. Have they not done a lot of good in this world?
Krishnamurti: I am not talking against the church and organized religion. It is up to you. Personally I do not belong to any church or organized religion, because to me they have no meaning; and I think that if you are earnestly seeking what is real, you will have to put all those things aside - which does not mean that I am attacking. If you attack, you have to defend; but we are neither attacking nor defending. But We are trying to understand this whole problem of existence, in which the church and organized religions are included.
I do not think any organized religion helps man to find God, truth. They may condition you to believe in God, as the Communist mind is conditioned not to believe in God; but I do not see much difference between the two. The man who says "I believe in God", and who has been trained from childhood to believe in God, is in the same field as the man who says "I do not believe in God", and who has also been conditioned to repeat this kind of nonsense. But a man who wants to find out, begins to inquire for himself. He does not merely accept some authority, some book or saviour. If he is really in earnest, pursuing understanding in his daily thoughts, in his whole way of life, he abandons all belief and disbelief. He is an inquirer, a real seeker, without any motive; he is on a journey of discovery, single, alone. And when he finds, life has quite a different significance. Then perhaps he may be able to help others to be free.
The questioner wants to know if the organized religions have not done good. Have they? I believe there is only one organized religion which has not brought misery to man through war - and it is obviously not Christianity. You have had more wars, perhaps, than any other religion - all in the name of peace, love, goodness, freedom. You have probably suffered more than most people the terrors of war and degradation - with both sides always claiming that God is with them. You know all this so well, without my repetition.
I think it is we who have made this world what it is. The world has not been made by wisdom, by truth, by God; we have made it, you and I. And until you and I fundamentally change, no organized religion is going to do good to man. They may socially do good, bring about superficial reform. But it has taken centuries to civilize religions, and it will take centuries to civilize Communism. A man who is really in earnest must be free from all these things. He must go beyond all the saviours, all the gods and demagogues, to find out what is true.
Question: Will self-knowledge put a end to suffering, which apparently necessitates the soul taking birth over and over again?
Krishnamurti: The idea is that so long as you have to suffer, you must be reborn, till you transcend suffering. That is the old Hindu, Buddhist, or Asiatic idea. They say you must return to the earth, be reborn over and over again and continue to suffer, till you understand the whole process of suffering and step out of it.
In one way it is true, is it not? Our life is suffering. Year after year, from the time we are born till we die, our life is a process of struggle, suffering, pain, anxiety, fear. We know this all too well. It is a form of continuity - the continuity of suffering, is it not? Whether you will be reborn, to suffer again till you understand, is irrelevant. You do suffer now, within the present lifetime. And can we put an end to suffering, not at some future date, but immediately, and not think in terms of time?
I think it is possible. Not that you must accept what I say, because acceptance has no validity. But can one not begin to inquire for oneself whether suffering can come to an end? I am talking of psychological suffering, not the bodily aches and pains - although if we understand the psychological state of the mind, it may perhaps help to ameliorate our physical suffering also. So, can suffering come to an end? Or is man doomed to suffer everlastingly - not in the Christian sense of hellfire and all that rubbish, but in the ordinary sense? After all, fifty years or so of suffering is good enough. You don't have to speculate about the future.
If we begin to inquire into it, I think we shall find that suffering exists so long as there is ignorance of the whole process of one's own being. So long as I do not know myself, the ways and compulsions of my own mind, unconscious as well as conscious, there must be suffering. After all, we suffer because of ignorance - ignorance in the sense of not knowing oneself. Ignorance is also a lack of understanding of the ordinary daily contacts between man and man, and out of that ignorance comes much suffering also; but I am talking of our utter lack of self-knowledge. Without self-knowledge, suffering will continue.
Question: Is it possible to influence the thinking of mankind in the right direction by suitable thoughts and meditation?
Krishnamurti: I think this is one of the most extraordinary concerns of man - the desire to influence somebody else. That is what you are all doing, is it not? You are trying to influence your son, your daughter, your husband, your wife, everybody around you - thinking that you know, and the other does not. It is a form of vanity.
Really, what do you know? Very little, surely. You may be a great scientist and know a lot of facts; you may know many things that have been written in books, you may know about philosophy and psychology - but these are all merely the acquisitions of memory. And beyond that, what do you know? Yet you want to influence people in the right direction. That is what the Communists are doing. They think they know; they interpret history in a certain way, as the church does, and they all want to influence people. And they jolly well are influencing people - putting them in concentration camps, trapping them with threats of hellfire, excommunication, and all the rest of it. You know all this business - which is supposed to be influencing people in the right direction. Those who do the influencing think they know what the right direction is. They all claim to have the vision of what is true. The Communists claim it, and in the case of the church it is supposed to be God-given. And you want to join one or the other of them, through `right thinking', as you call it.
But first of all, do you know what thinking is? Can there ever be right thinking so long as the mind is conditioned, so long as you are thinking of yourself as a Christian, a Communist, or what you will? Surely the whole idea of trying to influence people is totally wrong.
Then you may ask, "What are you trying to do?" I assure you I am not trying to influence you. I am pointing out certain obvious things, which perhaps you have not thought about before - and the rest is up to you. There is no `good' influence or 'bad' influence when you are seeking what is true. To find out for oneself what is true, all influence must cease. There is no `good' conditioning or `bad' conditioning - there is only freedom from all conditioning. So the idea of trying to influence another for his 'good' seems to me utterly immature, completely false.
Then there is this problem of meditation, which the questioner raises. It is a very complex problem, and I do not know if you want to go into it.
Unless we know for ourselves what meditation is, and how to meditate, life has very little depth. Without meditation there is no perfume to life, no beauty, no love. Meditation is a tremendous thing, requiring a great deal of insight, perception. One may know that state, one may feel it occasionally. When one is sitting very quietly in one's room, or under a tree looking at the blue sky, there comes a feeling of immensity without measure, without comparison, without cognition. But that is entirely different from the things that you have learned about meditation. You have probably read various books from India, telling how to meditate, and so you want to learn a technique in order to meditate.
The very process of learning a technique in order to meditate, is a denial of meditation. Meditation is something entirely different. It is not the outcome of any practice, of any discipline, of any compulsion or conformity. But if you begin to understand the process of conformity, of compulsion, the desire to achieve, to gain something, then the understanding of all that is part of meditation. Self-knowledge - which is to know the ways of your own thought, and to pursue thought right to the end - is the beginning of meditation.
It is very difficult to pursue a thought to the end, because other thoughts come in, and then we say we must learn concentration. But concentration is not important. Any child is capable of concentration - give him a new toy and he is concentrated. Every business man is concentrated when he wants to make money. Concentration, which we think we should have in order to meditate, is really narrowness, a process of limitation, exclusion.
So when you put the question, "How am I to meditate?", what is important is to understand why you ask `how'. If you go into it, you will find that this very inquiry is meditation.
But that is only a beginning. In meditation there is no thinker apart from thought; there is neither the pursuer nor the pursued. It is a state of being in which there is no sense of the experiencer. But to come to that state, the mind must really understand the whole process of itself. If it does not understand itself it will get caught in its own projection, in a vision which it has created; and to be caught in a vision is not meditation.
Meditation is the process of understanding oneself; that is the beginning of it. Self-knowledge brings wisdom. And as the mind begins to understand the whole process of itself, it becomes very quiet, completely still, without any sense of movement or demand. Then, perhaps, that which is not measurable comes into being.
September 16, 1956
Hamburg, Germany 6th Public Talk 16th September 1956
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