Madras 2nd Public Talk 16th December 1956
Communication is always difficult, especially when we are dealing with problems which are very complex, because each one is listening, not to the problem itself, but to his reaction to the problem. As we were saying last week, to discover that which is new there must be freedom of the mind; and to find out the full significance of that word `freedom', not the mere dictionary meaning, is very difficult, because each one interprets it according to his fancy, prejudice, according to his own limited understanding, and so does not really probe into the depth of it. To understand the meaning of freedom, we cannot start from any supposition, assumption or conclusion, because then the mind itself is not free. As you are listening to me now, for example, you already have certain ideas, prejudices, conclusions, which means that you are reacting according to the background in which you have been brought up; you are not listening to what is being said, but to these conclusions and interpretations, so actually there is no communication between us. To communicate fully and significantly, you and I must obviously be free from any kind of conclusion, opinion, or dogmatic belief.
The mind must be free to listen, and that is one of our greatest difficulties, is it not? If I want to understand something, my mind must put aside all its prejudices, conclusions, dogmas and beliefs - which is an extraordinarily difficult thing to do. Yet that is obviously the first essential in all search: to set the mind free from the conclusions or assumptions it has acquired. There is no search if I start with a conclusion, with any form of judgment or evaluation, because my thinking is then merely a movement from one conclusion to another, which is no thinking at all. Is that not so?
Surely we must be clear on this point; because after all, what is it we are trying to do? You and I are trying to find out together the truth about this extraordinary thing called life - not a particular part or segment of life, with its superficial response, but the whole of life; and to find out the significance, the truth of life in its totality, we must surely start without assuming anything, that is, with a mind that is free from conclusions. If you assume that you are a Hindu with certain dogmas, opinions, or a Christian with definite ideas about salvation and how to attain it, obviously that very conditioning prevents real search and discovery. Therefore it is only the free mind that can find out whether there is God, truth, that can know the meaning of love, of death, and of the many problems which confront each one of us.
All this is obvious, is it not? The mind that wishes to find out the truth of anything, especially when it is a psychological matter involving the processes of the mind, must start without any assumption; it cannot assume that there is a soul, an Atman, or cling to a particular belief. You must start freely, for you cannot seek if you are bound by a belief. Our concern, then, is not with what truth is, what reality is, or what God is, but with how to free the mind from belief, from influence, from pressure, from conditioning, so that it is capable of discovering what is true. We have many problems in life, not only economic, but the many other problems which arise in man's relationship with man, with ideas, and with nature; and we can never find out the truth of all this if our minds are conditioned as Communists, Socialists, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, or what you will. There must be a true answer to this enormous and urgent crisis which is confronting us all; but the true answer does not depend upon time, because time as we understand it has in itself undergone a tremendous revolution on account of the atom, on account of rapid technological progress, the pressures of war, of economic conflict, and so on - which means that the whole process of our thinking with regard to time has also to undergo a fundamental change. And to bring about such a change, obviously we must free the mind from its conditioning.
Now, can the mind free itself from its conditioning? That is really the issue, because, whether you are a Communist, a Christian, or a Hindu, you have not solved your problems. On the contrary, your problems are multiplying with great rapidity. The issue, therefore, is not how to solve the innumerable problems, but whether the mind can approach these problems with freshness, with freedom; for it is only when the mind is free that it is capable of finding an answer which must obviously be totally different from the so-called answers to which we are accustomed. The answers that we now have to the problems of life have not resolved these problems, and a man who seriously wishes to understand the deeper significance of life must be concerned with freeing himself from the patterns which society and religion have imposed upon him. I think this is obvious, but the difficulty is that most of us do not accept or realize the necessity of it. We are still Hindus bound to our tradition, or Christians burdened with a particular set of dogmas, beliefs, through which we are trying to understand the very complex problem of living.
So, can the mind free itself from its pressures, from the influences of society, so that it is able to think straight and not be pushed in any direction? Can it free itself from its traditions, from its conclusions, from the experiences based upon its own conditioning, which it calls knowledge? Surely, that is the real issue. Because what is needed in the world is not more planning, more leaders or spiritual guides, but individuals who are explosively creative - not creative merely in the sense of inventiveness, but who have that strange quality of creation which comes when the mind is free from the traditions, the evaluations, the impositions of a particular society or culture. Only when each one of us is such an individual is it possible to bring about a new world, a new culture, a totally new way of looking at life.
Surely, to find out whether the mind can be free is like taking a journey by oneself into the unknown. For obviously, truth, reality, God, or what name you will, is the unknown; it is not the possession of any teacher, it is not to be found in any book, it is not caught in the net of tradition. You must come to it totally alone, you must take the journey without any companion, either Shankara, Buddha, or Christ. Only then will you discover what is true. But most of us walk with companions, which are our memories of all the things we have been told. You have been told about one set of ideas, the Communist about another, and the Christian about still another. You have certain leaders, teachers, gurus, priests, you constantly read certain books, which have imposed fixed ideas on your mind. These fixed ideas are your companions in whose company you are always searching for the answer; but you can find the answer, surely, not according to a particular set of ideas, which are merely your prejudices, your conditioning, but only when you walk totally alone, without any companions whatsoever. Truth is something to be discovered, not to be invited or pursued, and to discover it, the mind must be completely free of its conditioning.
I don't know if you have ever thought about this problem of whether the mind, which is a result of time, of association, which is a process of recognition, of accumulated memories, traditions - whether such a mind can free itself from this accumulated residue of memory, from its conditioning as a Hindu, a Christian, a Buddhist, or a Communist, and look at life completely anew. Surely, that is the problem: not to find a new teacher, a new doctrine, but to discover for oneself whether the individual mind can separate itself from society and stand completely alone so as to find out what is true.
After all, what is society? Society, surely, is the relationship between man and man. We have created this society, we are part of it, and this society has in turn influenced us, nurtured us, educated us; and without understanding this society, which is our relationship with each other, we shall not be able to understand ourselves. This society is obviously based on acquisitiveness, on greed, envy, ambition, on the search for power, position, prestige; it gives importance to the self, to the `I'.
Now, can we be free of greed, envy, ambition, fear, not partially, in little bits, but totally? Can the mind be wholly free of the qualities which it calls greed, envy, violence? If it can, then the moment it is free, one's relationship to society has undergone a fundamental change, because one is no longer dependent psychologically on the evaluations imposed by society. That is, sirs, to be totally free of envy or jealously is to be free from the whole complex problem of the `more', more knowledge, more power, more capacity. The process of imitation, the desire for fame, for success, implies comparison: I am small and you are great, you know and I do not. The mind is caught in this extraordinary process of acquisition, this comparative pursuit of success, in which is involved ambition, with all the frustrations and fears that go with it.
So, can your mind be totally free from this whole process? As long as it is not, you will never find out what is truth or God. You may talk about it, but then it is merely a political word to be bandied about. If the mind is not totally free from envy, for example, there is no possibility of finding out what is true; therefore a man who seriously and earnestly wants to find out what is true, must be concerned with the problem of envy. If you begin to probe into it, you will soon discover that no guru can help you to be free of envy. Please see this fact simply and clearly. When you go to a teacher, a guru, to be taught how to free the mind from envy, you are obviously giving further encouragement to envy; you want to achieve, you want to succeed, therefore you are still within the net of envy. A mind that is learning about the whole complex problem of envy is not being taught, it has no guide, no philosophy, no system, no teacher. When you have a teacher, a system, you are being taught, and a man who is being taught is fundamentally greedy, therefore he ceases to learn. Learning is an extraordinary process. The moment you accumulate learning you cease to learn, because that which you have accumulated interprets and therefore impedes any further learning. Is that not so? Knowledge as accumulated learning is an impediment to further learning. Please see this. It is really very simple and essentially real. After all what are you and I doing here? If you put yourself in the position of one who is being taught by me, your mind is envious, because it wants to achieve success in a particular direction which it calls spiritual. You are concerned with achievement, with gain, with arriving somewhere, which is essentially greed, envy. Whereas, if you and I are both learning without accumulating, then our relationship is entirely different. Do you understand, sirs? Then we are really inquiring together, searching into the totality of envy, and not just remaining on the surface. And what then has actually happened to your mind? You are no longer concerned with ideas about truth, God, with tradition and the compulsions of society, for you are an independent human being who is inquiring, learning, searching. I think it is very important to see this, because tyranny is spreading in the world; governments are planning to exercise greater control over the minds of men in order to make them more efficient, and all the rest of it. So in becoming efficient, in becoming powerful, you are losing the capacity for integrated, completely individual thinking, which is really explosive thinking.
To learn about envy is the beginning of freedom from envy. To learn about envy is not to accumulate knowledge about it but to observe all the movements of the mind as they arise from moment to moment, which is to be aware of the mind's response when it sees a man who is rich, or a man who is inferior, or a man who is very happy or erudite. The mind that is thus consciously and unconsciously watching its own movements is in a state of learning, and a mind that is learning has no past; therefore this whole idea of karma as a binding element is completely wiped away. But the moment you accumulate knowledge as a means to further success, to further security, or as a means of becoming important, you are caught in time. A man who is really experiencing, learning, is completely alone, but not in the sense of being isolated; for the mind of such a man is pure. Do you understand, sirs? Purity of mind is essential to the state of learning, which means that you cannot learn if there is no humility; and you have no humility if you are accumulating knowledge.
If we really see the truth of this, that there can be the state of learning only when there is no accumulation of knowledge, then we shall find that our relationship, not only with each other, but also with the rest of the world, has completely changed. Then a totally new element comes into being, and this whole problem of the superior and the inferior, in the psychological sense, ceases to exist. There are obviously people who have greater capacity than others, and I am not referring to that kind of superficial inequality. But a man who is learning knows neither equality nor inequality; therefore learning is a process of meditation which frees the mind from the past, from accumulated knowledge. If you are learning about your conditioning, you are already free from that conditioning. It is only the mind that can take the journey alone, without any companion, without any teacher, without any tradition, dogma or belief - it is only such a mind that is pure and can therefore discover what is true.
There are several questions to be answered; but what is important is one's understanding of the problem, and not the answer. If I understand the problem, I don't ask for an answer. The understanding of the problem itself, resolves the problem. Please, sirs, do see this simple fact for yourselves, that the answer is in the problem, not away from the problem. The answer is not at the end of the book, it is not to be given by a teacher or a leader - that is all sheer nonsense. But if you and I can look at the problem totally and see the inward nature of it, all its inward workings, then that very awareness of the problem resolves the problem; and it is in this manner that we are going to consider these questions. If you are waiting for an answer from me, you will be disappointed, because I am not concerned with the answer. If I gave you an answer you would be in a position to refute it, to accept it, to argue about it, and so on, which is utterly futile. That is a political game fit for the newspapers. But if you want to find out the truth of the problem, you must inquire seriously into it, and therefore your mind must not be concerned with the answer. Only the mind that is not concerned with the answer can give full attention to the problem. If you see that simple fact, let us proceed with the question.
Question: There is action as legislation at the governmental level; there is action as reform at the level of Gandhiji and Vinobaji, and there is action according to the various types of religious teachers. It seems to me that all these forms of action are pulling in different directions, and that the individual, being enticed by the promises which each one offers, is caught in conflict within himself. What do you consider to be right action, which will not produce this contradiction?
Krishnamurti: Obviously the government is planning for the next five or ten years because they want to produce a result economically, they must feed the millions, and so on. That is one kind of action. Then there are the various religio-social reformers, each advocating a certain system of thought and action, and promising certain results; and the questioner says we are caught in conflict, being pulled in different directions by the promises of these various leaders.
Now, is that so? Are you as an individual pulled in different directions by the promises and activities of the politicians and the religio-social reformers, or are you yourself creating these contradictory pressures? The government has to control your ambition, your greed, your envy, your ruthlessness, and therefore it must plan, it must impose enormous taxes, and all the rest of it. So it is you and not the government that have created the contradiction. You have also created the religio-social reformer, with his promises, because you cannot live totally as an individual. In yourself you are torn in ten different directions. You want a planned economy, and yet you want to be free; you are extraordinarily greedy, vicious, brutal, corrupt, and yet you talk about God, love, truth, peace and all the rest of that verbal nonsense.
So the contradiction exists within yourself, which is fairly obvious when you consider it. Within yourself there is a pulling in different directions. You want to have a well-ordered society, and you are going to get it. The welfare-state, which inevitably means bureaucracy, is going to control your thinking, your feeling, your action, just as the present society controls you in a different way by encouraging you to be greedy, to be envious.
It is a fact, then, that there are conflicting activities going on within each one of us, and within society, which is ourselves in projection. Activity is divided as religious, political, reformatory, educational, scientific, sexual, and so on. We identify ourselves with the particular form of activity which happens for the moment to be convenient, profitable, and the leader of each separate activity thinks he has the answer. Do you understand, sirs? The politician thinks he has the answer, irrespective of the rest of man's problems, and so does the religio-social reformer. Each has certain ideas, prejudices, based on his particular conditioning, each has a plan or a way of life, each says, "This is right, that is wrong; and you as an individual, with your own passions, lust, greed, ambition, choose from among them a leader and follow him. That is your actual state, is it not? That is what is happening, outwardly and inwardly. And the questioner ask me to tell him what is right action.
Now, that a false question, surely. If I tell him what is right action and he accepts it, we will merely be creating another leader, another authority, another pernicious pattern of thinking. I really mean this. Please don't laugh it off sirs; it is much too serious. You have enough patterns, gurus, political leaders; why add one more to the list? Whereas, if you really see that in yourself you are contradictory, torn apart, each part having its own activity and leader in that projection of ourselves which is society; if you think about this fact seriously for even five minutes and ask yourself what is the right thing to do, you will know the answer and will not be caught by economic or religio-social promises.
So, what is right action? I am not going to tell you, but you and I can go into it together and find out. Surely, the question is not what is right action, but whether there can be an action which is total and therefore true under all circumstances, not just at odd moments. Sirs, do we know a total action at any time, or do we know only a serious of separate actions which we try to put together, hoping thereby to find the total? Are you getting tired sirs?
We are trying to find out what is the total action that will respond rightly to all problems, political, religious, social and moral. Surely, it is only total action that is true under all circumstances, not a separate activity with its limited ideas, leaders, and all the rest of it, which inevitably creates another contradiction. Now, how are we going to find out what is total action? Let us go slowly into it. When do you act as a whole, as a total human being if you ever do? Don't answer me please. This is not a discussion. Let me unroll it - but not for you to remember what I say so that you can go home and speculate about it, which is nonsense. We are learning together.
Do you know a total action at any time in your life? And what do we mean by a total action? Surely, there is a total action only when your whole being, your mind, your heart, your body, is in it completely, without division or separation. And when does that happen? Please, sirs, go with me slowly. When does such a thing take place? Total action takes place only when there is complete attention, does it not? And what do we mean by complete attention?
Please, I am thinking this out as I go along, I am not repeating it from memory. I am watching, learning. Similarly, you must watch your own mind, and not just listen to my verbal explanations. What do we mean by attention? When the mind concentrates on an object, is that attention? When the mind says, "I must look at this one thing and eliminate all other thoughts", is that attention? Or is it a process of exclusion, and therefore not attention? In attention, surely, there is no effort, there is no object to be concentrated upon. The moment you have an object upon which you concentrate, that object becomes more important than attention. The object is then merely a means of absorbing your mind; your mind is absorbed by an idea, as a child is absorbed by a toy, and in that process there is no attention because there is exclusion.
Nor is there attention when there is a motive, obviously. It is only when there is no motive, when there is no object, when there is no compulsion in any form, that there is attention. And do you know such attention? Not that you must experience it, or learn about it from me; but do you know for yourself the quality of this attention, the feeling of a mind which is not compelled to concentrate, which has no object to gain and is therefore capable of attention without motive? Do you understand, sirs? What is important is not how to get it, but actually to feel the quality of complete attention as you are listening to me.
Now, when does complete attention take place? Surely, only when there is love. When there is love there is complete attention. There is no need of a motive, there is no need of an object, there is no need of compulsion: you just love. It is only when there is love that there is complete attention, and therefore total action in response to political, religious and social problems. But we have no love; nor are the political leaders, the social and religious reformers, concerned with love. If they were, they would not talk of mere reform, nor create new patterns of thought. Love is not sentimentality, it is not emotionalism, it is not devotion. It is a state of being, clear, sane, rational, uncorrupted, out of which comes the total action which alone can give the true reply to all our problems. It is because you have no love that you pretend to change; on the circumference you reform, but the core is empty. You will know how to act totally only when you know what it means to love.
Sirs, we have developed our minds, we are so-called intellectuals, which means that we are full of words, explanations, techniques. We are disputatious, clever at arguing, at opposing one opinion with another. We have filled our hearts with the things of the mind, and that is why we are in a state of contradiction. But love is not easily come by. You have to work hard for it. Love is difficult to understand - difficult in the sense that to understand it you have to know where reason is necessary and go with reason as far as possible, and also know its limitations. This means that, to understand what it is to love, there must be self-knowledge - not the knowledge of Shankara, Buddha, or Christ, which you gather from books. Such books are just books, they are not divine revelations. The divine revelation comes into being only through self-knowledge; and you can know yourself, not according to the pattern of some psychologist, but only by observing how your thought is functioning, that is, by watching yourself from moment to moment as you get into the bus, as you talk to your children, to your wife, to your servant.
So if you know yourself, you will know what it means to love, and out of that there is total action, which is the only good action. No other action is good, however clever, however profitable, however reformatory. But to love, you need immense humility - which is just to be humble, not to cultivate humility. To be humble is to be sensitive to everything about you, not only to the beautiful, but also to the ugly; it is to be sensitive to the stars, to the stillness of an evening, to the trees, to the children, to the dirty village, to the servant, to the politician, to the tramcar driver. Then you will see that your sensitivity, which is love, has an answer to the many problems of life, because love is the answer to all the problems which the mind creates.
Love is to be found directly by each one of us, and not at the feet of a guru, or through any book. Love must be found alone, because it is uncontaminated, pure, and you must come to it completely stripped of greed, of envy, and all the stupidities of society which have made the mind limited, small, petty. Then there is a total action, and that total action is the answer to man's problems, not the separate activities of the reformer, the planner, and the politician.
December 16, 1956
Madras 2nd Public Talk 16th December 1956
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