Madras 5th Public Talk 26th December 1956
I think it must be a matter of grave concern for most people to see how little they fundamentally change. What is needed is not a modified continuity of things as they are, because the immediate problems of war, the pressures and tremendous challenges that confront us every day, demand that we change in a totally different manner than before. The moralists, the politicians and reformers all urge some kind of change, and change is obviously essential; yet we don't seem to change. By change I do not mean throwing out one particular ideology or pattern of thought and taking up another, or leaving one religious group and joining another. To be caught in the movement of change, if you know what I mean, is not to have a residual point from which change takes place. That is, if I as a Hindu change to Buddhism or Christianity, I am merely changing from one residual thought to another, from one tradition to another, and that is obviously no change at all. So it seems to me very important to be caught in the movement of change, which I shall go into presently.
Most of us are aware that technologically the world is advancing with extraordinary rapidity; but the human problems which technological progress brings cannot be adequately met by a mind that is merely functioning in a routine, or according to a pattern. You can see that technology will presently feed man - perhaps not tomorrow, but sooner or later it is going to happen. Through every form of force and compulsion, through legislation, propaganda, ideology, and so on, man is going to be clothed, fed and sheltered; but even though that is ultimately done, inwardly there will be very little change. You may all be well fed, clothed and sheltered, but the mind will remain about the same; it will be more capable of dealing with technological matters, with the machine, but inwardly there will be no compassion, no sense of goodness or the flowering of it. So it seems to me that the problem is not merely how to meet the challenge technologically, but to find out how the individual is to change - not just you and I, but how the majority of people are to change and be compassionate, or to change so that compassion is.
Can compassion, that sense of goodness, that feeling of the sacredness of life about which we were talking last time we met - can that feeling be brought into being through compulsion? Surely, when there is compulsion in any form, when there is propaganda or moralizing, there is no compassion; nor is there compassion when change is brought about merely through seeing the necessity of meeting the technological challenge in such a way that human beings will remain human beings and not become machines. So there must be a change without any causation. A change that is brought about through causation is not compassion, it is merely a thing of the market place. So that is one problem.
Another problem is: if I change, how will it affect society? Or am I not concerned with that at all? Because the vast majority of people are not interested in what we are talking about - nor are you if you listen out of curiosity or some kind of impulse, and pass by. The machines are progressing so rapidly that most human beings are merely pushed along and are not capable of meeting life with the enrichment of love, with compassion, with deep thought. And if I change, how will it affect society, which is my relationship with you? Society is not some extraordinary mythical entity, it is our relationship with each other; and if two or three of us change, how will it affect the rest of the world? Or is there a way of affecting the total mind of man?
That is, is there a process by which the individual who is changed can touch the unconscious of man? Do you understand the problem, sirs? It is not my problem, I am not foisting it on you. It is your problem, so you have to deal with it. Man is going to be fed, clothed and sheltered by technology and that is going to influence his thinking, because he will be safe, he will have everything he needs; and if he is not astonishingly alert, inwardly rich, he will become, not a mature human being, but a repeating machine, and his change will be under pressure, under compulsion of the whole technological process, which includes the use of propaganda to convince a man of certain ideas and condition his mind to think in a certain direction - which is already being done. Seeing all this, you must obviously think, "How am I to change? And if I do change, if I do become an integrated human being - which I must, otherwise I am merely part of the propaganda machine with its various forms of coercion and so on - , will it bring about a change in the collective? Or is that an impossibility?"
Now, must the collective be transformed gradually? Do you understand? When we talk about gradualness, obviously it implies compulsion, slow conviction through propaganda, which is educating the individual to think in a certain direction, to be good, kind, gentle, but under pressure. Therefore the mind is like a machine that is being driven by steam, and such a mind is not good, it is not compassionate, it has no appreciation of something sacred. Its action is all the result of being told what to do.
I don't know if you have thought about all this, but if you have, it must be a tremendous problem to you. More and more people are becoming mere repeaters of tradition, whether Communist, Hindu, or whatever tradition it is, and there is no human being who is thinking totally anew of his relationship to society. And if I am concerned with this issue, not verbally or intellectually - not saying that life is one, that we are all brothers, that we must go and preach brotherhood, because all that is mere word-play - , but if I am concerned with compassion, with love, with the real feeling of something sacred, then how is that feeling to be transmitted? Please follow this. If I transmit it through the microphone, through the machinery of propaganda, and thereby convince another, his heart will still be empty. The flame of ideology will operate and he will merely repeat, as you are all repeating, that we must be kind, good, free - all the nonsense that the politicians, the Socialists, and the rest of them talk. So, seeing that any form of compulsion, however subtle, does not bring this beauty, this, flowering of goodness, of compassion, what is the individual to do?
If the man of compassion is a freak, then obviously he has no value. You may just as well shut him up in a museum. But the action of a freak is not the action of a man who has really thought it all out deeply, who actually feels compassion, the sense of loving, and does not merely enunciate a lot of intellectual ideas; and has such a man no effect on society? If he has not, then the problem will go on as it is. There will be a few freaks, and they will be valueless except as a pattern for the collective, who will repeat what they have said and moralize everlastingly about it.
So what is the relationship between the man who has this sense of compassion, and the man whose mind is entrenched in the collective, in the traditional? How are we to find the relationship between these two, not theoretically but actually? Do you understand, sirs? It is like a man who is hungry - he does not talk about the theory of economics, nor is he satisfied with books that describe the good qualities of food. He must eat. So, what is the relationship between the man who is enlightened, not in some mysterious mystical way, but who is not greedy, not envious, who knows what it is to love, to be kind, to be gentle - what is the relationship between such a man and you who are caught in the collective? Can he influence you? Influence is not the word, surely, because if he influences you, then you are under his propagandistic compulsion, and therefore you have not the real flame; you have only the imitation of it. So what is one to do?
Is there an action which will affect the collective non-thinker, so that he thinks totally anew? Will education do that? That is, can the student be helped to understand the whole variety of influences that exist about him so that he does not conform to any influence, thereby bringing into being a new generation with a totally different approach to life? Because the old generation is on the way out; they are obviously not going to change. Most of you will sit here listening for the next twenty years and change only when it suits you. Instead of a dhoti you will put on trousers, or you will drink, or eat meat, and think you have changed marvellously. But I am not talking about such trivialities at all.
Is this change to be brought about by beginning with the young, with the child? But that means there must be a new kind of teacher. Don't just agree with me, sirs. See the whole significance of it. There must be a new kind of mind operating in the teacher so that he helps the child to grow, not in tradition, not as a Communist, a Socialist, or whatever it be, but in freedom. The student must be helped to be free at the very beginning and not ultimately, free to understand the pressures of his home, of his parents, the pressures of propaganda through newspapers, books, ideas, through the whole paraphernalia of compulsion; and he himself must be encouraged to see the importance of not influencing others. And where are such teachers? You nod your heads in agreement and say that it should be done, but where are the teachers? Which means that you are the teachers. The teachers are at home, not in the school, because nobody else is interested in all this. Governments are certainly not interested. On the contrary, they want you to remain within the pattern, because the moment you step out you become a danger to the present society. Therefore they push you back. So the problem actually devolves upon you and me, not upon the supposed teacher.
Now, can you change immediately, without any compulsion? Sirs, do please listen to this. If you don't change now you will never change. There is no change within the field of time. Change is outside the field of time; because any change within that field is merely a modification of the pattern, or a revolt against a particular pattern in order to establish a new one. So I think the problem is not how the enlightened individual will affect society. I am using that word `enlightened' in the simplest, most ordinary sense, to describe one who thinks clearly and sees the absurdity of all the nonsense that is going on, who has compassion, who loves, but not because it is profitable or good for the State. To ask what effect such a man has on the collective, or of what use he is to society, may be a wrong question altogether. I think it is, because if we put the question in that way, we are still thinking in terms of the collective; so let us put the question differently.
Has the man of enlightenment, the man who is inwardly free of religions, of beliefs, of dogmas, who belongs to no organization that brings in the past - has such a man any reality in this world which is bound to the wheel of tradition? Do you understand, sirs? How would you answer that question? To put it again differently, there is sorrow in the world, sorrow arising from various causes. There is not only physical pain, but this complex psychological process of engendering and sustaining sorrow, which is fairly obvious.
Now, is there freedom from sorrow? I say there is - but not because someone else has said it, which is merely the traditional way of thinking. I say there is an ending to sorrow. And what relation has the man for whom sorrow has ended, to the man of sorrow? Has he any relation at all? We may be trying to establish an impossible relationship between the man who is free of sorrow and the man who is caught in sorrow, and creating thereby a whole series of complex issues. Must not the man of sorrow step out of his world, and not look to the man who is free from sorrow? Which means that every human being must cease to depend psychologically; and is that possible?
Dependence in any form creates sorrow, does it not? In depending on fulfilment there is frustration. Whether a man seeks fulfilment as a governor, as a poet, as a writer, as a speaker, or tries to fulfil himself in God, it is all essentially the same, because in the shadow of fulfilment there is pain, frustration. And how are you and I to meet this problem? Do you understand, sirs? I may be free, but has that any value to you? If it has no value, what right have I to exist? And if it has value, then how will you meet such a man - not how he will meet you, but how will you meet him? He may want to meet you and go with you, not just one mile, but a hundred miles; but how will you meet him? And is it possible to change so fundamentally, so radically and deeply, that your whole thinking-feeling process is exploded, made innocent, fresh, new?
Sirs, there is no answer to this question. I am only pointing it out. It is for you to expose it, to bite into it, to be tortured by it. It is for you to work hard on it, because if you don't, your life is over, finished, gone; and your children, the coming generation, will also be finished. You always say that the coming generation will create the new world, which is nonsense, because you are conditioning that generation right off through your books and newspapers, through your leaders, politicians and organized religions - everything is forcing the child in a particular direction, while you eternally verbalize about nothing.
So this is your problem, and I don't think you are taking it seriously. It is not a thing as vital to you as making money, or going to the office and being caught in the routine of that astonishing boredom which you call your life. Whether you are a lawyer, a judge, a governor or the highest politician, your life for the most part is a dreadful routine that is boring and destructive in the extreme, and you are caught in it; and your children are also going to be caught in it unless you change fundamentally. This is not rhetorical, sirs, it is something that you have to think out, work out, sit together and solve. Because the world does demand human beings who are thinking anew, not in the same old groove, and who do not revolt against the old pattern only to create a new one.
I think you will find the answer in right relationship when you know what love is. Strangely, love has its own action, probably not at the recognizable level; but the man who is really compassionate has an action, a something which other men have not. It is those who are serious, who listen, who think, who work at this thing - it is such people who will bring about a different action in the world, not eventually but now. And I think the problem is, how is a human being to change so fundamentally in his way of thinking that his mind is totally unconditioned? If you give your thought to it as much as you do to your office, to your puja, and all the rest of the nonsense, you will find out.
Sirs, I am going to answer this one question - or rather, I am not going to answer it, but together we will take the journey into the problem. Because the problem holds the answer, the answer is not outside of the problem. If I am open to the problem I can see the beauty of it, all its intricacies, its extraordinary nuances and implications, and then the problem dissolves; but if I look at the problem with the intention of finding an answer, obviously I am not open to the problem.
Question: My son and others who have been abroad seem to have had the moral fibre knocked out of them. How does this happen, and what can we do to develop their character? Krishnamurti: Why do we think only of those people who have been abroad? Has not the moral fibre of most people who are listening been knocked out of them? Seriously, sirs, do not laugh. It is a very complex problem. Let us explore it together. We want to develop character, at least that is what we say. The newspapers, the government, the moralists, the religious people - are they doing it? You think so? How does character develop? How does goodness flower? Does it flower within the frame of social compulsion, which is called moral? Or does goodness flower, does character come into being only when there is freedom? Freedom does not mean freedom to do what you like. But that is what happens when they go abroad. All the usual pressures are taken off - the pressure of the family, of tradition, of the country, the fear of the father and the mother - and they let loose. But did they have character before they left, or were they merely under the thumb of their parents, of tradition or society? And as long as a human being is under the thumb of the family, of society, of tradition, of propaganda, and all the rest of it, has he character? Or is he merely a machine functioning repetitiously according to a moral code and therefore inwardly dead, empty? Do you understand, sirs? That is what is happening in India, though the vast majority of people have not gone abroad. Moral fibre is rapidly disintegrating. You ought to know that better than I do. So your problem is, is it not?, how to develop character and yet remain within the social pattern so as not to disrupt society. Because, though it may talk about character or morality, society does not want character. It wants people who will conform, who will toe the line of tradition.
So we see that character is not developed in a pattern. Character exists only where there is freedom - and freedom is not freedom to do what you like. But society does not allow freedom. I don't have to tell you. Watch yourself in dealing with your own children. You don't want them to have character, you want them to conform to tradition, to a pattern. To have character there must be freedom, for only in freedom is the flowering of goodness possible; and that is character, that is morality, not e the so-called morality that merely conforms to a pattern.
Is it possible, then, to develop character and yet remain within society? Surely, society does not want character, it is not concerned with the flowering of goodness; society is concerned with the word `goodness', but not with the flowering of it, which can take place only in freedom. So the two are incompatible, and the man who would develop character must free himself from society. After all, society is based on greed, envy, ambition; and cannot human beings free themselves from these things and then help society to break its own pattern?
Sirs, if you look at India you will see what is happening. Everything is breaking down because essentially there is no character, essentially you have not flowered in goodness. You have merely followed the pattern of a certain culture, trying to be moral within that framework, and when the pressure comes your moral fibre breaks because it has no substance, no inward reality; and then all the elders tell you to go back to the old ways, to the temple, to the Upanishads, to this and that, which means conformity. But that which conforms can never flower in goodness, There must be freedom, and freedom comes only when you understand the whole problem of envy, greed, ambition, and the desire for power. It is freedom from those things that allows the extraordinary thing called character to flower. Such a man has compassion, he knows what it is to love - not the man who merely repeats a lot of words about morality.
So the flowering of goodness does not lie within society, because society in itself is always corrupt. Only the man who understands the whole structure and process of society, and is freeing himself from it, has character, and he alone can flower in goodness.
December 26, 1956
Madras 5th Public Talk 26th December 1956
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