Colombo 1st Public Talk 13th January 1957
It seems to me that the many problems which we have, not only in this country but throughout the world, are increasing and becoming more and more complex. When we try to solve a particular problem, other problems spring into being, so there arises a wide network of problems endlessly multiplying itself, and there seems to be no way out of it. I think anyone who is at all thoughtful is aware of this dilemma.
Now, if you and I as individual human beings are to understand this complex process of existence, I think it is essential that we approach it in all humility. It is only when the mind is actually in a state of humility that it can learn. We cannot approach our problems with old ideas, with stereotyped answers, with a particular ideology of pattern of thought. We have to approach these problems anew - and there lies our difficulty. As we are now, most of us are incapable of learning from the problem, because we approach the problem with a mind that has already learnt. I think there is a vast difference between the mind that is open to the problem, and a mind that approaches the problem with an ideology. A mind that approaches the problem with an ideology, a preconceived answer, is incapable of learning from the problem.
We have to learn from the problem, because the problem is a challenge, and a challenge is always new. But unfortunately most of us approach any problem with conclusions, with a mind already made up, with a mind that is conditioned as a Hindu, a Buddhist, a Christian, a Communist, a Socialist, or what you will - which means that we are incapable of learning. So it is essential, is it not?, that each one of us individually should be open to the problem. I think this is the central issue and that we should see it very clearly.
During the talks that are going to be held here, if you are at all serious in your intent, you have to understand the relationship between yourself and the speaker. It is not a question of someone teaching you; on the contrary, you and I as individuals are going to learn, and there is no division between the teacher and the taught. Such a division is unethical, unspiritual, irreligious. Please understand this very clearly. I am not dogmatic or assertive. As long as we do not understand the relationship between you and the speaker, we will remain in a false position. To me there is only learning, not the person who knows and the person who does not know. The moment anyone says he knows, he does not know. Truth is not to be known. What is known is a thing of the past, it is already dead. Truth is living, not static, therefore you cannot know truth. Truth is in constant movement, it has no abode, and a mind that is tethered to a belief, to knowledge, to a particular conditioning, is incapable of understanding what is truth.
As you and I are going to explore this whole problem, inquire into it together, we are in a position of learning, are we not? Therefore there is no division of the teacher and the taught. To me the follower is essentially stupid, as is the teacher who admits the following. When you are following there is no enlightenment, you are not a light unto yourself; you have no love in your heart, but merely the description of the teacher who tells you what love is. So is it not very important, if you are at all serious, that we should establish from the very beginning the right relationship between us? If you are here merely out of curiosity, for amusement, that has its own worth. But the occasion and, the immense crisis demand that you be serious - serious, not in the sense of following your prejudices, interests or bent in a particular direction, serious to understand.
When we are to do, then, is to take a journey of understanding together - together which means that I am not leading and you are not following. To me, the leader, the teacher, the guru, is essentially unmoral, unethical, unspiritual. We are human beings, free to inquire, to find out if there is God, if there is truth, if there is something beyond the measure of the mind. But you cannot find what is beyond the measure of the mind if you are merely following a pattern of dogma, or belief. The problems of life are so immense, so catastrophic, so urgent and important, that the mind must be capable of understanding, of really going into the problem profoundly, and not merely scratching the surface. To do that, the mind has to uncondition itself; for after all, our minds are conditioned, are they not? You are conditioned as a Buddhist, you are conditioned by the climate you live in, by the food you eat, by the books you read, by newspapers and propaganda. Your mind is obviously the result of influences and pressures, and you are nothing but that. You may think that you are something more; but if you investigate, go into it very seriously, you will see that your mind is actually the result of the collective. When you say you are a Sinhalese, that statement is the result of the collective. You are not an individual, you are the result of the propaganda which says you are a Sinhalese with a particular religion, a particular culture. As a Buddhist you are conditioned by the beliefs, by the dogmas, by the superstitions, by the fears of that particular religion, while a Christian is conditioned from childhood to believe in a Saviour, to follow certain rituals, and so on. In the Russian world the Communist is conditioned not to believe, and he will tell you that all this belief in God is sheer nonsense. He is conditioned, just as you are conditioned. It is an unpalatable thing to swallow, but it is so.
Now, this conditioning influences our thinking and limits our perception; and it is only when the mind frees itself from its conditioning that it is able to understand the many problems which confront us. So, is the mind capable of freeing itself from its conditioning? Do you understand, sirs? What is important is not to find a better conditioning, a nobler spiritual pattern, but for the mind to free itself from all patterns. And is the mind capable of freeing itself? Surely, it is only a free mind that can respond adequately to the challenge of our ever-mounting problems and misery. Outwardly you may have what you need; sufficient clothing, food and shelter may be provided by the State. Outwardly, through terror, wars may be stopped, but inwardly there will still be contradiction, strife; there will still be misery, chaos, disturbance, uncertainty within ourselves. We are individually the sum, total of all that, and we have to understand it; for it is only the mind that has self-knowledge, that understands it the whole working process of itself it is only such a mind that is capable of being free from its conditioning and responding to the challenge anew.
What conditions our minds? It really very simple if you observe it. Our ambitions, our greed, our envy our pursuit of personal expansion, of power, position, prestige, our desire to be secure both in the world of relationship and in the world of ideas - all that is what conditions the mind.
Religion as organized belief and dogma, is not religion at all. Religion is something entirely different from the mere acceptance of belief or the practice of a ritual. Religion, surely, is the process of freeing the mind from envy, from greed, from ambition, so that the self-centred activity of the `I' no longer exists; and only such a mind is capable of pursuing in utter silence the movement of reality. That is why it is important to have a religious revolution - which is the only revolution, because mere economic revolution will inevitably fail.
The religious revolution of which I speak has nothing whatever to do with any established religion. On the contrary, to have this religious revolution one must be free from all organized dogma and belief, for only then is the mind capable of experiencing that which is real. But unfortunately, most of us do not give time to this; we are too busy with our daily lives, with earning a livelihood, with the things of the world. Being too busy, we multiply mischief in the world, and then we say "What can I as an individual do?"
If you observe you will see it is only the enlightened individual that is capable of doing anything, not the mass, not the collective; and the enlightened individual is one who has an inward knowledge of himself, of the activities of his own mind, the operations of his own thought. To be truly aware, not only of the workings of the superficial mind but also of the unconscious, is the beginning of self-knowledge; and without self-knowledge there is self-deception, illusion, therefore you can never find out what is truth.
Self-knowledge is the beginning of wisdom. This self-knowledge is not to be gathered from books, but you can find it for yourself through observing your daily relationship with your wife or husband, with your children, with your boss, with the conductor of the bus. It is through awareness of yourself in your relationship with another that you discover the workings of your own mind, and this understanding of yourself is the beginning of the freedom from conditioning. If you go into it deeply you will find that the mind becomes very quiet, really still. This stillness is not the stillness of a mind that is disciplined, held, controlled, but the stillness which comes when, through the understanding of relationship, the mind has ceased to be a centre of self-interest. Such a mind is capable of following that which is beyond the measure of the mind.
I have some questions here, but before we consider them I think we should understand the intention of the questions and the replies.
Why do you ask a question? Obviously, to find an answer - which means that you are interested, not in the problem, but in the answer. Now, you can understand a problem only when you give your total attention to it, and you cannot give your total attention to it as long as the mind is seeking an answer. Is it not so? I think we ought to see that very clearly.
For example, there is enmity, hate, and what we are concerned with is how to get rid of it. So we go about seeking ways and means of getting rid of hate; we try to get rid of it through disciplines, practices, and so on. But surely that is not the problem. What makes the mind hate? Why is there animosity? Why is there unfriendliness? That is the problem, not how to be free. To understand the whole problem of enmity, jealousy, envy to go to the very end of it and understand it totally, I must give it my full attention. Then there is no answer: the problem itself is resolved.
I don't know if you have ever tried to give your total attention to something. Have you ever tried to look at an extraordinarily difficult thing to do, because your mind immediately says that the flower is beautiful, or that it is of such and such a species, and you either like or dislike it. In the very process of verbalizing, judging, evaluating, your mind has gone away from the object of attention. But if you can give complete attention to something, you will find that that complete attention is the good; you do not have to pursue the good. Such attention is the process of meditation-not the battle to exclude the various thoughts that keep creeping into the mind.
So in considering these questions we are not trying to answer them, because to the immense problems of life there is no answer. It is a very superficial and silly mind that seeks an answer. But a mind that gives its whole attention to the problem will find that in the process of understanding the problem, the problem has ceased.
Question: Like many of my valued friends, I am an ardently religious Sinhalese Buddhist, and I feel intensely for our religion and our culture. But unfortunately, in furthering our religion and our culture, I see that we are unconsciously getting divided into opposing parties. What would you advise me to do?
Krishnamurti: It is not a matter of advice, but together we are going to find out what the problem involves. The questioner says that he is an ardently religious Sinhalese Buddhist, But is it possible to be a Sinhalese or a Buddhist and still be religious? (Laughter). Don't laugh, sirs, this is not a political meeting. Can you be religious as long as you are a Christian or an Englishman? Can you be religious and belong to India? Are they not contradictory? Is nationalism compatible with love? Please, it is your problem. I am not a Christian, a Buddhist, or a Hindu, nor do I belong to any other religious or nationalistic group. It is your problem, because you say you are an ardently religious Sinhalese Buddhist, and you want to maintain a particular culture. You don't see immediately the absurdity of such a statement.
What do you mean by culture? What do you mean when you say you are a Buddhist, a Sinhalese? Since you happen to live on this island, you are made conscious - through propaganda, through the machinations of politicians, through so-called education and other forms of influence - of belonging to a particular group, and you think in terms of that group.
But what does it mean to be religious? Surely, to be religious is not to belong to any organized religion. To be religious is to be kind, to be generous, to love, not to harm, not to kill. That is all. To love, to be kind, you don't have to belong to any religion; not to have enmity, not to be ambitious, not to be self-centred, you don't have to profess any creed or belief. Religion as organized belief does not contain truth. No temple, no church, no mosque has truth in it; they are all man-built, and what man has put together, man can undo. So why call yourself a Sinhalese or a Buddhist? We are human beings, sirs, not labels. We all suffer, we are inwardly tortured by misery, loneliness, sorrow. These are human problems, not the problems of a Buddhist, a Christian, or a Hindu, and we have to solve them together as human beings.
Do please understand this, it is so simple. Religions, organized beliefs, divide, and destroy people. See what is happening in the world. There are Catholics and Protestants, Northern Buddhists and Southern Buddhists, Hindus, Moslems, and so on. As the earth is broken up into little patches of nationalistic ownership, so religion has been divided by man; it has become a form of vested interest. So why call yourself a Sinhalese or a Buddhist? If we strip ourselves of all these idiotic labels and remain as simple human beings, then perhaps we shall create a different world, a world in which people are not divided as Sinhalese and Hindus, Christians and Buddhists, Englishmen and Russians. That division is a major cause of your miseries.
Please, sirs, understand this. You have divided man for economic reasons basically, and also to be secure in a particular pattern of belief; so you are destroying yourselves. You will have no peace in the world until you cease to be labelled as Christians, Buddhists, Hindus. The important thing in all this is to have friendliness, to have compassion, to have love; and we do not have friendliness, compassion, love, so justice comes into being - justice being legislation. Governments make you conform to a pattern; and when justice is a matter of legislation forcing the people to conform, there is no love. A mind-heart that is full of love needs no such justice; a mind-heart that is free from all labels, whether Christian, Buddhist, Communist, or what you will, is capable of bringing about a different world.
Now, sirs, you have listened to the problem. What will you do about it? You will probably agree intellectually, that is, verbally, and say "It sounds reasonable and true", but when you go outside you will again fall into the trap, into the old habit of following the social pattern. Only the man who renounces the social pattern completely - only such a man is a religious person. But unfortunately, though you hear what is being said, you will forget about it and go back to your old way of thinking. What a strange thing!
These meetings are not propagandistic in any sense. I am not trying to propagate an idea. On the contrary, there are no ideas, but only understanding. To understand, we must investigate together, there must be friendliness, a feeling of companionship, a sense of affection. But we cannot have affection, friendliness, if you are a Buddhist and I a Hindu. So those of you who have listened to this, because it is the truth, have an immense responsibility. If you are at all serious you cannot possibly go back to the old; you may call yourself a Buddhist, a Sinhalese, in applying for a passport, but that is a mere formality. If you are emotionally, inwardly free from all labels, then the authority of the church, of the past, drops away, so that the mind is capable of seeing and understanding what is; and such a mind, being in a state of real compassion, will solve the many problems that confront each one of us.
Question: In Ceylon we have various religions, but some priests incite their followers to hate those belonging to other religions, which creates serious trouble among the people in general. What is the true function of a priest?
Krishnamurti: Sir, why do we have these various religions at all? Why is there the Christian religion, the Buddhist religion, the Moslem religion, and so on? Have you thought about it at all? Each religion maintains that it is a path, if not the only path to truth, to God, to the Highest. Now, is there a path to truth? Or is it that truth is a living thing, and a path can lead only to that which is fixed, static? So, having conceived of truth, of God, as a fixed thing, we have divided our- selves into various religious groups, and each group, maintains that its particular system or its particular saviour is the path to the Highest. Why do they do so? First of all, because of property and vested interests. Religions that have property, vested interests, are no longer religions, they are like any other commercial affair.
Please, sirs, listen diligently. I am not attacking, I am only showing what is actually happening. The Christian says that there is only one saviour, and that everyone who does not hold that particular belief is eternally damned. What absurd nonsense, and what cruelty is involved in it! Each religion maintains its own tradition, its guru, its priesthood, and says that it is the path to truth. And why should there be these different religions at all, with their conflicting dogmas and beliefs? If you observe you will see that they exist because you are conditioned from childhood to believe in something, and you are caught for the rest of your life in that belief; and having been conditioned, you are exploited through fear, through vanity, through flattery, through every available means. This is what is actually happening throughout the world. Religions are not interested in reality, they are not interested that men should be free from ambition, from greed, from envy, from hate, from killing each other. No religion has stopped war. That is why religions have failed.
There is no path to reality. Reality is a pathless land, and you must venture out and discover it for yourself. It is because you are frightened inwardly that you depend on something, on the priest, or on a belief, and so you get caught in the net of an organized religion. Wherever organized religions may lead you, they will certainly not lead you to truth. You must go beyond organized religions to find truth.
The second part of the question is, "What is the true function of a priest?"
What do you mean by a priest? The man in a yellow robe, the sannyasi, or the man who wears a clerical collar, and so on? The priest is supposed to be a mediator between you and reality, between you and God, between you and the immeasurable, is he not? But can there be a mediator between you and the real? How can there be? Haven't you to be a light unto yourself? Then what need is there for a priest? To love, to be compassionate, to be kind, to be generous, do you need a priest? And if the priest is an interpreter, a mediator between you and reality, does he know reality? Or is he merely conditioned in a particular ideology which he calls reality? Can there be a mediator between you and that which is beyond all measure? If you need a mediator, an interpreter, then you are not seeking truth; what you want is comfort, gratification, and you might just as well take a pill. Please, sirs, I am talking very seriously. Religions with their priests are unnecessary to a man who is seeking truth. A man who is seeking to understand what is compassion, what is love, does not want a priest, he does not want an organized belief; to him, love is more important than belief.
Surely, sirs, to love, to be compassionate, is the only door to reality; there is no other door. But how can you be compassionate, kind, generous, friendly, as long as you are ambitious? You want to be somebody in the world, do you not? You want to be famous, you want to succeed, and your whole social structure is based on acquisitiveness, competition. When your only concern is to get on in the world, to have more property, to achieve success, how can you love, how can there be compassion? So most of us are not concerned with compassion, with love; we are only concerned with getting ahead, making a success of it, with having labels such as `Buddhist', `Hindu', `Christian' - and then we quarrel over the labels. Each one is trying to convert the other, and in converting others you have more votes, more property, more power. You can see this game going on throughout the world, and this game is called religion.
Surely, religion is something extraordinary; it has nothing to do with any organization, with any belief or dogma. Religion is not to be found in any temple, in any church or mosque. It is to be found only when the mind understands itself and is free from fear, free from the demand to be inwardly secure. Then there is a possibility of being compassionate, kindly, and such a mind-heart will know that which is immeasurable; for then the immeasurable is. It is not a thing to be speculated about, it has to be experienced directly. There is something beyond the measure of the mind, but it is not to be found in the Upanishads, in the Gita, in the Bible, nor in the Buddhist literature. It comes through the understanding of yourself in your relationship with people, with nature, and with ides. When you understand yourself completely you will discover without any aid from another, without any organized religion, without any priest, that beyond the mind there is something which is timeless. It is a state that can be experienced only when the mind is completely still.
January 13, 1957
Colombo 1st Public Talk 13th January 1957
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