Madras 2nd Public Talk 26th November 1961
We were saying last time when we met here that there was a deep crisis not only in the conscious, outwardly in the world, but also in the unconscious, deep within oneself. There is a crisis, and most of us agree that there must be a deep radical change of some kind. Thoughtful persons who are aware of the situation that exists in the world today more or less come together in saying that there must be some kind of a revolution, some kind of an immediate change, a mutation that is not merely an intellectual, emotional outcome, but one that takes place totally in the whole consciousness. A mere change in any particular direction of consciousness generally implies a change according to a certain particular pattern - a pattern created by circumstances, by very clever, erudite people, by people who have investigated past changes and how those changes have been brought about, what influences, what circumstances, what pressures and strains have brought about a certain change in the human mind These people have studied these facts extensively.
You see the change brought about by the communists, and their intention. And you see the change brought about by the desire of so-called religious people - which is either revival or going back to tradition. And there are those who through propaganda force the mind to conform to a certain, particular pattern of thought. There are various ways to bring about a change. Before we begin to enquire into what is true change, we must look at the condition that exists and not avoid it. It is very important to face a fact, because it is the fact itself - if it could be understood - and not what we bring to the fact that brings about a crisis; and that crisis demands, brings about, a challenge which you have to meet completely. I would like to talk about that this evening.
One sees that more and more, throughout the world, freedom is going. Politicians may talk about it. You can see prosperity, industrialization, education, the family, religion - all these are wiping away slowly, perhaps deliberately, all demand for freedom. That is a fact. Whether you like it or not, it is an irrefutable fact, that education, propaganda, industrialization, prosperity and so-called religion which is really propaganda, the continuous repetition of tradition - all these are conditioning the mind so heavily, so deeply, that freedom is practically gone. That is the fact which you and I must face, and in facing it perhaps we shall see how to break through it.
We must break it; otherwise, we are not human beings, we are mere machines recording certain pressures and strains. So we must face the fact that through deliberate propaganda, through various pressures man is being denied freedom. There is the whole mechanism of propaganda - religious propaganda, political propaganda, the propaganda that is being done by certain political parties and so on and so on. The constant repetition of phrases or words means constant dinning into the mind of certain ideas which are destroying the mind, controlling the mind, shaping the mind according to the phrases of the propagandists. That is a fact. Because, when you call yourself a Hindu or a Buddhist or a Chinese or whatever you like, it is the result of your being told over and over again, for centuries, that you are a Hindu, that you have a vast tradition - which has been shaping the mind - which makes you react as a Hindu according to certain established practices, by tradition. Please see this. Don`t accept or deny, because I am not out to do any propaganda or to convince you of anything; but I really think, if we could come together and intellectually, rationally observe certain facts, then out of that observation of facts a change will come about, which is not predetermined by a conditioned mind.
To see a fact purely is all-important and not to try to change the fact according to the pattern, or the condition in which one has been brought up, because such a change is predetermined and creates another pattern to which the mind becomes a slave. So it is very important to see the fact as it is and not bring an opinion, an idea, a judgment and an evaluation upon the fact, because the evaluation, the judgment, the opinion is conditioned, it is the result of the past, it is the result of your culture, of the society in which you have been brought up. So if you look at the fact through the background of your culture, of your society, of your beliefs, then you are not looking at the fact. You are merely projecting what you believe, what you have experienced, what your background is, upon the fact. Therefore, it is not a fact. Please bear that very clearly in mind. This pure act of observation, seeing a thing very clearly without distortion, brings about a challenge to which you have to respond totally, and a total response frees the mind from the conditioning.
It is important that you and I, the speaker and you, should understand what we are trying to get at together. First, this is not a lecture. You do not come here merely to listen, to hear certain ideas, which you may like or dislike and go away agreeing or disagreeing. You may have come here with the idea that you are going to hear and not participate in what is being said. But we are participating together, therefore this is not a lecture. We are sharing together the journey which we are going to take, and therefore it is not the work of the speaker only. You and I are going to work together to find out what is true, and therefore you are participating or sharing and not merely listening.
Then it is also very important to understand what is positive thinking and negative thinking,because seeing the fact is negative thinking. But if you approach the fact with an opinion, a judgment, an evaluation, that is positive thinking which destroys the fact. If I want to understand something, I must look at it and not have an opinion about it. That is a very simple fact. If I want to understand what you are saying, I must listen to you attentively. I will agree or disagree at the end, but I must listen to it. I must gather everything that you have said from the beginning to the end and not mere bits here and there. You must listen to the totality of what is being said and then you can decide, if there is a decision to be made; you will not then choose but will merely see the fact.
So we must be very clear from the very beginning that this is not a propaganda meeting, that I am not out to convince you of anything. I literally mean it, I do not care whether you accept or reject. It is a fact. To understand the fact, you must come to it inquisitively not positively. The positive mind, the positive attitude is one of determined opinion, a conditioned outlook, with a traditional point of view which is established, to which you automatically respond. It is positive thinking which most of us indulge in. You see something of national freedom or you refer to the Gita, the Upanishads or some other book, and respond; you respond according to what somebody has thought out for you or said what you should think about the fact. The book, the professor, the guru, the teacher and the ancient wise people or group - those have done all the work of thinking and have written down, and you just repeat them when you meet a fact; and your meeting the fact with a traditional outlook, with a conditioned response, is called positive thinking - which is no thinking at all. Every electronic machine does this if it has already been told what to think; when it is given certain problems to solve, it will respond automatically. The electronic train is based on the working of the human brain.
So, when an opinion is given about a fact, it is not thinking at all. It is merely responding, the response being conditioned by previous experience. Please see what I am saying. It is something entirely different from that to which you are accustomed. Because you and I are looking now at a fact without an opinion. I will show you something. There is a way, a botanical way of looking at a flower. You know the botanical way - to look at the whole structure of the flower in a scientific way. There is a way of looking at the flower, without referring to knowledge - to look at the flower purely, directly, without the intervention, without the screen of what we know. I wonder if I am making myself clear on this point. If it is not clear, I must make it clear, because we cannot proceed further without understanding this intrinsic issue. To understand you as a human being, I cannot say, "You are a Hindu", "You are that", "You are this; I must study, I must look at you without an opinion, without an evaluation, as a scientist does.
So you must look, and the looking is all-important, not the opinion. Please do give your attention to this, because you are so used to the so-called positive thinking. The Gita or the Upanishads says this, your guru says this, your traditional family education has told you this; and with the machinery of your memory, with that accumulated knowledge, you look at something and respond to what you see - that is what you call thinking. I do not think that it is thinking at all. It is merely the repetition of memory and the response of memory. It is conditioned by the past, by the culture, by society, by religious experience, by education, by the book; and that machinery is set going when you meet a fact and that machinery responds: and so it is sheer nonsense. But if you can approach a fact negatively - which is to look at it and not bring your opinion or knowledge to condemn or to condition it - , you keep on looking at the fact, purely. I hope this is clear. If this is clear, then when you are capable of looking purely at a fact of any kind - the fact of memory, the fact of jealousy, the fact of nationalism, the fact of hatred, the desire for power, position, prestige, then - the fact reveals an immense power. Then, the fact flowers and in the flowering of the fact is not only the understanding of the fact, but the action which is produced by the fact.
So, we are concerned with many facts. The fact of extraordinary confusion in the world; the fact of increasing human misery; the fact of not lessening but increasing sorrow, a greater sense of frustration, confusion, strife even among the communists and among the so-called democratic politicians and in ourselves. The fact that all religions have failed, that they have no longer any meaning, that people belonging to these organized religions repeat some sets of words and feel marvellously happy, just like people who take a drug - all these are the many facts which you have to look at. It is only out of the pure act of seeing the fact there comes the action, the mutation in human consciousness. And that is what is needed, not reversely going back to the old - revivalism, or the invention of a new set of theories, because they will not answer the present crisis. We know the present crisis - the extraordinary possibility of a few so-called political leaders destroying the world completely, according to their theories and ideas. Those leaders are not concerned with humanity at all, with you and your neighbour; they are concerned with ideas and their power and position. The religious are not concerned with the betterment of man, they are concerned with theology. There is the fact of immense, deep frustration in man. I am sure you all know it - the anxiety, the sense of guilt, the despair. And the more you observe, the deeper is the sorrow. The indissoluble life that one leads, the boredom of going to office day after day for fifty years destroying every faculty, every sensitivity, earning a livelihood to support an increasing family, the pressure of civilization - you know these as well as I do. I do not go to office but you do; you have a family. You have gone to the office every day of your life for about fifty years, and then you casually turn to God; then you become religious by doing some stupid ceremonies. Those who are younger are going to do exactly the same, tomorrow. Don't laugh! This is a serious meeting, not an entertainment. I am merely describing the fact.
Another great fact is that we are no longer free. You are outwardly free. We talk here, but probably this cannot be done in China or Russia - that is not freedom. Freedom is something entirely different. It is freedom from ambition, greed, envy, fear. The mind can go very deeply within itself beyond the limits of time and space. But you cannot go on an immense, long, indefinite journey, if your mind is tied to the brutality of ambition, to the cruelty of greed, to destruction through envy. There is no freedom inwardly; outwardly you may say you have freedom. You can say what you like about the Government in this country or in Western Europe or in America; but you may not be able to do that in Russia or China - but that does not constitute freedom. You cannot as a Hindu seek beyond what you have been taught, nor the Christian who, has his saviour. Now knowing all these facts, how do we change? How does mutation take place?
Change and mutation are entirely different. Change implies change towards something, change to something which you already know or which you have preconceived, pre-formulated, thought about, laid down the pattern for. And therefore such a change has a motive, has a purpose,it is brought about through compulsion, through conformity, through fear, through invention. Such a change has a purpose behind it and that purpose is always conditioned by the past. Therefore that change is the. continuity of what has been already, modified. Is it not? Therefore, it is not a mutation at all. It is like a person who goes from one religion to another - he is changing. A person leaves one Society and joins some other Society, leaves one Club and joins another, because it is convenient; thereby, he thinks he has changed. There may be innumerable reasons why there should be such a change; but such a change is an escape from the fact. A change is really no change, if there is a motive behind that change, if there is a purpose. The purpose is conditioned by the pattern, by tradition by hopes and despairs, by your anxieties, guilt, ambitions, envy, jealousies. That change is a continuity of what has been, modified; so, that is not mutation. And therefore the response which comes. through such a change does not alter the world at all; it merely alters the pattern. It does not bring about a radical mutation in consciousness.
What we are talking about is a complete mutation in consciousness And that is the only thing that will bring about a new world, a new civilization, a new way of living and a new relationship between man and man. This is not a theory, because mutation is possible - and mutation has no purpose at all. You know we are using the word `love' very easily. If you love with a motive, it is no longer love; it is merchandise. If you love with a purpose, it is mean, degrading. Love has no purpose. In the same way, mutation comes about without purpose, without motive. Please see that, please see the difference between a change with a purpose - a change brought about through compulsion, through adjustment, through pressure, through necessity, through fear, through ambition, through industrialization, all of which have motives - and the mutation which has no purpose at all. The very act of seeing brings about that mutation. That is, when you see something, you understand it immediately, the truth of that brings about the total alteration in one's attitude towards life.
Hearing and listening are two different things. To hear something, to hear what is being said, is one thing and to listen to what is being said is another thing. Most of us hear; and hearing, we accept or deny. If we like it, we accept; if we don't, we reject; and such hearing is very superficial, it has no profound effect. Whereas, listening is something entirely different. I wonder if you have listened to anything so that you understand, you feel, you love what you are listening to, whether it is pleasant or unpleasant. Please do listen very attentively, without effort; then, in the very act of listening, you will see what is true and what is false, without any interference, so that it is not mechanical. You have to listen with all your being to find out, to see what is true in itself - not according to your opinion or your experience or your knowledge.
Take a very simple thing. The believer in God and the non-believer in God are about the same. To find God, if there is one, you have to enquire, you have to search, you have to find out, you have to dig very deeply, throwing aside every belief, every idea, because it may be something astonishing, something that has never been thought about - and it must be. To find out something, every form of knowledge, belief, condition, must be put aside. That is a fact. Is it not? To find something you must come with your mind completely fresh, not with a traditional mind, not with a mind crippled with grief, with sorrow, with anxiety, with desire. The mind must be young, fresh and new, and then only you can find out. Similarly, to find out what mutation is, and how mutation can take place is very important, because change does not lead anywhere. Change, like any economic or social revolution, is merely a reaction of what has been, just as communism is the reaction to capitalism - they are obviously of the same pattern but in a different way, with a different set of people in power. But we must be concerned with mutation because the challenge now is not of your choosing but something entirely different. Challenge is always new, but unfortunately we meet it with the old, with our memory, and therefore the response is never adequate; therefore there is sorrow, there is misery.
So, our concern is: what is the act that brings about this mutation in consciousness? Now I do not know if you are serious. I mean by seriousness the capacity to follow a thought, an idea, a feeling right to the end, irrespective of what happens, irrespective of what is going to happen to you or your family your nation or anything else, to go to the very end irrespective of the consequences, to find out what is truth. Such a person is a serious person; the rest are really playing with life, and therefore they do not lead a full life. So, I hope that you have come here with a serious intent - which is, to go together to the very end to find out what this mutation implies; to go to the very end irrespective of your family, your job, your present society, everything else, putting everything aside. Because, to find out you have to withdraw, to find out you have to cast away everything.
We, the old people as well as the young people, have never questioned. There is always the authority of the specialist - the specialist in religion, the specialist in education, the specialist in politics-; there is the authority of the Gita, the Upanishads, the guru: they are never questioned. You have constantly been told, "He knows and you do not know. Therefore do not question, but obey". The mind that obeys, that accepts, is a dull mind; it is a mind that has gone to sleep and therefore is not creative; it is a dead mind, destructive of everything true; it is mechanically opposed to what it cannot understand, what it cannot penetrate. It cannot question sweetly and innocently to find out. That is why you and I are here together, to question. I am not your guru. I do not believe in authority of any kind, except the authority of Government which says that you must have a passport to travel, that you must pay taxes, that you must buy stamps in order to send a letter. But the authority of the guru, of the Upanishads, the authority of one's own experience, the authority of tradition - they must be totally destroyed to find out what is true. And that is where we are going together, to discover what is true by questioning. The moment you question for yourself, you may find that you are wrong. What is wrong with it? A young mind, an innocent mind, makes mistakes and keeps on making mistakes; in the very making of the mistake there is a discovery, and discovery is truth. Truth is not what the old generation, the old people have told you, but what you discover. Therefore you have to question night and day, ceaselessly, till you find out. Such a mind is called a serious mind. You have to question incessantly, look at the fact innocently putting away every fear that may arise in your questioning, never following anybody. Then out of that innocence, out of that enquiry, you find out what is truth. In the same way, you and I will find out how, in what way,in what manner, this mutation can take place.
You know, the word `how' implies pattern. When you and I say `how', that very word implies the search for a pattern or a method of practice - it implies that you will tell me and I will follow it. I am not using the word in that sense at all; the `how' is merely a question mark. It is not for me to tell you but for you to put that question and not fall into the trap of the pattern imposed by society, so that your mind which has been made dull through centuries of authority and tradition, can awaken, can become alive to question with intensity. Is it possible to bring about that mutation in each one of us? Don't say it is or it is not. If you say it is possible, you do not know. If you say it is impossible you do not know either; you have already prevented your self from examining, from questioning So keep your mind free, unadulterated, so that you can find out for yourself.
Is mutation possible? It is not possible. when you have started thinking in terms of change. When you start thinking in terms of change, change implies duration, change implies time, change. implies from here to there. Whereas mutation is a process which takes place instantly. You have to see the truth of these two, change and mutation - `see' in the sense not merely intellectually because that is mere verbal communication. Verbal communication is not the fact; the word `tree' is not the tree. But most of us, specially the so-called intellectual people, are caught in words, they are merely dealing in words. Life is not words. Life is living; life is pain; life is torture; life is, despair - not words and explanations. You have to see the fact that there must be mutation, not change; a total revolution, not a modified adjustment.
Change implies that it is a gradual process. You have heard people say that you must have ideals and that when you have the ideal of non-violence, gradually you will change to that ideal. I say that is absurd and immature thinking. Because, the fact is you are violent and your mind can deal with it but not with the ideal which is merely a theoretical invention. The fact is you are envious, you are ambitious, cruel, brutal. Deal with the fact and not with the supposed ideal which is merely an invention to postpone action. Now we are not dealing with ideals, we are not dealing with suppositions, we are dealing with facts. You see the fact that change implies time, a gradual process which is postponement. Please understand this. A man who postpones, destroys his mind; when the facing of the problem is postponed, the problem is eating his mind and heart out; and therefore his mind is not young, fresh, innocent. What you are dealing with is the fact that all change according to our own tradition, according to what the professors, the teachers, the gurus and others have said, is no change at all; but it is deterioration, destruction. If you see that fact, then you will be aware of the act of mutation taking place. You are following all this?
You know, consciousness is time; and so it is also time which says, "I will change tomorrow or a year later". That is merely being a slave to time and therefore it is no change at all. Mutation implies a complete reversal of what has been, a complete, radical uprooting of everything that has been - you know there was mutation in the genes after the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and a different human entity came into being. Now a mutation has to take place in us, so that the mind which is being crushed, destroyed, made ugly, brutal, stupid, dull, becomes overnight a young mind, a fresh mind. And I say that it can be done only when you approach the problem negatively, not positively. The negative approach is to deny totally all change, all reformation, because you understand it. It is not a reaction, because you see what is implied in change. When you deny change because you have understood it and not because somebody tells you, there you are really changed. When you let the `change' flower, you see the quality of it; then you can destroy it, put it way completely, never thinking in terms of change, ideals and all that. The moment you deny change, your mind is in a different state. It is already getting a new quality. You understand? When you deny something, not as a reaction, the mind is already fresh. But we never deny, because it is not convenient, it may bring fear; so we imitate, we adjust, we modify ourselves according to the demands of the society we live in. You deny because you have understood what you deny.
For instance, take nationalism for which people are prepared to die. I deny nationalism; therefore I am not a national, nationalism does not mean anything to me. Therefore when I deny something, it is significant. When you deny, your mind has already become fresh, new, because you have gone into the question of nationalism, enquired into it, searched out the truth and discovered. When you deny anything, when you deny the false, there is truth. But to deny the false, you have to go to it negatively - which means, you have to look at it without any prejudice, without any opinion, judgment, evaluation. You try this, not because I say so, but because your life demands it, because your life wants it.
See your society, the conflict, the misery, the power, the striving for something, the endless gathering of money, the constant repetition of phrases; see your own empty, sordid life, full of fear and anxiety and guilt - such a living is not living at all; and you cannot change such a mind, you can only destroy that mind and create a new mind.
And the destruction of the old is absolutely imperative - the old being fear, ambition, greed, envy, search for security; it is this that makes the mind dull, never questioning, always accepting, bound to authority, and therefore never having freedom. It is only in freedom you can discover if there is truth or not. It is only in freedom you can find out what love is.
November 26, 1961
Madras 2nd Public Talk 26th November 1961
Texts and talks of Jiddu Krishnamurti. Krishnamurti quotes. Books about
J Krishnamurti. Philosophy.