Varanasi 2nd Public Talk 3rd January 1962
I think we all realize that there must be some kind of change. The more intelligent, the more penetrating we are, the more demanding, the more urgent is the necessity for change; but we think, do we not? of change generally at a superficial level - change of circumstances, change of jobs, a little more money and so on.
We are talking of change which is total, completely radical and revolutionary. To bring about such a change, we must ask fundamental questions. It is important to find out how to ask a question. We can ask questions which spring from a reaction. I want to bring about a certain change in myself or in society, and that change may be a real reaction. The question I ask myself may either be the result of a reaction, or a question which is not put through any reaction. There are only two ways to ask a question: one through reaction, and the other which is no reaction. If we ask questions out of reaction, we will invariably find superficial answers. To ask questions which are not out of reaction is very difficult, because perhaps there is no answer. It may be only that there is a questioning without an answer; and that, it seems to me, is far more significant than to put a question which has an answer.
I would like to discuss this evening a change that is absolutely necessary for a mind that seeks complete, total revolution, a mind that demands complete freedom, if there is such a thing as complete freedom. And to enquire into it, I think we must first find out the total significance of authority, because most of our minds are ridden by authority - the authority of tradition, the authority of the family, the authority of a technique, the authority of knowledge, the authority laid down by law, the sanctions of Government and religion and social morality. These are all the various forms of authority which shape our mind. How far can the mind be really free from them, and what does it mean to be free? I would like to go into that, because I feel that authority which is not completely understood destroys all thinking, distorts all thought, and that a mind that merely functions mechanically in knowledge is really incapable of going beyond itself.
And so, it seems to me, one has to ask oneself, or enquire into, the whole question of authority: why and at what level, we obey the physical laws or the psychological experiences which become knowledge and guide us. Why should there be obedience? All Governments, specially tyrannical Governments, wish their citizens never to criticize their leaders. We can see very simply why tyrannical Governments demand such absolute obedience. Also we can see why, psychologically, we follow authority - the authority of the guru, the authority of tradition, the authority of experience - which invariably breeds habit, a good habit or a bad habit, the resistance against the bad and the shaping by the good. A habit also becomes authority, like the authority of knowledge, of the specialist, of the policeman, of the wife over the husband or of the husband over the wife.
How far can the mind be free from such authority? Is it possible to obey law, a Government, the policeman, and to be inwardly, completely free from authority, including the authority of experience with its knowledge and memory? Please, if I may suggest, it would be a thousand pities if you merely listen to the talk verbally, intellectually, and not actually experience what is being said. That is, we have to question ourselves under what authority, under what compulsion, our mind functions, and experience shapes our mind. And we have to be aware of all this, because, after all, we are talking not to do any propaganda, not to convince you of anything, not to compel you into a particular course of action. It is only when we begin to question ourselves partially or completely, that there can be true action; then only can all this travail and sorrow come to an end. To treat the talks merely verbally or intellectually, it seems to me, is an utter waste of time. It is not a matter of argument, agreement or disagreement. But we have to observe all facts outwardly, and observe inwardly how our minds are slaves to authority and whether we can ever be free from authority - because obviously freedom implies freedom from authority - , what the state of the mind is when it is actually free from authority, and whether such a state is possible.
To find out for oneself, one must put fundamental questions; and one of the fundamental questions is: why we obey, why we obey the policeman, why we pay taxes - I am not saying you should not or you should; but we must ask this question, surely, to find out.
It may sound rather childish, immature; but if we can go very slowly into the matter step by step, perhaps we shall be able to understand whether it is possible or not to be utterly free from the past which is authority. That is a fundamental question, because the past shapes our mind all the time - the past experience, the past knowledge, the past incidents and accidents, the past flattery, the past insult, the thing that has been said and the thing that is going to be said from that which has been said. And so, the question arises: whether it is at all possible to be free from this enormous network of the past which is always translating the present and so distorting the present which makes the future.
So, why is it we obey? The schoolboy obeys because the teacher is an authoritarian, a big man, there is an examination and all that. Then, there is the obedience to law which is also very clear - we generally obey because we shall be punished for various reasons. So, there is an intelligent obedience to law. And is there any other form of obedience necessary? Why should the past - I am talking psychologically, inwardly - condition the mind and thereby impose certain restrictions, make it conform to the pattern of the past? We say that if we have no past as knowledge, all action is impossible. If there was no knowledge accumulated - which is science - then we cannot do anything, we cannot have a modern existence. So, scientific knowledge is essential, and you have to obey if you want to be a physicist. But if you want to be a creative physicist - really creative, not an inventor adding a few more gadgets - you must put aside knowledge and be in a state of such negation - if I can use that word - that the mind is very sensitive, very alert and so capable of perceiving something new.
The mind is shaped by the past, by time, by every incident, every movement, every flutter of the past, or thought. Can that past be wiped away, which is actually memory? Because, if we do not wipe it away - it is possible to wipe it away - we can never see something new, we can never experience something totally unforeseen, unknown. And yet, the past is always guiding us, always shaping us; every instinct, every thought, every feeling is guided by the past, the past being the memory; and memory insists that we should obey, follow. I hope you are watching yourself in action, while listening to what is being said.
Where is memory necessary and essential, and where is it not? Because, memory is an authority for most of us. Memory is the accumulated experience of the past, of the race, of the person, and the reaction of that memory is thought. When you call yourself a Hindu, or a Christian, or have committed yourself to a particular course of action, it is all the response of that memory. And so, it is only a man who has really understood the whole anatomy, the structure of authority, of memory, that can experience something totally new. Surely, if there is God - not that I am an atheist; it does not matter if I am - or if there is not can only be discovered when the mind is totally fresh, when the mind is no longer conditioned by the tradition of belief or non-belief. So, can one wipe away memory which breeds authority, memory which breeds fear and from which there is the urge to obey? As most of us are seeking security in some form or other, physical security or psychological security, to be safe outwardly we must obey the structure of society, and to be inwardly secure we must obey the experience, the knowledge, the memory which has been stored up. Is it possible to wipe away all memory except the mechanical memory of daily existence which in no way interferes, creates, or engenders further memory? The older we get, the more we rely on authority, and so all our thinking becomes narrow, limited.
To bring about a complete mutation, we must question authority very fundamentally. For me, questioning is far more important than to find out how to be free from authority; because in questioning we shall find out the nature of authority, its significance, its value, its detriment, its poisonous nature. By questioning, you will find out what is true. Then the problem is solved, you do not have to ask yourself: how am I to be free from authority? But it is absolutely necessary to question everything, every form of belief, every form of tradition, to tear down the house. Otherwise we remain mediocre people. It may be a calamity of this country that leadership - political authority, the authority of the guru, the authority of the sacred books - has really destroyed all thinking, and so there is no real enquiry. If all enquiries start with the acceptance of the authority of the Gita, the Bible or whatever it is, how can you enquire any further? It is like a man who believes in God or in a particular form of utopia, and hopes to enquire, to question. Such questioning, such enquiry, has no validity at all.
Most of us start with the acceptance of some kind of authority. It may be necessary for a child to accept some authority; but as the child begins to grow up, begins to reason, he can be encouraged, educated to question the parents, question the teacher, question the society; but we have never so questioned. It does not naturally arise because, basically, there is fear; and a mind that is frightened, surely, can only create illusions. And from fear there arises authority. A man who is not at all afraid of anything, has no authority, no belief, no ideal; and it is only such a man, obviously, that can discover if there is or if there is not the immeasurable.
So, authority is necessary in specialization. For a man who is seeking freedom - not freedom from something which is a reaction and therefore not freedom - in order to find out, freedom is right at the beginning, not at the end. To discover what is true, to discover for oneself - not through what somebody tells you, however sacred the book or the person be; there is no sacred book at all, all books are the same - and to find out, the mind must be free. Otherwise, we only become mechanical, pass examinations, get a job and follow the pattern set by society; and that pattern is always corrupting, always destructive.
Really, for a man who is seeking what is true, society is an enemy. He cannot reform society. It is one of our favourite ideas that good people are going to reform society. The good man is one who leaves society. I mean by `leaving' not leaving the house, clothes and shelter, but leaving the things which society stands for - which are basically authority, ambition, greed, envy, acquisitiveness - , leaving all these things which society has made respectable. It is only really by questioning very fundamentally, basically that one begins to shatter the false, to shatter the house that thought has built for its own self-protection.
Question: Must we not have security in order to live.
Krishnamurti: The gentlemen says that there must be security as otherwise we cannot live. We have to be fed, we have to have shelter and clothing; and at the same time how can there be freedom? I wonder why he put the question, as though the two are not possible together.
Is it impossible to be physically secure and not let that physical security interfere psychologically? Is such security made possible at all by wanting psychological security? Let us take a very simple example - I do not like to take examples, but we will. There is starvation in the world, in the whole of Asia - which you know well. There are scientific means for completely feeding all men, clothing them and giving them shelter. Why is it not done? Practically, it can be done, there is no question about it; and yet we are not doing it, why? Surely, the reason is psychological, not physical - because we have separated ourselves as Hindus, Mussalmans, Christians, with sovereign Governments, with separate religions, separate dogmas, beliefs, countries, nationalities, flags and all the rest of it. It is that which is preventing fundamentally the feeding of man and giving him shelter and clothing. The Communists say that they have a method; and so the method becomes all important, and they are willing to fight for the method. For them the method is more important than solving the problem of starvation. Every organizer identifies himself with the organization, because that is another form of self-aggrandizement, of self-importance - which prevents the solution of starvation.
So, one can be physically secure, and must be; but why should one be psychologically secure? You understand? Why this demand to be psychologically secure? Is there such a thing as psychological security? We demand security in our relationship, as husband and wife, with our children; and when we demand such security, what happens? Love goes by the window. Can you be secure in any relationship? You can only be secure with something that is static, not with something which is living; and yet we demand, we insist that we must have security with something that is alive - which does not mean that we must seek insecurity; to seek insecurity will only lead to mental illness, and the hospitals and wards are full with mentally ill people who are so frightened of insecurity that they invent all forms of security.
So, why this insistence to be secure? Is there anything secure, can you ever be secure in anything? So, why not accept, why not see the fact that there is no such thing as psychological security - as belonging to India, to Russia or whatever it is - and thereby create a world in which we all have physical security? You understand the question, sirs? Nobody is willing to give up intelligently, sanely, without being persuaded or driven to give up, his commitments to his nation, his particular pattern of action, his particular pattern of belief. Why should we be Hindus? Why should we belong to India? I know you will listen, but it does not mean a thing to you. You are settled down in your form of belief, in your security; you are born as Hindus and you will die as Hindus. You are really not concerned about starvation. So, that gentleman's question is merely theoretical; it is not an actuality to him. If it were an actuality, a thing that has got to be faced and resolved, then he would enquire into the whole structure of security.
Why do we ask a question? Is it to find an answer? I can tell you the answer - which is an explanation. But does an explanation really answer the problem? Here is a problem: the world has divided itself into separate countries, sovereign States, and therefore prevents the solution of starvation and so on. That is a fact. And yet we go on being Hindus, Mussalmans, Communists, Socialists, Capitalists; we are committed to various things. Now, when we do question, we are looking for an answer which will be generally satisfactory according to our conditioning. You follow? Therefore, such questioning is really immature. But you have to ask a question and not seek an answer because the answer will invariably be according to your conditioning; and to break down the conditioning, you must ask without seeking an answer.
If you want to be an engineer, you must have read books on mathematics. You cannot destroy all the accumulated knowledge - Mathematics, Biology - , you must have all that. But why should you have the Gita? Why don't you treat the Gita as any other book? Because, we seek security in that, we think that it is written by God Himself.
Question: Will further enquiry into memory strengthen the centre, or `the me'?
Krishnamurti: Is there a danger in enquiring further into memory? Is there a danger in digging out the past and thereby strengthening the centre which is the result of the past? Let us be clear what the question is, first. That digging into myself, the myself being the centre of all experiences, of all knowledge, of all accumulated knowledge and frustrated desires and so on - does not that very enquiry into myself strengthen the self, the centre? It all depends on how you enquire. If you enquire and if your enquiry is based on condemnation or justification, a mere adjustment to the pattern, then such an enquiry is bound to strengthen. But if we do not condemn, if the mind merely observes `what is', without condemnation, without judgment, then there is no possibility of strengthening the centre.
What do we mean by observing? Do we observe anything with words? Do we see things with words, with symbols - which is, the thought? Do I see the river, observe the river by the associations connected with that river, with the name, with the tradition which has been handed over for centuries about that river, or do I merely observe the river without all that tradition? Therefore, I either observe with thought, or observe without the word which is thought. I observe, let us say, a flower. Do I observe the flower without the botanical association - its species and so on? Do I observe botanically or do I observe non-botanically? In that same way, do you observe jealousy with the word which is already associated with condemnation and resistances, or with the justification of it? Or do you merely observe it without the word? Because, if you observe with the word, you are strengthening the word - the word being the symbol, the word being the thought, and the thought being the response to memory - and therefore strengthening the centre. But, if you observe without the word - which requires a great deal of enquiry into the word, into the whole process of verbalization - then you can look, observe, see without strengthening, enriching the centre.
Question: Is the observer different from the questioner?
Krishnamurti: Is there a difference between the observer and the questioner? I should not think so. Is there? That is why I said at the beginning, it is. important to find out for yourself how you question. You understand? You must question this decaying society. I must tear down the society by questioning. How do I question? Do I question because I cannot become an important member of that society? I am frustrated as I cannot be somebody in that society; therefore, I question - which is a reaction. That questioning is the result of my frustrations and fears and all the rest of it. Therefore, I question to find out the truth about society, to find out what is true virtue - not the virtue of society, which is no virtue at all. Society is only concerned with sexual morality and nothing else. To find out what is real virtue, you must question the morality of society, and therefore you must tear down society, all the morality which society has established.
Is not the questioner the observer? He observes, and from that observation arises the questioning. But if the observer is merely the entity which comes into being through reaction, then his observation also will be a reaction and therefore no observation at all.
Question: Does observation imply cessation of memory?
Krishnamurti: The gentleman asks: is observation the cessation of memory I do not know if you have experimented with yourself in seeing something, in observing something. You look at somebody; you look at him through all the impressions that you have received about him, and so you are really not looking at him at all. Most of you - but not the students - are married; do you ever look at your wife? You look at picture, the image, the impressions that you have had about her, but you never look at her; and perhaps if you do look without all the impressions, the insults, the quarrels, the memories that you have accumulated, there must be something terrific happening; and therefore you keep the screen between you and her. To really look at something without memory - which is thought, which is accumulated reaction and all the rest of it - , to look at the fact without the word, releases energy, because the fact itself produces the energy, not I looking. To look at the fact - not the explanations, not the theories, not why should it not or why must it be? and so on - , to look at the whole structure of authority would bring about a tremendous revolution in your thinking. And we do not want to have a revolution, because it disturbs - I may not go to the office, I may do something totally different; so, I protect myself with the word and never face the fact. And for most of us philosophy and religion and the enormous thing called life are just words. To free the mind from the word is really quite an extraordinary thing.
Question: Is it possible for the human mind to comprehend truth?
Krishnamurti: Can a human mind comprehend truth? I do not think it can. What is the human mind at present? Is there a human mind, or is merely the instinctive response of the animal still continuing in us? It is not a sarcastic remark.
First of all, to comprehend anything in life, let alone truth - to comprehend my wife, my neighbour, my child - , there must be a certain quietness of the mind, not a disciplined quietness - then it is not quiet, it is a dead mind. So, a mind in conflict prevents observing anything, observing myself. So, I am perpetually in conflict, perpetually-in motion, moving, moving, talking, endlessly questioning, explaining; there is no observation possible here at all. That is what most of us are doing, when we are face to face with `what is'.
So, one sees that there can be observation only when there is no conflict. To have no conflict one can take a tranquillizer, a pill, to become tranquil, but it is not going to give you perception, it will put you to sleep; and that is probably what most of us want. So, to observe, there must be a certain tranquillity of mind; and whether you see what is true depends on the quality of the mind.
Truth is not something that is static. Truth is not something that is fixed - which has no power. It is something which must be alive, must be tremendously sensitive, alive, dynamic, vital. And how can a putrid, puny mind which is in turmoil, everlastingly bitten with ambition - how can it understand that? It can say there is truth and keep on repeating it and putting itself to sleep.
So, the question is, really, not whether the human mind can perceive truth, but whether it is possible to break down the petty walls that man has built round himself which he calls the mind - that is really the issue. One of the walls which we all like so much, is authority.
Question: Are love and truth one and the same thing?
Krishnamurti: Are love and truth one and the same thing? You know all similarities should be distrusted, but there are similarities. Take that word `love'. The General who is about to kill, who is planning killing, talks about love of his country, love of his wife; and he also talks about love of God. The politicians also do the same thing, they talk of the inner voice, God, love. How does one find out what love is, what truth is? Not whether they are similar or dissimilar, but what is it to love, what does it mean? Obviously, we have not got the time to go into the whole of it.
To find out what love is, there must be sensitivity. For most of us love is sex, desire. Through tradition, through all the innumerable waves of saints that this poor unfortunate country has had, love has gone, because love is associated with sex. They preach about love of God, love of man; but yet, they
are terribly crude, utterly insensitive - these saints whom you worship. Beauty is denied - you must not look at a tree; you must not look at a woman; turn away, treat her like a leper, or ask her to shave her head; you know the tricks we all play when we are insensitive.
So, we have to be really sensitive, and then we will know what love is. To be really sensitive, one must break with the past, one must break away from all the heroes and saints. I really mean it. If you follow them, you are imitating and a mind that is imitative is not sensitive.
I wonder at the end of an hour's talk and questions, what actual effect all this has on your minds - actually; not theoretically, not ideationally, but factually? Are you any more sensitive at the end of it?
The girl says the whole mind is disturbed. I am very glad. Be disturbed for the rest of your life. Disturbance is only the beginning of it. But what actual effect has it, when you are disturbed? It is only when you are young, you are disturbed. The old people are not disturbed, because they are committed far too heavily - they have their puja, their saints, their gods, their ways of salvation, their ways of saving society and so on; they are committed - , there are too many duties and responsibilities, and therefore there is no love.
So, when we say we are disturbed, what does it mean? Disturbed at what depth? When the river is disturbed by a passing wind, you see the ripples; but deep down, there is no disturbance, it is deadly quiet. And perhaps, it is the same with us - deep down there is no disturbance. Perhaps when you are young you are disturbed; you will soon get married, pass examinations, get a job and you are settled for life - not that you should not be married and get jobs. But when you do, your disturbance goes with it, you are disturbed about the job, you want a better job, more money. I am not talking of that kind of disturbance - that is too immature. I am talking of a mind that is really disturbed, disturbed and not finding an answer. The moment you find an answer you think you have solved the problem. Life is not so cheap as that.
So, what actual effect has this, an hour's talk? A ripple on the water, or disturbance at a great depth, the uprooting of a tree? Have you ever seen a tree being uprooted? You know what it goes through? Everything is shaken. It dies to everything that it has known. I wonder how deeply a talk of this kind has taken root! You cannot answer; I am not seeking an answer.
The world needs human beings who are not mechanical. The world needs men who have really got a new brain, a new mind. There will be a thousand mechanical entities. But surely, a new mind is necessary to answer the innumerable problems which are multipliable, which are increasing. So, If I may so express it, find out whether the house is being torn down, or you are merely patching up the house.
January 3, 1962.
Varanasi 2nd Public Talk 3rd January 1962
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