Varanasi 2nd Public Talk 25th November 1965
We are going to talk over this morning, together, the question of change: what moves a human being to change?
We are not talking about change at the peripheral level - that is, merely on the outward level, at the level of the frontier or at the edges of one's mind - but rather about change at the very centre of the human mind and the human heart. We are going to consider this morning the change in relationship, because relationship is the very centre of all human existence - relationship; to be related, to be in contact; not only the relationship between human beings and the State, but also the relationship between human beings themselves.
We are now confronted - especially in this country, which has been talking, preaching, theorizing about non-violence and the question of war - with the question of relationship between a sovereign State - that is the so-called Government - and the human being. What is the relationship of the human being with the State, with society? Until we understand this question very deeply and very seriously, mere theorizing about the State and the reformation of the State or of society and the various speculations that are taking place with regard to the human being really has no meaning at all to a serious mind. We are confronted with this tremendous problem, not only in India, but throughout the world - this question of violence, not only the violence in the individual, in the human being, but also the violence - the organized violence which inevitably leads to war - of a State, of a sovereign Government.
What is your relationship, as a human being, to the State, to society? You cannot, any more, dodge, hide behind theories; you may not, because there is the challenge thrown right at you. You say, "It does not concern me, because I am beyond forty, I will not be called to serve the country; therefore I preach, I talk and live the way I have lived." But it is a tremendous, vital, urgent problem for each one of us. We may not escape it, either saying "I have nothing to do with the State, I am a religious person and I am going to withdraw into the mountains, a monastery, or something or the other", or hiding behind the words, theories, speculations, intellectual froth which has no meaning. If you are at all serious, you have to face the issue.
What is your relationship with your neighbour, with your wife, husband, another human being? And also what is your relationship, as a human being, with the State, with a sovereign Government that goes to war? You have to answer this: that is, the relationship of yourself with your neighbour, your relationship with your intimate family, your relationship with the so-called collective, which is society, and your relationship with a sovereign Government or a State. And please do not theorize, do not speculate - that is one of the most dreadful escapes that the so-called intellectual people have in this country; they spin a lot of theories about non-violence, violence, your State and your relation to it, and all the rest of it and they do not act. We have got to act.
So we are going to consider the change in relationship, not how to change a sovereign Government, or the State, or the social structure of which each one of us is a part, the social structure which every human being has contributed to build up. Society is yourself and yourself is society. If you are born in communist Russia, you will believe that there is no separation between you and the State and all the rest of it. So we are now considering what is the nature of the thing that makes a man change in his relationship.
Why is it that this country, which has talked infinitely, for centuries, about "don't kill, be kind", which believes in so-called reincarnation, the unity of life - why is it that not one human being in this country, not one of you who have talked of violence and non-violence, who have practised non-violence, who have gone to prison for independence, for this and that, has risen and said, "I will not kill", publicly? Do you understand? It is a very serious charge. You cannot just say, "It is not my business".
Not one has said, "I will not kill". Why? Please, sirs, put this question to yourselves, not to somebody else. Is it that you just follow what the popular opinion is? Popular opinion was, five to twenty years ago, for non-violence and you have been told to be non-violent. In another decade something changes, and you run with that; there comes a war and you follow that. So it indicates that you do not believe or that you are not really convinced about anything. Do please listen to this. For you, neither violence nor non-violence matters as long as you are completely safe, as long as you carry on with your popularity; whether you are a leader, whether you are efficient here or cheating there, whether you talk to this group or to that group, you carry on, repeating what is popular and just flow with the current. And how is such a human being to change his relationship, not only with himself, but also with another? Because it is a matter of relationship.
What makes you change? That is where we left off the other day. What makes me or you change - not at the outer edges of our activities, but right at the centre? All the reformers are concerned about change at the periphery, at the social, extremely superficial level. We do change a little bit here and there, because that is the fashionable thing to do. Some immature saint comes along with some cantankerous opinions and talks about all this, outward, peripheral change, and you talk about it and you try to reform a little! But we are not talking at that level at all. We are talking at a different dimension at a different level of the conscious human mind, and of the heart, which is the centre from which all relationship takes place. Unless there is a change there, do what you will, you cannot bring about a society, a human being, tremendously sophisticated, highly civilized and really religious.
So, what makes us change? If you are not interested in this question, don't bother, do not make another problem of it. You have enough problems as it is, whether you are conscious or unconscious of it. But if you are a really serious and thoughtful person in this world - which has become so violent, so brutal, so competitive, so nationalistic, dividing itself into families, groups - you are confronted with this problem, whether you like it or not. You can say, "I will not touch it, I will spin my theories and live in a cocoon of my own ideas". But, if you are concerned, you have to find out what makes each one of us change - and change at the centre - what brings about a revolution right at the core of our being: not whether we travel third class or first class, fly, or we eat one meal a day and put on a loincloth - all that is a trivial thing when you are confronted with an immense problem.
Now, what makes us change? And do, we want to change at the centre? The centre is the very essence of pleasure. For pleasure we will do anything believe in anything, strive for anything, conform to any pattern as long as it is pleasurable, as long as it suits us, is convenient, gives us a certain position, a certain satisfaction, a certain fulfilment. Don't quickly brush aside this question of pleasure. After all, that is what all activities are based on - pleasure. I like a certain theory, a certain formula and I act on it. Because I like it, it appeals to me, it is attractive, I believe. Or, I discard that and take up another - again that same principle. Or, I deny pleasure and say, "I must not have pleasure at all in life", and force myself, torture myself not to react to pleasure - which is what is called a religious pursuit. You can call this pleasure by any name, give it a marvellous-sounding word in Sanskrit or in Latin, or give a coating to that image and try to destroy it, try to break through, without understanding the whole structure of pleasure.
So, what makes us, you and me - as human beings, living in this terrible world, which is not illusion, which is terribly alive, brutal beyond words, with the utter callousness that is going on - what will make you and me change radically at the root which is based on the structure of pleasure and the avoidance of anything that is painful or not pleasurable. You believe in God because it gives you pleasure, because it makes you feel safe, that gives you some stability. Or, when you do not believe in God, that also gives you another kind of pleasure. So the whole structure is based on this.
Now, how will you, as a human being, bring about a change which is not another form of pleasure - a superior pleasure, more subtle form of pleasure?
So, we have to examine the nature of pleasure, not try to break it down or transform it or try to find a substitute for it, but to understand it. Right? To understand - what does it mean to understand something? We use that word "understanding" very easily when we say, "I understand it". A boy says, "I understand this mathematical problem. I understand the nature of human beings, the structure of society or of the Government, and so on". But we are using the word `understand' in a different sense. We are using the word non-intellectually, non-emotionally. Obviously, the intellectual understanding of something is no understanding at all. Also an emotional reaction to a given problem is no understanding. please, when you have a very, very serious problem, as we have, you cannot approach it intellectually, because it is a fragment of the whole of your human being. It is a segment it is a section of the human structure. So, when we say that we understand something intellectually, it is no understanding. Intellectual understanding is a destructive understanding, because you are dealing with a tremendously complicated problem with a fragment of your being, which is the intellect. Or when you emotionally get stirred up, when you sentimentally feel about something, again it is partial; therefore in that there is no understanding.
So, there is understanding only when there is the intellect, the emotion, the nerves, the ears, the eyes, everything responding totally to the problem, not partially, not fragmentarily. When your whole being, whatever that whole being is - however little, however petty, however stupid, however narrow, however shallow - when that whole being responds to it completely, then there is a possibility of understanding that issue. That very understanding is action - not understanding and then acting. I hope that is clear - that is, we are approaching this problem totally, not fragmentarily; and the problem is: How is the human mind, how is this human being, who is so complex, to understand this complexity? One has also to comprehend that action is not different from understanding, that the two things are not separate. When I understand that it is a poisonous snake, I leave it. There is not `I understand it first, and then leave it; the thing itself is dangerous and the understanding of the danger of it makes me act. So, the action is a total action, not a partial, fragmentary action.
You, as a human being, are a very complex entity. There is not only the conscious, educated, sophisticated mind, the brain of superficial consciousness of everyday activities - going to the office, family and all that - but also there is the unconscious, the deep down, which is the racial, the communal, which is the traditional, all the past, the history of the civilization in which the human being exists, is educated and functions. So, one has to understand this whole structure, not partially: and not say, "I will begin to understand the unconscious or the conscious, little by little, and then put it all together and then see the whole of it as a whole! I hope we are communicating with each other".
That brings up the question of communication. Relationship is communication. I do not know if you see this. If I hide behind the mask of my own ambitions, greed, envy, my own pettiness and all the rest of it, I have no communication with you. You may also be petty, greedy, envious, behind your own mask. Each one of us lives behind masks. And so, though you may be married and have a wife, children, all the rest of it, everyone of you lives in a prison of his own, behind the mask of cunning, deceit and all the rest of it, and hopes to establish a relationship with another. It is impossible. Communication or communion can only exist when there is relationship. You understand, sirs? That is, if you say, "I am a Hindu", it is a mask, it is just a tradition, it has no meaning in the modern world - and never had anyhow - and you live behind that mask. And I, a Muslim, live behind my mask, my tradition, my bigotry, my upbringing. Is there a communication between you, a Hindu, and me, a Muslim? None at all. And relationship is no communication. Now, between you and the speaker, we have to establish this relationship; otherwise, there is no understanding of each other. If you listen, while you are here, indifferently, casually, or because you have a certain idea about the reputation of the speaker, a certain false respect, how can there be a communication, which is relationship, between you and the speaker? We must both meet at the same level, at the same time, with the same intensity; otherwise, there is no communication. I do not know if I am making myself clear on this issue. I may pretend; I may be tremendously nationalistic; I may be inwardly, deeply Hindu, and talk about unity, and so on; I have no communication with you. Or, you may be out of this category of human labels.
So, to establish communication and deeper communion, there must be a relationship, not merely at the verbal level - that is absolutely necessary; I speak English, as I do not know any Indian language and you also understand English, therefore there is a verbal communication. But the verbal communication is not a relationship. Relationship can only take place when you meet the fact non-verbally, non-theoretically, without abstraction. It is only when both of us are going to meet the fact, that there is communion or communication between us; both of us have to see the same thing, factually, not emotionally, not according to our opinions, beliefs, dogmas, hopes, fears, not as a Hindu, as a Muslim, as a Buddhist, as a communist and so on. We have both to see the actual fact at the same time - not you go home and see the fact, but see the fact as it is said, at the same moment - with the same intensity; then only is communion or communication possible; and then only is relationship possible. And it is only when there is a relationship between you and the speaker about the fact, that there is a possibility of bringing action to the fact, or the fact bringing action. Please follow this, it needs attention.
We are talking about change in relationship, and that is absolutely necessary, not at the superficial level but at the very root of our being. And we are going to discover the fact - discover it, not be told what the fact is. And when we discover the fact for ourselves, we look at the fact non-theoretically, without opinions; then that very look brings action. And therefore that very observation is the factor of change. I wonder if you understand all this. Am I making myself clear? Don't agree, sirs. You are not pacified. Either it is clear, or it is not clear. If it is not clear, we will discuss it, we will debate, we will go into-it, because you have to see the tremendous importance of this. It is the observation of the fact itself that brings change, not your volition, not your desire, not your memory which says, "I must change, I must be happy" - which are all conclusions based on pleasure and, therefore, not a factor which brings about in itself the energy to change. It is the observation of the fact itself, being totally in communion with the fact - it is that communion or that relationship with the fact itself that brings the change. Human beings are violent, because they are still animals. Now I am going to go into it: please follow.
I am violent; from childhood I have been trained to be violent, to compete, to assert myself, to fulfil myself, to conform to society, to adjust. So from childhood, through various culture and all the rest of it, this violence continues. I hate people. I do not like people, I am cunning, I want position, I want to be famous, I want to be regarded as a very good man, very capable - you know the image that we build about ourselves; `I am this or I am that'. I see I am violent. As long as it is pleasurable, as long as it gives me satisfaction, I continue to be violent. It is only when that violence becomes painful that I begin to say, "I must change" - not because of any theory; not because of any God; not because of society, doing good to society, following this saint or that saint. I like to be violent when it pays, and I don't like to be violent when it does not pay. That is a fact.
I see that violence, in itself, is destructive; in itself, it destroys the human mind because, if I am competing, fulfilling, struggling, battling with you and with everything, the brain wears itself out. There is no affection, there is no tenderness, no grace, no beauty. I see that, but I do not know how to change this thing called violence. I see that, and I ask myself, "How am I to bring about a radical transformation at the very root of violence, which is the `me', the `me' of accumulated memories, hopes, fears, anxieties, spiritual concepts - that I am the soul, that I am the Atman, that I am God - which are essentially based on pleasure and therefore violence. I do not know if you are following all this. I must come into relationship with the fact, which we have talked about earlier. The mind or the brain must come into contact directly with what it calls violence. Right?
I can only come into contact with you when I hold your hand. I must come directly into contact, otherwise there is no contact, physical contact. I must come into contact with that thing which I call violence. I cannot possibly come into contact with that feeling called violence, as long as I have explanations about violence, or as long as I have intellectual explanations for why I am violent: I am an animal; society is violent; I am part of that society, and because of society, I am also violent; circumstances force me. Those explanations prevent me from coming into contact with the fact. I see that and I see also that it is imperative that I have relationship with the fact; therefore, I have no theories any more. You understand? I have no theories of any kind, communist, socialist, this saint or that saint - which is a difficult thing for a man to do, because he lives by words. So, I will not have a theory about violence; I want to come into contact with it. I cannot have a theory about love, if I love you. Love is not a theory. Theory exists only when the heart is empty, and you hope to fill the empty heart with words and theories. And theoreticians, these saints - you know, this country is so full of them - have no love.
So I can only come into contact with a fact when I have no theories, no beliefs, no opinions about the fact. Also, I have no relationship with the fact if I am trying to escape from it. I escape from it when I say, "What is the answer to this problem?", because I am more concerned with the answer, the resolution or the substitution of the problem, and not with coming into contact with the problem itself. I hope you are following all this.
So, I come into relationship with the fact, with neither opinion nor theory. Opinion, theory, will prevent one from coming into relationship with the fact. And escape in any form prevents me from coming into contact with the fact - and a very subtle form of it is the word about the fact. You understand, sirs?
Look, sir, the word is very important. For us, the word `Hindu' is very important, because behind that word or for that word we will fight and kill. We do not investigate what that word means. We just accept that label, and we are willing to slaughter, or be slaughtered by, anybody who stands in the way or is against that label. So, the word - communist, socialist, my way, the class I belong to - is extraordinarily important to people. We live by words, and therefore our hearts are empty, dry, cruel. So the word `violence' prevents you from coming into contact with that feeling which you call violence.
Look, sirs, let me put it round another way. I want to understand, to know, to feel, to come into what love is, and let love flower in me. I do not know what love is. But I have opinions about it: godly love; physical love; saintly love; lust for man; do you love God? do you love your neighbour? do you love everybody? I have concepts, formulas: pure love, ignoble love, no sex. I have quantities, volumes of opinions about love. To come into contact with the fact of what love is, I must eschew, put away, burn all the books about what love is. In the same way, to find out, to come directly into communion with violence, the first thing is: no explanations, no escape, escape being trying to find out the cause or trying to find an answer. Also I must be tremendously aware of the danger of the word itself. It is only then that my whole being can come into contact with that thing which I call violence. There is the `me', who is looking at violence. I have not given explanations, I have not escaped, I have not understood the word. So I look at the fact which I call violence. Is that violence different from the observer? It is not different. The observer is the observed; the observer is violence, not that he is apart from that thing which he calls violence. So there is contact with that which we have called violence.
All this must be understood, not gradually. You follow? It must be understood immediately. That is the whole issue.
We were talking the other day about the question of order and disorder. Time is disorder, not chronological time, not time by the watch. If you do not keep time by the watch, you create more disorder. If I do not come by the watch exactly at half past nine, there is disorder. So, time and order exist chronologically - the bus, the train, the aeroplane, the appointment, when the factory starts working and when I must be there. Any other time except that time breeds disorder. Do not agree; see what is implied in it. Because, for us, time is a gradual process, a continuation of yesterday through today to tomorrow - a duration I haven't the time to go into it too much.
When I say to myself, "I will understand violence slowly", it is a gradual process. When you say you will eventually come into contact, into relationship between you and the fact - you understand? - when you say, "I will take my time to understand violence", you are postponing your relationship with the fact. And when you postpone your relationship with the fact, you are creating more disorder. Isn't that so? Do see the very simplicity of it, now; it gets tremendously complicated and subtle later. But do see the simplicity of it first. That is, I am greedy; and I say I am greedy, because it is painful. As long as it is pleasurable, I go on with my greed, calling it by different names, covering it up, pretending, being saintly and all the rest of it. Whether it is for God or for things or for success, it does not matter; it is still greed. When I say to myself, "I will get rid of it presently", I have postponed my relationship with the fact. And in this interval which I call gradualness, in which there is the lag of time, in that interval, there are other influences going on, I am pretending to be non-greedy, I am pretending to accept; there are many, many factors involved in that postponement; you can see all this for yourself.
So that postponement, that gradualness, that lag of time, is the factor of disorder. So time, as a postponement, is the avoidance of the fact. When one says, "I will do something tomorrow, I will be good, I won't be angry", all those statements are postponement and avoidance of the fact. And when you avoid something, you are creating more confusion, more sorrow, more trouble, more conflict and therefore, more disorder. When you understand this thing really - not verbally, but actually - when you see how time creates disorder, then your action is immediate.
So the relationship to a fact is only possible when there are no opinions, explanations, theories, when there are no escapes - such as trying to find an answer or trying to find a cause - when the word no longer interferes between the observer and the observed, and when you see that the observer is the observed. When you understand this whole problem of time, which we have briefly explained, then you are directly in contact, in relationship, with the fact. And it is this relationship with the fact that brings about the energy that brings complete change.
What is real is the fact, and any abstraction is a barrier. All explanations, theories, opinions, trying to avoid the fact, the time element, the observer saying that he is observing the thing - these are abstractions, and have to be eliminated. As long as you have a barrier as an abstraction, you are not. in relationship with the fact. Therefore, it is only when you are completely, with your whole being, in contact with the fact, that the fact is going to bring this. revolution - not will, not decision, not saying, "I will do something about this" - none of these, if you have observed yourself, will bring this revolution. You will see the fact only when you are confronted with the fact. If you say, "I do not want to face the fact" - which is perfectly all right - you are not serious. But if you are really serious and come into contact with the fact, then you will see that this operates always.
I do not know if you have ever considered why we attend meetings at all, why you sit there, and the speaker sits here and talks. Why do you listen at all? It is a peculiar phenomenon in life: whether it is a talk by a politician or by a guru, or by anyone else. Why do you listen to a talk?
Why do you listen and how do you listen? I wonder if you have ever gone into this question, or even thought about it: why we listen at all to what another says. I can understand my listening to a technological talk by a technological professor about the computer, about science, about mathematics. and so on - technological knowledge. But why do you listen to me? Are you actually listening to me? Or are you observing yourself through me? You are following? After all, when one listens - if one is at all serious - one is actually listening to oneself. The speaker expounds, explains; but that is irrelevant. What is relevant is that you are observing yourself, how your mind is operating, what your reactions are. When the speaker talks about nationalism, Hinduism, what are your reactions to it? You begin to discover yourself, your reactions, your cunningness, your deceptions and all the rest of it, when you are actually sitting quiet and listening to a talk of this kind. Otherwise it has no value at all. I can go on spinning about violence, I can tell you about the structure of violence and so on. But if that does not reveal to yourself what your own mind is, what your own heart is, then such a talk as this morning's is absolutely worthless. It is your life. You have to live your life. You are called upon to find out how you respond to this war. Do you just flow with it, as almost all the people do, including the saints and all their disciples?
In listening one discovers for oneself how shallow one is, and the discovery is not depressing. On the contrary, one discovers a fact; and when you discover a fact and react to that fact as being depressed or as saying, "I wish I weren't that", then you are avoiding the fact. It is only when you discover by listening to yourself through listening to the speaker or any one else, that you will unfold an extraordinary treasure, and open a door to such things as you have never even dreamt of. And out of that comes great affection, great love. And without love, do what you will, you will have no order, no peace. And with love you can do what you will.
November 25, 1965
Varanasi 2nd Public Talk 25th November 1965
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