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Poona, India, 1948

Poona India 1st Public Talk 1st September, 1948

As we are to have several talks during the coming weeks, I think it is important to understand the relationship between the speaker and yourself. First of all, we are not dealing with ideas, nor with opinions. I am not trying to convince you of any particular point of view, nor am I trying to convey any idea, because I do not believe that ideas, opinions, can bring about a fundamental change in action. What brings about a radical change is understanding the truth of what is. So, we are not dealing with opinions or with ideas. Ideas always meet with resistance; one idea can be opposed by another idea, and an opinion can create a contradiction. Therefore, to seek the solution to a problem through an idea is utterly futile. As I say, ideas do not bring about a radical transformation; and at the present time in world affairs, and in our individual lives, a radical transformation, a revolution of values, is essential. Such a change of values is not brought about by merely changing ideas, or by substituting systems. So, I am not trying to persuade you or dissuade you on any particular point of view. Nor am I acting as a guru to anybody, because I do not think that a guru is necessary in the discovery of truth. On the contrary, a guru is an impediment to the discovery of the real. Nor am I acting as a leader, creating an opinion, an organization; for a leader is a deteriorating factor in society.

So, we must be very clear, both you and I, as to the nature of our relationship; and you must know what is the attitude of the speaker before you can reject or accept what he says. If I may suggest, before you reject any of the things I say, first very carefully examine them, without any bias. It is very difficult to out prejudice; but if we are to understand something, there must be no prejudice, and we cannot merely relegate what is being said to some ancient authority. That is merely another form of escape. What I want to try to do during these discussions and talks is to point out certain things; and while I point them out, please do not become mere observers, spectators, listeners. Because, you and I are going to undertake a journey to see if we can discover the whole sequence of modern civilization, its splendour and its catastrophe, in which both the East and the West are involved. It is a voyage of discovery which you and I are going to undertake together in order to see very clearly and directly what is taking place. For that, you do not want a leader, you do not want a guru, you do not need an organization, or any opinions. What you do need is clarity of perception to see things as they are; and when you see things thus clearly, truth comes into being. To see clearly, you must give, not sporadic attention, but sustained, direct, positive attention, without any distraction - and that is going to be our difficulty.

We have so many problems, political, economic, social and religious, all demanding action; but before we can act, we must know what the problem is. It would be really absurd merely to act without knowing the whole sequence of a problem. But most of us are concerned with action, we want to do something. There are communal problems, national problems, problems of war, problems of starvation, of linguistic differences, and innumerable other problems; and being confronted with them, we want to know what to do. Our whole impulse, our motive, is not to study the question or the problem, but to do something about it. After all, a problem like starvation requires a great deal of study, a great deal of understanding. In understanding, there is action. Merely to act on some superficial response is utterly futile, leading to greater confusion.

Now, if you will, what you and I are going to do is to examine very clearly, sanely and rationally the whole problem of our existence. I am not going to tell you what to think - which is what the propagandists do; but in examining what is, we are going to learn how to think about a problem, which is far more important than to be told what to think. The world problem at the present time is so grave, the catastrophe so imminent, the disaster so rapidly spreading, that to think merely according to a formula, whether of the left or of the right, is utterly futile. A formula cannot produce an answer; it can only produce action according to its own limited standard. So, what is important in these discussions and talks is first of all to realize that we are confronted with problems which need very careful study, not according to any premeditated plan or preconceived idea. I am not giving you a plan, nor am I telling you what to do, but you and I together are going to find out what the problem is. In understanding the problem, we shall understand the truth with regard to the problem which is the only rational approach, If you are looking for a formula, for a system, I am afraid you will be disappointed, because I do not propose to give you a formula. Life has no formula. It is the intellectual people who have a formula which they want to superimpose on life. We must be very clear about this. If you have come to this meeting out of curiosity because you have read something about my supposed position, you may be either satisfied or dissatisfied; but without serious intention, you will never understand the whole problem of existence, The problem is not merely Indian, Maharashtra or Gujarat, which is all childish; the problem is universal. the problem of every individual, whether in Europe, America, or Russia.

So, I am going to help you to think rightly; you and I are going to undertake a journey into the problems of the present world crisis. To do that, I must invite your cooperation. Cooperation in this case consists in right listening; that is, you must experience what is being said as we go along together, and not merely listen to the lecture and then go away with certain set ideas of acceptance or denial. You and I together are to undertake a journey; and to undertake the journey, you must be prepared to experience, to observe, to watch, and to be aware of the implications of that journey. So, if I may say so, to understand you must not merely listen objectively to what is being discussed, but inwardly experience it. I am not being dogmatic - it is stupid to be dogmatic, and people who are dogmatic are intolerable. The man who says he knows, does not know - one should beware of such people. In undertaking the journey, we must be very, clear about what is necessary. The first essential is that we should not be tethered to any past experience, whether national, religious, or personal. If we undertake a journey of real investigation, we must set aside all those bondage's that are holding us. That is difficult, especially for the older people who are more firmly rooted in tradition, in family, and for people with a bank account; and the young will come forward if there is any reward, if they are guaranteed a joy, a position, an immediate answer. So, we are beset with many difficulties.

Now, what is our problem? The common daily problem of existence is obviously one of suffering, is it not? Suffering in different forms is the common lot of all of us, whether it be economic, social, the suffering that death brings, and so on. There is naturally a desire to be secure in the midst of the insecurity, the uncertainty about us. We want to have security with regard to food, clothing, and shelter; we want security in our relationships, in our ideas. Is that not what we are seeking? We want to be certain in our possessions, whether those possessions be things, people, or ideas; and for our possessions we are willing to battle, maim, destroy. In order to be secure in our relationships, secure in our possessions, secure in our ideas, we have created national frontiers, beliefs, Gods, leaders, and so on. When each one of us is thus seeking security, naturally there must be opposition, and this opposition creates conflict in our life. When we are seeking security, existence is one constant battle, one constant conflict; and being in conflict, being in misery, we want to find the truth. Put succinctly, that is our position, and we will work out the details as we go along. The important thing in our life is how to avoid conflict, how to have no resistance - surely, that is our problem, is it not?

Throughout the world there are wars, starvation, strife, conflict between peoples, between families, in the family and outside the family; there is division between Brahmins and non-Brahmins, between Indians and Europeans, between Japanese and Americans, and so on and on. Our immediate problem is that of food, clothing and shelter, and whether these necessities can be produced for everybody so that there is no starvation in the world. Each party, each system, whether of the left or of the right, offers a conflicting solution, and you and I are equally in the strife, politically, economically, and socially. Our life is one of constant struggle to maintain our position, to accumulate money and to hold on to it; and we are beset with innumerable other problems - the problem of death and what happens after death, the problem of whether there is God, what truth is, and so on. How are you and I to approach these complex problems? All the intellectual people of the world, who have gone into these problems and have tried to show us the way, have failed. That is the calamity of modern civilization, is it not? The intellectual people have collapsed, their formulas are unworkable, and we are directly confronted with the problem of starvation and of right relationship. So, our concern is with action, with relationship, with finding out how you and I can approach anew all these problems. We have seen that approaching them along the old and routine lines has not produced any fundamental change, but has only increased the confusion. So, how can you and I approach these problems anew? Obviously, we cannot wait for somebody else, a guru or a leader, to resolve our difficulties. That is infantile, it is immature thinking. The responsibility is yours and mine; and since leaders have failed, since system and formulas have no meaning, we cannot sit back as onlookers and expect to be told what to do. So, how are you and I going to act with regard to these problems?

Before we can act, we must know how to think. There is no action without thought. Most of us do act without thought, and acting without thought has led us to this confusion. So, we must find out how to think before we can know how to act. You and I must find out the right way to think, must we not? If we merely quote the Bhagavad Gita, the Bible, or Koran, it has no meaning - quoting what somebody else has said is of no value. Repeating a truth is to repeat a lie. By repeating, we think we have solved the problem. How absurd! Authority, whether modern or ancient, has no relation to right thinking. Only when you and I find out how to think rightly can we solve the colossal problems that confront us. If we wait for other people to do the work, they will be- come leaders, and leaders inevitably lead us to catastrophe.

Now, how do you set about thinking rightly? To think rightly, you must know yourself, must you not? If you do not know yourself, you have no basis for right thinking, and therefore what you think has no value. You are not different from the world; the world problem is your problem, and the process of yourself is the total process of the world. That is, you have created the problem, which is both individual and universal, and to bring about the right action which will solve it, you must be able to think rightly; and to think rightly, you must obviously know yourself. So, our chief concern is not mere personal salvation, but to know how to think rightly through self-knowledge. Individuals, you and I, create the world; therefore, the individual is of the highest importance. You and I are responsible for the brutal confusion in the world - the patriotism, the conflicting nationalism's, the absurd divisions of people. We will go into all this later. But obviously, you and I are responsible for the world's misery, not some mysterious force. It is our direct responsibility, and to bring about the right action, there must be right thinking. Therefore, you and I are of the utmost importance. As I said, as long as you do not know what you are, you have no basis for right thinking; and that is why it is essential to know yourself before you do something. The clever people who are here may say, `We know all about the world's problem'. When they say that, it is because they do not want to act. To offer a solution for the world's problem without knowing oneself is merely a postponement of the inevitable, because the world's problem is one's own problem, and the individual is not apart from the world.

In understanding yourself, you are not withdrawing from the world. There is no such thing as existence in isolation. Nothing lives in isolation, and I am not proposing an escape from life, an avoidance or a withdrawal from life. On the contrary, you can understand yourself only in relationship with things, with people, and with ideas, and that relationship is always in existence, it is never absent. Relationship is a process of self-revelation. You cannot deny relationship; if you deny it, you cease to be. So, what I am saying is practical, it is not something vague. But you must first see the problem, and then find out how to approach it; and in approaching it rightly, you will be able to solve the problem. That is why you are of the highest importance.

I am going to talk to you during the next six weeks on how to understand oneself in order to have right thinking and therefore right action with regard to the problems that confront us. There is a difference between right thinking and right thought. Right thought is static, whereas right thinking is pliable and in constant movement. Right thinking leads to discovery, to direct knowledge, and it comes through the observation of oneself. The individual is constantly varying, and therefore you require a mind that is extraordinarily swift. That is the only way to right thinking, and hence to the right action which alone can solve this present confusion.

Three or four questions have been given to me, and I shall try to answer them.

Question: In view of the impending war and the atomic devastation of humanity, is it not futile to concentrate on mere individual transformation?

Krishnamurti: It is a very complicated question and needs very careful study; I hope you will have the patience to go step by step with me, and not leave off halfway. We know what are the causes of war; they are fairly obvious, and even a schoolboy can see them - greed, nationalism, the search for power, geographical and national divisions, economic conflicts, sovereign states, patriotism, one ideology, whether of the left or of the right, trying to impose itself upon another, and so on. These causes of war are created by you and me. War is the spectacular expression of our daily existence, is it not? We identify ourselves with a particular group, national, religious, or racial, because it gives us a sense of power; and power inevitably brings about catastrophe. You and I are responsible for war, not Hitler, Stalin, or some other super-leader. It is a convenient expression to say that capitalists, or insane leaders, are responsible for war. At heart, each one wants to be wealthy, each one wants power. These are the causes of war, for which you and I are responsible. I think it is fairly clear that war is the result of our daily existence, only more spectacularly, more bloodily so. Since we are all trying to accumulate possessions, pile up money, naturally we create a society with frontiers, boundaries, tariff walls; and when one isolated nationality comes into conflict with another, inevitably war results - which is a fact. I do not know if you have thought of this problem at all. We are confronted with war, and must we not find who is responsible for it? Surely, a sane man will see that he is responsible and will say, `Look, I am creating this war, therefore I shall cease to be national, I shall have no patriotism, no nationality, I shall not be Hindu, Muslim, or Christian, but a human being'. That requires a certain clarity of thought and perception, which most of us are unwilling to face. If you personally are opposed to war - but not for the sake of an ideal, because ideals are an impediment to direct action - , what are you to do? What is a sane man to do who is opposed to war? First, he must cleanse his own mind, must he not? - free himself from the causes of war, such as greed. Therefore, since you are responsible for war, it is important to free yourself from the causes of war. That means, among other things, that you must cease to be national. Are you willing to do that? Obviously not, because you like to be called a Hindu, a Brahmin, or whatever your label is. That means that you worship the label and prefer it to living sanely and rationally; so you are going to be destroyed, whether you like it or not.

What is a person to do if he wants to free himself from the causes of war? How is he to stop war? Can the coming war be stopped? The momentum of greed, the power of nationalism, which every human being has set in motion - can they be stopped? Obviously they cannot be stopped. War can be stopped only when Russia, America, and all of us transform ourselves immediately and say that we will have no nationalism, we will not be Russians, Americans, Hindus, Muslims, Germans or Englishmen, but human beings; we will be human beings in relationship, trying to live happily together. If the causes of war are eradicated from the heart and mind, then there is no war. But the momentum of power is still going on. I will give you an example. If a house is burning, what do we do? We try to save as much of the house as possible, and study the causes of the fire; then we find the right kind of brick, the proper fire-resisting material, improved construction, and so on, and we build anew. In other words, we leave the house that is burning. Similarly, when a civilization is crumbling, is destroying itself, sane men who see they cannot do anything about it, build a new one that will not burn. Surely, that is the only way to act, that is the only rational method - not merely to reform the old, to patch up the burning house.

Now, if I were to collect together, at this meeting and elsewhere, all who feel they are really free from the causes of war, then what would happen? That is, can peace be organized? Look at the implications of it, see what is involved in organizing peace. One of the causes of war is the desire for power - individual, group, and national. What happens if we form an organization for peace? We become a focal point of power; and the pursuit of power is one of the causes of war. There are continued wars; and yet, when we organize for peace, we are creating an organization for power, which is one of the causes of war. The moment we organize for peace, we inevitably invite power; and when we have power, we are again creating the causes of war. So, what am I to do? Seeing that one of the causes of war is power, am I to oppose war, which means further power? In the very process of opposition, am I not creating power? Therefore, my problem is quite different. It is not an organizational problem. I cannot talk to a group, but only to you as an individual, showing you the causes of war. You and I as individuals must give our thought to it, and not leave it to somebody else. Surely, as in a family, when there is affection, when there is mercy, we need no organization for peace, what we need is mutual understanding, mutual cooperation. When there is no love, inevitably there is war. To understand the complex problem of war, one must approach it very simply. To approach it simply is to understand one's own relationship to the world. If in that relationship there is a sense of power, a sense of domination, that relationship inevitably creates a society based on power, on domination, which in turn brings about war. I may see that very clearly, but if I tell ten people about it and organize them, what have I done? I have created power, have I not? Because I have the support of ten people who are in opposition possible for creating war. No organization is necessary. The organization is the power element that brings about war. There must be individuals who are opposed to war; but when you gather them into an organization, or represent a creed, the moment you do it you are in the same position as the warmonger. Most of us are satisfied with words, we live on words without meaning; but if we examine the problem very closely, very clearly, then the problem itself yields the answer, you do not have to seek it. So, each one of us must be aware of the causes of war, and each one must be free of them.

Question: Instead of having hairsplitting discussions on the question of being and becoming, why do you not apply yourself to some of the burning questions of the country and show us a way out? What is your position, for instance, on the questions of Hindu-Muslim unity, Pakistan-India amity, Brahmin and non-Brahmin rivalry, and whether Bombay should be a free city or part of Maharashtra? You will do a great service if you can suggest an effective solution to these difficult problems.

Krishnamurti: Whether Bombay should be a free city or not, whether there should be unity among Hindus and Muslims - are problems like those which human beings throughout the world are having. Are they difficult problems - or are they childish, immature problems? Surely, we ought to have outgrown this childish kind of business; and do you call these the burning problems of the day? When you call yourself a Hindu and say you belong to a particular religion, are you not quarrelling over words? What do you mean by Hinduism? A group of beliefs, dogmas, traditions and superstitions. Is religion a matter of belief? Surely, religion is the search for truth, and religious people are not those who have these stupid ideas. The man who is searching for truth is a religious man, and he has no need for labels, Hindu, Muslim, or Christian. Why do we call ourselves Hindus, Muslims, or Christians? Because we are not really religious people at all. If we had love, mercy in our hearts, we would not care two pins what we called ourselves - and that is religion. It is because our hearts are empty that they are filled with things which are childish - and which you call the burning questions! Surely, that is very immature. Whether Bombay should be a free city, whether there should be Brahmins and non-Brahmins - are these the burning problems, or are they a front behind which you are hiding? After all, who is a Brahmin? Surely, not he who wears the sacred thread. A Brahmin is a person who understands, who has no authority in society, who is independent of society, who is not greedy, who is not seeking power, who is outside all power - such a person is a Brahmin. Are you and I such people? Obviously we are not. Then why call ourselves by a label which has no meaning? You call yourself by that label because it is profitable, it gives you a position in society. A sane man does not belong to any group, he does not seek position in a society, which only breeds war. If you were really sane, it would not matter what you are called; you would not worship a label. But labels, words, become important when the heart is empty. Because your heart is empty, you are frightened, and are willing to kill others. It is really an absurd problem, this matter of Hindus and Muslims. Surely, Sirs, it is childish, unworthy of mature people, is it not? When you see immature people making a mess of things, what do you do? It is no use hitting them on the head. You either try to help them, or you withdraw and leave them entirely free to make their mess. They like their toys, so you withdraw and build a new culture, a new society. Nationalism is a poison, patriotism is a drug, and the world conflicts are a distraction from direct relationship with people. If you know that, can you indulge in them any more? If you see that clearly, there will be no division between Hindu and Muslim. Our problem then is much vaster than the question of whether Bombay should be a free city, and we will not therefore lose ourselves in stupid problems in the face of the real issues of life. Sirs, the real issues of life are near at hand, in the battle between you and me, between husband and wife, between you and your neighbour. But of our personal lives we have created this mess, these quarrels between Brahmin and non-Brahmin, between Hindu and Muslim; you and I have contributed to this mess, and we are directly responsible, not some leaders. Since it is our responsibility. we have to act; and to act, we must think rightly; and to think rightly, we have to put away childish things, all that we know to be utterly false and without meaning. To be mature human beings, we must put away the absurd toys of nationalism, of organized religion, of following somebody politically or religiously. That is our problem. If you are really earnest, serious about all this, then you will naturally free yourself from infantile acts, from calling yourself by particular labels, whether national, political, or religious; and only then shall we have a peaceful world. But if you merely listen, you will go out and do exactly the same thing that you have done before. (Laughter.) I know you laugh - and that is where the tragedy lies. You are not interested in stopping war, you are not really interested in having peace in the world. In Poona, perhaps, you are for the moment living peacefully, and you think you will somehow survive. You are not going to survive. You are talking of war between Hyderabad and new India, of communal problems, and so on. We are all on the brink of a precipice. This whole civilization which man has believed in, may be destroyed; the things which we have produced, tenderly cultivated - everything is now at stake. For man to save himself from the precipice, there must be a real revolution - not a bloody revolution, but a revolution of inward regeneration. There cannot be regeneration without self-knowledge. Without knowing yourself, there is nothing you can do. We have to think out every problem anew; and to do that, we must free ourselves from the past, which means that the thought process must come to an end. Our problem is to understand the present in its enormity, with its inevitable catastrophes and miseries - we must face it all anew. There can be no newness if we merely carry on with the past, if we analyze the present through the thought process. That is why, to understand a problem, the thought process must cease. When the mind is still, quiet, tranquil - only then is the problem resolved. Therefore it is important to understand oneself. You and I must be the salt of the earth, professing a new thought, a new happiness.

September 1, 1948


Poona, India, 1948

Poona India 1st Public Talk 1st September, 1948

Texts and talks of Jiddu Krishnamurti. Krishnamurti quotes. Books about
J Krishnamurti. Philosophy.

Art of War

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48 Laws of Power

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