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London 1949

London 1st Public Talk 2nd October 1949

This is the first talk of the series, and as most of the people will not be able to come to all the talks, I will try to make each talk complete in itself, if I can.

For most of us who have problems, the difficulty lies in that we try to solve each problem on its own plane. We do not try to solve the problem integrally, as a whole, but try to solve it from a particular point of view; or we try to differentiate, or separate the problem from the total process which is life. If we have an economic problem, we try to solve it on that plane alone, disregarding the total process of life; and each problem, when so tackled, obviously must fail to be solved, because our life is not in watertight compartments: our life is a total process, psychologically as well as physiologically, and when we try to solve the psychological problems without understanding the physiological problems, we give wrong emphasis, and therefore further complicate the problem. What we have to do, it seems to me, is to take each problem, and not deal with it as a separate issue, but as part of a whole.

So, what are our problems in life? Because, it seems to me that, if we can understand how to approach each problem rightly, we shall be able to understand not only that problem, but the whole significance of existence. And that is our difficulty, is it not?, how to approach a problem integrally, as a whole, and not keep it on a separate level, not try to look at it from one particular point of view, but to regard it as part of a whole.

How is it possible to approach a problem integrally? What is it that we mean by a problem? Because, all of us have various problems, acute or superficial, immediate or which can be postponed. We are driven by innumerable problems, subtle or obvious; and how can we really approach them rightly, and what do we mean by a problem? And are we aware that we have problems, and how we approach them? What is our attitude towards the problem?

What do we mean by a problem? Surely, we mean a state in which there is conflict. As long as there is a conflict in us, we regard that conflict as a problem, as something to be dissolved, to be understood, to be solved, or from which we wish to escape. So, we approach a problem, a conflict, do we not?, either with a desire to escape from it, or to find an answer for it, to find a solution for it.

Now, is the solution different from the problem, or does the solution lie in understanding the problem itself, and not away from it? Obviously, those of us who want to escape from a problem have innumerable ways - drink, amusement, religious or psychological illusions, and so on. It is comparatively easy to find an escape from our problems, and shut our eyes to them, which most of us do, because we do not know how to tackle them. We always have a ready made answer, according to our beliefs, our prejudices; according to what a teacher, a psychologist, or someone else has told us; and with that ready-made answer we try to solve, to approach the problem. Surely, that doesn't solve it. That is but another form of escape.

So it seems to me that to understand a problem requires, not a ready-made answer, not trying to seek a solution for the problem, but a direct consideration of the problem itself, which is to approach it without the desire to find an answer, if one may so put it. Then you are directly in relationship with the problem then you are the problem, is no longer separate from yourself And I think that is the first thing one must realize, that the problem of existence, with all its complexities, is not different from ourselves. We are the problem; and as long as we regard the problem as something away from us, or apart from us, our approach must inevitably result in failure. Whereas, if we can regard the problem as our own, as part of us. not separate from us, then perhaps we shall be able to understand it significantly - which means, essentially, does it not?, that a problem exists because there is no self-knowledge. If I do not understand myself, the whole complexity of myself, I have no basis for thinking. "Myself" is not at any one particular level surely. "Myself" is at all levels, at whatever level I may place it. So, as long as I have no comprehension of myself, as long as I do not understand myself fully, significantly - the conscious as well as the unconscious, the superficial as well as the hidden - obviously I have no means of approaching the problem, whether it be economic, social, psychological, or any other problem.

Self-knowledge is the beginning of understanding of the problem. Belief, ideas, knowledge, have really no significance at all without self-knowledge. Without self-knowledge they lead to illusion, to all kinds of complications and stupidities into which we can so subtly escape - and most of us do. That is why we join so many societies, so many groups, so many exclusive organizations and secret bodies. Is it not the nature of stupidity to be exclusive? The more one is stupid, the more one is exclusive, religiously or socially; and each exclusiveness creates its own problems.

So, it seems to me, our difficulty in understanding the many problems that confront us, both the subtle and the obvious, comes about through ignorance of ourselves. It is we who create the problem, we who are part of the environment - as, well as something more, which we shall discover if we can understand ourselves. Merely to assert that we are something more, something divine, spiritual; that there is something eternal, some spiritual essence in us - all that, it seems to me, is obviously an illusion, because it is mere verbalization of something which you do not know. You may have a feeling, a sensation; but that is not factual. What is a fact must be discovered, must be experienced. But, to experience something deeply, fundamentally, there must be no belief; because, what you experience then, is merely conditioned by your belief. Belief creates its own experience; therefore, such an experience is not true. It is merely the conditioned response to a challenge.

So, to understand the innumerable problems that each one of us has, is it not essential that there be self-knowledge? And that is one of most difficult things, self-aware - which does not mean an isolation, a with drawl. Obviously, to know oneself is essential; but to know oneself does not imply a withdrawal from relationship. And it would be a mistake, surely, to think that one can know oneself significantly, completely, fully, through isolation, through exclusion, or by going to some psychologist, or to some priest; or that one can learn self-knowledge through a book. Self-knowledge is obviously a process, not an end in itself; and to know oneself, one must be aware of oneself in action, which is relationship. You discover yourself, not in isolation, not in withdrawal, but in relationship - in relationship to society, to your wife, your husband, your brother, to man; but to discover how you react, what your responses are, requires an extraordinary alertness of mind, a keenness of perception.

So, as any problem is the result of a total process, and not an exclusive, isolated result, to understand it, we must understand the total process of ourselves; and to understand ourselves - not only superficially, in one or two layers of the upper mind, but through the whole content of consciousness, the whole content of our being - to understand that fully, significantly, it must be perceived and experienced in relationship. We can either make that relationship exclusive, narrow, limited, and thereby hinder our self-knowledge; or we can look at, be aware of it, that relationship as a whole, as the means of self-discovery. Surely, only in relationship the process of what I am, unfolds, does it not? Relationship is a mirror in which I see myself as I am; but as most of us do not like what we are, we begin to discipline, either positively or negatively, what we perceive in the mirror of relationship. That is, I discover something in relationship, in the action of relationship, and I do not like it. So, I begin to modify what I do not like, what I perceive as being unpleasant. I want to change it - which means, I already have a pattern of what I should be. The moment there is a pattern of what I should be, there is no comprehension of what I am. The moment I have a picture of what I want to be, or what I should be, or what I ought not to be - a standard according to which I want to change myself - then, surely, there is no comprehension of what I am at the moment of relationship.

I think it is really important to understand this, for, I think this is where most of us go astray. We do not want to know what we actually are at a given moment in relationship. If we are concerned merely with self-improvement, there is no comprehension of ourselves, of what is. You are merely concerned with achieving results; and to achieve a result is in the end an awful bore, because it leads nowhere. But to know what I am, not what I should be, is extremely arduous; because the mind is so subtle, so eager to avoid anything which is. And so it has developed various standards, patterns, assumptions, which deny what is. So, to understand oneself, which is not a dead thing, but a living thing, your approach must be actively new, and therefore, it cannot have the positive or the negative assertion of a standard.

So, to understand oneself - which can be done only in relationship, not outside relationship - , there must be no condemnation. If I condemn something, I do not understand it; or if I accept something, I do not understand it. Acceptance is merely identification with the problem, and denial or condemnation is another form of identification. But, if we can look at the problem without condemnation or justification - that is, the problem of myself as I am in relationship, which is action - , then there is a possibility of understanding what is, and therefore, unfolding what is.

So, as our problems are the result of the total process of ourselves, which is action in relationship. whether with things, ideas or people, it is essential, is it not?, that there should be understanding of ourselves. Without knowing myself, I have no real basis for thinking. I can think, or at least I think I can think. I may have opinions, I may have innumerable beliefs, I may belong to this society, to that organization or church, have immense knowledge. Surely, all that is not a basis for right thinking. It leads to illusion. It leads to further conflict, further confusion. So, to think rightly, it is essential, is it not?, that there be self-knowledge; which is to know yourself as you are from moment to moment, to be aware of everything that is going on, of all the inward responses to every outward challenge, to every experience. But you cannot know yourself fully, completely, deeply, extensively, if there is any form of belief, any form of adherence to an experience of yesterday. To understand something, you need a fresh mind - not a mind that is prejudiced, not a mind that is clogged with experience; because to understand yourself, there must be self-discovery. Obviously, discovery can only be from moment to moment, therefore, there must be continuity - not merely thought which is conditioned to a particular pattern, however noble, or however absurd and stupid.

So, it is not very easy to be aware of the whole significance of a particular experience, which is relationship. It requires an extraordinarily alert, keen mind; but a mind is made dull by clinging to an experience of yesterday; a mind is made dull by belief. As I said, experience according to belief, merely conditions the mind; and such an experience, though very satisfactory gratifying, obviously limits the extraordinary, extensive self - knowledge which comes through awareness of the response in relationship; because, if you have an experience and you cling to that experience, which is memory, and with that conditioned thought, with that memory, you approach a new challenge, obviously there is no comprehension of that challenge. And relationship, surely, is challenge, is it not? Relationship is not a static thing. And, because we are not capable of meeting that challenge adequately, fully, we have problems. Because we are nationalists, Catholics, Protestants, Buddhists, or God knows what else, or because we belong to this society or that group, which are all limiting, we are incapable of meeting a challenge which is constantly arising; for to meet a challenge, there must be complete self-knowledge. And to rely on memory, on a past experience, as a means of discovering ourselves, obviously limits our thinking, our perception. Because, after all, what is it that most of us are seeking? Though we have our problems, though we are worried economically, though there is immense insecurity, wars, the nuisance of nationalism, the exclusiveness of innumerable cults, religions, and our own desire to be exclusive - in spite of all these stupidities what is it that we are actually seeking? If we can know that, perhaps we shall be able to understand. Because, we seek according to our age, according to the period and circumstances of our lives.

Do we not seek, through all this confusion, something permanent, something lasting, something which we call real, God, truth, what you like? - the name doesn't matter, the word is not the thing, surely. So don't let us be caught in words. Leave that to the professional lecturers. There is surely a search for something permanent, is there not?, in most of us - something we can cling to, something which will give us assurance, a hope, a lasting enthusiasm, a lasting certainty; because in ourselves we are so uncertain. We do not know ourselves. We know a lot about facts, what the books have said; but we do not know for ourselves, we do not have a direct experience.

And what is it that we call permanent? What is it that we are seeking, which will, or which we hope will give us permanency? Are we not seeking lasting happiness, lasting gratification, lasting certainty? We want something that will endure everlastingly, which will gratify us. If we strip ourselves of all the words and phrases, and actually look at it, this is what we want. We want permanent pleasure, permanent gratification - which we call truth, God, or what you will.

So, we want pleasure. Perhaps that may be putting it very crudely, but that is actually what we want - knowledge that will give us pleasure, experience that will give us pleasure, a gratification that will not wither away by tomorrow. And we have experimented with various gratifications, and they have all faded away, and we hope now to find permanent gratification in reality, in God. Surely. that is what we are all seeking - the clever ones and the stupid ones, the theorist and the factual person who is striving after something. And is there permanent gratification? Is there something which will endure?

Now, if you seek permanent gratification, calling it God, or truth, or what you will - the name does not matter - surely you must understand, must you not? the thing you are seeking. When you say, "I am seeking permanent happiness" - God, or truth, or what you like - , must you not also understand the thing that is searching, the searcher, the seeker? Because, there may be no such thing as permanent security, permanent happiness. Truth may be something entirely different: and I think it is utterly different from what you can see, conceive, formulate. So, before we seek something permanent, is it not obviously necessary to understand the seeker? Is the seeker different from the thing he seeks? When you say, "I am seeking happiness", is the seeker different from the object of his search? Is the thinker different from the thought? Are they not a joint phenomenon, rather than separate processes? Therefore, it is essential, is it not?, to understand the seeker, before you try to find out what it is he is seeking.

And that is why it seems to me so essential, so important, to understand oneself; because in oneself is the whole problem and the whole issue. To stipulate, to formulate, that you are the end, that you are the absolute, that you are God, this or that, is obviously a verbalization which gives you an escape, and through which you do escape. To say that you are, or you are not, the real or the false, has no meaning; because, you have no basis for any such thinking, and you can think rightly only when you know yourself. To know yourself, you must be completely aware of every movement of thought; then, in that awareness, you will find out whether the thinker is different from his thought. If he is different, then we have the many complex problems of how to control the thought, and then begin all the stupidities of disciplining - the meditations, the approximation of the thinker to the thought. But if there a thinker different from his thoughts? Is not the thinker, the thought? They are not separate, but a unitary process. Therefore we are thought, not the thinker thinking thoughts. And this must be a direct experience, this realization that the thinker is the thought; and when there is such an experience, then we will see that there is a possibility of going beyond thought.

Because, after all, thought is merely the response of memory; and what memory creates, fabricates, projects, is not the real. God is not the result of memory, of education, of belonging to this society or that society, or believing in this or in that dogma. Those are all merely the results of thought, which is the response of memory, of experience. But to find out if there is reality, if there is such a thing as God, obviously it is essential to understand oneself first, and not to speculate if there is God, or if there is not; for all speculation is a waste of time.

So, to understand the problems which confront each one of us, however complex, however subtle, surely, one must understand that they are not something outside of us, outside of our thinking - but that these problems are the process or the result of ourselves. The world is us, not separated from us. The world's problem is my problem, your problem, not something to be dealt with, apart. And to resolve these problems - not superficially, not temporarily, but fundamentally, lastingly - , there must be comprehension of oneself; and to understand oneself, there must be choiceless awareness in relationship.Then, one perceives oneself as one is; and then one can go into it more fully, deeply. But if you cover up what you are, by condemnation, or by approximation, identification, then there is no understanding, then the process of self-knowledge is limited. Only in understanding oneself completely and fully, both the conscious as well as the unconscious; only when the mind is still, not made still - only then, is there a possibility of discovering or experiencing or knowing the real.

That is why meditation is important; but not the meditation that most of us indulge in, which is merely compulsion, or approximation to an idea, or disciplining in order to make the mind still - which is infantile, because the mind cannot be made still. Who is it that makes the mind still? Such effort leads to illusion, which we will deal with another time. But when the mind is still, not through compulsion, not through any form of approximation; when it is not compelled, not forced, not made to conform; when the mind is really still through understanding its own process - then only is there a possibility of discovering that which is eternal. Then you don't have to seek truth; to seek truth is to deny truth, because truth cannot be sought after: it must come to you. And it can come only when the mind is quiet - not made quiet, but is quiet. And there is quietness, there is tranquillity, there is stillness, only through self - knowledge.

I have been given a few questions, and I will try to answer some of them.

Question: Is there going to be another war, and how soon?

Krishnamurti: You want a prediction from me?! So you may safeguard your investments?! Now why do we ask such a question? Don't you know if there is going to be a war or not? Not from the newspapers, not from your political leaders - for, after all, you choose your leaders according to your confusion: the more you are confused, the more leaders you have; the less confused you are and the clearer you are in yourself, which is not through your learning, the fewer leaders you need. So, don't you know for yourself, if there is going to be a war or not?

What do we mean by war? War is not only the dramatic, spectacular bloodshed; that is the ultimate. But aren't we continuously at war with ourselves, and therefore with our environment, with our neighbours? Surely, you don't have to be told that we are at war. What we are, that we make the world to be. War is inevitable so long as we are nationalistic: so long as you are English and I am Hindu, there is sure to be war. As long as there are frontiers, sovereign governments, separate armies, there is bound to be war. As long as there are social, economic divisions, the exclusiveness of different castes and classes, there is bound to be war.

We all know this. Perhaps you may read one or two history books and have a superficial knowledge of history. These are the obvious causes of war: when one nation wants to be superior to another nation, one group feels inferior to another group; when there is prejudice - the white and the black and the brown and the purple, or whatever it is. How do you think all this comes about? Obviously, what we are, we protect. The world is the result of ourselves, of our self-projection. So, there will be war as long as you are nationalistic, as long as you are exclusive in your beliefs, though you may be "tolerant." Tolerance is a thing of the mind, invented by the clever people: when you love, you do not "tolerate." Only when you and I are no longer bound to castes, to classes; only when we are not bound to any form of religion, organized belief, whether it is small or large; only when we are no longer greedy for power, for position, for authority, for comfort - only then will there be peace. peace is not a result of legislation; peace isn't going to be brought about by the United Nations. How can outside law make you peaceful? How can an outside compulsion make you love? And if you rely on an outside authority to make you peaceful, to make you kind, non-greedy, then you are looking to something which will never come into being. So, war - whether on the physical or on a different level of consciousness, it is all the same - ,conflict is inevitable, as long as you and I are striving after our own particular security through nationalism, through belief, through illusions. We are merely perpetuating conflict in ourselves, and so outwardly.

You see, we all know these things. Every preacher on the corner talks about them. But we are not peaceful; we haven't stopped being greedy. Though we may not be greedy for money, we are greedy for more things, more power, more self-expansion, wishing to be something, now, or at some future date. This whole sense of hierarchical, social development, or inward development - all this, obviously indicates a process which will eventually result in conflict, in war, in destruction and misery. We all know these things, but yet we don't ask why they continue to exist. Surely, that is much more important, to find out why we don't live the things which we feel. Probably we don't feel them. Probably we are merely living on the verbal level, saying, "There must be no war. We will all believe in brotherhood, join various organizations that believe in brotherhood." But inwardly we are as corrupt as the person who sits in an office and plans war - because we want to be somebody, in the family, in a group, in society, in the nation. We want power. We are not content to be as nothing, because we are so carried away by the desire for outward stimulants, outward show, because inwardly we are empty - and of that we are so frightened. Therefore, we pile up possessions, either of ideas or of things. And it is only when we are content to be as nothing - which is not fundamentally the contentment of satisfaction, of sluggishness, lethargy, stupidity - , only when we are content with what is, which requires an extraordinary understanding of all the escapes: only then will there be peace.

Question: What is prejudice? How can one really overcome it? What is the state of mind free from all prejudices?

Krishnamurti: Can you overcome a prejudice? To overcome something is to reconquer it again and again. Can you really overcome a prejudice? Or is this overcoming merely a substitution of one prejudice for another? Surely, our problem is not how to overcome prejudice - because then we are merely seeking a substitution; it is to understand the whole process of prejudice, what are the implications of prejudice, not merely verbally, on the verbal level of the mind, but fundamentally, deeply. Then there is a possibility of being free from prejudice. But if you are striving to overcome one prejudice, or various prejudices, then you are merely seeking to overcome a pain which you call prejudice, a hindrance which you call prejudice.

Now, what do we mean by prejudice? When is there freedom from prejudice? How does prejudice come into being? One way, obviously, is through so-called education. History books are full of prejudice. All religious literature is full of it - the instilled belief; and that belief, which is created, manufactured from childhood, grows into prejudice. You are this, and I am that. You are Protestant, and I am Hindu. Therefore, my belief and your belief come into conflict. You try to proselytize me, convert me, and I am going to try to do the same. Or we are "tolerant", you hold to your belief, I hold to mine, and we try to be friendly. That is, I live in my fortress of prejudice, and you live in yours, and we look over it and try to be friends, which is called "tolerance", but it is really intolerance. It is really the most absurd form of trying to be friends. How can we be friends, how can we have real affection, if I am living in my prejudice and you are living in yours?

So, we know the various causes of prejudice - ignorance, purposely cultivated, creates prejudices through education, through environmental influences, through religion, and so on; and there is our own desire to be exclusive, to be protected in our beliefs. Surely, it is very obvious, how prejudices come into being. And also we like to think in terms of races or nationalities, because it requires less effort than treating people as individual human beings. It's easier to deal with people when you are prejudiced. When you call them Germans, Hindus, Russians, Negroes, or whatever it is, you think you have solved the problem. But to look at each individual person, requires a great deal of thought, of exertion; and as we do not want to do that, we say, "Well, we'll call them by some name", and thereby we think we have understood them.

So, we know why prejudices come into being, how they are produced for our own self-protection, which is a process of isolation. It is much easier to hate, to be prejudiced, to be limited; and that is what most of us are. You belong to this or that society, which is a form of prejudice. You believe that your experience is superior to mine, or is as good as mine, and are therefore held in your experience. All this indicates, does it not?, forms of prejudice, forms of exclusion, self-protective guards which you have so carefully cultivated. How can you overcome them? When you do, you will find substitutions for them; for if you have no prejudice, you are extremely vulnerable, sensitive, and you suffer much more. And therefore, to guard ourselves, we throw up walls, either self-projected or created for us by others, which we accept. And to try to overcome prejudices is to find other protections which will be more pleasurable, more instructive, more cultured. But they are still prejudices.

So, to be free of prejudice is to live in a state of uncertainty, is to live in a state of insecurity. Now, we must understand what we mean by insecurity. Obviously, there must be reasonable physical security, otherwise it is impossible to live at all. But that physical security is denied when you are seeking psychological security, and that is what we are doing. When we want to be psychologically secure, through nationalism, through belief, through a particular form of society, left or right - it is this psychological desire, this inward desire to be certain, to be secure, to be dependent, that creates outward insecurity. And it is only when the mind is free from self-protective re- actions, inward self-protective reactions - only then is there a possibility of being free from prejudice.

"What is the state of the mind which is free from prejudice?" is the next question. Why do you want to know? I think you want to know in order to experience it, and therefore make that into a standard, into something which is to be achieved; or you want to understand what it is to be free, what it means for a mind to be free from self-protective reactions. To find that out, you must experience it directly, must you not? - not merely listen to my words, or those of another. That is, you have to be aware of your own process of thinking and feeling, haven't you?, not only when you happen to like it, but all the time, which means, surely, that to be free from prejudice - which is a self-protective reaction, whether cultivated or instinctively brought into being - , there must be an awareness of the total process of yourself. But to speculate on what is the state of mind which is free from prejudice is surely vain, is it not? So, all that we can do is, not to wonder what is the state of mind when it is free, but to understand ourselves. And to understand ourselves, there must be an awareness in which there is no compulsion, in which there is no justification or condemnation - one must be aware easily, without any form of fear. In that awareness there is the unfoldment of the movement of thought and feeling. And then, when the mind is still - not made still - there is a possibility of discovering that which is timeless.

October 2, 1949


London 1949

London 1st Public Talk 2nd October 1949

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

Art of War

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