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New York 1954

New York 4th Public Talk 28th May 1954

As I was saying last week, I think these talks will be utterly useless if we do not know how to listen. I see some people taking notes, which indicates really that they are not listening. These notes are taken, obviously, as pointers to be thought over; but it seems to me that if we can think together over our many problems while we are here listening, it will be much more worth while than merely taking notes, or comparing what I say with what you have already read or heard. When your mind is occupied with taking notes, or with comparing what you hear with something else, you are actually not listening, are you? You are not directly experiencing what is being said; and it seems to me very important that we should directly experience these things. To directly experience what is being said is not to compare it with what you know. If we know how to listen, then I think the very act of listening is a form of release. If the thing that is being said is true, and one listens to it without any comparison, without taking notes, without opposition or resistance, then that very listening acts as a release, it is the beginning of freedom, because it sets going a process of freeing the mind from the very things with which we are burdened.

So, instead of taking notes, or comparing what is being said with the books you have read, or labelling it as Oriental and putting it out of your mind, may I suggest that you listen with alert passivity, which is quite a difficult art, and then perhaps these talks will be worth while. We are not discussing a philosophy or a system of ideas, but we are trying to find out and actually experience how to liberate the mind from its own pettiness, because that, it seems to me, is the major problem of our life. Our thoughts, our activities, our knowledge, our religious beliefs, are very petty and very small. Ideas and beliefs may be vital in themselves, but we reduce them to the size of our minds, and because the mind - it does not matter whose it is - is the centre of the "me", of the "I", the ego, the self, it is very little, very small and petty.

Being confronted with a series of crises, both racial and individual, religious and economic, I think it is very important that we should be able to meet these crises with a mind that is not limited, conditioned, already burdened with religious beliefs, with dogmas, with previous knowledge, and so on; for how can the vast problems involved be dealt with by a petty, small, narrow mind? And if we have thought about these things at all, is it not a problem with most of us how to free the mind from its own narrowness, from its own limitations? Surely, only with a free mind is it possible to attack these problems anew, to comprehend them in a totally different way; because every problem, though it may appear old, is always new. There is no old problem. It is only the mind which is old and which, in meeting the new problem, reduces the new in terms of the old.

So, is it possible to free the mind from its own pettiness, which means, really from the centre of self-acquisitiveness, of self-improvement, from the urge to become something great, noble? Because all that indicates a process of the "me", of the "I", of the ego, does it not? And as long as that process goes on, it must surely create its own self-enclosing activity. And is it possible ever to be free from this self-enclosing activity?

I am not putting this as a question for you to play with, but to actually find out about, because it seems to me that this is the major issue in our life. We have reduced religion to mere ritual or belief, and our gods, our self-disciplines lead, not to reality, but only to respectability. Our gods have really no meaning at all, and religion has become merely a series of beliefs and rituals without significance. Their influence is conditioning, like any other organized influence, whether it be the communist, the Christian, or the Hindu. The influence of dogma, belief, ritual, is tyrannical, limiting because it conditions and therefore makes the mind small, petty. Being confronted by immense problems, we are meeting them with our conditioned minds, and so we make these vast problems stupid and petty, thereby increasing the problems.

So, is it not very important to find out, actually to understand and experience for oneself, how the mind can be free from all the influences which religion has imposed? Because religion which is organized obviously does not lead to reality. Reality can come into being only when the mind is free, when the mind is unconditioned. And is it possible not to belong to any religious group or organization, to any church, but to stand alone and find out what is true? Surely, religion as we know it is merely a process of make-believe. From childhood we are forced into a particular pattern of thought, and the mind believes for its own security, for its own safety; but religion is something totally different, is it not? It is a state in which reality can come into being - reality, truth, God, or what name you will. But when the mind is conditioned, shaped by belief, can it ever be free to receive that which is true? Is not religion that state of mind in which the known is not, so that the unknown can come into being? Because, after all, our gods are self-projected. We create our gods, we pursue ideals and beliefs, because they give us satisfaction, comfort, solace. But surely none of these things free the mind to discover reality and that is why it seems to me very important to strip ourselves of all these conditionings, not as an ultimate gesture, but right from the beginning, and to find out whether the mind can remain uncorrupted.

Similarly, we accumulate knowledge, hoping that the petty mind can be enlarged and its shallowness wiped away through more and more learning, information. But can knowledge free the mind from its pettiness? We have vast information, scientific and otherwise, about so many things, and yet our minds are petty. We are only using this knowledge for our petty purposes, and we are destroying each other. So, knowledge has become a hindrance instead of a liberating process.

Should we not be aware of all this, how we are influenced by the external environment, by impulses, reactions, by knowledge, and by so-called religion? And is it possible ever to free ourselves from these limitations and conditions from these self-imposed compulsions, so that the mind remains uncorrupted and is therefore able to meet life anew from moment to moment? I think that it is possible if we can be aware of all these issues without reacting to them, without being entangled in them. You see, after all, a belief, a dogma is a means of self-protection, is it not? If we had no dogma, no belief, we think we should be lost; so, dogma, belief, acts as a means of protection against that loneliness, against fear. We multiply beliefs, dogmas, to assure ourselves of security. So, our search is not for reality, truth, but for a means to be satisfied, to feel secure. And isn't it important just to be aware of this fact without reacting against it? Isn't it important to see how the mind is constantly pursuing its own security through nationality, through belief, through dogma, through ritual, thereby making itself petty, narrow, small, and creating problems?

What is being said is a fact, it is not an invention, a psychological perversion; it is actually what is taking place within each one of us. We want leaders, we want someone to tell us what to do. Being afraid to stand alone, we turn to some form of shelter, refuge, so the mind is made petty, and its gods, its troubles, its disciplines, are equally petty. If we really see that, there is a release, there is a liberation without making an effort.

I think this is the important thing, the only important thing: to find out how to free the mind from the self, whose activities are always narrow, limited, self-enclosing. The more we struggle against this limitation, the stronger the limitation; but if we see it, if we are aware of it, and if we know how to listen to what is being said, then that very listening will set each one of us free so that we can look at the problem anew, afresh - which is, to have a mind that is not corrupted. The difficulty in all this is that we are afraid of the consequences of letting go, of not belonging to some organization, of not calling ourselves patriotic; we are afraid to stand alone, not to have any support. But to find that which is real, you must be alone, mustn't you? The world is obviously caught in illusion, in hatred, in fear, with all its various absurdities and brutalities; and surely, to find out what is true, one must shed all that, mustn't one? - which means, really standing alone. But you cannot stand alone by volition, by an act of will. It is like seeing something false. When you see the false, there is that which is true. Seeing the false is not an act of volition, but it creates its own action. I think that is the really important thing, because what is needed now is not more knowledge, not new beliefs, whether communist or any other kind, but individuals who are capable of understanding all this conflict, who can look at it with clarity, with a mind uncorrupted, so that they are a light unto themselves. You cannot be a light unto yourself if you are merely a part of the social mechanism, which has very little significance. I think the real revolution is not economic or political, but a deep psychological revolution which makes you aware of the false as the false and thereby brings about that which is new, the real, the true.

I shall answer some questions, but before I begin to discuss them, I think it is important to find out what a problem is. A problem exists only when it has taken root in the mind. Once an issue takes root in the mind, it becomes a problem, and then the mind will have to solve the problem; but having its root in the conditioned mind, the problem becomes insoluble. And is it possible not to allow any issue to take root in the mind, but to deal with it directly and immediately as it arises? But we cannot deal with it directly if we condemn it, if we are identified with it, if we in any way judge it, because our judgment, our condemnation, our comparison, is the outcome of our conditioning, and therefore it only strengthens the problem.

So, what is important is to look at a problem, an issue, without condemnation, without comparing it with something else, and that is very difficult, because we are brought up from childhood to compare, to judge, to evaluate, and thereby we create a duality and hence conflict. And is it impossible to look at the problem, whatever it be, without allowing it to take root in the mind by comparing, judging, condemning it, or by identifying oneself with the problem?

What I am saying is not very difficult if you will observe your own process of thinking. You see, you have a problem because it has already taken root, and to resolve it you either find an answer for it, or you condemn it, you push it away and think about something else, escape from it, which only strengthens the problem. But if one can really look at it without any sense of condemnation, without any sense of identification, then surely the problem has quite a different significance, has it not?

So, problems exist only when they have taken root in the mind; and the mind which has absorbed the problem, in which the seed of the problem has already taken root, is incapable of solving it, however much it may struggle with the problem. To understand the problem, the mind must be really still, and the mind is still only when there is no sense of condemnation, identification or comparison. And when the mind is still, will there then be a problem at all? The problem exists because we are confused, and confusion arises when we are seeking some form of solu- tion to the problem, or when we are following a particular system, or are casting the shadow of some dogma or belief, or are caught in previous knowledge. But if we can understand the process of how the problem arises and therefore cease to condemn, compare, will there be a problem? Obviously you cannot answer, because you have never tried any of these things. All that you have done is to condemn, to compare, or to identify yourself with the problem. And it is extraordinarily difficult to be free from that process, because all our training is to compare, and we think that through comparison we shall understand. Surely, understanding comes, not through comparison, not through pursuing all kinds of activities, but only when the mind is very quiet, undisturbed.

You see, we are so afraid of a mind that is not occupied. A mind that is merely occupied is a petty mind, whether it is occupied with the highest knowledge, or with the daily activities of the kitchen or the job. Such a mind is incapable of being free. Being occupied, when the problem arises we are incapable of dealing with it, because we have not understood the whole process of our thinking; and so we turn to leaders, or we turn to books, we turn to knowledge, we turn to religion, which are the outcome of our own confusion and the confusion of our leaders.

So, in discussing these questions, there can obviously be no "yes" and "no". There is no answer to life, there is only living; but we have made living into a problem. In our living there is no joy, there is not the real bliss that comes with aloneness, with that freedom in which alone reality can come into being.

Question: How can we achieve enduring peace without ourselves?

Krishnamurti: Do you think peace is a thing to be achieved, to be got as a result, as a reward? Or does peace come into being when we understand the various factors that bring about disturbance? It is like a man who is full of hatred wanting love. He may practise love, but it has no meaning. Whereas, if we understand the whole process of hatred and fear, then perhaps that which is love will be.

But, you see, our difficulty is that we want to find peace, though we are violent. We want to find love when we are creating antagonism, hatred. When there is fear in our hearts, without understanding fear, without understanding what that disturbance is, we run away from it in order to find peace, and so there is a duality in us.

The problem, then, is not how to attain peace, but what is preventing us from understanding the causes that bring about disturbance, chaos, misery, struggle, pain, both in us and outside of us. Surely, if we can understand that, there will be peace, we don't have to seek it. If we seek peace, we are running away from what is. In the understanding of what is, the actual, there is peace.

Please, this is not a theory. If we really go into this problem of why the mind is disturbed and understand it, then without creating a schizophrenic action, a dual process, a conflict within ourselves, we shall find peace. Peace is not the result of discipline; peace of mind does not come about through any form of compulsion, through any practice, which only puts a limitation on the mind. A petty mind can have no peace. A petty mind practising various forms of discipline, looking for peace, will never find it. It may find some kind of consolation, satisfaction, but that is not peace.

So, what is important is to understand why the mind is disturbed What is this disturbance? Basically, fundamentally, does it not come about when there is this constant urge to be something, the desire for a result, the desire for self-improvement, the desire to achieve a certain noble action? As long as one is competitive, ambitious, there must be disturbance, there must be conflict. Without beginning near, we want to go far, but we can go far only when we begin very near. And beginning near is freedom from ambition, from wanting to be something, from the desire to be successful, to be recognized, to be famous - a dozen things which are all indications of the self, the "me", the ego.

As long as the ego exists, there must be disturbance; and if the ego seeks peace, its peace is the result, the opposite of a disturbance, therefore it is not peace at all. If one realizes this, if one does not merely hear it but actually experiences it, then peace will come. But that requires a great deal of awareness, an awareness in which there is no choice; because if you choose, then you are back again in the process of acquiring, attaining.

What is important, surely, is not to search for peace, not to pursue swamis, yogis, teachers in Oriental form, but to find out for ourselves how our own minds are working, how ambitious we are. You may not be personally ambitious but you may be ambitious for a group, for the nation, for the party you belong to, or for an idea; or you may worship God, as you call it. Having failed in this world you want to succeed in another world. So as long as any movement of the self exists there must be disturbance, there can be no peace.

Question: Will the practice of yoga help me spiritually and physically?

Krishnamurti: How eager we are to improve ourselves! Do you think self-improvement will bring you bliss or reality? You may derive from yoga certain benefits physically. But do you think self-improvement - that is, the "me" becoming better, gaining more knowledge, more information; the self improving and becoming more virtuous - do you think that process will bring about the tranquillity of the mind? In that process there is not the abnegation or the disappearance of the self, but on the contrary, the self, the "me" is becoming something better, and therefore it is always struggling, there is a battle going on both within and outside of itself. And do you think that will bring tranquillity to the mind? Do you think that is spiritual?

What do we mean by the word "spiritual"? It is something of the spirit, something which is not of time, something which is not manufactured by the mind, is it not? Surely, the real, that which is truly spiritual, is not a thing put together by the mind, and therefore it cannot be practised by the mind. The mind is the result of many yesterdays, of innumerable experiences, of knowledge, influences, it is put together by time. And can the mind, which is the result of time, find that which is timeless, measureless? You may practise any amount of virtue, but surely that is not spiritual. When the mind, understanding the whole process of becoming, is totally free from every form of ambition - which means, really, when the mind is utterly still and is therefore not projecting itself into the future - , only then is there that which may be called the spiritual. But as long as we are struggling to be spiritual, we are just being ordinarily petty, that is all, only we call it by a big name.

Question: I am attracted by your philosophy, but if I were to follow you I should have to leave my church. What do you offer in exchange?

Krishnamurti: Following another is evil. Please listen to this. To follow another is evil, because it breeds authority, fear, imitativeness. And through following you will never find anything except that which you wish to find, which is your own gratification.

What I am saying is not a philosophy. What we are trying to do is really to discover through our own awareness the process of our self. To discover what is true, we have to find out what is illusory and what is false. You cannot be led to discover. If you are led, there is no discovery. Discovery comes only when the mind is very quiet, not demanding, not asking, not begging, unafraid.

But we are afraid. That is why we worship leaders, that is why we have churches priests and the whole gamut of modern civilization. Being afraid, we want to escape from it, we want to find a refuge, and so we belong to something.

I am not asking you to leave your church, or to belong to a church. To me that is all immature activity, it doesn't mean anything. As nationalism separates man and causes wars, so religions, churches separate man and create antagonism. They do not lead to truth. Though everyone says there are many paths to truth, there is no path to truth. It is to the free mind, the mind that stands alone, uncorrupted, uninfluenced, it is only to such a mind that truth comes - which means, really, a mind that is unafraid.

So, there is nothing to be offered to one who leaves his particular cage and enters another. We are talking, not of the different cages, the different churches and religious organizations, but of understanding oneself. The way of understanding is not merely to be free from a particular church, from a particular organization, nationality, or belief, but to be totally free, unafraid, and only such a mind can receive that which is ever timeless. And it seems to me that only such a mind can solve the present problem, not a mind that is becoming more religious, which means becoming more entrenched in a particular dogma, or following a particular system of thought. Such a mind is not a religious mind. The truly religious mind is a free mind, and being free, it is quiet, still; therefore reality can come into being. It is that reality, which creates its own action, that will solve the problems of the world, not the mind that is burdened with knowledge, or the mind that has accumulated experience, because knowledge, experience is the result of our particular conditioning.

When you realize all this, not merely intellectually, verbally, but when you actually experience it, then you will find that you do not have to belong to anything, that you are a total human being with complete self-knowledge; therefore there is no disturbance, and hence there is that peace of mind in which reality can come into being.

May 28, 1954


New York 1954

New York 4th Public Talk 28th May 1954

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