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Bombay 1955

Bombay 1st Public Talk 16th February 1955

I think that one of the greatest problems confronting man at this present time is the question of creativeness, how to bring about the creative release of the individual; and if we can consider the question, not merely verbally, but go into it very deeply, perhaps we shall be able to discover the full significance of that word `creativeness'. It seems to me that this is the real issue, not what kind of political reform to work for, or what kind of religion to follow. How is it possible to bring about the creative release of the individual, not only at the beginning of his existence, but throughout life? That is, how is the individual to have abundant energy rightly directed so that his life will have expansive and profound significance? If this evening we can really go into this matter, I think we shall be better able to understand the subsequent talks.

I feel that revolution is necessary at the most profound level, not fragmentary revolution, but integrated revolution, a total revolution starting not from the outside but from within; and to bring about that total revolution, surely we must understand the ways of our own thought, the whole process of our thinking, which is self-knowledge. Without the foundation of self-knowledge, what we think has very little meaning. So it is important, is it not, that from the very beginning we should understand the process of our thinking, the ways of our mind; and the revolution must take place, not in any given department of thought, but in the totality of the mind itself. But before we go into that, I think it is essential to find out what it means to listen.

Very few of us listen directly to what is being said, we always translate or interpret it according to a particular point of view, whether Hindu, Moslem, or Communist. We have formulations, opinions, judgments, beliefs through which we listen, so we are actually never listening at all; we are only listening in terms of our own particular prejudices, conclusions or experiences. We are always interpreting what we hear, and obviously that does not bring about understanding. What brings about understanding, surely, is to listen without any anchorage, without any definite conclusion, so that you and I can think out the problem together, whatever the problem may be. If you know the art of listening you will not only find out what is true in what is being said, but you will also see the false as false, and the truth in the false; but if you listen argumentatively, then it is fairly clear that there can be no understanding, because argument is merely your opinion against another opinion, or your judgment against another, and that actually prevents the understanding or discovery of the truth in what is being said.

So, is it possible to listen without any prejudice, without any conclusion, without interpretation? Because it is fairly obvious that our thinking is conditioned, is it not? We are conditioned as Hindus, or Communists, or Christians, and whatever we. listen to, whether it is new or old, is always apprehended through the screen of this conditioning; therefore we can never approach any problem with a fresh mind. That is why it is very important to know how to listen, not only to what is being stated, but to everything. It is clearly necessary that a total revolution should take place in the individual, but such a revolution cannot take place unless there is effortless comprehension of what is truth. Effort at any level is obviously a form of destruction, and it is only when the mind is very quiet, not making an effort, that understanding takes place. But with most of us, effort is the primary thing; we think effort is essential, and that very effort to listen, to understand, prevents comprehension, the immediate perception of what is true and what is false.

Now, being aware of your conditioning, and yet being free of it, can you listen so as to comprehend what is being said? Can you listen without making an effort, without interpreting, which is to give total attention? For most of us, attention is merely a process of concentration, which is a form of exclusiveness, and as long as there is the resistance of exclusive thinking, a total revolution obviously cannot take place; and it is operative, I feel, that such a revolution should take place in the individual, for only in that revolution is there creative release.

So, the mind is conditioned by modern education, by society, by religion, and by the knowledge and the innumerable experiences which we have gathered; it is shaped, put into a mould, not only by our environment, but also by our own reactions to that environment and to various forms of relationship.

Please bear in mind that you are not merely listening to me, but are actually observing the process of your own thinking. What I am saying is only a description of what is taking place in your own mind. If one is at all aware of one's own thinking, one will see that a mind that is conditioned, however much it may try to change, can only change within the prison of its own conditioning; and such a change is obviously not revolution. I think that is the first thing to understand: that as long as our minds are conditioned as Hindus, Moslems, or what not, any revolution is within the pattern of that conditioning and is therefore not a fundamental revolution at all. Every challenge must always be new, and as long as the mind is conditioned, it responds to challenge according to its conditioning; therefore there is never an adequate response.

Now, we all know that there is a great crisis in the world at the present time; there is enormous poverty and the constant threat of war. That is the challenge; and our problem is to respond adequately, completely, totally to this challenge, which is impossible if we do not understand the process of our own thinking. Our thinking is obviously conditioned; we always respond to any challenge as Hindus, Moslems, Communists, Socialists, Christians, and so on, and that response is fundamentally inadequate; hence the conflict, the struggle, not only in the individual, but between groups, races and nations. We can respond totally, adequately, fully, only when we understand the process of our thinking and are free from our conditioning, that is, when we are no longer reacting as Hindus, Communists, or what you will, which means that our response to challenge is no longer based on our previous conditioning. When we have ceased to belong to any particular race or religion, when each one of us understands his background, frees himself from it, and pursues what is true, then it is possible to respond fully; and that response is a revolution.

It is only the religious man that can bring about a fundamental revolution; but the man who has a belief, a dogma, who belongs to any particular religion, is not a religious man. The religious man is he who understands the whole process of so-called religion, the various forms of dogma, the desire to be secure through certain formulas of ritual and belief. Such an individual breaks away from the framework of organized religion, from all dogma and belief, and seeks the highest; and it is he who is truly revolutionary, because every other form of revolution is fragmentary and therefore inevitably brings about further problems. But the man who is seeking to find out what is truth, what is God, is the real revolutionary, because the discovery of what is truth is an integrated response and not a fragmentary response.

Is it possible, then, for the mind to be aware of its own conditioning, and thereby bring about freedom from its conditioning? The mind's conditioning is imposed by society, by the various forms of culture, religion and education, and also by the whole process of ambition, the effort to become something, which is itself a pattern imposed on each one of us by society; and there is also the pattern which the individual creates for himself in his response to society.

Now, can we as individuals be aware of our conditioning, and is it possible for the mind to break down all this limitation so that it is free to discover what is truth? Because it seems to me that unless we do free the mind from its conditioning, all our social problems, our conflicts in relationship, our wars and other miseries, are bound to increase and multiply - which is exactly what is happening in the world, not only in our private lives, but in the relationship between individuals and groups of individuals which we call society.

Taking that whole picture into consideration and knowing all the significance of it, is it possible for the mind to be aware of its conditioning and liberate itself? Because it is only in freedom that there can be creativeness; but freedom is not a reaction to something. Freedom is not a reaction to the prison in which the mind is wrought, it is not the opposite of slavery. Freedom is not a motive. Surely, the mind that is seeking truth, God, or whatever name you like to give it, has no motive in itself. Most of us have a motive because all our life, in our education and in everything that we do, our action is based on a motive, the motive either of self-expansion or self-destruction. And can the mind be aware of and liberate itself from all those bondages which it has imposed upon itself in order to be secure, to be satisfied, in order to achieve a personal or a national result?

I think the revolution of which I am talking is possible only when the mind is very quiet, very still. But that quietness of the mind does not come through any effort; it comes naturally, easily, when the mind understands its own process of action, which is to understand the whole significance of thinking. So the beginning of freedom is self-knowledge, and self-knowledge is not in the withdrawal from life, but is to be discovered in the relationships of our everyday existence. Relationship is the mirror in which we can see ourselves factually, without any distortion; and it is only through self-knowledge, seeing ourselves exactly as we actually are, undistorted by any interpretation or judgment, that the mind becomes quiet, still. But that stillness of mind cannot be sought after, it cannot be pursued; if you pursue and bring about stillness of mind, it has a motive, and such stillness is never still, because it is always a movement towards something and away from something.

So there is freedom only through self-knowledge, which is to understand the total process of thinking. Our thinking at present is merely a reaction, the response of a conditioned mind, and any action based on such thinking is bound to result in catastrophe. To discover what is truth, what is God, there must be a mind that has understood itself, which means going into the whole problem of self-knowledge. Only then is there the total revolution which alone brings about a creative release, and that creative release is the perception of what is truth, what is God.

I think it is always important to ask fundamental questions: but when we do ask a fundamental question, most of us are seeking an answer, and then the answer is invariably superficial, because there is no `yes' or `no' answer to life. Life is a movement, an endless movement, and to inquire into this extraordinary thing called life, with all its innumerable aspects, one must ask fundamental questions and never be satisfied with answers, however satisfactory they may be, because the moment you have an answer, the mind has concluded, and conclusion is not life; it is merely a static state. So what is important is to ask the right question and never be satisfied with the answer, however clever, however logical, because the truth of the question lies beyond the conclusion, beyond the answer, beyond the verbal expression. The mind that asks a question and is merely satisfied with an explanation, a verbal statement, remains superficial. It is only the mind that asks a fundamental question and is capable of pursuing that question to the end - it is only such a mind that can find out what is truth.

Question: In India today we see a growing disregard of all sensitive feeling and expression. Culturally we are a feeble, imitative country; our thinking is smug and superficial. Is there a way to break through and contact the source of creativity? Can we create a new culture?

Krishnamurti: Sir, this is not only a question for Indians. it is a human question, it is asked in America, in England and elsewhere. How to bring about a new culture, a creativity that is explosive, abundant, so that the mind is not imitative? A poet, a painter longs for that; so let us inquire into it. Naturally I cannot discuss this question with so many, but we are going to inquire into it, so please listen.

What is civilization, what is culture as we know it now? It is the result of the collective will. is it not? The culture we know is the expression of many desires unified through religion, through a traditional moral code, through various forms of sanction. The civilization in which we live is the result of the collective will, of many acquisitive desires, and therefore we have a culture, a civilization which is also acquisitive. That is fairly clear.

Now, within this acquisitive society, which is the result of the collective will, we can have many reformations, and we do occasionally bring about a bloody revolution; but it is always within the pattern, because our response to any challenge, which is always new, is limited by the culture in which we have been brought up. The culture of India is obviously imitative, traditional, it is made up of innumerable superstitions, of belief and dogma, the repetition of words, the worship of images made by the hand and by the mind. That is our culture, that is our society, broken up into various classes, all based on acquisitiveness; and if we do become non-acquisitive in this world, we are acquisitive in some other world, we want to acquire God, and so on. So our culture is essentially based on acquisitiveness, worldly and spiritual; and when occasionally there is an individual who breaks away from all acquisitiveness and knows what it is to be creative, we immediately idolize him, make him into our spiritual leader or teacher, thereby stifling ourselves.

As long as we belong to the collective culture, collective civilization, there can be no creativeness. It is the man who understands this whole process of the collective, with all its sanctions and beliefs, and who ceases to be either positively or negatively acquisitive - it is only such a man who knows the meaning of creativeness, not the sannyasi who renounces the world and pursues God, which is merely his particular form of acquisitiveness. The man who realizes the whole significance of the collective, and who breaks away from it because he knows what is true religion, is a creative individual, and it is such action that brings about a new culture. Surely, that is always the way it happens, is it not?

The truly religious man is not the one who practices so-called religion, who holds to certain dogmas and beliefs, who performs certain rituals, or pursues knowledge, for he is merely seeking another form of gratification. The man who is truly religious is completely free from society, he has no responsibility towards society; he may establish a relationship with society, but society has no relationship with him. Society is organized religion, the economic and social structure, the whole environment in which we have been brought up; and does that society help man to find God, truth - it matters little what name you give it - , or does the individual who is seeking God create a new society? That is, must not the individual break away from the existing society, culture, or civilization? Surely, in the very breaking away he discovers what is truth, and it is that truth which creates the new society, the new culture.

I think this is an important question to ponder over. Can the man who belongs to society - it does not matter what society - ever find truth, God? Can society help the individual in that discovery, or must the individual, you and I, break away from society? Surely, it is in the very process of breaking away from society that there is the understanding of what is truth, and that truth then creates the ripples which become a new society, a new culture. The sannyasi, the monk, the hermit renounces the world, renounces society, but his whole pattern of thinking is still conditioned by society; he is still a Christian, or a Hindu, pursuing the ideal of Christianity or of Hinduism. His meditations, his sacrifices, his practices are all essentially conditioned, and therefore what he discovers as truth, as God, as the absolute, is really his own conditioned reaction. Hence society cannot help man to find out what is truth. Society's function is to limit the individual, to hold him within the boundary of respectability. Only the man who understands this whole process, whose action is not a reaction, can find out what is truth; and it is the truth that creates a new culture, not the man who pursues truth.

I think this is fairly clear and simple; it sounds complicated, but it is not. Truth brings about its own action. But the man who is seeking truth and acting, however worthy and noble he may be, only creates further confusion and misery. He is like the reformer who is merely concerned with decorating the prison walls, with bringing more light, more lavatories, or what you will, into the prison. Whereas, if you understand this whole problem of how the mind is conditioned by society, if you allow truth to act and do not act according to what you think is truth, then you will find that such action brings about its own culture, its own civilization, a new world which is not based on acquisitiveness, on sorrow, on strife, on belief. It is the truth that will bring about a new society, not the Communists, the Christians, the Hindus, the Buddhists, or the Moslems. To respond to any challenge according to one's conditioning is merely to expand the prison, or to decorate its bars. It is only when the mind understands and is free from the conditioning influences which have been imposed upon it, or which it has created for itself, that there is the perception of truth; and it is the action of that truth which brings into being a new society, a new culture.

That is why it is very important for a country like this not to impose upon itself the superficial culture of the West nor, because it is confused, to return to the old, to the Puranas, to the Vedas. It is only a confused mind that wants to return to something dead, and the important thing is to understand why there is confusion. There is confusion, obviously, when the mind does not understand, when it does not respond totally, integrally to something new, to any given fact. Take the fact of war, for example. If you respond to it as a Hindu who believes in ahimsa, you say, `I must practise non-violence', and if you happen to be a nationalist, your response is nationalistic. Whereas, the man who sees the truth of war, which is the fact that war is destructive in itself, and who lets that truth act, does not respond in terms of any society, in terms of any theory or reform. Truth is neither yours nor mine, and as long as the mind interprets or translates that truth, we create confusion. That is what the reformers do, what all the saints have done who have tried to bring about a reformation in a certain social order. Because they translate truth to bring about a given reform, that reform breeds more misery and hence needs further reform.

To perceive what is truth, there must be a total freedom from society, which means a complete cessation of acquisitiveness, of ambition, of envy, of this whole process of becoming. After all, our culture is based on becoming somebody, it is built on the hierarchical principle: the one who knows and the one who does not know, the one who has and the one who has not. The one who has not is everlastingly struggling to have, and the one who does not know is forever pushing to acquire more knowledge. Whereas, the man who does not belong to either, his mind is very quiet, completely still, and it is only such a mind that can perceive what is truth and allow that truth to act in its own way. Such a mind does not act according to a conditioned response, it does not say, `I must reform society'. The truly religious man is not concerned with social reform, he is not concerned with improving the old, rotting society, be- cause it is truth, and not reform, that is going to create the new order. I think if one sees this very simply and very clearly, the revolution itself will take place.

The difficulty is that we do not see, we do not listen, we do not perceive things directly and simply as they are. After all, it is the innocent mind - innocent though it may have lived a thousand years and had a multitude of experiences - that is creative, not the cunning mind, not the mind that is full of knowledge and technique. When the mind sees the truth of any fact and lets that truth act, that truth creates its own technique. Revolution is not within society but outside of it.

Question: The fundamental problem that faces every individual is the psychological pain which corrodes all thinking and feeling. Unless you have an answer and can teach the ending of pain, all your words have little meaning.

Krishnamurti: Sir, what is teaching? Is teaching merely communication, words? Why do you want to be taught? And can another teach you how to end pain? If you could be taught how to end pain, would pain cease? You may learn a technique for ending pain, physical or psychological, but in the very process of ending one particular pain, a new pain comes into being.

So what is the problem, sirs? Surely, the problem is not how to end pain. I can tell you not to be greedy, not to be ambitious, not to have beliefs, to free the mind from all desire for security, to live in complete uncertainty, and so on; but those are mere words. The problem is to experience directly the state of complete uncertainty, to be without any feeling of security, and that is possible only if you understand the total process of your own thinking, or if you can listen with your whole being, be completely attentive without resistance. To end sorrow, pain, either one must understand the ways of the mind, of desire, will, choice, going into that completely, or else listen to find the truth. The truth is that as long as there is a point in the mind which is moving towards another point, that is, as long as the mind is seeking security in any form, it will never be free from pain. Security is dependency, and a mind that depends has no love. Without going through all the process of examination, observation and awareness, just listen to the fact, let the truth of the fact operate, and then you will see that the mind is free from pain. But we do neither; we neither see, observe to find out what is truth, nor do we listen to the fact with our whole being, without translating, twisting, interpreting it. That is, we neither pursue self-knowledge, which also brings an end to pain, nor do we merely observe the fact without distortion, as we look at our face in the mirror. All that we want is to know how to end pain, we want a ready-made formula by which to end it, which means, really, that we are lazy, there is not that extraordinary energy which is necessary to pursue the understanding of the self. It is only when we understand the self - not according to Shankara, Buddha, or Christ, but as it actually is in each one of us in relation to people, to ideas and to things - that there is the cessation of pain.

February 16, 1955.


Bombay 1955

Bombay 1st Public Talk 16th February 1955

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