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Bombay 1955

Bombay 4th Public Talk 27th February 1955

I think most of us must be greatly concerned with the problem of action. When we are confronted with so many issues - poverty, overpopulation, the extraordinary development of machinery, industrialization, the sense of deterioration inwardly and outwardly - what is one to do? What is the duty or the responsibility of an individual in his relation to society? This must be a problem to all thoughtful people; and the more intelligent, the more active one is, the more one wants to throw oneself into social reform of some kind or other. So what is one's real responsibility? I think this question can be answered fully and with vital significance only if we understand the whole purpose of civilization, of culture.

After all, we have built the present society, it is the outcome of our individual relationships; and does this society fundamentally help man to find reality, God, or what name you will? Or is it merely a pattern which determines our response to the issue as to what kind of action we should take in our relationship to society? If the present culture, civilization, does not help man to find God, truth, it is a hindrance; and if it is a hindrance, then every reform, every activity for its amelioration is a further deterioration, a further hindrance to the discovery of reality, which alone can bring about true action.

I think it is very important to understand this, and not merely be concerned with what kind of social reform or activity one should identify oneself with. Surely that is not the problem. The problem is obviously much deeper. One may very easily get lost in some kind of activity or social reform, and then it is a means of escape, a means of forgetting or sacrificing oneself through action; but I do not think that will solve our many problems. Our problems are much more profound and we need a profound answer, which I think we shall find if we can go into this question as to whether the culture we have at present - culture implying religion, the whole social and moral framework - helps man to find reality. If it does not, then the mere reformation of such a culture or civilization is a waste of time; but if it is helpful to man in the true sense, then all of us must give our hearts completely to its reformation. On that, I think, the issue depends.

By culture we mean the whole problem of thought, do we not? With most of us, thought is the outcome of various forms of conditioning, of education, of conformity, of the pressures and influences to which it is subjected within the framework of a particular civilization. At present our thought is shaped by society, and unless there is a revolution in our thinking, the mere reformation of a superficial culture or society seems to me a distraction, a factor which will ultimately bring about greater misery. After all, what we call civilization is a process of educating thought in the Hindu mould, in the Christian or the Communist mould, and so on; and can thinking so educated ever create a fundamental revolution? Will any pressure, any shaping of thought, bring about the discovery or the understanding of what is truth? Surely, thought must free itself from all pressure, which means really from society, from all forms of influence, and thereby find out what is truth; then that very truth has an action of its own which will bring about an altogether different culture.

That is, does society exist for the unfolding of reality, or must one be free of society to find reality? If society helps man to find reality, then every kind of reformation within society is essential; but if it is a hindrance to that discovery, should not the individual break away from society and seek what is truth? It is only such a person who is truly religious, not the man who performs various rituals, or who approaches life through theological patterns; and when the individual frees himself from society and seeks reality, does he not bring about in his very search a different culture?

I think this is an important issue, because most of us are merely concerned with reformation. We see poverty, overpopulation, every form of disintegration, division and conflict; and seeing all that, what is one to do? Should one start by joining a particular group, or by working for some ideology? Is that the function of a religious man? The religious man, surely, is he who seeks reality, and not the man who reads and quotes the Gita, or who goes to the temple every day. That is obviously not religion, it is merely the compulsion, the conditioning of thought by society.. So what is the earnest man to do, the man who sees the necessity for and desires to bring about an immediate revolution? Shall he work for reformation within the framework of society? Society is a prison, and shall he merely reform the prison, decorating its bars and getting things done more beautifully within its walls? Surely, the man who is very much in earnest, who is really religious, is the only revolutionary, there is no other; and such a man is he who is seeking reality, who is trying to find out what is God or truth.

Now, what is to be the action of such a man? What shall he do? Shall he work within the present society, or shall he break away from it and not be concerned with society at all? The breaking away does not mean becoming a sannyasi, a hermit, isolating himself with peculiar hypnotic suggestions; and yet he cannot be a reformer, because it is a waste of energy, of thought, of creativity for the earnest man to indulge in mere reformations. Then what shall the earnest man do? If he does not want to decorate the prison walls, remove a few bars, introduce a little more light, if he is not concerned with all that, and if he also sees the importance of bringing about a fundamental revolution, radical change in the relationship between man and man - the relationship which has created this appalling society in which there are immensely rich people, and those who have absolutely nothing, both inwardly and outwardly - then what is he to do? I think it is important to put this question to oneself.

After all, does culture come into being through the action of truth, or is culture man-made? If it is man-made, it will obviously not lead you to truth. And our culture is man-made, because it is based on various forms of acquisitiveness, not only in worldly things, but also in the so- called spiritual things; it is the outcome of the desire for position in every form, self-aggrandizement, and so on. Such a culture obviously cannot lead man to the realization of that which is the supreme; and if I see that, what shall I then do? What will you do, sirs, if you actually realize that society is an impediment? Society is not merely one or two activities, it is the whole structure of human relationship in which all creativeness has ceased, in which there is constant imitation; it is a framework of fear where education is mere conformity and in which there is no love at all, but merely action according to a pattern described as love. In this society the principal factors are recognition and respectability, because that is what we are all striving for - to be recognized. Our capacities, our knowledge must be recognized by society so that we shall be somebodies. When he realizes all this and sees the poverty, the starvation, the fragmentation of the mind into various forms of belief, what is the earnest man to do?

Now, if we really listen to what is being said, listen in the sense of wanting to find out what is truth so that there is not the conflict of your opinion opposed to my opinion, or your temperament opposed to mine; if we can set all that aside and try to find out what is truth, which requires love, then I think in that very love, in that sense of goodness we shall find the truth which creates a new culture. Then one is free of society, one is not concerned with the reformation of society. But to find out what is truth requires love, and our hearts are empty, for they are filled with the things of society. Being filled, we try to reform, and our reformation is without the perfume of love.

So what is a man to do who is earnest? Shall he seek truth, God, or what name you will, or shall he give his heart and mind to the improvement of society, which is really the improvement of himself? Do you understand, sirs? Shall he inquire into what is truth, or shall he improve the conditions of society, which is his own improvement? Shall he improve himself in the name of society, or shall he seek truth, in which there is no improvement at all? Improvement implies time, time to become, whereas truth has nothing to do with time, it is to be perceived immediately.

So the problem is extraordinarily significant, is it not? We may talk about the reformation of society, but it is still the reformation of oneself. And for the man who is seeking what is real, what is truth, there is no reformation of the self; on the contrary, there is the total cessation of the self, which is society, therefore he is not concerned with the reformation of society.

The whole structure of society is based on a process of recognition and respectability; and surely, sirs, an earnest man cannot seek the reformation of society, which is the improvement of himself. In reforming society, in identifying himself with something good, he may think he is sacrificing himself, but it is still self-improvement. Whereas, for the man who is seeking that which is the supreme, the highest, there is no self-improvement; in that direction there is no improvement of the `me', there is no becoming, there is no practice, no thought of `I shall be'. This means really the cessation of all pressure on thought; and when there is no pressure on thought, is there thinking? The very pressure on thought is the process of thinking, thinking in terms of a particular society, or in terms of a reaction to that society; and if there is no pressure, is there thinking? It is only the mind that has not this movement of thought which is the pressure of society - it is only such a mind that can find reality; and in seeking that which is the supreme, such a mind creates the new culture. That is what is necessary: to bring about a totally different kind of culture, not to reform the present society. And such a culture cannot arise unless the earnest man pursue completely, with total energy, with love, that which is real. The real not to be found in any book, through any leader; it comes into being when thought is still, and that stillness cannot be bought by any discipline. Stillness comes when there is love.

In considering some of these questions. I think it is important that we should directly experience what is being said, and you cannot do that if you are merely concerned with an answer to the question. If we are to go into the problem together, we cannot have opinions about it, my theory against your theory, because theories and speculations are a hindrance to the understanding of a problem. But if you and I can quietly, hesitantly penetrate deeply into the problem, then perhaps we shall be able to understand it. Actually there is no problem. it is the mind that creates the problem. In understanding the problem one is understanding oneself. the operations of one's own mind. After all, a problem exists only when any issue or disturbance has taken root in the soil of the mind. And is not the mind capable of looking at an issue, of being awake to any disturbance, without letting that disturbance take root in the mind? The mind is like a sensitive film, it perceives, it feels various forms of reaction; but is it not possible to perceive, to feel, to react with love, so that the mind itself does not become the soil in which the reaction takes root and becomes a problem?

Question: You have said that total attention is good; what then is evil?

Krishnamurti: I wonder if there is such a thing as evil? Please, give your attention, go with me, let us inquire together. We say there is good and evil. There is envy and love, and we say that envy is evil and love is good. Why do we divide life, calling this good and that bad, thereby creating the conflict of the opposites? Not that there is not envy, hate, brutality in the human mind and heart, an absence of compassion, love; but why do we divide life into the thing called good and the thing called evil? Is there not actually only one thing, which is a mind that is inattentive? Surely, when there is complete attention, that is, when the mind is totally aware, alert, watchful, there is no such thing as evil or good; there is only an awakened state. Goodness then is not a quality. not a virtue, it is a state of love. When there is love there is neither good nor bad. there is only love. When you really love somebody you are not thinking of good or bad, your whole being is filled with that love. It is only when there is the cessation of complete attention, of love, that there comes the conflict between what I am and what I should be. Then that which I am is evil, and that which I should be is the so-called good.

Now, is it at all possible not to think in terms of fragmentation, not to break life up into the good and the evil, not to be caught in this conflict? The conflict of good and evil is the struggle to become something. The moment the mind desires to become something, there must be effort, the conflict between the opposites. This is not a theory. You watch your own mind and you will see that the moment the mind ceases to think in terms of becoming something, there is a cessation of action which is not stagnation; it is a state of total attention which is goodness, but that total attention is not possible as long as the mind is caught in the effort to become something.

Please do listen, not only to what I am saying, but to the operations of your own mind, and that will reveal to you with what extraordinary persistence thought is striving to become something, everlastingly struggling to be other than it is, which we call discontent. It is this striving to become something that is `evil', because it is partial attention, it is not total attention. When there is total attention there is no thought of becoming, there is only a state of being. But the moment you ask, `How am I to arrive at that state of being, how am I to be totally aware?' You have already entered the path of `evil' because you want to achieve. Whereas, if one merely recognizes that as long as there is becoming, striving, making an effort to be something, one is on the path of `evil', if one is able to perceive the truth of that, just see the fact as it is, then one will find that that is the state of total attention; and that state is goodness, there is no strife in it.

Question: Great cultures have always been based on a pattern, but you speak of a new culture which is free of pattern. Is a culture without pattern ever possible?

Krishnamurti: Must not the mind be free of all patterns to find reality? And being free to find that which is real, will it not create its own pattern, which the present society may not recognize? Can the mind which is caught in a pattern, which thinks in a pattern, which is conditioned by society, find the immeasurable which has no pattern? This language which is being spoken, English, is a pattern developed through centuries. If there is the creativity which is free of patterns, then that creativity, that freedom can employ the technique of language; but through the technique, the pattern of language, reality can never be found. Through practice, through a particular kind of meditation, through knowledge, through any form of experience, all of which are within a pattern, the mind can never understand what is truth. To understand what is truth, the mind must free itself from patterns. Such a mind is a still mind, and then that which is creative can create its own activity. But you see, most of us are never free from patterns. There is never a moment when the mind is totally free from fear, from conformity, from this habit of becoming something, either in this world or in the psychological, spiritual world. When the process of becoming in any direction completely ceases, then that which is God, truth, comes into being and creates a new pattern, a culture of its own.

Question: The problem of the mind and the social problem of poverty and inequality need to be tackled and understood simultaneously. Why do you emphasize only one?

Krishnamurti: Am I emphasizing only one? And is there such a thing as the social problem of poverty and inequality, of deterioration and misery, apart from the problem of the mind? Is there not only one problem, which is the mind? It is the mind that has created the social problem; and having created the problem, it tries to solve it without fundamentally altering itself. So our problem is the mind, the mind that wants to feel superior and thereby creates social inequality, that pursues acquisition in various forms because it feels secure in property, in relationship, or in ideas, which is knowledge. It is this incessant demand to be secure that creates inequality, which is a problem that can never be solved until we understand the mind that creates the difference, the mind that has no love. Legislation is not going to solve this problem, nor can it be solved by the Communists or the Socialists. The problem of inequality can be solved only when there is love, and love is not just a word to be thrown about. The man that loves is not concerned with who is superior and who is inferior, to him there is neither equality nor inequality; there is only a state of being which is love. But we do not know that state, we have never felt it. So, how can the mind that is wholly concerned with its own activities and occupations, that has already created such misery in the world and is going right on creating further mischief, destruction - how can such a mind bring about within itself a total revolution? Surely, that is the problem. And we cannot bring about this revolution through any social reform; but when the mind itself sees the necessity of this total redemption, then the revolution is there.

Sir, we are always talking of poverty, inequality and reformation, because our hearts are empty. When there is love we shall have no problems, but love cannot come into being through any practice; it can come into being only when you cease to be, that is, when you are no longer concerned about yourself, your position, your prestige, your ambitions and frustrations, when you stop thinking about yourself completely, not tomorrow but now. This occupation with oneself is the same, whether it be that of the man who is pursuing what he calls God, or that of the man who is working for a social revolution; and a mind so occupied can never know what love is.

Question: Tell us of God.

Krishnamurti: Instead of my telling you what God is, let us find out whether you can realize that extraordinary state, not tomorrow or in some distant future, but right now as we are quietly sitting here together. Surely, that is much more important. But to find out what God is, all belief must go. The mind which would discover what is true cannot believe in truth, cannot have theories or hypotheses about God. Please listen. You have hypotheses, you have beliefs, you have dogmas, you are full of speculations; having read this or that book about what truth or God is, your mind is astonishingly restless. A mind which is full of knowledge is restless, it is not quiet, it is only burdened; and mere heaviness does not indicate a still mind. When the mind is full of belief, either believing that there is God or that there is not God. It is burdened, and a burdened mind can never find out what is true. To find out what is true, the mind must be free, free of rituals, of beliefs, of dogmas, knowledge and experience. It is only then that the mind can realize that which is truth, because such a mind is quiet, it no longer has the movement of going out or the movement of coming in, which is the movement of desire. It has not suppressed desire, which is energy. On the contrary, for the mind to be still there must be an abundance of energy; but there cannot be ripeness or fullness of energy if there is any form of outward movement, and thereby a reaction inward. When all that has calmed down, the mind is still. I am not mesmerizing you to be still. You yourself must see the importance of relinquishing, putting away without effort, without resistance, all the accumulations of centuries, the superstitions, knowledge, beliefs; you must see the truth that any form of burden makes the mind restless, dissipates energy. For the mind to be quiet there must be an abundance of energy, and that energy must be still. And if you have really come to that state in which there is no effort, then you will find that energy, being still, has its own movement, which is not the outcome of society's compulsion or pressure. Because the mind has abundant energy which is still and silent, the mind itself becomes that which is sublime: there is no experiencer of the sublime, there is no entity who says, `I have experienced reality'. As long as there is an experiencer, reality cannot be, because the experiencer is the movement to gather experience or to liquidate experience: so there must be a total cessation of the experiencer. Just listen to this, don't make an effort, just see that the experiencer, which is the outward and inward movement of the mind, must come to an end. There must be a total cessation of all such movement, and that requires astonishing energy, not the suppression of energy. When the mind is completely still, that is, when energy is neither dissipated, nor distorted through discipline, then that energy is love; then that which is real is not separate from that energy itself.

February 27, 1955.


Bombay 1955

Bombay 4th Public Talk 27th February 1955

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