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Madras 1956

Madras 1st Public Talk 11th January 1956

It must be fairly obvious to each one of us when we look at the world, and especially at the conditions in this country, that there must be some kind of fundamental revolution. I am using that word to convey, not a superficial, patchwork reformation, nor a revolution instigated as a calculated risk according to a particular pattern of thought, but the revolution that can come about only at the highest level, when we begin to understand the whole significance of the mind. Without understanding this fundamental issue, it seems to me that any reformation at any level, however beneficial temporarily, is bound to lead to further misery and chaos. I think this point must be very clearly understood if there is to be any kind of relationship between the speaker and yourselves; because most of us are concerned with some kind of social reformation. There is an enormous amount of poverty, ignorance, fear, superstition, idolatry; there is the vain repetition of words which is called prayer, and at the same time a vast accumulation of scientific knowledge, as well as the so-called knowledge gathered from sacred books. One has not to go to many countries to see all this; it can be observed as one walks along the streets here, or in Europe, or America. The physical necessities may be plentiful in America, where materialism is rampant and one can buy anything; but when one comes to this country, one sees this ruthless poverty. One sees also the class struggle - and I am not using that term `class struggle' in the communistic sense, but merely to convey the observation of a fact without interpreting it in any way. One sees the division of religions, the Christian, the Hindu, the Moslem, the Buddhist, with their various subdivisions, all clamouring to convert, or to show a different way, a different path. The machine has made possible miracles of production, especially in America; but here in India everything is limited, short. In this country, though we mouth the word `God', though we pray, perform rituals, and all the rest of it, we are just as materialistic as the West, only we have made poverty into a virtue, an inevitable necessity, and tolerate it.

Seeing this extraordinarily complex pattern of wealth and poverty, of sovereign governments, of armies and the latest instruments of mass destruction, one asks oneself what is going to come out of all this chaos, and where it is all going to lead. What is the answer? If one is at all serious, I think one must have asked oneself this question. How are we, as individuals and as groups, to tackle this problem? Being confused, most of us turn to some kind of pattern, religious or social, we look to some leader to guide us out of this chaos, or we insist on returning to the ancient traditions. We say, `Let us go back to what the rishis have taught us, which is all in the Upanishads, in the Gita, let us have more prayers, more rituals, more gurus, more masters'. This is actually what is happening, is it not?

There is in the world both extraordinary tyranny and relative freedom. Now, looking at this whole chaotic picture - not philosophically, not merely as an observer watching the events go by, but as one whose sympathies are stirred and who has a germ of compassion, which I am sure most of us have - , how do you respond to it all? What is your responsibility to society? Or are you merely caught in the wheels of society, following the traditional pattern set by a particular culture, western or eastern, and are therefore blind to the whole issue? And if you do open your eyes, are you merely concerned with social reform, political action, economic adjustment? Does the solution to this enormously complex problem lie anywhere there, or does it lie in a totally different direction? Is the problem merely economic and social? Or is there chaos and the constant threat of war because most of us are not concerned at all with the deeper issues of life, with the total development of man? Is it our education that is at fault? Superficially we are educated to have certain kinds of technique, which brings its own culture, and we seem to be satisfied with that.

Now, seeing this state of things - of which I am sure you are very much aware, unless you are insensitive, or are trying to block it off - , what is your answer? Please do not answer theoretically, according to the communist, the capitalist, the Hindu, or some other pattern, which is merely an imposition and therefore not true, but instead, strip the mind of all its immediate reactions, the so-called educated reactions, and find out what is your reaction as individuals. How would you solve this problem?

If you ask the communist this question, he has a very definite answer, and so has the Catholic, or the orthodox Hindu, or Moslem; but their answers are obviously conditioned. They have been educated to think along certain lines, narrow or wide, by a society or culture which is not at all concerned with the total development of the mind; and because they are responding from their conditioned thinking, their answers are inevitably in contradiction, and must therefore always create enmity, which I think is again fairly obvious. If you are a Hindu, a Christian, or what you will, your response is bound to be according to your conditioned background, the culture in which you have been brought up. The problem is beyond all cultures, beyond any particular pattern, yet we are seeking an answer in terms of a particular pattern, and hence there is mounting confusion, greater misery. So unless there is a fundamental breaking away from all conditioning, a total cleavage, we shall obviously create more chaos, however well-intentioned or so-called religious we may be.

It seems to me that the problem lies at a different level altogether, and in understanding it, I think we shall bring about an action entirely different from that of the socialistic, the capitalistic, or the communistic pattern. To me, the problem is to understand the ways of the mind; because, unless one is able to observe and understand the process of thought in oneself, there is no freedom, and hence one cannot go very far. With most of us, the mind is not free, it is consciously or unconsciously tethered to some form of knowledge, to innumerable beliefs, experiences, dogmas; and how can such a mind be capable of discovery, of searching out something new?

To every challenge there must obviously be a new response, because today the problem is entirely different from what it was yesterday. Any problem is always new, it is undergoing transformation all the time. Each challenge demands a new response, and there can be no new response if the mind is not free. So freedom is at the beginning, not just at the end. Revolution must begin, surely, not at the social, cultural, or economic level, but at the highest level; and the discovery of the highest level is the problem - the discovery of it, not the acceptance of what is said to be the highest level. I don't know if I am explaining myself clearly on this point. One can be told what is the highest level by some guru, some clever individual, and one can repeat what one has heard, but that process is not discovery, it is merely the acceptance of authority; and most of us accept authority because we are lazy. It has all been thought out, and we merely repeat it like a gramophone record.

Now, I see the necessity of discovery, because it is obvious that we have to create a totally different kind of culture, a culture not based on authority, but on the discovery by each individual of what is true; and that discovery demands complete freedom. If a mind is held, however long its tether, it can only function within a fixed radius, and therefore it is not free. So what is important is to discover the highest level at which revolution can take place, and that demands great clarity of thought, it demands a good mind - not a phoney mind which is repetitive, but a mind that is capable of hard thinking, of reasoning to the end, clearly, logically, sanely. One must have such a mind, and only then is it possible to go beyond.

So revolution, it seems to me, can take place only at the highest level, which must be discovered; and you can discover it only through self-knowledge, not through the knowledge gathered from your ancient books, or from the books of modern analysts. You must discover it in relationship, discover it, and not merely repeat something that you have read or heard. Then you will find that the mind becomes extraordinarily clear. After all, the mind is the only instrument we have. If that mind is clogged, petty, fearful, as most of our minds are, its belief in God, its worship, its search for truth, has no meaning at all. It is only the mind that is capable of clear perception, and therefore of being very quiet, that can discover whether there is truth or not; and it is only such a mind that can bring about revolution at the highest level. Only the religious mind is truly revolutionary; and the religious mind is not the mind that repeats, that goes to church, or to the temple, that does puja every morning, that follows some kind of guru, or worships an idol. Such a mind is not religious, it is really a silly, limited mind; therefore it can never freely respond to challenge.

This self-knowledge is not to be learnt from another. I cannot tell you what it is. But one can see how the mind operates, not just the mind that is active every day, but the totality of the mind, the mind that is conscious as well as hidden. All the many layers of the mind have to be perceived, investigated - which does not mean introspection. Self-analysis does not reveal the totality of the mind, because there is always the division between the analyzer and the analyzed. But if you can observe the operation of your own mind without any sense of judgment, evaluation, without condemnation or comparison-just observe it as you would observe a star, dispassionately, quietly, without any sense of anxiety - , then you will see that self-knowledge is not a matter of time, that it is not a process of delving into the unconscious to remove all the motives, or to understand the various impulses and compulsions. What creates time is comparison, surely; and because our minds are the result of time, they are always thinking in terms of the `more', which we call progress.

So, being the result of time, the mind is always thinking in terms of growth, of achievement; and can the mind free itself from the `more', which is really to dissociate itself completely from society? Society insists on the `more'. After all, our culture is based on envy and acquisitiveness, is it not? Our acquisitiveness is not only in material things, but also in the realm of so-called spirituality, where we want to have more virtue, to be nearer the master, the guru. So the whole structure of our thinking is based on the `more', and when one completely understands the demand for the `more', with all its results, there is surely a complete dissociation from society; and only the individual who is completely dissociated from society can act upon society. The man who puts on a loincloth, or a sanyasi's robe, who, merely becomes a monk, is not disassociated from society; he is still part of society, only his demand for the `more' is at another level. He is still conditioned by, and therefore caught within, the limits of a particular culture.

I think this is the real issue, and not how to produce more things and distribute what is produced. They now have the machines and the techniques to produce all that is required by man, and soon there will probably be an equitable distribution of the physical necessities, and a cessation of the class struggle; but the basic problem will still remain. The basic problem is that man is not creative, he has not discovered for himself this extraordinary source of creativity which is not an invention of the mind; and it is only when one discovers this timeless creativity that there is bliss.

Question: I have come here to learn and to be instructed. Can you teach me?

Krishnamurti: It is really quite an interesting question, if we can go into it. What do we mean by learning? We learn a technique, we learn to be efficient in earning a livelihood, or in performing some physical or mental task. We learn to calculate, to read, to speak a language, to build a bridge, and so on. Learning is finding out how to do things, and developing the capacity to do them. Apart from that, is there any other kind of learning? Please do think this out with me.

When we talk about learning, we mean accumulation, do we not? And when there is any form of accumulation, can the mind learn? Learning is a necessity only in order to have capacity. I could not communicate if I did not speak a language; and to speak a language I have to learn it, I have to store up in my mind the words and the meaning of those words, which is the cultivation of memory. Similarly, one learns how to build a road, to work a machine, to drive a motorcar, and so on.

Now, the questioner does not mean that; he is not here to find out how to drive a motorcar, or anything of that sort. He wants to be instructed, to learn how to discover that which may be called truth or God, does he not? When you go to a guru, to a religious teacher, in order to learn, what is it you are learning? He can only teach you a system, a pattern of what to think. And that is what you want from me. You want to learn a new pattern of behaviour, conduct, or a new way of living, which is again the cultivation of memory in another form; and if you observe this process very clearly and closely, you will see that it actually prevents you from learning. It is really very simple.

You are all Hindus, or whatever it is you are, and when something new is put before you, what happens? Either you translate the new in terms of the old, and therefore it is no longer the new, or you reject it - and that is what is actually happening. So a mind that is accumulating, thinking in patterns, a mind that is full of so-called knowledge, that is out to learn a new way of thought or behaviour - surely, such a mind can never learn.

And what is there to learn? Please follow this. What is there to learn? Are you going to learn about reincarnation, about God, about what truth is? When you say, `Instruct me, teach me, I am here to learn', what does it all mean? Is it possible to teach? Teach what? How to be aware? You know very well how to be aware. When you are interested, you are aware completely. When you want to make money as a lawyer, you are jolly well aware at the time. When you want to do something with deep, vital interest, your complete attention is there.

Attention is not something to be taught. You can be taught how to concentrate, but attention is not concentration. You see, the mind is always thinking in patterns: how to meditate, how to build a bridge, how to play cards, how to read faster, how to drive a motorcar, how to walk properly, or to have the right kind of diet. Similarly, you want to learn what is the way to God, to truth, you want somebody to show you the path which leads to that extraordinary state. Obviously, there is no path to that state, because that state is not static, and any man who says there is a path to it, is deceiving you. A path can exist only to that which is static, dead. There are not many paths to truth, nor is there only one path; there are no paths at all, and that is the beauty of it. But the mind rejects this fact because it wants to be secure, and it thinks of truth as the ultimate security; so it seeks a path by which to arrive at that security.

Now, if you see this whole process, then what is there to learn? And can you be free through learning? Please think it out with me, don't accept or reject it. This is your problem. Can a mind that is learning, accumulating storing up, ever be free? And if the mind is never free, how can it find out, discover? And surely it is essential to discover; because to discover, to find out, is the creative potential in man. So the mind must be free of all authority - the poisonous authority of so-called religion and the religious leaders - , for only then is it capable of finding out what is truth, what is God, what is bliss.

Sirs, if you are really paying attention to what is being said, and are not comparing it with what you have learnt, or worrying about how it will affect your commitments, your vested interests, your position in society, and all the rest of the silly nonsense, then you will see that there is freedom and discovery immediately.

Learning will not bring truth nearer. It is only the mind that is on a journey of everlasting discovery, that is no longer accumulating, that is dead to everything it accumulated yesterday and is therefore fresh, innocent, free - it is only such a mind that can find out what is true and bring about a revolution in this world. It is only such a mind that is capable of love and compassion - not the mind that is practising love and compassion, cultivating virtue according to a pattern, which is all self-concern.

I am afraid it is too late to answer another question.

If we understand what it is to pay attention, then perhaps this deep revolution will take place in spite of us. If each one of us can be purely attentive without wanting to bring about a result, or to transform ourselves, then we shall see that the mind is not a thing of time. Time comes into being only when there is comparison; and the mind that is comparing is not attentive. Have you ever noticed how difficult it is to watch something, just to observe a quality, a person, an idea, a felling, without any sense of denying, condemning, or justifying it? When the mind is capable of so observing, you will find that reaction has no meaning at all, and in that state of complete attention, the whole content of consciousness can be wiped away.

After all, the totality of our consciousness is the result of many influences: the influence of climate, of diet, of education, of race and religion, of what we read, of society, and the influence of our own intentions and desires. I hope you are listening to me with attention, not merely with memory, and are actually experiencing the fact that your consciousness is the result of many influences. These influences are man-made; and can the consciousness which is conditioned by them find something beyond itself, however much it may try? Obviously it cannot. It can only project its own state in a different form. So consciousness is conditioned, and anything that springs from that consciousness can never be free; and yet it is only the free mind that can discover.

Now, when you are aware that the process of thinking at any level, however deep or shallow, is conditioned, you realize that thinking is not the liberating factor; but you must think very clearly to see the limitation of thinking. Any thought springing from the conditioned mind is still conditioned. When the conditioned mind thinks about God, its God is itself. If the mind is totally aware of this and gives complete attention to it, then you will see there is freedom. Then the mind is no longer the plaything of society, it is no longer put together by man, and only then is it capable of experiencing something that is beyond itself.


Madras 1956

Madras 1st Public Talk 11th January 1956

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