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Brussels 1956

Brussels, Belgium 1st Public Talk 16th June 1956

It seems to me that it would be wise if we could put away from our minds the various forms of prejudice that we have built up, especially the idea which many of us have that wisdom lies with those people who come from the Orient. That is really quite an absurd idea, because human beings all the world over have essentially the same problems, whether they happen to live in the Orient or in the Occident. The Orient, from where I happen to come, is no different fundamentally from the Occident. The people over there have problems similar to ours - the same economic and social struggles, and the same problems of the spirit, of the mind, of the heart. We are all alike in our suffering, in our search, in our loneliness, and in the things which give the mind the power to create its own delusions.

It is surely important from the very beginning for you to understand not only what is being said, but your own reaction to it, and to know why you have come here. After all, most of us come to these talks with the hope of finding something, do we not? We are all groping, seeking a better attitude or way of life, a more realistic evaluation of the things that matter. We are seeking something which we feel is very essential. So I think it would be good if we could go into this problem, to the very heart of it, and find out what it is that each one of us is earnestly seeking. We spend our days and our years in struggling to find out what life is all about. And it seems to me that our problem is not to find some satisfactory explanation of what life is about, but rather to understand life directly for ourselves.

Our problems, which are many, cannot be translated either in terms of the Occident or the Orient. Many of us think that if we can follow a particular system of philosophy, or some method, the more mystical the better, it will lead us to a higher form of happiness, or to a greater depth of understanding. So we read, we search, we go to lectures, we follow teachers, we join religious organizations with their creeds and dogmas - but unfortunately we never find what we are looking for, because we do not know exactly what it is we want. Within ourselves we want so many things, we are confused. Therefore it is obviously very important to spend some time, energy and thought in inquiring into what it is that each one of us is seeking.

First of all, is it possible to find out what it is we are seeking? Our minds are so conditioned by the collective; we are either Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, or we are trying to follow some other system. Our minds are so shaped, so controlled, so conditioned by the particular society in which we live - economically, socially and religiously - that we only seek whatever is promised by that particular tradition or system of thought. So we are always conditioned in our search. And I think it is very important to understand this conditioning. Because so long as our minds are conditioned as Christians, as Buddhists, as Hindus, or what you will, our search is of no avail. So long as the mind is limited, shaped by a particular belief or dogma, our search can only lead to whatever that dogma or belief promises. Only the mind which liberates itself from dogma, from belief, will find out what is true.

Whether one comes from the East or from the West, it is extraordinarily difficult to liberate oneself, culturally as well as religiously, from the various encrustations which society has imposed, so that the mind is free to inquire. Without this freedom, surely, no inquiry is possible, especially in matters appertaining to the spirit, to the mind. And I think it is most essential, not merely to grope vaguely after some kind of happiness, some kind of comfort or security, which almost any form of authority can give, but rather to inquire, with a free mind, to find out if there is reality, if there is God. Only such a mind can discover, and not the mind that believes, that is held in a dogma, however venerable and apparently worthwhile. A mind caught in belief is incapable of finding out if there is reality, if there is something beyond its own projections.

But it is not easy for the mind to free itself from the ideas in which it has been brought up, especially with regard to psychological issues, because it is ever eager to be comforted, to feel secure; so it creates or accepts some form of authority which promises the comfort it wants, an illusory reality without substance.

So, if our inquiry is to be at all worthwhile, I think that, with attention, with purposefulness, we must go deeply into what it is that each one of us is seeking. Most religious people assert they are seeking God, truth, peace, or what you will. But those are just words, without much substance. The believer is as the non-believer, for both are conditioned by the particular society in which they have grown up. And one can put aside all the beliefs, the dogmas, the prejudices one has acquired, only when there is deep discontent. Surely truth, or reality, is not for the man who is seeking comfort, but rather for those who have a deep inward discontent which is not easily canalized or assuaged through any particular satisfaction or gratification, but which is steadily intensified, so that the mind rejects reasonably the comforting illusions which churches, so-called religious organizations, and one's own crippling desires have projected. Only a mind sharpened by thought, by reason, by doubt, is capable of inquiry. Such a mind is aware of its own workings, of its own background, of the values it has created, of the beliefs, the illusions, the hopes to which it clings; and it is only when all these things are set aside that the mind can find out whether or not there is a reality, something beyond its own projections.

Most of us live very shallow lives; we are lonely people; and we try to enrich our poverty-stricken minds with a great deal of knowledge, information, facts. But the mind is not capable of deep inquiry if it is filled with knowledge, or if it is bound to any form of dogmatic belief. What matters is to ask ourselves whether the mind is capable of self-knowledge. That is, can I know myself, am I able to observe, to inquire into the whole movement of my mind - not with morbidity, not with despair, not with the idea that it is ugly or beautiful, but just to watch it? It seems to me that this capacity to be alertly watchful of one's own mind is of the greatest importance, because it is only through self-knowledge that one can understand those things which are crippling the mind.

To know oneself is an extraordinary process, because the self is never the same from moment to moment; there are so many contradictory desires, so many compulsions, so many urges. And unless we understand the totality of it all, how can the mind be free? Only the mind that is free can really experience something beyond its own limitations, beyond its conditioning beliefs and dogmas.

It seems to me that these talks will be worth while only if we can really listen to what is being said. Most of us never listen to another; and when we do hear what someone says, we are always interpreting it. Such interpretation is not listening. Whereas, if we can listen, not with enforced concentration, but freely giving attention to what is being said, then the deep significance of the words will penetrate the mind; and I think such listening is far more vital than merely struggling to understand through the screen of our prejudices and preconceptions. That is, if you can listen to what is being said, without resisting, without intellectually projecting reasonable arguments, without opposing or accepting, then I think the very act of listening is a purgation of the mind. It is like a seed that is planted in the earth; if the seed has vitality, it will grow of itself.

But unfortunately most of us are so concerned with our own ideas, with our own beliefs and prejudices, that there is no attention. Attention is the total good; but we do not know how to attend. We never really look at anything either. I do not know if you have ever experimented with really looking at something - by which I mean looking without naming, without giving it a label, without interpreting it. Then you see much more, you see with greater intensity the clarity of the colour, the beauty or ugliness of the shape, and so on. And if you are capable of listening with that kind of attention, then your mind will be the soil in which something totally new can be born. Then you will find, at the end of these talks, that I have really told you nothing at all. Because what is it that we are trying to do in these talks? You are not trying to understand me; you are trying to understand yourself. And to understand yourself, you have to look within yourself. But a mind that is authority-ridden never looks within itself; a mind that is desirous of achieving an end, a goal, cannot possibly understand itself.

So it seems to me that what is of prime importance is to understand oneself. Self-knowledge is the beginning of wisdom. But we know so little about ourselves; we do not know the unconscious as well as the conscious parts of ourselves, the totality of our whole being. And is it possible to know ourselves totally? Surely, if one is incapable of knowing oneself, the totality of one's being, then all search is without meaning. Then search becomes a contradiction, one desire against another desire. But if we can understand ourselves, if we can patiently and diligently observe the functioning of our whole being, then we shall find that the mind becomes very clear and free. Only such a mind is capable of inquiring into, searching out the eternal - and then perhaps there is no search at all, for then the mind itself is the eternal.

It is very difficult for most of us to know ourselves, because we are always measuring our thoughts, our actions, our feelings. We hope that through this measurement we shall come to know ourselves; but surely a mind that is always judging, evaluating, can never know itself as it is, because it has a standard, a pattern, by which it evaluates. I think this is one of our major difficulties - that we cannot observe our feelings, our thoughts, without evaluation, without approving or condemning. For most of us, judgment, comparison, approval, condemnation, is the very essence of our existence. That is why we are unable to go into the greater depths of our own thoughts and feelings, the conscious as well as the unconscious.

If we would understand a child, for instance, it is surely of no value to compare him with his brother. To understand him, we must look at him without comparison; we must observe him at different times, in all his various moods. But we are brought up, we are educated, to compare, to judge, to condemn; and we think that by comparison, by condemnation, by judgment, we shall understand. On the contrary, as long as we compare, judge, condemn, we shall never understand a thing.

In the same manner, if we would understand the totality of our being, however ugly or beautiful, transient or permanent, we must be capable of looking at ourselves in the mirror of relationship, without evaluation, without comparison; and then we shall find that the totality of consciousness begins to unfold.

After all, though we are somewhat aware of the functioning of the conscious mind, most of us know very little about ourselves at the greater depths of consciousness. We never look at that part of ourselves, we have never even inquired into it; or if we inquire into it, it is only when we are troubled by some kind of neurosis, and then we have to run to somebody to help us. That is not knowing ourselves. Knowing ourselves implies self-observation at every moment of the day, in our relationships, in our speech, in our actions, in our gestures; it implies being fully aware of ourselves, so that we begin to find out what we are. And we will find that we are very little. We are only that which we have been conditioned to be. We believe, or we do not believe; we repeat what we have been told. We accept because we are afraid, and religions grow out of our fear. That is why it is very important to know oneself - not theoretically, or according to the psychologist's point of view, but to know for oneself what one intrinsically is. And I do not think this is very difficult if one gives one's full attention to discovering what one is in every moment of relationship.

Then you will find that religion is something entirely different from anything you already know. Religion has nothing to do with these absurd organizations which control the mind through this belief or that; it has nothing whatever to do with any so-called religious society. On the contrary, a truly religious man does not belong to any such society, to any organized religion; but to be truly religious requires immense understanding of the ways of the self, of one's own integral state. There is no essential difference between the man who believes in God and considers himself to be religious, and the man who disbelieves and who thinks he is not religious. Each is conditioned by the society in which he lives, and to be free from that conditioning requires the intensification of discontent. It is only when the mind is discontented, in revolt, when it is not merely accepting or trying to find some new form of comfort - it is only then that a truly religious man comes into being.

Such a truly religious man is the true revolutionary, because only he can alter, at quite a different level, the whole attitude of society. But this requires an extraordinary understanding of oneself. Self-knowledge is of prime importance, it is absolutely essential for any seeker after truth; for if I do not know myself, how can I seek truth? The instrument of search, which is my own mind, may be perverted, twisted, and it is only through self-knowledge that the mind can be straightened out. The clear, straight mind alone can inquire into that which is true - not the confused mind. A mind that is confused can only find that which is also confused.

But a confused mind cannot become unconfused by relying on another, by seeking the authority of a book, of a priest, of an analyst, or what you will. Confusion comes to an end only when the mind begins to understand itself. And out of this understanding come clarity and stillness of mind. It is only the mind which is completely still that is capable of receiving the timeless.

I have been given some questions, and I shall try to answer some of them. But before I do so, I think it would be wise to explain that the complex problems of life have no answer. None of the great issues have an answer which will be satisfactory. What we can do is to inquire into the problem itself. The mind that is seeking an answer to the problem will never understand the problem, because it is concentrated on finding the answer; and invariably it is seeking an answer which will be immediately satisfying, comforting. So, if one really wants to understand a problem, one should never ask for an answer, but rather inquire into the problem itself.

This, again, is very difficult for most of us, because to inquire into a problem requires intelligence, patience, diligent observation - never accepting or rejecting, but exploring. When we suffer, most of us want an immediate response, because our only concern is to escape from that suffering. In seeking an escape, we create illusions, and those illusions can be exploited by the cunning.

So, in considering these question, we are not seeking an answer; because, as I said, there is no answer, and that is true. You may ask what love is, and perhaps someone will answer you verbally; but that answer will have very little meaning. If we would find out what it means to love, all forms of attachment must go. Attachment brings fear; and how can there be love if there is fear?

So, through these questions we are going to explore the problem. If you are merely looking for an answer, I am afraid you will be disappointed. But if together we can undertake the journey of exploration, so that each one of us experiences the state of inquiry, then we shall find that the problem is resolved - not because we have actively done something about the problem, but because the problem exists only while we are not giving it complete attention. We can give complete attention to the problem only if there is no sense of condemnation, no reference to the past in order to understand the present.

Question: Is not authority helpful in this world of chaos and confusion?

Krishnamurti: I think this is a good question to go into. Most of us are confused, are we not? The issues of life are many and difficult, and there are innumerable specialists, teachers, oriental gurus, innumerable books and churches, all claiming to know the answers. Being confused, you look to those who say they know; but because you are confused, your choice of a guide will also be confused. Being anxious to find out, you invariably create authority - the authority of a book, the authority of a church, of an individual, of the collective, or of an idea. So authority exists because you create it; you create it out of your own confusion and uncertainty. The anatomy of authority is the anatomy of our own uncertainty. We want to be certain, to be gratified, and so we look to someone for an answer - to a teacher, a guru, and God knows who else. So our whole structure of thinking is based on authority.

It is an extraordinarily complex problem; and what is important, surely, is not the worship of authority, or the substitution of one authority for another, but rather to find out if the mind can free itself from its own confusion. When the mind is very clear, it needs no authority; but when it is uncertain, confused, when it is in misery, in turmoil, then it looks to another for help. And can another help? Or is there fundamentally no help at all, because the misery, the turmoil, the confusion, is created by oneself, and therefore must be cleared away by oneself? Surely, whatever another can do to help is but a temporary alleviation.

But to clear up one's own confusion requires great energy, freedom to find out what is true - not rushing about asking for help. I think this is important to understand. There are wars, starvation in the East, economic problems, the hierarchical outlook on life, the divisions of class, religions and nationalities, and we are caught in all this contradiction and turmoil, which is very confusing; and it seems to me of the utmost importance to find out, amidst all this chaos, what is true. To find out, surely, we must stop seeking. Because how can a man seek when he is confused? His seeking and finding will only add to the confusion. I think this is such a simple fact, if only we could realize it. But if one knows how to clarify one's own confusion, then one will not look to another, one will not depend on another.

So, in order to bring about clarity, sanity in this mad world, it is important, first of all, to know for oneself what one is actually doing. Being confused, having so many contradictory desires and compulsions, we are everlastingly trying to bring out of this inward chaos one dominant desire that will control all the others - which only creates another problem. That is why it is very important, for those of us who are really serious about these matters, to understand ourselves, and not merely pursue in our confusion the various dogmas of the East or of the West. It requires a great deal of attention to perceive for oneself how deeply rooted one's confusion is; but most of us are unwilling even to admit that we are confused.

It seems to me that authority will exist - the authority, whether inward or external, that compels psychologically, spiritually - so long as we are seeking any form of security for ourselves, or for a particular group, or nation. Authority breeds exploitation, it brings darkness, brutality, in the name of God, or peace, or the State. That is why the man of peace has no authority, inward or outward - which does not mean that he goes about breaking the law.

To realize all this requires a great deal of penetration, insight into oneself. Self-knowledge cannot be learned from any book, nor through merely attending one or two talks or discussions. The treasure lives within oneself; and it is revealed in the mirror of our daily relationships, through watchfulness, observation, which is to be aware without any choice.

Question: Will you please tell us what freedom is? Is this not an illusion which we are all pursuing?

Krishnamurti: We want freedom only when we are aware of our bondage; and because we do not know how to free ourselves from bondage, we pursue freedom. But if we have the capacity to free ourselves from bondage, then there is freedom, we do not have to pursue it, or inquire what freedom is - we can leave that to the philosophers and speculators. The important thing is to find out in what manner we are held, bound, for in the very understanding of that bondage, there is freedom. The moment we struggle against bondage, we create another bondage. But if we can understand the whole psychological process of bondage - not merely what binds us now, but how it has come into being, the motives, the implications, the whole background of it, both conscious and unconscious - then in that very understanding there is freedom; we do not have to `become' free.

Take fear, for example. Most of us are bound by fear in one form or another; and it is a very complex process, is it not? Do we know that we are afraid, and how fear comes into being? Or do we merely theorize about it? Fear exists, surely, only in relationship to something, it does not exist by itself. I am afraid of something - of death, of poverty, of what my neighbour might say, and so on. And can I look into this whole problem of fear? I can look only if I am not trying to do something about it.

What is this fear? Is it fear of the unknown? Or are we afraid of losing the known - of being poor, for example. Can the mind be free from this fear of being poor? And is it poverty of the mind, or poverty of physical existence, to which we give importance? Surely, the thoughtful man, the man who is really trying to find out, is concerned with the poverty of the mind. And can this poverty of the mind be overcome by knowledge, by reading books? Can the mind enrich itself through any form of fulfillment? And is there fulfillment at all, or merely the demand of a mind which is afraid of its own poverty and therefore seeks to fulfil itself?

So the problem of fear is not very simple, and it requires a great deal of inquiry on the part of the mind to find out in what manner it is afraid. When there is an understanding of the whole process of fear, there is freedom - not just freedom from fear, but freedom for the mind to go beyond itself. The man who is free from something knows only a limited freedom.

You see, to inquire into all this takes a great deal of energy, attention, not merely for an hour or two, but at every moment of the day, when you are in the bus, at your office, with your family, or walking by yourself. There must be this constant inquiry, a searching, a watching, so that the whole content of one's being is revealed. Then you will find, in the discovery and understanding of what one actually is, there comes the opening of the door to freedom.

June 16, 1956


Brussels 1956

Brussels, Belgium 1st Public Talk 16th June 1956

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