Brussels, Belgium 6th Public Talk 25th June 1956
I think it would be a waste of time and energy if we regarded these talks merely as an intellectual stimulation, or as an entertainment of new ideas. It would be like ploughing a field everlastingly, without ever sowing.
For those who are eager to find something much more significant than the weary routine of daily existence, who want to understand the greater significance of a life, it seems very difficult not to get sidetracked in their search; because there are so many things in which the mind can lose itself - in work, in politics, in social activity, in the acquisition of the knowledge, or in various associations and organizations. These things apparently give a great deal of satisfaction; and when we are satisfied, our lives invariably become very superficial.
But there are some, I think, who are really serious, and who do not wish to be distracted from the central issue. They want to go to the very end of their search and discover for themselves if there is something more vital than mere reason and the logical explanation of things. Such people are not easily sidetracked. They have a certain spontaneous virtue, which is not the emptiness of cultivated virtue; they have a certain quietness, gentleness, and a sense of proportion; they lead a sane, balanced life, and do not accept the extremes. But unfortunately even they seem to find it very difficult to go beyond the everyday struggles, and the understanding of them, and discover for themselves if there is something really deeply significant.
Those of us who have thought about these things at all, and who are alert both to the recurrent problems in our personal lives, and to the crises that periodically come upon society, must be aware that the merely virtuous or good life is not enough, and that unless we can go beyond and discover something of greater significance - a wider vision, more fullness of life - then, however noble our efforts and endeavour, we shall always remain in this state of turmoil and ceaseless strife. The good life is obviously necessary; but surely that by itself is not religion. And is it possible to go beyond all that?
Some of us, I think, have seen the stupidity of dogmas, of beliefs, of organized religions, and have set them aside. We fully realize the importance of the good life, the balanced, sane, unexaggerated life - being content with little, being kindly, generous; yet somehow we do not seem to discover that vital something which brings about the truly religious life. One may be virtuous, very active in doing good, satisfied with little, unconcerned about oneself; but surely the truly religious life must mean something much more. Any respectable person, any good citizen, is all those things in one degree or another; but that is not religion. Belonging to a church, going to Sunday gatherings, reading an occasional book on religious matters, worshipping a symbol, dedicating one's life to a particular idea or ideal - surely, none of that is religion. Those are all man-made things; they are within the limits of time, of culture and civilization. And yet even those of us who have dropped all such things seem unable to go beyond.
What is the difficulty? Is it the gift of the few to go beyond? Can only a few understand, or realize, or experience reality - which means that the many must depend on the few for help, for guidance? I think such an idea is utterly false. In this whole idea that only a few can realize, and the rest must follow, lie many forms of thoughtlessness, exploitation and cruelty. If once we accept it, our lives become very shallow, meaningless, trivial.
And most of us accept that idea very easily, do we not? We think that only the few can understand, or that there is only one son of God, and the rest of us are just - whatever we are. We accept such an idea because in ourselves we are very lazy; or perhaps we do not have the capacity to penetrate. It may be mostly our lack of this capacity to penetrate, to go to the root of things, that is preventing deep understanding, this extraordinary sense of unity - which is not identification with the idea of unity. Most of us identify ourselves with something - with the family, with the country, with an idea, with a belief - hoping thereby to forget our petty little selves. But I am afraid that is no solution. The greater does contain the lesser; but when the lesser tries to identify itself with the greater, it is merely a pose and has no value.
So, is it possible for each one of us to have this capacity to go beyond routine virtue, goodness, sensitivity, compassion? These are essential in daily life; but can we not awaken the capacity to penetrate beyond them, beyond all the conscious movements of the mind, beyond all inclinations, hopes, aspirations, desires, so that the mind is no longer an instrument which creates and destroys, which is caught in its own projections, in its own ideas?
If we can sanely and diligently find out for ourselves how this capacity comes into being, without trying to cultivate it or wishing for it to happen, then I think we shall know what it is to lead a religious life. But this demands an extraordinary revolution in our thinking - which is the only real revolution. Any merely economic or social revolution only breeds the need of further reform, and that is an endless process. Real revolution is inward, and it comes into being without the mind seeking it. What the mind seeks and finds, however reasonable, however rational and intelligent, is never the final answer. For the mind is put together, and what it creates is also put together; therefore it can be undone. But the revolution of which I am speaking is the truly religious life, stripped of all the absurdities of organized religions throughout the world. It has nothing to do with priests, with symbols, with churches.
How is this revolution to take place? As we do not know, we say that we must have faith, or that grace must descend upon us. This may be so: grace may come. But the faith that is cultivated is only another creation of the mind, and therefore it can be destroyed. Whether there is grace or not, is not our concern; a mind that seeks grace will never find it.
So, if you have thought at all about these matters, if you have meditated upon life, then you must have asked yourself whether this inward revolution can take place, and whether it is dependent upon a capacity that can be cultivated, as one cultivates the capacity for accountancy, or engineering, or chemistry. Those are cultivable capacities; they can be built up, and will produce certain results. But I am talking of a capacity which is not cultivable, something that you cannot go after, that you cannot pursue or search out in the dark places of the mind. And without that something, virtue becomes mere respectability - which is a terrible thing; without that something, all activity is contradictory, leading to further conflict and misery.
Now, being aware of our own ceaseless struggling within the field of self-conscious activity, our self-concern - taking all this multifarious action and contradiction into account, how are we to come to that other state? How is one to live in that moment which is eternity? All this is not mere sentiment or romanticism. Religion has nothing whatever to do with romanticism or sentimentality. it is a very hard thing - hard in the sense that one must work furiously to find out what is truly religious.
Perceiving all the contradiction and confusion that exists in the outward structure of society, and the psychological conflict that is perpetually going on within oneself, one realizes that all our endeavour to be loving or brotherly is actually a pose, a mask. However beautiful the mask may be, behind it there is nothing; so we develop a philosophy of cynicism or despair, or we cling to a belief in something mysterious beyond this ceaseless turmoil. Again, this is obviously not religion; and without the perfume of true religion, life has very little meaning. That is why we are everlastingly struggling to find something. We pursue the many gurus and teachers, haunt the various churches, practise this or that system of meditation, rejecting one and accepting another. And yet we never seem to cross the threshold; the mind seems incapable of going beyond itself.
So, what is it, I wonder, that brings the other into being? Or is it that we cannot do anything but go up to the threshold and remain there, not knowing what lies beyond? It may be that we have to come to the very edge of the precipice of everything we have known, so that there is the cessation of all endeavour, of all cultivation of virtue, and the mind is no longer seeking anything. I think that is all the conscious mind can do. Whatever else it does only creates another pattern, another habit. Must not the mind strip itself of all the things it has gathered, all its accumulations of experience and knowledge, so that it is in a state of innocency which is not cultivated?
Perhaps that is our difficulty. We hear that we must be innocent in order to find out; so we cultivate innocence. But can innocence ever be cultivated? Is it not like the cultivation of humility? Surely, a man who cultivates humility is never humble, any more than the man who practises non-violence ceases to be violent. So it may be that one must see the truth of this: that the mind which is put together, which is made up of many things, cannot do anything. To see this truth may be all that it can do. Probably there must be the capacity to see the truth in a flash - and I think that very perception will cleanse the mind of all the past in an instant.
The more serious, the more earnest we are, the greater danger there is of our trying to become or achieve something. Surely, only the man who is spontaneously humble, who has immense unconscious humility - only such a man is capable of understanding from moment to moment and never accumulating what he has learned. So this great humility of not-knowing is essential, is it not?
But you see, we are all seeking success, we want a result. We say "I have done all these things, and I have got nowhere, I have received nothing; I am still the same". This despairing sense of desiring success, of wanting to arrive, to attain, to understand, emphasizes, does it not?, the separativity of the mind; there is always the conscious or unconscious endeavour to achieve a result, and therefore the mind is never empty, never free for a second from the movement of the past, of time.
So I think what is important is not to read more, discuss more, or to attend more talks, but rather to be conscious of the motives, the intentions, the deceptions of one's own mind - to be simply aware of all that, and leave it alone, not try to change it, not try to become something else; because the effort to become something else is like putting on another mask. That is why the danger is much greater for those of us who are earnest and deeply serious than it is for the flippant and the casual. Our very seriousness may prevent the understanding of things as they are.
It seems to me that what each one of us has to do is to capture the significance of the totality of our thinking. But much concern over detail, over the many conflicting thoughts and feelings, will not bring about an understanding of the whole. What is required is the sudden perception of the totality of the mind - which is not the outcome of asking how to see it, but of constantly looking, inquiring, searching. Then, I think, we shall find out for ourselves what is the truly religious life.
Question: What are your ideas about education?
Krishnamurti: I think mere ideas are no good at all, because one idea is as good as another, depending on whether the mind accepts or rejects it. But perhaps it would be worth while to find out what we mean by education. Let us see if we can think out together the whole significance of education, and not merely think in terms of my idea, or your idea, or the idea of some specialist.
Why do we educate our children at all? Is it to help the child to understand the whole significance of life, or merely to prepare him to earn a livelihood in a particular culture or society? Which is it that we want? Not what we should want, or what is desirable, but what is it that we as parents actually insist on? We want the child to conform, to be a respectable citizen in a corrupt society, in a society that is at war both within itself and with other societies, that is brutal, acquisitive, violent, greedy, with occasional spots of affection, tolerance and kindliness. That is what we actually want, is it not? If the child does not fit into society - whether it be communist, socialist, or capitalist - , we are afraid of what will happen to him; so we begin to educate him to conform to the pattern of our own making. That is all we want where the child is concerned, and that is essentially what is taking place. And any revolt of the child against society, against the pattern of conformity, we call delinquency.
We want the children to conform; we want to control their minds, to shape their conduct, their way of living, so that they will fit into the pattern of society. That is what every parent wants, is it not? And that is exactly what is happening, whether it be in America or in Europe, in Russia or in India. The pattern may vary slightly, but they all want the child to conform.
Now, is that education? Or does education mean that the parents and the teachers themselves see the significance of the whole pattern, and are helping the child from the very beginning to be alert to all its influences? Seeing the full significance of the pattern, with its religious, social and economic influences, its influences of class, of family, of tradition - seeing the significance of all this for oneself and helping the child to understand and not be caught in it - that may be education. To educate the child may be to help him to be outside of society, so that he creates his own society. Since our society is not at all what it should be, why encourage the child to stay within its pattern?
At present we force the child to conform to a social pattern which we have established individually, as a family, and as the collective; and he unfortunately inherits, not only our property, but some of our psychological characteristics as well. So from the very beginning he is a slave to the environment.
Seeing all this, if we really love our children and are therefore deeply concerned about education, we will contrive from the very beginning to bring about an atmosphere which will encourage them to be free. A few real educators have thought about all this, but unfortunately very few parents ever think about it at all. We leave it to the experts - religion to the priest, psychology to the psychologist, and our children to the so-called teachers. Surely, the parent is also the educator; he is the teacher, and also the one who learns - not only the child.
So this is a very complex problem, and if we really wish to resolve it we must go into it most profoundly; and then, I think, we shall find out how to bring about the right kind of education.
Question: What is the meaning of existence? What is it all about?
Krishnamurti: This is a question that is constantly arising all over the world: what is the purpose of life? We are now asking it of ourselves; and I wonder why we ask it? Is it because life has very little significance for us, and we ask this question in the hope of being assured that it has a greater significance? Is it that we are so confused in ourselves that we do not know how to find the answer, which way to turn? I think that is most likely. Being confused in ourselves, we look, we ask; and in asking, in looking, we invent theories, we give a purpose or a meaning of life.
So what is important is not to define the purpose, the significance, the meaning of existence, but rather to find out why the mind asks this question. If we see something very clearly, we do not have to ask about it; so probably we are confused. We have been in the habit of accepting the things imposed upon us by authority; we have always followed authority without much thought, except the thoughts which authority encourage. Now, however, we have begun to reject authority, because we want to find things out for ourselves; and in trying to find things out for ourselves, we become very confused. That is why we again ask "What is the purpose of life?" If someone tells you what is the purpose of life, and their answer is satisfactory, you may accept it as your authority and guide your life accordingly; but fundamentally you will still be confused. The question, then, is not what the purpose of life is, but whether the mind can clear itself of its own confusion. If it can and does, then you will never ask that other question.
But the difficulty for most of us is to realize that we are thoroughly confused. We think we are only superficially confused, and that there is a higher part of the mind which is not contaminated by confusion. To realize that the totality of the mind is confused, is very difficult, because most of us have been educated to believe that there is a higher part of the mind which can direct, shape, and guide us; but surely this again is an invention of the mind.
To free oneself from confusion, one must first know that one is confused. To see that one is really confused is the beginning of clarification, is it not? But it requires deep perception and great honesty to see and to acknowledge to oneself that one is totally confused. When one knows that one is totally confused, one will not seek clarification, because any action on the part of a confused mind to find clarification will only add to the confusion. That is fairly obvious, is it not? If I am confused, I may read, or look, or ask; but my search, my asking is the outcome of my confusion, and therefore it can only lead to further confusion. Whereas, the mind that is confused and really knows it is confused, will have no movement of search, of asking; and in that very moment of being silently aware of its confusion, there is a beginning of clarification.
If you are really following this, you are bound to see the truth of it psychologically. But the difficulty is that we do not really know, we are not actually aware of how extraordinarily confused we are. The moment one fully realizes one's own confusion, one's thought becomes very tentative, hesitant, it is never assertive or dogmatic. Therefore the mind begins to inquire from a totally different point of view; and it is this new kind of inquiry alone that will clear up the confusion.
Question: Do you believe in God?
Krishnamurti: It is easy to ask: questions, and it is very important to know how to ask a right question. In this particular question, the words `believe' and `God' seem to me so contradictory. A man who merely believes in God will never know what God is, because his belief is a form of conditioning - which again is very obvious. In Christianity you are taught from childhood to believe in God, so from the very beginning your mind is conditioned. In the Communist countries, belief in God is called sheer nonsense - at which you are horrified. You want to convert them, and they want to convert you. They have conditioned their minds not to believe, and you call them godless, while you consider yourself God-fearing, or whatever it is. I do not see much difference between the two. You may go to church, pray, listen to sermons, or perform certain rituals and get some kind of stimulation out of it - but none of that, surely, is the experiencing of the unknown. And can the mind experience the unknown, whatever name one may give it. The name does not matter. That is the question - not whether one believes or does not believe in God.
One can see that any form of conditioning will never set the mind free; and that only the free mind can discover, experience. Experiencing is a very strange thing. The moment you know you are experiencing, there is the cessation of that experience. The moment I know I am happy, I am no longer happy. To experience this immeasurable reality, the experiencer must come to an end. The experiencer is the result of the known, of many centuries of cultivated memory; he is an accumulation of the things he has experienced. So when he says "I must experience reality", and is cognizant of that experience, then what he experiences is not reality, but a projection of his own past, his own conditioning.
That is why it is very important to understand that the thinker and the thought, or the experiencer and the experience, are the same; they are not different. When there is an experiencer separate from the experience, then the experiencer is constantly pursuing further experience; but that experience is always a projection of himself.
So reality, the timeless state, is not to be found through mere verbalization, or acceptance, or through the repetition of what one has heard - which is all folly. To really find out, one must go into this whole question of the experiencer. So long as there is the `me' who wants to experience, there can be no experiencing of reality. That is why the experiencer - the entity who is seeking God, who believes in God, who prays to God - must totally cease. Only then can that immeasurable reality come into being.
June 25, 1956
Brussels, Belgium 6th Public Talk 25th June 1956
Texts and talks of Jiddu Krishnamurti. Krishnamurti quotes. Books about
J Krishnamurti. Philosophy.