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Hamburg 1956

Hamburg, Germany 1st Public Talk 5th September 1956

I think it is important to establish a right relationship between yourself and myself; because you may be under the erroneous impression that I am going to talk about a complicated philosophy, or that I am bringing a particular system of philosophical thought from India, or that I have peculiar ideas which I want you to accept. So I think we should begin by establishing a relationship between us in which there is mutual understanding of each other.

I am not speaking as an Indian, nor do I believe that any particular philosophy or religion is going to solve our human problems. No human problem can be understood or resolved through a special way of thinking, or through any dogma or belief. Though I happen to come from India, we have essentially the same problems there as you have here. We are human beings, not Germans or Hindus, English or Russians; we are human beings, living in a very complex society, with innumerable problems - economic, social, and above all, I think, religious. If we can understand the religious problem, then perhaps we shall be able to solve the contradictory national, economic and social problems.

To understand the complex problem of religion, I think it is essential not to hold on to any particular idea or belief, but to listen with a mind that is not prejudiced, so that we are capable of thinking out the problem together. Surely we must approach all our human problems with a very simple, direct clarity and understanding.

Our minds have been conditioned from childhood to think in a certain way; we are educated, brought up in a fixed pattern of thought. We are tradition-bound. We have special values, certain opinions and unquestioned beliefs, and according to this pattern we live - or at least we try to live. And I think there lies the calamity. Because, life is in constant movement, is it not? It is a living thing, with extraordinary changes; it is never the same. And our problems also are never the same, they are ever changing. But we approach life with a mind that is fixed, opinionated; we have definite ideas and predetermined evaluations. So, for most of us, life becomes a series of complex and apparently insoluble problems, and invariably we turn to someone else to guide us, to help us, to show us the right path.

Here, I think, it would be right for me to point out that I am not doing anything of that kind. What we are going to do, if you are willing, is to think out the problem together. After all, it is your life, and to understand it, surely, you must understand yourself. The understanding of yourself does not depend on the sanctions of another.

So it seems to me that if we are at all serious, and if we would understand the many problems that exist in the world at the present time, the nationalism, the wars, the hatred, the racial divisions, and the divisions which the organized religions bring about - if we would understand all this and eliminate the conflict between man and man, it is imperative that we should first understand ourselves. Because, what we are, we project - which is a very simple fact. If I am nationalistic, I help to create a separative society - which is one of the seeds, the causes of war. So it is obviously essential that we understand ourselves; and this, it seems to me, is the major issue in our life.

Religion is not to be found in a set of dogmas, beliefs, rituals; I think it is something much greater and far beyond all that. Therefore it is imperative to understand why the mind clings to any particular religion or belief, to any particular dogma. It is only when we understand and free the mind from these beliefs, dogmas, and fears, that there is a possibility of finding out if there is a reality, if there is God. But merely to believe, to follow, seems to me an utter folly.

So, if we are to understand each other, I think it is necessary for you to realize that I am not speaking to you as a group, as a number of Germans, but to each one as an individual human being. Because, the individual problem is the world problem. It is what we are as individuals that creates society - society being the relationship between ourselves and others. I am speaking - and please believe it - as one individual to another, so that together we may understand the many problems that confront us. I am not establishing myself as an authority to tell you what to do; because I do not believe in authority in spiritual matters. All authority is evil; and all sense of authority must cease, especially if we would find out what is God, what is truth, whether there is something beyond the mere measure of the mind. That is why it is very important for the individual to understand himself.

I know the inevitable question will arise: if we have no authority of any kind, will there not be anarchy? Of course there may be. But does authority create order? Or does it merely create a blind following which has no meaning at all except that it leads to destruction, to misery? But if we begin to understand ourselves - which is a very complex process - , then we shall also begin to understand the anatomy of authority. Then I think we shall be able to find out, as individuals, what is true. Without the compulsion of society, without the authority of a religion or of any person, however great, without the influence of another, we shall be able to discover and experience for ourselves something beyond mere intellection, beyond the clever assertions of the mind.

So, I hope this much is very clear between us: that I am not speaking as an Indian, with a particular philosophy, nor am I here to convince you of anything. I am asking, as one individual to another, whether it is possible to find out what is true, what is God - if there is God. It seems to me that one must begin by understanding oneself. And to understand yourself, surely, you must first know what you actually are, not what you think you should be - which is an ideological fallacy. After all, if I want to know myself, I must see myself exactly as I am, not as I think I ought to be. The `ought to be' is a form of illusion, an escape from what I am.

So, what we are concerned with - as individuals, not as a group - is to find out what is beyond the beliefs and theories, beyond the sentimental hopes and intellectual assertions of the various organized religions. We are trying to experience directly for ourselves if there is such a thing as reality, something more than the mere projections of the mind - which is what most religions are, however pleasant, however comforting. Can the mind find out, experience directly? Because direct experience alone has validity. Can you and I as individuals, by going into this question now, discover or experience something which is immeasurable? Because such an experience - if it is valid, if it is not just an illusion, a vision, a passing fantasy - has an extraordinary significance in life. Such an experience transforms one's life and brings about a morality which is not mere social respectability.

So, is it possible for you who are listening to me to experience that which is immeasurable? just to say "Yes" or "no" would be an absurdity. All that we can do is to find out if the mind is capable of experiencing something which is not a projection of its own demands. Which means, really, can you, the individual, free yourself from all your conditioning? Can you cease completely to be the Christian who believes, who has certain formulas, certain ideals? After all, each one is brought up in a particular tradition, and his God is the God of that tradition. Surely, that is not reality; it is merely a repetition of what he has been told. To find out if there is a reality, one must free oneself from the tradition in which one has been brought up - and that is an extraordinarily difficult thing to do. But only then is it possible to go beyond the mere measure of the mind and experience something which is immeasurable. If we do not experience that, life is very empty, trivial, lonely, without much meaning.

So, how is one, being serious and earnest, to set about it? Because without the fragrance, without the perfume of that reality, life is very shallow, materialistic, miserable; there is constant tension, striving, ceaseless pain and suffering. So a serious person must surely ask himself this question: is it possible to experience something which is not a mere wish or intellectual concept from which one derives a certain satisfaction, but something entirely new, beyond the fabrications of the mind? And if it is possible, then what is one to do? How is one to set about it?

I think there is only one approach to this problem, which is to see that until I know myself, until I know the whole content of the mind, the unconscious as well as the conscious, with all its intricate workings - until I am cognizant of all that, fully aware of it, I cannot possibly go beyond. Can I know myself in this way? Can I know myself as a whole - all the motives, the urges, the compulsions, the fears - and not just a few reactions and responses of the conscious mind? And can anyone help me, or must this be done entirely by myself? Because if I look to another for help, I become dependent, which means that the other becomes my authority; and when I only know myself through the authority of another, I do not know myself at all. And merely reading psychological books is of very little importance; because I can only know myself as I am by observing my living from day to day, watching myself in the mirror of my relationship with another. To watch myself in that mirror is not to be merely introspective, or objective, but to be constantly alert, watchful of what is taking place in the mind, in myself.

You will find that it is extraordinarily difficult to watch yourself in the mirror of relationship without any sense of condemning what you see; and if you condemn what you see, you do not understand it. To understand a thing as it is, condemnation, judgment, evaluation, must go - which is extremely difficult, because at present we are trained, educated to condemn, to reject, to approve, to deny.

And that is only the beginning of it, a very shallow beginning. But one must go through that, one must understand the whole process of the mind, not merely intellectually, verbally, but as one lives from day to day, watching oneself in this mirror of relationship. One must actually experience what is taking place in the mind - examine it, be aware of the whole content of it, without denying suppressing, or putting it away. Then, if you go so far, and if you are at all serious, you will find that the mind is no longer projecting any image, no longer creating any myth, any illusion; it is beginning to understand the totality of itself, and therefore it becomes very clear, simple, quiet.

This is not a momentary process, but a continual living, a continual sharpening of the mind. And in the very process of sharpening, the mind spontaneously ceases to be as it is. Then the mind is no longer creating images, visions, fallacies, illusions; and only then, when the mind is completely still, silent, is there a possibility of experiencing something which is not of the mind itself. But this requires, not just one day of effort, or a casual observation, or attending one talk, but a slow maturity, a deepening search, a greater, wider, totally integrated outlook, so that the mind - which is now driven by many influences and demands, inhibited by so many fears - is free to inquire, to experience.

Only such a mind is truly religious - not the mind that believes or disbelieves in God, that has innumerable beliefs, that joins, agrees, follows, or denies; such a mind can never find out what is truth. That is why it is very important for those who are serious, for those who are concerned with the welfare of mankind, to put aside all their vain beliefs and theories, all their associations with particular religious organizations, and inquire very deeply within themselves.

For after all, religion is not dogma, it has nothing to do with belief; religion does not mean going to church, or performing certain rituals. None of that is religion; it is merely the invention of man to control man. And if one would find out whether there is a reality, something beyond the inventions of the mind, one must put aside all these absurdities, this childish thinking. It is very difficult for most people to put it all aside, because in clinging to beliefs they feel secure, it gives them some hope. But to discover reality, to experience something beyond the mind, the mind must cease to have any form of security. It must be totally denuded of all refuges. It is only such a mind that is purified, and then it is possible for the mind to experience something which is beyond itself.

I have been given some questions, and I shall try to answer some of them - or rather, together we shall try to unravel the problem. There is no one answer to a problem, there is no isolated solution. If we merely look for a solution to a problem, we shall find that our search for the solution creates other problems. Whereas, if we are capable of examining the problem itself, without trying to find an answer, we shall discover that the answer is in the problem. So it is very important to know how to approach the problem. The mind which has a problem, and seeks an answer, cannot possibly inquire into the problem itself, because it is concerned only with the solution. To understand any problem, you must give your whole attention to it; and you cannot give your whole attention to it if you are seeking a solution, an answer.

Question: We are full of memories of the last war, with all its terror. Can we ever free our minds of the past and start anew?

Krishnamurti: The problem of memory is very complex, is it not? We have pleasant memories, and unpleasant memories. We want to reject the unpleasant, the terrible, the painful memories, and keep the pleasant ones. That is what we are always trying to do, is it not? The pleasant memories of our youth, the interesting things we have read, the stimulating experiences we have had - all this has significance for us, and we want to hold on to it;but the things which are painful, sorrowful, unpleasant, irritating, we eject. So we divide our memories into the pleasant and the unpleasant, and what we are mostly concerned with is how to put away the unpleasant memories, and keep alive those that are pleasant. But so long as we divide memory into the pleasant and the unpleasant, and try to get rid of the unpleasant, there will always be conflict, both within and without.

I do not know if I am making myself clear. The mind is full of memories, it is made up of memories. You have no mind without memory - the memories of your past, of all the things you have learnt, experienced, lived, suffered. Mind is memory, conscious or unconscious. In memory there is the pleasant and the unpleasant, and we want to reject the unpleasant; we want to keep the desirable, and get rid of the undesirable, so there is always a conflict going on. What we have to understand is not how to retain the pleasant and be free of the terrible memories, but rather how to eliminate the desire to keep some memories and reject others, which creates conflict. What is important is to be aware of this conflict, and to understand why it is that the mind gathers memories and holds on to them.

Obviously one needs certain memories in order to live in this world. I must remember how to get back to the place where I live, and so on. But such memories are no problem to us. For most of us the problem is how to get rid of the memories which are painful, destructive, while retaining those which are significant, purposeful, enjoyable. But why does the mind cling to the one and seek to reject the other? Please follow this. If you do not hold fast to the pleasant memorize, what are you? If you had no memories of the pleasant, of the hopeful, of the enjoyable, of the things that you have lived for, you would feel non-human, you would feel lost, a nobody. The mind clings to its pleasant memories, because without them it would be lonely, in despair.

So I do not think the problem is how to get rid of the unpleasant memories, the terrors of the past. That is fairly easy. If you deliberately set about to wipe out the past, it can be done comparatively simply. But what is much more complex, what demands much deeper thought and inquiry, is to go into the whole problem of memory - not only the conscious memories, but the deep, underlying memories which guide our lives.

After all, a memory much deeper than the memory of the war, and all the bestiality of it, is that which makes you call yourself a German, or a Christian, or a Hindu; that also is part of memory, is it not? And that gives you solidarity, it gives you companionship, it makes you feel equal or superior to others, it gives you a sense of courage, and so many other things. But must you not also be free of that memory? Must one not be free to inquire, to go much further than the mere reaction to memories, which is a process of living on the past?

You see, memory does not yield the newness of life. Memory is only the past, and anything born of memory is always old, never new. To discover something totally new, the mind must be astonishingly quiet, still, not active, not desiring and reacting to memories.

Question: We have had enough of war. We want peace. How can we prevent a new war?

Krishnamurti: I do not think there is a simple answer, because the causes of war are many. So long as there is nationalism, so long as you are a German, or a Russian, or an American, clinging to sovereignty, to an exclusive nationality, you are sure to have war. So long as you are a Christian and I am a Hindu, or you are a Moslem and I am a Buddhist, there is bound to be war. So long as you are ambitious, wanting to reach the top of your society, seeking achievement and worshipping success, you will be a cause of war.

But we are brought up on all this. We are trained to compete, to succeed, to be ambitious, to serve a particular government, to belong to a particular country or religion. Our whole education cultivates the competitive spirit and guides the mind towards war. And can we, as individual human beings, change all this? Can you and I individually cease to be ambitious, cease to regard ourselves as Germans or Indians, cease to belong to any particular religion, to any particular group or ideology - Communist, socialist, or any other - , and be concerned only with human welfare?

So long as we remain attached to a group or to an ideology, so long as we are ambitious, seeking success, we are bound to create war. It may not be a war of outward destruction; but we will have conflict between each other and within ourselves, which is actually a form of war. I do not think we see this; and even if we do, we are not serious about it. We want some miraculous event to take place to stop war, while we continue to live as we are in the present social structure, making money, seeking position, power, prestige, trying to become famous, and all the rest of it. That is our pattern; and so long as that pattern exists in our minds and hearts, we are bound to produce war.

After all, war is merely the catastrophic effect of our daily living; and so long as we do not change our daily living, no amount of legislation, controls and sanctions will prevent war. Is peace in the mind and heart, in the way of our life, or is it merely a governmental regulation, something to be decided in the United Nations? I am afraid that for most of us peace is only a matter of legislation, and we are not concerned with peace in our own minds and hearts; therefore there can be no peace in the world. You cannot have peace, inward or outward, so long as you are ambitious, competitive, so long as you regard yourself as a German, a Hindu, a Russian, or an Englishman, so long as you are striving to become somebody in this mad world. Peace comes only when you understand all this, and are no longer pursuing success in a society which is already corrupt. Only the peaceful mind, the mind that understands itself, can bring peace in the world.

September 5, 1956


Hamburg 1956

Hamburg, Germany 1st Public Talk 5th September 1956

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