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Hamburg 1956

Hamburg, Germany 3rd Public Talk 9th September 1956

I do not think that we realize the significance or the importance of the individual. Because, as I was saying the other day, to bring about a fundamental, religious revolution, one must surely cease to think in terms of the universal, in terms of the collective. Anything that is made universal, collective, belonging to everyday, can never be true - true in the sense of being directly experienced by each individual, uninfluenced, without the impetus of self-centred interest. I think we do not sufficiently realize the seriousness of this. Anything really true must be totally individual - not in the sense of self-centredness, which is very limiting and which in itself is evil, but individual in the sense that each one of us must experience for himself, uninfluenced, something which is not the outcome of any self-centred interest or drive.

One can see in the modern world how everything is tending towards collective thought - everybody thinking alike. The various governments, though they do not compel it, are quietly and sedulously working at it. Organized religions are obviously controlling and shaping the minds of people according to their respective patterns, hoping thereby to bring about a universal morality, a universal experience. But I think that whatever is made universal, in that sense, is always suspect, because it can never be true; it has lost its vitality, its directness, its truth. Yet throughout the world we see this tendency to shape and to control the mind of man. And it is extraordinarily difficult to free the mind from this false universality and to change oneself without any self-interest.

It seems to me that we must have a change - a fundamental, radical change in our thinking, in our feeling. To bring about change we use various methods, we have ideals, disciplines, sanctions, or we look to social, economic and scientific influences. These things do bring about a superficial change, but I am not talking of that. I am talking of a change which is uninfluenced, without any self-interest, without self-centredness. It seems to me that such a change is possible, and that it must come about if we are to have this religious revolution of which I was speaking the other day.

We think that ideals are necessary. But do ideals help to bring about this radical change in us? Or do they merely enable us to postpone, to push change into the future, and thereby avoid the immediate, radical change? Surely, so long as we have ideals, we never really change, but hold on to our ideals as a means of postponement, of avoiding the immediate change which is so essential. I know it is taken for granted by the majority of us that ideals are indispensable, for without them we think there would be no impetus to change, and we would rot, stagnate. But I am questioning whether ideals of any kind ever do transform our thinking.

Why do we have ideals? If I am violent, need I have the ideal of non-violence? I do not know if you have thought about this at all. If I am violent - as most of us are in different degrees - , is it necessary for me to have the ideal of non-violence? Will the pursuit of non-violence free the mind from violence? Or is the very pursuit of non-violence actually an impediment to the understanding of violence? After all, I can understand violence only when with my whole mind I give complete attention to the problem. And the moment I am wholly concerned with violence and the understanding of violence, what significance has the ideal of non-violence? It seems to me that the pursuit of the ideal is an evasion, a postponement. If I am to understand violence, I must give my whole mind to it, and not allow myself to be distracted by the ideal of non-violence.

This is really a very important issue. Most of us look upon the ideal as essential in order to make us change. But I think it is possible to bring about a change only when the mind understands the whole problem of violence; and to understand violence, you must give your complete attention to it, and not be distracted by an ideal.

We all see the importance of the cessation of violence. And how am I, as an individual, to be free of violence - not just superficially, but totally, completely, inwardly? If the ideal of non-violence will not free the mind from violence, then will the analysis of the cause of violence help to dissolve violence?

After all, this is one of our major problems, is it not? The whole world is caught up in violence, in wars; the very structure of our acquisitive society is essentially violent. And if you and I as individuals are to be free from violence - totally, inwardly free, not merely superficially or verbally - , then how is one to set about it without becoming self-centred?

You understand the problem, do you not? If my concern is to free the mind from violence and I practise discipline in order to control violence and change it into non-violence, surely that brings about self-centred thought and activity, because my mind is focussed all the time on getting rid of one thing and acquiring something else. And yet I see the importance of the mind being totally free from violence. So what am I to do? Surely, it is not a question of how one is not to be violent. The fact is that we are violent, and to ask "How am I not to be violent?" merely creates the ideal, which seems to me to be utterly futile. But if one is capable of looking at violence and understanding it, then perhaps there is a possibility of resolving it totally.

So, how are we to resolve violence without becoming self-centred, without the `me' being completely occupied with itself and its problems? I do not know if you have thought about this matter. Most of us, I think, have accepted the easy path of pursuing the ideal of non-violence. But if one is really concerned, deeply, inwardly, with how to resolve violence, then it seems to me that one must find out whether ideals are essential, and whether discipline, practice, the constant reminding of oneself not to be violent, can ever resolve violence, or will merely exaggerate self-centredness under the new name of non-violence. Surely, to discipline the mind towards the ideal of non-violence is still a self-centred activity, and therefore only another form of violence.

If the problem is clear, then perhaps we can proceed to inquire into whether it is possible to free the mind from violence without being self-centred. This is very important, and I think it would be worth while if we could go into it hesitantly and tentatively, and really find out. I see that any form of discipline, suppression, any effort to substitute an ideal for the fact - even though it be the ideal of love, or peace - , is essentially a self-centred process, and that inherent in that process is the seed of violence. The man who practises non-violence is essentially self centred, and therefore essentially violent, because he is concerned about himself. To practise humility is never to be humble, because the self-conscious process of acquiring humility, or cultivating any other virtue, is only another form of self-centredness, which is inherently evil and violent. If I see this very clearly, then what am I to do? How am I to set about to free the mind from violence?

I do not know if you have thought about the problem at all in this manner. Perhaps this is the first time you have considered it, and so you may be inclined to say "What nonsense!" But I do not think it is nonsense. After all, most idealists are very self-centred people, because they are concerned with achievement. So the question is, is it possible to free the mind from violence without this self-centred influence and activity? I think it is possible. But to really find out, one must inquire into it, not as part of a group, of the collective, but as an individual. As part of the collective you have already accepted the ideal, and you practise virtue. But surely one must dissociate oneself totally from that whole process, and inquire directly for oneself.

To inquire directly, one must ask oneself if the entity, the person who wants to get rid of violence, is different from the violence itself. When one acknowledges "I am violent", is the `I' who then wishes to get rid of violence different from the quality which he calls violence? This may all sound a bit complicated, but if one will go into it patiently I think one will understand without too much difficulty.

When I say "I am violent", and wish to free myself from violence, is the entity who is violent different from the quality which he calls violence? That is, is the experiencer who feels he is violent different from the experience itself? Surely the experiencer is the same as the experience; he is not different or apart from the experience. I think this is very important to understand; because if one really understood it, then in freeing the mind from violence there would be no self-centred activity at all.

We have separated the thinker from the thought, have we not? We say "I am violent, and I must make an effort to get rid of violence". In order to get rid of violence we discipline ourselves, we practise non-violence, we think about it every day and try to do something about it - which means we take it for granted that the `I', the maker of effort, is different from the experience, from the quality. But is this so? Are the two states different, or are they really a unit, one and the same?

Obviously, there is no thinker if there is no thought. But the thinker, the `I', who is the maker of effort, is always exercising his volition in getting rid of violence; so he has separated himself from the quality which he calls violence. But they are not separate, are they? They are a unity. And actually to experience that unitary state - which means not differentiating between the thinker and his thought, between the `I' who is violent and the violence itself - is essential if the mind is to be free from violence without self-centred action.

If you will think about it a little I am sure you will see the truth of what I am trying to say. After all, just as the quality of the diamond cannot be separated from the diamond, so the quality of the thinker cannot be separated from thought itself. But we have separated them. In us there is ever the observer, the watcher, the censor, who is condemning, justifying, accepting, denying, and so on; the censor is always exercising influence on his thought. But the thought is the censor, the two are not separate; and it is essential to experience this in order to bring about a revolutionary change in which there is no self-centred activity.

After all, it is urgent that we change. We have had so many wars, such destruction, violence, terror, misery, and if we do not change radically we shall go on pursuing the same old path. To change radically and not merely accept a new set of slogans, or give ourselves over to the State or to the church; to really understand the fundamental revolution that must take place in order to put an end to all this misery, it seems to me essential to discover whether there can be an action which is not self-centred. Surely, action will ever be self-centred as long as we do not experience directly for ourselves the fact that there is only thought and not the thinker. But if once we do experience this, I think we will find that effort then has quite a different significance.

At present we make an effort, do we not?, in order to achieve a result, in order to arrive, to become something. If I am angry, ambitious, brutal, I make an effort not to be. But such effort is self-centred, because I am still wanting to be something, perhaps negatively; there is still ambition, which is violence.

So if I am to change radically, without this self-centred motive, I must go very deeply into the problem of change. This means that I must think entirely differently, away from the collective, away from the ideal, away from the usual habit of discipline, practice, and all the rest of it. I must inquire who is the thinker, and what is thought, and find out whether thought is different from the thinker. Although thought has separated itself and set the thinker apart, he is still part of thought. And so long as thought is violent, mere control of thought by the thinker is of no value. So the question is, can the mind be aware that it is violent, without dividing itself as the thinker who wants to get rid of violence?

This is really not a very complex problem. If you and I who are discussing it could go into it very carefully as individuals, we would see the extraordinary simplicity of it. Perhaps we are missing the significance of it because we think it is very complex. It is not. The simple fact is that there is no experiencer without the experience; the experiencer is the experience, the two are not separate. But so long as the experiencer sets himself apart and demands more experience, so long as he wishes to change this into that, there can be no fundamental transformation.

So the radical change we need is possible only when there are no ideals. Ideals are reform; and a mind that is merely reforming itself can never radically change. There can be no fundamental change if the mind is concerned with discipline, with fitting itself into a pattern, whether the pattern be that of society, of a teacher, or a pattern established by one's own thinking. There can be no radical change so long as the mind is thinking in terms of action according to its self-centred interest, however noble. The mere cultivation of virtue is not virtue.

So we have to inquire into the problem of change from a wholly different point of view. The totality of comprehension comes only when there is no division between the thinker and the thought - and that is an extraordinary experience. But you must come to it tentatively, with care, with inquiry, for mere acceptance or denial of the fact that the thought and the thinker are one, will have no value. That is why a man who desires to bring about a fundamental change within himself must go into this problem very seriously and very deeply.

Question: Crime among young people is spreading everywhere. What can we do about it?

Krishnamurti: You see, there is either a revolt within the pattern of society, or a complete revolution outside of society. The complete revolution outside of society is what I call religious revolution. Any revolution which is not religious is within society, and is therefore no revolution at all, but only a modified continuation of the old pattern. What is happening throughout the world, I believe, is revolt within society, and this revolt often takes the form of what is called crime. There is bound to be this kind of revolt so long as our education is concerned only with training youth to fit into society - that is, to get a job, to earn money, to be acquisitive, to have more, to conform. That is what our so-called education everywhere is doing - teaching the young to conform, religiously, morally, economically; so naturally their revolt has no meaning, except that it must be suppressed, reformed, or controlled. Such revolt is still within the framework of society, and therefore it is not creative at all. But through right education we could perhaps bring about a different understanding by helping to free the mind from all conditioning, that is, by encouraging the young to be aware of the many influences which condition the mind and make it conform.

So, is it possible to educate the mind to be aware of all the influences that now surround us, religious, economic and social, and not be caught in any of them? I think it is; and when once we realize it, we shall approach this problem entirely differently.

Question: If we transform ourselves and become peaceful, while others do not transform themselves but remain aggressive and brutal, are we not inviting them to attack and violate us as helpless victims?

Krishnamurti: I wonder if this question is put seriously? Have you tried to transform yourself, to be really peaceful, and see what happens? Without actually being peaceful, we say to ourselves "If I am peaceful, another may attack me; and so we set up the whole mechanism of attack and defence.

But surely, sirs, we are concerned, are we not?, with the transformation of the individual, irrespective of what is done to him. We are not thinking in terms of nations, of groups, of races. So long as society exists as it is now, there must be attack and defence, because the whole structure of our thinking is based on that. You are a German or a Moslem, and I am a Russian or a Hindu; being afraid of each other, we must be prepared to defend ourselves, therefore we dare not be peaceful. So we keep that game going, and we live in its pattern. But now we are not talking as members of any particular society, of any particular group, nationality, or religion. We are talking as individual human beings. Any great thing, surely, is done by the individual, not by the mass, the collective.

The mass is composed of many individuals who are caught in words, slogans, in nationalism, in fear. But if you and I as individuals begin to think about the problem of peace, then we are not concerned with whether another is peaceful or not. Surely love is not a matter of your loving me, and therefore I love you. Love is something entirely different, is it not? Where there is love, there is no problem of the other. Similarly, when I know for myself what peace is, I am not concerned with whether others are going to attack me or not. They may. But my interest is in peace and the understanding of it, which means totally eliminating from myself the whole fabric of violence. And that requires tremendously clear thinking deep meditation.

Question: You say the mind must be quiet; but it is always busy, night and day. How can I change it?

Krishnamurti: I wonder if we are actually aware that our minds are busy night and day? Or is this merely a verbal statement? Are you fully conscious that your mind is ceaselessly active, or are you merely repeating a statement you have heard? And even if you know it directly for yourself, why do you wish to change it? Is it because someone has said you must have a quiet mind? If you want a quiet mind in order to achieve something more, or to get somewhere else, then the acquisition of a quiet mind is just another form of self-centred action. So, does one see, without any motivation, that it is essential to have a quiet mind? If so, then the problem is, can thought come to an end?

We know that when we are awake during the day, the mind is active with superficial things - with the job, the family, catching a train, and all the rest of it. And at night, in sleep, it is also active in dreams. So the process of thinking is going on ceaselessly. Now, can thought come to an end voluntarily, naturally, without being compelled through discipline? For only then can the mind be completely still. A mind that is made still, that is forced, disciplined to be still, is not a still mind; it is a dead mind.

So, can thought, which is incessantly active, come to an end? And if thought does come to an end, will this not be a complete death to the mind? Are we not therefore afraid of thought coming to an end? If thought should come to an end, what would happen? The whole structure which we have built up of `myself' being important, my family, my country, my position, power, prestige - the whole of that would cease, obviously. So, do we really want to have a quiet mind?

If we do, then we must inquire, must we not?, into the whole process of thinking; we must find out what thinking is. Is thinking merely the response of memory, or is thinking something else? If it is merely the response of memory, then can the mind put away all memory? Is it possible to put away all memory? That is, can thought cease to make an effort to retain the pleasant and discard the unpleasant memories?

Perhaps this all seems a bit too complex and difficult; but it is not, if you go into it. The state of a mind that is really silent is something extraordinary. It is not the silence of negation. On the contrary, a silent mind is a very intense mind. But for such a mind to come into being, we must inquire into the whole process of thinking. And thinking, for most of us, is the response of memory. All our education, all our upbringing, encourages the continuance of memory identified as the `me', and on that basis we set the ball of thought rolling.

So it is impossible to have a really still mind, a mind that is completely quiet, as long as you do not understand what thinking is, and the whole structure of the thinker. Is there a thinker when there is no thought based on memory? To find out, you have to trace your thought, inquire into every thought that you have, not just verbally or casually, but very persistently, slowly, hesitantly, without condemning or justifying any thought. At present there is a division between the thinker and the thought, and it is this division that creates conflict. Most of us are caught in conflict - perhaps not outwardly, but inwardly we are seething. We are in a continuous turmoil of wanting and not-wanting, of ambition, jealousy, anger. violence; and to have a really still, quiet mind, we must understand all that.

September 9, 1956


Hamburg 1956

Hamburg, Germany 3rd Public Talk 9th September 1956

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