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Hamburg 1956

Hamburg, Germany 5th Public Talk 15th September 1956

I think these meetings will be useless if what we are discussing is regarded merely as a verbal communication without much significance. Most of us, it seems to me, listen rather casually to something very serious, and we have little time or inclination to give our thought to the profound things of life and go deeply into them for ourselves. We are inclined to accept or to deny very easily. But if, during these meetings, instead of just listening superficially, we can actually experience what we are talking about as we go along, then I think it will be worth while to discuss a problem which must be confronting most of us. I am referring to the problem of dependence. It is really a very complex problem; but if we can go into it deeply and not merely, listen to the verbal description, if each one of us can be aware of it, see the whole implication of dependence and where it leads, then perhaps we shall discover for ourselves whether man, you and I, can be totally free from dependence.

I think dependence, in its deeper psychological aspects, corrupts our thinking and our lives; it breeds exploitation; it cultivates authority, obedience, a sense of acceptance without understanding. And if we are to bring about a totally new kind of religion, entirely different from what religion is now, if there is to be the total revolution of a truly religious person, then I think we must understand the tremendous significance of dependence and be free of it.

Most of us are dependent, not only on society, but on our neighbour, on our immediate relationship with wife, husband, children, or on some authority. We rely on another for our conduct, for our behaviour, and in the process of dependence we identify ourselves with a class, with a race, with a country; and this psychological dependence does bring about a sense of frustration. Surely it must have occurred to some of us to ask ourselves whether one can ever be psychologically, inwardly free - free in one's heart and mind of all dependence on another.

Obviously we are all interdependent in our everyday physical existence; our whole social structure is based on physical interdependence; and it is natural, is it not?, to depend on others in that sense. But I think it is totally unnatural to depend on another for our psychological comfort, for our inward security and well-being.

If we are at all aware of this process of dependence, we can see what it involves. There is in it a great sense of fear, which ultimately leads to frustration. Psychological dependence on another gives a false sense of security. And if it is not a person on whom we depend, it is a belief, or an ideal, or a country, or an ideology, or the accumulation of knowledge.

We see, then, that psychologically we do depend. I think this is fairly obvious to any person who is at all aware of himself in his relationship with another and with society.

Now, why do we depend? and is it possible not to depend psychologically, to be free of this inward dependence of one mind on another? I think it is fairly important to find out why we depend. And if we did not depend, what would happen? Is it a feeling of loneliness, a sense of emptiness, insufficiency, that drives us to depend on something? Are we dependent because we lack self-confidence? And if we do have confidence in ourselves, does that bring about freedom, or merely an aggressive, self-assertive activity?

I do not know if you think, as I do, that this is a significant problem in life. Perhaps we are not aware of our psychological dependence; but if we are, we are bound to see that behind this dependence there is immense fear, and it is to escape from that fear that we depend. Psychologically we do not want to be disturbed, or to have taken away from us that on which we depend, whether it be a country, an idea, or a person; therefore that on which we depend becomes very important in our life, and we are always defending it.

It is in order to escape from the fear which we unconsciously know exists in us, that we turn to another to give us comfort, to give us love, to encourage us - and that is the very process of dependence. So, can the mind be free of this dependence, and thus be able to look at the whole problem of fear? Without deeply understanding fear and being free of it, the mere search for reality, for God, for happiness, is utterly useless; because what you are seeking then becomes that on which you again depend. Only the mind that is inwardly free of fear can know the blessing of reality; and the mind can be free of fear only when there is no dependence. Now, can we look at fear? What is fear? Fear exists, surely, only in relation to something. Fear does not exist by itself. And what is it that we are afraid of? We may not be consciously aware of our fear, but unconsciously we are afraid; and that unconscious fear has far greater power over our daily thoughts and activities than the effort we make to suppress or deny fear.

So what is it that most of us are afraid of? There are superficial fears, such as the fear of losing a job, and so on; but to those fears we can generally adjust ourselves. If you lose your job, you will find some other way of making a living. The great fear is not for one's social security; it lies much deeper than that. And I do not know if the mind is willing to look at itself so profoundly as to be able to find out for itself what it is intrinsically frightened of. Unless you discover for yourself the deep source of your fear, all efforts to escape from fear, all cultivation of virtue, and so on, is of no avail; because fear is at the root of most of our anxious urges. So can we find out what it is we are afraid of, each one of us? Is the cause of fear common to us all, like death? Or is it something that each one of us has to discover, look at, go into for himself?

Most of us are frightened of being lonely. We are unconsciously aware that we are empty, that we are nothing. Though we may have titles, jobs, position, power, money, and all the rest of it, underlying all that there is a state of emptiness, an unfulfilled longing, a vacuum which we translate as loneliness - that state in which the self, the `me', has completely enclosed the mind. Perhaps that is the very root of our fear. And can we look at it in order to understand it? For I think we must understand it if we would go beyond it.

Most of our activity is based on fear, is it not? That is, we never want to face ourselves exactly as we are, to know ourselves completely. And the more deeply and drastically you go into yourself, the greater the sense of emptiness you will find. All that we have learned, the knowledge we have acquired, the virtues we have cultivated - all this is on the surface, and it has very little meaning if one penetrates more and more deeply into oneself; for as one penetrates, one comes upon this enormous sense of emptiness. You may sometimes have caught a fleeting glimpse of it as a feeling of loneliness, of insufficiency; but then you turn on the radio, or talk, or do something else to escape from that feeling. And that feeling, that sense of `not being', may be the cause of all fear.

I think most of us have at rare moments experienced that state. And when we do fleetingly experience it, we generally run away from it through some form of amusement, through knowledge, through the vast mechanism of escape offered by the so-called civilized world. But what happens if we do not escape? Can the mind go into that? I think it must. Because in going deeply into that state of emptiness we may discover something totally new and be completely free of fear.

To understand something, we must approach it without any sense of condemnation, must we not? If I want to understand you, I must not be full of memories, my mind must not be burdened with knowledge about Germans, Hindus, Russians, or whatever the label may be. To understand, I must be free of all sense of condemnation and evaluation. Similarly, if I am to understand this state which I have called emptiness, loneliness, a feeling of insufficiency, I must look at it without any sense of condemnation. If I want to understand a child I must not condemn him, or compare him with another child. I must observe him in all his moods - when he is playing, crying, eating, talking. In such a manner the mind must watch the feeling of emptiness, without any sense of condemnation or rejection. Because, the moment I condemn or reject that feeling, I have already created the barrier of fear.

So, can one look at oneself, and at this sense of insufficiency, without any condemnation? After all, condemnation is a process of verbalization, is it not? And when one condemns, there is no true communication.

I hope you are following this, because I think it is very important to understand it now, to really experiment with it as you are listening, and not merely go away and think about it later. This does not mean experimenting with what I say, but experimenting with the discovery of your own loneliness, your own emptiness - the feeling of insufficiency which causes fear. And you cannot be free to discover if you approach that state with any sense of condemnation.

So, can we now look at that thing which we have called emptiness, loneliness, insufficiency, realizing that we have always tried to escape from it rather than comprehend it? I see that what is important is to understand it, and that I cannot understand it if there is any sense of condemnation. So condemnation goes; therefore I approach it with a totally different mind, a whole, free mind. Then I see that the mind cannot separate itself from emptiness, because the mind itself is that emptiness. If you really go into it very deeply for yourself, free of all condemnation, you will find that out of the thing which we have called emptiness, insufficiency, fear, there comes an extraordinary state, a state in which the mind is completely quiet, undemanding, unafraid; and in that silence there is the coming into being of creativity, reality, God, or whatever you may like to call it. This inward sense of having no fear can take place only when you understand the whole process of your own thinking; and then I think it is possible to discover for oneself that which is eternal.

Question: Most of us are caught up in and are bored with the routine of our work, but our livelihood depends on it. Why can we not be happy in our work?

Krishnamurti: Surely, modern civilization is making many of us do work which we as individuals do not like at all. Society as it is now constituted, being based on competition, ruthlessness, war, demands, let us say, engineers and scientists; they are wanted everywhere throughout the world because they can further develop the instruments of war and make the nation more efficient in its ruthlessness. So education is largely dedicated to building the individual into an engineer or a scientist, whether he is fit for it or not. The man who is being educated as an engineer may not really want to be one. He may want to be a painter, a musician, or who knows what else. But circumstances - education, family tradition, the demands of society, and so on - force him to specialize as an engineer. So we have created a routine in which most of us get caught, and then we are frustrated, miserable, unhappy for the rest of our lives. We all know this.

It is fundamentally a matter of education, is it not? And can we bring about a different kind of education in which each person, the teacher as well as the student, loves what he is doing? `Loves' - I mean exactly that word. But you cannot love what you are doing if you are all the time using it as a means to success, power, position, prestige.

Surely, as it is now constituted, society does produce individuals who are utterly bored, who are caught in the routine of what they are doing. So it will take a tremendous revolution, will it not?, in education and in everything else, to bring about a totally different environment - an environment which will help the students, the children, to grow in that which they really love to do. As things are now, we have to put up with routine, with boredom, and so we try to escape in various ways. We try to escape through amusements, through television or the radio, through books, through so-called religion, and so our lives become very shallow, empty, dull. This shallowness in turn breeds the acceptance of authority, which gives us a sense of universality, of power, position. We know all this in our hearts; but it is very difficult to break away from it all, because to break away demands, not the usual sentimentality, but thought, energy, hard work.

So if you want to create a new world - and surely you must, after these terrible wars, after the misery, the terrors that human beings have gone through - , then there will have to be a religious revolution in each one of us, a revolution that will bring about a new culture, and a totally new religion, which is not the religion of authority, of priest craft, of dogma and ritual. To create a wholly different kind of society, there must be this religious revolution - that is, a revolution within the individual, and not the terrible outward bloodshed which only brings more tyranny, more misery and fear. If we are to create a new world - new in a totally different sense - , then it must be our world, and not a German world, or a Russian world, or a Hindu world; for we are all human beings, and the earth is ours.

But unfortunately very few of us feel deeply about all this, because it demands love, not sentimentality or emotionalism. Love is hard to find; and the man who is sentimentally emotional is generally cruel. To bring about a totally different culture, it seems to me that there must take place in each one of us this religious revolution, which means that there must be freedom, not only from all creeds and dogmas, but freedom from personal ambition and self-centred activity. Only then, surely, can there be a new world.

Question: You reject discipline and outward order, and suggest that we should act only by inner impulse. Will this not add to the great instability of people and encourage the following of irresponsible urges, especially among the youth of our time, who only want to enjoy themselves and are already drifting?

Krishnamurti: I am afraid the questioner has not understood what we are taking about at all. I am not suggesting that you should abandon discipline. Even if you did try to abandon it, your society, your neighbour, your wife or husband, the people around you, would force you to discipline yourself again. We are discussing, not the abandonment of discipline, but the whole problem of discipline. If we could understand the very deep implications of discipline, then there might be order which is not based on coercion, compulsion, fear.

Surely, discipline implies suppression, does it not? Please think it out with me and do not just reject it. I know you are all very fond of discipline, of obeying following; but do not merely reject what I am suggesting. In disciplining myself, I suppress what I want in order to conform to some greater value, to the edicts of society, or whatever it is. That suppression may be a necessity, or it may be voluntary, even pleasurable; but it is still a form of putting away desire of one kind or another, suppressing it, denying it, and training myself to conform to a pattern laid down by society, by a teacher, or by the sanctions of a particular regime. If we reject that outward form of discipline, then we establish a discipline of our own. We say "I must not do this, it is wrong; I must do only what is right, what is good, what is noble. When I have an ugly thought, I must suppress it; I must discipline myself, I must practise constant watchfulness".

Now, where there is conformity, discipline, suppression, conscious or unconscious, there is a constant struggle going on, is there not? We are all familiar with this fact. I am not saying anything new, but we are directly examining what is constantly taking place. And a mind that is suppressed, compelled to conform, must ultimately break out into all kinds of chaotic activities - which is what actually happens.

When we discipline ourselves, it is in order to get something we want. After all, the so-called religious people discipline themselves because they are pursuing an idea in the distance which they hope someday to achieve. The idealist, the utopian, is thinking in terms of tomorrow; he has established the ideal for the future and is always trying to conform to what he thinks he should be. He never understands the whole process of what is actually taking place in himself, but is only concerned with the ideal. The 'what should be' is the pattern, and he is trying to fit himself into it because he hopes in that pattern there will be greater happiness, greater bliss, the discovery of truth, God, and all the rest of it.

So, is it not important to find out why the mind disciplines itself, and not merely say that it should not? I think there would be, not conformity, not enforcement, but a totally different kind of adjustment if we could really understand what it is the mind is seeking through discipline. After all, you discipline yourself in order to be safe. Is that not essentially true? You want to be secure, not only in this world, but also in the next world - if there is a next world. The mind that is seeking security must conform; and conformity means discipline. You want to find a Master, a teacher, and so you discipline yourself, you meditate, you suppress certain desires, you force your mind to fit into a frame. And so your whole life, your whole consciousness is twisted.

If we understand, not superficially, but really deeply, the inward significance of discipline, we will see that it makes the mind conform, as a soldier is made to conform; and the mind that merely conforms to a pattern, however noble, can obviously never be free, and therefore can never perceive what is true. This does not mean that the mind can do whatever it likes. When it does whatever it likes, it soon finds out there is always pain, sorrow, at the end of it. But if the mind sees the full significance of all this, then you will find that there is immediate understanding without compulsion, without suppression.

One of our difficulties is that we have been so trained, educated to suppress, to conform, that we are really frightened of being free; we are afraid that in freedom we may do something ugly. But if we begin to understand the whole pattern of discipline, which is to see that we conform in order to arrive, to gain, to be secure, then we shall find that there comes into being a totally different process of awareness in which there is no necessity for suppression or conformity.

Question: What happens after death? And do you believe in reincarnation?

Krishnamurti: This is a very complex problem that touches every human being, whether he is young or old, and whether he lives in Russia, where there is officially no belief in the hereafter, or in India, or here in the West, where there is every shade of belief. It really requires very careful inquiry and not merely the acceptance or rejection of a particular belief. So let us please think it out together very carefully.

Death is the inevitable end for all of us and we know it. We may rationalize it, or escape from the uncertainty of that vast unknown through belief in reincarnation, resurrection, or what you will; but fear is still there. The body, the physical organism inevitably wears itself out, just as every machine wears itself out. You and I know that disease, accident, or old age will come and carry us away. We say "Yes, that is so", and we accept it; so that is really not our problem. Our problem is much deeper. We are frightened of losing everything that we have gained, understood, gathered; we are frightened of not being; we are frightened of the unknown. We have lived, we have accumulated, learned, experienced, suffered; we have educated the mind and disciplined ourselves; and is death the end of it all? We do not like to think that it is. So we say there must be a hereafter; life must continue, if not by returning to earth, then it must continue elsewhere. And many of us have a comforting belief in the theory of reincarnation.

To me belief is not important; because belief in an idea, in a theory, however comforting, however satisfactory, does not give understanding of the full significance of death. Surely, death is something totally unknown, completely new. However anxiously I may inquire into death, it ever remains something which I do not know. All that you and I know is the past, and the continuity of the past through the present to the future. Memory identified with my house, my family, my name, my acquisitions, virtues, struggles, experiences - all that is the `me', and we want the `me' to continue. Or if you are tired of the `me', you say "Thank God, death ends it all", but that does not solve the problem either.

So we must find out, surely, the truth of this matter. what you happen to believe or disbelieve about reincarnation has no truth in it. But instead of asking what happens after death, can we not discover the truth of what death is? Because life itself may be a process of death. Why do we divide life from death? We do so because we think life is a process of continuity, of accumulation; and death is cessation, the annihilation of all that we have accumulated. So we have separated living from death. But life may be entirely different; it may be a process the truth of which we do not know, a process of living and dying each minute. All that we know is a form of continuity - what I was yesterday, what I am today, and what I hope to be tomorrow. That is all we know. And because the mind clings to that continuity it is afraid of what it calls death.

Now, can the living mind know death? Do you understand the problem? It is not a question of what happens after death, but can a living mind, a mind that is not diseased, that is fully alert, aware, experience that state which it calls death? Which means, really, do we know what living is? Because living may be dying, in the sense of dying to our memories. Please follow this, and perhaps you will see the enormous implication of this idea of death.

We live in the field of the known, do we not? The known is that with which I have identified myself - my family, my country, my experiences, my job, my friends, the virtues, the qualities, the knowledge I've gathered, all the things I have known. So the mind is the result of the past; the mind is the past. The mind is burdened with the known. And can the mind free itself from the known? That is, can I die to all that I have accumulated - not when I am a doddering old man, but now? While I am still full of vitality, clarity and understanding, can I die to everything that I have been, that I am going to be, or think that I should be? That is can I die to the known, die to every moment? Can I invite death, enter the house of death while living?

You can enter the house of death only when the mind is free from the known - the known being all that you have gathered, all that you are, all that you think you are and hope to be. All this must completely cease. And is there then a division between living and dying, or only a totally different state of mind?

If you are merely listening to the words, then I am afraid you will not understand the implication of what is being said. But if you will, you can see for yourself that living is a process of dying every minute, and renewing. Otherwise you are not really living, are you? You are merely continuing a state of mind within the field of the known, which is routine, which is boredom. There is living, surely, only when you die - consciously, intelligently, with full awareness - to everything that you have been, to the many yesterdays. Then the problem of death is entirely different. There may be no problem at all. There may be a state of mind in which time does not exist. Time exists only when there is identification with the known. The mind that is burdened with the known is everlastingly afraid of the unknown. Whatever it may do, whatever may be its beliefs, its dogmas, its hopes, they are all based on fear; and it is this fear that corrupts living.

September 15, 1956


Hamburg 1956

Hamburg, Germany 5th Public Talk 15th September 1956

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