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Athens 1956

Athens, Greece 1st Public Talk 24th September 1956

I do not think that the social problem can be separated from the individual problem; and to resolve the social as well as the individual problem, surely one must begin with oneself. If one wants to bring about a fundamental change in society, it seems to me that it is first necessary to bring about a fundamental change in oneself. So I am going to talk this evening, and at the next two meetings, about those problems which I feel are fundamental to the individual, and which reflect in our social activities; and I hope you will understand that I am talking to you as an individual, and not as a collective group.

It seems to me that it is very important for the individual to bring about a fundamental, unforced revolution or transformation within himself. Considering the many problems that we have, not only in this country but all over the world, I think that the right response to them can come about only if there is a totally different kind of religion, a wholly new approach. The world is broken up, as we can see only too well, into conflicting ideologies, competing religions, and various forms of social culture. There is not only the Communist ideology, but the many religious ideologies, all of which separate man from man. So it seems to me very important that we should try to bring about a different kind of world, a different view of life altogether, so that we can have a totally new comprehension of religion.

I do not mean by religion an organized set of beliefs, but something which is totally different from that which exists everywhere at present. Because, after all, religion is a fundamental necessity for man - more so, it seems to me, than bread. And what I mean by religion is the discovery of the fundamental solution, the ultimate answer to all our major problems. I do not mean by religion a mere belief, a dogma, nor following a certain ecclesiastical authority - which is what is called religion today. But is it not possible for something else to take place? Is it not possible for the mind to be totally free from the vast tradition of centuries? Because it is only a free mind that can discover truth, reality, that which is beyond the projections of a conditioned mind. That is why I think that the unconditioned mind is the only truly religious mind, and that only the truly religious mind is capable of a fundamental revolution.

Our life, both in our work and during our free time, leads to a very superficial relationship between man and man, does it not? It is a false life. And I feel that a fundamental change depends upon understanding what is true, and not upon belief in any religious dogma or spiritual authority. If you feel really deeply the need to be aware of what is true, then you will see that every form of belief or dogma is a hindrance. We are, after all, brought up to believe in certain ideas, whether of the Communist world, of the Western world, or of the Eastern world; we have accepted established beliefs, and to free ourselves from this conditioning is not easy. But surely it is impossible, under any circumstances, to find out what is true, what is God, so long as one merely believes in certain ideas, certain concepts which man has himself created for his own security.

If I am born in India, for instance, and am educated in a certain sphere of thought, subjected to certain influences and pressures, my mind is obviously conditioned; it is as conditioned to believe as the Communist mind is conditioned not to believe. And if I would find out what is true, what is God, what is beyond the mere measure of the mind, surely I must free my mind from this conditioning - which seems so obvious.

And is it possible for the mind to free itself from its conditioning? That, it seems to me, is the only realistic approach. If the Hindu merely continues to repeat certain words and perform certain ceremonies because he has been brought up in that way, and the Christians, the Buddhists, and others do likewise, then surely there is no freedom; and without freeing the mind from all conditioning, we cannot find out what is true. To me, this freedom of the mind from all conditioning is therefore the only real solution.

So, first of all, it is very important to become aware of our conditioning. And I assure you it is extremely difficult to realize that one is conditioned, and be free of all conditioning. What usually happens is that we move away from one set of concepts to follow another. We give up Christianity for Communism, or we leave Catholicism for some other equally tyrannical group, thinking that we are progressing towards reality; but we have merely changed our prison.

Surely, what is important is to free the mind from all conditioning, and not just find a so-called better conditioning. Only freedom from all conditioning can bring about this revolution which I call religious. I am talking about an inner revolution, a revolution within the mind itself, whether it be a Christian mind, a Hindu mind, or a Buddhist mind; for without this revolution, this freedom, surely there can be no deep understanding. I think this is fairly clear: that the mind can find out what is true only when it is free of all beliefs, however apparently good and noble.

Economic or social revolutions do not solve our problems, because, being superficial, they can only bring about superficial results. When we look to outward reforms to bring about a fundamental change, it is surely a wrong approach to the problem. We obviously need a fundamental change in our way of thinking and feeling; and to rely on any social or economic solution only brings further problems on the same level.

So the solution to all our problems, it seems to me, lies in bringing about a fundamental, religious revolution in ourselves. This really means, does it not?, finding out whether the mind can free itself from all the impositions, from the ambitions, the beliefs and dogmas in which at present it feels so secure. Can the mind - your mind and my mind - , which has been conditioned from childhood to believe or not to believe, free itself from all its present conditioning without falling into a different kind of conditioning?

The problem is complicated, because it is not merely a matter of freeing the conscious mind from its conditioning. Besides the waking consciousness of our daily activities, there are also the deep layers of the unconscious, in which there are the accumulated influences of the past. All these hindrances make up the conditioning of the mind, and unless it is totally free from them our inquiry is bound to be limited, narrow, without much significance. Merely to drop certain beliefs or daily habits does not solve the problem. There must be a change, not in just a part of our consciousness, but in the totality of our being, must there not?

Now, how is this to be done? That is our problem. Is there a particular technique or method which will bring about a fundamental revolution in one's consciousness? We see that necessity for a radical change, and by following a method, a technique, we hope to bring it about. But is there any method that can bring it about? Or does the very action of seeking a method, the very desire to find the `how', create another conditioning of the mind? I think it is very important, instead of merely desiring a method, to find out for ourselves whether a method is necessary at all; and to find out, we shall have to go very deeply into this question. After all, when we ask for a method, it is because we want a result; but the desired result is a projection of the conditioned mind, and in pursuing it the mind is merely moving towards another form of conditioning. First of all we must inquire, must we not? Why we are seeking, and what it is we are seeking. We know that we go from one teacher to another. Each teacher offers a different method of discipline or meditation - and all that is so absurd. What is important, surely, is not the teacher and what he offers, but to find out what it is you are seeking. By delivering yourself into the hands of another, by following some authority, by practising a discipline, controlling yourself, sooner or later you will find what you want; but it will not be the truth. The following of any method only perpetuates conditioning, perhaps in a new form, and so the mind is never free to understand what is true.

Now, if one really perceives that the very demand for a method - whether it be the Buddhist method, the Christian method, or any other - is only another form of conditioning which prevents the mind from finding the truth, then what is one to do? One can understand superficially, perhaps, that dependence on authority, however promising, is detrimental to the discovery of what is true; but it is very difficult, is it not?, to free ourselves from all dependence on authority, whether it be the authority of the church, of society, or the authority which one has created for oneself through one's own experience. If you are serious in these matters, if you are really trying to find out whether the mind can free itself from authority, you will know how difficult it is. Yet the mind must be free from authority, obviously, otherwise it can never find out what is true. We depend on authority because, among other things, we are afraid of not attaining salvation; and the mind that is dependent cannot know the immeasurable, that which is beyond all churches, all dogmas and beliefs. There must be total freedom, which means that the mind must be capable of standing completely alone.

So, can the mind completely free itself from fear, from the dictates of society and so-called religious beliefs? Surely, if one really desires to find the truth, one must be totally free from all conditioning, from all dogmas and beliefs, from the authorities that make us conform. One must stand completely alone - and that is very arduous. It is not a matter of going out into the country on a Sunday morning, sitting quietly under a tree, and so on. The aloneness of which I am speaking is pure, incorruptible; it is free of all tradition, of all dogma and opinion, of everything that another has said. When the mind is in this state of aloneness, it is quiet, essentially still, not asking for anything; and such a mind is capable of knowing what is true. Otherwise we are ever burdened with fear, which creates so much conflict and confusion in us and in the world.

So the religious revolution of which I am speaking can come about only when the mind is free from all the so-called religions, with their dogmas and beliefs, and from self-created inward authority. And there can be this freedom, surely, only through self-knowledge. But self-knowledge cannot be found in books; it is not a matter ofreading psychology, or following the description of another as to what the self is made up of. Self-knowledge comes only in understanding oneself, in watching the movement of one's own mind in relationship with people, with things, and with ideas; it lies in being aware of the whole content of the mind, in observing the total operation of one's consciousness from moment to moment.

I shall now read a question which has been sent to me; but I think we must all understand that I am not answering the question, but rather we are considering the problem together. Most of us have problems, and want to solve them. Whatever the problem may be, we want an answer or a solution which will be satisfactory to us. That is, we are concerned with the answer, the solution, and not with the problem. Our attention is divided; with one part of the mind we are seeking a solution, Instead of trying with the totality of our being to understand the problem. The solution may or may not come; but to understand the problem, our concern must be with the problem itself, and not with the solution.

Question: What makes up a problem? And is any problem solved by dissecting it and finding its cause?

Krishnamurti: What is a problem? Please do not just wait for an answer from me. You are not merely listening to someone talking, but we are trying to find out together what creates a problem. You each have your own problems. How do they come into being?

We have contradictory desires, do we not? I want to be rich, let us say, and at the same-time I know or have heard that wealth is detrimental to the discovery of truth. So there is a contradiction in my desires - the contradiction of wanting and not wanting. It is this conflict of contradictory desires in us that creates a problem, is it not? We have many contradictory desires, many conflicting pursuits, ambitions, urges, and all these contradictions create a problem. Now, can the mind ever resolve the problem of self-contradiction by imposing one desire on another?

Take hatred, for example. What causes hatred? Surely, one of the biggest factors is chauvinism; another is the sense of superiority or inferiority created by economic differences; still another is the division created between man and man by what are called religions. These are the principal causes of hatred, and they give rise to many other major problems in the world today. Knowing all this, can the individual free himself from hatred? This is where our difficulty lies, and if you will listen carefully I think you will see it.

When I say "I know the cause of hatred", what do I mean by the words "I know"? Do I know it merely through the word, the intellect, or do I know it with the totality of my being? Am I aware of the root of hatred in myself, or do I know its cause only intellectually or emotionally? If the mind is totally aware of the problem, then there is freedom from the problem; but I cannot be aware of it with the totality of my being if I condemn the problem. It is very difficult for the mind not to condemn; but to understand a problem there must be no condemning of that problem, no comparing of it with another problem.

I do not think we realize that we are all the time either condemning or comparing. Let us not try to excuse ourselves, but just watch our daily life, and we shall see that we never think without judging, comparing, evaluating. We are always saying "This book is not as good as the other one", or "This man is better than that man; there is a constant process of comparison, through which we think we understand. But do we really understand through comparison? Or does understanding come only when one ceases to compare, and just observes? When your mind is integrated, you have no time to compare, have you? But the moment you compare, your attention has already moved elsewhere. When you say "This sunset is not as beautiful as that of yesterday", you do not really see the sunset, for your mind has wandered off to the memory of yesterday.

When the mind is capable of not condemning, not comparing, but merely examines the problem, then surely the problem has undergone a fundamental change; and then the problem ceases. Simple awareness is enough to put an end to the problem.

What do we mean by awareness? If you observe your own mind you will see that it is always comparing, judging, condemning. When we condemn or compare, do we understand? If we condemn a child, or compare him with his brother, obviously we do not understand him. So, can the mind be simply aware of a problem, without condemning or comparing? This is extremely difficult, because from childhood we have been brought up to condemn and to compare. And can the mind cease to condemn and compare without being compelled? Surely, when the mind sees for itself that to condemn or to compare does not bring about understanding, then that very perception frees the mind from all condemnation and comparison. This means a complete separation of the mind from all traditions and beliefs.

To free one's mind in this deep sense requires a great deal of insight, because the mind is very easily influenced. It is always seeking security, not only in this world, in society, but also in the so-called spiritual world. If you go into the whole process of your own mind, you will see that this is so; and a mind that is seeking security can never be free.

To observe the total process of the mind without condemnation or comparison, to be conscious of it without judgement,to recognize and understand it from moment to moment - this is awareness, is it not?

You have listened to what is being said, and probably you either approve or disapprove of it, which means that you accept or reject it. But we are not just dealing with ideas, which can be accepted or rejected; we are not putting new ideas in the place of old ones. We are concerned with the totality of the mind, the totality of yourself, of your whole being, which cannot be approached through ideas. Please do not accept or reject, but try to find out, as you listen, how your own mind is operating. Then you will see that the mere observation of the process of the mind is in itself sufficient to bring about a fundamental transformation within the mind.

We see that there must be in us a radical change, and we think that we have to make an effort to bring it about. But any effort in that direction is merely another form of wanting a result, so we are back again in the same old process. What is necessary, surely, is not more control, more knowledge, but rather awareness of the totality of oneself, without any sense of condemnation or approval. Then you will find that the mind is renewed and absolutely still. For this an exceptional amount of energy is required; but it is not energy spent in the usual way, on comparison, on suppression, on the imposition of discipline, nor is it the energy acquired through prayer. It is the energy that comes with full attention. Every movement of thought in any direction is a waste of energy, and to be completely still the mind needs the energy of absolute attention. When the mind is alert, aware, wholly attentive, it becomes very quiet, very still; and only then is it possible for that which is immeasurable to come into being.

September 24, 1956


Athens 1956

Athens, Greece 1st Public Talk 24th September 1956

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