New Delhi 1956
New Delhi 1st Public Talk 10th October 1956
Considering the number of problems that each human being has, not only in India but throughout the world, it seems to me that what is important is to find a new approach to these many problems. But to find a new approach is very difficult for most of us, because we think with a conclusion; and to think with a conclusion is obviously not to think at all. And it is not easy, is it?, to be free from thought based on a conclusion. Most of us think of any problem, however complex it may be, as Hindus, as Christians, as Buddhists, or as Communists, which indicates that we approach the problem with a mind already made up; so the problem, which demands a totally new approach, always evades us and multiplies.
Now, is it possible for human beings like you and me, as individuals, to be free from all conclusions, from any thought which is conditioned, psychologically shaped and controlled by society, by so-called culture? I don't know if you have thought about it at all but surely the question is not how to resolve our many problems; rather it is how to understand the problem, whatever it be. We have many problems in life, not only economic and social, but also the problem of death and whether there is immortality, the problem of whether there is a reality, God, or what you will; and it seems to me that we can understand and resolve these problems only if we are able to approach them, not with a divided mind, but a mind that is totally integrated. There lies, I think, our whole difficulty. How is it possible to approach these many issues with a mind that is cleansed of all the obstructions, of all the prejudices, of all the religious conclusions and psychological pressures which have been inflicted upon it through the ages? The problem, surely, is never old, it varies and is constantly in movement; but our minds are static, they are already made up, already shaped, conditioned by our past thoughts, fears and hopes.
So we invariably approach our problems with a mind that has already concluded; and I think the whole issue lies in being able to free the mind from all conclusions, because any thinking that starts with a conclusion is no thinking at all. If I think as a Hindu, obviously my thought is not vital; it starts with an assumption, which has no validity, and tries to solve the complex problems of existence through the screen of a particular conclusion, prejudice, or idea.
Is it possible, then, to free the mind from ideation? Because these talks are not going to be an exchange of ideas. I am not going to put forward a new philosophy, a new set of ideas, dogmas, doctrines. To me, all these - beliefs, ideas, dogmas, doctrines - are impediments to the perception of what is true, and if you are expecting a new set of ideas with which to confront the swift movement of life, I am afraid you will not only be disappointed but also confused. Whereas, if we can together think out the problem anew, not as Hindus, Moslems, Buddhists, Communists, or Christians, nor as the one who knows and the one who does not know, which is really absurd, but as individual human beings who are trying to solve the problem of existence, then I think these talks will be worth while. Because there is fundamentally only one problem, which is the whole process of existence - not a religious as opposed to a mundane existence, nor a spiritual existence as opposed to that of society.
The many human problems which confront us are becoming more and more complex, more and more vitally destructive, bringing great sorrow, not only to individuals but to the collective life of peoples; and if we are to approach this whole process of existence with an integrated outlook, there must be a vital change in our thinking. Surely that is obvious, is it not? If I think as a Communist, my thinking is based on an already-established conclusion which, however clever, cunning, cannot resolve the problem, because the problem is totally new each time I approach it. As a human being who is desirous of understanding this whole process of existence with all its complexities, with its sorrows, divisions and incessant conflict, I must approach it, surely, with a mind that is not conditioned as a Hindu, a Buddhist, a Communist, or a Christian; but unfortunately our minds are conditioned. You know what I mean by a conditioned mind. Through education, through religious sanctions and the psychological compulsions of society, your mind has been shaped to a particular pattern. You think as a Hindu, as a Moslem, or what you will; or if you have rejected the more orthodox patterns, you think as a man who is free of all that but who is conditioned by his own ideas, his own conclusions based on his personal study and experiences. So, is it possible to approach the problem of human existence with a mind that is entirely free from conditioning?
Our inquiry, then, is not how to resolve the problem, but rather how the mind can free itself from its conditioning so that it is made fresh, new, and can therefore tackle the problem creatively, not in this destructive fractional way.
Please, as I said, we are discussing not to exchange ideas or to promulgate some new philosophy, which is utter nonsense, but rather to inquire deeply into ourselves as human beings and find out whether it is possible to free the mind - your mind, not somebody else's mind - from the conditioning which has been imposed upon it through centuries. If you say it is impossible to free the mind from its conditioning, or if you assume that it is possible, you have already concluded, therefore there is no creative thinking. What matters is that through listening to what is being said you become conscious of yourself, of your own conditioning, your own thinking, so that you are aware of how your mind operates. Then you will be able to free the mind from its conditioning not by listening to me, but by observing your own mind through the description which I give. I think it is important to understand this right from the beginning, because only then is the right relationship established between us. To me the whole idea of guru and disciple is utterly false, because it only breeds slavery of thought. That is why it is so important to establish from the very beginning the right relationship between the speaker and yourself.
What we are trying to do is to find out without being told what to find, which means that you and I must have a mind capable of discovery; but we cannot discover if we start from a series of conclusions or experiences, our own or somebody else's, and in that lies our greatest difficulty. If you observe yourself you will see that your thought is only a series of quotations from the Gita, the Koran, or the Bible, or from what Buddha or the latest saint has said, and such a mind is incapable of discovery. To discover is not only to find the solutions to our problems but also, through the understanding of our problems, to discover for ourselves what is true, whether there is reality, God, and not merely to assert that there is or there is not.
Now, how is the mind, being so conditioned, so bound by authority, by tradition, to free itself from the past? Please, this is not a theory, nor am I telling you what to do. If I told you what to do, and you did it, it would be totally wrong, because then you would be following another. You may leave the old and follow the new, but you are still a follower, and he who follows will never find out what is true, he will never discover for himself whether there is truth, God, peace.
So I am not pointing out the way to truth, because truth has no way, no system;it is not to be found through the cultivation of virtue, for the cultivation of virtue is only a form of self-centred activity. You must have a free mind to discover what is true, and it is extraordinarily difficult to have a free mind, a mind not bound by tradition, a mind that is no longer accepting or rejecting conclusions, a mind that is not burdened with experience, however noble or transient. What is important is not just to follow what I say, but to find out for yourself how your mind is conditioned and to see if it is possible to free the mind from that conditioning. Your mind is obviously conditioned, that is a fact whether you like it or not, and as long as you call yourself an Indian, a Hindu, a Communist, or what you will, you are maintaining that conditioning.
Now, how is one to be aware of one's conditioning? Do you understand the problem? You may verbally assert that you are conditioned; but merely to assert it, and to discover that you are conditioned in your speech, in your thought, in dozens of ways, are two entirely different states. To know that you suffer is one thing, and merely to speculate about suffering is another. Most of us, unfortunately, superficially speculate about being conditioned, and so we create a division between ourselves as we actually are and the idea of our being conditioned. That is clear, is it not?
Throughout the world man has broken up his existence as spiritual and worldly, and that division exists in your life. You seek God, you meditate and do all that kind of stuff, while in daily life you are ambitious, you are seeking power, position, prestige, and you try to mix the two and create something out of it. So you live a schizophrenic existence, an existence that is broken up, split, and to realize for yourself that this cleavage exists is quite different from the mere acceptance of the idea, is it not? To know that I am hungry, to feel the misery of it, is one thing, and to think about the idea of hunger is a totally different state. Most of us are merely thinking about these problems, we are not feeling them. If we were capable of feeling any problem totally, then our approach to it would be entirely different, there would be no split approach; and I think it is very important to understand how the mind is caught in words, and is therefore incapable of looking at the fact without the word.
If you listen to all this as mere talk, then what is being said becomes another lecture with very little meaning. It will be worth while only if you listen to find out how your own mind operates, observing as you are sitting there how it is broken up into fragments, each fragment in conflict with another like so many opposing desires, with yourself caught in the middle trying to bring peace amidst all this confusion.
So there is a vast difference between the fact and an opinion or idea about the fact. Which is it that is actually happening to you? Is it the fact that you are confronting, whatever the fact may be, or your opinion about the fact? And can we free the mind from the opinion, the conclusion, and look directly at the fact? If we can look at the fact in that way, then there is an integrated action, a complete comprehension of the fact, and therefore the resolution of that fact.
You see, the difficulty is that if a problem exists in our life, as it does - the problem of sorrow, of loneliness, of division - we want a solution; but the solution does not lie beyond the problem. Please do follow this a little bit. The answer to the problem lies in the problem itself, not away from it. Now, our very existence has become a problem, and to understand our existence we have to look at it, surely, not in terms of what has been said, but as it actually is. It is important to know oneself, is it not? Because without knowing oneself, whatever one may think, whatever one may believe, will have no basis, no validity. So you have to know yourself first, and that is the foundation on which you can build; but without self-knowledge, your building has no significance. You see, the difficulty is that most of us do not want to know ourselves. We are bored with ourselves and we want to escape from our boredom through some form of amusement: going to a guru, attending church, performing rituals, seeking power, position - the whole business of modern society.
What is important, then, is to know oneself. Self-knowledge is the beginning of wisdom, and to have self-knowledge is not a complex problem. You can know yourself as you actually are by observing yourself every minute of the day, or whenever it is possible to do so. If I want to know myself, the conscious as well as the unconscious, if I want to understand the whole buildup of the `me', I must watch myself as I get into the bus, when I am conversing with a friend; I must observe the way I talk to my wife, to my boss, to my servant. Surely, I can see myself as I am only in the mirror of relationship. Do you follow? If you really go into it, you will find that it is extraordinarily simple.
Without knowledge of yourself there can be no solution of either the world problem or your own problem. You know very well what is happening in the world. There is more and more confusion, more and more tyranny. Everywhere the one-party system is spreading, with one so-called great leader. Man is being shaped, conditioned to think according to a certain pattern, within a certain field, and thereby he avoids a religious revolution. And one sees that such a revolution is necessary, a revolution not based on economic or social upheaval, but a total revolution, a revolution which is truly religious. I am not talking of the religion of the Hindu, of the Buddhist, or the Christian. That is not religion at all, it is merely dogma, a set of beliefs born of fear, of the desire to be secure, to sit on the right hand of God, or what you will. Religion is something entirely different from all that, and to find the religious life there must be a total revolution in our thinking. To bring about a different kind of world, an altogether new culture, each one of us must begin with the right foundation, and that foundation is laid through self-knowledge. You must begin to know yourself, the whole of your being, and not just the superficial part of your upper consciousness.
I have been given some questions, and I shall try to go into them; but first of all, I wonder why you ask questions. Either you want another to point the way out of your confusion, or you are hoping someone is going to answer in a way that will resolve your problems. It is good to question, to criticize, to inquire and never accept; but when we do inquire we always have an end in view, and therefore it is no longer an inquiry. If you have a problem, you want a satisfactory answer to that problem, do you not? Otherwise you would not put the question. You are not trying to understand the problem but to find a gratifying solution, a safe haven in which you will never be disturbed; therefore you are no longer inquiring into the problem, and I think it is very important to realize this.
So, in considering these questions, I am not giving an answer, because life has no answer; life must be lived, understood, and not run away from into some secure haven. To understand this extraordinarily complex existence, and to find out if there is reality, God, one must approach it very hesitantly, tentatively, for only then can one begin to understand oneself, the whole structure of one's being.
Question: I read in the newspaper today your statement that to solve man's problems what is needed is not an economic or social revolution, but a religious revolution. What do you mean by religious revolution?
Krishnamurti: First of all, let us find out what we mean by religion. What is religion for most of us - not the theory of what religion should be, but the actual fact? For most of us, religion is obviously a series of dogmas, traditions, what the Upanishads, or the Gita, or the Bible have said; or it is made up of the experiences, visions, hopes, ideas which have sprung from our conditioned minds, from our minds which have been shaped according to the Hindu, the Christian or the Communist pattern. We start with a particular conditioning and have experiences based on it.
What we call religion is prayer, ritual, dogma, wishing to find God, the acceptance of authority and a vast number of superstitions, is it not? But is that religion? A man who is really trying to find out what is true must surely abandon all that, must he not? He must totally discard the authority of the guru, of the Upanishads, and the authority of his own experiences, so that, being purged of all authority, his mind is capable of discovery. That means you must cease to be a Hindu, a Christian, a Buddhist, you must see the absurdity of that whole business and break away from it. And will you? Because if you do, you are against the present society, and may lose your job. So fear dominates the mind, and you go on accepting authority. What we call religion, then, is not religion at all. Whether we believe in God, or do not believe in God, depends upon our conditioning. You believe in God, and the Communist believes in no-God. What is the difference? There is no difference whatsoever, because you are trained to believe and he is trained not to believe. Therefore a man who is seriously inquiring must totally reject that process, must he not? - reject it because he understands the whole significance of it.
Being insecure, frightened, inwardly insufficient, we identify ourselves with a country, with an ideology, or with a belief in God; and we can see what is happening throughout the world. Every religion, though they all profess love, brotherhood, and all the rest of it, is actually separating man from man. You are a Sikh and I am a Hindu, he is a Moslem and somebody else is a Buddhist. Seeing all this confusion and separation, one realizes there must be a different kind of thinking; but the different kind of thinking obviously cannot come into being as long as one remains a Hindu, a Christian, or what you will. To be free of all that, you have to know yourself, the whole structure of your being; you have to see why you accept, why you follow authority, which is fairly obvious. You want success, you want to be assured that there is a God on whom you can rely in moments of trouble. A man who is really joyous, happy, never thinks about God. We think about God when we are in misery, conflict, but we have created the misery, the conflict, and without understanding the whole process of it, merely to inquire after God leads to utter illusion.
So the religious revolution of which I am talking is not the revival or reformation of any particular religion, but the total freedom from all religions and ideologies - which means, really, freedom from the society which has created them. Surely, a man who is ambitious cannot be a religious man. A man who is ambitious does not know love, though he may talk about it. A man may not be ambitious in the worldly sense, but if he wants to be a saint, a spiritual somebody, if he wants to achieve a result in the next world, he is still ambitious. So the mind must not only be stripped of all ceremonies, beliefs and dogmas, but it must also be free of envy. The total freedom of man is the religious revolution, for only then will he be able to approach life entirely differently and cease to create problem after problem.
You have probably listened to all this only verbally or intellectually, because you say to yourself, "What would I do in life if I had no ambition? I should be destroyed by society". I wonder if you would be destroyed by society. The moment you understand society and reject the whole structure on which it is based - ambition, envy, the pursuit of success, the religious dogmas, beliefs and superstitions - , you are outside of society and can therefore think of the whole problem anew; and perhaps then there will be no problem. But you have probably listened only on the verbal level and will continue with the same old thing tomorrow; you will read the Gita or the Bible, go to your guru or a priest, and all the rest of it. You may listen to all this and accept it intellectually, verbally, but your life continues in the opposite direction, so you have merely created another conflict; therefore it is much better not to listen at all, because you have enough conflicts, enough problems, without introducing a new one. It is very nice to sit and listen to what is being said here, but if it has no relationship to your actual life, it is much better to shut your ears; because if you hear the truth and do not live it, your life becomes a hideous confusion, the sorrowful mess which it is.
Question: You seem to be against the very essence of authority. Is not the acceptance of authority inevitable in our individual lives? Without it would not society be reduced to chaos?
Krishnamurti: Let us find out what we mean by authority, and why we accept it, rather than speculate as to whether, without authority, society would disintegrate. Society is disintegrating, whether you like it or not; it is going to pieces because we have followed authority, so let us inquire into that.
Why do we follow another? This is a very complex problem, and we must therefore approach it carefully, wisely, patiently. It involves the problem of knowledge, that is, the problem of accepting the authority of one who has knowledge, assuming that you don't know and the other does. We accept the authority of a doctor, and the civil authority which says we must drive on the left side of the road. If you haven't the common sense to follow the general rule of driving on the left side of the road, you will end up in a police station. So we follow normal authority in certain things which are common to us all. If I want to build a bridge, I cannot reject the knowledge that has been accumulated through the centuries; that would be absurd. We are not talking of such authority. We are talking of authority at quite a different level; the authority of the teacher, the guru who says he knows, and who is followed by the person who does not know and who wishes to be led to reality. Let us be very clear that it is such authority we are talking about, not the authority of factual knowledge which has been accumulated through centuries in medicine, engineering, or any other branch of science. To reject all that would be too stupid. We are talking of the authority that you create in the person who says he knows God, truth, and can lead you to that reality. So the problem is clear, is it not? We are talking of spiritual authority, if I may use that word `spiritual' without being misunderstood; the authority of the guru who knows, in his relationship with the disciple who does not know.
When the guru says he knows, what does it mean? It means that he has experienced God, truth, perfect peace, and all the rest of it; he knows and you do not, so you follow him, hoping to be led to that reality. That is how we create so-called spiritual authority.
Now, please follow this. What do we mean by knowing? When I say, "I know", what does that signify? I can only know something which is already over. Do you understand? I can only know what has been; and when a guru says he knows, he only knows the past, what he has experienced; and what he has experienced is always static, it is a dead thing, it is not living. Truth, God, cannot be known; you cannot know or experience it, because the moment you say, "I know, I have experienced", you don't know. You can only know what has been, and what has been has no validity, it is no longer truth. When the teacher says he will help you to reach truth, reality, he can only help you to reach something which is fixed, within the field of time, and therefore not true.
Sirs, do listen to this. Don't accept what I am saying: see the truth of it, and seeing the truth of it will free you.
We think truth, God, is a fixed point in time; it is over there, and to gain it, to travel the intervening distance and reach it, we say we must have time. What we call reality is fixed, therefore we can make a path to it - or rather, many paths, the paths of the various religions, sects, beliefs. But reality can never be fixed; it is immeasurable, alive, beyond time; it has no being in the terms we know. It can only be approached when the mind has ceased to be caught within the field of time, and so no guru, no book, no system of meditation can lead you to it. The mind must be totally free from all the past compulsions, past influences, it must be without movement, completely silent, no longer inquiring in order to be safe, in order to be happy, in order to achieve. That is why the truly religious man has no authority, no dogma, no tradition, no belief. Tradition, belief, dogma, authority, are all within the field of time, and a mind that is caught within that field can never find that which is timeless. To free the mind from time is an immense problem, because the mind is the result of time, it is the result of innumerable influences, memories; and can such a mind be free from the past? Until the mind is free from the past, it cannot discover what is true.
Because they are suffering, lost in their confusion, human beings go to another, hoping to find an answer, a sense of comfort, a haven of security; and they do find a haven of security, because that is their desire, but their haven of security is not God, it is not truth. It is a thing made by the mind, put together by man, and what has been put together can be torn asunder. That is why it is very important to understand yourself. Self-knowledge is the beginning of wisdom. But the self, the `me' is a very complex thing, and knowing yourself is not just a matter of reading a book, or practising some stupid form of introspection, and then saying, "I have learnt all about myself". That does not bring self-knowledge. The ways of the self are to be discovered from moment to moment, not through accumulation. Observe how your mind operates, what you think, your impulses, your compulsions, your hidden motives - be aware of all that from moment to moment, and then free the mind from this curse of authority, from all the books, from all the leaders, political or otherwise, because they are just as ambitious as you are. The ambitious, the successful will never create the new world. The new world can be created only by the man who is free from ambition, from the desire to be successful, free from all dogmas, beliefs - which means, really, free from himself, free from his ego, his `me'. It is only through this religious revolution, and not through the economic revolution of the Communists or the Socialists, that the new world can come into being.
October 10, 1956
New Delhi 1956
New Delhi 1st Public Talk 10th October 1956
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