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Varanasi 1962

Varanasi 1st Public Talk 1st January 1962

I think most of us regard individual action as unimportant, while there is so much collective action necessary. For most of us, the individual action is generally opposed to the collective action. Most of us regard that collective action is much more important and has greater significance for society than individual action. For us individual action leads nowhere, it is not sufficiently significant, or creative enough, to bring about a definite change of order, a definite revolution in society. So we regard collective action as much more impressive, much more urgent than individual action. Specially, technologically, mechanistically, in a world that is becoming more and more technically-minded and mechanically-minded, individual action has very little place; and so, gradually, the importance of the individual diminishes, and the collective becomes all important.

One can observe this taking place when the mind of man is being taken over, is being collectivised - if I may use that word - , is being forced to conform much more than ever before. The mind is no longer free. It is being shaped by politics, by education, by religious, organized belief and dogma. Everywhere throughout the world, freedom is becoming less and less, and the individual is becoming less and less significant. You must have observed this, not only in your lives but also generally, that freedom has withered away - freedom to think quite independently, freedom to stand up against something which you think is right, freedom to say `no' to established order, freedom to discover, to question, to find out for yourself. More and more, leadership is becoming important, because we want to be told, we want to be guided; and unfortunately, when this takes place, corruption is inevitable, there is deterioration of the mind - not the technical mind, not the capacity to build bridges, atomic reactors and so on; but deterioration of the quality of the mind that is creative. I am using that word `creative' in quite a different way. I do not mean creative in the sense of writing a poem or building a bridge or putting down, in marble or in stone, a vision that is being caught - those are mere expressions of what one feels or what one thinks. But we are talking of a creative mind in quite a different sense: a mind that is free, is creative. A mind that is not bound by dogmas, by beliefs; a mind that has not taken shelter within the limits of experience; a mind that breaks through the barriers of tradition, of authority, of ambition, that is no longer within the net of envy - such a mind is a creative mind. And it seems to me that in a world where there is the threat of war, where there is general deterioration, not technologically but in every other way, such a creative, free mind is necessary.

It is absolutely, urgently necessary to alter the whole course of human thought, of human existence, because it is becoming more and more mechanistic. And I do not see how this complete revolution can take place except in the individual. The collective cannot be revolutionary; the collective can only follow, can only adjust itself, can imitate, can conform. But it is only the individual, the `you', that can break through shattering all these conditionings and be creative. It is the crisis in consciousness which demands this mind, this new mind. And apparently, from what one observes, one never thinks along these lines; but one is always thinking that more improvement - technological, mechanistic improvement - will bring about in some miraculous way the creative mind, the mind that is free from fear.

So in these talks - I believe there are going to be seven of them - we are going to concern ourselves not with the improvement of the technical processes which are necessary in the world of mechanistic action which is collective, but rather how to bring about this creative mind, this new mind. Because in this country, as one sees, there is a general decline, except perhaps industrially, in making more money, in building railways, dredging canals, dredging rivers, iron works, manufacturing more goods - which are all necessary. But that is not going to bring about a new civilization. That will bring progress; but progress, as one observes, does not bring freedom to man. Things are necessary, goods are necessary; more shelter, more clothes, and more food are absolutely necessary; but there is the other thing also equally necessary - the individual who says `no'.

To say `no' is much more important than to say `yes'. We all say `yes' and we never say `no' and stand by `no'. It is very difficult to deny, and very easy to conform; and most of us do conform because it is the easiest way easily to slip into conformity through fear, through desire for security, and thereby gradually to stagnate, disintegrate. But to say `no' requires the highest form of thinking, because to say `no' implies negative thinking - that is to see what is false. The very perception of what is false, the clarity with which one sees what is false, that very perception is creative action. The denial of something, the questioning of something - however sacred, however powerful, however well-established - requires deep penetration, requires the shattering of one's own ideas, traditions. And such an individual is absolutely essential in the modern world where propaganda, where organized religion, the make-believe is taking over. So, I do not know if you also see the importance of this - not verbally, not theoretically, but actually.

You know there is a way of looking at things. Either we look at them directly, experience the thing which we see, or we examine what we see, verbally, intellectually, we spin theories about `what is' and find explanations for `what is'. But without finding explanations, without mere judgment which we will also come to later, to perceive directly something as false requires attention, requires all your capacity. And apparently, specially in this unfortunate country where tradition, authority and the ancient so-called wisdom rule and dominate, that energetic quality to see what is false, to deny it and to stand by it, seems to be utterly lacking. But to enquire into what is false requires a free mind. You cannot ask, if you have committed yourself to a particular form of belief, to a particular form of experience, to a certain course of action. If you have committed yourself to a particular pattern of government, you cannot question, you dare not question, because you lose your position, your influence, the things that you are afraid of losing. And also when you are committed to a particular form of religion as a Hindu, a Buddhist or what not, you dare not question, you dare not tear through, destroy everything to find out. But unfortunately, most of us are committed politically, economically, socially or religiously; and from there, from that commitment, we never question the very centre, the very thing to which we are committed. Therefore, we are always seeking freedom in ideas, in books, in a lot of words.

So I would suggest, if I may, that while you are listening, you are not only hearing the words which are only a means of communication, a symbol which needs to be interpreted by each one, but also, through the words, discovering your own state of mind, discovering the things to which you are committed yourself, discovering for yourself the things to which you are tied hand and foot, mind and heart - actually discovering it and seeing whether it is possible to break down the things to which you are committed, to find out what is true. Because, I do not see otherwise how a regeneration is to take place in the world. There will be social upheavals - whether communistic or otherwise - , there will be more prosperity, more food, more factories, more fertilizers, more engines and so on. But surely that is not all life, that is only a part of life. And to worship and live in the fragment does not solve our human problems. There is still sorrow, there is still death, there is still anxiety, guilt, the aches of many ideas, hopes, despairs they are all there.

So, in listening, I would suggest that it should be rather the listening of a mind which is self-examining - examining its own processes rather than to listen to words with which it agrees or disagrees, which is of very little importance. Because we deal only with facts - the fact that human beings are becoming more and more mechanical; the fact there is less and less freedom; the fact that when there is confusion, authority is resorted to; and the fact that there is conflict outwardly as war and inwardly as misery, despair, fear. These are all facts and to deal with them, not theoretically but actually. So, what we are concerned with is how to bring about a change, a radical revolution in the individual, in the listener, because he is the only one that can be creative - not the politician, not the leader, not the important man; they have committed themselves and they have settled down in a groove; and they want fame, they want power, position. You also may want them, but you are still feeling your way towards them; so, there is still some hope, because you are not completely committed, you are not the big men of the land. You are still small people, you are not leaders, you have no tremendous organizations over which you are the bosses, you are just ordinary average men; and being fairly uncommitted, you have still some hope.

Therefore, it may be possible, though at the eleventh hour, to bring about this change in ourselves. And so, that is the only thing with which we are concerned: how to bring about this tremendous revolution within ourselves?

Most of us change through compulsion, through some outside influence, through fear, through punishment, or through reward - that is the only thing that will make us change. Do follow this, sirs, observe all this. We never change voluntarily, we always change with a motive; and a change through a motive is no change at all. And to be aware of the motives, of the influences, of the compulsions that force us to change, to be aware of them and to deny them is to bring about change. Circumstances make us change; the family, the law, our ambitions, our fears bring about a change. But that change is a reaction and therefore really it is a resistance, a psychological resistance to a compulsion; and that resistance creates its own modification, change; and therefore, it is no change at all. If I change or if I adjust myself to society because I expect something from society, is that a change? Or, does mutation take place only when I see the things that are compelling me to change, and see their falseness? Because, all influences, whether good or bad, condition the mind; and merely to accept such conditioning is inwardly to resist any form of change, any radical change.

So, seeing the world-situation, not only in this country but throughout the world, where progress is denying freedom, where prosperity is making the mind more and more secure in things and therefore there is less and less freedom, where religious organizations are taking over more and more the formula of belief which will make man believe in God or in no God, seeing that the mind is becoming more and more mechanistic, and also observing that the electronic brains and the modern technological knowledge are giving man more and more leisure - not in this country, because we are fifty years or a hundred years behind; but it will come - , seeing all this we have to find out what is freedom, what is reality? These questions cannot be answered by a mechanical mind. One has to put the questions to oneself fundamentally, deeply, inwardly, and find the answers for oneself, if there are answers - which means really questioning all authority. Apparently, that is one of the most difficult things to do. We never regard society as the enemy. We regard society as something with which we have to live, conform and adjust ourselves; we never think it is really the enemy of man, the enemy of freedom, the enemy of righteousness. Do think about it, look at it. Environment which is society is destroying freedom. It does not want a man who is free; it wants the saints, the reformers who would modify, bolster up, uphold the social institutions. But religion is something entirely different. The religious man is the enemy of society. The religious man is not a man who goes to church or goes to a temple, reads the Gita, does puja every day - he is not really religious at all. A really religious man has got rid of all ambition, envy, greed, fear, so that he has a mind that is young, fresh, new, so as to investigate, to find out what is beyond all the things that man has put together and which he calls religion. But all this requires a great deal of self-enquiry, an enquiry into oneself, self-knowing; and without that foundation you cannot go very far.

So, a mutation, a complete revolution, not a modified change but a complete mutation in the mind is necessary. `How to bring about this?' is the problem. We see it is necessary. Any man who has thought at all, who has observed the world-conditions, who is sensitive to what is going on within himself and outside of himself, must demand this mutation. But how is one to bring it about.

Now, first of all, is there a `how' - the `how' being the method, the system the way, the practice? If there is a way, if there is a method, if there is a system, and if you practise it in order to bring about a mutation, your mind is merely a slave to that system, your mind is shaped by that system, by that method, by that practice, and therefore can never be free. It is like saying, `I will discipline myself in order to be free'. Freedom and discipline do not go together which does not mean that you have become undisciplined. The very `seeking freedom' brings its own discipline. But the mind that has disciplined itself in a system, in a formula, in a belief, in ideas - such a mind can never be free. So, one has to see from the very beginning that the `how', which implies practice, discipline, the following of a formula, prevents mutation from taking place. That is the first thing that one has to see; because practice, method, or system becomes the authority which denies freedom and therefore mutation. One has really to see that fact, see the truth of that. I mean by `seeing' not seeing intellectually, verbally, but being emotionally in contact with that fact. We are emotionally in contact with the fact when we see a snake; there is no question about it, there is a direct challenge and a direct response. In the same way one has to see that any system however well thought out - it does not matter by whom - does deeply destroy freedom, does deeply pervert creation - not pervert, but stop creation - , because system implies gaining, an achievement, arriving somewhere, a reward, and therefore the very denial of freedom. That is why you will follow somebody, because you pursue the medium through which you gain - the medium being some kind of discipline.

But one must see this fact that the mind must be absolutely free - whether it is possible or not, that is quite a different matter - , that there must be freedom: otherwise, you become merely mechanical like any glorified machine. One has to see very clearly that freedom is essential. And it is only when there is freedom you can discover if there is, or if there is not, God or something immense, beyond the measure of man. Then you will begin to question every system, every authority, every structure of society. And the crisis demands this mind. Surely, only such a mind can find out what is true. It is only such a mind that can find out if there is, or if there is not, something beyond time, beyond the things that man has put together in his thought.

All this requires immense energy, and the essence of energy is the denial of conflict. A mind that is lost in conflict has no energy, whether the conflict is within oneself or outside with the world. All this requires immense investigation and understanding. And I hope that we can do this in the next six meetings: to be aware of the fact and to pursue the fact to its end and see whether the mind, our mind, your mind, can be really free.

Question: How is one to know if one has changed at all?

Krishnamurti: The gentleman wants to know: how does one know if one has changed at all? Even if it is a healthy change brought about by outward events, should it not be encouraged? How do you know anything? `How do you know you have changed?' is an important question - the gentleman says so. We will go into it. How do you know it? Either by direct experience, or you have been told about it. There are only two ways - someone tells you or informs you, or you have experienced yourself.

Now, is experience a criterion by which you know? Will your experience tell you what is true? Your experience is the response to a challenge and that experience is according to your background. Surely, you respond according to your background to every challenge; and your background is the result of innumerable influences, of thousand years of propaganda; and that propaganda may be good or may be bad. That background is the result of your conditioning, that background is your conditioning; and according to that conditioning, you respond to every challenge, however small. Is that the criterion of good and bad; or, is the good, the really healthy, outside the conditioning? You follow? This country is now beginning to worship flags, is becoming nationally conscious; and that is the new kind of conditioning that is going on.

Nationalism obviously is a poison because it is going to separate man and man. In the name of the flag we are going to destroy people, not only in this country but also in other countries as well. We think that it will be the rallying point which will bring unity to man; and that is the latest influence, the latest pressure, the latest propaganda. Now, without questioning that - merely accepting the influence of the daily newspaper or of the political leaders without questioning it - , how will you find out whether it is righteous, whether it is true or false, whether it is noble or ignoble? There is no influence which is good; every influence can be bad. So, your mind has to be like a razor to cut through this to find out, to be sane in a mad world where false things are worshipped.

So, that is why you have to enquire into your own conditioning; and the enquiry is the beginning of self-knowing.

Question: Can we keep our mind free when we are in contact with nature?

Krishnamurti: The gentleman asks: is it possible to be free when we are in contact with nature? I do not quite understand this question. Perhaps he means that we are being constantly stimulated by outward events, by our senses, and every stimulus leaves a mark on the mind as memory; and how can we be free of this memory? That is - let me make the question clear to myself also - how can a human being who is receiving all the time challenges in the form of stimuli, and is responding to them consciously or unconsciously from his background, from his memory - how can such a mind be free? And is it possible for such a mind to be free?

Now, may I put the question in a different way? I am not avoiding the question, I am putting it in a different way. Every experience leaves a mark on the mind as memory; every conscious or unconscious experience leaves a scratch which we call memory; and as long as that memory is in operation, can the mind be free?

What is the need for memory? I need to know where I live; otherwise, I could not get back home. I need to know how to build a house, I need to know how to run a bicycle, a motor. So, memory becomes essential in mechanical things; and that is why we create habits; once I have a habit I function without thinking, and that becomes mechanical. So, our life is made gradually mechanical through habit, through memory, through these so-called experiences which leave their mark. So, let us differentiate between the necessity of memory as mechanical and that of memory which is detrimental to further understanding. I need to know how to write; that memory is good. The English I am speaking is the result of memory, that is essential for communication; the technical knowledge, the know-how, of the things I have learnt is necessary to run an office, to function in a factory and so on. But when society, through culture, through tradition, imposes on the mind a certain belief, and according to that belief I function mechanically, are not that belief and that mechanical pursuit according to that belief detrimental to the mind and therefore denying freedom? You are Hindus. You have been told so for centuries, you have been brought up from childhood in believing certain things, and that has become automatic, mechanical; you believe in God absolutely - that is mechanical. Must you not deny the whole of that to find out? If you observe, you can deny all that, wipe out all that memory as being a Hindu.

So, there is freedom when you see the things that have been imposed upon you in thought - as thought, as an idea, as a belief, as a dogma - , when you deny them and go into the whole process of denial, why you deny. Then out of that comes freedom, though you are mechanically functioning in the daily events of life.

You may say man is merely the result of environment - which you are. It is no good pretending you are not, and saying you are Paramatman - a kind of propaganda which you swallow, which you have been told. So, the fact is that you are the result of environment - the climate, the food, the newspapers, the magazines, the mother, the grandmother, the religion, the society, the social and moral values. You are that, and it is no good denying you are not that but saying you are God - that again is merely propaganda. One has to admit that, to see the fact of that, and to break through it. Is it possible to break through it? It is not possible verbally, theoretically. But if you go into it factually step by step, deny totally being a Hindu or an Indian or a Christian or what you will - which means to enquire into the whole question of fear which we are not going into now, because that involves a great deal - , then you can find out whether man can be free or not; but merely speculating about freedom is utterly useless.

Question: Does not thought function in symbols?

Krishnamurti: The lady says: thought functions in symbols, thought is word; and is it possible to wipe away symbols and the word, and therefore let a new thought come into being? Symbols and words have been imposed upon us through centuries upon centuries. Now, is it possible to be aware of the symbols and the source of those symbols and to go beyond them? First of all, we must enquire not only into the conscious mind but also into the unconscious. Otherwise, we will merely be dealing with words - again with merely symbols and not with actuality. There is only consciousness. We divide our consciousness into the conscious and the unconscious for convenience, but there is no actual division as such. We are dividing it for convenience; there is no such division as the conscious mind and the unconscious mind. The conscious mind is the educated mind which has learnt the new language, the new technique - how to go to the office, how to run an engine-; it has recently been educated to live in this world. The unconscious, comprising the deeper layers of that mind, is the result of centuries of racial inheritance, of racial fears, of the residue of man's experience - collective as well as individual - the things that one has heard in boyhood, the things that one's great-grandmother told one, the influences that one has gathered by reading a newspaper, of which one is not absolutely conscious. So, the influences, the past, whether the immediate past or ten thousand years past - all those have taken root in the unconscious. You do not have to agree with me, it is a psychological fact, it is not a matter of my invention with which you agree or disagree. This is so. It is so, only if you have gone into yourself: - not reading books and saying it is so. If you have gone into yourself very deeply, you are bound to come across this. If you have merely read books and come to a conclusion, then you have to agree or disagree - it has no importance at all.

All thinking is symbolic. All thinking is the result of, is the response to, your memory; that memory is very deep, and that memory responds in words, in symbols. And the lady asks: is it possible to be free of these symbols? Is it possible for the Christian to be free of the symbol of Jesus and the Cross? Is it possible for the Hindu to be free of the idea of Krishna, the Gita and all that? The lady also asks: how did these symbols arise? You know it is much easier to get excited about the symbol rather than about reality. The symbol is the means of propaganda in the hands of the propagandist. The symbol is the flag, and you can get terribly excited about the flag. Now the symbol of Krishna, the symbol of the Cross and all the rest of it - how does it arise? Obviously, to make man behave in a certain pattern, to make man conform to authority through fear, because this world is a deteriorating world, a messy world, a confused world; and the Cross and Krishna are symbols with which to escape from this world. The authority says, `Look to that, and you will be happy; cultivate that, and you will become noble' and all the rest of it. So, through fear, through the desire to be secure psychologically, inwardly, symbols come into being.

A mind that is not afraid inwardly, deeply, has no symbol. Why should it have a symbol of any kind? When the mind is no longer seeking security of any kind, why should it function in symbols? Then it is facing the fact and not an idea of the fact, which becomes the symbol. So, psychologically, inwardly, for most of us, symbols become extraordinarily important. And the lady asks: is it possible not only to be aware of the symbols and their source, but also of the fear? I can say, `Yes', but it will have no importance because it is my word against somebody else's word. But if you can go deeply into yourself, think and be aware of all the thought-process - why you think, how you think, and whether there is such a thing as going beyond form - and enquire into all this, it will be your direct experience. And it is only such a mind which knows the source of the symbol, and which is free of the symbol and of the word; it is only such a mind which is free.

Question: Can a mind be free and yet have faith? Krishnamurti: The gentleman asks: can a mind that is free, have faith?

Obviously not. Faith in what? Why should I have faith in a fact? I see a fact, I see I am jealous; why should I have faith, and say that one day I will not be jealous? I am dealing with the fact, and the fact is I am jealous; and I am going to wipe it out. To find out how to do it - that is more important for me than to have faith in not being jealous, faith in the idea.

So, a mind that is enquiring into freedom destroys everything to find out. Therefore, such a mind is a very dangerous mind. Therefore, society is an enemy to such a mind.

Question: How is one to stop one's mind from getting conditioned?

Krishnamurti: The gentleman asks: what is the concrete action that will arrest conditioning? What is the definite action that will stop a mind from being conditioned?

It can only be stopped when you are aware of the conditioning processes. When you read the newspaper every day, as you do, in which nothing but politics is discussed, obviously that is being imprinted in your mind. But to read a newspaper and not be influenced, to see the world as it is and not to be influenced, requires a very alert mind, a very sharp mind, a mind that can reason sanely, rationally, logically - which means a very sensitive mind.

Now, the question is: how to bring about a sensitive mind? Sirs, there is no `how', there is no method; if there were a method, it would be like taking a tranquillizer - you know what it is, it is a pill that will tranquillize all your troubles, put you to sleep. To be aware of all the difficulties - which is to know them, to watch them, just to feel them, not verbally but actually, to know them as you know your hunger, your sexual appetites - that very knowing, that very contact with the fact, makes the mind sensitive. To know that you have no courage - not that you must develop courage - , to know that you cannot stand by yourself, to know that you cannot stand up for what you think, to know the fact that you have not the capacity, brings you the capacity; you do not have to search for capacity.

January 1, 1962


Varanasi 1962

Varanasi 1st Public Talk 1st January 1962

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