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Madras 1964 (1)

Madras 2nd Public Talk 15th January 1964

To understand something completely, however trivial or great, one must give complete attention, untrammelled and free. Otherwise, one cannot understand - especially those things that demand careful study and intimate knowledge. To give attention there must be freedom; otherwise, one cannot attend. You cannot give yourself completely over to something, if you are not free. And to understand the extraordinary thing called truth, which is yet simple and at the same time quite complex, one must give this untrammelled attention. And, as I said, freedom is essential. For truth does not belong to any religion, to any system; nor is it to be found in any book. You cannot learn it from another, nor can another lead you to it. One must completely understand it and give oneself to it. So, you must come to it free, untrammelled and with a state of mind that has understood itself and, therefore, is free from all illusion.

Freedom - to be free - is becoming more and more difficult. As society becomes more complex and as industrialization becomes wider and deeper and more organized, there is less and less freedom for man. As one observes, when the State becomes all-powerful, when there is social welfare, the care of the Welfare State over the citizens is so complete that there is less and less freedom, outwardly. And outwardly one becomes a slave to society, to the pressure of society; in this pressure of organized existence there is no longer the tribal existence, but the industrialized, organized, centralized control. Outwardly, there is less and less freedom. Where there is more progress, there is less freedom. This is obvious, as you see in every society becoming more complex, more organized.

So, outwardly there is the pressure of the control, the shaping of the mind of the individual - technologically, industrially. Being so outwardly held, there is naturally the tendency to become inwardly, psychologically, more and more entrenched in a particular pattern of existence. Again this is an obvious fact. So, for one who is serious enough to find out whether there is such a thing as Reality, to find out what is truth - the truth not put together by man in his fear, in his despair; the truth that is not a tradition, a repetition, a thing that is an instrument of propaganda - to find that out, there must be complete freedom. Outwardly perhaps, there may not be freedom; but inwardly, there must be absolute freedom.

And to understand this question of freedom is one of the most difficult things. I do not know if you have gone into it at all. Even if you have thought about it, do you know what it means to be free? By freedom I do not mean the abstract, ideational freedom, liberation - that is too abstract, too far away; it may have no reality at all; it may be the invention of a mind that is in despair, in fear, in agony, and that has constructed verbally a pattern, hoping to achieve a verbal state but not an actuality. We are talking of freedom, not in abstraction but actually; we are talking of the everyday freedom, inwardly, in which, psychologically, there is no bondage to anything. Is that possible? Theoretically and ideationally it may be possible. But we are not concerned with ideas, with theories, with speculative religious hopes; but we are concerned with facts.

Is it possible for a mind, psychologically, inwardly, to be totally free. Outwardly you may go to the office every day, belong to a certain class of people, to a particular society and so on - which you must, which is absolutely necessary to gain a livelihood. But will the stresses and strains of outward conditioning, outward conformity to a pattern of a particular society - will that control the psyche, the whole process of our thinking? And is there such a thing as complete psychological freedom? Because without freedom, absolute psychological freedom, there is no possibility whatsoever of finding Reality, finding out what God is - if there is such a thing. Freedom is an absolute necessity, and most of us do want to be free: that is the first thing to realize.

So, is it possible to be psychologically free so as to discover for oneself what is truth? Because in the very process of understanding or in the very act of understanding what is truth, you are able to help your fellow man; otherwise, you cannot help; otherwise, you bring more confusion, more misery to man - which again is obvious, which is shown by all these things.

Truth which is made manifest by another or described by another or told by another - however wise, however intelligent - is not truth. You have to find it, you have to understand it. I withdraw that word `find' - you cannot find truth; you cannot set about deliberately, consciously, to find it. You must come upon truth darkly, unknowingly. But you cannot come upon it if your mind, if your psyche, inwardly is not completely, totally free.

To discover anything, even in the scientific field, the mind must be free. The mind must be untrammelled to see something new. But most of our minds, unfortunately, are not fresh, young, innocent - to see, to observe, to understand. We are full of experiences, not only the experiences that one has gathered recently - I mean by `recently' within the last fifty, sixty, or a hundred years - but also the experience of man, ageless. We are cluttered with all that: which is our knowledge, conscious or unconscious; the conscious knowledge is what we have acquired through education in the modern world, at the present time.

Now, it is important, when you are hearing these words, that you are actually listening. I think there is a difference between listening and hearing. You can hear words and interpret those words, giving your own particular meaning or the meaning according to a particular dictionary, and remain at the level of purely verbal communication. And when you are so hearing words intellectually, there is either agreement or disagreement. Please do follow this a little bit. We are not exchanging opinions. We are not dialectically investigating the truth of opinions. We are investigating, trying to understand truth - not the truth of opinions, not the truth of what other people have said. If you listen - which is entirely different from hearing - then there is neither agreement nor disagreement. You are actually listening to find out what is true and what is false - which is not dependent on your judgment, or on your opinion, or on your knowledge, or on your conditioning. So, you have to listen, if you want to be serious. If you merely want to be flippant and have intellectual amusement, that is all right too. But if you are really serious and want to have the urgency to find out what is truth, you have to listen. The act of listening is not agreement or disagreement. And that is the beauty of listening. Then you comprehend totally. If you listen to that crow, then you will see that you are listening so completely that you are not comparing, that you are not interpreting the sound as the sound of a crow. You are listening purely to the sound, without interpretation, without identification, therefore not comparing. And that is the act of listening.

Now, if we are communicating with each other verbally - and that is all we can do - then you must not only hear the word - that is the nature and the meaning of that word - but also listen without agreement or disagreement, without comparing, without interpreting; you must actually give complete attention. Then you will see for yourself immediately, the whole significance of what is implied in that word `freedom'. One can understand it immediately. And all understanding, the act of understanding, is immediate, whether it is tomorrow or today. And the state of understanding is then timeless; it is not a gradual, accumulative process.

So, we are not merely communicating verbally with each other, but also we are actually listening to each other. You are listening to yourself as well as hearing the speaker. What the speaker is saying is irrelevant, but what you listen to is relevant - please, this is not being clever. Because it is the listener, you, that has to find out what is truth, and it is the listener that has to understand this whole structure, the anatomy, the depth and the fullness of freedom. The speaker is merely verbally communicating. And if you merely hear the words and say, "This is your opinion", "This is my opinion", "I agree", "I disagree", "This is what Sankara or Buddha has said", then you and I are not communicating. Then we are merely indulging - at least you are - in opinions. So we must be very clear, from the very beginning that we are not only hearing the verbal communication - the word, the meaning of the word, and the nature of the word - but are also listening.

So you have a double job - hearing the words and listening. Naturally, when you hear the word, the word has a meaning, and that meaning evokes certain responses, certain memories, certain reactions. And at the same time you have to listen without reaction, without opinion, without judgment, without comparison. So, your task is much greater than the speaker`s; it is not the other way round - which most of us are used to; the speaker does all the work and you just listen, agree or disagree, and go away elated, amused, intellectually alerted; and such a state has no validity at all, you can just as well go to a cinema.

But the man who is serious, has the seriousness that demands complete attention, an attention that will go right through. Such a man must know this art of listening. If you know the art of listening, there is nothing more to be said. Then you will listen to the crow, to the bird, to the whisper of the breeze among the leaves; and you will also listen to yourself, to the mutterings of your own mind, to your own heart, and to the intimation of your own unconsciousness. Then you are in a state of acute, intense listening and, therefore, you are no longer indulging in opinions.

So, if you are at all serious, you would listen that way; and you must listen that way. Because, as I said, freedom is absolutely necessary for the understanding of what is truth. And without understanding it, life becomes very shallow, empty; you become merely mechanical. And in the act of understanding what is true - which is to listen - life begins anew.

Our minds are not fresh. Our minds have lived a thousand years - please do not bring in reincarnation; if you bring in reincarnation, you are not listening. When I used the word `thousand years', I mean not only `you' but `man'. You are the result of a thousand years of man. You are a vast consciousness, only you have appropriated a part of it, built a wall round it, enclosed it, and you say, "That is my individuality". And when I say `thousand years', I am not talking of that enclosure - a barbed wire enclosure which most people are. I am talking of that state of consciousness which is immense, wide, which has had a thousand experiences, and which has been encrusted, burdened, weighted down by tradition, by knowledge, by every form of hope, fear, despair, anxiety, agony, greed, ambition - not only the ambition of the enclosed but also the ambition of `man'. So our minds are made dull by the past: again that is a psychological fact; it is not your opinion against mine.

So, with that mind, with that psyche which has experienced, which has retained every scar, every memory, every movement of thought as memory - with that you approach life. Or, with that you approach that thing which you want to discover: what is truth? And obviously, you cannot. Like for anything else, you must have a fresh mind. To look at a flower, though you may have seen it for the last ten years, to look at that flower anew, as though you were seeing it for the first time in your life, you must have a fresh mind - a fresh, innocent, tremendously alert mind. Otherwise, you cannot see - you see only the memories which you have projected into that flower, but you do not see the flower. Please do understand this.

Once you understand the act of seeing as the act of listening, you will have grasped something extraordinary in your life; it will never leave you again. As our minds are so jaded, made dull by society, by circumstances, by our own fears, despairs, by aIl the brutalities, the insults, the pressures, the mind has become mechanical, dull, stupid, heavy. And with that mind we want to understand; obviously we cannot.

So the question is: Is it possible to be free of that? Otherwise, you cannot see even the flower. I do not know if when you get up early in the morning you see the Southern Cross - the stars in the heavens. If you have at all looked at the sky - which I doubt - perhaps you have seen the stars, you know their names, you have placed them. And after seeing them for a few years, a few days, or a few weeks, you have forgotten and you say, "This is Jupiter, Mars, this and that". But to wake up in the morning, look out of the window or step into the street and see it afresh with unclouded eyes, with an untrammelled mind - then only can you understand the beauty and the depth and the silence that is between you and that. Then only can you see. And for that, you must be free; you cannot bring all your experience, and look.

So, our question then is: Is it possible to be free of knowledge? Knowledge is the immediate past which accumulates. Every experience that you have is translated and stored and recorded; and with that record you approach the next experience. And, therefore, you never understand experience; you are merely translating each challenge according to the response of the past and, therefore, strengthening the record. This is what is taking place in the electronic brain, in the computer. Only we are a poor imitation of the mechanical, wonderful instrument called the computer. Is it possible to be free? Otherwise, you cannot possibly find out what is truth - you might talk about it everlastingly as the politicians quote the Gita. So, you have to enquire. And the enquiry is not verbal, intellectual; but it is the state of mind that is listening.

Knowledge becomes our authority - as tradition, as experience, as what you have read, as what you have learned, and as the authority asserted by those who say they know. The moment you say you know, you do not know! Truth is not something you can know about. It has to be perceived from moment to moment - as the beauty of the tree, the sky, the sunset. So, knowledge becomes the authority which guides, which shapes, which gives us courage, which gives us the strength to go on. Please follow all this because we have to understand the anatomy of authority - the authority of the government, the authority of the law, the authority of the policeman, the psychological authority which is your own experiences and the traditions that have been handed down, consciously or unconsciously; they become the guide, they become a warning signal as to what to do and what not to do. It is all in the realm of memory. And that is what we are actually. Our mind is the result of a thousand experiences with their memories and with their scratches, of the traditions handed down by society, by religion, and of the traditions of education. With that mind so burdened with memory, we try to understand something which cannot be understood through memory. So one has to be free from authority.

I do not know if you understand the meaning of that word `authority'. The meaning of that word in itself, is `the origin', `one who originates something new `. Look at your own religion! I don't know if you are at all a religious person - probably you are not. You mutter a lot of words, go to the temple, repeat some words - which you call religious. Now what an extraordinary weight of tradition the so-called spiritual leaders and saints have established in your minds - the Gita, the Upanishads, Sankara and other interpreters of the Gita! These interpreters take their stand on the Gita and interpret, and you go on interpreting. And that interpretation you consider to be most extraordinary; and the one who interprets you call a religious man. But that person is conditioned by his own fears; he worships a particular stone, either made by the hand or by the mind! That tradition is driven into you through the propaganda of a thousand years - not through recent propaganda - and you accept it; and that shapes your thinking.

So, if you would be free, you have to wipe away all that - wipe away Sankaras, Buddhas, all the religious books and teachers - and be yourself, to find out. Otherwise, you cannot know the extraordinary beauty and the significance of what is Truth, and you will never know what Love is.

So, can you, who have been shaped by Sankaras, by the many saints, by the temples, wipe them all out? You have to wipe them out. You have to stand completely alone, unaided, without despair, without fear; only then can you find out. But to wipe away, to deny totally - not negatively to say, "Let it go", but to deny completely - you have to understand this whole anatomy and structure, the being of authority; you have to understand the man that seeks authority. You cannot remove authority from the man who wants it, because that is his only solace, that is his bread and butter - as it is of the politician, of the priest or of the philosopher. But if you want to understand the extraordinary thing called truth, you must have no authority. Because it is only the fresh mind, the innocent mind, the young vibrant mind, that can understand these things, not the mind driven, shaped, weakened, burdened by the past. Either it is so, or it is not so. Either you say, "It is not possible to be free of the past, this knowledge, this authority which the mind seeks because of its own poverty, because of its own despair, as something to lean on; the mind can never be free from authority, the past, the things that it has learnt, acquired, amassed". Or you say that the mind can be free of the past. But you have to find out; you cannot say that it can be free, or that it cannot be free - that is merely indulging in an opinion, and that is absolutely worthless; that has to be left to the philosophers. If you want to find out, you have to enquire into whether it is possible or not; you cannot accept or deny.

So you have to learn about knowledge and authority. When you are learning, there is no contradiction, because you are learning. But if you are merely acquiring knowledge, then there is contradiction. Please do see this thing. If you are merely accumulating knowledge, then you will be in conflict, because the thing which you are acquiring knowledge about, is a thing living, moving, changing, and, therefore, between what you have accumulated and the reality, there is a contradiction. But if you are learning about it, then there is no contradiction; therefore, there is no conflict. Therefore the mind that is learning is gathering energy, because it is not in a state of conflict. But when a mind is accumulating and from there adding, looking, observing from knowledge, then there is contradiction; then there is conflict and, therefore, dissipation of energy.

So the man who learns has no conflict; but the man who is merely gathering information in order to live according to a particular pattern established by himself or by his society or by some religious person whoever he is - that man is in contradiction and, therefore, in conflict.

And, as we said the other day, conflict is the very essence of disintegration. conflict arises not only from the past, but also in relation to the present. The conflict also arises when you have ideals - `that you must be this' or `that you must be in such and such a state', `marvellous, ennobling ideas'. It is very important to understand the nature of an ideal. The ideal is not the reality. An idea, projected by a mind which is in conflict, becomes an ideal according to which it must live; and therefore the mind is in conflict, in contradiction. But a mind that is listening to a fact, not to an ideal - such a mind is not in conflict and, therefore, it is moving from fact to fact. And therefore, such a mind is in a state of energy. And without this energy you cannot go very far. You are merely dissipating it in contradictions, in trying to become this and not that.

So you have to observe, you have to listen, you have to see the fact - the `what is' - and remain with that fact. And this is an extraordinarily difficult thing to do.

Obviously you have not thought about all this, or it does not come to you naturally, as the rains come out of the sky. You are hearing this, probably for the first time, or you have read about it. As the speaker has talked about it many times, you say, "Well, he is back to his old words". But if you are listening, if you are aware of what the speaker intends, then you will see as a fact that what you have is knowledge, and you will remain with that. The fact is that you are completely the past in relation to the present; the past may be modified, changed, but still you are always moving, being, in the past.

Now, what do we mean by `to live with that fact'? That is: not to accept it, not to deny it, but to listen to it - to listen to all the subtle movements, intimations, the questions, the answers it prompts; not to deny it, because you cannot, because then you may end up in an asylum. That is what it means actually to observe the fact and to live with it.

Now, when you live with something - with your wife, with your children, with a tree, with your idea - either you get accustomed to it so that it no longer exists, or you live with it, observing everything. The moment you get accustomed to something, you become insensitive. If I get used to this tree, then I am insensitive to this tree. If I am insensitive to the tree, I am also insensitive to the dirt as well as to the people; I am insensitive to everything. But to be attentive to something is not to get used to it, not to get used to the dirt, the squalor, the family, the wife, the children. Not to get used to something requires a great deal of attention and, therefore, energy. I hope you are following this.

So, a mind that would understand what is true has to comprehend, not ideationally, the whole significance of what is freedom. Freedom is not liberation in some heavenly world, but it is the freedom of every day, the freedom from jealousy, the freedom from attachment, the freedom from ambition, the freedom from competition - which is `the more', `I must be better', `I am this and I must become that'. But, when you observe what you are, there is no becoming something else than what you are; then there is an immediate transformation of that which is.

So, a mind that will go very far must begin very near. But you cannot go very far if you merely verbalize on something that man has created as Truth, as God. You must begin very near and lay the foundation. And even to lay that foundation, there must be freedom. And, therefore, you lay your foundation on freedom, in freedom - thus, it is no longer a foundation; it is a movement, it is not something static.

It is only when the mind has understood the extraordinary nature of knowledge, freedom and learning, that conflict ceases; only then does the mind become very clear, precise. It is not caught in opinions, in judgments; it is in a state of attention; and therefore it is in a state of complete energy and learning. It is only when the mind is still that it can learn - not `learn about what?' It is only the still mind that can learn; and what is important is not what it learns about, but the state of learning, the state of silence in which it is learning.

January 15, 1964


Madras 1964 (1)

Madras 2nd Public Talk 15th January 1964

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