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Amsterdam, talks in Europe 1967

Talks in Europe 1967 1st Public Talk Amsterdam 20th May 1967

TO COMMUNICATE ABOUT facts, information, is comparatively easy. To communicate about theories, ideas, dogmas and theological concepts is perhaps a little more difficult. But to communicate at a deeper level, at a depth not of ideas and words, but of our human problems - at the centre of our human complexities, our miseries, our agonies, and all the confusion that man is heir to - there to communicate requires attention and care; also a certain quality of listening.

Most of us hardly listen; we hear a great many words, we hear and translate what we hear into our own opinions, opposing and accepting. But I mean, really to listen without translation, without interpretation, without opinion; actually to listen without any sense of condemnation - which doesn't necessarily mean acceptance. On the contrary, when we so listen attentively, and with care, it is really with a sense of affection and love - because without attention and care it is not possible to listen to anything. If you listen to music or to anything you believe in, you must give attention, and also you must care, care enormously, to actually listen to the breeze among the leaves. In the same way, to listen to what the speaker is going to say needs a great deal of attention; and there is no possibility of attention when the mind is occupied with judgment, opinion, comparison, condemnation or justification. But to actually listen! Condemnation or comparison merely act as distractions, and therefore there is no listening. First one has to understand the words. What is said in words is not the fact; the word is never the fact; the thing. We must go beyond the word in order to understand, in order to communicate; and that is going to be our problem (amongst many others: not only how to listen, but also to go beyond the word. To go beyond the word is necessary because we have so many problems in life, not only physical, but also the deeper psychological problems. We have enormous problems, not only the individual problem but the collective, social problem. The individual is part of the social structure, and this structure has been created by individuals throughout the world. The social structure outwardly is the inward, psychological structure of our human relationships.

To understand these problems one must have a very alert mind; not a sloppy mind, not a complex, erudite learned mind, but rather a mind that is willing to see clearly, willing to examine, explore - not in terms of its own idiosyncrasies, nor inclination, nor temperament, but rather to examine things as they are; and to examine things as they are one has to have attention, care.

We have to enquire deeply within, most profoundly - because there must be a revolution, a psychological revolution; we are not talking about communist, social or economic revolutions - these have not fundamentally changed man. There have been many revolutions, wars, and they have had a superficial, secondary effect. But basically, fundamentally, deep down, we human beings are the same as we have been for millions of years. There has been progress technologically, from the bullock cart to the jet-engine; but psychologically, inwardly, we have not changed at all - hardly, a little bit, here and there. But fundamentally, radically, we are what we have been - greedy, envious, full of antagonism, anxieties, despairs, with an occasional flash of joy and affection. It is there, it seems to me, that one has to change - and change infinitely. And that is what we are going to talk over together during these five talks.

We are human beings, whether we live in India, in the extreme Orient, in America, or in Russia we are human beings with our human problems, miseries, conflicts, despairs. Each part of the world has invented a philosophy, a theory, which has nothing to do with actual daily living, and it is only in that daily, intolerable living, the everyday loneliness, everyday boredom, everyday routine, going to the office, the ugliness or beauty of sex, the constant conflict within - it is there that we have to change.

One observes throughout the world there are two fundamental issues, violence and sorrow. That violence and sorrow is not limited to the Orient nor the Occident, to the West nor the East; it is part of the human psychological structure. Violence we have accepted as a way of life - in wars, in our business, in our outward social structure; competition and all the things we know of - how we dislike, hate, get angry, violent. We are familiar with that and have accepted it as a way of life. That is, though we talk endlessly about love and loving our neighbour, when we are actually in the office, in business, we cut his throat. There is war going on - there have been thousands of wars and we have accepted war, conflict, violence, as a way of life. We have also accepted sorrow; the sorrow of everyday life, everyday misery, everyday quarrels, conflict, unfulfillment; the sorrow of loneliness, despair, the sorrow of not having loved, the sorrow of death, and the endless complexities of our psyche. And having accepted that, not knowing how to resolve it totally, we worship sorrow as the Christians do: put a cross and figure on it; and we think by worshipping it we have solved it. In the Orient they think differently. They say, well perhaps the next life will be better.

So we are concerned with human beings not being able to find a way out of this violence, out of this misery, out of this endless sorrow. From the moment we are born until we die, we know nothing except violence and sorrow, with an occasional ray of light, an occasional flash of joy and ecstasy, which again becomes memory and therefore loses its significance. So what we are concerned with is, whether it is at all possible to find a way out for a human being living in this rotten society, in this society built by man through his greed and envy, through his violence, his despair; this society in which religion is merely an idea, a belief, dogma with authority and acceptance - which is not religion at all. Organized religion in any form ceases to be religion; when there is a priest, it is no longer a religion. When you have to go to a church to worship God, then it means there is no God in the church. Because in our hearts, in our minds, we are a violent, sick people. And a tortured mind, a brutal mind, a sorrowful mind, can never find that which man has been seeking, trying to understand through millennia.

So it seems to me that what is important is whether it is possible to change the whole psychological structure of ourselves, totally, completely. That is, to bring about a fundamental revolution in the psyche, which means, in the mind, in the heart, in the very structure of our being. So that there is no possibility of ever being violent, nor ever entering the field of sorrow. It is a fundamental question, not a question that is casually asked and passed by. It is a question that must be asked, but unfortunately when we do ask we are satisfied merely by explanations, as are the psychoanalysts with their peculiar theories. The analysts seek and find a cause for one's disarrangement, for neurotic states and so forth. But that process of analysis obviously does not fundamentally change the human mind; it helps him perhaps to be free from certain neurotic states, but such analysis does not fundamentally change the human mind. So that is our problem, it seems to me, our basic fundamental problem: whether the human mind, which is the result of many millions of years, which has evolved from the animal - we are still part of the animal, with its fears, with its antagonisms, with its instinct to hoard and so on - whether such a mind which has invented gods, saviours, theories, that endlessly talks about un-realities, inventing philosophies - whether such a mind, however complex, can actually bring about a revolution, a mutation.

That is the issue. Can one investigate through oneself what one is, the animal, the highly sophisticated, educated, technological mind, with all the background of its conditioning, as a Christian, a Hindu, a Muslim, a Buddhist, or the latest form of Communism - whether such a mind, so heavily conditioned, can be changed by analysis, taking endless years examining, exploring layer after layer of consciousness? All that implies time, and not only time; but also any error in examination distorts every other fact. Yet all the religions throughout the world have claimed that to be free from human bondage, from human sorrow, you must control, practise, meditate, deny, be harsh to yourself; give up this, give up that, follow this, follow that, accept authority, obey, take vows. But that is to create habits, other forms of conditioning: to add to the already existing conditioning some more conditioning.

This is what we have accepted as the norm of life - to follow, to obey, to accept the authority either of the priest, or of the analyst, or the theologian. As has been done in the Orient as well as the Occident, to accept the priest as the final authority between God and yourself which is obviously absurd. So we know this, that is we know a way of gradually peeling off, gradually exploring till we hope to come upon something that will give us total freedom, total freedom from all anxiety, despair, sorrow and misery, confusion. And that is the way we live; we think that gradually through time there will be freedom from war, from national disasters. You know, it is one of the most peculiar things that it has taken centuries to bring about a Common Market and yet there are people who are preventing this happening. And it shows how extraordinarily dull our minds are although we can live peace. Fully - that means living peacefully daily, in our daily life, not in some heaven, but in every moment of our daily life; which means no nationality, no wars, no competition. And we have taken centuries to come to this most obvious thing, to break down national barriers, economic barriers, because we really don't want to break down these barriers. We take great pleasure in our national spirit, in our uniforms, our queens, our generals, in our theoretical religious ideas. And this has been going on for centuries and centuries. And is it possible, one asks, to bring about a change radically, a total revolution in the psyche itself, not through time.

The question of time is very important to understand. Is there actually tomorrow? I know chronologically, by the watch, there is tomorrow - tomorrow happens to be a Sunday, a holiday. But psychologically, is there tomorrow at all, or is it an invention of the mind? Today is a miserable day, unhappy, unfulfilled; tomorrow perhaps it will be better, there will be better opportunities, a better way of looking at the tree, at the field, at the bird. But actually is there a tomorrow at all psychologically? Or is there only today - not in the Existentialist sense, because they also have their theories, invented by people who are very clever, who are utterly in despair, and to them today, the now, matters enormously because there is nothing - no meaning to life at all. Therefore they say: live as well as you can for today and tomorrow doesn't matter. But to live completely today means that one has to understand the totality of the past; because we are the past, with all our memories, the scars of memory, the longings; the whole structure of ourselves is of the past.

We are revolted with the present system, the established order doesn't bring freedom, revolt is never freedom, revolt is merely a reaction, and reaction creates other sets of reactions and patterns. That is what is actually happening throughout the world, among the younger generation. They are in revolt, long-haired, dirty and all the rest of it - taking drugs! But they are also setting their own pattern of life, which becomes the norm, in which they are caught - and therefore there is no freedom in reaction at all.

So is it possible to be free? Not economically free, I don't mean that. I mean free from violence, free from sorrow, so that a mind that is free is never again touched by violence, never again knows what sorrow is. Is it possible having lived a million, or two million, or three million years, is it at all possible to be free? And what do we mean by freedom? Most of us want to be free, we want to be free from despair, from the agony, from the aching loneliness, the boredom and viciousness of life. One wants to be free. And is it possible?

Is freedom a thing to be achieved through a gradual process of time, through discipline, control, suppression? Or is freedom at the beginning, not at the end? That is, to examine there must be freedom. To actuality look at this microphone, or look at your neighbour, to look at a tree, or a bird, or the light on a canal, to actually see them, there must be freedom. And this freedom doesn't lie at the end of one's miserable life, but it lies at the beginning. And there is freedom when you realize for yourself that to see, to examine, to explore this whole sociological structure, to question the psyche is to understand by that very questioning that there must be freedom. When one demands it the urgency is there because one wants to understand immediately. Then with that urgency comes attention, care, and therefore that attention and care are beauty and love, and that is freedom, it is not a concept.

One of the peculiar states of our existence is that we live according to concepts, formulas, ideas, theories. If you examine your own mind, if you look at yourself without too much prejudice, you will see how your mind works in theories, in ideas. So the first and last freedom is really when the mind is totally free from concepts and from the mechanical process of building a concept, a formula. To look at a tree, at the sunset, or a cloud full of light and glory, to merely look there must be freedom; freedom from your ideas, your memories - freedom to look! Very few can so look because they have images about the thing at which they are looking; so these images, symbols, knowledge, prevent the actual act of looking. I think it is fairly simple when you observe what actually takes place in human relationships.

You know, what we are talking about is not theoretical, nor some Oriental mystification, but actual facts, and when you look at a fact you can't have opinions. When you examine something, examination ceases if you look with a particular opinion, judgment, valuation, condemnation, and so on. So what we are saying is, look at your relationship and you will soon understand how extraordinary it is. The relationship you have between yourself and your wife, your neighbour, or your queens or kings - this relationship is based on images - the image you have about your wife and the wife has about you. And the relationship is between these two images, which is no relationship at all. That is, we have concepts. Please do observe this in your own mind, not merely listen to a lot of words and then agree or disagree, but actually examine as you are listening; look at your own mind. You will soon find out how burdened we are with concepts, ideas, with formulas, the good, the bad, "this is right", "this is wrong", "this is evil", "this is sin". With this background we look. And obviously when we do look we look at nothing; we look at our own projections.

So look at yourself, and one must, because self-knowledge, the knowing of oneself, is the beginning of wisdom. Knowing oneself, as one actually is, is the ending of sorrow. And you cannot look at yourself if you have formulas, concepts - those are the images, the symbols, the background that looks.

So we are talking of freedom. Obviously to live in this world completely, totally, there must be freedom. As we said, freedom is entirely different from revolt; freedom demands great maturity, great sensitivity and intelligence. When we use the word `intelligence' we want a definition of that word. What do you mean by intelligence? We think we are very intelligent if we can define and accept that word - that is, accept the definition. The very explanation of what intelligence is, and the definition of intelligence, ceases to be intelligent. But one has to find out for oneself what is intelligence, because freedom demands intelligence, as peace demands that you live peacefully every day, every minute, otherwise you contribute to war, contribute to violence. And is it possible for human beings, with their structure of violence and sorrow, not only at the conscious level but at the unconscious level, totally to be free from violence? And who is the entity who is setting up the mechanism that is going to operate, which will free him?

Do you understand? I want to be free from sorrow, from violence. That is an obvious demand, an obvious necessity, because we have had so many wars; there have been two appalling wars in these countries. And one asks after being tortured - everything that is implied in war - one asks, is it possible to be free from violence, right through? To enquire into the possibility there must be freedom; merely to enquire - not to say, it is not possible or it is possible, which becomes merely sentimental and has no value at all. But actually to examine; that is to go into the psychological structure of our whole being; because we have produced wars, each one of us, through our national, economic divisions, our divisions as the family, as the country, as my God and your God. And as we are totally responsible for these wars, to find out whether it is possible to be free from this violence, one must actually be free now to examine. And I think that becomes one of the most difficult things. To actually be free to look; that is, to look implies freedom from concepts. it is the concept that has built the psychological structure of society; my concept as a Hindu, or a Buddhist, or as a Christian; my concept that I'm much more important than somebody else - my ambition, my greed, my envy, my brutality, is a concept. And to actually enquire into that concept I must be free to examine it. But, you see, freedom implies danger, insecurity. Because you don't know by examining what is going to come. So one is frightened. And we don't want freedom to examine, to change, to radically uproot the whole psychological structure of our being. Because we don't know then what will happen to our very existence. So there is fear.

Now is it possible, living in this world, in a society which is corrupt, which is based on acquisitiveness, is it possible for a human being to be free totally from fear? Because when one is not free from fear, one lives in darkness. One may have marvellous theories - may invent gods by the hundreds, one saviour or ten saviours, but as long as there is fear in any form there must be confusion; which means a state of mind is necessary which realizes that when it is free from fear it is no longer seeking security in any form psychologically. Obviously outwardly there must be security, to have food, clothes and shelter; but psychologically, inwardly, `inside the skin', to be free from fear means clarity, and when there is clarity, there is no problem. For that which is light, there is no darkness. And there is darkness when there is fear: hence the problem. So is it possible to be free from fear? Not in some future day, but actually to be free from fear every day? This is a question that demands, like every other human problem which is of great complexity, that we approach it very simply. Our human problems are very complex, and anything that is complex we have to learn about; and to learn about it we must be very simple. We must come to it very simply, not with complex ideas that we must be free, that this is wrong - you have just to look.

We are talking about fear. What do we mean by that word? Please, as we said just now, don't merely listen to words, because that will have no meaning, but through the word, examine yourself. Look at yourself and see what you are afraid of, actually what you are afraid of - darkness, you wife, your husband, your neighbour, or your debts, or no having success, not being loved. Whatever it is: fear of authority, fear of brutality, fear of being dominated. We are afraid and do you know what that means? Have you ever been in contact with fear? Or are you in contact with the image you have about fear? The two things are different, aren't they? I have an image about you, and you have an image about me and our contact is between these two images, and therefore there is no contact at all; there is no relationship at all, there is merely relationship of ideas, memories.

So when one looks at fear, if you have ever done it, several things are involved in that looking at fear. Your mind may not only be very quiet to look, but full of attention. It must have a tremendous care to look, because otherwise you can't see the infinite details. It must be actually in contact with fear - fear being danger, as one is afraid of a precipice, of a snake, of a policeman. Has one actually come into direct contact with fear? Or is it only the word fear, the word itself with all its associations, that blocks your coming into contact? If you have no concept, no image of fear, then you are directly in contact with it, aren't you? Does the word create fear? Do please listen - go into this with me, if you will because we are enquiring whether it is at all possible, radically, right through our being, to be free of this enormous burden of fear. And to enquire, as we said, there must be freedom to look, and you cannot look if you have an image about fear. That means that the word itself projects fear with all its associations, as one is afraid of the word death. We have pictures, symbols, ideas of something unknown, an there is fear of that - as for example, the fear of falling ill or, being ill, the fear of never being able to become health, again. So is it, is the fear that exits in each one, is it fear created by the word, by the symbol, the concept, by an image? Or can the mind directly come into contact with that fact? This is very important to realise - how you look at a fact. How do you look at a tree? There is the objective tree outside of you. How do you look at it? Do you look at it with memories, with knowledge, with symbols, with botanical knowledge of that tree? That is, does the background look at that tree; or without the background do you look at that tree? The look with the background, with thought, is entirely different from looking at the tree without thought. Then, when you look you are directly in contact; that means there is no space between you and the tree; when you look, look without a single concept, without a single memory.

So can you look at fear? Please follow this closely, otherwise it will mean nothing. Can you look without concepts about that fear? There is fear and the observer, isn't there? Please follow this step by step. There is what we call the fear of something: fear doesn't exist by itself, it is because of something. There is fear, and you say I am afraid. You are the observer of that fear, right? You are the observer, and the thing observed is fear. So there is a space between you and the thing observed, as when you look at a tree you have the space, the observer: "I am looking at that tree". And that space is created by thought, thought being the whole response of memory; memory is always old, and therefore thought is always old; there is no freedom in thought, you can think what you like but it is still from the past.

So to look without a concept is to be aware of the observer and the thing observed. And is the observer different from the thing observed? That is, when I say "I am afraid", there is fear outside of me, and I am the observer of that fear. Is that a fact? Or is the observer the fear? Please, this is not intellectual or high-falutin stuff. We are just examining what actually is. With most of us there is always the observer, the centre from which we look. And that centre is memory, thought, our conditioning, our experience, our knowledge. So when we are confronted with fear, that fear has its own associations, which are memory, and with these memories we look at that fact which we call fear, and therefore we are never directly in contact. You can only be directly in contact with anything, with your neighbour, with your wife, with your husband, with a tree, with a cloud, when the observer is not; the observer being thought, with all the ramifications of thought. You can try this for yourself when you look at a tree - then it is very simple, because a tree is objective. It does not want a thing from you; all that it wants is that you leave it alone. And if you can look at that tree, can look at it without any concept, without any thoughts - which doesn't mean your mind is blank, vacant, empty - then on the contrary it is really free to look, and therefore there is tremendous attention.

And in the same way, look at fear without the observer. It is only then that there is the ending of fear; not escaping from fear, not suppression of fear, through drink, sex, amusements, through gods, through going to churches and all that idiotic, infantile business.

So it is an art to look. It is much more important than any art in the world, than any painting, any music, any book: to look totally and completely, whether it be at your wife or your husband, or the tree, or the cloud, or your own miserable conditioning. Then, being directly in contact with it, is the ending of fear.

Perhaps now we can ask questions and discuss what we have talked about. You know, Sirs, to ask a question is one of the most difficult things - which doesn't mean I am preventing you from asking. To ask a right question is still more difficult, because most of us ask such superficial questions, and when we do ask we are waiting for somebody to tell us, some authority who will explain, some technician who has reached heaven, or whatever it is: he is going to tell you a about it. So when we ask we are waiting for somebody to tell us. But when we ask the right question, the fundamental question - to ask that right question demands a great deal of intelligence, because it means you have thought about it, you have gone into it, searched out, enquired into the urgency of it. Like a man who sees his house on fire. He acts, he doesn't discuss the ways and means of putting that fire out, or who set the house on fire. So to ask the right question is not only important but necessary, which means you are doubting, questioning. We must question, we must doubt everything; from the gods that man has invented and the priests who have sustained those gods; question our whole psychological structure, never accepting anybody's authority (including the authority of the speaker). And this is one of the most difficult things to do, because there is no authority, except the authority of the policeman, the government and the law. So, if you are willing, if I have not stopped you from asking, perhaps we can discuss easily without the intervention of time and space.

Questioner: If one has cancer, how can one be free from the fear of death?

Krishnamurti: The questioner wants to know, if one has cancer, how can one be free from it and also from the fear of dying, with all the pain, all the anxiety, all that one goes through. Right, is that the question, Sir? May I say something here? In understanding one question - it doesn't matter who puts it, we will understand a great deal, but if you are occupied with your own question then you won't even listen to the first question. And most of us are occupied with our own problems and therefore we never see the vastness of problems.

If I have cancer, what do I do? I go to a doctor and if it is rather hopeless, then what am I to do? Accept it - the pain, the agony. That is a fact; you accept it, you have to. But something else steps in. There is fear; fear not only of pain, the anxious nights, the endless days - you know what it all is; also the fear of death, of coming to an end. So, if it is incurable, you put up with it. But to put up with it requires a great deal of intelligence, because that pain, that anxiety, distorts the mind. It can't see anything clearly, it makes the mind bitter, or sentimental, or afraid. But to accept healthily something which is unhealthy is intelligence, part of intelligence. Then there is the question of fear, the question of dying. That is one of the most important, fundamental questions, why one is afraid of death.

Questioner: Sir, this question of being in contact with fear - a strong emotion of fear arises, and that happens at once...either to attack or to run. How can you be in contact with that fear?

Krishnamurti: You are from California, Sir, aren't you? (Laughter). And you have seen wild animals there, haven't you? And what do you do? You don't go and hunt them, you move away from them? Now either you move out of fear or you move out of intelligence. Follow this, Sir. If you move out of fear, run away from fear, there is a danger of that animal attacking you, because animals smell fear - right? Fear brings about certain activity of the glands, perspiration and so on - and perhaps the animal will attack you. But if you look at it, and are not afraid, but walk away, as the speaker has done with several animals, it is very simple. It does not attack you because you are not afraid, and if it does attack you will protect yourself, right? But there are other forms of fear which you are talking about - that is, psychological forms of fear, and it is this psychological fear which is far more significant, far more important to understand than physical fear. Psychological fear is the everlasting demand to be secure, psychologically. One must be physically secure, have enough money, clothes, food, shelter - that's an obvious human necessity. But the psychological demand is to be secure in all relationships, with your wife, your husband - the urgency to be secure - yet we never question whether there is such a thing as security psychologically. And there is no such thing, ever: to have psychological security. There can only be security psychologically between two dead things, not two living, moving things. What we demand is the security of dead things, because we ourselves are dead in our search for security.

Questioner: We feel fear, but how to be in contact with fear?

Krishnamurti: I explained just now, Sir, how to be in contact with that fear. An immediate fear arises about some, thing: that you'll insult me, that you'll be angry with me... fear! Now when that arises, look at it; without all the mechanism of memories, associations intervening - which demands a great deal in itself, a discipline. We'll discuss this another time. I think we have talked enough for this morning, haven't we?

Questioner: May I ask just one question? This fear seems to be a chemical reaction. Isn't it possible through the attention you talk about, to change that chemical reaction?

Krishnamurti: If you take certain chemicals like LSD you have no fear, as in cases in America where people have taken drugs like LSD and they think they can fly and so jump out of the window and drop; or they feel tremendously vital and all powerful; and they stand in front of a rushing bus and try to stop it. Of course chemically, physiologically, chemistry does act; it's an obvious fact: you take some pills, you become extraordinarily brave, physically. Or you take rum on the battlefield and you go and kill. But the chemical reaction of a physical state not only reacts on the psychological state, but the psychological state reacts on the physical. It is an interrelationship, it is a psychosomatic thing, it isn't just physical. Fear, which reacts on the psychological fear, or the psychological fear reacting on the physical... it is a constant interrelationship. Life is interrelationship. To be is to be related, and to divide these physical fears and psychological fears becomes impossible, because they are so closely related. But when we examine the psychological fears, then we will begin to understand the physical fears, and therefore establish a right relationship between the two. But without understanding the psychological fears, merely concentrating on the chemical fears of the body, leads nowhere.

2Oth May 1967


Amsterdam, talks in Europe 1967

Talks in Europe 1967 1st Public Talk Amsterdam 20th May 1967

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

Art of War

ancient Chinese treatise by Sun Tzu

free to read online

48 Laws of Power

a different universe by Robert Greene?

free summary online