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Choiceless Awareness

Bangalore 5th Public Talk 1st August, 1948

In the last two talks we were considering the importance of individual action, which is not opposed to collective action. The individual is the world, he is both the root and the outcome of the total process, and without transformation of the individual, there can be no radical transformation in the world. Therefore, the important thing is not individual action as opposed to collective action, but to realize that true collective action can come about only through individual regeneration. It is important to understand the individual action which is not opposed to the collective. Because, after all, the individual, you and your neighbour, are part of a total process; the individual is not a separate, isolated process. You are, after all, the product of the whole of humanity, though you may be climatically, religiously and socially conditioned. You are the total process of man, and therefore, when you understand yourself as a total process - not as a separate process opposed to the mass or to the collective - , then through that understanding of yourself there can be a radical transformation. That is what we were talking about the last two times we met.

Now, what do we mean by action? Obviously, action implies behaviour in relation to something. Action by itself is non-existent; it can only be in relation to an idea, to a person, or to a thing. And we have to understand action, because the world at the present time is crying for an action of some kind. We all want to act, we all want to know what to do, especially when the world is in such confusion, in such misery and chaos, when there are impending wars, when ideologies are opposing each other with such destructive force and religious organizations are pitting man against man. So, we must know what we mean by action; and in understanding what we mean by action, then perhaps we shall be able to act truly.

To understand what we mean by action - which is behaviour, and behaviour is righteousness - , we must approach it negatively. That is, all positive approach to a problem must of necessity be according to a particular pattern; and action conforming to a pattern ceases to be action - it is merely conformity, and therefore not action. In order to understand action, that is, behaviour, which is righteousness, we have to find out how to approach it. We must understand first that any positive approach, which is trying to fit action to a pattern, to a conclusion, to an idea, is no longer action; it is merely continuity of the pattern, of the mould, and therefore it is not action at all. Therefore, to understand action, we must go to it negatively, that is, we must understand the false process of a positive action. Because, when I know the false as the false, and the truth as the truth, then the false will drop away and I will know how to act. That is, if I know what is false action, unrighteous action, action that is merely a continuation of conformity, then seeing the falseness of that action, I shall know how to act rightly.

It is obvious that we need in everyday existence, in our social structure, in our political and religious life, a radical transformation of values, a complete revolution. Without laboring the point, I think it is obvious that there must be a change - or rather, not a change, which implies a modified continuity, but a transformation. There must be transformation, there must be a complete revolution, politically, socially, economically, in our relationship with each other, in every phase of life. Because, things cannot go on as they are - which is self-evident to any thoughtful person who is alert, watching world events. Now, how is this revolution in action to be brought about? - which is what we are discussing. How can there be action that transforms, not in time, but now? Is that not what we are concerned with? Because, there is so much misery, here in Bangalore as everywhere else throughout the world; there are economic slumps, there is dirt, poverty, unemployment, communal struggle, and so on and on, with the constant threat of a war in Europe. So, there must be a complete change of values, must there not? Not theoretically, because merely to discuss on the verbal level is futile, it has no meaning. It is like discussing food in front of a hungry man. So, we will not discuss merely verbally, and please don't be like spectators at a game. Let us both experience what we are talking about; because, if there is experiencing, then perhaps we shall understand how to act, and this will affect our lives and therefore bring a radical transformation. So, please do not be like spectators at a football game. You and I are going to take a journey together into the understanding of this thing called action, because that is what we are concerned with in our daily life. If we can understand action in the fundamental sense of the word, then that fundamental unrest and longing will affect our superficial activities also; but first we must understand the fundamental nature of action.

Now is action brought about by an idea? Do you have an idea first, and act afterwards? Or, does action come first and then, because action creates conflict, you build around it an idea? That is, does action create the actor, or does the actor come first? This is not a philosophical speculation, it is not based on the Shastras, the Bhagavad Gita, or any other book. They are all irrelevant. Don't let us quote what other people say because as I have read none of the books, you will win. We are trying to find out directly whether action comes first, and the idea afterwards; or whether idea comes first, and then action follows. It is very important to discover which comes first. If the idea comes first, then action merely conforms to an idea, and therefore it is no longer action but imitation, compulsion according to an idea. It is very important to realize this; because, as our society is mostly constructed on the intellectual or verbal level, the idea comes first with all of us, and action follows. Action is then the handmaid of an idea, and the mere construction of ideas is obviously detrimental to action. That is, ideas breed further ideas, and when there is merely the breeding of ideas, there is antagonism, and society becomes top-heavy with the intellectual process of ideation. Our social structure is very intellectual, we are cultivating the intellect at the expense of every other factor of our being, and therefore we are suffocated with ideas.

All this may sound rather abstract, academic, professorial, but it is not. Personally, I have a horror of academic discussion, theoretical speculations, because they lead nowhere. But it is very important that we find out what we mean by an idea, because the world is dividing itself over the opposing ideas of the left and of the right, the ideas of the communists as opposed to those of the capitalists; and without understanding the whole process of ideation, merely to take sides is infantile, it has no meaning. A mature man does not take sides; he tries to solve directly the pro- blems of human suffering, human starvation, war and so on. We take sides only when we are moulded by the intellect, whose function is to fabricate ideas. So, it is very important, is it not?, to find out for ourselves, and not go according to what Marx, the Shastras, the Bhagavad Gita, or any of them says. You and I have to find out, because it is our problem; it is our daily problem to discover what is the right solution to our aching civilization.

Now, can ideas ever produce action, or do ideas merely mould thought and therefore limit action? When action is compelled by an idea, action can never liberate man. Please, it is extraordinarily important for us to understand this point. If an idea shapes action, then action can never bring about the solution to our miseries; because, before it can be put into action, we have first to discover how the idea comes into being. The investigation of ideation, of the building up of ideas, whether of the socialists, the capitalists, the communists, or of the various religions, is of the utmost importance, especially when our society is at the edge of a precipice, inviting another catastrophe, another excision; and those who are really serious in their intention to discover the human solution to our many problems must first understand this process of ideation. As I said, this is not academic, it is the most practical approach to human life. It is not philosophical or speculative, because that is sheer waste of time. Let us leave it to the undergraduates to discuss theoretical matters in their unions or in their clubs.

So, what do we mean by an idea? How does an idea come into being? And can idea and action be brought together? That is, I have an idea, and I wish to carry it out, so I seek a method of carrying out that idea; and we speculate, waste our time and energies, in quarrelling over how the idea should be carried out. So, it is really very important to find out how ideas come into being; and after discovering the truth of that, we can discuss the question of action. Without discussing ideas, merely to and out how to act, has no meaning.

Now, how do you get an idea: - a very simple idea, it need not be philosophical, religious or economic. Obviously, it is a process of thought, is it not? Idea is the outcome of a thought process. Without a thought process, there can be no idea. So, I have to understand the thought process itself before I can understand its product, the idea. What do we mean by thought? When do you think? Obviously, thought is the result of a response, neurological or psychological, is it not? It is the immediate response of the senses to a sensation, or it is psychological, the response of stored up memory. There is the immediate response of the nerves to a sensation, and there is the psychological response of stored up memory, the influence of race, group, guru, family, tradition, and so on - all of which you call thought. So, the thought process is the response of memory, is it not? You would have no thoughts if you had no memory; and the response of memory to a certain experience brings the thought process into action. Say, for example, I have the stored up memories of nationalism, calling myself a Hindu. That reservoir of memories of past responses, actions, implications, traditions, customs, responds to the challenge of a Mussulman, a Buddhist or a Christian, and the response of memory to the challenge inevitably brings about a thought process. Watch the thought process operating in yourself and you can test the truth of this directly. You have been insulted by someone, and that remains in your memory, it forms part of the background; and when you meet the person, which is the challenge, the response is the memory of that insult. So, the response of memory, which is the thought process, creates an idea; therefore, the idea is always conditioned - and this is important to understand. That is, idea is the result of the thought process, the thought process is the response of memory, and memory is always conditioned. Memory is always in the past, and that memory is given life in the present by a challenge. Memory has no life in itself; it comes to life in the present when confronted by a challenge. And all memory, whether dormant or active, is conditioned, is it not?

What, then, is memory? If you observe your own memory and how you gather memory,you will notice that it is either factual, technical, having to do with information, with engineering, mathematics, physics, and all the rest of it? or, it is the residue of an unfinished, uncompleted experience, is it not? Watch your own memory and you will see. When you finish an experience, complete it, there is no memory of that experience in the sense of a psychological residue. There is a residue only when an experience is not fully understood; and there is no understanding of experience because we look at each experience through past memories, and therefore we never meet the new as the new, but always through the screen of the old. Therefore, it is clear that our response to experience is conditioned, always limited.

So, we see that experiences which are not completely understood leave a residue, which we call memory. That memory, when challenged, produces thought. That thought creates the idea, and the idea molds action. Therefore, action based on an idea can never be free; and therefore there is no release for any of us through an idea. Please, this is very important to understand. I am not building up an argument against ideas, I am painting the picture of how ideas can never bring about a revolution. Ideas can modify the present state, or change the present state, but that is not revolution. A substitution, or a modified continuity, is not revolution. As long as I am exploited, it matters very little whether I am exploited by private capitalists or by the state; but exploitation by the state we consider better than exploitation by the few. Is it any better? I am not talking of the top-dogs. Is it any better for the man who is exploited? So, mere modification is not revolution, it is merely reaction to a condition. That is, the capitalistic background may produce a reaction in the form of communism, but that is still on the same level. It is the modified continuity of capitalism in a different form. I am not advocating either capitalism or communism. We are trying to find out what we mean by change, what we mean by revolution. So, an idea can never produce revolution in the deepest sense of the word, in the sense of complete transformation. An idea can bring about a modified continuity of what is, but that is obviously not revolution. And we need a revolution, not a modified continuity; we need, not a substitution, but a complete transformation.

So, to bring about revolution, that complete transformation, I must first understand ideas and how they arise; and if I understand ideas, if I see the false as the false, then I can proceed to enquire what we mean by action, if thought creates idea - or, if thought itself, put in verbal form, is what I call idea and if that thought is always conditioned because it is the response memory to a challenge which always new, then an idea can never bring about revolution in the deeper sense of the word; and yet that is what we are trying to do. We are looking to an idea to bring about transformation. I hope I am making myself clear.

So, our problem is this: If I cannot look to an idea, which is a thought process, then how can I act? Please, before I can find out how to act, I must be completely sure that action based on an idea is utterly false; I must see that ideas shape action, and that action which is shaped by ideas will ever be limited. Therefore, there is no release through action based on an idea, on an ideology, or on a belief, because such action is the outcome of a thought process which is but the response of memory. That thought process must inevitably create an idea which is conditioned, limited, and an action based on a limitation can never free man, Action based on an idea is limited action, conditioned action, and if I look to that action as a means of freedom, obviously I can only continue in a conditioned state. Therefore, I cannot look to an idea as a guide to action. And yet that is what we are doing, because we are so addicted to ideas, whether they are other people's ideas or our own.

So, what we have to do now is to find out how to act without the thought process - which sounds quite loony; but is it? Just see our problem, it is quite interesting. When I live and act within the thought process, which gives rise to idea, which in turn molds action, there is no release. Now, can I act without the thought process, which is memory? Please, don't let us be confused: by memory I do not mean factual memory. It would be absurd to talk of throwing away all the technical knowledge - how to build a house, a dynamo, a jet plane, how to break the atom, and so on and so on - that man has acquired through centuries, generation after generation. But can I live, can I act, be in relationship with another, without the psychological response of memory which results in ideation, and which in turn controls action? To most of us this may sound very odd, for we are accustomed to having an idea first, and then conforming action to the idea. All our disciplines, all our activities, are based on this - the idea first, and then conformity to the idea; and when I put the question to you, you have no answer, because you have not thought about it in this direction at all. As I say, it will sound crazy to many of you; but if you really examine the whole process of life very closely and seriously because you want to understand and not just throw words at each other, then this question as to what we mean by action is bound to arise.

Now, is action really based on idea, or does action come first and the idea afterwards? If you observe still more closely, you will see that action comes first always, and not the idea. The monkey in the tree feels hungry, and then the urge arises to take a fruit or a nut. Action comes first, and then the idea that you had better store it up. To put it in different words, does action come first, or the actor? Is there an actor without action? Do you understand? This is what we are always asking ourselves: Who is it that sees? Who is the watcher? Is the thinker apart from his thoughts, the observer apart from the observed,the experiencer apart from the experience, the actor apart from the action? Is there an entity always dominating, overseeing observing action - call it Parabrahman, or what you will? When you give a name, you are merely caught in the idea, and that idea compels your thoughts; and therefore you say the actor comes first, and then the action. But if you really examine the process, very carefully, closely and intelligently, you will see that there is always action first, and that action with an end in view creates the actor. Do you follow? If action has an end in view, the gaining of that end brings about the actor. If you think very clearly and without prejudice,without conformity, without trying to convince somebody, without an end in view, in that very thinking there is no thinker - there is only the thinking. It is only when you seek an end in your thinking that you become important, and not thought. Perhaps some of you have observed this. It is really an important thing to find out, because from that we shall know how to act. If the thinker comes first, then the thinker is more important than thought, and all the philosophies, customs and activities of the present civilization are based on this assumption; but if thought comes first then thought is more important than the thinker. Of course they are related - there is no thought without the thinker, and there is no thinker without the thought. But I do not want to discuss this now, because we will get off the point.

So, can there be action without memory? That means, can there be action which is constantly revolutionary? The only thing that is constantly revolutionary is action without the screen of memory. An idea cannot bring about constant revolution, because it always modifies action according to the background of its conditioning. Our question is, then, can there be action without the thought process which creates the idea, which in turn controls action? I say there can be, and that it can take place immediately when you see that idea is not a release, but a hindrance to action. If I see that, my action will not be based on any idea, and therefore I am in a state of complete revolution; and therefore there is the possibility of a society which is never static, which never needs to be overthrown and rebuilt. I say you can live with your wife, with your husband, with your neighbour in that state of action which does not conform to an idea; and that is possible only when you understand the significance of idea, how idea is brought about and molds action. The idea that molds action is detrimental to action, and a man who looks to an idea as a means of bringing about a revolution either in the mass or the individual, is looking in vain. Revolution is constant, it is never static. Ideas create, not a revolution, but merely a modified continuity. Only that action which is not based on an idea can bring about revolution which is constant and therefore ever renewing.

There are many questions and I shall answer as many of them as possible.

Question: What is the place of power in your scheme of things? Do you think human affairs can be run without compulsion?

Krishnamurti: Now, what do you mean by "your scheme of things"? Obviously, you think I have a pattern in which I am putting life, (Laughter). Please, this is important, don't laugh it off. Most of us have a scheme, a blue print of how life should be according to Marx, Buddha, Christ or Sankara, or accord- ing to the United Nations, and we force life into that mould. We say, "It is a marvellous scheme, let us fit into it" - which is absurd. Beware of the man who has a scheme of life; anyone who follows him, follows confusion and sorrow. Life is much bigger than any scheme that any human being can invent. So, that is out.

"What is the place of power? Do you think human affairs can be run without compulsion?" Now, what do we mean by power? There is the power that wealth gives, the power that knowledge brings, the power of an idea, the power of the technician. Which power do we mean? Obviously, the power to control, to dominate. That is what we mean by power, isn't it? The power that each one wants is the power which we exercise at home over the wife or the husband - only we want greater power to control, to dominate others. Also, there is the power which you give to the leader. Because you are confused, you hand over to the leader the reins of authority, and he guides and controls you; or you yourself would like to be the leader, and so on and on. And there is the power of love, of understanding, of kindliness, of mercy, the power of reality. Now, we have to be very clear which power we are referring to. There is the power of an army, that enormous power to destroy, to maim, to bring horror to mankind; and there is the power of a strong government, or of a strong personality. Merely to be in power is comparatively easy. Power implies domination; and the more power you have, the more evil you become - which is shown over and over again throughout history. The power to dominate, a mould, to shape, to control, to force others to think what the authorities want them to think - surely, this is a power which is utterly evil, utterly dark and stupid. So also is the power of the rich man swaggering in his factory, and the power of the ambitious man in government affairs. Obviously, all that is power in its most stupid form, because it dominates, controls, shapes, warps human beings.

Now, there is the so-called power of love, the power of understanding. Is love a power? Does love dominate, twist, shape the human heart? If it does, it is no longer love. Love, understanding, truth, has its own quality; it does not compel, therefore it is not on the same level as power. Love, truth, or understanding comes when all these ideas of compulsion, authority, dogmatism, have ceased. Humility is not the opposite of authority or of power. The cultivation of humility is merely the desire for authority, for power, in a different guise.

So, what is happening in the world? The power of governments, of States, the power of leaders, of the clever orators and writers, is used more and more for the shaping of man, compelling man to think along a certain line, teaching him, not how to think, but what to think. That has become the function of governments, with their enormous power of propaganda - which is the ceaseless repetition of an idea; and any repetition of an idea or of truth, becomes a lie. Because there is confusion, misery in our minds and hearts, we create leaders who control us, shape us, and so do our governments. All over the world there is conformity to the dictates of the military, the social environment is influencing us to conform; and do you think that understanding or love comes through compulsion? Do you have goodwill through compulsion? If I am the dictator can I compel you to have goodwill? So, the compulsion which comes with placing enormous power in the hands of those who can wield it, does not bring men together.

As I was explaining in my talk compulsion is the outcome of an idea. Surely, a man who is drunk with ideology is intolerant, he creates the torture of compulsion. Obviously, there can never be understanding, love, communion with each other, when there is compulsion; and no society can be built on compulsion. Such a society may for a time succeed technically, superficially; but inwardly there is the agony of being compelled, and therefore, like a prisoner kept within four walls, there is always the seeking for a release, for an escape, a way out. So, a government or a society that compels, shapes, forces the individual from the outside, will eventually create disorder, chaos and violence. That is exactly what is happening in the world.

Then, we compel ourselves to conform to a pattern, calling it discipline, which is suppression, and suppression gives you a certain power. But in either extreme, in either opposite, there is no stability, and human minds go from one to the other, evading the quiet stability of understanding. A mind that is compelled, a mind that is caught in power, can never know love; and without love, there is no solution to our problems. You may postpone understanding, intellectually you may avoid it, you may cleverly build bridges, but they are all temporary; and without goodwill, without mercy, without generosity, without kindliness, there is bound to be ever increasing misery and destruction, because compulsion is not the cement that brings human beings together. Compulsion in any form, inward or outward, only creates further confusion, further misery. What we need in world affairs at the present time is not more ideas, more blue prints, bigger and better leaders, but goodwill, affection, love, kindliness. Therefore, what we need is the person who loves, who is kind; and that is you, not somebody else. Love is not the worship of God; you may worship a stone image, or your conception of God, and that is a marvellous escape from your brutal husband or your nagging wife, but it does not solve our difficulty. Love is the only solvent, and love is kindness to your wife, to your child, to your neighbour.

Question: Why are we so callous to each other in spite of all the suffering it involves?

Krishnamurti: Why am I or why are you callous to another man's suffering? Why are we indifferent to the coolie who is carrying a heavy load, to the woman who is carrying a baby? Why are we so callous? To understand that, we must understand why suffering makes us dull. Surely, it is suffering that makes us callous; because we don't understand suffering, we become indifferent to it. If I understand suffering, then I become sensitive to suffering, awake to everything, not only to myself, but to the people about me, to my wife, to my children, to an animal, to a beggar. But we don't want to understand suffering, we want to escape from suffering; and the escape from suffering makes us dull, and therefore we are callous. Sir, the point is that suffering, when not understood, dulls the mind and heart; and we do not understand suffering because we want to escape from it, through the guru, through a saviour, through mantras, through reincarnation, through ideas, through drink and every other kind of addiction - anything to escape what is. So, our temples, our churches, our politics, our social reforms, are mere escapes from the fact of suffering. We are not concerned with suffering, we are concerned with the idea of how to be released from suffering. We are concerned with ideas, not with suffering; we are constantly looking for a better idea and how to carry it out, which is so infantile. When you are hungry, you don't discuss how to eat; you say, "Give me food", you are not concerned with who will bring it, whether the left or the right, or which ideology is the best. But when you want to avoid the understanding of what is, which is suffering, then you escape into ideologies; and that is why our minds, though superficially very clever, have essentially become dull, rude, callous, brutal. To understand suffering requires seeing the falseness of all the escapes, whether God or drink. All escapes are the same though socially each may have a different significance. When I escape from sorrow, all escapes are on the same level - there is no "better escape.

Now, the understanding of suffering does not lie in finding out what the cause is. Any man can know the cause of suffering; his own thoughtlessness, his stupidity, his narrowness, his brutality, and so on. But if I look at the suffering itself without wanting an answer, then what happens? Then, as I am not escaping, I begin to understand suffering; my mind is watchfully alert, keen, which means I become sensitive, and being sensitive, I am aware of other people's suffering. Therefore I am not callous, therefore I am kind, not merely to my friends - I am kind to everyone, because I am sensitive to suffering. We are callous because we have become dull to suffering, we have dulled our minds through escapes. Escape gives a great deal of power, and we like power, we like to have a radio, a motor car, an airplane, we like to have money and enjoy immense power. But when you understand suffering, there is no power, there is no escape through power. When you understand suffering, there is kindliness, there is affection. Affection, love, demands the highest intelligence, and without sensitivity there is no great intelligence.

Question: Can you not build up a following and use it rightly? Must you remain a voice in the desert?

Krishnamurti: Now what do you mean by a following, and what do you mean by a leader? Why do you follow, and why do you create a leader? If you are interested, please consider this closely. When do you follow? You follow only when you are confused; when you are unhappy when you feel torn down, you want someone - a political, a religious, a military leader - to help you to take you out of your misery. When you are clear, when you understand, you do not want to be led. You want to be led only when you are yourself in confusion, with all its implications. So, what happens? When you are confused, how can you see clearly? Since you cannot see clearly, you will choose a leader who is also confused. (Laugher) Don't laugh. This is what is happening in the world, and it is disastrous. It may sound very clever, but it is not. How can a blind man choose a leader? He can only choose those around him. Similarly a confused man can only choose a leader who is as confused as himself. And what happens? Being confused, your leader naturally leads you to further confusion, further disaster, further misery. That is what is taking place all over the world. For God's sake, Sirs, look at it - it is your misery? You are being led to the slaughter because you refuse to see and clear away the cause of your own confusion. And because you refuse to see it, you are creating out of your confusion the clever, the cunning leaders who exploit you because, the leader, like you, is seeking self-fulfilment. Therefore you become a necessity to the leader, and the leader becomes a necessity to you - it is a mutual exploitation.

So, why do you want a leader? And can there ever be a right leadership? You and I can help each other to clear up our own confusion - which does not mean that I become your leader and you become my follower, or I am your guru and you are my pupil. We simply help each other to understand the confusion that exists in our own hearts and minds. It is only when you do not want to understand the confusion that you run away from it, and then you will turn to somebody, to a leader or a guru. But if you want to understand it, then you must look to the common misery, the aches, the burdens, the loneliness; and you can look only when you are not trying to find an answer, a way out of the confusion. You look at it because confusion itself leads to misery, therefore you want to understand it; and when you understand, clear it up, you will be free as the air, you will love, you will not follow, you will have no leaders; and then will come the society of true equality, without class or caste.

Sirs, you are not seeking truth, you are trying to find a way out of some difficulty; and that is your misery. You want leaders to direct you, to pull you along, to force you, to make you conform - and that inevitably leads to destruction, to greater suffering. Suffering is what is happening directly in front of us, yet we refuse to see it and we want "right" leaders - which is so immature. To me, all leadership indicates a deterioration of society. A leader in society is a destructive element. (Laughter.) Don't laugh it off, don't pass it by: look at it. It is very serious, especially now. The world is on the verge of a catastrophe, it is rapidly disintegrating; and merely to find another leader, a new Churchill, a greater Stalin, a different God, is utterly futile; because, the man who is confused can choose only according to the dictates of his own mind, which is confusion. Therefore, it is no good seeking a leader, right or wrong. There is no "right" leader - all leaders are wrong. What you have to do is to clear your own confusion. And confusion is set aside only when you understand yourself; with the beginning of self-knowledge, there comes clarity. Without self-knowledge, there is no release from confusion; without self-knowledge, confusion is like a wave eternally catching you up. So, it is very important for those who are really serious and in earnest to begin with themselves, and not seek release or escape from confusion. The moment you understand confusion, you are free of it.

Question: Grains of truth are to be found in religions, theories, ideas, and beliefs. What is the right way of separating them?

Krishnamurti: The false is the false, and by seeking you cannot separate the false from the truth, you have to see the false as the false, and then only is there the cessation of the false. You cannot seek the truth in the false, but you can see the false as the false, and then there is a release from the false. Sir, how can the false contain the truth? How can ignorance, darkness, contain understanding, light? I know we would like to have it so; we would like to think that somewhere in us there is eternity, light, truth, piety all covered over with ignorance. Where there is light, there is no darkness; where there is ignorance, there is always ignorance, but never understanding. So, there is release only when you and I see the false as the false, that is, when we see the truth about the false, which means not dwelling in the false as the false. Our seeing the false as the false is prevented by our prejudice, by our conditioning. With that understanding, let us proceed.

Now, the question is, is there not truth in religions, in theories, in ideals, in beliefs? Let us examine. What do we mean by religion? Surely, not organized religion, not Hinduism, Buddhism, or Christianity - which are all organized beliefs with their propaganda, conversion, proselytism, compulsion, and so on. Is there any truth in organized religion? It may engulf, enmesh truth, but the organized religion itself is not true. Therefore, organized religion is false, it separates man from man. You are a Mussulman, I am a hindu, another is a Christian or a Buddhist - and we are wrangling, butchering each other. Is there any truth in that? We are not discussing religion as the pursuit of truth, but we are considering if there is any truth in organized religion. We are so conditioned by organized religion to think there is truth in it that we have come to believe that by calling oneself a Hindu one is somebody, or one will find God. How absurd! Sir, to find God, to find reality, there must be virtue. Virtue is freedom, and only through freedom can truth be discovered - not when you are caught in the hands of organized religion, with its beliefs. And is there any truth in theories, in ideals, in beliefs? Why do you have beliefs? Obviously, because beliefs give you security, comfort, safety, a guide. In yourself you are frightened, you want to be protected, you want to lean on somebody, and therefore you create the ideal, which prevents you from understanding that which is; Therefore, an ideal becomes a hindrance to action. Sir, when I am violent, why do I want to pursue the ideal of non-violence? For the obvious reason that I want to avoid violence, escape from violence. I cultivate the ideal in order not to have to face and understand violence. Why do I want the ideal at all? It is an impediment. If I want to understand violence, I must try to understand what it is directly, not through the screen of an ideal. The ideal is false, fictitious, preventing me from understanding that which I am. Look at it more closely, and you will see. If I am violent, to understand violence I do not want an ideal; to look at violence, I do not need a guide. But I like to be violent, it gives me a certain sense of power, and I will go on being violent, though I cover it up with the ideal of nonviolence. So, the ideal is fictitious, it is simply not there. It exists only in the mind; it is an idea to be achieved, and in the meantime I can be violent. Therefore, an ideal, like a belief, is unreal, false.

Now, why do I want to believe? Surely, a man who is understanding life does not want beliefs. A man who loves, has no beliefs - he loves. It is the man who is consumed by the intellect that has beliefs, because intellect is always seeking security, protection; it is always avoiding danger, and therefore it builds ideas, beliefs, ideals, behind which it can take shelter. What would happen if you dealt with violence directly, now? You would be a danger to society; and because the mind foresees the danger, it says, "I will achieve the ideal of non-violence ten years later, - which is such a fictitious, false process. So, theories - we are not dealing with mathematical theories, and all the rest of it, but with the theories that arise in connection with our human, psychological problems - theories, beliefs, ideals, are false, because they prevent us from seeing things as they are. To understand what is, is more important than to create and follow ideals; because ideals are false, and what is is the real. To understand what is requires an enormous capacity, a swift and unprejudiced mind. It is because we don't want to face and understand what is that we invent the many ways of escape and give them lovely names as the ideal, the belief, God. Surely, it is only when see the false as the false that my mind is capable of perceiving what is true. A mind that is confused in the false, can never find the truth. Therefore, I must understand what is false in my relationships, in my ideas, in the things about me; because, to perceive the truth requires the understanding of the false. Without removing the causes of ignorance, there cannot be enlightenment; and to seek enlightenment when the mind is unenlightened is utterly empty, meaningless. Therefore, I must begin to see the false in my relationships with ideas, with people, with things. When the mind sees that which is false, then that which is true comes into being; and then there is ecstasy, there is happiness.

Choiceless Awareness

Bangalore 5th Public Talk 1st August, 1948

Jiddu Krishnamurti texts. Choiceless Awareness. What can the average decent man do to put an end to our communal problem?


the 48 laws of power