Benares 1st Public Talk 16th January 1949
As during the next few weeks there will be a series of talks every Sunday, and discussions Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, it is important, it seems to me, first to learn the art of listening. Most of us listen in order to confirm our beliefs or strengthen our opinions, or we listen merely to refute, or to sharpen our intellect, or to learn some new technique. But it seems to me that it is a false way of listening, if it is only to strengthen one's beliefs, or to learn a new jargon or a new way of examination. But, surely, there is a true way of listening, especially to something that may perhaps be foreign; something that may be new, that one may hear for the first time. When one listens to something new, one is apt to brush it aside as not understandable, or one is apt to be too quick in one's judgment. Whereas, if one were able to listen very attentively, perhaps, one would gather much more than by merely listening through the screen of one's own prejudices and impressions.
That is, if I want to understand something you are saying, I must listen, not only to the verbal expression, but also to what you intend to convey. Words do not matter so immensely, so greatly; what matters is what you intend to convey. So, communication is more important than the verbal expression; and there can be communion between two people, only when there is the intent to understand; if you do not want to understand, if you are here merely to criticize, to verbalize, to intellectualize, there can be no communion. But there will be communion between us, deeply, wisely, extensively, if there is the intent to understand. And I think that intent is far more important than the facility to philosophize, to criticize, or to learn a new way of expressing a thought. Throughout these talks during the next six weeks, you and I must be in communion so that we can understand each other, understand each other's problems, each other's difficulties, how we approach the conflict in our life, and so on. So, the basis of our relationship must be that communion.
I am not here merely to give a series of talks, to expound my ideas, because I do not believe in `ideas'. Ideas do not transform, ideas will not produce the true revolution. Ideas merely give irritation to further ideas; but ideas will never produce a lasting, fundamental, radical revolution which is necessary - we will go into this presently, during all these talks.
So, we must, if we would, try to establish a relationship of communion - but not as between a lecturer and an audience, or as between a teacher and a disciple, which would be absurd. Because we have to deal with our own problems of life and understand those problems, live have to examine them very closely and attentively, and that is what we are going to do. To understand is to pay full attention. With most of us the difficulty is that we are trying to find an answer to the problem. Perhaps this needs further explanation. When we have a problem, whether sociological, psychological, or so-called spiritual, we are always trying to find - are we not? - an answer, a way out, away from the problem. You look at your own problem and you will see that the tendency is to find a solution to the problem. Isn't it? Whereas, if we know how to look at the problem, then the solution is in the problem, not away from the problem. So, if I may emphasize it, that is what we are going to do during all these talks. I am not offering a solution for you to accept or adopt as a new pattern of action. But, if we two can look at the problem together, see its implications, see its significance, then perhaps, seeing it together, we shall find the right answer - not an answer away from the problem, but in the problem itself.
Sirs, what is our problem? What is the problem with which we are confronted at the present time? Is it an individual problem, or a mass problem? Is it the problem of a particular country, or a particular people, or is it a problem which affects the whole world, independent of race, of nationality? Surely, it is a problem that is not only affecting the individual, the you and the me, but it is a problem that is confronting the whole world; it is the problem of disintegration, the problem of collapse. All the experiments, sociological and psychological, are rapidly losing their value; wars are ever threatening, and there is class or communal strife; though one may talk of peace, there is ever the preparation for war, with which we are daily familiar; one ideology coming into conflict with another ideology, the left against the right, and so on.
Now, is this vast problem of the world your problem and my problem, or is it independent of us? Is war independent of you? Is the national strife independent of you, the communal strife independent of you? The corruption, the degradation, the moral disintegration - are they independent of each one of us? This disintegration is directly related to us, and therefore the responsibility rests with each one of us. Surely, that is the main problem, isn't it? That is, to put it differently: is the problem to be left to the few leaders, either of the left or the right, to the party, to the discipline, to an ideology, to the United Nations, to the expert, to the specialist? Or is it a problem that directly involves us, which means, are we directly responsible for these problems, or are we not? Surely, that is the issue, is it not? Perhaps, many of you may not have thought about this, therefore it may be quite strange to you; but the question is - is it not? - whether the individual problem is the world problem, whether you can do anything about it. The religious collapse, the moral collapse, the political corruption, the so-called independence that has produced nothing but decay. Is it your problem, or do you leave it all to chance, or wait for some miracle to happen so that it will produce a revolution? Or do you leave it to some authority, to a political party, of the left, or of the right? What is your response? Don't you have to solve it, don't you have to attack it, don't you have to respond vitally to a challenge of this kind? I am not being rhetorical,.but merely factual; this is no place for rhetoric, that would be absurd. There is a challenge given to us all the time; life is a challenge. And do we respond, and according to what conditioning do we respond? And when we do respond, is that response capable of meeting the challenge?
So, to meet this world catastrophe, this world crisis, this enormous unprecedented challenge, have we not to discover how we, individually, respond? Because, after all, a society is the relationship between you and me and an other. There is no society which is not founded on relationship. What you and I and another are, is the society, surely. And have we not to understand that relationship between you and me and another, in order to transform society, in order to bring about a revolution, a complete, radical transformation? Be cause, obviously, that is what is needed: a revolution, not of the bloody kind, not of mere ideas, not based on ideas, but a revolution of fundamental value; not ac cording to any pattern or ideology, but a revolution born out of the understanding of the relationship between you and me and another, which is society. So in order to bring about a fundamental, radical transformation in society, is it not our responsibility, our individual responsibility, to discover what is our direct response to this challenge? Do we respond as a Hindu, or a Mussulman, or a Christian, or a Communist, or a Socialist? And is such response a valid response, a response which will bring about a fundamental change? I hope I am making the problem clear. If you respond to this world crisis, which is a new challenge, as a Hindu, surely you are not understanding the challenge. You are merely responding to the challenge, which is always new, according to an old pattern; and therefore, your response has no corresponding validity, newness, freshness. If you respond as a Catholic or a Communist, again you are responding - are you not? - according to a patterned thought. Therefore your response has no significance. And has not the Hindu, the Mussulman, the Buddhist, the Christian, created this problem? As the new religion is the worship of the State, the old religion was the worship of an idea. So if you respond to a challenge according to an old conditioning, your response will not enable you to understand the new challenge. Therefore, what one has to do in order to meet the challenge is to strip oneself completely, denude oneself entirely of the background and meet the challenge anew. Surely, a state, a country, a civilization, a people, endure, last, survive, only when they can meet the challenge anew; otherwise they succumb, they are destroyed. And that is exactly what is happening. Technologically we are tremendously advanced, but morally, spiritually, we are very far behind. And with this lack of moral stamina, we meet this extraordinary technological progress, and therefore there is always a friction, a contradiction.
So, surely, our problem is - is it not? - that there is this new challenge. And all leaders have failed - spiritual, moral, political - and leaders will always fail, because we choose leaders out of our confusion, and any leader whom we choose will inevitably lead us to confusion. Sir, see the importance of it, don't brush it aside as a clever statement. See the danger of a leader, not only politically, but religiously. Because, the one whom we choose for a leader is chosen out of our confusion. Because I am confused, I do not know what to do, how to act, I come to you; and because I am confused I choose you. If I am clear, I will not choose you; I do not want a leader, because I am a light unto myself, I can think out my problems for myself. It is only when I am confused that I go to another, I may call him a guru, a Mahatma, a political leader, and so on; but I go to him because of my confusion. I only see through the darkness of my own confusion.
A man who earnestly wishes to investigate the whole catastrophic problem of sorrow must begin with himself. It is only through creative understanding of ourselves that there can be a creative world, a happy world, a world in which ideas do not exist.
Question: You are preaching the idea of one world, of a classless society, which is the basis of Communism. But what are your sanctions, what is your technique for the new revolution?
Krishnamurti: Now, what do you mean by sanctions? You mean, what is my authority, don't you? Who has given me authority to speak? Or, what is my label? In other words, you are interested are you not? - in the label, in the name, to find out who has given me authority, the sanction. Which means that you are more interested in knowing my label than in finding out what truth there is in what I am saying. Aren't you? Are you listening Sirs, or paying attention to something else? Sir, this is rather an important question, and we will go into it fairly thoroughly, shall we?
Most of us appreciate a thing, or follow a thing, because it has been sanction by authority. So-and-so has painted a picture, therefore it must be beautiful picture. So-and-so has write a poem, and he is well-known, therefore that poem must be good. He has a large following, therefore what he says must be true. In other words, your sanction depends on popularity, on success, on the richness of language, on outward show, Doesn't it? So, when you ask me what my sanction is, you want to know if I am the World Teacher. And I say, don't let us be stupid. Whether I am or I am not, is irrelevant; it is utterly unimportant what my sanction is. But what is, is fundamentally important is to examine what I am saying, to find out for your self without the comfort of authority. That is why I am against organization; that is one of the reasons; because organizations, spiritually, create a back ground of authority; but a man who is seeking truth is not concerned with authority, neither of a book, the Bhagavad Gita, the Bible nor of a person. He is seeking truth, not the authority of a per son. So, as long as you are looking at the label to find out if that label is worth worshipping, listening to, I am afraid that you and I are wasting our time. Be- cause, I have no authority, I have no sanction. I am saying something which to me is true by direct experience, not through reading some books and following somebody. Because, I have not read any of the so-called psychological, religious books; and as it is my direct experience, if you wish to look at it, you are perfectly welcome; but if you look around the corner for the label, you won't find it; and I'm afraid most of us are doing that. That is why this question is asked, "What is your sanction?" Since I have no sanction, since I have no authority, I am not acting as a guru, or as an authority for you or for any other person. So, if you are interested, you will listen to what I am saying directly and find out the truth of what is being said; which means you must strip your mind of all authority and be capable of looking at things directly and simply.
Now, the questioner wants to know also, what is the new technique that I propose. Now, Sir, let us again understand that word technique. Is revolution a matter of technique? A political revolution, a sociological revolution, may need a certain technique, because you can pursue a certain ideology to produce a certain result; and to produce that result, you must know that ideology and the way to work out that ideology whether the communistic ideology, or the fascist, or the capitalist, you must learn a technique to produce a result; but is that the fundamental revolution? Will a technique produce the true revolution? There must be a radical, fundamental revolution sociologically. The whole thing has to be transformed. Now, will a technique transform it, technique being a method, a way? Or, must there be individuals, you and I, who understand the problem, and who in themselves are in a state of revolution? Therefore their action upon society is revolutionary, they are not merely learning a technique of revolution, they themselves are in revolution. Am I making myself clear?
So when you ask what is my method, or technique of revolution, I say let us look first at what you mean by that word technique. Is it not more important, more essential, that you be revolutionary, and not merely try to find a technique of revolution? Now, why aren't you revolutionary? Why isn't there the new process of life in you? A new way of looking at life, a flame, a tremendous discontent? Why? Because, a person that is completely discontented, not merely discontented with certain things, but inherently discontented, need have no technique to be revolutionary. He is a revolution, and he is a danger to society, and such a man you call revolutionary. Now, why aren't you such a person? And for me, what is important is not the technique, but to make you be revolutionary, to help you to awaken to the importance of complete transformation. And when you are transformed, then you will be able to act, then there is the constant flow of newness, which is, after all, revolution.
Therefore, to me, the importance of inward revolution, of psychological transformation, is far greater than the outward revolution. The outward revolution is merely change, which is modified continuity; but inward revolution has no resting place, there is no stopping, it is constantly renewing itself. And that is what we need at the present time: a people who are completely discontented, and therefore ready to perceive the truth of things. A man who is complacent, a man who is satisfied with money, with position, with an idea, can never see truth. It is only the man who is discontented, who is investigating, who is asking, questioning, looking, that discovers truth, and such a person is a revolution in himself and therefore in his relationships. Therefore that which is his world - which is his relationship with people - he begins to transform. Then he affects the world within his own relationship. So, merely to look for a technique, or to inquire what is my technique for the new revolution, seems to me beside the point - or rather, that you miss the importance of being revolutionary in yourself; and to be a revolution in yourself, you must awaken to the environment, to that in which you live. Sirs, any new culture, any new society, must begin with you. How did Christianity, Buddhism, or any other vital thing begin? With a few who really were aflame with the idea, with that feeling. They had their hearts open to a new life. They were a nucleus, not believing in something, but in themselves they had the experience of reality - reality of what they saw. And what you and I have to do, if I may suggest, is to see things for ourselves directly, not through a technique. Sir, you may read a love poem; you may read what love is, but if you have not experienced what love is, no amount of your reading, or learning the technique, will give you the perfume of love. And because we have not that love, we are looking for the technique. We are jaded we are famished, so we are superficially looking for a technique. A hungry man doesn't look for technique. He just goes after food, he doesn't stand outside the restaurant and smell the food. So when you ask for a technique it indicates that you are really not hungry. The `how' is not important, but why you ask the `how' is important.
So, there can be a revolution, the inward, continuous renewal, only when you understand yourself. You understand yourself in relationship, not in isolation. As nothing can live in isolation, to understand yourself, to have that knowledge of yourself at whatever level, can only be learnt in relationship. And as relationship is painful, is constantly in motion, we want to escape from it and find a reality outside of relationship. There is no reality outside of relationship. When I understand relationship, then that very understanding is reality. Therefore, one has to be extraordinarily alert, awake all the time watching, open to every challenge and to every suggestion and hint. But that demands a certain alertness of mind and heart; but most of us are asleep, most of us are frustrated, most of us have one foot in the grave, though we are young. Because we think in terms of achievement, we think in terms of gain, therefore we are never living; we are always concerned with the end; we are end-seekers, not people with life. Therefore, we are never revolutionary. If you are concerned directly with life, with living, and not with the idea about living, then you cannot help but be a revolution in yourself; you would be a revolution, because you are meeting life directly, not through the screen of words, prejudices, intentions and ends. And the man who meets life directly is a man who is in a state of discontent; and you must be in a state of discontent to find reality. And it is reality that releases, that frees; it is reality that frees the mind from its illusions and its creations. But to find reality, to be open to reality, is to be discontented. You cannot seek reality, it must come to you; but it can only come to you when the mind is completely discontented and ready. But most of us are afraid to be discontented because God knows where that discontent will lead us to. Therefore our discontent is hedged about with security, with safety, with carefully planned out action. And such a state of mind cannot understand truth. Truth is not static, for truth is timeless and the mind cannot follow truth, because the mind is the product of time; and that which is of time cannot experience that which is timeless. Truth comes to him who is in that state of discontent, but who does not seek an end; for the seeker of an end is the person who is seeking gratification; and gratification, satisfaction, is not truth.
January 16, 1949
Benares 1st Public Talk 16th January 1949
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