London 2nd Public Talk 9th October 1949
Probably most of us have definite views, or we have come to definite conclusions from which it is very difficult to deviate or to look at another point of view; because most of us have lived quite painfully, have suffered, and we have come to certain points of view which we find difficult to change; and if we listen to another at all, we listen through the screen of our own conclusions, of our own experiences, of our own knowledge, and so it is extremely difficult to understand another fully and completely. And, if I may suggest, we should, for the time being, or at least for this morning, put aside our particular conclusions and points of view, and try to consider together the problems that confront us. Our difficulty is going to be that we want conclusions, we want answers to the various problems. But, if we can examine each problem that arises, sufficiently intelligently, which means without being bound by conclusions, without definite opinions, then perhaps we shall be able to understand the problem fully, integrally.
One of the problems in our life is, is it not?, that of the individual and his relationship to the State. Perhaps, if we can understand the whole process of the individual, then we shall be able to understand our relationship, not only to the one or two, but to the many, to the mass, to the country, to the people as a whole. So this division between the State and the individual seems to me to be erroneous; because, after all, what we are, we make the State to be. We project that which each one of us is. This may seem to be a very simple philosophy, a very simple idea, and not worthwhile examining; because, our minds are so complicated, we have read so much, we are so intelligent, so clever, that we cannot think of a problem simply. But, it seems to me, we must think of this highly complex problem very directly and simply; because, after all, a complex problem can be understood fully, only when we approach it negatively. And in understanding the individual and his process, we shall perhaps understand the relationship of the individual to the State, or to the mass, or to another individual.
So, to me, the problem of the relationship of the individual to the State can be understood only when we understand the process of the individual; because, without the individual, the State is not. There is no such thing as the mass. It is a political implement convenient for various purposes, for exploitation, and so on. And also, for most of us, when we talk about the mass, it is a convenient way of disposing of people; because, to look at an individual, to look at another, requires a great deal of attention, thought, consideration, which we are unwilling to give; and therefore, we call them the mass - and the mass is ourselves, you and me.
To understand the whole projection which we call society, with all its complexities, surely we have to understand ourselves. But most of us are unwilling to understand ourselves; because that is a tedious job, unexciting, and we think it has not much significance, that the understanding of oneself will lead nowhere. Whereas, if we can work, help to bring about certain reformations, certain alterations in society, that, perhaps, will be worthwhile. And also, there is the impression that in understanding ourselves we will inevitably be self-centred, self-enclosed.
Surely, fully to understand oneself and the whole process of what the individual is, requires, not isolation, not a withdrawal, but the understanding of relationship; because, after all, all action is relationship: there is no action without relationship. And, if in my relationship with another there is antagonism, greed, envy, if there are all the various causes that bring about conflict, surely, I will create a society which will be the result of that relationship. So, the understanding of myself is not an egocentric process; on the contrary, it requires an awareness of relationship. Therefore, relationship is the mirror in which I discover myself, I see myself - whether it be the relationship with the one or with the many, with society. And if I want a radical transformation in society, I must obviously understand myself.
This may sound rather childish and infantile, without much significance; but I do not think it is so easy, nor so easily brushed off.
You may say, "What can the individual do to affect history?" Can he do anything by his life? I don't think you are going to stop wars immediately, or bring about a better understanding between the various peoples. But, at least in the world I live in, in the world of my immediate relationship - whether it is with my boss, with my wife, with my children, or with a neighbour - there, at least, I can bring about a certain reformation, a certain transformation, a certain understanding. I may not be able to bring about understanding with the Russians, or the Germans, or the Hindus; but at least in the world I am living in, there can be a certain peace, a certain happiness, a certain love, affection, and all the rest of it, And I think, though it may not widely affect the world at large, at least I can be a nucleus, a centre of different value, of different understanding and significance; and perhaps that may gradually bring about a transformation in the world.
But, surely, we are not principally concerned with the transformation of the world, because what I do, what you do, will have little effect. But, if I can stop being greedy - not superficially but profoundly - if I can stop being ambitious, then perhaps I shall be able to bring a new breath, a new understanding, to life. And surely, that is the most effective and direct action, is it not? - to bring about transformation, a radical change, in oneself; for after all, that is how all great movements are started, with the individual, with oneself. So, my relationship - or your relationship, the relationship of the individual - to the State can be understood, and a change in that relationship brought about, only when I understand the total process of myself.
Do not, please, brush this aside, saying, "This is infantile, stupid; it has no effect in the world." What has a fundamental effect in the world? A mass movement? Or, is that fundamental effect brought about by a few creative people who are not self - centered, egotistic, self-enclosed, who do not project their interests and ambitions, a few who, are really free of their egotism? So, to understand this, one must know the process, one must be aware of oneself in action, which is relationship. In understanding what we are, we shall find the solution to the many problems that confront us, understanding not only what we are, superficially, on the upper levels of the mind, but knowing the whole content of oneself, the hidden as well as the open, the superficial as well as the many layers of our consciousness, of which at present we are unaware. Perhaps we are aware of them at rare moments; but to bring all the hidden into the conscious and so dissolve the personal, egotistic, narrow intentions and pursuits, thereby establishing right relationship, seems to me of the utmost importance. That is the only thing which I feel is worth - while discussing, talking about, and living; how to be free of greed, not only superficially, but inwardly. Because, that is one of the causes of conflict, is it not? - greed, not only for things, possessions, but greed for power, greed for knowledge, greed for prestige. And to understand greed requires, surely, a great deal of attention - not to find out who is greedy, or to imitate the pattern of a person who is not greedy, but to be aware of oneself as being greedy, and to follow and understand every implication of that greed. Because, obviously, greed has a social effect: individuals being greedy, seeking power, bring about a group or a nation that is equally greedy for power, position, prestige, which creates wars.
Is it possible to be free from greed, and live in a society which is nothing but the result of greed, of violence? I think that question can be answered only through direct experience; not verbally trying to be free from greed, but when we know the experience, the true experience, of non-greed. After all, greed expresses itself in so many ways - the greed for truth, the greed for position, the greed for happiness, and the greed for things, for security. Is outward, physical security denied when there is no inward, psychological security? Is it not possible to live in this world without each one seeking his own security? After all, each one of us is seeking psychological security much more than physical security. We use possessions, things, outward security, as a means of psychological security. When the physical needs become a psychological necessity, then that psychological necessity destroys outward security. We can think this out - it is so obvious. As long as I am using things, possessions, property, as a means of self-expression, as a means of aggressive, self-projecting existence, then the needs become all-important; then things, property, become all-dominant; because I am using things, property, for my inward psychological security.
And why do we want to be inwardly secure? it is essential to be outwardly, materially secure, otherwise we cannot live; you and I could not be here if I hadn't my normal food and you hadn't yours. We must have outward security. But I feel that our security is denied, is destroyed, when we use the outward security as a means of inward expansion, of inward pursuit of greed; because then we use things, not as necessities, but we give to them psychological significance. Property then becomes for us a means of psychological survival. After all, the titles, positions, degrees, wealth are used as a means, are they not?, of psychological survival, psychological certainty, security; and as long as we seek psychological security through things, there must be contention about things?
Is it possible to live in relationship, without being inwardly secure, psychologically certain? After all, that is what we mean by the words "certain", "secure." Most of us are seeking psychological security, are we not?, apart from physical security. We must have physical security, much or little, depending on our environment, and so on. But need there be psychological security? Do we want it? Though we are seeking it, though our eternal pursuit is to be secure inwardly, is that not a wrong process, a wrong approach to life? Is there inward security? You and I may want it - but is there such a thing as inward security? When I want to be certain in relationship - whether it be with an idea, with a person, or with a thing - do I find security in that relationship, inward certainty in that relationship?
And, if I am secure in my relationship, is it a relationship? If I am sure of you as my wife, or my boss, or my friend - sure in the sense of using you as a means of my inward security - is there a relationship between us? Is there any relationship between you and me when I use you? As long as I am using you as a means of my inward security, what is our relationship? You are only a useful instrument for me. I am not related to you. You are a piece of furniture, to be used. That is, inwardly, psychologically, I am poor, empty, insufficient; so, I use you as a means of covering myself up, as a means of escape from myself. And such usage we call love, or what you will.
This escape we call relationship, whether it is relationship with property, with people, or with ideas. And, surely, such a relationship must inevitably create conflict, sorrow, and disaster. And that is the state we live in - using people, things, as a means of covering up our own inward poverty. Therefore, the things that we use become all-important; the person, the possession, the idea, the belief, become all-important; because, without them we are lost: therefore, more knowledge, more people, more things. And yet, that which we are, we have never understood. And it seems to me, as long as we are seeking psychological security, we shall never understand ourselves. But, when we are aware that we are using people, things, ideas, for our own escape from ourselves, being aware of that escape, surely brings about a different relationship. Then the person, the idea, or the thing is no longer important in itself. Therefore, we are not so attached to things, to people; then there is an intelligent approach to the question of property. But I cannot approach it intelligently as long as I am using property as a means of covering up my inward poverty; because, as long as we are attached to things, we are those things. As long as you are attached to property, you are the property, you are not a spiritual entity: that is just a lot of phony talk. As long as you are attached to a belief, you are that belief. As long as you are attached to a person, you are that person. And we are attached so desperately, because in ourselves we are empty, in ourselves we are nothing; being afraid of that emptiness we hold on to outward things, to ideas, to ideals which are self-projected.
So, this question of relationship cannot be understood superficially, or verbally, or read about in books; but the whole significance of it, with its intricacies and its extraordinary depth, can be understood only when we are aware of our relationship with each other. And what that relationship is, society is. Merely to talk about brotherhood has no meaning without understanding oneself. You may join societies, form groups for brotherhood; but as long as you are using a society, or people, or things, as a means of your inward security, you are bound to create more conflict, more illusion, more pain in the world, which is what is happening, just as nationalism, used as a means of covering up one's own poverty and of identifying oneself with a particular country, leads to war.
What is important is to understand oneself, and to come face to face with oneself, with that poverty which we are avoiding, that emptiness which we all shun. And when we understand that, really experience it, without condemnation, when we are fully related to that emptiness, then only is there a possibility of going beyond and discovering what is truth or what is God.
There are several questions, and I will try to answer some of them.
Question: I have tried very hard, but cannot stop drinking. What should I do?
Krishnamurti: You know, each one of us has various escapes. You take a drink, and I follow a Master. You are addicted to knowledge, and I to amuse- ment. All escapes are similar are they not? whether one takes to drink, follows a Master, or is addicted to knowledge. They are all the same, surely, because the intention, the purpose, is to escape. Perhaps drinking may have a social value, or may be more harmful; but I am not at all sure that the ideational escapes are not worse. They are much more subtle, more hidden, and more difficult do be aware of. A man addicted to rituals, ceremonies, is no different from the man addicted to drink, because both are trying to escape through stimulants.
And I think it is possible to stop escapes only when you are aware that you are escaping, that you are using all these things - drink, Masters, ceremonies, knowledge, love of country, what you will - as stimulants, sensations, to get away from yourself. After all, there are various ways to stop drinking. But if you merely stop drinking, you will take up something else. You may become a nationalist, or pursue some teacher on the other side of the world, or become ideationally fanciful.
Surely, the reason for escape is obvious: we are dissatisfied with ourselves, with our state, outwardly and inwardly. And so we have many escapes; and we think we shall understand, dissolve the escape, the drinking, when we discover the cause. When we know the cause of escape, do we stop escaping? When I know that I am drinking because I am quarrelling with my wife, or because I have a rotten job - when I know the cause, do I stop drinking? Surely not. I stop drinking only when I establish right relationship with my wife, with another, and remove the conflict which is causing pain.
That is, to put it differently, as long as I am seeking self-fulfilment, in which there is frustration, there must be an escape. As long as I am frustrated, I must find an escape. When I want to be something - a politician, a leader, the pupil of a Master, anything - as long as I want to be something, I am inviting frustration; and as being frustrated is painful, I seek an escape from it, whether it is a drink, or a Master, or a ceremony, or becoming a politician - it doesn't matter what it is, they are all the same.
So, then, the question arises, is there self-fulfilment? Can the self, the me, be something, become something? And what is the me which wants to become something? The me is a bundle of memories, a chain of memories in reaction with the present; I am the result of the Past in conjunction with the present. And that me wants to perpetuate itself, through family, through a name, through property, through ideas. The me is merely an idea, an idea which is satisfying, giving sensations, and to that the mind clings; the mind is that. And as long as the mind is seeking fulfilment as the me, obviously there must be frustration; as long as I give importance to myself as being something, there must be frustration; as long as I am the centre of everything, of my thoughts, my reactions: as long as I give myself importance, there must be frustration. Therefore, there must be pain, and from that pain we try to escape, through innumerable ways. And the means of escape are similar.
So, don't let us worry over the means of escape - whether yours is superior to mine. What is important is to realize that as long as one is seeking fulfilment in the self, there must be misery, strife; and this misery cannot be avoided as long as the self is important, the me is important.
So, you will say, "What has drinking got to do with all this? You haven't answered my question, how to stop drinking." I think the problem of drinking, as any other problem, can be understood and put an end to, only when I understand the process of myself, when there is self-knowledge. And that understanding of oneself requires constant watchfulness - not a conclusion, not something you can hold on to, but constant awareness of every movement of thought and feeling. And, to be so aware is tiresome, and so we say, "Oh, it isn't worth it." We push it aside, and therefore increase the sorrow, the pain. But surely, only in understanding oneself as a total process, do we solve the innumerable problems that we have.
Question: I find it impossible to believe in God. I am a scientist, and yet my science gives me no satisfaction. I cannot bring myself to believe in anything. Is this merely a matter of conditioning? If so, is faith in God more real? How can I come to that faith?
Krishnamurti: Why do we believe? What is the necessity of believing? Which doesn't mean that you must not believe - that is not the problem. Why do we believe? And believing can only condition experience. Surely, what I believe, that I experience. If I believe in God, that I will experience. But such experience is not reality; it is only a self-projected experience.
So, it is important, is it not?, to find out why we believe; and through belief, can we find anything? Can we discover something? Or, is a mind capable of discovering only when it is not held, tethered to a belief, to a conclusion? But why do we believe in God? Obviously, it is because we see that everything about us is transient, everything about us is changing, being destroyed, coming to an end - our thoughts, our feelings, our existence; and we want something permanent, lasting, enduring. Either we create that permanency in ourselves, calling it the soul, the Atman, or what you like; or we project that demand for permanency into an idea which we call God.
Ideas can never be permanent. I may like an idea to be permanent, but in itself it is not permanent. I may want permanency; but as long as I am wanting it, I am creating a permanency which is non-existent. And belief, faith in God, is merely the reaction, the response of a person who is seeking permanency. Therefore, his belief conditions his experience. He says, "I know there is God. I have experienced that extraordinary feeling." But surely, such experience, based on the desire for permanency, is a self-projected experience, and therefore not an experience of reality. And, what is real can be found only when there is no longer any question of seeking security, permanency, that is, when the mind is utterly still and free from all want.
So, as long as we believe, we can never find. Therefore, to find what is real, what is God - whatever name you like to call it - there must be freedom: freedom from fear, freedom from the desire to be inwardly secure, freedom from that fear of the unknown. And only then, surely, is it possible to experience whatever that something is, to know if there is such a thing as God. But a man who believes in God, or a man who does not believe in God, if he holds on to that conclusion, is obviously caught in an illusion. I can know that something, understand it, experience it directly, only when I am not self-enclosed, when I am not conditioned by belief by fear, by greed, by envy, and so on.
Belief, then, obviously destroys the experiencing of reality. And it is very difficult to think that way, because most of us are so conditioned in belief - the scientist as well as you and I; because we all find satisfaction in belief. And if I do not find satisfaction in things, in people, in ideas, then I create a super idea, which is God. And to that I cling, because that is much more satisfying, more gratifying. So the search for gratification must inevitably create barriers, and to these barriers we cling. You are a believer or a non-believer, but if you and I really want to understand if there is reality, if there is God, if there is something not fabricated by the mind, not the result of sensation or the search for sensation - if we want to find such a thing, then we must understand the process of sensation. Because, belief gives us sensation, as does drink, and to these sensations we cling; and these sensations are self-projected. We make from our minds the image of God, and to that we cling.
But, if you and I would really experience that thing which is not nameable, which is not of time, we cannot cling to beliefs, which are self-projected images; because anything which is named is not the real, it is the outcome of memory, of our conditioning; and if it is of time, then it is still part of the mind, for the mind is the result of the past, of the various influences, social, environmental, educational, and so on. So, if we understand the process of time, of naming, if we understand the conditions which exist in us, the influences in which we are caught, that understanding brings about a tranquillity of the mind. As I said, mind is not made still. When you make the mind still, then it is a dead mind. When you discipline the mind to be quiet, though it may be superficially quiet, it is still in a state of agitation, like a child being put in a corner. But when we understand the whole process of belief, the stimulants, the desire to be secure, the search for permanency; when we understand the truth of all these things, fully, not just superficially or verbally, but actually experience it - then the mind is quiet, you don't have to make the mind quiet. It is no use to make the mind quiet. You are the mind; you are the thinker as well as the thought. But if the thinker separates himself and tries to control his thought that leads to illusion.
So, then, you see all this, understand it, experience it directly - then the mind is quiet. And in that quietness you will know if there is God, reality, or if there isn't: in that stillness, in that silence, you will know. Before that, to speculate on God or no God, on whether you are following the right Master or not - all that seems to me so childish, immature. But the experiencing of reality is not a thing that can be imagined, that can be speculated upon. It is only in the state of experiencing that you will find the real; but to seek faith as a means of stimulation, as an escape from our daily existence of relationship, must inevitably lead to illusion, at whatever level you may like to place that illusion.
So, obviously, to discover, there must be freedom, freedom from greed; and whether you are a scientist, and I a layman, or whether I am ignorant and you full of knowledge, we can find that reality only when we understand ourselves. And in the understanding of ourselves comes tranquillity, for self-knowledge brings wisdom. And it is only in wisdom that there is tranquillity - not in knowledge, not in intellectual amusement and ideation's. There is no tranquillity in ideas. And that tranquillity comes into being, only when the mind is no longer pursuing its own projections. The experiencing of reality is not a thing to be handed to one: no Master, no saviour, can give it to you. It comes into being only with the depth of our own understanding of ourselves.
Question: If what you talk about is so rare, and apparently only for a few once in a while, what is the purpose of your talking to us? Can you really help us, the mass?
Krishnamurti: I think the purpose of my talking is very clear - at least, to me. First I am not talking in order to exploit you. I am not getting a kick out of it, nor do I feel lost if I do not talk. It isn't that. I talk for a simple reason: because I feel that you and I can help each other to understand our problems - and not because I feel that I am a superior person, who has achieved something or other. By talking over the innumerable problems that we have - the problems of relationship, for there are no other problems - we can understand them. We can talk them over quietly, free of any bias; or, being biased, prejudiced, we can be aware of that bias and prejudice.
After all, we are trying to establish a relationship between us, you and I. If I am using you, or you are using me, we have no relationship. Then you exploit me and I exploit you. But if each one of us is trying to understand the problem which is oneself, then we shall establish right relationship. Then, perhaps, when we discuss - not intellectually, not verbally - we can explore ourselves, we can see ourselves as we are; because, after all, relationship is a mirror in which I see myself as I am - that is, if I want to see myself. But, as most of us dislike to see what is we make relationship a farce. Relationship then becomes an escape.
If you do not want to escape through me, or I through you, then it is possible in understanding the various problems together, to see ourselves as we are whether we are one or many. To me there is no such thing as the mass. The mass is you and me. We think we understand people when we call them Germans, Russians, English, or Hindus. It is a lazy mind that does that, a slack mind that says, "Oh, you are a Hindu", or, "You are English." Because, it is so much easier, isn't it?, to call someone by a name, and then to think "I understand him." But if I do not call you by a name, I have to look at you much more closely; I have to see your face to study your individual movements of thought I have to be aware of you as an individual. But if I treat you as the mass, then I can bomb you very easily, destroy you.
So, to help another, I must see the other, not as being this or that, belonging to this nationality or to that, but to see him as he is. I cannot see him as he is, if I am myself caught in my own petty nationalism, in my own societies, beliefs, and ridiculous superstitions, my own nonsense. So, to understand each other we must look at each other very clearly - that is, to understand you, I must know myself: I must see myself very clearly in my relationship with you. And then only is there a possibility of our helping each other.
October 9, 1949
London 2nd Public Talk 9th October 1949
Texts and talks of Jiddu Krishnamurti. Krishnamurti quotes. Books about
J Krishnamurti. Philosophy.