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Paris 1950

Paris 1st Public Talk 9th April 1950

Most of us are confronted with many problems, not only individual but collective; there are problems that not only touch our personal lives, but also affect us as citizens of a particular country, as part of a collective group, and so on. We have problems that are not only sociological and economic, but also, if I may use the word, spiritual. We are confronted with problems of every kind; and the more we deal with these problems, the more they seem to increase and multiply and become confused.

This translation business is going to be rather difficult, but perhaps it will go fairly smoothly as we get used to it. I have not done this kind of thing for many years, so I hope you will have a little patience if there is hesitation on my part.

As I was saying, the more we deal with these problems, the more they seem to increase; and with the increase of problems there arises greater suffering, greater misery and greater confusion. Surely, what is important is, not how to solve any one particular problem but to find out how to deal with the problems as they arise, so as not to increase or multiply them. That is, we must obviously deal with the problems of existence, not on any one particular level, but at all levels; because, if we deal with a problem merely on its own level, surely such a problem cannot be solved. If we deal with the economic problem, whether individual or collective, apart from the spiritual or psychological problem, the economic problem can never be solved. In order to solve a particular problem, we have to understand the creator of the problem and to understand the creator is surely much more important than to understand the problem itself; because, when once we understand the creator or maker of the problem, then we can resolve the problem. So, our difficulty is to understand, not only superficially but also fundamentally, the creator of Problems - which is oneself. Therefore the study of oneself is not an avoidance of the problem, whether superficial or profound; on the contrary, to understand oneself is of far greater importance than to bring about a result by dealing with the problem, by transforming or being active about the problem.

Now, as I said, the important thing is not to seek a mere solution to the problem whether economic or any other, whether individual or collective, but to understand the maker of the problem; and to understand the maker is much more difficult it requires much greater awareness, greater attention, than merely to study the problem. The creator of the problem is oneself, and the understanding of oneself does not imply a process of isolation, a process of withdrawal. We seem to think that we must be agitated, active about the problem, for then we can at least feel that we are doing something about it; but any concern with the study, with the understanding of the maker of the problem, we regard as a process of isolation, of enclosure, and therefore a denial of action. So, it is important to see that the study of oneself is not a withdrawal, is not a process of isolation or inactivity; on the contrary, it is a process of extraordinary attention of alert awareness, which demands not only superficial but also inward clarity.

After all, when we talk of action, we really mean reaction, do we not? Most of us react to any outside influence, and in this process of reaction we are caught; and this reaction we call dealing with the problem. So, the understanding of reaction is the beginning of the understanding of oneself. As I pointed out, what is important is not so much the understanding of the problem itself, but the understanding of the reactions that each one has in response to any particular stimulus, to any particular influence or condition. The study of oneself is far more significant than the study of the problem - to which most of us have devoted our lives. We have studied the problems from every angle, but we have never studied profoundly or deeply the maker of the problems; and to understand the maker of the problems, we have to understand our relationships, because the maker of the problems exists only in relationship. Therefore, the study of relationships in order to understand the maker of the problems is our main question and the understanding of relationships is the beginning of self-knowledge. I do not see how we can understand life, or any of our problems, without understanding ourselves; because, without knowing oneself there is no basis for thinking, there is no basis for action, there is no basis for any kind of transformation or revolution.

So, the beginning of the understanding of relationships, by which one discovers the maker of the problems, is of the highest importance; and the maker of the problems is the mind. To understand the maker of the problems, which is the mind, is not merely to be very clever, but to study the whole process of psychological reaction in oneself; and without understanding the total process of the mind, do what we will with regard to the many problems, whether individual or collective the economic problem, the problems of war, of nationalism, and so on - without understanding the mind, we have no way out of all these problems. Our question, then, is really not war, not the economic problem, but the study, the understanding of the mind; because, it is the mind that creates the problems in relationship, whether that relationship be with people, with ideas, or with things. And the mind cannot be understood as something apart to be studied in a laboratory, but only in the action of relationship.

The mind is, after all, the result of the past. What you and I are is the outcome of many yesterdays, we are the total summation of the past, and without understanding that past we cannot proceed. Now, to understand that past, must we study the whole content, the background of the past? That is, to study the past, we can either dig into it, delve deeply into all the memories of the race, of the group, of the individual which implies studying the analyzer; or, we can go into the problem of whether the analyzer is different from the analyzed, whether the observer is different from the observed. Because, as long as there is an analyzer examining the past, surely that analyzer is also a result of the past; therefore, whatever he analyzes, examines, must be conditioned, and hence inadequate. The analyzer is part of the analyzed, the two are not separate - which is an obvious fact when we look at it. There is no thinker apart from the thought; and as long as there is a thinker apart from the thought, a thinker examining the thought, then whatever the outcome of that examination may be, it is inevitably conditioned and therefore inadequate. That is why, before we try to understand the problem of war the economic or any other problem, we must first understand the thinker who is analyzing the problem. Because, the problem is not different from the thinker, the thinker is not separate from the thought - it is the thought that creates the thinker. If we can see that, then we will discover that there is only thinking, and not a thinker there is only thinking, and not a thinker an observer, an experiencer. There is only thinking, and not a thinker. The moment we see that, our approach to the problem, whatever it be, is entirely different, because then there is no thinker trying to dissect, to analyze or shape a particular thought: there is only thinking. Therefore it is possible for thought to come to an end without the process of struggle, without the process of analyzing. As long as there is a thinker as the `me' and the `mine', there is a centre from which action is always taking place: That centre is obviously the result of our thinking, and our thinking is the outcome of conditioning; and when the thinker merely de taches himself from the conditioning and tries to bring about action, change, or revolution, there is always the centre which remains as permanent. So, the real question is to understand and dissolve that centre which is the thinker.

The difficulty with most of us is, is it not?, that our thinking is so conditioned. We are either French, or English, or German, or Russian, or Hindu, with particular religious political, and economic backgrounds, and through this screen of conditioning we try to meet the problems of life, and thereby increase the problems. We do not meet life without conditioning; we meet it as an entity with a particular background and training, with particular experience. Being conditioned, we meet life according to our particular patterns, and this reaction according to pattern only creates more problems. Obviously, then, we have to understand and remove these conditioning's which increase our problems; but most of us are unaware that we are conditioned and that our conditioning is the result of our own desire, of our own longing for security. After all, the society about us is the outcome of our desire to be secure, to be safe, to be permanent in our own particular form of conditioning; and being unaware of our conditioning, we continue to create more problems. We have such an accumulation of knowledge, so many prejudices, so many ideologies, so many beliefs to which we cling, and these backgrounds, these conditioning's, prevent us from actually meeting life as it is. We are always meeting life, which is a challenge, with our inadequate responses, and so we never understand life except through our particular conditioning's. The challenge is life, which is in constant transformation, in constant flux; and we have to understand, not the challenge, but our reaction to the challenge.

Now, our conditioning is the mind; the mind is the seat of all our conditioning - conditioning being knowledge, experience, belief, tradition, identification with a particular party with a particular group or nation. The mind is the result of conditioning, the mind is the conditioned state; therefore, any problems that the mind tackles must further increase those problems. As long as the mind deals with any problem, at any level, it can only create more trouble, more misery, and more confusion. Is it possible, then, to meet the challenge of life without the process of thinking, without this accumulated experience which is the mind? That is, is it possible to meet the challenge of life without the reaction of the mind, which is the conditioning of the past? When there is a challenge, we have a reaction the mind immediately responds; and, as one watches, one sees that the response of the mind is always conditioned. Therefore, when there is a challenge, the mind which responds can only create more problems, more confusion, and always does.

So, though we have innumerable problems at all levels of our existence, as long as the mind meets them, as long as thought reacts to them, there must be further confusion; and is it possible to meet life without the reaction of the conditioned mind? We can meet the challenge without thought responding to it only when there is a crisis. When there is an acute crisis we will see that thought has no response; the background does not react. It is only in that state, when the mind does not react to the problem as a process of thought - only then can we resolve the problems that confront each one of us.

I have been given some questions, and I shall answer them.

Question: The only weapon you give to the victims of social injustice is self-knowledge. This, to me, is derision. History teaches us that people have never freed themselves except through violence. The state of society conditions me, therefore I have to smash it.

Krishnamurti: Before we begin to break up society, we must understand what society is, and how one is to act, to respond, to that society in which one is caught. So what is important is, not how to break society to be free from it, but to understand the structure of society; because, the moment I understand the structure of society in relation to myself, I shall be able to act in the right way with regard to it.

What is society? Is it not the product of our relationship, the relationship between you and me and another? Our relationship is society, and society is not something apart from us. Therefore, to alter the structure of the present society without understanding relationship is merely to continue the present society in a modified form. The present society is pretty rotten, it is a process of corruption, of violence, in which there is always intolerance, conflict, and pain; and to bring about a fundamental alteration in this society of which we are a part, there must be the understanding of ourselves. Surely, this understanding of ourselves is not a derision, nor is it in opposition to the present order. There is opposition only as a reaction. A fundamental alteration in society can come about, not through ideas, not through a revolution based on ideas, but through the transformation of myself in my relationship with another. Society obviously needs transformation - all societies always need transformation. Should that transformation be based on an idea, that is, on thought, on calculation, on clever dialectic assertions and denials, and all the rest of it? Or, since patterns only create opposition, should such a revolution take place not according to any particular pattern? A revolution can come into being only when the idea of `me', as an entity apart from society, ceases; and that , me' exists only as long as thought, which is the conditioned desire to be secure in different forms, continues.

We all know and admit that there must be some kind of radical change in the structure of society. There are those who say such a transformation, such a change, must be based on an idea, on an ideology; but an idea invariably creates opposition, and therefore you have a revolution according to the left or to the right. Now, is revolution possible, is it a true revolution, when it is based on an idea, on a belief? That is, when revolution is the outcome of a process of thought, which is merely a reaction of the background giving a modified continuity to the past, is that a revolution at all? Surely, a revolution based on an idea is not a revolution, it is merely a modified continuity of the past, however intelligent, however cunning. Therefore, revolution in the right sense of the word is possible only when the mind is not the centre of action, when belief, idea, is not the dominant influence. That is why to bring about a radical transformation in society, one must understand oneself - the `oneself' being the conditioned background of idea, experience, know ledge, memory.

Question: My husband was killed during one war, my children died during another, and my house has been destroyed. You say that life is an eternal state of creation; but every spring is broken in me, and I do not find it possible to partake of that renewal.

Krishnamurti: What is it that pre vents this constant renewal in our life, that prevents the new from coming into being? Is it not that we do not know how to die each day? Because we live in a state of continuity, a constant pro cess of carrying over from day to day our memories, our knowledge, our experiences our worries, our pain and suffering, we never come to a new day without yesterday's memory. To us, continuity is life. To know that `I' continue as memory identified with a particular group, with particular know ledge, with particular experience - to us that is life; and that which has continuity, which is carried on through memory - how can that ever renew? Surely, renewal is possible only when we under stand the whole process of the desire to continue; and only when that continuity as an entity, as the `I' in thought, comes to an end, is there a renewal. After all, we are a collection of memories: the memories of experience, the memories which we have gathered through life, through education; and the `I' is the result of identification with all that. We are the result of identifying ourselves with a particular group whether French, Dutch, German, or Hindu. Without identification with a group, with a house, with a piano, with an idea, or with a person, we feel lost; so, we cling to memory, to identification, and this identification gives us continuity, and continuity prevents renewal. Surely, it is possible to renew ourselves only when we know how to die and to be reborn each day, that is, to be free from all identification, which gives continuity.

Creation is not a state of memory, is it? It is not a state in which the mind is active. Creation is a state of mind in which thought is absent; and as long as thought is functioning, there can be no creation. Thought is continuous, it is the result of continuity, and for that which has continuity there cannot be creation, renewal; it can only proceed from the known to the known, and therefore it can never be the unknown. Therefore, the understanding of thought and how to bring thought to an end, is important. This ending of thought is not a process of living in an ivory-tower of abstraction; on the contrary, the ending of thought is the highest form of understanding. The ending of thought brings about creation, and in that there is renewal; but as long as thought continues, there can be no renewal. That is why, to understand how we are thinking is much more important than to consider how to renew ourselves. Only when I understand the ways of my own thinking, see all its reactions, not only on the superficial level, but on the deeper unconscious levels - only then, in the understanding of myself, does thought come to an end.

The ending of thought is the beginning of creation, the ending of thought is the beginning of silence; but the ending of thought cannot come through compulsion, through any form of discipline, through any enforcement. After all, we must have had moments when the mind was very quiet - spontaneously quiet, without any sense of compulsion, without any motive without any desire to make it silent. We must have experienced moments when the mind was utterly still. Now, that stillness is not the result of a continuity, that stillness can never be the outcome of a particular form of identification. The mind in that state comes to an end; that is thinking as the reaction of a particular conditioning comes to an end. That ending of thought is renewal, it is the freshness in which the mind can begin anew.

So, the understanding of the mind, not as the thinker, but only as thought, the direct awareness of the mind as thought without any sense of condemnation or justification, without any choice, brings about the ending of thought. Then you will see, if you will experiment with it, that with the ending of thought, there is no thinker; and when there is no thinker, the mind is quiet. The thinker is the entity that has continuity. Thought, seeing itself to be transient, creates the thinker as a permanent entity, and gives to the thinker continuity; and then the thinker becomes the agitator, maintaining the mind in a state of constant agitation, constant search, inquiry, longing. Only when the mind understands the total process of itself, without any form of compulsion, is there tranquility, and therefore a possibility of renewal.

Surely, then, in all these matters the important thing is to understand the process of the mind; and to understand the process of the mind is not a self-isolating or introspective action, it is not a denial of life, a withdrawal into a hermitage or monastery, or an enclosing of oneself in a particular religious belief. On the contrary, any belief conditions the mind. Belief creates antagonism; and a mind that believes can never be quiet, a mind that is caught in dogma can never know what it is to be creative. So, our problems can be resolved only when we understand the process of the mind, which is the creator of the problems; and the creator can come to an end only when we understand relationship. Relationship is society, and to bring about a revolution in society we have to understand our reactions in relationship. Renewal, that creative state, comes into being only when the mind is utterly tranquil, not enclosed in any particular activity or belief. When the mind is quiet utterly still, because thinking has come to an end - only then is there creation.

April 9, 1950


Paris 1950

Paris 1st Public Talk 9th April 1950

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