Ojai 3rd Public Talk 27th June, 1953
Perhaps this evening we could consider the significance of authority in life, and the relationship between authority and fear. During the last two meetings we have been going into the question of individual freedom, and whether it is possible to be individual in the sense of being free from fear; and I suggested that there can be individuality only when there is no fear at all. It is one of the most difficult things to be free from fear, because fear takes so many forms. When the mind is completely absorbed in a certain idea, that absorption may be an escape; and the man who disciplines his mind according to a pattern of thought may still be caught in fear. When we conform to a particular standard of morality, in which there is authority, compulsion, are we free of fear? To follow authority in any form, without fully understanding the whole significance of authority, is surely to be burdened with fear.
So let us go into this question of authority; but before we do so, I would like to suggest that you listen rightly. To listen rightly is not to conclude. When you jump to any conclusion, you are not open to find out, to discover. You cannot be led to discover: discovery must be spontaneous. If you are listening in order to be led, you will never discover. That is fairly clear, is it not? If you are waiting to be shown, you will never find out anything for yourself; you will find out only what the speaker wants you to find out. Therefore you must listen, not merely to what I am saying, to the description I am giving, but rather to what is taking place in your own mind - which is to be aware. Though I may use certain words and phrases as a means of communication, what I am actually describing is what each one of us is thinking, whether consciously or unconsciously. If you are merely listening to me, you are not listening to yourself; you are only following a description. But if through this description you begin to be aware of the activities of the mind, with all its tendencies and idiosyncrasies then there is a possibility of discovering, of becoming fully conscious of what is actually taking place within your own being; and that, it seems to me, is very important.
I am not saying anything that is so very difficult to understand; but if you merely listen to words, you will miss the whole point. I am describing what is actually going on, consciously or unconsciously, within ourselves; and what is going on is a very complex affair which requires a great deal of patient attention, an awareness in which there is no judgment, an observation without choice. If we can listen with that attitude of mind, then I think we shall begin to understand the whole significance of authority. Surely, as long as the mind is caught in authority, it is not an individual at all; and to find out what is real, what is God, what is truth, to discover that which is nameless, must one not be completely individual? To be individual means complete freedom from all fear, from all compulsion, from the desire to find a right way of living. That is what we all want, that is the cry in our hearts: to find a right way of action, a right way of conduct, right method to live happily, to have peace. And does not that very cry create authority, the authority of a book, of a person, of an idea? We want to be told what to do, how to live, in what manner to overcome the innumerable problems that we have; and with that desire in our minds and in our hearts, we pursue those who can give us what we are seeking, those who we think will lead us to reality, to happiness, to God. So we set up an entity, a teacher, who is the result of our own projection, and we cloak him with what we want. The urge to guide our lives through teachers, through books, through any form of compulsion, is essentially the desire to be secure, is it not? That is what we want: to be secure in our relationships, to be secure in this world and also in the next.
Now, desire for security sets going the mechanism of compulsion, of resistance, of conformity to a pattern, to an idea, or to a person who represents the idea; and that is our life, is it not? So must one not be completely free from this desire for security, which creates authority? Authority is a very complex problem. There is authority at different levels: the governmental, the social, the religious, and the individual authority of one's own experience. From childhood we are compelled to conform. Our education, our social and religious training, our whole environment encourages us to conform, to resist, or to follow, which is our daily mechanism of thought; and as long as you and I are in that state, can we be free individuals? If we are not free, obviously we can never discover what is real; and to be free requires a great deal of understanding of this problem of authority. You cannot just throw aside all external authority and follow what you want, be- cause the very following of what you want creates authority. You may reject external authority, but there is the inward authority of experience, and that experience is based on your conditioning. It is fairly easy to reject all external authority, but one is still the result of that authority, of tradition, of society, of the culture, the civilization about one. To reject the outer and follow the inner is not to be free of authority. Surely, authority is a unitary process. There is no division between outer and inner authority: there is only authority. And can a mind which is following authority in any form ever discover what is true?
Please listen to this very carefully, don't jump to conclusions. Compulsion, resistance, discipline, the following of authority, is the outcome of fear; and can a mind hedged about by fear ever be free? It is only when the mind is free that there is individuality; but to bring about that freedom of the mind is extremely difficult - difficult in the sense that mere desire, mere effort, will not bring it about. Desire and effort are the reactions to our conditioning; and reaction is not freedom. So can the mind be free from all resistance, from all desire to find a way out of our problems?
I do not know if I am making myself clear. This is really quite a difficult subject to deal with, because when we approach it we are immediately confronted with the thought, "If I have no authority, no mode of conduct, how shall I guide myself tomorrow? If I can not use my past knowledge to discover what is true, then what am I to do?"
Now, is it not possible to live from moment to moment, understanding each incident, each experience, each relationship, as it arises? Cannot the truth of things be seen from moment to moment? Must I have the burden of knowledge, the authority of experience, to discover what is true? To understand, must not the mind be totally free of the past? Must it not stop translating the immediate experience according to its previous knowledge, which becomes the authority? But that is what we are doing, is it not? When we have a problem, how do we deal with it? We translate the problem in terms of the background of our conditioning, our previous experience; we evaluate it according to the standards which we have established, or which society has set up; and in translating the problem, we are never free to comprehend the truth of that problem. Can the truth of any human problem be understood through the authority of experience or of knowledge? Is not intelligence the freedom of understanding from moment to moment?
Life is very complex, and the mind is still more complex, with extraordinary capacities; and to understand any human problem, must not the mind come to it anew, afresh, and not from a centre which has gathered, which has accumulated? After all, that is creative understanding, is it not? The centre which accumulates is the "me", the ego, the self, and therefore any action from that centre will only increase the problem. Reality, God, or what name you will, must be something totally new, never experienced before, completely original; and can a mind which is the residue of time, of the past, of authority, of compulsion, resistance, fear - can such a mind understand, see the significance of what is true? Yet every church, every religious organization, every sect is always talking of God; and those who believe in God have visions which strengthen their belief. Surely, that which you can recognize has already been known, therefore it is not true. That which is true has never been known, therefore the mind must come to it afresh, anew; and one of our major difficulties is how to denude the mind of all compulsions, of all fears, of all resist- ances, of all authorities, so that it is free to observe, to listen and to understand. Tomorrow is never the same, the next reaction is never what has been; and it is because we translate every reaction, every tomorrow, every next moment in terms of the old, that more and more complications arise. There is never a moment when we can look at life, at the trees, at the birds, at every incident, originally freely fully.
Surely, then, the question is not how to be free of problems, or how to find the answers to our problems, or how to be free of authority; but rather can we look at all the extraordinarily complex and subtle problems of life with a mind that is pristine, original, uncorrupted? It is possible to do that only when we are free of fear, because it is fear that breeds authority, whether it be the authority of a person, or the authority of a church, of a belief, a dogma; and though we may be free of dogma and belief, if we are slaves to what our neighbours think, or to that which we have known, we are obviously still bound by fear.
So it is fear which breeds authority; and can the mind be free from fear, the fear of being insecure in all our relationships, the fear of not knowing, of not being? In our desire for security, in our fear of the unknown, we create heaven and hell, we create gods, visions - it is out of our own minds that all these things are born. Because intrinsically, deeply, there is a fear of being completely alone, the cunning mind begins to accumulate property, knowledge, experience; and being caught in that process, we project what reality or God should be, which is mere speculation and therefore of no significance; we create innumerable forms of belief behind which the mind takes shelter.
Now, can the mind be free of this whole process and live simply from day to day, understanding life as it arises from moment to moment? After all, that is the timeless, the nameless eternity: when the mind itself is the unknown. At present the mind is the known, it is the result of time, of yesterday, of accumulated knowledge, experiences and beliefs, and such a mind can never know the unknown. This is not some vague form of mysticism. Surely, if I want to know something that has never been experienced before, that is not of time, that cannot be put in the frame of authority my mind must be totally free from the past, which means that it must be free from fear. To this the immediate reaction is, "How am I to be free from fear? I know I am afraid, but how am I to be free?" Is that not your instinctive response? Please listen to the question and you will find the answer. Can the mind, which has created fear, free itself from fear? In its desire for security, the mind takes shelter in belief, thereby engendering fear and rendering itself incapable of facing the unknown; and can the entity which is giving birth to fear ever be free from fear? Surely, its very desire to be free from fear is the outcome of fear; therefore any effort of the mind to be free from fear is still part of fear. All that the mind can do is to be aware of fear and be completely passive with regard to it. In that passive awareness there is no choice, no overcoming; and when the mind is so aware, you will find that there is no fear at all. But the mind cannot be in that state as long as there is any effort to overcome.
Please listen carefully and you will see the truth of this. The mind, which is thought, creates fear, does it not? Most of us are lonely, and we do not know what that loneliness means; we have never gone into it, understood it, because we are always running away from it through some form of distraction. We can understand loneliness only when we can look at it, and we can look at it only when we are not afraid of it. Fear comes in when we are running away from loneliness; the running away, the flight is fear. So the mind is creating fear all the time - fear of what is going to happen tomorrow, of what will happen when we die. Thought, which is the result of the past, is projecting itself into the future and creating fear.
The mind can never be free of fear as long as it is making an effort to get away from fear. All that it can do is to be aware that it is frightened and be completely passive, without any choice. Then you will see that the mind becomes extraordinarily quiet, and in that quietness the problem of fear can be resolved. In that stillness of mind, authority has wholly vanished. What need have you of authority when from moment to moment you are seeing what is true? Truth is not dependent on valuation, on judgment, and if once the mind sees that completely, then the mind itself is both the experiencer and the experienced; therefore the mind is capable of going beyond itself.
All this requires a great deal of patient attention, an awareness in which there is no desire to become, to avoid or to gain. It is because we are everlastingly desiring to achieve, to be successful, or to avoid something, that we engender fear. Fear multiplies problems, fear cripples the mind and holds it to the past, and so the mind itself is the centre of fear. Only when the mind understands the full significance of not desiring to be something, of being, not blank, but completely empty, utterly silent - only then is it possible for the mind to resolve every problem as it arises.
Question: I would like not to be competitive, but how is one to exist without competing in this highly competitive society?
Krishnamurti: You see, we take it for granted that we must live in this competing society; so there is a premise laid down, and from there we start. As long as you say, "I must live in this competing society", you will be competitive. The society is acquisitive, it worships success; and if you also want to be successful, naturally you must be competitive.
But the problem is much deeper and more significant than mere competition. What lies behind the desire to compete? In every school we are taught to compete, are we not? Competition is exemplified by the giving of marks, by comparing the dull boy with the clever boy, by endlessly pointing out that the poor boy may become the president, or the head of General Motors - you know the whole business. Why do we lay so much stress on competition? What is the significance behind it? For one thing, competition implies discipline, does it not? You must control, you must conform, you must toe the line, you must be like all the others, only better; so you discipline yourself in order to succeed. Please follow this. Where there is the encouragement of competition there must also be the process of disciplining the mind to a certain pattern of action; and is that not one of the ways of controlling the boy or the girl? If you want to become something, you must control, discipline, compete. We have been brought up on that, and we pass it on to our children. And yet we talk about giving the child freedom to find out, to discover!
Competition hides the state of one's own being. If you want to understand yourself, will you compete with another, will you compare yourself with anyone? Do you understand yourself through comparison? Do you understand anything through comparison, through judgment? Do you understand a painting by comparing it with another painting, or only when your mind is completely aware of the picture with out comparison? You encourage the spirit of competition in your son because you want him to succeed where you have failed; you want to fulfil yourself through your son, or through your country. You think that progress, evolution lies through judgment, through comparison; but when do you compare, when do you compete? Only when you are uncertain of yourself, when you do not understand yourself, when there is fear in your heart. To understand oneself is to understand the whole process of life, and self-knowledge is the beginning of wisdom. But without self knowledge there is no understanding there is only ignorance; and the perpetuation of ignorance is not growth. So, does it require competition to understand oneself? Must I compete with you in order to understand my self? And why this worship of success? The man who is uncreative, who has nothing in himself - it is he who is always reaching out, hoping to gain, hoping to become something; and as most of us are inwardly poor, inwardly poverty-stricken, we compete in order to become outwardly rich. The outward show of comfort, of position, of authority, of power, dazzles us, because that is what we want.
All this is obviously true, but if you are listening to it with the thought that you have to live in this world, you are not listening: you are only comparing. If you do not compete, you may lose your job; if you lose your job, what about your responsibilities, who will feed your children? And so you go round and round. A man who is intent upon finding out what is true, who is in a state of revolt, must obviously go through a great deal of physical discomfort, must he not? He may lose his job. Why not? The mind that clings to security can never find reality. It is only when the mind understands the real that our problems will be resolved not till then. Do what we will, however cunning our minds may be, however much knowledge we may acquire, whatever process of analysis we may go through till we find the real, which is at every minute to be discovered, there can be no lasting solution to our human problems.
Competition arises when there is the desire to be successful, to become something, whether in the material world, or in the world of knowledge, of psychological intention. and as long as the mind is comparing, judging, it can the real. It is only when the mind is completely choiceless, not comparing, judging, or condemning, that there is a possibility of seeing what is true from moment to moment; and in that lies the resolution of all our problems.
June 27, 1953
Ojai 3rd Public Talk 27th June, 1953
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