Madras 1st Public Talk 5th December 1954
I think it is very important, especially now in this unprecedented crisis throughout the world, to know how to listen, not only to a speaker, to the human voice, but also to the birds, to the sound of the sea, to everything about us. It seems to me that it has become extraordinarily urgent for each one of us to find out what is true and what is false irrespective of the innumerable teachers here and in the West, and of all the sacred and other books that have been and are being published. Surely one must be able to listen without being converted to any particular point or view, to any particular philosophy or ideology, and discover for oneself beyond the words, beyond the similes and intricate thoughts, exactly what is true behind all this verbiage.
First of all, do we ever listen to anything? Are we capable of listening? If you observe yourself you will see how difficult it is to listen, because you have preconceived ideas, opinions and judgments based on your own tradition, your own experience and cultural influences, and these constantly intervene. They are like screens between you and that which you are trying to hear; so there is no listening at all but merely a translation of what you hear in terms of your own conditioning.
Do observe, watch your own mind when you are listening to what is being said, and you will see this extraordinary process actually taking place. You are really not listening. You have already an opinion about what is going to be said; you have conclusions, formulations, certain definite ideas, and the knowledge of the experience you have gathered is corrupting your mind. So your mind is never quiet, never still to find out what is true.
Is it not essential for a man who wants to find out for himself what is true to put aside all the things he has gathered, all the knowledge, the conclusions based on his own experience, so that the mind can perceive directly what is true without the screen of interpretation? Can you be told by another what is true? From childhood we have been taught not how to think but what to think, not how to listen but what to listen to. So we must now endeavour to find out how to listen, which means really how to think anew about all the problems of life, how to look at things very clearly without the prejudices of any race or culture, without the interpretation of our particular conditioning.
As I said, we are in an extraordinary crisis both historically and culturally. In a fortunate way there are no leaders any more, because you can no longer trust any leader. You do follow leaders when you want to get something from them spiritually or politically, but if you are intelligently observant you will be aware that the process of leadership does not bring about a fundamental revolution. The revolution of a leader is merely the continuation of the old in a different form, To change one pattern into another pattern is no change at all, it is merely a modified continuity. To bring about an inward revolution, a revolution in the whole process of our thinking and in the ways of our behaviour, demands on the part of each one of us a putting aside of all our preconceived ideas, a freeing of ourselves from every kind of thought - pattern in order to find out what is true. That is the only thing you and I can have in common, because what I am saying is neither Eastern nor Western; our problems are too colossal to be divided as Indian and British, Russian and American. These divisions are merely political and are absurd. Our problems are enormous and they cannot be solved from any political or sectarian point of view because they vitally concern us all as human beings, whether we live here or there.
Do you understand? To discover, first of all, what is our major problem, we cannot think in terms of the Orient or the Occident, we can, not think as Hindus, Moslems or Christians. If we do we create from the major problem innumerable secondary problems which have no significance at all. Please understand this one simple thing, listen to and see the truth of it. We cannot think in terms of the Hindu, the Christian, the Islamic or any other culture, because the problem is much too vast to be dealt with according to a religious dogma or a particular pattern of philosophy. That is obvious, is it not? But can your mind put aside all that, actually and not merely verbally? Theoretically you will spin words about it in order to discuss, but actually you are caught in the web of your own traditions, your own conditioning; therefore it is impossible to look at any problem comprehensively.
What is happening in the world at the present time, and perhaps has always happened? There are various political leaders each wanting to reform the world in a particular way, to push it to the left or to the right, or to maintain neutrality. Innumerable religious leaders are saying that there is a God, a divine end for man, and that a particular path will lead to it. Then there are the economic gurus who offer an earthly Utopia in the future if you will work hard for the party and conform to the authority of the book. The reformers, the historians, the politicians, the religious teachers, with their various patterns of thought, all point in different directions and say what is the right thing to do, and the greater the authority the more the followers.
Now, all that is happening in the world is a projection of our own confusion and misery, is it not? We want to have both physical security and inward peace, we want to be without conflict, sorrow and pain, without the constant battle between the opposites, between what is and what should be, we want a haven from this ceaseless strife within ourselves. Seeing this whole process going on, don't you ask what it is all about? This may seem a very childish question, but you have never found the answer, have you? Nor can great philosophers answer it for you. What Sankara, Buddha and others have said may be false, it may be utterly inadequate. To find the truth you must first understand the problem, which means that you must be capable of looking at it without any conditioning.
So, don't you ask yourself what this conflict and misery is all about? You strive, you add a degree to your name after passing an examination, you go to the office every day to earn a few rupees, and there is the endless struggle between the rich and the poor. What is it all about? Must you not find out for yourself and not rely on any person, on any book? It is not a question of capacity, it is a question of interest and drive. The moment you are really interested in this you will find that you have the enthusiasm, the passion to find out, and therefore you are willing to examine anything that may help you to discover the truth. What is important, then, is not the solution of any problem, but how we approach the problem, because practically all of us have lost the spirit of creative search, creative exploration to discover what is true, which cannot exist if there is any form of acceptance.
Please listen to this, but do not merely accept what I say. I am telling you nothing, literally nothing, because wisdom cannot be conveyed through words. You have to discover it for yourself, and to discover it your mind must be free. But your mind is not free, is it? Your mind is obviously hedged about by every form of fear, tradition, hope and anxiety. So, can your mind free itself from fear and tradition, from the accumulated knowledge of a thousand years? Can you put aside all the gurus, the religious teachers, whether ancient or modern, and look at these things for yourself? That is the real problem, is it not?
Civilizations and cultures do not bring about religion, they exist for religion, their proper function is to help man to find out what is true, what is God. But you cannot find truth, God if you are not inwardly free. Freedom does not come about through the cultivation of any particular practice, because the moment you practise you are already caught in the `how'. A man who meditates according to a system can never find out what is true; but when the mind becomes aware of the habit in which it is caught and sets about freeing itself from the practice, the thoughtlessness that is perpetually creating habit, such a mind is in meditation. It means really a complete inward revolution - which most of us are not willing to undergo because we want to be respectable. I do not mean the respectability of Mylapore, a suburb of Madras; that is absurd, but the respectability of feeling that we are progressing, advancing spiritually, that we are moral, safe. All this indicates absorption in oneself, does it not? However modified, refined, it is still self-concern.
So our problem, not only here but throughout the world, is this: Can the mind free itself from the past, from all its accumulated knowledge - knowledge, not of the machine, not of technology, but the knowledge of what we should be, the theories, the dogmas, the beliefs - and with that freedom consider the whole issue of existence? And when the mind is free from dogma, belief, fear, will there be any problem? After all, what is the mind, the mind which you have? What is your response when you are asked that question? Please experiment with what I am saying, if only for the fun of it. What is your mind? When you are asked such a question, observe how your mind operates. Its instinctive response is to look for an answer, either what Sankara said, or what the modern psychologists say, or what has been said by the scientists or by your favourite guru or newspaper. You are looking for an answer among the various records which you have collected, are you not? You do not observe your own process of thinking, and it is only in watching that process that you find out what the mind is, not by quoting somebody.
To find out what the mind is: is that not meditation? If the mind can understand the total process of its own existence, then perhaps it can go beyond itself and discover what is true. But reason and logic are not passionate, vital, and that is why, to understand and transcend itself, the mind must go beyond reason and logic. The mind that is passionate to find out what is true - only such a mind can come to know the whole process of reasoning, with its illusions and falseness, and so transcend itself. A mind that is logical, reasoning, traditional, fearful, may be enthusiastic in terms of a dogma, creed or political formula, it may be keen to bring about a particular reform; but it can never be vitally free to find out what is true.
Do experiment with this, because after all, why are you listening to me? If you are listening to find out what is true, you will never find it. If you are listening to be told how to meditate, you will never know meditation. God is not to be found through words, through any book or philosophy, through any of the systems of meditation which you practise. That which is true can only be found from moment to moment, and the mind that has a continuity cannot find it. Our mind is the result of time, is it not? It is the outcome of many yesterdays, an accumulation of both experience and knowledge. The mind as we know it has a continuity, which is memory, so it can only function in time, and with that continuity we approach the timeless, we try to find out what is true; therefore what we find will be in terms of our own continuity, our own habit, our own conclusions. We cannot be free of continuity as long as we do not understand the whole process of the mind, of the `I'. The mind is not separate from the `I'. Whether it is high or low, whether you call it personality, soul, or Atman, the `I' is the self, the mind that is capable of thinking. Please listen to this. As long as your God, Paramatman and all the rest of it, is within the field of thought it is still in time, and therefore it is not true. That is why it is very important to understand the whole process of the mind, not only of the superficial everyday mind, but also of the unconscious. What is true can only be found from moment to moment, it is not a continuity, but the mind which wants to discover it, being itself the product of time, can only function in the field of time; therefore it is incapable of finding what is true.
To know the mind, the mind must know itself, for there is no `I' apart from the mind. There are no qualities separate from the mind, just as the qualities of the diamond are not separate from the diamond itself. To understand the mind you cannot interpret it according to somebody else's idea, but you must observe how your own total mind works. When you know the whole process of it - how it reasons, its desires, motives, ambitions, pursuits, its envy, greed and fear - , then the mind can go beyond itself, and when it does there is the discovery of something totally new. That quality of newness gives an extraordinary passion, a tremendous enthusiasm which brings about a deep inward revolution; and it is this inward revolution which alone can transform the world, not any political or economic system.
If you listen rightly to what is being said, that very listening is a process of revolution. I assure you of this fact - not that you must accept it, but you will find out for yourself if you listen rightly that there comes an astonishing revolution in your life because you will have discovered the truth, and the truth brings about its own creative enthusiasm, its own creative action from moment to moment. That discovery is the highest form of religion, it is that for which all civilizations exist and every individual strives, and without it we are going to create an appalling world; without it we are going to destroy each other with the hydrogen bomb, and if there are no wars we will destroy each other through separative beliefs, through dogmas, through false gods such as nationalism, through religions that no longer have any meaning but are mere superstition.
So the problem is to free the mind to discover what is true, because truth cannot be handed to you by another. You cannot read it in books, it is not contained in any theory, it is not born of speculation nor of experience or the translation of experience. Truth comes into being only when the mind is quiet, utterly still, not hedged about by fear, by hope, by dogmas, by any form of ritual or belief. Mind is still only when it is free, and there is freedom only when the total process of the mind is understood.
There are several questions to answer. What is the point of putting a question? Is it to solve the problem or to explore the problem? Do you see the difference? With which are you mostly concerned when you put the question? Are you not mostly concerned with the answer? And when I answer in one way you can go to someone else for a different answer, and then choose the answer according to your judgment, your evaluation, which depends on your conditioning, on your desires and hopes; so you are really wanting the question to be answered to suit your theories and prejudices. But if the question is put in order to explore the problem together and find out what is true, then our relationship is entirely different. Then there is no lecturer, no division of speaker and listener, no guru, sishya, disciple and all that nonsense. Then you and I are two human beings confronted with a problem of which we are unafraid and into which we are inquiring to find out what is true; and such inquiry gives tremendous enthusiasm, does it not? Then the inquiry is neither yours nor mine, neither Hindu, Mussulman, Christian nor Buddhist. There is only the mind that is inquiring to find out what is true.
Please, sirs, if you listen to all this very casually it has very little significance; but if you listen to it with your whole being as though your life depended on it, then it will have a totally different meaning.
Question: Religious ascetics give up worldly things, political `sanyasis' dedicate themselves to work of various kinds for bettering society, while others are active in their own way to change conditions in the educational, social and political fields. Similarly, the people associated with you. though not belonging to any organization, are apparently dedicated to your work. Is there any difference between all these persons?
Krishnamurti: I hope there are none who are dedicated to my work, and that is very important to understand first. You cannot be dedicated to another's work. And what is my work? To publish a few books? Surely not. The inquiry to find out what is true is surely your own work, it is not mine. It is your life, your sorrow and misery that have to be understood, whether you live in a village, in Mylapore, in New York, London or Moscow. If you understand your everyday life as an individual and bring about freedom in yourself, you will create a revolution in the collective will which is called civilization; but if you cannot bring about this fundamental revolution in yourself, which is your own work, then how can you be dedicated to someone else's work?
So what is it that we are trying to do? The political reformers, the sanyasis, those who belong to welfare societies, those who serve various Masters, who meditate, who quarrel and then try to be peaceful - what is it that they are all trying to do? Have you ever questioned it? Have you ever asked yourself what it all means? Religious, political and social reform is all part of what is called civilization, is it not? And what is civilization? Surely it is the product of the action of collective will. That is fairly clear. Civilization comes into being through the action of collective will, and that civilization either rises and goes beyond the secular to discover what is ultimately true, or it declines and goes under. There can be a radical revolution in civilization only when there is a fundamental change in the action of collective will, and the action of collective will cannot change if the individual will does not undergo a transformation in itself. So you and I must discover what is true for ourselves, and we cannot discover what is true unless we free ourselves from the collective, which is tradition, the hopes, fears, superstitions and anxieties with which the mind is burdened. But we do not want to do that; all that we want to do is to carry on in the traditional way, hoping by some miracle there will be a revolution that will bring us happiness and peace.
There are many social and political reformers, many yogis, swamis and sanyasins, all struggling in their different ways to bring about some kind of change, collective or individual. But change without an understanding of the total process of the mind can only lead to further misery. These reformers, political, social and religious, will only cause more sorrow for man unless man understands the workings of his own mind. In the understanding of the total process of the mind there is a radical inward revolution, and from that inward revolution springs the action of true cooperation, which is not cooperation with a pattern, with authority, with somebody who `knows'. When you know how to cooperate because there is this inward revolution, then you will also know when not to cooperate, which is really very important, perhaps more important. We now cooperate with any person who offers a reform, a change, which only perpetuates conflict and misery; but if we can know what it is to have the spirit of cooperation that comes into being with the understanding of the total process of the mind and in which there is freedom from the self, then there is a possibility of creating a new civilization, a totally different world in which there is no acquisitiveness, no envy, no comparison. This is not a theoretical Utopia but the actual state of the mind that is constantly inquiring and pursuing that which is true and blessed.
December 5, 1954.
Madras 1st Public Talk 5th December 1954
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