Madras 2nd Public Talk 12th December 1954
I think it must have struck most of us that problems all over the world are on the increase. There is always patchwork reform, a mediocre struggle to solve our many problems, but we do not seem able to solve them in their entirety. And why is it that we human beings keep on suffering indefinitely without ever solving the problem of sorrow? We have explanations for it depending upon our reading, explanations which suit our particular conditioning. If we are Hindus we look at the problem in one way, if we are Christians or Communists we look at it in another, and explanations seem to satisfy the majority of us. This satisfaction, it seems to me, is the fundamental cause of mediocrity - which does not mean that we should reject everything without thought. But the desire to be satisfied does breed a mediocre outlook, a narrow objective, the acceptance of superficial answers to our immense problems, and if we could deliberately and radically set aside the desire for satisfaction and go behind the verbal explanations, then I think we should be able to solve our many problems.
So, if I may ask, with what desire, with what intention are you listening to me? Are you listening merely for an answer, or to find out if you and I together can investigate some of the many problems that confront us and discover the truth for ourselves irrespective of any authority, of any book or ideology? If we can so explore our human problems, then I think the narrow walls of mediocrity will be broken down and the desire to accept things as they are with patchwork reform here and there will give way to a radical inward revolution.
Though many of our problems are petty, superficial, if we are to solve them fundamentally is it not very important to ask fundamental questions? In understanding the fundamental, the superficial will be solved; but if we ask questions merely with the desire to find the most satisfactory explanation, this satisfaction will not fundamentally alter our struggles, fears and sorrows. Most of us just intellectually enjoy quoting a few phrases from Marx or the Bhagavad Gita, we like to show our knowledge or offer reasons why we should support a certain form of society, or a certain religious or political movement, and that is why we never find a fundamental answer to our many problems.
Please, if I may point out, this is quite an important issue, you cannot just brush it aside and go on to something else; you must really ponder over it. In asking fundamental questions, will you not solve the so-called superficial, the immediate social problems? It all depends on how we ask, does it not? A petty mind can ask a fundamental question, but its answer will be very superficial because such a mind will not know how to penetrate, how to explore, inquire into the question, and it will accept an answer that is reasonable and logically satisfying. So, when we do ask fundamental questions - questions like what is God, what is death, what is this conflict, this contradiction within oneself? - , is it not very important for each one of us to observe how easily we are satisfied by some explanation, whether psychological, sociological or religious? And is it possible to explore a fundamental question without accepting or being satisfied with any superficial response?
Now, let us take the problem of self-contradiction and see whether we can explore it in this way; for if we can understand the contradiction within ourselves, then perhaps we shall be able a understand the contradiction in relationship, which is society.
What brings about self-contradiction, this dual morality, this conflict within oneself? Most of us, I am sure, are unaware of it. When we are aware of it, it is a torture, and then begins the process of trying to overcome the contradiction, of trying to find a synthesis in the conflict between thesis and antithesis. Can the mind think without contradiction, without this conflict of the opposites? Is it capable of thinking without an ideal? It is the ideal that brings about the contradiction, is it not? And yet all our philosophies, all our religions insist on ideals as a means of improvement, as a means of change. Can the mind cease to think in terms of what should be, which is the ideal, and be free to pursue what is? Can it give complete attention to what is and not be distracted by what should be, the ideal?
It is really very important to follow this to the end, actually experience it, and not merely consider it intellectually. Why is there in all of us this contradiction? Do you understand what I mean by contradiction? It is the inner conflict between what is and what should be, the ceaseless attempt to better oneself, the constant comparison of oneself with another. And can the mind function without comparison? Does understanding come about through comparison and condemnation?
Is it not very important for each one of us to understand these fundamental issues directly and not just accept what another says? It is our own lives we are concerned with, and if we do not understand the fundamental issues, merely to indulge in political or social reform has very little significance. What is needed, surely, is an integrated outlook, which does not come about through conflict, adjustment or resistance, but only when the mind understands the whole problem of self-contradiction.
Is it not also very important to find out for ourselves if there is such a thing as God? If we are able to find out what is God, truth, or what name you will, it may bring about a fundamental revolution in our inward lives which will then express itself outwardly; but surely that requires some freedom, and the mind is not free when it is burdened with knowledge. Therefore the whole conception of experiencing reality through knowledge becomes utterly fallacious, does it not? Mere description of what God is, the belief or the knowledge you have acquired in reading various religious books, or the rejection of these things because you happen to be an atheist, a non-believer - is not all this an impediment to discovery? Must not the mind be free to explore, and is the mind free when it is burdened with knowledge, with the dogmas of belief or non-belief? After all, what is it that we call religion? When you really come to think of it, it is nothing but a formulation of rituals and dogmatic beliefs, and whether the dogma is Christian or Hindu, Buddhist or Communist, is of very little significance.
So merely to ask what God or truth is, is not the solution, because different people will give you different answers and you will choose the one which is most rational, most convenient or satisfactory; but that is not the discovery of God or truth. It requires extraordinary insight to put aside all authority, all knowledge, and discover for yourself what is true. Knowledge is useful only as a means of communication or as a means of action. Before you act you must first be capable of investigating, must you not? In action you need knowledge. But can a mind burdened with knowledge discover what is true? Or must it be free of knowledge so as to investigate, and use knowledge only after discovery? With most of us knowledge has become a hindrance because we think that by reading certain books, attending certain talks and all the rest of the nonsense, we shall find out what is truth. To discover what is truth the mind must be stripped naked, must it not? Surely that is the fundamental question one must ask and explore for oneself.
I feel that the present world crisis is not merely social or economic, but much more fundamental. If you look within yourself and about you, you will see how little creative thinking there is, how little understanding. Most so-called thinking is not original, it is merely repetitive, what Sankara, Buddha, Christ, Marx or somebody else has said. Actually to put aside all authority, all books and try to find out for oneself what is true, requires a great deal of creative intelligence, does it not? Acceptance may merely be the reaction of a conditioned mind; so is it not important, not only to ask what is truth, what is God, but to explore the question directly for oneself? And to do that, must not the mind be free from all conditioning, Hindu Buddhist Christian, Communist, or any other This requires a tremendous inward revolution, rebellion against everything, does it not? It demands revolt, not for revolt's sake, but a revolt which sets the mind free to discover.
When we talk about revolt, we generally mean revolt according to a certain formula, do we not? We revolt in order to bring about adjustment to a chosen pattern of thought, or to establish a particular type of society. What we call revolt is a process of resistance, suppression. Now, can the mind revolt without accepting any formula, the formula being a reaction, a conditioned response? Can it put all that aside and discover what is truth? It is only such revolt that brings about creative thinking, creative understanding, and that is what is essential now, not more leaders, spiritual or political. Each one of us must actually discover for himself what is truth, and we cannot find out what is truth unless we are in total rebellion. You listen to all this, you shake your heads in assent, but if you merely go home and carry on as before it will have no meaning. You see, sirs, unless we accept the challenge of the new we are already dead; and the mind cannot understand the new if it is not free, if it is burdened with a particular belief or formula.
So, can the mind be in total revolution and not merely accept and be satisfied with an economic revolution such as the Communists offer? Can there be a total revolution in our thinking? It seems to me that our only salvation is to be a light unto ourselves. A ship which is anchored cannot go out to sea, and a mind which is tethered to any belief or ideology is incapable of discovering what is truth. One must become conscious, aware that one's mind is entrenched in certain forms of security, not only physically but much more psychologically, that is caught in phrases, in beliefs, in ideas, in various manifestations of fear. Acceptance of a belief may give us great satisfaction, a sense of security, and in that security there is a certain power; but such a mind obviously cannot find out what is truth. It may repeat what Sankara, Buddha or other ancient teachers have said, but that is not individual, creative discovery.
Not to seek any form of psychological security, any form of gratification, requires investigation, constant watchfulness to see how the mind operates; and surely that is meditation, is it not? Meditation is not the practice of a formula, or the repetition of certain words, which is all silly, immature. Without knowing the whole process of the mind, conscious as well as unconscious, any form of meditation is really a hindrance, an escape, a childish activity; it is a form of self-hypothesis. But to be aware of the process of thinking, to go into it carefully step by step with full consciousness and discover for oneself the ways of the self - that is meditation. It is only through self-knowledge that the mind can be free to discover what is truth, what is God, what is death, what is this thing that we call living.
Do you understand, sirs? Why do we suffer, why do we obey, why is there this conflict within ourselves and in society? After all, living for most of us is suffering, it is a constant battle or the boredom of a routine. And is that life? The desire for fulfilment with its frustrations, the battle of ambition with its fear and ruthlessness, this constant struggle within oneself and with one's neighbour, the agony of relationship - is this living? Or have we created this appalling society because we do not understand what living is? So is it not important to find out the real significance of all these things? And can the mind find out? What is the mind, the mind that is capable of reason, logic? Reason and logic depend on memory, memory being conditioned by past experience; and can such a mind discover what is truth? Or is the discovery of truth possible only when the mind understands the whole process of experience, of memory, of knowledge, reason and logic, and by going beyond itself brings about a stillness in which reality can be? But it is impossible for a mind that is everlastingly caught in the acquisition of knowledge and experience to discover what is truth.
All this raises an immense question: whether you are really an individual, or merely a movement of the collective. Civilization, whether Hindu, Christian or Communist, is obviously the result of the collective will, and a mind which is absorbed in the collective can never find out what is truth. To be an individual the mind must understand and be free of the collective, and only then is it capable of discovering the highest. This means really a total revolution, because the collective is tradition, belief, knowledge, experience, and the authority of the book.
Unless we understand these problems fundamentally, mere reformation becomes further misery. Have you not noticed that politicians all over the world are trying to establish peace and yet preparing for war? Every problem they touch brings other problems, and so it is in our own lives. There is a multitude of problems, a multitude of sorrows, and never a moment of deep happiness, of quietness, of full rejoicing. Happiness and enduring peace cannot be brought about by any legislation, by any superficial reform. When the mind, being aware of itself and knowing its collective movement, is in total revolution against the collective and is therefore discovering its own incorruptibility - only then is it able to discover what is truth, and this discovery is the only solution to all our human problems.
Question: What is the true spirit of cooperation? If it is not born of a common work or a common interest, then how does it arise?
Krishnamurti: Sirs, what is it that you call cooperation? You cooperate with authority, with those who you think have the right ideas, the right plan, do you not? Is that cooperation? When you accept and cooperate with any kind of authority, is that cooperation? When you drive on the left as the law requires, are you co-operating? Surely we must first find out what we mean by that word. If we understand what cooperation is we shall also know when not to cooperate, and both are important, for to cooperate with another under certain circumstances may lead to destruction and misery.
To cooperate is to work together, is it not? But if there is a plan, a blueprint enforced by authority, that is not cooperation, it is merely compulsion. Working together through tear, through reward, through necessity, through enforcement is obviously not co-operation. Then what is cooperation and how does it come into being?
Now, is there a form of cooperation in which you and I are capable of working together without authority? We may build a house together, and for that a blueprint, the architect's plan is necessary, but what you do and what I do is not psychologically important to us. I may carry the bricks and you may put them in place, but our intention is to build the house together and therefore there is no authority, no compulsion. We cooperate because we want to work together to produce something. Can you and I work together in that spirit? Surely this is not a Hindu world, nor a Communist world, nor an English or American world. This earth is ours, it is yours and mine to live in, a place to work and build together, and what you do in building, matters as infinitely as what I do. Can we be free of nationalistic twaddle, of racial and religious separatism and have this spirit of cooperation in building together? This is entirely different from the so-called cooperation through any form of compulsion or fear of punishment, is it not? It really means the absence of the self, of the `me'. And when there is this spirit of cooperation there is at the same time an awareness of when not to cooperate, which is equally important. When a leader comes along and offers some marvellous utopian plan, a complete sociological revolution without a fundamental inner revolution, should one cooperate with such a person? And when there is a total revolution of one's whole being, is there not cooperation in which one is not out for one, self, in which one is not ambitious? Surely this is the revolution of love, which is not mere sentiment, not just a word; therefore it is capable of cooperating, and also of not cooperating when cooperation is futile.
Question: You have talked about entering the house of death while living. Can one experience the feeling of dying while still alive?
Krishnamurti: Most of us are interested in finding out what happens when we die, are we not? You want to know what happens after death; but I think that is a wrong question, because then you are satisfied by mere explanations. The explanation of reincarnation may satisfy you more than any other, but it is still only an explanation. The mind frightened by death accepts a belief that gives it continuity. Surely, our living is a form of death because we are strangely afraid of dying, inwardly fearful of the uncertainty which lies beyond. But if we put the question differently, perhaps we can find the right answer.
Can one while living, while full of life and vigour, being alert and fully conscious, enter the house of death? Can you experience death, not at the moment of unconsciousness when the physical organism is gone, but while living, conscious, wide awake? What is death? I am not going to give an explanation of what happens with the ending of the physical organism, whether the psychological mind, the bundle of instinctive responses, racial, inherited and acquired, continues as memory. You can inquire into that and there will be innumerable answers which will satisfy you. But surely that is not the discovery of what death is. Can you while living - putting away all the fears, the longings, the explanations, the hope that there will be a continuity, and so on - find out what death is? The acceptance of any form of belief as to what death is, is not the solution. The mind that is satisfied, that has some kind of psychological security is incapable of finding out the truth about death, is it not?
So, what is death? We know the obvious physical cessation. Is that all? Can you strip the mind of all the things you have learnt about death, the knowledge you have acquired from books, the beliefs that have given you comfort in the hope that you will continue? Explanations have no value because they do not give you the real significance of death. Can you put them all aside and find out what death is? Can the mind be unburdened of all knowledge with regard to death? Only then is it free to find out what death is, is it not? After all, you do not know what death is, do you? And to find out what death is, must not your mind free itself of all knowledge and say, `I do not know'? In the presence of something it does not know is it not important to find out if the mind is capable of saying, `I do not know'?
Do you understand, sirs? You have explanations of death based on your hopes, fears and prejudices, on what other people have said or on your own desire to continue; but that is not the experiencing of what death is, is it? The fact is that you do not know; and can you really, honestly say that you do not know? When the mind can say, `I do not know', has it not already freed itself from the known, and is it not therefore capable of understanding the unknown, which is death? After all, we are afraid of death because we cling to the known. Death is the unknown, and we function only within the field of the known. `My name', `my family', `my job', `my virtue', `my temperament' - all that is in the field of the known, in which the mind functions and has its being. Now, can the mind free itself from the known, from the past, from all tradition, from all knowledge? And when it does, is not the mind in a state of not knowing? Being free from the known, is it not capable of understanding or experiencing the unknown, which is death? If we can experience the unknown immediately and directly, it will have an extraordinary significance in our relationships; then we shall create quite a different social order.
Our present society, whether communist or capitalist, is based on acquisitiveness; there may not be the acquisitiveness of property, but there is the acquisitiveness of power, position, prestige. A man who really understands this problem of death is no longer concerned with acquisition in any form; though he may hold a little property, his mind has lost its acquisitiveness. There, fore it is really very important to understand these fundamental issues, because in understanding them we shall experience an inward revolution which will have a far reaching effect in our social relationships. To bring about social reformation in any form without this inward revolution will not solve our problems, because our problems are much deeper, they are much more psychological than economic.
Now, sirs, you have listened for nearly an hour, and what will you do about it? If you merely go back to your old routine you will be incapable of responding to the challenge of the new. The world is in a tremendous, unprecedented crisis, and if you merely act as the collective your response will not be new, therefore it will not produce that creative action which the challenge demands. Your response can be new only when you are completely out of your tradition, when you are no longer a Hindu, a Christian, a Buddhist or a Communist, when you no longer belong to any particular society. Only then are you capable of being free and therefore responding truly.
December 12, 1954.
Madras 2nd Public Talk 12th December 1954
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