Amsterdam 2nd Public Talk 19th May 1955
It seems to me that one of the most difficult things to do is to listen to somebody with a quiet mind. I think most of us listen without giving our whole attention. I mean by attention, a state in which there is no particular object upon which the mind is concentrated. Most of us already have many opinions, conclusions, and experiences, and we listen to another through this cross-section of our own particular idiosyncrasies, through our own particular forms of habit of thought. So it is very difficult for most of us to understand what the other person is actually saying. Our opinions, our beliefs, our experiences, all intervene, distract, and so warp and twist what the other one is saying. If we could put aside our particular opinions, our conclusions, and the various forms of our own idiosyncrasies, and listen attentively, then perhaps there would be an understanding between us.
After all, you are here, if I may point it out, to understand what is being said. And to understand, you must listen to what is actually being said, and not merely listen to opinions you may have about what is being said. You can form your opinions, if you must, afterwards. I do not think what is being said is really a matter of opinion. If it is a matter of opinion, then there will be contradiction, your opinion against another opinion. Opinion, I feel, has no significance when one is facing facts. You cannot have an opinion about a fact, - either it is, or it is not.
So it seems to me that it is important to listen, not with opinions clouding the mind, but with a mind that is capable of patiently listening to the whole matter without forming a conclusion. Surely any form of conclusion is also an opinion, and therefore restricts the mind. What we are going to talk about does not demand opinions. On the contrary, we must approach the subject of our inquiry tentatively, hesitatingly, without any hypothesis, without any conclusion. That is very difficult for most of us; because we want to arrive, to get somewhere, - either to bolster up, to strengthen, our own particular beliefs, or to argumentatively enhance our own particular thought.
So, if I may suggest, these talks will be utterly futile, will have no meaning, if we enter into controversy, setting one opinion against another. Can we not together, you and I, endeavour to find out what is true? To find out, the mind must be somewhat energetic, somewhat purposive, and not merely clogged by opinion.
What we are going to discuss this evening is, how the mind can be creative. That is, can we not find out if it is possible for the mind to be completely purified of all its inhibitions, conditionings, its various forms of fear, and social impositions, so that the mind is not held, put into a frame merely functioning mechanically? Can we discover for ourselves what it is to be creative? It seems to mp, that is one of the most fundamental questions of the present time, perhaps of all time. Because obviously, we are not creative; we are merely repeating patterns of thought, even though we may be making mechanical progress.
I do not mean, by creativeness, merely self-expression, - writing a poem or painting a picture. I mean, by that word, something entirely different. Creativeness, reality, God, or what you will, must be a state of mind in which there is no repetition, in which there is no continuity through memory, as we know it. God, or truth, must be totally new, unexperienced before, something which is not the product of memory, of knowledge, of experience. Because if it is the product of knowledge, it is merely a projection, a desire, a wish, and obviously that cannot be what is true or what is real. Reality must surely be something unimagined, unexpressed, totally new; and the mind which would discover such a reality must be unconditioned, so that it is truly individual.
Obviously we are not truly individuals. We may each have a different name, different tendencies, a particular house, a particular bank account, we may each belong to a particular family, have certain mannerisms, belong to a certain religion, - but that does not make for individuality. Our whole mind is the result of the environmental influences of a particular society, of a particular culture, of a particular religion; and so long as it belongs to any of these particularities, obviously the mind is not simple, is not innocent in its directness. Surely a clear, simple mind is essential, if we are to find out what is real.
So, is it possible for you and me to find out together if one can liberate the mind from all this weight of influence, of tradition, of belief? Because it seems to me, that is the only purpose of living, - to find what is reality. If we would make that dis- covery, we must first find out what it is that makes us conform. We are conforming all the time, are we not? Our whole life, our whole tendency, - our education, our morality, all the sanctions of religion, - is to make us conform. Our religion is essentially based on conformity. And surely a mind that conform; is not a free mind, a mind capable of inquiry. So can you and I inquire into the whole process of conformity, what it is that makes the mind yield to a particular pattern of society, of culture? We conform, do we not?, because essentially we are afraid. Through fear we create authority, - the authority of religion, the authority of a leader, - because we want to be safe, secure: not so much physiologically, perhaps; but essentially inwardly, psychologically, we want to be secure; and so we create a society which assures us outwardly of security.
This is a fact, a psychological fact, and not a thing to be debated or quarrelled over. That is, I want to be secure; psychologically, inwardly, I want to be certain, - certain of success, certain of achievement, certain of `getting there', wherever `there' may be. So to achieve, to arrive, to be something, I must have authority.
Please, it would be advisable, if these talks are to be at all worthwhile, that in listening you are really examining your own mind. The talk, the words, are merely a description of the state of your own mind; and merely to listen to the words will have no meaning. But in the process of listening, if one is capable of looking within oneself and seeing the operation of one's own mind, then such descriptive listening will have significance. And I hope, if I may suggest it, that you are doing this, and not merely listening to my words.
Each one of us desires to be secure, - in our relationships, in our love, in the things that we believe in, in our experiences; we want to be secure, certain, without any doubt. And since that is our inmost desire, psychologically, then obviously we must rely on authority. Surely that is the anatomy of authority, is it not? - the structure of it; that is why the mind creates authority. You may reject the authority of a particular society, of a particular leader, or of a particular religion; but when you yourself create another authority. Then your own experiences, your own knowledge, becomes the guide. Because, the mind seeks always to be certain; it cannot live in a state of uncertainty. So it is always seeking certainty, and thereby creating authority.
And that is what our society is based on, is it not?, with its culture, with its knowledge, with its religions. It is essentially based on authority, - the authority of tradition, of the priest, of the church, or the authority of the expert. So we become slaves to the experts, because our intention is to be secure. But surely, if we would find something real, not merely repeat the words `God', `truth', which have no meaning when repeated, - if we would make a discovery, the mind must be completely insecure, must it not?, in a state of non-dependency on any authority. That is very difficult for most of us, because from childhood we are brought up to believe, to hold to some form of dependency; and if the leader, the guide, the teacher, the priest, fails, we create our own image of what we think is true, - which is merely the reaction of our own particular form of conditioning.
So it seems to me that so long as the mind is shaped and controlled by society, - not merely the environmental, educational, and cultural society, but the whole concept of authority, belief and conformity, - it obviously cannot find that which is true, and therefore it cannot be creative; it can only be imitative, repetitive. The problem therefore is, not how to be creative, but whether we can understand the whole process of fear, - the fear of what the neighbour says, the fear of going wrong, the fear of losing money, the fear of loneliness, the fear of not coming up to the mark, of not being a success, in this world or in some other world. So long as there is any form of fear, it creates authority upon which the mind depends, and obviously such a mind is not capable of pursuing, investigating, putting aside everything to find out what it is to be truly creative.
So, is it not important to ask ourselves, each one of us, whether we are really individuals, and not merely assert that we are? Actually we are not. You may have a separate body, a different face, a different name and family; but the inward structure of your mind is essentially conditioned by society; therefore you are not an individual. Surely only the mind that is not bound by the impositions of society, with all the implications involved, can be free to find out that which is true and that which is God. Otherwise, all we do is merely to repeat catastrophe; otherwise, there is no possibility of that revolution which will bring about a totally different kind of world. It seems to me that is the only important thing, - not to what society, to what group, to what religion you should or should not belong, which has all become so infantile, immature, but for you to find out for yourself if the mind can be totally free from all the impositions of custom, tradition, and belief, and thereby be free to find out what is true. Then only can we be creative human beings.
There are several questions to be answered. And before I answer them, let us find out what we mean by a problem. A problem exists only when the mind desires to get somewhere, to achieve, to become something. It is `this', and it wants to transform itself into `that'. Or, I am `here', and I must get `there'. I am ugly, and I want to be beautiful, physiologically as well as psychologically. When the mind is concerned with the movement of `getting there', becoming something, then the problem arises, because then you have the question "How?". So we are always creating problems, because our whole thinking process is based on the movement towards something, - towards the ultimate, towards the final, towards being happy, towards the ideal.
But I think there is a different way of looking at it, which is, not to proceed from `what is' towards something else, but to proceed from `what is', not in any preconceived direction. Is it not possible to realize `what is', - that one is greedy, envious, or any of the various forms of passion and lust, - and to start from that, without the desire to change into something else? The moment there is the desire to change that into something else, you have the problem. Whereas to proceed from `what is' does not create a problem.
I hope I am making myself clear. We see what we are, if we are at all aware; and then we proceed to change it; we want to transform `what is' into something else; and thereby create conflict, problems, and so on. But, if we proceed with `what is', without wanting to transform it, - if we observe it, remain with it, understand it, then there is no problem.
So in answering these questions we are concerned, not with how to proceed in order to bring about a change, but rather to understand what actually is. If I understand what actually is, then there is no problem. A fact does not create a problem. Only an opinion about a fact creates a problem.
Question: Can there be religion without a church? Krishnamurti: What is religion? What is the fact, not the ideal? When we say we are religious, that we belong to a certain religion, what do we mean by it? We mean that we hold to certain dogmas, beliefs, conclusions, certain conditionings of the mind. To us, religion is nothing more than that. Either I go to church, or, I do not go to church; either I am a Christian, or I give up Christianity and join some other form of religion, assume some other set of beliefs, perform some other series of rituals, obeying certain dogmas, tenets, and so on. That is the actual fact. And, is that religion? Can a mind whose beliefs are the result of impositions, of conditioning by a particular society, - can such a mind find what is God? Or can the mind which has been trained not to believe, ever find God either?
Surely, a mind that belongs to any religion, - that is, which belongs to any particular form of belief, is stimulated by any form of ritual, has dogmas, believes in various saviours, - surely such a mind is incapable of being religious. It may repeat certain words, may attend church, may be very moral, very respectable: but surely such a mind is not a religious mind. A mind that belongs to a church of any kind, - Hindu. Buddhist, Christian, or what you will - is merely conforming. being conditioned by its own environment. by tradition, by authority, by fear, by the desire to be saved. Such a mind is not a religious mind. But to understand the whole process of why the mind accepts belief, why the mind conforms to certain patterns of thought, dogmas, - which is obviously through fear - to be aware of all that, inwardly, psychologically, and to be free of it; such a mind is then religious mind.
Virtue, surely, is necessary only to keep the mind orderly; but virtue does not necessarily lead to reality. Order is necessary, and virtue supplies order. But the mind must go beyond virtue and morality. To be merely a slave to morality, to conformity, to accept the authority of the church, or of any kind, - surely such a mind is incapable of finding what is true, what is God.
Please do not accept what I am saying. It would be absurd if you accepted, because that would be another form of authority. But if you will look into it, look into your own mind, how it conforms, how it is afraid, what innumerable beliefs it has upon which it relies for its own security, therefore engendering fear, - if one is aware of all that, then obviously, without any struggle, without any effort, all those things are put aside. Then truly, such a mind is in revolt against society, such a mind is capable of creating a religious revolution, - not a political or economic revolution, which is not a revolution at all. A real revolution is in the mind, - the mind that frees itself from society. Such freedom is not merely to put on a different kind of coat. Real revolution comes only when the mind rejects all impositions, through understanding. Only such a mind is capable of creating a different world, because only such a mind is then capable of receiving that which is true.
Question: How can I resist distraction?
Krishnamurti: The questioner asks, "How can I not yield, give in, to any form of distraction?". That is, he wants to concentrate on something, and his mind is distracted, taken away; and he wants to know how he can resist it.
Now, is there such a thing as distraction? Surely the so-called distraction is obviously the thing in which the mind is interested, otherwise you would not go after it. So, why condemn a thing by calling it a distraction? Whereas, if the mind is capable of not calling it distraction, but is pursuing each thought, being alert, and aware of every thought that arises, - not as a practice, but being aware of every thought that it is thinking, - then there is no distraction, then there is no resistance.
It is much more important to understand resistance than to ward off distraction. We spend so much energy in resisting; our whole life is taken up in resisting, in defending, in wanting, - "That is a distraction, and this is not", "This is right and that is wrong". Therefore we resist, defend, build a wall in ourselves against something. Our whole life is spent that way; and so we are a mass of resistances, contradictions, distractions and concentrations. Whereas if we are able to look, be aware of all that we are thinking, and not call it a distraction, not give it a name, saying, "This is good and this is bad", but just observe every thought as it arises, then we will find that the mind becomes, not a battlefield of contradictions, of one desire against another, of one thought opposing another, but only a state of thinking.
After all, thought, however noble, however wide and deep, is always conditioned. Thinking is a reaction to memory. So why divide thought into distraction and interest? Because the whole process of thinking is a process of limitation, there is no free thinking. If you observe, you will see all thinking is essentially based on conditioning. Thinking is the result of memory, reaction; it is very automatic, mechanical. I ask you something, and your memory responds. You have read a book, and you repeat it.
So, if you go into this question of thinking, you will see there can never be a freedom in thinking, freedom in thought. There is freedom only when there is no thinking, - which does not mean, going into a state of blankness. On the contrary, it requires the greatest form of intelligence to realize that all thinking is the reaction, the response to memory, and therefore mechanical. And it is only when the mind is very still, completely still, without any movement of thought, that there is a possibility of discovering something totally new. Thought can never discover anything new; because thought is the projection of the past, thought is the result of time, of many, many days, and centuries of yesterdays.
Knowing all that, being aware of all that, the mind becomes still. Then there is a possibility of something new taking place, something totally unexperienced, unimaginable, not something which is a mere projection of the mind itself.
Question: What kind of education should my child have, in order to face this chaotic world?
Krishnamurti: This is really a vast question, isn't it?, not to be answered in a couple of minutes. But perhaps we can put it briefly, and it may be gone into further afterwards.
The problem is not what kind of education the child should have, but rather that the educator needs education, the parent needs education.
(Murmur of laughter.) No, please, this is not a clever remark for you to laugh at, be amused at. Do we not need a totally different kind of education? - not the mere cultivation of memory, which gives the child a technique, which will help him to get a job, a livelihood, but, an education that will make him truly intelligent. Intelligence is the comprehension of the whole process, the total process, of life, not knowledge of one fragment of life.
So the problem is, really, can we, the grown-up people, help the child to grow in freedom, in complete freedom? This does not mean allowing him to do what he likes; but can we help the child to understand what it is to be free because we understand ourselves what it is to be free?
Our education now is merely a process of conformity, helping the child to conform to a particular pattern of society, in which he will get a job, become outwardly respectable, go to church, conform, and struggle until he dies. We do not help him to be free inwardly so that as he grows older he is able to face all the complexities of life, - which means, helping him to have the capacity to think, not teaching him what to think. For this, the educator himself must be capable of freeing his own mind from all authority, from all fear, from all nationality, from the various forms of belief and tradition, so that the child understands, with his help, with his intelligence, what it is to be free, what it is to question, to inquire, and to discover.
But you see, we do not want such a society; we do not want a different world. We want the repetition of the old world, only modified, made a little better, a little more polished. We want the child to conform totally, not to think at all, not to be aware, not to be inwardly clear, - because if he is so inwardly clear, there is danger to all our established values. So, what is really involved in this question is, how to bring education to the educator. How can you and I, - because we, the parents, the society, are the educators, - how can you and I help to bring about clarity in ourselves? - so that the child may also be able to think freely, in the sense of having a still mind, a quiet mind, through which new things can be perceived and come into being.
This is really a very fundamental question. Why is it that we are being educated at all? Just for a job? Just to accept Catholicism, or Protestantism, or Communism, or Hinduism? Just to conform to a certain tradition, to fit into a certain job? Or, is education something entirely different? - not the cultivation of memory, but the process of understanding. Understanding does not come through analysis; understanding comes only when the mind is very quiet, unburdened, no longer seeking success and therefore being thwarted, afraid of failure. Only when the mind is still, only then is there a possibility of understanding, and having intelligence. Such education is the right kind of education, from which obviously other things follow.
But very few of us are interested in all that. If you have a child, you want him to have a job; that is all you are concerned with, - what is going to happen to his future. Should the child inherit all the things that you have, - the property, the values, the beliefs, the traditions, - or must he grow in freedom, so as to discover for himself what is true? That can only happen if you yourself are not inheriting, if you yourself are free to inquire, to find out what is true.
May 19, 1955.
Amsterdam 2nd Public Talk 19th May 1955
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