Amsterdam 3rd Public Talk 22nd May 1955
I think it would be wise if we could listen to what we are going to consider with comparative freedom from prejudice, and not with the feeling that what is being said is merely the opinion of a Hindu coming from Asia with certain ideas. After all, there is no division in thought, thought has no nationality; and our problems, whether Asiatic, Indian or European, are the same. We can, unfortunately, conveniently divide our problems as though they were Asiatic and European; but in fact we have only problems. And if we would tackle them, not from any one point of view, but understand them totally, go into them profoundly, patiently, and diligently, it is first necessary to comprehend the many issues that confront each one of us. So, if I may suggest, it would be wise if we can dissociate ourselves for the time being from any nationality, from any particular form of religious belief, even from our own particular experiences, and consider fairly dispassionately what is being said.
It seems to me that there must be a total revolution, - not mere reform, because reforms always breed further reforms, and there is no end to that process. But I feel it is important, when we are confronted with an enormous crisis, - as we are, - that there should be a total revolution in our minds, in our hearts, in our whole attitude towards life. That revolution cannot be brought about by any outside pressure, by any circumstances, by any mere economic revolution, nor by leaving one form of religion to join another. Such adjustment is not revolution; it is merely a modified continuity of what has been. It seems to me that it is very necessary at the present time, and perhaps at all times, if we would understand the enormous challenge we are confronted with, that we approach it totally, with all our being, - not as a Dutchman, with a European culture, or a Hindu, with certain beliefs and superstitions, but as a human being, stripped of all our prejudices, our nationalities, our particular forms of religious conviction. I feel it is important that we should not indulge in mere reformation, because all such reform is merely an outward adjustment to a particular circumstance, to a particular pressure and strain; and that adjustment obviously does not bring about a different world, a different state of being, in which human beings can live at peace with each other. So it seems to me that it is very important to put aside all consideration of reformation, - political, economic, social, or what you will, - and bring about a total inward revolution.
Such a revolution can only take place religiously. That is, when one is really a religious person, only then is it possible to have such a revolution. Economic revolution is merely a fragmentary revolution. Any social reform is still fragmentary, separative; it is not a total reformation. So, can we consider this matter, not as a group, or as a Dutchman, but as individuals? - because this revolution obviously must begin with the individual. True religion can never be collective. It must be the outcome of individual endeavour, individual search, individual liberation and freedom. God is not to be found collectively. Any form of collectivism in search can only be a conditioning reaction. The search for reality can only be on the part of the individual. I think it is very important to understand this, because we are always considering what is going to be the response of the mass. Do we not always say "This is too difficult for the mass, for the general public"? - and do we not seek every form of excuse that we can find in order not to alter, not to bring about a fundamental revolution within ourselves? We find, do we not?, innumerable excuses for indefinite postponement of direct individual revolution.
If you and I can separate ourselves from collective thinking, from thinking as Dutchmen or Christians or Buddhists or Hindus, then we can tackle the problem of bringing about a total revolution within ourselves. For it is only that total revolution within oneself which can reveal that which is of the highest. It is enormously difficult to separate ourselves from the collective, because we are afraid to stand alone, we are afraid to be thought different from others, we are afraid of the public, what another says. We have innumerable forms of self-defence.
To bring about a revolution, a fundamentally radical change, is it not important that we should consider the process of the mind? Because, after all, that is the only instrument we have, - the mind that has been educated for centuries, the mind that is the result of time, the mind that is the storehouse of innumerable experiences, memories. With that mind, which is essentially conditioned, we try to find an answer to the innumerable problems of our existence. That is, with a mind that has been shaped, moulded by circumstances, a mind that is never free, with a process of thinking which is the outcome of innumerable reactions. conscious or unconscious, we hope to solve our problems. So it seems to me that it is very important to understand oneself, because self-knowledge is the beginning of this radical revolution of which I am talking.
After all, if I do not know what I think, and the source of my thought, the ways I function, - not only outwardly, but deep down, the various unconscious wounds, hopes, fears, frustrations, - if I am not totally aware of all that, then whatever I think, whatever I do, has very little significance. But to be aware of that totality of my being requires attention, patience, and the constant pursuit of awareness. That is why I think it is essential for those of us who are really serious about these things, who are endeavouring to find out the answer to our innumerable problems, that we should understand our own ways of thinking, and break away totally from any form of inward constriction, imposition and dogma, so as to be able to think freely and search out what is true.
This requires, does it not?, a freedom from all authority, - not to follow, not to imitate, not to conform inwardly. At present our whole thinking, our whole being, is essentially the result of conformity, of training, of moulding. We comply, we adjust, we accept, because we are deeply afraid to be different, to stand alone, to inquire. Inwardly we want assurance, we want to succeed, we want to be on the right side. So we build various forms of authority, patterns of thought, and thereby become imitative human beings, outwardly conforming because inwardly we are essentially frightened to be alone.
This aloneness, this detachment, is surely not contrary to relationship with the collective. If we are able to stand alone, then possibly we shall be able to help the collective. But if we are only part of the collective, then obviously we can only reform, bring about certain changes in the pattern of the collective. To be truly individual is to be totally outside of the collective because we understand what the whole implication of the collective is. Such an individual is capable of bringing about a transformation in the collective. I think it is important to bear this in mind, since most of us are concerned with the so-called mass, the collective, the whole group. Obviously the group cannot change itself, - it has never done so historically, or now. Only the individual who is capable of detaching himself totally from the group, from the collective, can bring about a radical change; and he can only detach himself totally when he is seeking that which is real. That means he must be really a religious person, - but not the religion of belief, of churches, of dogmas, of creeds. Only one who is free from the collective can find out what is true. And that is extraordinarily difficult, for the mind is always projecting what it thinks to be religion, God, truth.
So it is very important to understand the whole process of oneself, to have knowledge of the `me', the self, the thinker; because if one is so capable of regarding one's whole process of living, one can free the mind from the collective, from the group and so become an individual. Such an individual is not in opposition to the collective, - opposition is merely a reaction. But as the mind understands both the conscious and the unconscious process of itself, then we will see that there is quite a different state, - a state which is neither of the collective, nor of the separate entity, the individual; he has gone beyond both, and therefore is capable of understanding that which is true. The individual who is not in opposition to the collective in his search for truth, is really revolutionary.
And it seems to me that to be a true revolutionary is the essential thing. Such individuals are creative, able to bring about a different world. Because after all, our problems, whether in India, America, Russia, or here, are the same, - we are human beings, we want to be happy. human beings, we want to be happy. We want to have a mind that is capable of deep penetration, and that is not merely satisfied with the superficiality of life. We want to go into this most profoundly, individually, to find out that which is the eternal, the everlasting, the unknown. But that thing cannot be found if we are merely pursuing the pattern of conformity. That is why it is important, it seems to me, that there should be some of us who are really earnest, not merely listening with curiosity or just as a passing fancy, but who are really essentially concerned with bringing about transformation in the world so that there can be peace and happiness for each one of us. For this, it seems to me, it is very important that we should cease to think collectively, and should as human beings - not as mere repetitive machines of certain dogmas and beliefs - find out, inquire, search out for ourselves, what is true, what is God.
In that discovery is the solution to all our problems. Without that discovery, our problems multiply, there will be more wars, more misery, more sorrow. We may have peace temporarily, through terror. But if we are individuals, in the right sense of that word, seeking that which is real, - which can only be found when we understand the whole process, conscious as well as unconscious, of our own thinking, - then there is a possibility of such a revolution, which is the only revolution that can bring about a happier state for man.
Question: In Holland there are many people of goodwill. What can we really do in order to work for peace in the world?
Krishnamurti: Why do you restrict the people of goodwill to Holland? (Laughter). Don't you think there are people of goodwill all over the world?
But you see, peace doesn't come about by goodwill; peace is something entirely different. It is not the cessation of war. Peace is a state of the mind; peace is a cessation of the effort to be something, peace is the denial of ambition, the ending of the desire to achieve, to become, to succeed. We think peace is merely the gap, the interval, between two wars. And probably, through the terror of the hydrogen bomb, we shall have peace of some kind or other. But surely, that is not peace. There is peace only when you have no separative nationalities and sovereignties, when you do not consider somebody else as inferior in race, or somebody else as superior, when there are no divisions in religions, you a Christian and another a Hindu or Buddhist or Muslim.
Peace can only come about when you, as an individual, work for peace. This does not mean gathering yourselves into groups and working for peace; then what you create will be merely a conformity to a pattern called peace. But to bring about lasting peace is surely something entirely different. After all, how can a man who is ambitious, struggling, competitive, brutal, - how can such a man bring about peace in the world? You may say "What will happen to me if I am not ambitious? Will I not decay? Must I not struggle?". It is because we are ambitious, because we have struggled and pushed each other aside in our desire for achievement, success, that we have created a world in which there are wars.
I think if we could really understand what it is to live without ambition, without this everlasting desire to succeed, - either in business, in schools, in the family, - if we could really understand the psychological content of ambition, with all the implications that are involved, then we would abandon this meaningless activity. The ambitious man is not a happy man, he is always afraid of frustration, burdened by the misery of effort and struggle. Such a man cannot create a peaceful world. Also those who believe in a particular form of church, - the Communist, the Catholic, the Protestant, the Hindu, - they are not peaceful people, they can never bring about peace in the world, because they are in themselves divided, broken, torn. It is only the integrated human being, he who understands this division and all its corruption, - it is only such a human being who can bring about peace.
But we do not want to give up our cherished hopes, our fancies, our beliefs. We want to carry all that into the world of peace. We want to create a world of peace with all the elements that are destructive. Therefore you never have peace. It is only the mind which has understood itself, which is quiet, which does not demand, which is not seeking success, which is not trying to become or to be somebody, - it is only such a mind that can create a world in which there is peace.
Question: Is there life after death?
Krishnamurti: I see you are much more interested in that than in the previous question! It is extraordinary how we are interested in death. We are not interested in living, but we are interested in how we are going to die, and if there is something after.
Let us go into the problem, if you will, seriously; because it is an enormous problem. To understand the whole implications of the question, one must approach it very carefully, wisely. You cannot approach it wisely if you have any belief about it, if you say, - because you have read about it or you have a hope or intuition or a longing for it, - that there is life after death. Surely, if you would understand the problem, you must approach it afresh, anew, in a state of mind which is inquiring and not believing, a state of mind which says "I do not know, but I want to find out", - not a mind which says there is, or there is not, a continuity after death. Surely, that is fairly obvious. I think that is the first step towards finding out the truth about death and after- wards; that is the only way to approach any problem, especially a human problem, - to say "I do not know, but I want to find out". To say this is very difficult, - because most of us have read so much, we have so many desires, so many hopes, so many longings, we are so afraid, and therefore already have many conclusions, many beliefs, all telling us that there is some kind of continuity, some kind of life after death. So we have already preconceived what it is; your own fears dictate what it should be.
So, to find out the truth of the matter, is it not important that first there must be freedom from all knowledge concerning death? After all, death is the unknown, and to find out, one must enter into death while living. Please listen. One must have the capacity to enter that which we call death while we are capable of breathing, thinking, acting. Otherwise, if you die, - through disease, through accident, - then you become unconscious, and there is no understanding of what lies after. But actively to be able, while living, with full consciousness, to understand the whole problem of what death is, requires astonishing energy, capacity, inquiry.
First, what is it that we are afraid of in death? Surely we are afraid, are we not?, of ceasing to be, not having continuity. That is, I either cease to be, or I hope to continue. When this thing called the body, the organism, the mechanism, dies, through various forms of disease, accident, or what you will, there is fear of `me' not continuing. The `me' is the various qualities, the virtues, the idiosyncrasies, the experiences, the passions, the values which I have cultivated, the memories which I have cherished, and those memories which I have put aside, - all that is the `me', surely. The `me' that is identified with property, with a house, with a family, with a friend, with a wife, with a husband, with experiences, which has cultivated certain virtues, which wants to do something, which wants to fulfil, which has innumerable memories, pleasant or unpleasant, - that `me' says "I am afraid, I want an assurance that there is a form of continuity".
Now, that which continues without breaking cannot ever be creative, can it? Creativeness comes into being only when there is the cessation of continuity. If I am merely the result of past yesterdays, and continue to be still the same pattern in the future, it is merely the repetitive form of a certain pattern of thought, a continuity of memory. And such a continuity in time obviously cannot find that which is beyond time. The mind thinks in terms of time, - time being yesterday, today, and tomorrow, - and such a mind cannot possibly conceive of a state when there is no tomorrow. So it says "I must have continuity". It can only think in terms of time; and therefore it is everlastingly' frightened of death, because there may be the cessation of what has been.
The question "Is there life after death?" is really very immature, is it not? Because if one understands the whole process of oneself, the `me', it is not very important whether you live or do not live afterwards. After all, what is the `me' except a bundle of memories? Please follow this. The `me' is merely a bundle of memories, values, experiences. And that `me' wants to continue. You may say that the `me' is not the only thing that is, - that there is a spiritual entity in that `me'. If there is a spiritual entity in that `me', that spirit has no death, it is timeless and beyond time; it cannot be conceived of, it cannot be thought of, it does not know fear. That may be or it say not be. But we are frightened, and what frightens us is the cessation of the `me' that is the product of time. So as long as I think in terms of time and death and fear, there can never be the discovery of that which is beyond time.
Unfortunately, we want a categorical answer, "yes" or "no", to the question whether there is life after death. If I may point out, such a categorical answer is really quite an immature demand. Because life has no categorical answer "yes" or "no". It requires enormous penetration, insight, inquiry, to find out what is that state of mind which is beyond death. That is far more important than merely to inquire if there is life after death. Even if there is, what of it? You will be just as miserable, just as unhappy, in conflict and misery, struggling to fulfil, and all the rest of it. But it you will understand the whole process of the self, the `me', and let the mind free itself from its own considerations, from its own bondages, and therefore be still, then you will find the question of death has very little significance. Then death is part of living. While we are concerned with living, there is no death. Life is not an ending and a beginning. Life cannot be understood if there is fear of death, or anxiety to find out what lies beyond.
All this requires enormous maturity and totality of thinking. But we are too impatient, we are too anxious, we want to have an immediate answer, we do not want to sit down and inquire, - not through books, not through some authority, but to inquire within ourselves. To penetrate the many layers of our own consciousness, and find out what is the truth, requires patience, serious endeavour, and a constancy of intention.
Question: We are used to prayer. I have heard it said that meditation, as practised in the East, is a form of prayer. Is this right?
Krishnamurti: Do not let us bother what the East practises or does not practise. Let us consider meditation and prayer and see if there is a difference.
What do we mean by prayer? - essentially, is it not?, supplication, a petition, a demand to something which we consider higher. I have a problem, I am miserable, I suffer; and I pray for an answer, for a meaning, a significance. I am in trouble, and worn out with anxiety; and I pray. That is, I ask, I demand, I beg, I petition. And obviously, there is an answer; and we attribute it to something extraordinarily high, we say it is from God. But is it? Or, is it the response of the deep unconscious?
Please, do not brush this aside, thinking that I am merely repeating psychoanalytical things. We are trying to inquire. Surely, God must be something totally beyond the demands of my particular worries, of my particular wounds and frustrations and hopes. God, or truth, must be something totally outside of time, unimaginable, unknowable by the mind that is conditioned, that is suffering. But if I can understand what is sorrow and how sorrow comes into being, then there is no petition, then the understanding of sorrow is the beginning of meditation.
Prayer is entirely different from meditation. Prayer is the repetition of certain words that bring quietness to the mind. If you repeat certain words phrases, obviously it quietens the mind. And in that quietude there may be certain responses, a certain alleviation of suffering. But suffering returns again; because sorrow has not been fully fathomed and understood. So, suffering is the pro- blem, not, whether you should pray or not. The man who suffers is anxious to find an answer, an alleviation, a cessation of his sorrow, so he looks to somebody, - may be a medical doctor, or to a priest, or to `something beyond'. But he has not solved the fundamental problem of sorrow, so any answer that he may receive surely cannot be from the most supreme; it must be from the unconscious depths of the collective, or from himself.
The understanding of sorrow is the beginning of meditation, because without understanding the whole process of sorrow, of desire, of struggle, of the innumerable efforts that we make to achieve, to succeed, - without understanding the whole process of the self, the `me', - sorrow is inevitable. You may pray as much as you will, go to church, repeat on your knees, but so long as the self, that seed of sorrow, is not understood, the mere repetition of words is nothing more than self-hypnosis. Whereas if one begins to understand the process of sorrow, by watching, - without condemning, without judging, - observing, in the mirror of relationship, all our words and our gestures, our attitudes, our values, then the mind can go deeper and deeper into the whole problem. Such a process is meditation.
But there is no system of meditation. If you meditate according to a system, you are merely following another pattern of thinking, which will only lead to the result which that pattern offers. But if you are able to be aware of every thought, every feeling, and so uncover the various layers of consciousness, both the outward and the inward, then you will see that such meditation brings about a quietness of the mind, a state in which there is no movement of any kind, a complete stillness, - which is not of death. It is only then that one is capable of receiving that which is eternal.
May 22, 1955.
Amsterdam 3rd Public Talk 22nd May 1955
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