Madanapalle 1st Public Talk 12th February 1956
When we are confronted with so many problems, when the world is at war or preparing for war, when there is so much production and at the same time starvation, I think the most important thing in all this human struggle is to understand the mind. Surely, the mind is the only instrument which can find the right answer to the many problems that exist, yet we very rarely give thought to or examine the process of the mind. We think that ready-made answers, or certain patterns of thinking, will solve our problems. As Hindus we have a certain way of thinking which we hope will resolve our complex problems; and if we are communists, Christians, or Buddhists, we have other ready-made answers. Very few of us give real consideration to the process of thinking, to the ways of the mind itself; and it seems to me that the solution lies there, not in approaching the problem with a mind that is already shaped or conditioned.
So, this evening I would like, if I may, to consider this question of what is the mind; because it is obvious that, without going very deeply into this whole problem, without understanding the composition and state of the mind, mere speculative thinking, or identification with a particular belief, is utterly futile. And in trying to understand the process of the mind, I think it is important to listen rightly. Most of us listen with a mind already made up, or burdened with preconceptions, or we listen to find an opposing argument, and very few listen intently, with freedom; but it is only when we are inquiring freely, not tethered to any particular belief, that the mind can find the truth of any problem. So this talk will be of significance only if we can listen rightly, which is quite arduous, and not merely treat it as a lecture to be casually listened to of an evening and set aside.
As I was saying, unless we understand the ways of the mind, we cannot possibly understand the complex problem of living. Now, what is the mind? We are trying to find out, not merely assert or accept. And to find out, you have to observe your own mind in operation as you are listening to the description of what the mind is. That is, though I am talking, describing the mind, be aware of the process of your own thinking, and thereby find out for yourself what the mind is.
Let us be very clear why it is important to understand the mind. The mind is the only instrument we have, the instrument of perception, of understanding, of thought; and without clarification of the mind, our endeavour to find out what is reality, truth, God, or what you will, can have very little significance. So we are trying to inquire into the actual process of the mind, we are not merely accepting or rejecting what is said.
Surely, the mind is the conscious as well as the unconscious, it is a totality which includes both the open and the hidden processes of thought. Most of us are occupied exclusively with the conscious, with the everyday events, ambitions, struggles, greeds, and we are completely unaware of the content of the unconscious, that is, of the mind which lies below the daily activities of the conscious mind; and until we understand the totality, including what is in the unconscious, mere occupation with the conscious will have very little meaning.
We know that the conscious mind is occupied with daily events, with a job, earning a livelihood, with its reactions and constant adjustments to immediate problems. It is the conscious mind that is educated in a certain technique, that accumulates knowledge and so-called culture. Below that superficial mind there are the many layers of the unconscious, in which are rooted the racial, cultural and social urges, the religious beliefs and traditions, the instinctive responses based on the values of the particular society in which we have been brought up. Without going into many details, that is the totality of the mind, is it not? So, the totality of the mind is conditioned, shaped, limited by many influences - by our diet, by the climate and the culture in which we live, by social and economic values.
Now, with that conditioned mind, with which we are dissatisfied, we are trying to find something beyond the mind. We see that the mind is very small, confused, contradictory, and with that mind we are trying to understand the unknowable. After all, our minds are the result of time, time being the known, the past, the accumulation of knowledge; and with this instrument, which is still within the field of time, the so-called religious people are trying to find something which is beyond time. So the question inevitably arises, can the conditioned mind understand or experience that which is not of its own fabrication? That is one of our great problems, is it not? And surely we shall never be able to solve our problems as long as we are thinking as Hindus, Christians, or communists, because it is by thinking in these very terms that we have created the problems. It is only when the mind is free from all traditions, values, beliefs, superstitions, acceptances, that there is a possibility of solving our many human problems.
The question is, then, can the mind which has been brought up, educated in a certain pattern, free itself from that pattern? That is, can the mind let go of the beliefs, traditions, and values which are based on authority, on mere acceptance? Can all this be set aside so that the mind is free to investigate, to find out? That is our problem, is it not? Which means, really, is it possible for the mind to free itself from the securities to which it is tethered? Because, after all, what most of us are seeking, outwardly or inwardly, is some form of security. If I have the outward security of position, prestige, money, temporarily I may be satisfied; but a time comes when I begin to demand an inward security, I take psychological refuge in belief, in dogma, in tradition, in a certain patterned way of thinking. And can the mind which is seeking security, which demands to be safe, undisturbed, ever find reality, God, or whatever name you like to give it? Obviously not. The mind that desires to be secure will find what it is seeking, but not that which is true.
So, can the mind free itself from this urge to be secure? And surely, a mind which demands security inwardly, psychologically, will invariably create outward insecurity in the social structure. Nationalism , for example, is an idea to which the mind clings as a means of psychological security; and this worship of nationalism must inevitably create insecurity outwardly - which is precisely what is happening in the world.
Now, if you observe it very closely, you will see that the mind is constantly trying to find something permanent which it calls peace, reality, or what you will. And is there anything permanent? Yet the mind creates values which it assumes to be permanent, and then believes in them; it establishes certain habits of thought which become permanent, and such a mind is never free to inquire. I think it is important to understand the significance of this, because, after all, freedom is at the beginning, not at the end. It is only the free mind that can inquire, not a tethered mind, not a mind that is held by belief, dogma, tradition; yet all our education is based on these things, not only at school, but as we go through life, which is also part of education. We never inquire into the possibility of having freedom first, because inquiry of such a nature demands a thinking process which does not start with an assumption, or with accumulated experience, either its own or that of others. So it seems to me that to find reality, the unknowable, which is not to be premeditated, or speculated upon, the mind must be free from everything it has known, it must die to all its many yesterdays. Only then is the mind innocent, and therefore able to find out what is real.
There are some questions here, and I wonder why we ask questions. Is it with the intention of receiving an answer? And is there an answer, or only a probing into the problem without looking for an answer? If I am looking for an answer, then my mind is entirely concentrated on the discovery of the answer, and not on the understanding of the problem. Most of us are concerned with the solution, with the answer, so we give divided attention to the problem; therefore the problem is never understood, and so there is no answer. To inquire into the problem requires a mind that is not looking for an answer, but one that is capable of investigating without judging or condemning. Can we look at anything without comparing, judging, condemning? If you will experiment with it, you will see how extraordinarily difficult it is, because the whole process of our thinking is based on comparison, judgment, condemnation. But if we can inquire into the problem and not wait for an answer, then the problem itself is resolved without our looking for an answer.
Question: Can there be world peace without a world government to establish and maintain it? And how can that be brought about?
Krishnamurti: Is peace external or inward? Can any government bring peace, even though it be one government for the whole world? It may establish outward order without the constant threat of war, but even that can take place only when there is no nationalism, when there are no frontiers, either political or religious. So we must be clear as to what we mean by peace.
Is peace a thing to be created by the authority of any government, whether communist, imperialist, capitalist, or what you will? Is peace to come about through legislation? One can see that a world government could bring about a certain type of peace. It could perhaps abolish sovereign governments with their armed forces, which are one of the causes of war; but surely that is not the entire meaning of peace. Peace is of the mind. And can the mind be at peace as long as it is ambitious, greedy, envious? It is the greedy, envious, acquisitive mind that has created this warring society in which we live, is it not? Our society is based on acquisitiveness, envy, greed, the driving ambition to be something; and so within our society there is constant battle, conflict.
So, peace is of the mind, it cannot be brought about through mere legislation. Tyranny may establish some sort of order in a confused and contradictory society, and order can also be brought about through the parliamentary action of a democratic government; but as long as there is the spirit of nationalism, which creates sovereign governments with their armed forces, as long as there are frontiers and racial divisions, there are bound to be wars. So the man who would be peaceful cannot belong to any country; nor can he belong to any religion, for religion at present is merely organized dogmatism.
This thing that we call peace is something that has to be understood inwardly, and not merely sought through legislation, or through the coming together of many opinions. If you observe, you will see how we worship nationalism and uphold the flag of a particular country. We identify ourselves with the whole of what we call India because, being petty, inwardly empty, and living in a little place like Madanapalle, it gives us a certain pride, it flatters our vanity, to call ourselves Indians; and for that pride and vanity we are willing to kill, or be killed. This very complex psychological process, which goes on in every country, has to be understood by each one of us, and not merely legislated against. That is why the truly religious man is one who does not belong to any religion, or to any particular country.
Question: You are an Indian and an Andhra, born here in Madanapalle. We are proud of you and your good work in the world. Why don't you spend more time in your native country instead of living in America? You are needed here.
Krishnamurti: You know, it is a peculiar process that is going on in the world, this identification of oneself with a particular piece of land, or with a so-called religion. Does it matter very much where you were born, or what language you speak, or what particular culture you were raised in? Look at what is happening in this country. We are breaking up into parts, calling ourselves Tamils, Telugus, Maharashtrians, and all the rest of it. This breaking up process is maintained in Europe too, with the Germans, the English, the French, the Italians, and so on. When a man worships and identifies himself with the particular, his struggles become much greater, his misery increases. As long as I remain an Andhra, belonging to a particular class and to a particular religion, my mind is very petty, small, narrow. It is surely the function of the mind to break through all these limitations and find the whole; but the whole is not made up of parts. By putting many parts together, the whole is not to be found. It is only by not being entangled in the part that there is a possibility of seeing the whole immediately.
Question: I have a son who is very dear to me, and I see that he is being subjected to many bad influences both at home and at school. What am I to do about it?
Krishnamurti: We are all the product, not of one particular influence, but of many contradictory influences, are we not? And the questioner wants to know how he is to prevent his son from being subjected to the bad influences, both at home and at school. But surely the problem is much more complex than merely to find a way of resisting bad influences. What we have to consider is the whole process of influence, is it not? After all, the student is inevitably exposed to many influences, both good and bad. There is not only the home influence and the influence of the school, but there is also the influence of what he reads, of the things he hears, of the climate, of the kind of food he eats, of the religion and the culture in which he is brought up. He is the sum total of these many influences, as you and I are, and we cannot reject some and hold on to others. All that we can do is to observe all these influences and find out if the mind can be free of them. But unfortunately, as it is now, our education is a process of imposing on the student the so-called good influences. That is one part of it; and the other part is a process of cramming his mind with certain information so that he can pass some examination, put a few letters after his name, and get a job. That is all we are concerned with in what we now call education.
But right education is something entirely different, is it not? It is not merely a matter of giving the student the technical knowledge which will enable him to hold a job, but it is to help him to be aware of all these influences and not be caught in any one of them. To do this he must have a good mind, and a good mind is one that is learning, not one that has learnt; because the mind that accumulates has ceased to learn. Learning then becomes something out of the past, and so there is no further inquiry.
So, what is right education? Is it merely a definition gathered from some book, or is it a constant process of understanding the many influences that impinge on the mind, so that the mind is set free at the very beginning and is therefore capable of inquiry? Surely, a mind that is capable of real inquiry is always learning, it is not merely a repository of information. Anybody who knows how to read can look up information in an encyclopedia. While it is obviously necessary in education to impart technical knowledge so that the student can have a job, at present that is all most parents are concerned with. They want their child to be trained for a good position in the present social structure, to be helped to adjust himself to this society, which is based on greed, envy, and ambition. You want your child to fit into that framework, you don't want him to be a revolutionary, so you have this so-called education which merely helps him to conform, to imitate, to follow. But is it not possible for those who really love their children to help them to understand the many influences of society, of the culture in which they were born, so that when they grow up they will not conform to the pattern of a particular culture, but will perhaps create their own society, free of envy, ambition, and greed? Surely, such people are the only truly religious people. Revolution is religious, not merely economic. Religion is not the acceptance of some dogma, tradition, or so-called sacred book. Religion is the inquiry to find the unknown.
Madanapalle 1st Public Talk 12th February 1956
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