Madanapalle 2nd Public Talk 19th February 1956
I am sure most of us feel that a fundamental revolution is necessary in a world where there is so much chaos, misery, starvation, and the constant threat of war. We feel there must be some kind of change, and each group has its own particular panacea or method for coping with the miseries of the world. The communists have one pattern, the capitalists another, and the so-called religious people still another. Being eager to bring about a change, which is so obviously necessary, we join one or other of these various groups, and I think it is important to find out what we mean by change - not the change of mere outward, legislative action, but a much more fundamental, more radical change. We can see that any change according to a preconceived plan involves an executive body to carry out that plan, and that the authority which must be vested in such a body invariably becomes tyrannical - which is what is actually happening in the word. There is the tyranny of well-organized authority in the hands of a few, or the tyranny of a particular religion, or the tyranny of authority vested in a particular section of society. Seeing all this, you and I, the ordinary people, are desirous to bring about a change for the better, so that mankind everywhere will have adequate food, clothing, and shelter, a wider education, and so on.
Now, as I said, it is important to find out what we mean by change. For most of us, change implies a modified continuity of what has been, does it not? Though the so-called revolutionaries desire to bring about a radical transformation of society, their attitude, their values, their concepts and formulas, are all based on the past, on the reaction of what they have known, and any change arising from that source is merely a continuity of what has been, however modified. They may not begin that way, but eventually it comes to that, and to me that is no change at all. Change implies something entirely different, and I would like, if I may, to go into this whole issue.
We realize that there must be a fundamental change in our way of thinking, a radical transformation of the human mind and heart; but this extraordinary change cannot be brought about by merely continuing what has been in a modified form. Nor can this radical revolution in the mind be brought about through education as it now exists; for what we now call education is merely the learning of a technique in order to earn a livelihood and conform to the pattern imposed by society. So, seeing all this, where are we to begin? Where does one begin to bring about this fundamental change which is so obviously essential in the social order? Surely, the individual problem is the world problem. Society is what we have made it. There are those who have, and those who have not; those who know, and those who are ignorant; those who are fulfilling their ambition, and those who are frustrated; there are the various religions, with their ceremonies and dogmatic beliefs, and the ceaseless battle within society, this everlasting competition with each other to achieve, to become. All this is what you and I have created. Social reforms may be brought about through legislation or through tyranny; but unless the individual radically changes, he will always overcome the new pattern to suit his psychological demands - which is again what is happening in the world.
It seems to me very important, then, to understand the total process of individuality, because it is only when the individual changes radically that there can be a fundamental revolution in society. It is always the individual, never the group or the collective, that brings about a radical change in the world, and this again is historically so.
Now, can the individual, that is, you and I, change radically? This transformation of the individual, but not according to a pattern, is what we are concerned with, and to me it is the highest form of education. It is this transformation of the individual that constitutes religion, not the mere acceptance of a dogma, a belief, which is not religion at all. The mind that is conditioned to a particular pattern which it calls religion, whether Hindu, Christian, Buddhist, or what you will, is not a religious mind, however much it may practise all the so-called religious ideals.
So, can you and I bring about a radical transformation in ourselves without compulsion, without motive? Any form of compulsion is an egocentric activity, it distorts the mind, and motive is always based on the process of the self, the `me', the ego. And can there be a fundamental change in each one of us without motive, without compulsion? I think this is an issue which requires a great deal of thought, inquiry, it is not to be easily dismissed by saying that there can or cannot be such a change. A man who is really earnest must go deeply into this problem of bringing about a transformation within himself. Surely, this inward change is not according to a pattern, or a religious concept, but it comes about only through self-knowledge. That is, without knowing the totality of my consciousness, the whole of my being, any ideal, formula, concept, or belief I may have, is merely a wish, an idea, it has no basis, and therefore it is not a reality at all. Unless there is self-knowledge, that is, unless I am beginning to know myself completely, whatever activity I may enter will be destructive and only cause more mischief. So, if one is at all serious? if one is really concerned about the chaos and the misery in the world, is it not vitally important to understand the process of oneself?
Now, what is self-knowledge? Self-knowledge is not according to any book, it cannot be had through the authority of any person. The ways of my thought must be discovered, and I can only discover them in relationship; because relationship is a mirror in which I can see myself, not theoretically, but as I actually am. Surely, it is in relationship with my wife, my children, my neighbour, my servants, my boss, with the whole of society, that I discover myself as I am; for in that mirror of relationship I can see my superstitions, my judgments, my habits of thought, the traditions which I follow, the comparative values which I give to experiences and to things.
What generally happens is that we like or dislike what we see in the mirror of relationship, and therefore we either accept or condemn it. But it is possible to discover the ways of thought, the hidden motives and pursuits, the reactions of a mind conditioned by a particular society, only when we look into that mirror without any sense of condemnation or comparison, without judgment. Only then is the mind, the conscious as well as the unconscious, freed from its own bondage, and so perhaps able to go beyond the limitations of itself. After all, that is meditation, is it not?
True religion is for the mind to understand its own processes, that is, its ambition, envy, greed, hatred, because the very understanding of those things puts an end to them without compulsion, and therefore the mind is free to explore. Then there is a possibility of finding that which is reality, truth, God, or what name you will. But without self-knowledge, merely to assert or deny that God or reality exists, has no significance at all.
We can see that one part of the world is conditioned to accept the idea of God, while another part is being conditioned not to believe in God, but to believe in and sacrifice itself for the State. And is it possible for the mind to free itself from all conditioning? Surely, it is only the mind that is unconditioning itself, and is therefore able to act - it is only such a mind that brings about a radical revolution. That is why it is very important for you and me individually to free ourselves from the collective; because if one is not free, there is no possibility of exploring to find out what is true.
So the earnest must obviously inquire into this issue, and not merely conform to a pattern of thought. Only the individual who is religious in the true sense of the word can bring about a new state, a new way of looking at life; and the truly religious individual is he who is freeing himself from the conditioning of a particular society, and is therefore truly revolutionary.
Question: Without believing in a Planner of this universe, I feel that life is meaningless. What is wrong with this belief?
Krishnamurti: Surely, by "Planner of this universe" you mean God, only you use a different name. Now, what is belief? What do we mean by that word, not just the dictionary meaning, but what is its psychological content?
And what is the process of the mind that necessitates a belief? What makes you say, `I believe in God' or `I don't believe in God'? What is the psychological urge that makes the mind accept or reject belief in God, in a planner of the universe? Until we discover that, mere believing or disbelieving has very little meaning.
Obviously, if from childhood you are told to believe in God, you grow up believing, just as another child, who is told not to believe, grows up disbelieving, One is called a believer and the other an atheist, but both are conditioned. When you believe in a Planner of the universe, it is because you have been encouraged to believe from childhood, and your mind has been impregnated with this idea; or else you feel this life is so uncertain, in such a state of flux, that your mind clings to something as permanent, and that permanency you call God, or by some other name, giving it certain attributes, qualities. This is neither right nor wrong, it is the actual process of the mind. Because we see about us so much misery, chaos, such transiency, an utter lack of peace within and without, the mind creates and clings to something timeless, something everlastingly beautiful, peaceful. So in its uncertainty, the mind creates its own certainty. But a mind that believes or disbelieves, that accepts or rejects, can never find out what is God. God must be found, discovered, not believed in. To find, the mind must be free from both belief and disbelief. Surely, that state which we call God, that timeless reality, must be something totally new, and only a free mind can discover it, not a mind that is tethered to a dogma, to a belief.
After all, if you observe, if you think about it at all, you will see that the mind is the result of time - time being memory, experience, knowledge. That is, the mind is the result of the known, of the past, of many thousands of years. Now, with that mind we are trying to find the unknown, that something which may be called God, truth, or what you will. But such a mind cannot find the unknown, it can only project what is known into the future. Any belief held by the mind is the result of its own conditioning; any speculative formula or concept is the result of the known; my movement of the mind to inquire into the unknown, is utterly useless and vain, because the mind can only think in terms of the known. When it understands this total process and is therefore free of the known, the mind becomes very quiet, completely still; and only then is it possible for the unknown to be. Surely, this is meditation - not the projection of the known into the future, and the worshipping of that projection.
Question: in this world, goodness does not pay. How can we create a society which will encourage goodness?
Krishnamurti: To the intellectuals, `goodness' is a terrible word, and they generally want to avoid it; but now it is becoming the fashion even among the intellectuals to use that word. And is there goodness when there is a motive behind it? If I have a motive to be good, does that bring about goodness? Or is goodness something entirely devoid of this urge to be good, which is ever based on a motive? Is good the opposite of bad, the opposite of evil? Every opposite contains the seed of its own opposite, does it not? There is greed, and there is the ideal of non-greed. When the mind pursues non-greed, when it tries to be non-greedy, it is still greedy, because it wants to be something. Greed implies desiring, acquiring, expanding; and when the mind sees that it does not pay to be greedy, it wants to be non-greedy, so the motive is still the same, which is to be or to acquire something. When the mind wants not to want, the root of want, of desire, is still there. So goodness is not the opposite of evil; it is a totally different state. And what is that state?
Obviously, goodness has no motive, because all motive is based on the self, it is the egocentric movement of the mind. So what do we mean by goodness? Surely, there is goodness only when there is total attention. Attention has no motive. When there is a motive for attention, is there attention? If I pay attention in order to acquire something, the acquisition, whether it be called good or bad, is not attention; it is a distraction, a division. There can be goodness only when there is a totality of attention in which there is no effort to be or not to be. Probably you are not used to all this.
To me, making effort to be good is a process which in itself brings about evil. A man who tries to be humble, who practices humility, breeds evil; because the moment you are conscious that you are humble, you are no longer humble, you are arrogant. Sirs, don't laugh it away. Humility is not to be practised; and a man who practices humility is fostering arrogance. Virtue is not a thing to be cultivated; because a man who cultivates virtue, cultivates the ego, the `me', only in more respectable clothing. As humility is not to be practised, so goodness is not to be practised; it comes into being only when there is the complete attention which comes with the total understanding of yourself.
Think about it, and you will see that the very practice of non-violence creates violence. To be free of violence, you have to understand all the implications of violence; and for that you must give your whole attention, which you cannot do if you are pursuing the so-called ideal. When the mind is able to give its undivided attention to what is, which is greed, then you will see that the mind is totally free from greed. It does not become non-greedy - it is free from greed, which is an entirely different state. You see, we use the ideal of non-greed as a means of getting rid of greed; but we can never get rid of greed through an ideal. We have practised that ideal for centuries, and we are still greedy. But a man who really sees the necessity of being free from greed, has no ideal; he is only concerned with greed, which means he is giving his whole attention to it. And when you give your whole attention to something, in that attention there is no comparison, no condemnation, no judgment. A mind that is comparing, condemning greed, is incapable of giving full attention, because it is concerned with comparison and condemnation.
So goodness is not an opposite, it is not a virtue; it is a state of being without motive which comes through self-knowledge.
Question: Do you accept the view that communism is the greatest menace to human progress? If not, what do you think about it?
Krishnamurti: Surely, any form of tyranny is evil. Any form of power over others is evil, whether it be the little power exercised by a bureaucrat in this town, or the widespread tyranny of a group of people who are planning the future of man according to an ideology and forcing everybody to conform for the so-called benefit of the whole. Such power is evil; but let us look at it very simply and see the difficulty involved in this issue.
A society must obviously be planned. But what happens in planning a society, and in executing that plan? There must be an administrative body vested with the authority to carry it out, which means that the few have power; and that very power becomes evil when exercised in the name of God, in the name of society, or in the name of a future Utopia. And yet we need planning, otherwise society becomes chaotic. There is, then, this problem of power vested in the few who become tyrannical, ruthless, who say, `We know the future and you don't. We are planning for the welfare of man, so you must conform, otherwise we will liquidate you'. So, can we plan a society without tyrannizing over man? That is the whole issue.
Communism is only a new word for a game that has been going on for centuries. The Roman Catholic Church has done it, with its Inquisition, excommunication, and torture to save souls; and various forms of tyranny exist in the history of every religion. It is nothing new, it only has a new name, with a new group of people who claim to know the future. Organized tyranny, torture, destruction, were perpetrated in the past by priests in the name of God; and now it is done by dictators and commissars in the name of the State or the party. So our problem is not the word `communism', but the whole question of whether man lives for the sake of society, or whether society exists for the well-being of man. Do religion and government exist to educate man to be free and find out for himself what is true, to help him to be good and to have the vision of greatness? Or do they exist to tyrannize over man, to brutalize and liquidate him because a few have the power to destroy?
So it is really a very complex question. What is important is not what you or I think about communism, but to find out why society, whether communistic or democratic, compels the mind to conform, and why the individual submits himself to conformity. Surely, it is only the free mind that can explore - not a mind that is tethered to a book, to an organized religion, or to an ideology. A society that conditions the mind to worship the State, and a society that conditions the mind to worship the idea called God, are equally tyrannous.
Now, can there be a society which does help man, the individual, to be good, to be non-greedy, to be free from envy, from ambition? Surely, that is our concern. Man can be good only when he is free, not to do what he likes, but free to understand the whole movement of life. That requires a different kind of school, a different kind of education; it demands parents and teachers who understand all the implications of freedom. Otherwise we shall have more tyranny, not less, because the State demands efficiency. You must be efficient to have an industrialized nation, you must be efficient to fight, to kill, to destroy, and that is the whole pursuit of governments as they exist now. And governments are further separated by the so-called religions. No organized religion dares to break away and say to the government, `You are wrong; on the contrary, they bless the cannons and the battleships. During the last war a book called `God was my Co-Pilot' was written by a man who dropped bombs that killed thousands of people. Of course, here in Madanapalle you are not directly concerned with all that; but surely war is merely an exaggerated expression of our daily life. We are in constant battle with ourselves and with our neighbour; we are ambitious, we want more power, more prestige, the best position; and this acquisitiveness expresses itself through the group, through the nation. We want to be powerful to defend ourselves, or to be aggressive; and so it goes on.
What is important, then, is not what you or I think of communism, or democracy, but to find out how to set the mind free; for it is only the free mind that can realize what is truth, what is God; and without that realization, life has very little meaning. It is the realization of truth, or God - the actual experience of it, not the belief in it - that is of the highest importance, especially now when the world is in such chaos and misery.
Madanapalle 2nd Public Talk 19th February 1956
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