Bombay 1st Public Talk 4th March 1956
I think it is important to understand that freedom is at the beginning and not at the end. We think freedom is something to be achieved, that liberation is an ideal state of mind to be gradually attained through time, through various practices; but to me, this is a totally wrong approach. Freedom is not to be achieved; liberation is not a thing to be gained. Freedom, or liberation, is that state of mind which is essential for the discovery of any truth, any reality, therefore it cannot be an ideal; it must exist right from the beginning. Without freedom at the beginning, there can be no moments of direct understanding, because all thinking is then limited, conditioned. If your mind is tethered to any conclusion, to any experience, to any form of knowledge or belief, it is not free; and such a mind cannot possibly perceive what is truth.
This is something that must be felt and realized immediately, not endlessly argued about, for it is a fact. How can a mind which is crippled, held by a belief, by a dogma, or by its own knowledge and experiences, ever have the capacity to explore and to discover? So freedom is essential to discover what is truth; and it is only the individual who is not merely the result of the collective, that can be free. For the mind to be capable of freedom, there must obviously be application - the application which comes through attention; and that is what I would like to discuss this evening. It is essential, I think, to find out how to listen, because in the very act of listening there is clarification. There is immediate clarification, not through argumentation or comparative knowledge, but when there is complete listening. It is very difficult to listen completely, because our full attention is not there; but it is only when we listen completely to something that there is immediate understanding.
Now, if you observe your own mind as you are sitting here, you will notice that you are listening through various screens - the screen of what you know, of what you have heard or read, the screen of your own experiences - and these screens actually prevent listening. You never really listen, you are always interpreting what you hear according to your background, your prejudices, according to the conclusions you have arrived at; therefore there is no listening. And there is immediate transformation only when one listens completely, which is not to allow the things that one has learnt to come between. To listen completely is not to judge, not to evaluate, so that your whole being is attentive; and when you are listening in that way, you will find there is immediate clarification. Such clarification is timeless freedom, liberation.
It seems to me that we must differentiate between learning and being taught. Most of you, I am pretty sure, are here to listen to somebody who you think will teach you something; so your approach to the speaker is that of an individual who expects to be taught by a teacher. But I do not believe that there is any teaching; there is only learning, and this is very important to understand. When the individual who is listening regards the speaker as one who is teaching him something, such an attitude creates and maintains the division of the pupil and the master, of the one who knows and the one who does not know. But there is only learning; and I think it is very important from the very beginning to understand this, and to establish the right relationship between us. The man who says he knows, does not know; the man who says he has attained liberation, has not realized. If you think you are going to learn something from me which I know and you do not know, then you become a follower; and he who follows will never find out what is truth. That is why it is very important for you to understand this.
A man can have knowledge only about things known, he cannot have knowledge about the unknown. The unknown comes into being from moment to moment, it is not to be gathered, accumulated; being timeless, it cannot be stored up and used. The guru, the so-called teacher, who asserts he knows, can only know the things he has experienced; and what he has experienced is conditioned, is of time, therefore it is not true. So it is essential, if you and I would understand each other, to establish the right relationship between us from the very beginning. You are not listening in order to be taught by me; you are listening to learn. Life is a process of learning; but there can be no learning as long as the mind is accumulating. How can you learn if the mind is concerned with accumulating, and with using what is newly acquired to further its accumulation?
Please follow this, sirs. When we say, `I must learn', we mean that, in the process of learning, we will store up what is learned in order to know more, do we not? Such learning is essential in the acquisition of technical knowledge. If you want to build a bridge, you must accumulate the required knowledge; if you are a scientist, you must know the previous experiments and discoveries of other scientists. That kind of knowledge is essential for the physical well-being of man. But I am not talking of knowledge in that sense. Even in science you don't worship or follow anyone; you follow facts, not individuals. The very process of experimentation in science brings its own discoveries. If you are a great scientist, you have no one to lead you to discovery in experimentation; you are constantly investigating, discarding, exploring, inquiring to find out. But we never do that with regard to the inward, religious life - which is much more important than the mere discovery of scientific facts; because scientific facts can be distorted and used by a mind that is self-centred, that is concerned with itself and its own progress.
What we are concerned with here is the understanding of what is truth, which is the religious life, the good life. If you are merely being taught by a person who asserts he knows, or whom you regard as having achieved something, you are creating a division between yourself and that person; there is always the teacher and the disciple, with the teacher progressing upward, and the pupil following. A state of inequality exists; and such inequality in spiritual matters is unspiritual, immoral, because when you become a follower, you destroy yourself.
Please understand this very simple truth: that as long as you are following another, it does not matter who it is, you will never find the eternal, that otherness which is beyond the mind. So there must be freedom right from the beginning - freedom, not to choose your various gurus, which is not freedom, but freedom to investigate, which means there can be no following. Therefore there is no guru, no teacher, no sacred book. To be capable of finding out what is true, the mind must be free; and the mind is not free when it is burdened with accumulated knowledge, with its own experiences. Learning is a process of constantly discarding that which is being accumulated, of discarding in order to discover.
A mind which has committed itself to the Gita, to the Koran, to the Bible, or to some belief, can never learn, it can only follow; and it follows because it wants security. As long as the mind desires to be permanently secure, undisturbed, as long as it is seeking its own perpetuation through a belief, it is obviously incapable of finding out what is God, what is truth.
The mind can learn only when it renounces, that is, when it constantly denudes itself of what it is learning. If learning is merely additive, then there is no learning, please see this fact. As long as the mind is accumulating gathering, how can it learn, since what it learns will always be translated according to what it has already gathered? Where there is accumulation, there can never be the movement of learning; for it is only when the mind is free to explore, that it can learn. If the mind really sees this fact, not argumentatively, verbally, or so-called intellectually, but deeply and truly, then such a mind is capable of finding that which may be called bliss, truth, God, or what you will.
So it seems to me very important that you should understand right from the beginning of these talks that I am not teaching you anything, otherwise we shall be moving in opposite directions. I know literally nothing, except such things as how to drive a car, how to write letters, and so on. Therefore, being in a state of not-knowing, the mind is capable of complete investigation. A mind that knows, cannot investigate; and only a mind that is free from the known can find the unknown.
These talks are not meant to guide you, to tell you what to do, but rather to liberate the mind so that it will find out for itself what to do, and not follow anyone. This means breaking down tradition, discarding the whole idea of worshipping somebody in order to find God. We are brought up on the notion that the guru is essential because he knows and will tell us what to do; we are soaked in that tradition, and it must be cut away immediately if we are to understand all this. You see, we are frightened not to have leaders, because we are so confused; and when we act out of our confusion, the confusion is increased. But this confusion can only be cleared up by each one of us, and that is why it is so important for the individual to understand himself. With the understanding of oneself, there comes an action which is not confused or confusing. So self-knowledge is essential - but not the kind taught in books, for that is not self-knowledge at all; it is merely vain repetition. What has value is not to assume anything - that you are the Atman, the Paramatman, and so on - but to discover in your relationships from day to day, what you actually are, which is to learn about yourself. But you cannot learn about yourself if you have stored up what you learned yesterday, because then you compare yesterday with today, and this comparison destroys further discovery. Self-knowledge is a living thing, not the accumulated debris of yesterday's gathering.
If one really sees this thing, how extraordinarily simple it is! And the mind must be simple, innocent, in the sense that it has no accumulations of yesterday. It is only such a mind that can discover the significance of this whole process of living, which is now so chaotic, miserable, violent. That is why it is essential to understand, from the very beginning, that life is not a school in which there is a teacher and the taught. The significance of life is to be found in living; but the moment you accumulate, you are dead, like a pool of stagnant water. So it is essential for the mind to be like the living waters of the river, ever moving on, which means that there must be freedom at the very beginning.
Before we consider together some of these questions, let us again understand our intent. I am not answering these questions, for there is no answer. Please understand this, otherwise you will be wasting your time in listening to what I am saying. There is no answer, there is only the unfolding of the problem, and therefore the beauty of the discovery of the truth in the problem. A mind that is searching for an answer will never investigate the problem, because it is occupied with the answer; and it is very difficult for the mind not to be occupied with the answer, because it longs to be satisfied. Most of us want a pleasant and easy answer to our problems. But here we are not answering, we are unrolling the problem, uncovering all its facets, its subtleties, discerning the extraordinary thing that lies behind the problem. After all, the mind is our only instrument of perception, and when it is occupied with an answer, it has blocked itself. The mind that is concerned with a result, a conclusion, hinders its own action, its own living; it is enclosed by the walls of its own arguments, its own determined efforts. So, please bear in mind that I am not answering these questions. We are together trying to find out the truth of the problem, not the answer; because the mind wants to be satisfied, it wants a convenient and agreeable answer, and such an answer is not truth.
Question: After having listened eagerly to you for so many years, we find ourselves exactly where we were. Is this all we can expect?
Krishnamurti: The difficulty in this problem is that we want a result to convince ourselves that we have progressed, that we have been transformed. We want to know that we have arrived; and a man who has arrived, a man who has listened and got a result, has obviously not listened at all. (Laughter). Sirs, this is not a clever answer. The questioner says he has listened for many years. Now, has he listened with complete attention, or has he listened in order to arrive somewhere and be conscious of his arrival? It is like the man who practices humility. Can humility be practised? Surely, to be conscious that you are humble, is not to be humble. You want to know that you have arrived. This indicates, does it not?, that you are listening in order to achieve a particular state, a place where you will never be disturbed, where you will find everlasting happiness, permanent bliss. But as I said previously, there is no arriving, there is only the movement of learning - and that is the beauty of life. If you have arrived, there is nothing more. And all of you have arrived, or you want to arrive, not only in your business, but in everything you do; so you are dissatisfied, frustrated, miserable. Sirs, there is no place at which to arrive, there is just this movement of learning which becomes painful only when there is accumulation. A mind that listens with complete attention, will never look for a result because it is constantly unfolding; like a river, it is always in movement. Such a mind is totally unconscious of its own activity, in the sense that there is no perpetuation of a self, of a `me', which is seeking to achieve an end.
Question: In every direction, inwardly as well as outwardly, we see incitement to violence. Hatred, ill will, meanness and aggression, are rampant, not only in India, but in every corner of the world, and in the very psyche of man. What is your answer to this crisis?
Krishnamurti: This problem, like every other human problem, is very complex. There is no `yes' or `no' answer. Why are we violent as individuals, and therefore as a group, as a nation? Look what has happened recently in this town. Why are we violent, and over what? Whether you call yourself a Gujarathi or a Maharashtrian, who cares? What's in a name? But behind the name lie all the pent-up prejudices, the narrow, stupid, isolating provincialism; and overnight you hate, you knife your neighbour with words and with steel. Why do we do this? Why are we, as a group of Hindus, opposed to Christians; and why are the Germans or the Americans, as a group, opposed to some other group? Why are we like this? You and I can invent excuses and explanations by the score, and the cleverer we are, the more argumentative our explanations. But apart from explanations, do you know you are like this? Are you aware that you will suddenly turn on your neighbour over a division of land on the map, because certain politicians are eager to get more power, and you are eager to support them because you also are seeking power? Why are you like this? The Moslems and the Hindus are mutually opposed. Why? And are you aware of this in yourself? Is it not important to know that you are like this, and not idealistically pretend to be non-violent, and all that nonsense? The actual fact is that you are violent; and I think the problem is that you do not realize you are violent, because you are always pretending to be non-violent. You have been brought up, bred, nurtured on the ideal of non-violence; but the ideal is phoney, it does not exist at all. What exists is what you are, which is violent, and the gap between the ideal and the fact creates this hypocritical dual existence which is one of our misfortunes in this country. You are all such idealistic persons, always talking about nonviolence and butchering your neighbour. (Laughter). Sirs, don't laugh, it is not funny. These are facts. Do you mean to say you would tolerate the poverty, the degradation, the horrors that exist in every town and village in India, if you were really merciful? You are not merciful and compassionate actually, only theoretically, and that is why you live double lives.
The fact is much more important than what should be. The fact is that you are violent, and you refuse to face that fact because you say you must not be like that; you decry violence, you push it away, but it is still there. When you recognize the fact that you are violent instead of pursuing the ideal of non-violence, which does not exist, only then can you deal with violence. Then your attention is not diverted, it is given wholly to understanding violence, and therefore you can do something about it; you can concern yourself attentively, diligently, with the fact of violence, ill will, meanness, cruelty. That is why it is very important that the ideal should be put away, abolished completely.
You all know that cruelty is going on in every part of this country, cruelty not only to the neighbour, to the villager, but also to the animals. If you realized the falseness of the ideal, do you mean to say you could not face that fact and put a stop to it? Then you would be a different people altogether, you would bring into being a different culture, a different society, you would not be imitative of the West; you would be something real, and reality is original, not imitative. But you cannot see the original, the real, as long as your attention is diverted by the ideal.
The ideal has no significance; what has significance is the fact. Through the ideal you hope to get rid of the fact, but it cannot be done, and I think this is again very important to understand. The mind that pursues an ideal is an unreal mind, it is a mind that escapes, that avoids the fact. But to face the fact is very difficult for a mind that has been trained for centuries to accept the ideal as something worthwhile. You practise non-violence, Ahimsa, and all the rest of it - which to me is utter nonsense, because it is not a fact. The fact is that you are violent, it is being proved over and over again, which means you have no compassion; and you cannot have compassion as an ideal. Either you are compassionate, or you are not. Violence exists in the world because it exists in your heart, and to reject violence should be your only concern, not to pursue the ideal of non-violence. To reject violence, you must apply your attention to it in everyday life, you must be aware of it in your words, in your gestures, in the way you talk to your servants, to your neighbours, to your wife and children. Your violence indicates that you have no love, and that is a fact. If you can look at the fact, then that very looking will transform, will do something to the fact.
Question: Granted that religion is of the highest importance in life, will not the truly religious person be concerned with the plight of his fellow man?
Krishnamurti: It all depends on whom you call a religious person, and what you mean by being concerned. Please follow this, sirs. Should the religious man be occupied with social reform? What is actually happening in the world? The so-called religious person is concerned with the misery, the troubles, the poverty of his fellow man, which is called social reform. This is happening here in India, and elsewhere.
Now, as we know, production is on the increase, and it is fairly certain that in 50 or 100 years we are all going to have enough food, clothing and housing; because, the communists are aiming at that in their own brutal, tyrannical way, and the capitalists are also aiming at it for their own purposes. We are all working to lessen poverty and bring about more production through increased efficiency, mechanical inventions, and so on. All this is happening, and will happen more extensively, as it should. But what is of first importance, surely, is to see poverty, to see degradation, to see how man treats man, which is something appalling - and to feel it, not ask what to do about it. What to do about it will come later. But most of us lose the love for man in the action of doing something to reform man. This reformation is going to take place through communism, with its disruptive elements, through socialism, through capitalism, and through the constant pressure of the poverty-ridden countries on those that are rich. That very pressure is going to bring about change, revolution.
Now, the problem is, who is a religious man? And should a religious man be concerned with this social reformation, which is a matter of doing away with poverty and bringing about an equitable distribution of worldly goods? It is obviously essential to do away with poverty, to have good health, sufficient food, adequate houses to live in, and all the rest of it; and this is going to take place through legislation, through pressure, through mass production, and so on.
But what do we mean by a religious man? Surely, a religious man is one who is helping to free the individual, and himself, from all the cruelty and suffering in life - which means that he is free from all belief. He has no authority, he does not follow anyone, because he is a light unto himself; and that light arises from self-knowledge, it is the liberation that comes into being when the individual completely understands himself. The religious man is one who is creative, not in the sense of painting pictures or writing poetry, but there is in him a creativity which is everlasting, timeless.
Now, will that religious man, who is discovering from moment to moment, be occupied with social reform? Or will he remain outside of society, and help the individual who is caught in its ceaseless struggle? Surely, the truly religious man is outside of society because for him there is no authority. He is not seeking a result, therefore results happen in spite of him; and such a man is not concerned with social reform.
Mind you, social reform is essential. But there are many people who are active in social reform; and why are they? Is it out of love? Or is that particular activity, which is called social reform, a means of their own self-fulfilment? To be aware of the beggar in the street, to see the appalling poverty and degradation in the villages, and to feel it, to have love, compassion for the beggar, for the villager, is not to fulfil yourself in the activity of social reform, though you may be socially active. But when you become important in social work, is it not because you are fulfilling yourself through that action? When you do that, you cease to love; and to love, to have compassion, to be sensitive to beauty and to ugliness, is far more important than to fulfil yourself in some tawdry work which you call social reform.
So it is the religious man who is the real revolutionary, not he who seeks to bring about a revolution in the economic sense. The religious man has no authority, he is not greedy, ambitious, he is not seeking a result, he is not a politician; therefore it is only the religious man who can bring about the right kind of reformation. That is why it is important for all of us, not as groups, but as individuals, to liberate ourselves immediately from beliefs and dogmas, from greed and ambition. Then you will find that the mind becomes astonishingly alive; and such a man is a reformer in an entirely different sense, his action has a totally different significance, because he helps to free the mind to find out, to be creative. The mind that is occupied can never be creative; the mind that is concerned with fulfilling itself can never find the unknown. Only the mind that is completely unoccupied can discover and comprehend the eternal, and such a mind will produce its own action on society.
March 4, 1956
Bombay 1st Public Talk 4th March 1956
Texts and talks of Jiddu Krishnamurti. Krishnamurti quotes. Books about
J Krishnamurti. Philosophy.