Stockholm, Sweden 1st Public Talk 14th May 1956
I think it is important to understand the relationship between the speaker and the audience, between you and me, because I do not represent India at all, or Indian philosophy, nor am I going to speak of the ideals and teachings of the East. I think our human problems, whether we are of the East or the West, are similar. We may each have different customs, different habits, different values and thoughts, but fundamentally I think we all have the same problems.
We have many problems, have we not? - social, economic, and more especially, perhaps, religious problems - , and at present we all approach these problems differently. We approach them only partially, either as a Christian, a Hindu, a Communist, or what you will, or we separate them as problems which are Oriental or Occidental. And because we approach our problems partially, through all these various forms of conditioning, it seems to me that we are thereby not understanding them. I feel that the approach to any problem is of much more significance than the problem itself, and that if we could approach our many difficulties without any particular form of conditioning or prejudice, then perhaps we would come to a fundamental understanding of them.
So I would suggest that it is very important that we should each discover for ourselves in what way we are at present approaching the many human problems which beset us; because unless we are very clear about this, then however much we may struggle to understand the complex issues of life and all the confusion and contradiction in which we are caught, I feel we shall not be able to do so. That is why I think it would be really worthwhile if we could go into the beliefs, prejudices, dogmas and ideas which in various forms are at present corrupting the mind and preventing it from being free to discover what is truth, reality, God, or what you will. And I assure you it needs extraordinary earnestness to do this - to uncover as we go along the many hindrances to understanding and to see how the mind - which is, after all, the only instrument of discovery we have - is blunted by the many thoughts, emotions, fears, habits and conditionings of which it is made up.
To do this I think it is essential not to listen to what is being said as if it were merely a lecture or a discourse - which it is not - , but rather to follow as we go along, each one of us, the reactions and responses of our own minds. For what is important, surely, is to understand the actual working of one's own mind. Mere agreement or opposition does not create understanding; it only creates confusion and contradiction, does it not? Whereas, if we can follow patiently and intelligently what is being said, without judging, without comparing, without agreeing or opposing, so that we see the functioning of our own minds, then perhaps we shall discover for ourselves how to approach our many problems.
Our thinking has become dependent on our surroundings, because we are caught in so many prejudices - nationalistic, ideological, religious, and all the rest of it. We are ever looking for security, for some means of self-confidence, both inwardly and outwardly, are we not? And it seems to me that so long as we are caught in this pursuit of security, in this search for self-confidence and certainty, we are not free to examine our problems and to find out if there is a lasting solution. Surely it is only in understanding ourselves, in watching the process of our own minds - which is, after all, self-knowledge - that there is a possibility of discovering for ourselves what is true, what is reality. For this no teacher, no guide, no textbook or other authority is necessary. To follow and comprehend the ways of our own thinking and feeling is to be able to dissolve our own problems, which are the problems of society also.
But it is very difficult for us not to think in a particular fashion, according to a particular set of values, dogmas, beliefs, or theories. We are so eager to arrive at a solution or an answer to our problems that we never stop to consider whether the instrument we are using, which is the mind - my mind and your mind - is really free to investigate. A mind which is burdened with knowledge, beliefs, theories, is obviously not free to investigate and find out what is true. Whereas, if we can understand and dissolve the conditioning, the prejudices and dogmas which cloud and twist our minds, then perhaps the mind will be free to discover, so that the truth itself can operate on the problem, rather than the mind struggling to come to a solution through its own conditioning - which does not lead anywhere.
That is why I feel it is so important to know how to listen. Very few of us really listen; very few of us hear or see anything really clearly, because what we are observing or listening to is immediately interpreted, translated by our own minds in terms of our particular ideas and idiosyncrasies. We think we are understanding, but surely we are not. We are so distracted by our own opinions and knowledge, by approval or disapproval, that we never see the problem as it is. But if we can put aside our own particular points of view, and by listening, and following the operation of our own minds, see what is actually the fact, then I think we shall find that quite a different process is taking place which will enable us to look at our problems freely and clearly.
That is why I feel that one should listen totally. At present we listen with only a part of the mind, and it is very difficult for us to give complete attention - not only to what is being said now, but to all that is happening to us in our lives. We have so many problems, religious, social and economic, as well as the problems of life, of survival, of death; and the very process of our own thinking is, it seems to me, increasing these problems. The way of our own thinking, which is the mind, yours and mine, is conditioned, is it not? It is conditioned by the religion we have been brought up in, by our nationality, political outlook, economic circumstances, and by innumerable other influences. All of these have shaped, moulded our minds in a certain way; and if we would be free of this pressure and influence it is surely useless merely to discard any particular form of authority in order to seek some new form, some new method, some new belief. Yet this is what we are always doing. Surely it is only the mind that is completely free from all conscious or unconscious authority, that is able to discover if there is any reality beyond the mere conceptions of the mind. The free mind is the mind that is empty of all belief, of all patterns of thought - the unconscious as well as the conscious, the hidden as well as the obvious. At present all our thinking is the result of our particular conditioning, it comes from our accumulated experiences, memories, fears, hopes. Such a mind is obviously not free. There is freedom only when the entire thought process is understood and transcended, and only then is it possible for a new mind, a fresh mind, to come into being.
So, can the mind free itself from its own conditioning and look at its problem anew? Can the mind be free? - not as a Christian, a Hindu, a Swede, a Communist, or what you will, nor merely in the sense of giving up some particular ideal, belief, or habit, but free to discover; which means going beyond all the influences and contradictions of the mind and of society.
Now, how does the mind respond to all this? To respond with agreement or disagreement is surely vain, for such response is obviously the product of our own background, our own accumulated knowledge and belief. But to experiment with oneself is, it seems to me, really worthwhile. So can we investigate intelligently, patiently, and find out if it is at all possible to free one's own mind from all particularity, from all influence and authority, so that it is able to go beyond its own activities? Otherwise our lives will be very shallow, empty - and perhaps that is the case with most of us. We have masses of information, knowledge, innumerable beliefs, creeds, dogmas, but really we are very shallow and unhappy. Although in some countries they have established outward, economic security, nevertheless inwardly, psychologically, the individual remains uncertain, unsure. And the outward, physical security which all human beings want and need, whatever their nationality, is made impossible for us all because of our demand for inward, psychological security. The very demand for inward security prevents understanding. It is only when the mind is no longer acquisitive, no longer seeking or demanding anything, that it is free to find out what is true, what is God.
That is why it is very important to understand ourselves - not analytically, with one part of the mind analysing another part, which merely leads to further confusion, but actually to be aware, without judgment or condemnation, of the way we act, the words we use, of all our various emotions, our hidden thoughts. If we can look at ourselves dispassionately, so that the hidden emotions are not pressed back but invited forth and understood, then the mind becomes really quiet; and only then there is the possibility of leading a full life.
These are the things which I think we should explore together. We can help each other to find the door to reality, but each one must open that door for himself; and this, it seems to me, is the only positive action.
So there must be in each one of us an inward, religious revolution; for it is only this inward, religious revolution which will totally change the way of our thinking. And to bring about this revolution, there must be the silent observation of the responses of the mind, without judgment, condemnation, or comparison. At present the mind is uncreative, in the true sense of that word, is it not? It is a made-up thing, put together through the accumulations of memory. As long as there is envy, ambition, self-seeking, there can be no creativeness. So it seems to me that all we can do is to understand ourselves, the ways of our own mind; and this process of understanding is an enormous task. It is not to be done casually, later on, tomorrow, but rather every day, every moment, all the time. To understand ourselves is to be aware spontaneously, naturally, of the ways of our own thinking, so that we begin to see all the hidden motives and intentions which lie behind our thoughts, and thereby bring about the liberation of the mind from its own binding and limiting processes. Then the mind is still; and in that stillness something which is not of the mind can come into being of its own accord.
There are some questions, and I think it would be worthwhile to find out what we mean by `asking a question', and what we mean by `getting an answer'. After all, to any of the big, fundamental questions - of love, of life, of death and the hereafter - , are there any answers? We ask questions only when we are confused, do we not; and therefore the answers must also be confused. That is why it is very important not to look to others for answers, but rather to look directly at the problem for ourselves. So the difficulty is not in asking a question, or receiving an answer; it is to see the problem clearly. And when there is clarity, there are no questions and no answers. Question: We Swedes do not as a rule like to tackle the problems of life only with the mind, leaving the emotions aside. Is it possible to solve any problem only with the mind, or only by the emotions?
Krishnamurti: Do you think you can so easily divide the emotions from the mind? Or do we mean, not emotion, but sentiment? We are all sentimental, are we not; and we would all like to get answers which give us a sense of satisfaction, security - which is surely a very superficial approach. To understand any problem there must be keenness of mind; and when it is blunted by opinions, judgments, tradition, fears, the mind is not keen. It is not with the mind alone, or with the emotions alone, that we look at anything fully; it is with the totality of our whole being. And that is a very difficult thing to do - to look at something totally, fully and freely. It is very difficult to look at the problem of death, of love, of sex, and so on, with one's whole being, because all the time one is building up an answer, a belief, or a theory. If the answer is pleasant to us, we accept it; if it is unpleasant, we reject it. And we can never look at a problem totally so long as the mind is merely demanding an answer, seeking a way of living, an inward security.
Most of us are trying to understand our problems with a mind that is confused; and we are confused, though most of us do not admit it. When a man is confused, whatever his actions may be, they will only lead to further confusion and misery. So if we are concerned with clearing up the confusion in the world, we must first discover and acknowledge to ourselves that we are confused - completely. But when we do realize that we are confused, most of us want to act immediately on that confusion, to do something about it, to reform, to alter ourselves - which only accentuates the confusion; and it is very difficult to stop all this fruitless activity, which is merely a running away from the actual, from what is. Only when one stops running away and faces the fact of one's confusion with the totality of one's being, is there the possibility of dissolving that confusion. No one can do this for us; we must do it ourselves.
Question: Juvenile delinquency is increasing. What is the reason and what is the remedy?
Krishnamurti: Are not the roots of this problem buried in the whole structure of modern society? And is not society the outcome of what we are? We are at war with each other, are we not?, because we all want to be somebody in this society; we are all trying to achieve success, to get somewhere, to acquire virtue and become something. Politically, economically, socially and religiously, we want to arrive, to have the best or to be the best, and in this process there is fear, envy, greed, ambition, ruthlessness. Our whole society is based on this process. And we want our children to fit into society, to be like ourselves, to conform to the pattern of so-called culture. But within this pattern there is revolt, among the children as among the grown-ups.
The problem is even more complex when we consider the whole system of education. We have to find out what we mean by education. What is the purpose of education? Is it to make us conform, to fit into society? - which is what we are doing now with our children. Or does education consist in helping the child, the student, to be aware of all the conditioning influences - nationalistic, religious, and so on - and be free of them? If we are serious about this - and we should be serious - , we will really study the child, will we not? We will not subject him to some particular influence or authority and thereby mould him into a pattern, but will help him to be aware of all influences, so that he can grow in freedom. We will observe him constantly and carefully - be aware of the books he reads, with their glorified heroes, watch him in his work, in his play, in his rest - and will help him to be unconditioned and free.
To help the child to be aware of all the nationalistic tendencies, the prejudices and religious beliefs which condition the mind, really means, does it not?, that we must be aware first of our own ways of thinking. After all, we grown-ups do not know how to live together, we are everlastingly battling with each other and within ourselves. This battle, this struggle, projects itself into society; and into that society we want to fit the child. We cannot change society; only the individual can change. But we are not individuals, are we? We are caught up in the mass, in society; and so long as we do not understand ourselves and free the mind from its self-imposed limitations, how can we help the child?
Question: Can one live in the world without ambition? Does it not isolate us, to be without ambition?
Krishnamurti: I think this is a fundamental question. We can see what ambition makes of the world. Everybody wants to be something. The artist wants to be famous, the schoolboy wants to become the President, the priest wants to be the bishop, and so on. Everyone throughout the world is trying, struggling, forcing himself, in order to be important. Even in our education, the boy who is not clever is compared with the boy who is clever - which is utterly stupid. And we see the result of this ambition projected in the world. Each nation is seeking to maintain itself at all costs.
Now, the questioner wants to know whether we can be free from this ambition, and if so, whether we shall not be isolated from society. Why is there this fear of being free from ambition, this fear of being alone? Can ambition and love go together? The mind that is seeking all the time to be something, to become great, surely does not know what love is. So long as we are pursuing ambition, we are isolated. We are isolated already, are we not? But, you see, we accept ambition. Whether a man lives in a small village far away, or in a crowded city, if he can call himself something - A Swede, a Hindu, a Dane, or anything else - , then he feels that he is someone. To be respectable, to be known, to have power, position, money, virtue - all these things give us a sense of importance. So it is very difficult not to be ambitious.
The man who is as nothing is without fear, without ambition; he is alone, but not isolated. To free oneself from ambition requires a great deal of insight, intelligence and love; but such a man, who is as nothing, is not isolated.
May 14, 1956
Stockholm, Sweden 1st Public Talk 14th May 1956
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