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Athens 1956

Athens, Greece 2nd Public Talk 26th September 1956

Communication is always difficult, because in communicating we must employ words, and certain words have different meanings for different people; and I think it is very difficult for most of us to go beyond the words and feel out for ourselves the full significance of what lies beyond. There are words which have not only a dictionary meaning, but more than that; our minds are heavily conditioned to them. Take words like `love' and `God'. Such words have come to have a particular meaning for each one of us, and they affect us in different ways, physiologically as well as psychologically. We accept such words very easily, because we have been brought up to, believe in what they represent. But what they represent for most of us is very restricted and superficial, and it will be a waste of time if we merely remain at the threshold of the meaning of words.

To follow what is being communicated and not be misled by words, requires a particular kind of attention, and this attention is difficult to come by. Most of us are satisfied with a certain set of words or phrases which we have often heard and which we repeat. But perhaps this evening we could go beyond the words and feel out for ourselves the significance of what is being said. Because after all, in these talks, we are not merely trying to express certain ideas, however pleasant or unpleasant, but if possible to go beyond the meaning of words and experience a new state which we all feel must exist.

Understanding depends on the way one listens. As we listen, are we discussing inwardly what is being said, interpreting it according to our individual opinions, knowledge and idiosyncrasies? Or are we simply listening, without any movement of adjustment or interpretation? There are two ways of listening. One can listen merely to the words, see their usual significance and understand only their outward meaning; or one can listen to the verbal exposition, and follow it inwardly - that is, understand what is being described as one's own experience. So may I suggest, if this experiment is to be useful and worthwhile, that we should not merely listen to the words, but in listening examine if we can the very process of our own thinking.

We are trying to find out what is the real process of life, and what lies behind the superficial activities of our daily existence. If we would really experience what we are talking about, it must be done directly, now; it is of no value to wait and think about it afterwards. That is, if you are taking notes, trying to capture certain phrases in order to think about all this afterwards, it will be of no value, because you will merely be remembering words. To discover for yourself the significance of your own thinking, you must directly examine how you think and actually experience the whole process of it. Because it seems to me that thought is not going to solve our many problems; however reasonable, however clever, logical, thinking surely will not put an end to our ceaseless conflict. Not that you must accept this statement; but can we find out for ourselves what thinking is?

Please examine your own thought process as I am talking, and ask yourself what thinking is. Thinking is a process or reaction, is it not? It is a reaction according to our background, according to the environment in which we live and have been brought up; and without understanding this background, we shall never find out whether it is possible for the mind to go beyond the process of its own activities.

What happens when we think? Without realizing it, the mind divides itself, and then one section of the mind investigates the other, giving an answer out of its own accumulated experience, or according to the accepted experiences of others. This effort makes up what we call thinking, and the resulting answer is but the projection of a conditioned mind.

Surely our problems demand quite a different approach, they demand a really new psychological outlook; but we must understand the process of our own thinking before we can go beyond thought. That is why it is important to inquire for ourselves into how our thinking begins, and where it stops; because if we do not understand the activity of our own thought, we shall only create more problems, and perhaps bring about our own destruction.

When we think, we do so within a framework which society has imposed on us, or which we ourselves have adopted; and it seems to me that so long as we think within a framework, our problems, whether social or individual, will remain unsolved. I feel it is very important that you and I as two individuals, not as a group, should investigate for ourselves the process of our own thinking.

Is there freedom in thinking, or is all thought limited? If you look into yourself, you will see that all thinking is conditioned. The mind, the conscious as well as the unconscious, is the result of time, of memory; it is the residue of various cultures, of centuries of knowledge and experience. The totality of consciousness is made up of thought; and thought, surely, derives from this residue of the past, both individual and collective. So our thinking is obviously conditioned.

If we examine ourselves we shall see that our consciousness is the outcome of many influences: climate, diet, various forms of authority the do's and dont's of society, and of the religion in which we have been brought up, the books we have read, the reactions we have felt, and so on. All these influences condition and shape the mind, and from this background comes our thought. Furthermore, our thinking is based on hope, on fear, on the desire to become something, all of which is encouraged and stimulated by the competitive society in which we have been brought up. So all thinking is conditioned, it is merely a process of reaction according to the past; and the question is, can such thinking solve our many problems?

I hope you are giving close attention to all this, otherwise you will miss the significance of it. There is no unlimited thinking, thinking is always limited; and to find out what lies beyond thought, thought must first come to an end. After all, being limited, prejudiced, shaped by society, how can thought inquire into something which is measureless? If I want to find out what love is, for example, how shall I proceed? Shall I think about it, read what has been said in the Bible, in the sacred books, or by some priest? Surely, to find out what love is, I must first see whether my mind is conditioned by the idea which society calls `love', or by organized religion - which preaches love, but which has actually destroyed human beings. Because it is only when my mind is free from all conditioning that I shall be able to find out what love is. In the same way, to find out if there is truth, if there is God, my mind must be free from all the beliefs and prejudices in which it has been brought up.

So to discover something true, not conditioned, not contaminated, you must in one sense cease to think. I hope you understand what I mean. After all, if you have beliefs, if you hold on to certain ideas, they are obviously going to interfere with your listening to what is being said. In order to experience something real, something which is not merely an opposite, the mind must free itself from its own beliefs and be completely still. Having been brought up in a certain society, educated according to a particular ideology, with its dogmas and traditions, the mind is conditioned; and any movement of the mind to free itself, being the result of that conditioning, only leads to still further conditioning. The mind can free itself only when it is completely alone. Even though it is burdened with problems, with innumerable tendencies, conflicts, ambitions, through awareness without condemnation or acceptance the mind can begin to understand its own functioning; and then an extraordinary silence comes about, a stillness in which there is no movement of thought. Then the mind is free, because it is no longer desiring anything, no longer asking for anything, it is no longer anchored to an ideology or aiming at a purpose - all of which are merely the projections of a conditioned mind. Unless you undergo this actual experience, so that it is not merely a verbal statement which you have heard from another, life remains very superficial and sorrowful.

So for those who are really serious about this matter, it seems to me that what is important is not what you believe or do not believe, but to understand the process of your own thinking. In that direct understanding of one's own thinking, a radical change in one's living will take place which is not according to any social plan or religious dogma; and only then will it be possible for the external structure of society to change also.

A number of questions have been sent to me, and I shall try to go into some of them.

Question: Psychoanalysts offer the panacea of analysis, asserting that by just knowing what it is all about, one is cured; but this does not always hold true. What is one to do when in spite of knowing the cause of one's trouble, one is still unable to get rid of it?

Krishnamurti: You see, in this problem there is involved the analyser and the analysed. You may not go to a psychoanalyst, you may analyse yourself, but in either case there is always the analyser and the analysed. When you try to examine the unconscious, or interpret a dream, there is the examiner and the examined; and the examiner, the interpreter, analyses what he sees in terms of his own background, according to his pleasure. So there is always a division between the analyser and the analysed, with the analyser trying to reshape or control that which he has analysed. And the question is not only whether the analyser is capable of analysing, but more fundamentally whether there is actually any division between the analyser and the analysed. We have assumed that there is such a division; but is there in actuality? The analyser, surely, is also the result of our thinking. So really there is no division at all, but we have artificially created one. If we see the truth of this, if we realize the fact that the thinker is not separate from his thought, that there is only thinking and no thinker - and it is very difficult to come to that realization - , then our whole approach to the problem of inner conflict changes.

After all, if you do not think, where is the thinker? The qualities of thinking, the memory of various experiences together with the desire to be secure, to be permanent, have created the thinker apart from thinking. We say that thinking is passing, but that the thinker is permanent. You may call the thinker permanent, enduring, divine, or anything else you like, but in reality there is no thinker, but only the process of thinking. And if there is only thinking, and not a thinker who thinks, then, without a thinker, an analyser, how shall we solve our problem?

Am I explaining the matter clearly, or only complicating it? Perhaps it is not very clear because you are merely listening to my words, you are not directly experiencing the thing. There is a great difference between having a toothache and listening to the description of a toothache, is there not? And I am afraid something of that sort is what is happening now. You are merely listening to the description, hoping to find a way to solve your problems.

Briefly, what I am saying is this: if you once fully understand that there is only thinking and no thinker, then there is a tremendous revolution in your whole approach to life; because in experiencing for yourself that there is only thinking, and not a thinker who must control thought, you have at one stroke removed the very source of conflict. It is the division between the thinker and the thought that creates conflict; and if one is capable of removing that division, there is no problem.

Question: What would happen to the world if all men and women were to arrive at a state so far removed from attachment to a definite person that marriage and love affairs became unnecessary? Krishnamurti: Is not the questioner putting a very hypothetical question? Should we not rather ask ourselves whether there is love when there is attachment? Our attachments are based on mutual satisfaction, mutual support, are they not? Each one needs the companionship of another. So instead of asking this theoretical question, I think it is important to find out if there is love at all when there is attachment.

Is there love when we are attached, when we possess somebody? And why are we attached? To really go into it, to inquire why one is attached, not only to a man or a woman, but to children, to ideas, to property, and find out for oneself if it is possible to be free of all possessing and possessiveness - this, I think, demands a great deal of hard inner work. If you were not attached, what would happen? You would be at a loss, would you not? We are attached because in ourselves we are insufficient, psychologically dependent, and therein lies our misery.

Question: How is one to deal with a very small child if one is to avoid influencing him in any way?

Krishnamurti: Why does one try not to influence a small child? Let us consider. Are we not all influenced? You are influenced by climate, by society, by the food you eat, by the papers you read - you are influenced by everything around you. It is not a matter of good or bad influence - we are considering influence itself. What you call a good influence, another society might call bad or false. What is important, I think, is to understand the whole problem of influence, and then perhaps we shall approach differently the education of the child. We know that we are being influenced in some degree by everything around us; and is it possible to be free from the influences which are strongly or subtly impressing us, dominating us? To be free of such influences, we must be aware, must we not?, of the many factors which create them.

Take, for instance, the influence of the flag, of the nation, of the word `patriotism'. We accept that influence all over the world, for every school, every government is sedulously conditioning us to accept it; and that is one of the basic causes of war, because it separates man from man. So can we, the grown-up people, free ourselves from this influence? If we can, then perhaps we shall be able to help the child to be free. But to be free from this particular influence demands a great deal of insight, understanding, for there is the possibility that you may be ostracized, you may lose your job, and you will be a nobody in society.

Let us take another example. Whether we live as of the world, or try to be religious, most of us are ambitious. We can see that ambition is destructive, but socially and religiously we accept it. The ambitious man can never love, because he is concerned with himself and his success - success in the name of God, in the name of family, in the name of country. The worship of success is also an influence throughout the world, is it not? And can one free oneself from this influence? Can you as an individual do it? Do not say "If I am not ambitious I shall be crushed by society". If you really see the truth that ambition is destructive and deeply understand the whole process of influence, you will be a different person; and then perhaps you will be able to help the child to understand and be free of all influence.

Question: Is it possible to live without any attachment?

Krishnamurti: Instead of asking this question, why don't you find out? And to ask "How am I to become detached?" is another false question, Find out to what you are attached and why. You are attached to your family, to your property, to your name, to your beliefs and ideas, to your business - to a dozen things. To be free from this attachment, you must first be aware that you are attached, and not merely ask if it is possible to live without attachment; you must experience the fact that you are attached, and understand why. You are attached, for instance, to the idea of God, of truth, or to some belief or ideal, because without that concept and the feeling it evokes, your life would be empty, miserable; you would have nothing to rely on. So your attachment is a form of drug; and knowing the fundamental reason for attachment, you then try to cultivate detachment, which is still another escape. That is why it is very important to study the process of one's whole being, and not merely try to clarify what to believe and what not to believe, which is all so superficial.

The key to freedom lies within ourselves, but we refuse to use it. We are always asking someone else to open the door and let the light in.

September, 26, 1956


Athens 1956

Athens, Greece 2nd Public Talk 26th September 1956

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