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Athens 1956

Athens, Greece 3rd Public Talk 30th September 1956

It seems to me that one of the most difficult problems we have to face is how to bring about a fundamental change in ourselves; and everyone who is seriously interested in these things must surely face this problem. How is the mind to bring about a change in itself which will be a revolution, and not merely a new division, another alteration, a disciplined reform? If we want to create a world that is without hatred, a world in which there is love, in which man does not turn against man, then I think it is essential that you and I as individuals should contribute to the realization of such a revolution by a fundamental transformation in ourselves. This is the subject on which I am going to talk this evening, and as it is rather complicated, I hope you will be patient enough to listen with attention.

To find out if it is possible to bring about such a revolution, I think one has to begin by experimenting with oneself. In this country, as in every other, you have many troubles. Although everyone is trying to bring peace, unconsciously we go on working towards war. We desperately need peace in the world, but the fact is that we are creating still more confusion and misery. That is what happening in the world around us, and within ourselves. We have many contradictory desires, deep-rooted urges and restraining ideals which bring about conflict. We strive after harmony, but whatever we do only seems to create more confusion and less peace.

Seeing all this confusion taking place around us and within ourselves, one wonders how a radical change is to be brought about. If we look into ourselves, we can see that the mind is capable of improving a part of itself but it remains only a part; and even if that one part manages to dominate all the rest, the mind will be in a state of continuous conflict. Conflict is inevitable, is it not?, so long as one part of ourselves is trying to improve or to control the other part. The conflict arises, surely, from this division in the mind.

Now, is it possible to bring about a total change, and not merely a partial one? I do not know if you understand the problem, but I think it is very important to do so. Is it possible to bring about a fundamental transformation without conflict, without one part of the mind trying to dominate another part? It seems to me that this is possible only if we realize the urgency of a total change, and see the falsity of one part of ourselves, which we call `higher', striving to dominate the `lower', for surely the `higher' is still within the field of the mind, and is therefore also the outcome of conflict.

To change fundamental.y, completely, without one part of the mind seeking to dominate another part and thereby creating further conflict, we must give our total attention to it. But usually we never give our full attention to anything, do we? We give only partial attention. We look at a problem of this kind through the screen of our religious beliefs and social convictions, or we give attention to it with the desire to achieve a result; therefore our attention is divided, it is never complete, whole. There can be full attention only when there is not the conflict of wanting a result, or pursuing an ideal; and it is only when the mind is capable of giving full attention that this radical change takes place within us.

Most of us think we must have ideals to entice us to change; but to me ideals are a distraction from the fact, they are merely a projection of the opposite of what we really are. We hope that by clinging to an ideal we shall achieve a radical change; but the continuous effort to discipline, to control ourselves, only brings about endless conflict.

Surely, a radical change can come about only when there is no effort. So long as there is any sense of achieving an ideal, of bringing about a change through compulsion, there cannot be complete attention. A person who is really concerned with transforming himself totally will have no ideals, because ideals are a distraction from the fact of what is. When you have an ideal your mind is not looking at the actual, but at what should be, and so attention is incomplete. To bring about a fundamental change, a new way of thinking. a revolution within oneself, one must understand the necessity of total attention without any distraction - which is, after all, a state of love. Love is not the product of effort, of distraction, of control according to an ideal; it is total attention in which the contradictory impulses, with all their accumulative memories, completely cease.

To put it differently, what most of us are trying to do is to change through time. We think that time will give to the mind an opportunity to bring about a gradual change within itself. Being envious, we have the ideal of becoming free from envy in the future, and through time we think we shall achieve this ideal - which to me is an escape, a distraction from the actual fact. So, can one give one's total attention to the problem of envy, without any distraction? That is, can one approach the problem of envy completely anew?

It is true, is it not?, that we generally move from the known to the known; and this is not a radical change, it is not a revolution. The ideal is still within the field of the known, and does not bring about a fundamental transformation. The process of changing through time is based on the principle, preached by religious teachers and sacred books, "I am this, I must become that, and the change will come about in time through discipline, control". We can see how the mind works, how it has invented various systems of discipline to control itself,but surely this process is totally false, because all forms of discipline, control, compulsion are still within the field of the known and do not contribute to a radical change. In this process of continuity, moving from yesterday through today towards tomorrow, there is no fundamental transformation.

So the problem is - and I hope you are not just listening to words, but are experiencing the thing we are talking about - , can the mind come to an end without compulsion, without any form of discipline, which means that it has understood itself completely? Because that very understanding is a process of revolution. Truth or God is something totally unknown; you may imagine, you may speculate about it, you may believe it is this or that, but it is still the unknown. The mind must come to it completely stripped of the past, free of all the things it has known; and the knowledge, after all, the accumulated memories and problems of everyday existence. So if there is really to be a radical change, a fundamental transformation, the mind must move away from the known. For love is not something which you experienced yesterday and are able to recapture at will tomorrow; it is totally new, unknown.

The mind, being the result of the known, of time, can never bring about a radical change within itself. Any change which it brings about can only be a superficial alteration within the field of the known. There can be a fundamental change in the mind only when the mind dies, when thinking dies - which means, really, when the self ceases to exist. This is not a system of philosophy to be conveyed by teaching. It is an inner experience to be lived, day in and day out, by the person who is seriously inquiring and who does not restrict himself to the mere repetition of phrases without meaning.

Many questions have been sent in, and I cannot go into all of them in the course of a few talks; so if your particular question is not answered, you will know why. Also, I am not `answering' these questions, but we are together trying to investigate the problem. The problem is yours, and you have to find the answer within the problem itself, not away from it.

Question: In what way can self-knowledge help to solve the many pressing problems of the world - for instance, starvation?

Krishnamurti: Is not the world, with all its lies, its corruption, hatred and starvation, brought about by human beings? Surely the problems which exist in this country and throughout the world are the product of each one of you, because you are nationalistic; you want to be somebody, and therefore you identify yourself with the country, you consider yourself a Greek or a Christian, which gives you a sense of importance; and through your envy you have created a society based on acquisition. So to bring about a tremendous change in the world, you and I must change, must we not? We must know ourselves. Unfortunately most of us think that tyranny, politics, or various forms of legislation will solve our problems. But what the individual is, the world is, and to bring about a fundamental change you, the individual, must understand yourself; and the understanding of yourself must be complete, not just partial.

Self-knowledge is the beginning of wisdom; and to know yourself is not a miracle, or something extraordinary to be learned from books. You can see yourself exactly as you are in the mirror of relationship. Nothing can live in isolation; you are related to people, to things, to ideas, to nature, and in the mirror of that relationship you can see the totality of your own being. But if you condemn what you see, then obviously you stop all inquiry and understanding. Most of us have the instinct to condemn, to compare, to judge what we see. But if you once realize that to understand something, you must not condemn it, then condemnation ceases; and through the self-knowledge which comes when there is observation without condemnation, the whole mind, the unconscious as well as the conscious, can be understood. Only then is the mind completely quiet, and therefore able to inquire further.

Question: If a man has no ambition, how is he to live in this world of competition?

Krishnamurti: I wonder why we are ambitious? You are ambitious in your job, in your school, in everything that of you do, are you not? Why are we envious, ambitious? Is it because there are a hundred motives encouraging us to be ambitious? Or is it that without ambition, without trying to get somewhere or to be something, we are nothing? If we were not ambitious, what would happen? We would be nobody, would we not? We would be unrecognized, have no dreams of success, of being great, and we would merely live; but just to live in that way does not seem very gratifying. So we create a competitive society in which ambition is encouraged, and anyone who wants to get rid of it is ignored by his neighbour. I am not talking of ambition only in the worldly sense. Anyone who wants to become something, whether in this world or the next, is ambitious. The priest who wishes to become a bishop, the clerk who wants to become an executive, the man who strives to have some so-called religious experience - they are all on the same level, because they are all anxious to be or to have something.

Now, seeing the havoc that ambition is causing in the world today, and realizing that a man who is ambitious can have no love, the question naturally arises, is it possible to be completely free from ambition? I cannot answer for you; you will have to find out for yourself. But you see, the fact is that most of us want security, we want safety, we want guarantees; therefore we live with ambition. Such people are not serious, though they may ask serious questions.

Question: What is the real meaning of brotherhood?

Krishnamurti: It is fairly obvious, is it not? A man who is nationalistic, is not brotherly. Nor is he brotherly who is a communist, a socialist, a capitalist, or who belongs to a particular religion; because anyone devoted to an ideology to a system, to a belief, obviously separates himself from other men. After all, this is our world, it is yours and mine - not to live in as Greeks, or Americans, or Indians, or Russians, but as human beings. But unfortunately we have national, economic and religious barriers, and living behind these barriers we talk about brotherhood, we talk about love, peace, God. To really know what love is we must abolish all these barriers, and each one of us must begin with himself.

Question: Should one give any importance to one's dreams or not?

Krishnamurti: To investigate this question directly we must understand the process of our own consciousness. Consciousness is surely the totality of one's being, but we have divided it as the conscious and the unconscious. Most of us are concerned with cultivating the conscious mind, and every school, every society is busy with the same thing. Society, of which we form a part, gives great importance to the so-called education of the conscious mind, and it tries to make us efficient, capable citizens by giving us a job.

Now, if you will observe yourself you will see that, while the conscious mind is concerned with your daily activities, there is at the same time a hidden activity going on in the mind, of which you are largely unconscious. You will also see that there is a division or conflict between the conscious and the unconscious mind - the unconscious being not only the hidden personal motives, but also the racial influences and the collective experience of centuries. When the conscious mind goes to sleep and is relatively quiet, the unconscious draws near, and its urges then become dreams. This is what actually happens to most of us, because during the day our conscious minds are so taken up with our superficial motives and pursuits that there is no time to receive the promptings of the unconscious. So we dream; and then the problem arises of how to interpret these dreams, so we go to specialists who interpret dreams according to their pleasure, or in terms of their so-called knowledge.

It seems to me that the problem is not how to interpret dreams, but whether it is possible not to dream at all. Please do not reject this, do not drive it away. A mind that is perpetually active during the day, and unconsciously active when it is asleep, can never be creative. It is only when the mind is completely still, without movement, without action, that there is a possibility for a new state to come into being.

So, can the conscious mind be in such close relationship at all times with the unconscious, during the day as well as during the night, that there is never this state of confusion which necessitates the projection of dreams? Surely, when the conscious mind already knows the movements of the unconscious, so that the unconscious has no need to project dreams for the conscious mind to interpret, then it is possible not to dream at all. That is, if you are constantly aware of your motives, of your prejudices, of your conditioning, of your fears, of your likes and dislikes - if you are aware of all this during the day, then when you sleep the mind is not everlastingly disturbed by dreams. That is why it is important to be aware of one's thinking, of one's ambition, of one's motives, urges, jealousies - not to push them aside, but to understand them completely. Then the mind is very quiet, silent, and in that silence it can be free from all its conditioning. Such a mind is a religious mind, and only such a mind is capable of receiving that which is true. The mind that seeks truth will never find it; but when the mind is completely still, without any movement, without any desire, then it is possible for the immeasurable to come into being.

September 30, 1956


Athens 1956

Athens, Greece 3rd Public Talk 30th September 1956

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