Madras 1st Public Talk 12th December 1956
I think we must all be very gravely concerned with the affairs of the world, because one can see that there is a great deal of tyranny and appalling butchery going on in the name of some ideology, and that even in the so-called democracies there is slowly arising the tendency to mould the mind of man according to a particular pattern of thought. Everywhere, in religious circles as well as in the political world, and regardless of whether man lives in a village or in the most modern of towns, there is this tendency to shape his mind in a particular way; and we think that by controlling the mind of man we are going to achieve a social order that will not have within it the seed of deterioration and destruction. We have done this throughout the centuries, have we not? Through education, through religious dogmas and beliefs, through the worship of some God, through every form of coercion, punishment and reward, we hope that man can be conditioned to act gently, without too much exploitation, with a sense of social relationship, and that society will then continue in an orderly fashion. This is not only the modern idea, for it has existed down the centuries. Since ancient times, religions throughout the world have successfully shaped the mind of man to think in a certain way, and now the politicians are using modern psychological methods to control his thought. They want collective action on a planned basis, so they seek to shape the mind of man according to a certain ideology, whether communist, socialist, or capitalist, hoping that you and I can thereby be made to live amicably in our relationship with each other, which is society.
This is what is actually happening all over the world. In the so-called democracies there is more leniency; you can read what you like, and say what you like within limits; but the newspapers to a large extent control your thought and determine what your prejudices shall be. The literature you read influences your thinking, and the politician, with his promises of a future Utopia, shapes your action. So the political or religious authorities are gradually shaping the mind of man. This is a fact, whether you accept it or not.
The central government, for example, issues certain legislative orders, and the newspapers never disagree too violently because their action is dictated by vested interests, as it is vested interests that create the politician. Every politician, from the highest to the lowest, is involved in vested interests, not only in terms of money, but also in terms of idea. The politician and his party have certain ideas as to what the country should be. Their ideas are obviously based on their limited knowledge, their inclinations, their prejudices, their personal experiences, and the whole country is subtly made to comply through propaganda; and it is the same with religious organizations throughout the world. The more cunning the organizer, the greater the possibility of controlling man's mind. You can see this process going on in the so-called Christian religion, particularly in Catholicism, as well as in the Communist countries; and it is also going on in this country - only we are inefficient at it, thank God. But the politician here as elsewhere wants to be efficient, and he is going to succeed because, though you may profess all kinds of religious ideals and try mildly to follow them, for most of you the thing of first importance is security in the form of bread and butter; so the politician has got you.
This is the actual state of affairs in the world. Your mind is shaped as a Hindu, a Buddhist, or a socialist, you are conditioned to believe or not to believe, and merely to change the form of belief, dropping Hinduism and becoming a Christian, a Communist, or something else, seems to me so utterly futile - not only futile, it is really a form of criminality, because it does not solve the fundamental problem. We merely move from one set of words to another set of words, and this change of words in itself has an extraordinary effect on the mind. I don't know if you have ever observed what slaves we are to words. We shall discuss this presently in the course of these talks.
Now, what is a man to do who sees exactly what is taking place in the world, and who really wants to find out if God, truth, is an actuality, or merely a clever invention of the priest? After all, you and I are the result of the collective, are we not? And there must be individual human beings who have completely broken away from the collective, from society, who are free from conditioning, not in layers or in spots, but totally, for it is only such individuals who can find out what truth or God is - not the man of tradition, not the man who does japam, rings the bell, quotes the Gita, and goes to the temple every day. It is the irreligious people who do that. But the man who really wants to find out what this extraordinary movement of living is, must not only understand the process of his own conditioning, but be able to go beyond it; because the mind can find out what is true only when it is free from all conditioning, not when it merely repeats certain words or quotes the sacred books. Such a mind is not free.
So it is extraordinarily difficult in this world for the mind to be free. The politician and the so-called religious person talk about freedom, that is one of their catchwords; but they jolly well take care that you are not free, because the moment you are free, you obviously become a danger to society, to organized religion, to all the rotten things that exist about you. It is only the free mind that will find out what is true, it is only the free mind that can be creative; and it is essential, in a culture of this kind, that importance be given, not to the following of a pattern, a doctrine, or a tradition, but to allowing the mind to be creative. But the mind can be creative only when it is free from conditioning, and such freedom is not easily come by; you have to work extraordinarily hard for it. You work hard for your daily living, you spend years at the whole business of being bossed around in order to earn a livelihood, swallowing the insults, the discomforts, the indignity, the sycophancy; but to work so that the mind is free is much more arduous. It requires great insight, great comprehension, an extensive awareness in which the mind knows all its impediments, its blockages, its movements of self-deception, its fantasies, its illusions, its myths. Once the mind is free it can begin to investigate, to search out; but for a mind to seek when it is not free, has no meaning. Do you understand? The mind which would find truth, God, this extraordinary beauty and depth of life, the fullness of love, must first be free. It has no meaning for a mind that is shaped, conditioned, held within the boundaries of tradition, to say, "I am seeking truth, God". Such a mind is like a donkey tethered to a post, it cannot wander further than the length of its rope.
So, if we want to find out what is this extraordinary state that lies beyond the vagaries of the mind, really experience it, live with it and know its full meaning, surely there must be freedom; and freedom implies harder work than most of us are willing to undertake. We would rather be led than discover; but one cannot be led to truth. Do please understand this very simple fact. No swami, no system of yoga, no religious organization, no doctrine or belief can lead you to the discovery of truth. Only the free mind can discover. That is obvious, is it not? You cannot discover the truth of anything by merely being told what it is, because then the discovery is not yours. If you are merely told what happiness is, is that happiness?
To find out what this life is all about, to know the whole content of it and not just the superficial layers which we call living, to be aware of its joy, its extraordinary depths, its width and beauty, which includes the squalor, the misery, the strife, the degradation - to understand the significance of all that, your mind must obviously be free. If that is clearly understood, then your relationship with me, and my relationship with you, is not based on authority. I cannot lead you to truth, nor can anyone else; you have to discover it every moment of the day as you are living. It is to be found when you are walking in the street or riding in a tramcar, when you are quarrelling with your wife or husband, when you are sitting alone or looking at the stars. When you know what is right meditation, then you will find out what is true; but a mind that is prepared, so-called educated, that is conditioned to believe or not to believe, that calls itself a Hindu, a Christian, a Communist, a Buddhist - such a mind will never discover what is true, though it may search for a thousand years. So the important thing is for the mind to be free; and can the mind ever be free?
Do you understand the problem, sirs? Only the mind that is free can discover what is true - discover, not be told what is true. The description is not the fact. You may describe something in the most lovely language, put it in the most spiritual or lyrical words; but the word is not the fact. When you are hungry, the description of food does not feed you. But most of us are satisfied with the description of truth; and the description, the symbol, has taken the place of the factual. To discover whether there is a reality or not, we must be capable of seeing the true as the true, the false as the false, and not wait to be told like a lot of immature children.
So, to find out what is true, the mind must first be free, and to be free is extraordinarily hard work, harder than all the practices of yoga. Such practices merely condition your mind, and it is only the free mind that can be creative. A conditioned mind may be inventive, it may think up new ideas, new phrases, new gadgets, it may build a dam, plan a new society, and all the rest of it; but that is not creativity. Creativity is something much more than the mere capacity to acquire a technique. It is because this extraordinary thing called creativity is not in most of us, that we are so shallow, empty, insufficient; and only the mind that is free can be creative.
So our problem is, how is the mind to be set free? And is it possible to set the mind free - not in layers or patches, not in little bits here and there, but totally, right through, the unconscious as well as the conscious? Or is the mind ever to be conditioned, ever to be shaped? You have to find out for yourself, and not wait for me to tell you whether the mind can ever be free. Can the mind only think about freedom, as a prisoner does, and so is doomed never to be free but always to be held within the bondage of its conditioning?
Do you understand the problem? Can the mind ever be totally free, or is it the very nature of the mind to be conditioned? If it is the fundamental quality of the mind to be limited, then there is no question of ever finding out what is reality; then you can go on repeating that there is God or there is no God, that this is good and something else is bad, all of which is within the pattern of a given culture. But to find out the truth of the matter, you have to inquire for yourself into whether the mind can really be free. I say it can be - which is not for you to accept or reject. It may be true, or it may be my opinion, my fancy, my illusion, and you cannot base your life on somebody else's discovery, or on his illusion, his fancy, or on a mere idea. You have to find out.
So, our inquiry throughout all these talks will be concerned, not with how to further condition the mind according to a nobler pattern, a better system or ideology, which is what most people want, but with whether it is possible to free the mind totally. Because you see, sirs, there must be a creative explosion to bring about a new society. Mere reformation within the pattern is no change at all. There is change only when you break through the pattern and find something new. Whether or not what you discover will have an influence on society is irrelevant. To be capable of having this extraordinary, explosive creativity outside the pattern is what is vital. This explosive creativity has its own action which may or may not influence society, but it will create a totally new culture, a new way of thinking which is not within the patterns we are not concerned with the reformation of society; on the contrary, our inquiry is to find out if it is possible to break away from society, that is, from our own conditioning.
Now, how do we set about to inquire into the truth of anything? Do you understand, sirs? If we are at all serious, in earnest, not merely given to words and phrases, to a slipshod way of thinking, you and I want to know how to inquire into the question of whether or not the mind can be. free. How are we to set about it? Surely, one of the most essential factors in all inquiry, in all questioning, is not to assume or postulate anything, not to start thinking from a conclusion; because if you start thinking from a conclusion, there is no thinking at all. Thought starting from an established idea is not thinking, it is merely repetition. To be free from conclusions, from assumptions, is extraordinarily difficult; but that is the first essential, it seems to me, in all real inquiry. You cannot inquire if you start with a ready-made foundation, which may be utterly false, and therefore your so-called inquiry is bound to lead to something equally false.
So, can you and I as individuals - not as Hindus, not as people living in India or in Europe - start to inquire without any assumption? I do not mean the assumptions implicit in facts like tomorrow, yesterday, time, food, and all the rest of it, but the assumptions, arising from the state of mind which demands psychological security: the assumption that there is God or there is no God, that this is good, that is bad, and so on. Sirs, to find out if there is God or if there is no God, surely I cannot assume anything, can I? If I am really in earnest, if I really want to find out the truth of the matter and not just indulge in cheap talk, if I am eager to discover what reality means, to comprehend the significance, the beauty of it, or its uncertainty, its utter emptiness - if I want to know reality, whatever it may be, then mind must not assume anything, must it?
Verbally you may agree that you must not assume anything; but will you actually drop your assumptions? Because if you do not assume anything what will happen? You will be against your family, your society, against every form of tradition; you will have to stand alone, completely dissociated from the values, the ideas which have been imposed upon your mind. And your mind is a bit horrified at that prospect, because ideas, traditions, values give it a sense of security, of permanency; your job is based on all that, and you have a psychological investment in it. So consciously or unconsciously your mind rebels against the idea of standing completely alone to find out. To stand completely alone is to be uncontaminated by society - society being envy, greed, vanity, the desire for power, prestige, the pursuit of all the worldly as well as the so-called unworldly things - , and it is only such a mind that is free to inquire and to find out the truth or the falseness of that which is beyond the mind. So self-knowledge is the beginning of wisdom. Wisdom is not to be found in books; it arises in the mind that is seeking to understand its own workings, and only such a mind can discover the reality that is beyond the measure of itself.
At all these talks there will be questions and answers - or rather, I am not going to give answers to the questions, but together we shall go into the problem. Now, why do you put a question? Obviously, you put a question in order to find an answer. And which is more important, the question or the answer? Do please think it out with me. If the answer is more important, then you are really not concerned with the question, because you are looking for an answer. Do you understand, sirs? You will see it in a moment as we go along.
There is a problem, whatever it be, and you want an answer to that problem. Now, what is actually taking place. when you want an answer to a problem? Your mind is not giving its full attention to the problem. It is divided, it is distracted by the demand for an answer. A problem exists only when there is divided attention; but when you give your complete attention to a so-called problem, then the problem gives its own answer, you don't have to search for the answer outside the problem. But you cannot give your full attention to the problem if you are seeking an answer.
So I am not going to give an answer. Life has no categorical answer to anything; what it tells you is to go into the problem, look at the problem with all the intensity, attention, vitality that you can give to it. Then the problem resolves itself; it is not resolved because you have found an answer. That is the way we are going to look at this question, and you will miss its significance if you are waiting for an answer from me. I am telling you right at the beginning so that you will have no misconception, that I am not giving an answer, but you and I together are going to inquire into the problem.
Question: Though political leaders, social reformers, and the various holy men are everlastingly denouncing it, exploitation continues to exist in human affairs, from the topmost government official to the illiterate drudge of the village. You too have preached against it for thirty years. How do you envisage action in which there is no exploitation?
Krishnamurti: Sirs, you may be unconscious of this problem of exploitation, or you may not want to think about it, but it is there right in front of your nose, and it exists at every social level. The man who is politically, religiously, or scientifically talented, exploits me because he has capacities which I have not. If I have a little learning and live in a petty village, I exploit the illiterate people there, and the village drudge exploits his wife. Now, what do we mean by exploitation?
There is the exploitation of the earth: we use it, we cultivate it, we mine it in order to gather the things of the earth for the benefit of man. That is one kind of exploitation. Then there is the exploitation of the stupid by the clever, of the weak by the strong. The cunning politician, the cunning priest, the cunning leader, the cunning saint - they all have an idea of what society should be, or of morality, righteousness, and they exploit it by their way of life, by their way of talking, and so on. They become examples; and the stupid, the illiterate, the thoughtless follow. So at what level are we talking when we speak of exploitation? Do you understand, sirs? When a man says, "I have found God, I know what it means", and you are eager to get it also, obviously he exploits you. The so-called spiritual leader is supposed to know the Master, and you don't, so you follow him because you want What you think he has, or what he promises. In other words, you are exploited for your own so-called good.
So, when one man knows, or says he knows, and another says, "I don't know, please tell me", is there not exploitation in their relationship? Do you understand, sirs? When there is the teacher and the taught, is there not exploitation? If I say, "I know, I have experienced", and you say you don't know, but you want to have that same experience, whatever it is, have you not put yourself in the position of being exploited by me?
Surely, whether you accumulate property or knowledge, it is essentially the same thing, only at a different level; and as long as the accumulative process is going on, there must be exploitation. The problem is, then, can we ever be in a state of learning, and therefore not in a state of accumulating? If for me life is a process of learning, then there is no exploitation, there is not the division of the teacher and the taught. Then both of us are important, and we learn from each other. Then there is not the high and the low, the more spiritual and the less spiritual, because then both of us are learning and not accumulating.
So, as long as there is accumulation in any form, which is self-centred action, there must be exploitation. That self-centred action may be in the name of society, or in the name of God, it may be in the name of a country or an ideology, but there is still exploitation. The politician at the top thinks he knows what is good for the whole of India. He has power, prestige, capacity, popularity, so he uses you, who don't know, to carry out his ideas; and as you have not the capacity to study, to inquire, and all the rest of it, you just follow. Sirs, this is what we are actually doing. You know, I don't know, so we have established in the world a hierarchical way of thinking based on authority. And the questioner wants to know what I envisage as the action of a man who is not exploiting, that is, who is not accumulating; who may have a few clothes, a little property, but who is without the sense of acquiring, either in terms of property, ideas or belief, and who is free of self-aggrandizement, of all self-centred interest in life.
Now, why do you want to know? Why do you ask how I envisage the state of action in which there is no exploitation? It is because you are lazy, is it not? You want to be told what that state is, you want to discuss it, to accept or reject it; you don't want to be in that state. If you were in that state, you would not ask such a question.
Sirs, please listen. This is really important, because, if you understand it, it leads to something enormous. Being lazy we say, "Tell me what it means to be free of exploitation, and I will agree or disagree with you". We don't want to be in that state, because it demands hard work, it demands inquiry, the breaking up of our present condition of exploitation, whether it be at the topmost level or at the most common level. We don't want to break up our present condition of exploitation, we want that to go on, and yet we ask what is the state of the man who acts without exploitation. I say find out, get into that state, and then you will see that it has its own action, an action which is much more significant, much more vital, more rigorous than the other.
To know what it means not to acquire, to have the feeling of it and not just the mental image conjured up by words, is to feel no sense of self-importance, no sense of accumulation; it is to be really nothing inwardly. Though outwardly you may have a few clothes, a little property, those things are all meaningless. To feel deeply that you are not acquiring means that you are not looking for success, you are not looking for recognition by a rotten society; psychologically you have no vested interest in becoming something. Do you understand? As long as you are becoming something, which is the process of acquiring, there must be exploitation. You may talk a great deal about non-exploitation, but as long as there is this inward urge to become something, to become a saint, a famous politician, a rich man, or what you will - which is the very root of self-centred action - , there must be exploitation. And this movement of becoming something is one of the most difficult things to be free of, because to be free one has to understand the whole problem of time as a means of climbing the ladder of success through the acquisition of property, power, position or knowledge. Any activity or social reform as a means of self-importance or self-forgetfulness, leads to exploitation.
If you are really serious about this question, if you earnestly desire to find out whether the mind can ever cease to exploit, then you will discover that it is possible to live in this world without accumulating anything, which means dying every minute to everything that you acquire, to the knowledge, to the virtue, to the things that you have gathered in this world as well as in the psychological realm. But to die totally to everything - to experience, to knowledge, to every process of acquisition - is an arduous task. It means that you must be completely aware, wholly attentive to the movements of the mind, and that is possible only when you watch the process of your mind in operation, that is, in the action of relationship. Observe how you treat your servants, how you play up to the boss, to the big politician, to the governor, to the saint, and to the man who is supposed to know. Only the mind that is really humble is not exploiting, and humility is not a thing to be cultivated. The mind is in a state of non-exploitation when it is silent, alone, when it is not acquiring, not seeking success, not climbing the ladder of recognition, and it is only such a mind that can bring sanity to a world that is full of cruelty and exploitation.
December 12, 1956
Madras 1st Public Talk 12th December 1956
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