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Madras 1956

Madras 4th Public Talk 23rd December 1956

I think it is obvious that our problems are increasing throughout the world. There is every kind of conflict, and the various opinions and answers which are offered for the resolution of our problems only seem to lead to further confusion. If you observe you will see in this country an extraordinarily rapid deterioration taking place, which is not imaginary but an actual fact; and seeing this whole process of deterioration, this enormous decay of man's endeavour through the centuries, there are those who say you must return to the past, you must go back to the temple, to the sacred books, you must follow the traditional routine, the religious sanctions, and thereby re-establish yourself in righteousness.

But is righteousness in the past? Does righteousness lie in any book? Does righteousness come about through following any leader, any authority? And is not the present decay, this moral corruption and disintegration, the result of a `righteousness' that is based on the authority of another, on the authority of a book, on the authority of several leaders whom you have followed through centuries? Regardless of who it is, whether it is a political leader, a comforting saint, or a religious reformer, is not the very following of another unrighteous?

Is righteousness something that can be stored up, that can be gathered and laid by for actions that demand a right response? Or is righteousness something entirely different? It is not that we have lost righteousness, for probably we have never had it, and that is why there is the present decline. I don't know if you have considered this matter at all seriously, or have merely skimmed along on the surface of life, gratified with the little things - a little work, a little food, a little thought, a little family - , not being too disturbed and letting the decline go on as it will. I think there must be some who have given serious thought to the matter - but not in terms of reformation, because you can see, if you look around, that reformation has not brought a new release of man's creativity. On the contrary, religious reformation, like political revolution, has merely brought a different group which insists on a different pattern.

Seeing all this, we must have wondered how to bring about that righteousness which is not merely the action of the learned, the action of a mind that has accumulated knowledge, morality, and functions within the groove of a certain virtue. I do not call such a mind righteous. Righteousness is not merely the remembrance of things that are gone, it does not lie in the past of ten thousand years ago, or of yesterday; it is the capacity to meet each challenge with a freshness of mind, with love, with gentleness, with insight into the totality of a happening, whatever it be. The mind that is capable of responding totally to a demand is the only righteous mind, not the mind that calculates, that is shaped by an ideology or is pursuing an ideal, all of which is based on self-interest, on vested interest in morality, in tradition, in values that are profitable. Righteousness is something entirely different from all that, which we shall see as we go along this evening.

A mind that is trained to a pattern of thinking, that demands the `how', the method, that wants to know the path that leads to righteousness, will never be righteous, because it is only concerned with success, with getting somewhere. Instead of pursuing money, it invests in so-called righteousness. The ends are fundamentally the same because the desire in each case is fundamentally the same.

So, is it possible to bring about, not a piecemeal change, but a total change, so that your mind, your heart, your whole being is alive and sensitive to everything about you - to the beauty of a cloud, to the breeze among the leaves, to the villager, to the woman who is tortured by bearing many children? What matters, surely, is to be aware of all that and to respond to it fully, not in terms of some social morality, which is not moral at all; it is merely a matter of convenience, of self-interest. Morality is the capacity to respond with the totality of one's being - and I mean that, it is not a rhetorical statement. Words in themselves have very little significance. What is important is to go beyond the words and to have feeling, because it is feeling that brings the totality of action. Do you understand, sirs? To have feeling is not the process of intellection which breeds all kinds of cunning reasons as to why you should or should not have feeling.

Please, since you have taken the trouble to come here, may I suggest that in listening to what I am saying you listen to the end, and not just take little bits here and there which happen to suit you; listen to the totality of it, and you will see that the whole thing hangs together. If you take a little part of it, you will have only the ashes which will create more misery, more sorrow, more confusion.

Also, listening itself is quite an art. Most of us never really listen, therefore we hear only partially. We hear the words that are spoken, but our minds are elsewhere; or our minds responding to the meaning of the words, and this immediate response prevents us from hearing that which lies beyond the words. So listening is an art; but if you can listen totally to what is being said, then in that very listening you will find there is a liberation, because such listening is unpremeditated, uncalculated; it is an action of truth because your whole mind is there, your total attention is being given. If you listen without interpreting, without remembering a quotation from some old book, or comparing all this with what you have read, then you will find that your own mind has undergone a really radical change.

Feeling without the paraphernalia of thought is really an extraordinary thing. I don't know if you have ever tried to feel and to ride on that feeling without controlling it, shaping it, without calling it bad or good, without giving a verbal significance to it. You will find that it is very difficult, astonishingly arduous. It is not a thing that comes easily, because we have cultivated the mind. To us the intellect is enormously important; we like to argue, to be able to counter one opinion with another which is erudite, very learned, or to quote some ancient book. We have trained our minds to a high degree of efficiency in self-interest, and so we have lost or have never had that feeling.

The immediate objection to this is, "If we have a feeling, don't we want to express it?" Do we? Or does the mind, clothing it in words, create the sensation which demands an expression? The mind looks beyond the feeling and wants to express it, fulfil it, or to curtail, suppress, hold it back. So the feeling is the real flame; and if you really free the mind from words, if you do not let the verbal significance, all the paraphernalia of our religious and moral instincts shape it, you will find that the feeling does not necessarily demand what you call fulfilment. It is the mind that demands fulfilment, the mind that has an idea about the feeling. Do you understand?

Let us say you pick up a leaf and look at it. The feeling it evokes is one thing, and your opinion about it, "How beautiful", "How green", "How withered", is another. But the word becomes more important, and the feeling goes away. Observe it, make an experiment with yourself and you will soon find out. Such a feeling does not demand a fulfilment. On the contrary, it has its own movement, unrelated to the verbal movement of thought which demands action.

So it is feeling that really brings a fundamental change in our thinking. And a fundamental change in our thinking is necessary, because it is not the outward pressure of economic environment that brings the change. Compulsion in any form does have an effect, but it never brings about a radical change; it only brings a modified perpetuation of things as they have been. What is needed is a radical change, not the superficial quoting of new words, the shouting of new political slogans, or the following of new masters, new leaders. We have tried all that, and it has not produced a different world.

So, if you are really concerned - as any intelligent and thoughtful person must be when he sees so much poverty, so much degradation and decay - with how to bring about, not a reform, but a fundamental revolution, then I think you will quickly realize that such a revolution is possible only when the mind is truly religious. But religion, the feeling of religion, is not a matter of going to a temple, attending a ceremony, repeating a lot of stupid words, ringing a bell, or putting flowers at the feet of an idol made by the hand or by the mind. Nor is it religion when you can repeat the Gita from beginning to end, or quote any other scripture. Religion is the feeling of sacredness; you understand? It is not your feeling for your guru, for the Masters, which is merely envy, profit, your concern with what you will get in return; and it is not the pursuit of a dogma or a belief, which is merely another form of security, self-interest. Religion is the feeling of that immensity which may be called sacred, and which has nothing to do with the Upanishads, the Gita, the Bible, with symbols, churches, Buddhas, Krishnas, or with me. It has nothing whatever to do with all that. It is because you have given your hearts and minds to things of that kind that you have not this feeling of sacredness which cunning reason cannot pervert, which no mind, however subtle, can destroy. Such feeling is like love, it has its own action. But the mind that thinks it must learn to love creates an action which is a perversion, and such action only brings more complexity, more misery, more confusion.

So religion is not to be found in any temple, in any book; it has nothing to do with putting ashes on your forehead, wearing the sacred thread, or belonging to any particular organization. Religion is something entirely different. There is definitely a state, not a fixed state but a movement which is beyond the measure of the mind, and the experiencing of that state is religion. Don't translate it as Samadhi, or some other mystical nonsense, and go off on that; but the actual experiencing of that state, which is creation, brings a new world into being, because then your own mind is washed clean of all the rubbish of the centuries. Then your mind is innocent, fresh, sensitive, alive to every problem, and is therefore capable of meeting it. But such a state of mind is not easily come by. You have to understand yourself, the operation of your own thinking.

Religious revolution is the beginning of a new religion - which cannot be organized, which cannot have a priesthood, or a president and a secretary, with property. That is not religion. The religion of which I am speaking is this feeling of sacredness, which is not sentimentality. It is a thing that comes through hard work, through piercing all the illusions, the shadows which the mind has created. That is why it is very important not to have an authority of any kind, either the Masters, or a guru, or the sacred books, or ideals and opinions, whether your own or those of another; because only then are you an individual, free to find out. As long as you depend on another to instruct you, you are lost, because you are caught in that instruction.

When the mind is completely denuded of the past, which is knowledge, you will find that a totally different kind of feeling arises, and the people who have that feeling don't belong to any religious organization, they have no country, they don't go near the politicians because they are not seeking power, position, nor are they trying to reform the world. A mind that is concerned with reformation is not a religious mind, it is not kind, compassionate. Such a mind may talk about compassion, goodness, but in the very act of reformation there is destruction, misery, because every reform needs further reform, for all reforms are inadequate. A total action is necessary, but the total action is not brought about by putting the little parts together. It comes when you discover for yourself as an individual human being, that is, when you respond, not as the collective, but as a real individual who has freed himself from society with its greed, envy, possessiveness, and all the rest of it. Only such an individual will know that extraordinary experience of something which is not measurable by the mind. It is not a static experience. It is not an experience to be remembered. What is remembered is not true; it has already joined the dead of yesterday. And without that experience of reality, do what you will, you can never have a sane, ordered, balanced, happy world. But you cannot seek that experience, it must come to you; and it will come to you only when you are not concerned about yourself.

In asking a question, what is important is not the answer but the question; because if I know how to look at the question, how to feel my way through it, I shall find, not the answer, but that the problem has ceased to exist. After all, a problem exists in my daily life only when I have not the capacity to meet it adequately. A good mechanic knows what is wrong with a motor immediately, it is not a problem to him; but to another man, who is not a good mechanic, it is a problem. Learning how to deal with a psychological problem is, however, entirely different, because the problem varies from moment to moment. It is never the same. You cannot learn a technique of how to deal with the problem, because the problem is constantly changing. I don't know if you have noticed it. To say, "I will find an answer and apply it to the problem", or, "Having established an end, I will make the problem fit the end", is such a nonsensical way of dealing with a problem. To deal with a problem, one has to have the capacity to look at it. That is all. And you cannot look at a problem if you are interested in the answer. You can look at a problem only if you give your total attention to it; and if you give your total attention to it, the problem is not.

These are not just words. You try it. It is really quite extraordinary how the mind can meet each problem afresh every time. The meeting of every challenge afresh is the renewal of life; but a mind that functions mechanically in the groove of tradition, of memory, cannot adequately meet the challenge, and such a mind only creates further problems. When the mind asks a question looking for an answer, it generally finds an answer, and the answer is invariably gratifying, comforting; so the mind is caught in its own pettiness.

Bearing all this in mind, let us consider these questions.

Question: Is friendship prevented by spreading justice, which is to organize society on an equitable basis? Can the organization of a society with equal opportunities for all lead to that sense of compassion which will ultimately put an end to governmental intermeddling in our personal lives?

Krishnamurti: The first part of the question is, "Is friendship prevented by spreading justice, which is to organize society on an equitable basis?" Obviously, friendship is destroyed if you depend for justice on the organization of an equitable society. Do you understand? If I rely on the so-called order that is enforced by an outside agency, by government, by law, I shall lose the sensitivity of being really friendly. That is fairly obvious, is it not? And that is exactly what is taking place. You carry on as a Brahmin, or whatever it is you are, secluding yourself from others, and the government comes and establishes justice. We are not discussing justice; for the moment that is not the issue.

When man depends on law to hold his greed within limits, invariably his heart withers. Sirs, that is what is happening throughout the world. Society is becoming more and more complex; and as we have to live together and have not got that sense of friendship, of love, compassion, which will find its own action, we are being forced to behave by governments, through legislation - which is called social justice. It is like a man and his wife being forced by law to live together. That you will understand easily, because it is part of your daily existence. But the other is not within your experience, it does not pinch your toe every day. You are not conscious of it, because your heart is withered.

So where there is no friendliness, the law has to come in. Do you understand, sirs? What is important is the sense of compassion, the feeling of it, not what it will do. You see, again you are thinking of action; and it is because you are thinking of action, and have not the feeling, that your action has to be controlled, shaped, bullied into line. But if you have that feeling of ordinary kindliness, ordinary gentleness, generosity, then you will find that, while legislation continues to exist for those who must be compelled, it does not exist for you, because you are acting from a different level, a different depth.

The second part of the question is, "Will the organization of a society with equal opportunities for all, lead to compassion?" Do you understand? Will organization, whether it be governmental organization from the centre down through the state and the city, or the organization of churches, with their authority, their sanctions, their priests, their sacred books and excommunications, their shaping of the mind around a belief in the name of love, and all the rest of it - will that organization lead to love, or will it destroy love, compassion? Please do follow this, sirs. It is your life, not mine. You are the person to answer.

When you have to join some society to be brotherly, or belong to some religion which maintains that you must love, and you depend on a priest for the interpretation of that extraordinary beauty - then will you love, will you know what compassion is? Will you be sensitive to the bird, to the tree, to the flower, to the child? Do think about it, sirs. Give your hearts to this question, do not just listen to the words and give your assent or dissent. The fading away of the power of the State is not possible, it is just an idea and therefore valueless, as long as our hearts are empty. On the contrary, governments are going to become more and more powerful, because they are run by men like you, men who want power, position, prestige. Like you, they are politicians, they are moved by expediency, they are after immediate results. The more there is the mechanical action of repression, inwardly and outwardly, the more the State will flourish, and organizations like those to which you now belong will continue to shape your mind; so your heart withers and there is no friendliness, no compassion between you and me.

When there is compassion, the feeling of it, it is not just for the poor villager, or for a hungry animal; the warmth of it exists wherever you are, whether in a slum or in a palace, and that feeling cannot be organized, nor can you come to it through any organization. No Masters can give it to you; if they say they can, it is a lie. Sirs, it is because you have followed for centuries the authority of the book, of the guru, of the State, the authority of the boss immediately above you, that you have lost all sensitivity to the beauty of life. To look with feeling at the morning sky, at a star over a cloud, to see the villager and give him something out of your heart, not out of your pocket - you have not lost all that, for you have never had it, and that is why you have organizations, and because of these organizations, you will continue not to have it. It is only when you totally break away from every organization and stand completely alone, that you will find out. Dependency is self-interest, and as long as you are dependent, there is no compassion. And I assure you, when compassion exists you don't have to organize society.

Question: Tradition, ideals and a certain sense of social morality used to keep mediocre people like me occupied in a righteous manner, but such things no longer have any meaning to most of us. How are we to break through our mediocrity?

Krishnamurti: Sir, what is a mediocre mind? Don't define it - you can go and look up that word in the dictionary - but watch your own mind and find out why it is just ordinary, mediocre. The questioner says that tradition, ideals and a certain sense of social morality used to keep mediocre people like him occupied in a righteous manner. It was not a righteous manner, it was a traditional manner. To do what society tells you is not righteous, it is merely acting like a gramophone, which has nothing to do with righteousness. Righteousness implies breaking away from greed, envy, ambition, power, and standing by yourself. Only then can you talk about righteousness. To act mechanically because you have been educated for centuries to think in a certain manner and to conform to a particular pattern, is not righteousness.

So, what is mediocrity? Don't you know? Don't you know what a mediocre mind is? Surely, it is very simple. A mind which is occupied is a mediocre mind. Whatever it is occupied with, whether it be with God, with drink, with sex, with power, it is a mediocre mind. Do you understand, sirs? A mind that practises virtue from morning till night is an occupied mind and is therefore mediocre because it is concerned with itself. You may say, "I am not concerned with myself, I am concerned about India; but that is merely transferring the identification from oneself to something else and being occupied with that. Any occupation - with a book, with a thought, with any one of a dozen things - indicates mediocrity, because a mind that is occupied is not a free mind. It is only the free mind that can give attention to something and let it go, which is entirely different from being occupied with it. An occupied mind can never be free. Examine your own mind and you will see how occupied it is with your interests, with your family, with your job; from morning till night there is never a moment when it is empty - which is not a blankness, nor a state of vegetation, of day-dreaming. That is not emptiness. When the mind is occupied it gets tired and vaguely thinks of something else, which is merely another form of occupation. I am not talking of that. The mind that is not occupied is extraordinarily alert, but not about something. It is in a state of complete attention; and the moment such a state exists, there is creation. Such a mind is no longer mediocre; whether it is living in a village or in the capital, it is no longer dominated by the dictates of society. But that requires an astonishingly arduous inquiry into oneself, not the complacency of little successes; it is the outcome of really hard work to find out why the mind is occupied.

Don't you see, sirs, you are occupied with other people's affairs because you are other people, you are not yourself. You don't know yourself. You are occupied with things that you have been told are important. But if you have a real feeling about something, you will see it is no longer occupation. A man who has deep feeling is not a mediocre person; but when he wants to put that feeling into words and makes a lot of fuss about it, when through those words he seeks fame, notoriety, money, or whatever it is, then he has become mediocre. So the inquiry into mediocrity is an inquiry into your own mind, and you will find that a mind that is occupied ever remains mediocre.

Question: You were born in a village of very poor environment, and you say that you have never studied the scriptures. What good karma has brought you to this liberation?

Krishnamurti: This is really a very interesting question, if you care to go into it, not because it is personal, but apart from the person altogether. What makes one see more, what makes one love, what makes one sensitive to the earth and the things of the earth? What makes one understand without words, without gesture? What makes one have a vision or an experience of something beyond the measure of the mind? That is the problem - not why one was born in a little village and not somewhere else, which is without significance. Do think it out with me. Why is it that one mind gets conditioned, shaped, bullied into some kind of action, and another does not? Is it a matter of karma, cause-effect? That is, you have done something good in the past, and the effect is that you are now a kind man, or a rich man, or a talented man - something or other. But is that so? Is cause-effect so clear-cut and defined as all that? Or does the cause, in producing the effect, become again the cause? Therefore there is no isolated cause-effect, but an unbroken series of causes and effects, which become further causes. Do you understand? Karma to most people is a process whereby you benefit from having done something good in the past, and pay for whatever evil you have done. But it is not so simple as that, is it? I know that is what the thoughtless say, those who are always climbing the ladder of success, never thinking of the bootblack, the villager. They are always thinking of karma in terms of achievement: because they are doing good now, in their next life they will have a bigger house, a better position, more money, they will be nearer Nirvana, and all the rest of it. Though it may be relevant, that surely is not the essential problem.

So what is the essential problem? If we can put the question rightly, we shall know by investigating it the true content of that question. Why is it that one individual has such an extraordinary sensitivity about him, and another has not? If you put that question through envy, you will never find the answer. Don't laugh it off, sirs. Think it out. Most of us ask through envy because we want the same thing, therefore our question is not the right one. So, how does it happen that one mind is conditioned and another is not? You can easily say it is karma, or ascribe the whole thing to fancy, imagination; but that is not the answer, surely. Why does one particular mind that is put under pressure, that goes through all the stresses and strains of life, see so much and come out differently? What makes it happen? Is it like some rare thing in botany, or in the field of sport? Or is it something which is possible to everybody? If it is a rare thine, it has no value. You can just as well put it in a museum, label and forget it - which is what we generally do, only we make the person into a saint or some silly thing like that. But if you really want to know, then you will have to find out for yourself whether there is a reality which can be understood immediately and not through the process of time.

There is a reality - please listen, sirs - there is a reality which, coming upon the mind, transforms it. You don't have to do a thing. It operates, it functions, it has a being of its own; but the mind must feel it, must know it and not speculate, not have all kinds of ideas about it. A mind that is seeking it will never find it; but there is that state, unquestionably. In saying this I am not speculating, nor am I stating it as an experience of yesterday. It is so. There is that state; and if you have it, you will find everything is possible, because that is creation, that is love, that is compassion. But you cannot come to it through any means, through any book, through any guru or organization. Do please realize that you cannot come to it through any means. No meditation will lead you to it. When you realize that no sanctions, no pattern of behaviour, no guru, no book, no organization, no authority can lead you to that state, you have already got it. Then you will find that the mind is merely an instrument of that creation. And it is that creation operating through the mind that will bring about a totally different world - not the planned world of the politician or the religio-social reformer - , because that creation is its own reality, its own eternity.

December 23, 1956


Madras 1956

Madras 4th Public Talk 23rd December 1956

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