Poona 2nd Public Talk 10th September 1958
Last Sunday we gave a general outline of what we are going to consider during these different assemblies, and I propose that I take up a certain point, a certain idea and work it out fully, go into it in detail. But once again I would like to point out how important it is that we should establish a communication between us. It is really a fact that I am not talking as to a large group but to each individual, because to me there is no mass, group, class, race, but only the individual - the individual who is capable of thinking independently and therefore of breaking down his conditioning, thus bringing about a creative state of mind. So I am talking to you as though individually and personally. And since you have taken the trouble to come to hear what I have to say, please listen carefully. Do not translate it in terms of your particular vernacular, either local or traditional. When I talk about the understanding of the self, do not translate it into some Sanskrit word, do not make it into something fantastic and say it is self-realization. I just mean the plain `understand yourself', which is infinitely more difficult than understanding the various theories which you have. If you do not want to listen, that is all right, but if you want to hear, please hear properly and you cannot hear properly if you begin to translate what is being said into your own terminology, into your own ways of thinking. Then you are really not understanding what the speaker has to say.
You have to find out what the speaker has to say before you accept, reject or criticize. First you have to find out what he means, what he intends. He may exaggerate, he may not give the right emphasis, but you have to take all that in by listening. Then you and I can establish a right relationship. I have something to say which I think will upset the apple-cart, the tradition, all those things that you know. But please do not begin, before you have found out what is actually being said, to build a defensive barrier. Keep your reactions to what I have to say until later when you will have the right to criticize, to discard, to accept or to go into it, as you will. But until then I suggest to you - the individual who is in this room sitting with me - that you do not quickly react. Listen in a friendly manner, but with a clear mind; not accepting or rejecting or taking what I say and opposing it by quoting some authority, because I do not believe in authorities. Truth is not come at by the process of authority. It must be discovered from moment to moment. It is not a thing that is permanent, enduring, continuous. It must be found each minute, each second. That requires a great deal of attention, a great alertness of mind, and you cannot understand it or allow it to come to you if you merely quote authorities, merely speculate as to whether there is or is not God. You must as an individual experience it, or rather, allow that thing to come to you. You cannot possibly go to it. Please let us be clear on this point, that you cannot by any process, through any discipline, through any form of meditation, go to truth, God, or whatever name you like to give it. It is much too vast, it cannot possibly be conceived of; no description will cover it, no book can hold it nor any word contain it. So you cannot by any devious method, by any sacrifice, any discipline or through any guru go to it. You must await, it will come to you, you cannot go to it. That is the first fundamental thing one has to understand, that not through any trick of the mind, not through any control, through any virtue, any compulsion, any form of suppression, can the mind possibly go to truth. All that the mind can do is to be quiet, - but not with the intention of receiving it. And that is one of the most difficult things of all because we think truth can be experienced right away through doing certain things. Truth is not to be bought any more than love can be bought. And if you and I understand that very clearly from the very beginning, what I have to say will have a very different, a very definite meaning. Otherwise you will be in a state of self-contradiction. You think there is Truth, God, a state which is permanent and you want it, so you practise, discipline, do various forms of exercise, but it cannot be bought. Any amount of devotion, sacrifice, knowledge, virtue cannot call it into being. The mind must be free, it must have no borders, no frontier, no limitation, no conditioning. The whole sense of acquisitiveness must come to an end but not in order to receive.
If one really understood that, one would see what an extraordinary thing this creativity of the mind is. Then you would really understand how to free the mind so that it is in a state of alert watchfulness, never asking, never seeking, never demanding.
As I have said, I am talking to the individual because only the individual can change, not the mass; only you can transform yourself; and so the individual matters infinitely. I know it is the fashion to talk about groups, the mass, the race as though the individual had no importance at all, but in any creative action it is the individual who matters. Any true action, any important decision, the search for freedom, the enquiry after truth, can only come from the individual who understands. That is why I am talking only to the individual. You will probably say: "What can I, the individual do?" Confronted with this enormous complication, the national and religious divisions, the problems of misery, starvation, war, unemployment, the rapid degradation and disintegration, what can one individual do about it all? Nothing. The individual cannot tackle the mountain outside, but the individual can set a new current of thought going which will create a different series of actions. He cannot do anything about worldwide conditions because historically events must take their own brutal, cruel, indifferent course. But if there were half-a-dozen people who could think completely about the whole problem, they would set going a different attitude and action altogether, and that is why the individual is so important. But if he wants to reform this enormous confusion, this mountain of disintegration, he can do very little; indeed, as is being shown, he can have no effect on it at all, but if any one of us is truly individual in the sense that he is trying to understand the whole process of his mind, then he will be a creative entity, a free person, unconditioned, capable of pursuing truth for itself and not for a result.
So, as I have said, that reality of which the mind cannot possibly conceive, which it cannot possibly speculate upon or reduce to words, that truth must come to you, the individual; you cannot go to it. After all, it is fairly obvious, is it not?, that the individual mind, which is also the collective mind is narrow, petty, brutal, ugly, selfish, arrogant. How can such a mind invite the Unknown? For whatever it thinks must be petty, small - even as its Gods are. Your God is the invention of the mind. You may put a garment round it but its garments are yours; it is your God but it is not Truth, it is not Reality. Do what you will, Reality cannot be invited; it must come to you. So what is one to do? How is one to experience that something which is not merely created by the mind? That is only possible when the mind begins to understand its own process, its own ways. I am using the word `process' not in the sense of a means to an end. Generally we mean by that word `process' that if you do certain things there will be a result, - if you put oil in the machine it will run properly; if you follow certain disciplines, make sacrifices, you will get something in return. I am not using the word in that sense at all. I am using the word `process' as meaning the operation of the mind as it works, not as it searches for a result.
So the mind must come to the state when it is free from all effort, and I want to discuss this evening the whole problem of effort and conflict and whether there is a state which the mind can reach without conflict in order to arrive at the truth. For it is only when the mind ceases to be in self-contradiction and therefore ceases to be in conflict that it is capable of looking and of understanding. It is fairly clear that a mind which is in conflict can never understand anything, and so we want to find out why the mind is in a state of self-contradiction. Surely, if we can understand the conflict within the mind itself we shall go very far because it will reveal why there is this contradiction within oneself. If we can go slowly, step by step, into that question and if you really follow it, not oppose it then perhaps you will come to a state of mind in which there is no conflict at all. But you cannot accept my words, for it means that you also must work, not merely listen, that you must become aware of the operation of your own mind. I am only explaining, but it is for you to watch your own mind in operation.
So first of all, why is there conflict in our lives? We generally take it for granted that it must be so, that it is inevitable, that man is born in conflict; and we try to find ways and means to overcome that conflict. In relationships, in political or in any other sphere, there is a conflict within, which brings about self-contradiction; outwardly also there is the contradiction between what we feel we should be and what we are. I want to find out why this contradiction exists. I do not accept that it is natural, inevitable, that there is no solution for it and so we must escape from it. That is immature thinking. I want to understand it, and so I will not escape from it, dodge it, or go to a guru or a cinema. To me, turning to a book, going to a guru or going into deep meditation when you are in conflict are all the same as taking to drink. But I want to understand if one can remove this inward contradiction. If that is clear we can proceed from there, and please do not say at the end: "Why did you not talk about birth control", or: "I came here to find out what religion is, if there is a God". A contradictory mind cannot find anything whatsoever of the truth. Just think of it, Sirs, how can you, being in contradiction, know anything which is not contradictory? How can you possibly know that state which has no opposites, no divisions, which is the Immeasurable? This question you will answer for yourself, and find the truth of it, only when you find out if you can eliminate contradiction within yourself; and that is essential. What you are seeking at present is not the elimination of contradiction but you are seeking peace for yourself, some state in which the mind will not be disturbed at all. It is like sitting on a volcano and saying: "Let me have peace". There is no meaning to it. So I say: Let us examine what is in the volcano, let it come out, the ugly, the bestial, the loveliness, everything, - let it come up and let me look at it, which means that the mind must have no fear. So let us go into it.
Now why is there this state of contradiction in us? Let us begin at the lowest level. I want money, and also I do not want money because I think that it is good to be poor. I am not talking of the man who whole-heartedly says: "I want to be rich" - and goes after it; to him there is no contradiction. He is completely full of energy because he is aggressive, brutal, ruthless, corrupt, violent, he wants money, he wants position; so there is no conflict within. In Hitler, Krushchev and all the big ones of the world there is no consciousness of contradiction because they want this thing and go after it, by right means or crooked. We would like to be in that position also but unfortunately we are not. So we are in contradiction and so we want a state of mind which will be permanently peaceful, which will have no contradiction. Or take the man who is somewhat insane. To him there is no conflict because he simply says: "I am God", or "I am Napoleon", or he identifies himself with some other belief and so there is no sense of contradiction. He is what he imagines, and being that, he is full of energy. Have you not noticed such people? They will travel up and down the land, doing this and doing that, because they are completely taken up with an idea, they are completely absorbed. And we also would like to be in that state. So we pursue various ideas until we find something which will suit us, and there we stop. So we must ask again: Why is there in us this contradiction? Contradiction is conflict, is it not? If I am greedy and I do not want to be greedy, there is immediately a state of contradiction in me which brings a conflict; but if I am completely greedy there is no conflict. Or if I am completely non-greedy, there is no conflict. But why is there this contradiction which, if we are intelligent, if our mind is alert, becomes ever stronger and stronger and is not easily to be got rid of? The stronger, the more active, the more passionate one is, the more energetic one becomes and the contradiction becomes ever greater until having established a deep, lasting contradiction we try to escape from it by saying that life is a process of disintegration, disillusionment, and we philosophize indefinitely. Whereas I think this contradiction can be totally removed, not partly but totally. When you love something, when you are interested in something, there is no effort in the sense of working at it. For most of us work is effort; going to the office, doing various things you do not want to do, disciplining yourself, means work which means effort. But if you can go beyond the words we are using to understand this contradiction, you will find a state of being without effort.
Let us look at violence and non-violence. We are violent and we say we must not be violent. The non-violence is the ideal, it is the projection of the mind which feels itself to be violent. So you make non-violence into an ideal and then proceed to try to transform violence into that ideal. But the non-violence has no reality! No ideal has any reality, obviously. You do not easily agree with me at first because it is very difficult to eject ideas, ideals from the mind, which means that your mind is so conditioned by ideals that a new idea cannot be received by it. You are as mesmerized by the ideal as the lunatic by his idea. I am not insulting you, but I am just saying how difficult it is for a mind which thinks in habits to consider a new idea. We can see very clearly how ideals are created. I am something - violent, greedy or what you will - , and I want to transform that into the so-called ideal, the opposite. So I create the opposite ideal to what I actually am and I begin to have an infinite variety of conflicts. I am this and I must be that; that is the source of conflict. The moment the mind says: "I am not but I must be", you have begun the whole process of conflict.
Most of you will think that if you do not make an effort you will go to seed, vegetate, and that if there were no pressure, conflict, compulsion you would become like a cow. Therefore you bring up your children - as does society, the whole world - geared to the effort to become something, which involves this perpetual movement of conflict. So I can see, can I not?, that there must be conflict so long as there is an ideal, and that so long as the mind is concerned with the future, with what should be, it is not concerned with what is. It is fairly obvious that one cannot have a divided mind, part of the mind thinking of non-violence and the other part occupied with violence. Therefore you see that so long as there is any kind of ideal in the mind there must be a state of contradiction. This does not mean that you can merely accept what is, and just stagnate. For, here begins the real revolution, if you can put away all your ideals; and how difficult that is! You have been brought up with ideals. All the books, all the saints, the professors, the erudite people, everyone has said that you must have ideals, and that thought has become a habit. It is purely a habit. You are holding on to so many lovely ideals, and when someone comes along and tells you how absurd these ideals are, how they have no reality at all, then, for the mind to really see that ideals have no factual reality, that is to know the truth. Truth is not something away over the hills and mountains. It is the perception of the true in the simple things, and if you see the truth of what we have been saying now, you will break the habit.
But for centuries we have been brought up on ideals, the ideal that you must become something, either the executive, the chief business man or the Prime Minister; and if you cannot be any of these then you turn towards becoming a saint. You are always wanting to become something, either in this world or in the so-called spiritual world. So you have ideals for here and ideals for there. And therefore you have set up a vast field of conflict, which is habit. It has become such a strong, impregnable habit, and you have not thought it out. It is a very difficult habit to break because you are fearful of what is going to happen. Your relationship with people will change; you will no longer easily accept everything that everybody has said. You will begin to question. You might lose your job. So fear steps in and dictates. Fear says: Do not give up these things because what is going to happen then? Your wife believes in ideals and if you give them up there are going to be perpetual quarrels in the house. Who are you to go against the whole authority which has been set up? What right have you to do so? So society smothers you. And unconsciously you are frightened, and you say: "Please, I will only accept these ideals verbally, as I know they have no meaning." But you have not solved the problem of conflict.
Conflict arises, does it not?, because man has never tackled the problem of what is, irrespective of what should be. To understand what is, requires a great deal of attention, intense search, intense enquiry; but to follow an ideal is very easy - and it does not mean a thing. But if you say: "I am violent and I am going to disregard all the idealistic nonsense about non-violence and understand the violence", your position is clear. Then the question arises, since you are free of the ideal, will you no longer seek to change what is? Previously the ideal acted as a lever with which you sought to change what is. You thought the idea of non-violence acted as an influence by which you could get rid of violence. That is, having created contradiction through the ideal, we hope, through conflict, to get rid of violence. But we have never succeeded in getting rid of violence. It goes on with brutality, outwardly or suppressed, and produces its own results. So can I be left only with violence, not holding on to its opposite also? If so, I have removed one of the causes of conflict, perhaps the major cause.
But to be free of ideals is most difficult, for you may remove them outwardly but still have inward ideals - the so-called inward experience which tells you what to do. You may reject outward authority, and fairly intelligent people have done that, but inwardly they still want to be something, not only the boss of the town or the boss of the school but they also want to be spiritual, to achieve a state of mind which is at perfect peace. But the desire to be at peace indicates that you are not at peace, so you have to tackle what is actual. So you see the complex nature of contradiction! Though you may consciously say how absurd these ideals are, they are embedded in the unconscious. Your whole race is steeped in ideals; it is not a matter of just removing a few silly ones, but you have to understand the whole process of the mind.
One of the difficulties for most of us is that we do not seem to be able to see the whole. We only see the part. Do not at once say: "How am I to see the whole?" That is not the problem. The problem is that our minds are so small that we do not seem able to take in the whole at one glance. We cannot see the whole mountain, the whole hill because our minds being small, being petty, are occupied with details, and a collection of details does not make the whole. Please ask yourself why your mind does not receive the truth totally free of the falseness of the whole process of idealization. Must we go through the removal of each ideal, one by one? This would be an enormous task, would it not? Day after day, struggling, tearing them out; it would take years, surely, to go step by step taking one ideal after another and discarding it. So can I not see the whole simple truth that ideals are totally unnecessary? Can I not see the immense significance of it in a flash, and let that truth which I have seen operate?
The truth that a cobra bites and you might die from it, you all know. That is a fact. So what do you do? When you go out into the woods and walk at night you are naturally very careful all the time. You do not have to say: "I must think about cobras". The fear of being bitten is operating in you. Or in your bathroom you may have m bottle marked poison. The liquid is poisonous and that is the fact. And so, without thinking, your mind is always alert even in the dark and you do not take the bottle and drink. So you know the truth that the poison in the cobra and the poison in the bottle are dangerous and your mind is alert to it, not just for one moment but all the time. Similarly if you can see the truth that ideals have no reality, see it right through, completely, then the perception of the total truth that ideals have no value will begin to operate of itself. You do not have to operate. It will operate.
If you see the truth of that then you do not have to make an effort to break the ideals one by one. The truth will do it. So the point I want to go into is: can you not see the totality of the truth of something immediately, as you see the truth that a cobra is poisonous? If you see the truth that conflict must cease, and that conflict is brought about through this division of what I should be and what I am, then you do not have to do a thing. Your conscious mind cannot deal with the imponderable unconscious, but the truth that you have seen will do so. Now has this happened to you? That is, do you see the truth of all this; not all the implications of it, because that is merely a matter of exploration and time. If you feel the truth of it then for the moment let us leave it aside and tackle the problem of what is, because our whole endeavour is to eliminate self-contradiction.
With most people, the more tension there is in contradiction the more active they are. There is tension in contradiction, is there not? I am violent and I must not be violent; that opposition creates a tension, does it not?, and from that tension you act - write a book, or try to do something about it. That is our entire activity at present. You say in India that you are a non-violent race. God knows what it means! For you are preparing an army and spending 37% of your money on it, I was told. And look what it is doing to you, not only to the poor people but right through the race. You say one thing and do quite the opposite, why? Because, you say, if we had no army Pakistan would attack, and Pakistan says the same nonsense, and so you keep up this game. Not only in India but throughout the world it is the same contradiction - that we are all kind, loving people and preparing for war! So this nation, this race, the group, the family, the individual is in a state of contradiction, and the more intense the contradiction the greater the tension, and the greater the tension the greater the activity. The activity takes different forms, from writing a book to becoming a hermit. So each one of us is somewhat schizophrenic, in a state of contradiction. And not knowing how to get away from it we turn to religion, or to drugs, or chase women, or go to the temple - any form of activity which takes us away from what is. We reform the village but we never tackle this fundamental thing.
So I want to tackle what is, because if I do not, I see that I will be ever in contradiction. A man at peace within himself needs no Gods because then he can go very deeply into himself, and very far, where frontiers of recognition have completely stopped; and the frontiers of recognition must end before the mind can receive that which is eternal. Do not just agree, because the fact is that it is one of the most difficult things to do and requires tremendous work on yourself. That work is not effort. It becomes an effort, a conflict, a contradiction only when you still want to become something.
So I want to examine what is, which is that I am greedy, I am violent. I am examining that and I see that there must be no contradictory approach to it. I must look at what I am and understand it, but not in relation to what should be. Can I do that? Again you will find that it is one of the most difficult things to do - to examine what is without judgement, without comparison, without acceptance, without condemnation, because the moment you condemn you enter the field of contradiction. So can you and I look at violence without introducing the element which creates contradiction, the element of either acceptance or denial. So can I look at my violence? What is the state of the mind that, having eliminated contradiction, looks at that violence? I am left only with that which is actual, am I not?, with the simple fact that I am violent, greedy or sexual. Can I look at it?
What is the state of the mind that looks at a fact? Have you ever really looked at any fact - a woman, a man, a child, a flower, a sunset? What do you do when you look? You are thinking of something else, are you not? You say, that is a handsome man and I must not look at him, or that is a beautiful woman and I wish she were my wife. You never look without a reaction. You look at a sunset and merely say how lovely it is or that it is not as beautiful as it was yesterday. So you have never looked at it. Your memory of yesterday destroys the perception of what is, today. How extraordinarily difficult it is for us to look at something clearly, openly, simply! Now let us look at another fact. Why are you listening to me? You are listening to me, obviously, because I have a reputation. You think I can do something for you. You think you must listen to me either because intellectually it amuses you or for various reasons and so you are not actually listening. What is actually happening is, that since what I say contradicts what you think, you do not listen. All you are listening to is what you think you know about me - and you do not really know a thing! What is important is not to know about me but to really follow what is being said, to find out if it has any basis, any reality, any sense or whether it is nonsense, false. That is the only important thing, and what you think about me personally is totally irrelevant.
So I ask, have you ever looked at a fact? Please, when you go home really try it, just for fun. If you have a flower in your room look at it, and see what the mind does; see whether the mind can look at it, or whether it immediately says: it is a rose, or it has faded, and so on. You can, perhaps, look at a flower, at your wife or child but it is much more difficult to look at yourself, totally, to watch yourself without introducing the factor of contradiction or acceptance. Can I just look at my violence without any form of acceptance or denial? You will see if you try, how extraordinarily difficult it is, because the habit comes in and says all kinds of things. To look at a fact, whether a political fact, a religious fact or the fact of starvation, requires attention, not a state of contradiction. There can be no attention if there is contradiction.
There is starvation in many parts of the world, perhaps not in America, Europe or Russia, but all over Asia there is. Everybody talks about it and nothing happens. Why? The Communists, the socialists, the reformers and the big politicians they all talk about it, all the world talks and yet nothing happens. The fact is that there is starvation, and another fact is that each group wants the solution of starvation to be according to its own system and says: My system is better than yours. Because there are national divisions, the manipulation of power politics, this goes on and on. So the fact is that nobody wants to tackle the problem of starvation. They merely want to act in their own way. These are all facts. So can you find out how the mind looks at a fact? Your approach to the fact is far more important than the fact itself because if you approach it rightly the fact undergoes a tremendous change.
I think we had better stop now, but we will take this up again next time because there is much more involved in this; this is only the A B C and nothing else. And when you ask me to go on and say that you are not tired, I say that you should be tired. If you have been merely accepting what I say, you have not been thinking. It is not a problem to you, it is not operating in you, and that is exactly the position. You listen, but you will tell your child to remember the ideals, and the contradictory process will go on. So it really means nothing to you; if it meant something you would be exhausted. Because this all means a complete revolution.
Next time I am going into the whole question of fear, habit and tradition, for all these are the factors which prevent you from doing something about the fact. When the mind is capable of knowing why it cannot look at the fact and frees itself from the accumulated contradictions and conditionings, then the fact undergoes a tremendous change. Then there is no fact. Then you will see that violence has completely gone, been completely wiped away. Then the mind, being free, is no longer in contradiction and therefore no longer in a state of effort, no longer trying to be something.
September 10, 1958
Poona 2nd Public Talk 10th September 1958
Texts and talks of Jiddu Krishnamurti. Krishnamurti quotes. Books about
J Krishnamurti. Philosophy.