Banaras 2nd Public Talk 26th January 1960
Perhaps this morning, after I have talked a little, it might be worth while to discuss what I have talked about. By discussion I mean that you and I should think the problem out together, that we should inquire, not only verbally, but see how far our minds can penetrate into the problem. To discuss in that what might be more worth while than merely to listen - though listening is an extraordinary thing in itself. But very few of us listen. We are surrounded by our own words, by our own explanations, by our own experiences, and we scarcely if ever listen to another to find out what he really thinks. After I have talked a little, perhaps we could go into this question more intimately and deeply through exchanging thoughts and verbally clearing the field, as it were.
What I want to talk about this morning is a problem which I think confronts not only those of us who are here, but also the rest of the world. We are all concerned with the problem of working together, co-operation, getting things done together. This problem of working together has been approached in various ways, has it not? coercively, compulsively and persuasively. Working together has become important not only in society, in commercial production, but also ideologically - which I am not sure is working together at all. The whole question of working together has many implications, and everyone who is concerned with a radical change in society, is also concerned,surely, this question. We generally work together through fear of punishment, or through hope of reward, or through the desire to gain position, prestige, power, do we not?
Please, may I suggest that we do not merely listen to the words, but actually apply to ourselves what is being said.
We sometimes work together because we are influenced intellectually, emotionally, by a cunning person, or by one who has assumed spiritual authority as a saint, as a guru, and so on. That is one way of bringing about our so-called working together. Another is the political way. A certain piece of work has to be done, a party is formed opposing another party with a different plan, and there is a campaign for the getting of votes. In that is implied a great deal of cunning, scheming, chicanery, an enormous amount of propaganda and persuasion.
We are considering the problem, so please follow this a little bit closely.
Then there is the working together for an idea, for a belief, which may be social or so-called spiritual. An idea is put forward by someone, and we co-operate with that person because we think the idea is excellent, worth while, or significant. That is also called working together. So we work together for an idea, through persuasion, through compulsion, through fear of punishment or hope of reward, and that is all we know. That is how we come together to do something. You may say that our working together is not so brutal and superficial, that we work together for love of the country, love of an idea, love of the poor. Surely, when there is love, there is no sense of compulsion or persuasion, is there? There is no vote-getting, no forming of parties, no sense of the mine and the yours.
To work together for something which is not a self-projected idea, which is not profitable for oneself, for one's family or relations, and so on - such working together has quite a different significance. But before we can find out what it is to work together in that way, surely we must eliminate in ourselves the various forms of compulsion.
Am I capable of working with others in an endeavour which is not based on authority, either mine, or yours, or his, and in which there is no personal profit, however subtle? A true working together comes about, surely, only when you and I both understand the problem, really understand it; for it is this very understanding that creates the necessity of working together. Our co-operation is then not self-imposed, it is not the outcome of so-called tolerance, or of any form of persuasion. The moment you and I both see that a certain form of education must be brought about, there is no `you' and no `I: what is important is the new education. When you and I both see that starvation must be rooted out, when we see the absolute necessity of it, not merely intellectually, but when we feel it deeply, totally, with a great deal of affection, sympathy, love, then in that state of understanding, surely, you and I work together to eliminate starvation. But if you have a pet system by which to wipe out starvation, and I have another, then the system becomes all-important; so you gather votes, and I gather votes, and we fight each other, dissipating our creative thought and energy in an endless struggle to bring about a system that will solve the problem.
Do please examine this. Though it is not possible to go into many details, one can see that working together implies a great deal. There can be a true working together in every department of life - political, social, economic, religious, educational - only when we free our minds from every form of fear, from every form of influence and reward; and for most of us this is a very difficult thing to do, because we want something at the end of it. We want a position, a certain prestige, or we think, "This is the right thing to do", and we work, sweat for it, gathering votes and pushing others aside; so there is contention, conflict. And to me, every form of conflict, at whatever level of our existence, is a most destructive, deteriorating factor in life.
So, it seems to me that the solution to this problem of working together lies in bringing about a radical change in ourselves - a change which is not the result of any form of influence. Sirs, we do change through persuasion, do we not? It may be the Communist form of persuasion, or the Socialist form of persuasion, or the Democratic form of persuasion, or the persuasion of the mother saying, "Do this for me; whichever it is, we do change a little. I wonder if you have ever looked at your own lives to see whether you have changed at all? If you have changed, how has this change in your life been brought about? Has it been through persuasion, through compulsion, through a motive in some form? Or has the change come about without any motive? Surely, a change brought about through a motive, is really no change at all, is it?
Look, sirs, revolution is obviously necessary: revolution in the school, in society, in religion. Things must be broken up, however uncomfortable it may be; they cannot go on as they are. Where a few privileged people rule; where tradition, dogmatism and stupidity reign; where the few have educational and other advantages which the many have not; where there is immense poverty, starvation, degradation, and at the same time extraordinary prosperity, things cannot remain as they are. Something must break - and it is breaking, however much you may like your present mode of existence and want it to continue. So, revolution - economic, social, religious - there must be. But unfortunately, most people resist it. The bank clerk, the family man who has a house, a little property, the man in a position of power - everybody resists change, in little things and in big things. Have you not noticed this in your own lives? When you have to eat a different kind of food, something which is not the highly-spiced food you are used to, your body rebels. That also is a form of the desire not to change.
Please search your own minds, not my speech. Don't merely listen to a talk. It is a clear morning; there is the lovely river, the beautiful sky. It is much better to look at all those things than be crowded in this room with people who have no intention of examining them- selves. It is much better to enjoy life, to feel the richness of the earth, to be aware of poverty, to see the river flowing by, than to sit here and speculate. Speculation is the most stupid form of intellectual amusement.
As I was saying, we always resist change; but change is going to take place, whether we like it or not. Those who rule and resist will be broken the moment the thing they have built up begins to crack; whereas the wise man knows that change is inevitable, and yields in himself when revolution is shattering the things he has been building. But such people are few.
So the problem is how to bring about a radical change in ourselves - which is so obviously necessary - without persuasion. If you are persuaded to change, you are merely reacting to a certain form of compulsion, whether it is the Indian form, or the Communist form or the Western form; and to change through any form of compulsion, is no change at all. If you change because you are offered a reward, or because you are threatened, no real change has taken place. You have merely conformed to another pattern. Revolution which is a reaction to what has been, is not a revolution, because it merely establishes a new pattern, which is a modified form of the old; that is all. Am I talking too fast?
One sees that, if there is to be a real change in the world, there must first be a radical transformation in the quality of the mind itself; because people change very easily from the totalitarian to the democratic state, or from democracy to totalitarianism, whether it be the Nazi kind or the Communist kind. Give them more food, offer them better opportunities for earning a livelihood, excite them in the stupidities of nationalism, and they will all `change', one way or the other. But one sees that any such change is only a reaction, and a mind that merely reacts can again be influenced to change in another direction: today I am a Communist, and if that does not pay, I become a Socialist, or a Capitalist, and so on. Seeing this process going on throughout the world, one asks oneself what it all means. Where is the change to take place? Is change merely a matter of dropping one pattern and conforming to another? Do you see the problem, sirs?
What is implied in the word `change'? Being greedy, I want to change the moment greed is painful; but I don't want to change as long as I find a great deal of pleasure in greed. So when I try to get rid of greed, I am changing with a motive; my desire to change is a reaction, and that reaction can again be modified. I do not know if you are following all this.
Can there be a change, a total revolution - not an economic revolution, or a social revolution, or a religious revolution, which are all superficial, but an inward revolution which is total, in which my whole consciousness, my whole being is shattered, and a new thing comes up? You see, sirs, change for most of us is a modified continuity of the past, and that is no change at all. Seeing this difficulty, and realizing how complex is this whole process of revolution, change, one inevitably asks: is it possible to change at all within the field of consciousness?
Is this all too difficult, sirs?
Questioner: May I speak?
Krishnamurti: Just a moment. I have not yet finished what I want to say. First see the problem, Sir. If one really goes into it, one sees it to be a problem of thought versus being. For most of us, thought is a means to change. Through thought we hope to change, through ideas we hope to transform ourselves. I persuade you, through ideas, to drop your nationalism, to take up a particular form of religious practice, or what you will. I manage to persuade you because I am very clever; I show you the absurdity of this or that, and you are persuaded by my intensity, by my words, and you change - or at least you think you have changed.
Now, what has actually taken place in that process? You have changed your ideas, you have changed your thought; but thought is always conditioned. Whether it is the thought of Jesus, Buddha, X, Y, or Z, it is still thought, and therefore one thought can be in opposition to another thought; and when there is opposition, a conflict between two thoughts, the result is a modified continuity of thought. In other words, the change is still within the field of thought; and change within the field of thought is no change at all. One idea or set of ideas has merely been substituted for another.
Seeing this whole process, is it possible to leave thought and bring about a change outside the field of thought? All consciousness, surely, whether it is of the past, the present, or the future, is within the field of thought; and any change within that field, which sets the boundaries of the mind, is no real change. A radical change can take place only outside the field of thought, not within it; and the mind can leave the field only when it sees the confines, the boundaries of the field, and realizes that any change within the field is no change at all. This is real meditation. To go into it requires a great deal of work, thought, energy - the energy which we now dissipate on practices of various kinds, which are all so childish. Really to investigate the field of thought, and to see the limitations of consciousness, is of the utmost importance. After all, these limitations are the result of effort, of contradictions, of conflicts and the desire to change. It is seeing this limited field totally, understanding it completely, that the radical change of which I am talking comes about - not through any form of persuasion, compulsion, or authoritative influence; and I think this is the only way to function, to live and work together. Yes, sir?
Questioner: I feel that the changes you are talking about - social, economic and political - are all the expressions of one unifying principle.
Krishnamurti: That is a theory.
Questioner: I feel there is a unifying principle working in the world, in the whole of creation.
Krishnamurti: It may be. I don't know.
Questioner: Changes will come, and nobody can resist them.
Krishnamurti: Are we not resisting changes, each one of us? To see that, is what matters. If we were not resisting change, we would not talk about a unifying principle. Then life would be a constant revolution.
Questioner: The unifying principle rests on the revolution.
Krishnamurti: Why bring the term `unifying principle' into this problem at all?
Questioner: If changes are inevitable, what makes us resist them?
Krishnamurti: That is very simple to answer. The man who has a good position - politically, economically, in the school, or anywhere else - resists changes. He says, "For God's sake, keep things as they are". The people in authority resist any change, because they do not want to be disturbed. Right through life it is the same, from the prime minister to the small-town politician. The man who is discontented with things as they are - it is he who wants to find out about change. Being disturbed, dissatisfied in himself, he accepts a particular form of change which satisfies him; and once established in that habit, he also does not want to be disturbed.
Questioner: Dissatisfied people can very easily be caught in any kind of change which is made to appear the opposite of what they dislike.
Krishnamurti: Yes, sir, that is what we were saying.
Questioner: You say that real change must be outside the field of thought. But must we not first know all the possible facts that can be collected by the mind about something, and then let that information influence us until our feelings tell us that it is right?
Krishnamurti: I don't quite see how it can work that way. You are saying that through analysis and deduction one must collect information, see the importance of this collected information, transform it into feeling, and then act from that feeling. That is what most of us do, consciously or unconsciously. I say that a certain political or religious way of living is right. How do I know? Because I have read about it, people and my own experience have persuaded me, and I feel it is worth while, that it will improve the lot of man; so I commit myself to the party, and I am against other parties. That is what most of us do all the time. Now, in engendering that feeling, surely what is implied is a sense of judgment based on experience, is it not? And experience is obviously conditioned. My experience as a Communist, as a Democrat, or what you will, is the outcome of various influences, persuasions, compulsions, fears, rewards. From that conditioning there is feeling, and I act.
Questioner: I think feeling is more or less unconscious. We should use our conscious thoughts to influence our unconscious feeling, which is the unconscious mind.
Krishnamurti: Is there a real division between the conscious and the unconscious, or is it an unnatural division created by our social, environmental influences? The conscious mind is the mind that has learnt, that has acquired knowledge; it is a superficial collector of information. It goes to the office every day, does certain routine things, and so on. Then there is the unconscious; and can the conscious mind influence the unconscious? If you really examine it, you will see that it is the unconscious that is influencing the conscious mind fortunately or unfortunately; there is an interplay between the two all the time. But to discuss this question of the conscious and the unconscious requires a great deal of penetration and time. We would have to start right at the beginning, not at the end of the hour. Perhaps we can do it another time.
Questioner: How is one to bring about a change outside the field of consciousness?
Questioner: That is possible only when we can forget the division between you and me.
Krishnamurti: I do not think you have listened at all. A gentleman asks how to change outside the field of consciousness. He wants to know what the method is, how to do it. You know, it is one of the odd things about us that we are so slavish to methods - as though any method is going to solve our human problems. Sir, there is a method for putting something together. If I want to be a mechanic, I learn how to deal with mechanical things. That is very simple. I go to school and they teach me the method. But we are not talking of mechanical things, and therefore there is no method. You have to think it out. Sir, do look at it this way, if I may suggest: Is there a method by which to love people?
Questioner: No. Krishnamurti: Why do you say no to that question, and yet ask for a method to change?
Questioner: Isn't it true that we think of change as something tangible, something that can be felt, experienced?
Krishnamurti: Think it out, sir, don't ask me. The problem is so vast. You cannot say, "Tell me what is the method to change", it has no meaning. If you are concerned about change, not just theoretically so that you go back home and continue in the old way, but if you see the necessity of it and realize that you have got to change, then this problem arises: the problem of persuasion, influence, punishment, reward, and your own reactions of which you are not aware; so it is meaningless to get up and say, "Please tell me in a few minutes all about change outside the field of consciousness".
What is a man to do who is really interested in this question? - and human beings must be vitally interested in it, because it is the problem throughout the world. It is the problem, not just of this school, or of the man round the corner, but of humanity itself. Can a change be brought about in the quality of the mind, which is now becoming so mechanical, slavish? If this is a vital problem to you and me, we won't casually ask for a method; we will discuss factually, not theoretically. I feel all theoretical discussion is valueless, hot air, a waste of time. We will discuss factually if we really see the necessity of a fundamental change. I see that I am greedy, and I want to know if it is possible to be free of greed; I see that I am envious, and I want to find out if I can break that envy. I am not looking for a method, but I say, "Let me examine the problem of envy". If a man who is in a position of power says, "Look, I am a great man; I like being in this position, and don't disturb me", then for him there is no problem. I go away from such a man; I don't play up to him, because I want nothing from him. But as ordinary human beings, you and I are concerned with this problem. It is not my problem, which I am thrusting on you; it is your problem. If you sit there and say, "Tell me all about it", then you and I have no relationship. But if a few of us can think it over together, then that is a totally different thing.
Questioner: There is a staircase, and we reach the roof by its means. We do not know what type of roof it is until we get there. Can we say that the roof is something external to the staircase? Will there be a roof if there, is no staircase?
Krishnamurti: Sir, the house is the floor, the walls, the windows, the roof and the staircase. You cannot separate the staircase or the roof from the house. There is no such thing as a roof hanging without the walls. The house is a total thing. Now, any change within the house - going from one room to another, decorating each room in a different way, and so on - is a limited change; it is, conditioned, narrow. It is obviously not freedom. So, can there be a total change, a change which is not within the house? Do you say that such a change is impossible, that any change is always within the house? Do you say it is nonsense to talk about a change outside the house? What is it that you think? Is all change within the house, or is it possible to bring about a change outside - or rather, not a change, but a way of action? After all, change means action - a way of action which is not confined to the house.
Look, sir: let us say I am a Hindu, and I see how stupid, squalid, ugly it all is, so I join Catholicism. That is an action, is it not? And I think I have changed. But my `change' is still within the house, within the cage, it is still within the field of human misery. I have only exchanged one state of slavery for another. Seeing this fact, I say, "Is it possible to act without this limitation, without this house, without Hinduism, Catholicism, or any other system? Vast numbers of people, including the Catholics and the Communists, say it is not possible. That may be so; but then you have to admit that the mind is everlastingly a slave.
Questioner: You say the change from Hinduism to Catholicism is no change. But when we climb the staircase, we are at a different level.
Krishnamurti: In other words, you are saying that through the gradual process of going step by step up the staircase, you reach the roof, where you have a different outlook on life. In saying this, you are inviting time, are you not? When you go step by step up the ladder till you reach the roof, that process, from the first step to the last, implies gradualness; the distance from one point to another must be traversed, which means time, does it not? All this is still within the field of thought, within the field of the mind.
Questioner: A man going up the stairs has not seen the roof, he does not know what the roof is like until the last step, and then it is a spontaneous thing.
Krishnamurti: Similes are most misleading, and that is why one hesitates to use them. Let us not get lost in similes and examples. Don't try to find a way out: just see the problem. Though I am putting all this into words, be aware of the problem for yourself, sir. The problem is that we must change. You may say, "Don't disturb me, let things remain as they are; but things will not remain as they are. Life is going to shatter that which has become crystallized. Whether it is life in the form of a soldier with a gun, or life as a man like me with the word, something is going to shatter you. And when you are shattered by an outward event, through some form of compulsion or influence, is that a change? Is it a change if there is a motive of any kind? And is it possible to change without a motive? Don't say it is possible, or it is not possible. We are thinking it out. We are not coming to any conclusion. It is a terrible thing to come to a conclusion, because then you have stopped thinking. The problem is enormous, and one has to be very tentative about it; one has to inquire, to find out for oneself through watching, through constant awareness, if there is a change which is not induced, which is not the result of influence.
Sirs, another difficulty is that the mind likes to function in habit. Habit is the desire to be secure. If I am a so-called great man, used to having power, I like to function in that habit. The mind establishes various habits which give it a certain sense of security" and it resists any movement that disturbs those habits. When we do want to break a habit into which the mind has fallen, we say that we must have an ideal, that we must practise, that we must do this or do that; and I say, is that a change? Or is change something entirely different - something which awakens the extraordinary feeling of creation? Surely, that is the only real change. Creation is not the creative faculty of a cunning mind, nor is it the creativity of a mind that has a gift or a talent; it is the sense of complete release from the house of the self, and from acting within that house.
January 26, 1960
Banaras 2nd Public Talk 26th January 1960
Texts and talks of Jiddu Krishnamurti. Krishnamurti quotes. Books about
J Krishnamurti. Philosophy.