Paris 2nd Public Talk 7th September 1961
I would like to talk over with you the question of authority and freedom. And I would like to go very deeply into it, because I feel it is very important to understand the whole anatomy of authority.
So, first of all I would like to point out that I am not discussing academically, superficially, verbally; but if we are really serious then, I think, by the very act of listening rightly there comes about, not only understanding, but also immediately the freedom from authority. After all, time does not free the mind from anything. Freedom is possible only when there is direct perception, complete comprehension without effort, without contradiction, without conflict. Such an understanding frees the mind immediately from whatever problem it is burdened with. If we follow the problem and see how far the mind can go into it, thoroughly, totally, then we will be free of this burden.
I do not know if you have thought very deeply about the matter of authority. If you have you will know that authority destroys freedom, it curtails creation, it breeds fear, and it actually cripples all thought. Authority implies conformity, imitation, does it not? There is not only the outward authority of the policeman, the law - which to a certain extent is understandable - , but there is the inward authority of knowledge, of experience, of tradition, the following of a pattern laid down by society, by a teacher, of how to behave, how to conduct oneself, and so on.
We are going to deal entirely with the understanding of the inward, psychological authority; with the psyche which establishes a pattern of authority for its own security.
Have you ever wondered why, throughout the ages, human beings have been relying for their pattern of conduct upon others? We want, do we not? to be told what to do, how to behave, what to think, how to act under certain circumstances. The search for authority is constant because most of us are afraid of going wrong, afraid to be a failure. You worship success, and authority offers success. If you follow a certain mode of conduct, if you discipline yourself according to certain ideas, they say, eventually you will find salvation, attainment, freedom. For me, the idea that discipline, control, suppression, imitation and conformity can ever lead to freedom, is totally absurd. Obviously you cannot cripple the mind, shape it, twist it, and in that process find freedom. The two are incompatible, they deny each other.
Now, why do the human mind and brain always seek a pattern to which to conform? And may I say here that my explanation is worthless, has no meaning at all if you are not, each one of you, aware of your own inclination to follow - to follow an idea or a teacher. But if the explanation is actually awakening your own perception of the state of your own mind, then the words have significance. So why is there this urge to follow? Is it not the outcome of the desire to be certain, to be safe? Surely, the desire for security is the motive, the background of this urge to follow. Which means, does it not?, the feeling that through success, through conformity, one will avoid all fear. But is there such a thing as inward security? Surely, the very search for security is fear? Outwardly, perhaps, it may be necessary to have a certain degree of security - a house, three meals a day, clothes, and so on; but inwardly is there any such thing as security? Are you secure in your family, in your relationships? You dare not question it, dare you? You accept that it is so, it has become a tradition, a habit; but the moment you really question your relationship with your husband, your wife, your child, your neighbour, that very questioning becomes dangerous.
All of us, in some form or other, are seeking security; and for that there must be authority. And so we say there is God who, failing all else, will be our ultimate security. We cling to certain ideals, hopes, beliefs which will ensure for us a permanency, now and in the hereafter. But is there such a thing as security? And I think each one of us must discover, battle with and clearly understand whether or not there is such a thing as security.
Outwardly, there is hardly any security nowadays. Things are changing so rapidly; mechanically there are new inventions, atomic bombs; and socially there are outward revolutions, especially in Asia, the threat of war, Communism, and so on. But the threats to our inward security create in us a far greater resistance. When you believe in God, or in some form of inward permanency, it is almost impossible to break that belief. No atom bomb will break your belief because in that hope you have taken root. We have committed ourselves, each one, to a certain way of thinking, and whether it is true or false, whether it has any reality or reason does not seem to matter; we have accepted it and we hold on to it.
Now, to break through all that, to find out the truth of the whole matter, means a far greater revolution than any communist, socialist or capitalist revolution. It means the beginning of freedom from authority, and the actual discovery that there is no such thing as inward permanency, security. Therefore it means the discovery that at all times the mind must be in a state of uncertainty. And we are afraid of uncertainty, are we not? We think that a brain that is in a state of uncertainty must go to pieces, become mentally ill. Unfortunately, there are a great many mental cases because people cannot find security. They have been shaken loose from their moorings, from their beliefs, ideals, fancies, myths, and so they become mentally ill. A mind that is truly uncertain has no fear. It is only the mind that is afraid, that follows, that demands authority. And is it possible to see all this and to put authority and fear away totally, completely?
And what do you mean by `seeing'? Is seeing merely a matter of an intellectual explanation? Will explanations, reasoning, sane logic, help you to see the fact that all authority, obedience, acceptance, conformity, cripples the mind? For me, this is a very important question. Seeing has nothing whatsoever to do with words, with explanations. I feel that you can see something directly without any verbal persuasion, argument or intellectual reasoning. If you put away persuasion, influence - which is all immature, childish - then, what is it that is preventing you from seeing and therefore being free immediately? For me, seeing is an action of immediacy; it is not of time. And therefore freedom from authority is not of time; it is not a question of `I will be free'. But so long as you take pleasure from authority, find the process of following attractive, you are not allowing the immediacy of the problem to become urgent, vital.
The fact is that most of us like power - the power of the wife over the husband or the husband over the wife, the power of capacity, the feeling that one is clever, the power which austerity and control of the body gives. Any form of power is authority - whether it is the power of the dictator, political power, religious power, or the domination of one over another. It is utterly evil, and why can we not see that, simply and directly? I mean by `seeing' a total comprehension in which there is no hesitancy but only a complete response. What prevents that complete response?
This brings up the question of the authority of experience, of knowledge, does it not? After all to go to the moon, to build a rocket, there must be scientific knowledge; and the accumulation of knowledge we call experience. Outwardly you must have knowledge. You must know where you live, you must be able to build, to put things together and take things apart. Such outward knowledge is superficial, mechanical, merely additive, finding out more and more. But what happens is that knowledge and experience become our inward authority. We may reject the outward authority as being childish - such as belonging to a particular nation, group, family, attaching ourselves to a particular society with its special manners, codes, and all that nonsense - but to put away the experiences that one has gathered, the authority of the knowledge one has accumulated, is extremely difficult. I do not know if you have gone into this problem at all; but if you have, you will see that a mind which is burdened, heavy with knowledge and experience, is not an innocent mind, a young mind; it is an old mind, a decaying mind, and it can never meet freely, fully, totally, a living thing. And in the present world today, both inwardly and outwardly, a new mind, a fresh mind, a young mind is urgently needed to tackle all our problems - not one specific problem of science, medicine, politics and so on, but the whole human problem. The old mind is weary, crippled, but the young mind sees quickly, without distortion, without illusion. It is a keen, decisive mind, not held within the frontiers of accumulated knowledge, or bound by past experience.
After all, what is that experience, which gives us such a feeling of nobility, of wisdom, of superiority? Experience is, surely, the response of our background to a challenge. The response is conditioned by the background, and so every experience strengthens the background. If you are church-going, a devotee of a certain sect, of a certain religion, then you have experiences, visions, according to that background - which only strengthens the background, does it not? And this conditioning, this religious propaganda - whether it is two thousand years old or quite recent - is shaping our minds, influencing the response of our brains. You cannot deny these influences; they are there. The Communist, the Socialist, the Catholic, the Protestant, the Hindu, dozens and hundreds of influences are all the time pouring in, consciously or unconsciously, and shaping the mind, controlling the mind. So experience does not free the mind, make it young, fresh, innocent. It is the destruction of the entire background that is necessary.
Understanding of this is not a matter of time. If you set out to understand each influence separately, you will be dead before you understand all of them. But if you can understand one influence fully, completely, then you smash through all forms of influence. But to understand one influence you have to go into it thoroughly, completely. Merely to say that it is good or bad, noble or ignoble, is quite irrelevant. And to go into it completely there must be no fear. To go into this whole question of authority is very dangerous, is it not? To be free of authority is to invite danger, because no one wants to live in uncertainty. But the certain mind is a dead mind; it is only the uncertain mind that is young, fresh.
So, to understand authority, both outward and inward, is not a matter of time. It is one of the greatest blunders, greatest impediments, to rely on time. Time is really a postponement. It means we are enjoying security, imitation, following, and that all we are saying is, `Please do not disturb me. I am not ready yet to be disturbed'. I do not see why one should not be disturbed; what is wrong with being disturbed? Actually, when you do not want to be disturbed, you are in fact inviting disturbance. But the man who wants to find out, whether it is disturbing or not, is free of the fear of disturbance. I know some of you smile at this, but it is far too grave a matter for that. It is a fact that none of us wants to be disturbed. We have fallen into a rut, a narrow groove, intellectual, emotional or ideological, and we do not want to be disturbed. All we want, in our relationships and everything else, is to live a comfortable, undisturbed, respectable, bourgeois life. And to want to be non-bourgeois, non-respectable, amounts to the same thing.
Now, if you are listening with self-application, then you will find that the freedom from authority is not a fearsome thing. It is like throwing off a great burden. The mind undergoes a tremendous revolution immediately. For a man who is not seeking security in any form, there is no disturbance; there is a continual movement of understanding. If that is not taking place, you are not listening, you are not seeing; you are merely indulging in the acceptance or rejection of a certain set of explanations. So, it would be very interesting for you to discover for yourself what is your actual response.
Question: Does the mind carry within itself the elements of its own understanding?
Krishnamurti: I think it does, does it not? What prevents understanding? Are not the barriers created by the mind itself? Therefore the understanding as well as the barriers are elements of the mind.
Look, sir, to live with a sense of uncertainty without becoming mentally ill requires a great deal of understanding. One of the chief barriers is, is it not?, that I insist that I must be secure inwardly. Outwardly I see that there is no security; so inwardly the mind creates its own security in a belief, a god, an idea. This prevents the actual discovery of whether there is inward security or not. So the mind creates its own slavery, and also has the elements of its own liberation.
Question: Why is a free man not disturbed?
Krishnamurti: Is that a right question? As you do not know anything about the free man, the question is only a matter of speculation. If you will forgive me for saying so, that question has no meaning, for me or for you. But if you put the question the other way round, `Why am I disturbed', then the question has validity and can be answered rightly. So why is one disturbed - if my husband turns away from me, at the death of someone, at failure, feeling I am not making a success of my life? If you really went into that, to the very end, you would see the whole essence of it.
Question: Is belief in God always based on fear?
Krishnamurti: Why do you believe in God? What is the necessity? Do you bother about belief in God when you are very happy, or only when there is trouble ahead? Do you believe because you have been conditioned to do so? After all, for two thousand years we have been told that there is God; and in the Communist world they are conditioning the mind not to believe in God. It is the same thing; in both cases the mind has been influenced. The word `God' is not God; and to really discover for yourself if there is such a thing as God is far more significant than to attach yourself to a belief or a non-belief. And to find out for oneself requires enormous energy - the energy to break through all beliefs - which does not mean a state of atheism or doubt. But belief is a very comfortable thing, and very few people are willing to shatter themselves inwardly. Belief does not bring you to God. No temple, no church, no dogma, no ritual will bring you to reality. There is that reality; but to find that out you must have an immeasurable mind. A petty, small mind can only find its own petty little gods. Therefore we must be willing to lose all our respectability, all our beliefs, to find out what is real.
I do not think you can listen to more. If you have listened lazily, merely hearing the words, then no doubt you could go on for another couple of hours. But if you have listened rightly, attentively, with a sense of going deeply, then ten minutes would be enough, because in that period you could have shattered the barriers which the mind has created for itself, and discovered what is true.
September 7, 1961
Paris 2nd Public Talk 7th September 1961
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