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Rome 1966

Rome 3rd Public Discussion 7th April 1966

Discussion should be an exchange of thought, talking things over together, rather than a continuous talk by a speaker. If we could talk things over together, during or after what I have to say, it might be more beneficial and bring greater clarification.

We were saying the other day that pleasure is at the very root of our outlook on life, and with it invariably goes pain. Our whole structure, both outwardly and inwardly, is based on conflict. A mind in conflict is a distorted mind and man has lived for centuries upon centuries in that way. We must obviously bring about a complete revolution, not only outwardly but also inwardly. The inward revolution is of primary importance, because from there a new society can be born, can be brought into being. We must observe and understand the whole structure of society, and therefore ourselves, quite-differently. We were also talking about learning, and what is meant by that word.

Perhaps we may be able to come upon it from a different point altogether. Man has not been able to free himself from fear. Not being able to understand it, he has built a network of escapes and has never been able to resolve this question of fear. Perhaps we can discuss it and go into it deeply. I can talk about it, but the word is not the thing; the word is never the actuality; the symbol is never the fact, the reality. We must brush aside the word, though realizing its importance, and go behind the word. If we can do that, it may open a door which will help us to put an end to fear.

Most of us are afraid, and we have to learn about it, not resist it, not avoid it, not try to find formulas which will give us comfort, but actually resolve it completely and totally, consciously as well as unconsciously. To do that, we must be able to communicate with each other; and our communication naturally is verbal. Unless we talk it over, and not merely listen negatively or attentively, it doesn't lead us very far.

You can see historically that man has in every way avoided this question of fear. It is fear that creates gods, religious institutions, the priests, the various ceremonies and the whole circus of religion. Not being able to resolve or understand or go above and beyond fear, naturally man has developed a psychological and unconscious resistance. There is the enormous fear of death, which will be discussed a little later. The so-called religious people have invented marvellous theories, hopes, ideas, concepts. Those who, temperamentally or conditionally, are not at all inclined towards religion say, "This is the end of it; one life is good enough; let's go on and make the best of it; but there is still the fear of death, and also the fear of actual living, the fear of facing life as it actually is and having faced it, going beyond that. There are innumerable fears, from the most childish to the most complex, conscious as well as unconscious. The conscious ones you can deal with fairly well. For example, who cares about public opinion, what the public says? If you live in a big city, it doesn't very much matter.

If you are living in a small village, then it does count a great deal what your neighbour thinks of you. There is the fear of not being able to fulfil, not being able to achieve what you want, not being successful. You know the various types of fear.

Mere resistance to fear is not an end to fear. Verbally, intellectually, you may be clever enough to rationalize fear and build a wall against it; yet behind that wall there is this constant gnawing of fear. Unless you are free from fear, you can't think, feel or live properly. You are living in darkness. Religions have cultivated that fear through hell and all that business. There is the fear of the State and its tyranny. You must think of the public, the State, the dictators, the people who know what is good for you, the Big Brother and the Big Father. Is it possible to actually be totally free of fear? If you can discuss it, you can learn about it. If you say, "I can't get rid of it; what am I to do?", there is no problem. Some one will tell you what to do, but you will always be dependent on that person, and you will enter another field of fear.

We can't see very clearly as long as there is any form of fear, both the fears that have been built through thought, through imagination, through experience, through various forms of memory, and also those which come from bodily pain, of which many people are afraid, which interfere with the mind thinking and bring about psychosomatic fear. Unless we are completely free of fear, obviously we can't see anything clearly. Where there is fear, there can't be affection; there can't be sympathy; there can't be generosity; there can't be a sense of love. To be free from fear is a human necessity, as much as food, as much as shelter. Is it possible? When we put that question of the possibility, we put it not as an intellectual problem to be answered by an intellectual concept or by argument, but rather to learn about it. If we can learn about it, and know the whole structure of it, then we are not afraid. We should be able to talk this over. If I sit here talking and you listen, that doesn't lead us anywhere. We must go into it together.

Obviously the word is not the fact, but the word creates the fear. The word "revolution" creates fear. The word, if you are conditioned as a Catholic, or as a member of some other sect has tremendous meaning; the word stimulates memory, which is associated with certain conditioning, and that reacts. When you see a snake or a wild animal, the immediate reaction is fear, which is a natural self-protective response, which must be there, but need there be a psychological response to a word? The word "death" immediately awakens a whole series of associated memories, false ideas, and the fear of it. The word is not the fact, but the word creates the fear.

Questioner: The awareness of our danger and therefore fear might present a certain problem.

Krishnamurti:No, it is a healthy response; otherwise you'd be killed. When you come to a precipice, and you just are not afraid or don't pay attention,. you are in great danger, but that fear,the bodily fear creates a psychological fear too. It is a very complex problem; it isn't just a matter of saying, "I have fear about something or other, and let me wipe it out". In order to understand it you must first be very clear about words; you must realize that the word is not the fact of fear, but the word engenders fear; unconsciously the whole structure is verbal. The word "culture" brings a deep response from memory - Italian culture, European culture, Hindu culture, Japanese culture, Chinese culture. It is very interesting to go into it. The unconscious is made up of memories, of experiences, traditions, propaganda, words. You have an experience, and you react. That reaction is translated into words: "I was `happy", "I was unhappy", "He hurt me", and those words remain. They awaken and strengthen the daily experience.

You have insulted me; it has left a mark, and that mark is strengthened, deepened by the word, by the memory associated with that feeling, which is really a word, a tradition. It is important to understand this. In certain countries in Asia, in India, among certain groups of people, tradition is immense, much stronger than here, because they have lived longer; they are an old country, much more deep-rooted, with a tradition of ten thousand years and more. The word brings up memories and associations, which are all part of the unconscious, and it also brings about fear.

Take the word "cancer". You hear the word and immediately all the ideas and the thoughts about cancer come rushing in - the pain, the agony, the suffering, and the question, "Do I have cancer?". The word is extraordinarily important to us. The word, the sentence, when organized becomes an idea - based on a formula, and that holds us.

The word is not the fact; the word "microphone" is not the microphone; but the word brings fear or pleasure into being through association and remembrance. We are slaves to words and to examine anything fully, to look, we must be free of the word. If I'm a Hindu and a Brahmin, a Catholic, a Protestant, an Anglican, or a Presbyterian, to look I have to bc free of that word, with all its associations, and that's extraordinarily difficult. The difficulty disappears when we are passionately enquiring, examining.

The unconscious is stored-up memory; the unconscious, through a word, becomes alive. Through a smell, or through seeing a flower, you associate immediately. The storehouse, the stored-up is the unconscious, and we make a tremendous lot of ado about it. It is really nothing at all. It is as trivial and superficial as the conscious mind. Both can be healthy, and both can be unhealthy.

The word brings on fear, and the word is not the fact. What is fear? What am I afraid of? Please, we're discussing. Take your own fear. It may be fear of your wife, of losing your job or your fame.

Questioner: Yes, yes.

Krishnamurti: Please, you must discuss with me; it's no good saying, "Yes, yes".

What is fear? Let us take a problem like death for the moment. It is a very complex problem. I am afraid of death. How does this fear arise? Obviously it arises through thought. I have seen people die. I also may die, painfully or quietly, and thinking has brought on this fear.

Questioner: One of the strongest fears is the fear of the unknown.

Krishnamurti: It is the unknown. I'm taking that as an example. Substitute your own fear - fear of your husband, of your wife, of your neighbour, fear of ill health, of not being able to fulfil, fear of not loving, of not having enough love, of not having intelligence.

Questioner: Surely in some cases it's justified. Take, for instance, if a man is afraid of his wife.

Krishnamurti: All right; he is married and is afraid of his wife.

Questioner: Or he's afraid of his boss, or afraid he may lose his job. Krishnamurti: Wait, sir; why should he be afraid? We are discussing fear, not of the job, of the boss, of the wife. Fear exists always in relation to something; it doesn't exist abstractly. I'm afraid of my boss, my wife, my neighbour, of death. It is in relation to something. I took death as an example. I'm afraid of it. Why? What brings on this fear? Obviously it is thought. Visually I have seen death, people dying. Associated with that, identified with that is the fact that I, myself, will die one of these days. Thought thinks about it; there is a thinking about it. Death is something unavoidable, and something to be pushed as far away as possible. I can't push it far away except with thought. I have a distance, so many years allotted to me. When it comes time for me to go, I'll go; but in the meantime I've kept it away. Thought, through association, through identification, through memory, through the religious or the social environment, through economic conditioning, rationalizes it, accepts it, or invents a hereafter. Can I come into contact with a fact? I'm afraid of my wife. That will be much simpler. She dominates me. I can give a dozen reasons for my fear of her. I see how fear arises. How am I to be free of it? I can ask her; I can walk out, but that doesn't solve the problem. How am I to be free of that fear? Look at it; I am afraid of my wife. She has an image about me and I have an image about her. There is no actual relationship, except perhaps physically. Otherwise it is purely a relationship between the images. I'm not being cynical, but this is a fact, isn't it? Perhaps those of you who are married know better than I do.

Questioner: Will she have a picture of you being weak, and will you have a picture of her being tough?

Krishnamurti: Tough and strong. You have dozens of reasons, sir, but there is no actual relationship at all. To be related means to be in contact. How can one image be related to another image? An image is an idea, a memory, a recollection, a remembrance. If I really want to be free of fear, I have to destroy my image about her, and she has to destroy her image about me. I may destroy mine, or she may destroy hers, but one-sided action doesn't bring about freedom from the relationship which awakens fear. I break my image about you, totally. I look at it, and then I understand what relationship is. I break the image completely. Then I am directly in contact with you, not with your image. But you may not have broken your image, because it gives you pleasure.

Questioner: That's the rub, I haven't broken my image.

Krishnamurti: So you keep on, and I say, "All right; I have no image of you". I'm not afraid of you. Fear ceases only when there is direct contact. If I have no escapes at any level, I can look at the fact. I can look at the fact that I am going to die, in ten years or in twenty years. I have to understand death, come into contact with it physically, organically, because I'm still alive. I have plenty of energy; I'm still active, healthy. Bodily I can't die; but psychologically I can die.

This requires tremendous observation, going into, working. To die means that you have to die every day, not just twenty years from now. You die every day to everything that you know, except technologically. You die to the image of your wife; you die every day to the pleasures you have, to the pains, the memories, the experiences. Otherwise you can't come into contact with them. If you do die to them all, fear comes to an end and there is a renewal.

Questioner: Is all consciousness, unconscious and conscious, conditioned? Krishnamurti: It is conditioned in the sense that it is the result of the past acting through the present and creating a future; and all that within a pattern, the pattern of time. Is it possible to totally uncondition it, to be totally free of the past? This means that you must understand time.

Questioner: Suppose my wife dominates me....

Krishnamurti: No, no! Don't suppose. Then you're merely entering theory. You can speculate till doomsday. Man has been speculating for ages as to whether there is or is not a God.

Questioner: Fan I end my fear of my wife?

Krishnamurti: Of course you can; and not only of her. Sir, if you and I are in conflict, you have an image about me and I have an image about you. If you can, you split your image about me; you break it. You have no conflict. You're meeting me every day without the reaction of your memory about me. That is dying to your memories each day.

Questioner: Yes, but since my wife hasn't broken her image, she still tries to dominate me.

Krishnamurti: Of course. So you tell her, "Look, you can't dominate me; that game is over; I'm not afraid. If you want me to go and sweep the floor, I will, but psychologically your domination has come to an end". That's very difficult, because with a woman and a man it's a relationship not only of pleasure, sexually and all the rest of it, but also for economic reasons. but also psychologically, because I have identified myself with the family. If I break the image, the family is not important.

Questioner: Then you become psychologically independent.

Krishnamurti: Psychologically you're free, and therefore there is no fear. The word is the response of memory. The thought is a word. You can't think without words, without an image, without a symbol. So thought breeds fear. Like the word "communist", or a dozen others.

Questioner: Like the word "earthquake".

Krishnamurti: If there's an earthquake. there's an earthquake. I face it. But there is this whole mechanism. I see that there is no end to fear as long as time exists between the fact and me, as long as there is the division created by thought between the fact and the observer.

There is the fear of death. I take that as an example. I know I'll die, but thought has pushed it far away in the distance. Whether it comes tomorrow or in ten years, it's the same. Thought creates the time interval. If there is no thinking in regard to death, there is no time at all. It is a fact. That means that I have to learn, understand, observe, listen to the fact, whatever it is - the fact that I'm afraid of death, of my wife, of losing my job, of my wife not loving me, of darkness and of all the things of which I'm afraid. I never come in contact with the fact, because thought again has created this division between the observer and the observed. There is an interval of space between them. I am afraid; fear is something outside of me and I resist it. I am going to overcome it or escape from it. There is this division between the fact and the observer. The moment I say, "I am going to overcome fear", which means resist fear, I need time. Thought has created time; and thought has created fear; they are interrelated. The questions then arise: what is thought; what is time; and is it possible to look without thought? This doesn't mean that I become vague, abstract, woolly, blank and all that silly stuff; but I look actively, passionately, fully, without thought, and therefore without the observer and the observed. I'm afraid of being ill. I have known illness; I know all the unpleasantness of it; the memories are stored up in my unconscious. They are there. Each time I get some pain, I'm stirred by the fact, by something which I have remembered. The entity that remembers separates himself from the fact of remembrance, and says, "I am going to be ill". Thought remembers the past illness; the thinker says, "By Jove, I'm going to be ill again; be careful", because he has had memories of it. He is afraid and he keeps this battle going on because of fear. But this is all right. Let it come; I'll meet it, which means dying to the past. It's fairly easy to put away the pain, but to put away pleasure also is more difficult. I have to learn about it. It's not a case of my having learned and then I approach the fact. Then of course we would be back again in the same old pattern. Learning is a constant moving, a movement.

Can I observe the fear that I have, whatever it is, and come directly in contact with it, not identifying myself with it? That's another trick of thought; but actually I can only come into contact directly with the fact, any fact, as long as thought with its memories does not divide the observer and the observed.

Questioner: Perceiving without an end to it.

Krishnamurti: Yes, perceive, if you like to put it that way. You must be very careful here, because the word "perceive", if you analyze it....

Questioner: If you don't stop analyzing...

Krishnamurti: You have analyzed it, but the analysis hasn't brought you to the fact. What brings you to face the fact is the act of listening. You say, "By Jove, I understand now what creates fear: thought", which doesn't mean that you become thoughtless.

Questioner: Analysis uses thought and memory, doesn't it?

Krishnamurti: Of course. Why should we analyze? When we are faced with physical danger, we don't analyze; we act. It is only when we do not face danger directly that we have the time to analyze, play around, get unhealthy, go to the analyst and play all the tricks.

Questioner: If you're faced with a situation, experience will help you. The memory of the previous experience being unpleasant, it may help you to avoid the next one.

Krishnamurti: It may help you to avoid, but it will not help you to learn. I've had an experience about you. You've insulted me, flattered me, or whatever it is. I have that in my memory. The next time I meet you, that memory responds.

Questioner: You avoid me.

Krishnamurti: Wait; you might have changed.

Questioner: Yes.

Krishnamurti: I can t say that you have not changed. I can only say that yesterday at such and such a time you insulted me. When I meet you the next day, in the interval you may have changed completely, or you may not. But I must meet you, and I can't meet you if I have my memory of your insult. Therefore I can never say to another, "I know you". I can never say that `I know the Germans, the Russians, my wife or my husband. It's absurd. I can only say that I know a person as he was at the time the incident happened. In the interval he may have changed, and I may have changed.

Questioner: Instead of the example that you are using, let's take the position of a debtor and a creditor. It's not just once. If you are the debtor, each time that you encounter the creditor, he is going to remind you, and that creates unpleasantness. You know that he was a friend when he lent you the money, but circumstances change, and now every day he reminds you, which is an unpleasantness. Is the thing to do to avoid him?

Krishnamurti: You can say, "Sorry, I can't pay you". The moment you say," avoid him", you have the beginning of fear.

Questioner: Right.

Krishnamurti: You don t want to have fear, at any cost.

Questioner: At the expense of the unpleasantness each time?

Krishnamurti: At any time. If you can't pay, you have to find out why you can't pay. You'll try to pay. If you are double-crossing him, there's no end to it. The question is really whether it is possible to be free of fear, completely. Meet life as it arises, not with fear and not with all the structures which you have built within yourself, which are your image.

Questioner: Then the thing a do is to forget your experiences.

Krishnamurti: no sir. Wait a minute. What is experience? I can't forget my experience of living in a certain house. If I forget each time go out I am lost. I don't know where I am. I can't be in a state of amnesia. I must know where I live. I must know my name. I must have my passport and my technological knowledge; but what do we mean by experience, apart from all that? What value has experience? Man has lived for over two million years, and he has battled. There have been wars, wars, wars and he is still going on. What has it taught him? Nothing!

Questioner: He has improved at it.

Krishnamurti: It used to cost twenty-five cents to kill a Roman soldier; now it costs thirty thousand dollars to kill a soldier. It's too absurd. Has experience any value, psychologically?

Questioner: None at all.

Krishnamurti: That means that I live in a state where experience has no value at all, that I am a light to myself, completely. If I had no experience, psychologically, I would go to sleep. If you didn't push me, if you didn't kill me, if you didn't challenge me, I'd soon fall asleep psychologically. This takes place all the time. When I am completely secure psychologically, something takes place to disturb that state. To keep me awake, I depend on challenge and response, on experience. Otherwise I would soon go off to sleep, comfortably, within the wall which I have built around myself. It is very difficult to break down such a wall, because that wall is built of ideas, and to break an idea is much more difficult than to break anything else. I depend on experience to keep me awake. If I see the absurdity of being awake through a drug, through an experience, through something, I have to be awake outside of experience.

Questioner: I must experience without reference to memory.

Krishnamurti: Wait, wait! I needn't. Why shouldn't I have memory? The electronic brains have memories, banks of memories. Through association they give responses, and we function in the same way. The memory that we have built up is a form of resistance against society, against everyone.

There is the obvious physical danger against which there must be protection; I protect myself. When I see a precipice, a bus coming towards me, or a snake, there is a normal, healthy response. If I'm not very careful, that is translated into a psychosomatic affair. What we are talking about is a psychological fear. I have to learn anew about this fear; I must come directly into contact with it and find out if there is such a thing as fear.

Suppose I have lied. I say, "All right; why should I be afraid of it? It's a fact and I know; the next time I might lie or I might not". But I don't want you to discover that I have lied. Therefore I am afraid of you. I avoid you. The fact is that there is fear, and it cannot be proved that it is possible to be totally free psychologically from any fear. I don't want to prove it to anyone. We are all so eager to prove that we are free from fear. It is possible to be free if we can go at it with tremendous alertness; and that very alertness is a process of disciplining.

Life disciplines you, life being society. You have to get up at a certain time to go to the office. Society disciplines you brutally, makes you conform, and you accept such brutality, such discipline. There is constant imitation, constant standardization, constant forcing yourself to conform, to adjust, to comply, to obey. To see all that is discipline. To look at a flower, to actually look, and not have thought between you and the flower, is an intense discipline, nonconforming.

Questioner: It means to look at it without naming it.

Krishnamurti:Naming, thought and all that.

Questioner: It is difficult to look at a thing without naming it.

Krishnamurti: Yes, sir. It is very difficult to see that flower near you and look at it without naming it.

Questioner: Without knowing it is a flower.

Krishnamurti: Ah, no. You see, you have already stipulated what it is. Your thought has already interfered. Sir, please try; sit near a tree and look at it. Look at the tree, without naming, without thought. Not that you're asleep, not that you become blank; you are completely aware, but without verbalization.

Questioner: Without saying to yourself, "That's a tree".

Krishnamurti: Of course.

Questioner, Without thinking.

Krishnamurti: Yes. Then you will find out whether there is an observer and the observed. As long as there is an observer, there is the thinker. Questioner: Yes.

Krishnamurti: The thinker with his thoughts; and therefore you never come into contact with the tree.

Questioner: Only the observed remains.

Krishnamurti: Of course. It is fairly easy with a tree, a flower, something objective. It is much more difficult to look at yourself inwardly or to look at your wife, without all the responses. Learning implies a movement in which there is no accumulation, which becomes knowledge, and from which you act. Learn as you are moving, doing. You have to be tremendously alive, alert to learn. What you have learned becomes an experience, but learning is not an experience; it is a movement.

That brings up the problem of what is new. Is there anything new? Man has been seeking in different ways, according to his culture and his conditioning, according to his tendency. He has given different names at different times to "God". He has done that for millions of years, believing or denying, but without knowing. If you want to find out, you must learn. You have to discover everything man has said about God. This doesn't mean that you become an atheist or a theist. You say, "This is all out; I want to find out". You must be completely free - free from fear, free from what people have said, free from knowledge. Whether you believe in God or not, it is all the same; who cares? You are conditioned one way and the communists are conditioned the other way. To both the believer and the non-believer, God is dead. The word has no meaning.

We were saying the other day that freedom is essential, psychological freedom, not freedom from anything. Where there is freedom there is peace. The two must exist, otherwise there will be disorder. Unless freedom and peace exist, unless that really is a fact, not an idea, a theory, a hope, a Utopia, mind cannot go any further. It can go sideways; it can go any other way, but it can't go straight.

Questioner: When you speak of conditioning, do you refer only to outside conditioning, or do we already have some conditioning when we are born?

Krishnamurti: Obviously.

Questioner, The conditioning we are given when we come into the world is a religion, a nationality and social surroundings.

Krishnamurti: Yes, and a family environment.

Questioner: That comes afterwards.

Krishnamurti: The authorities say that it is already there prenatally; it is already in the germ; the genes are already conditioned.

Questioner: We are already partly conditioned.

Krishnamurti: Partly, but whether we are conditioned from the beginning, or whether we are conditioned as we go along, the fact is that we are conditioned now.

Questioner: Yes.

Krishnamurti: Is it possible to be free? Otherwise for ever and ever we are but slaves, although we can decorate the prison more and more. If we really want to be free, we have to be tremendously active about it and not just theorize. This brings in the whole problem of time. Does it take time to uncondition, or is it a matter of instant perception? Questioner: If it takes time, it is not deconditioning.

Krishnamurti: If it takes time to uncondition myself, there is a between now and then. In that interval there are a great many incidents, accidents, strains, stresses which are going to alter the fact. It is like a man who is violent and angry trying to be non-violent, trying to reach a lovely, Utopian, non-violent, idealistic state. He is violent, and at a distance is the non-violence. To achieve non-violence, he allows himself time. In the meantime he is sowing violence. We must see the violence, and not through an ideal, not through comparison.

We function in a habitual way. We have been taught to live with fear, to comply, to resist, to escape. Society has conditioned us; we have conditioned society; we have made society; we are I caught in that. Unless we are tremendously aware of this fact, we keep on going round and round in circles.

April 7, 1966


Rome 1966

Rome 3rd Public Discussion 7th April 1966

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