Madras 5th Public Talk 13th January 1979 'What Is a Religious Mind?'
I would like to talk, if I may, this evening, about a religious mind. And before we communicate with each other about it I think it would be wise and necessary to go over a little bit what we have been talking about during these last four talks here. I think it is fairly obvious for most people who are at all aware of the events that are going on in the world that there is general degeneration. Though there is vast incredible technological advancement, man has, if I may use the word advance, he has advanced very little. And as one observes the decline of human capacity, affection, love, and all the essential things of human nature are gradually declining. And one can see in every country that one goes to that this is taking place. And the problems that human beings have, everyday problems, not some fantastical, romantic, sentimental problems, but actual daily problems of relationship, of hunger, of beliefs, dogmas and rituals, and intimate relationships or otherwise, are again on the decline.
And when one observes all this in different parts of the earth, all these problems are not of any particular country but it is a global problem, the problem of all mankind. And so our approach must be surely not sectarian, not nationalistic, or a class, or a particular dogma, or communism, socialism or any other political endeavour, but one has to find now a global answer, a global outlook, a global action.
And we were saying too that every human being throughout the world is the representative of all other human beings. This is not an intellectual concept to be accepted and worked at, but a reality, an actual fact - fact being that which is taking place now. And every human being goes through extraordinary agonies, loneliness, misery, confusion, every form of dishonesty, both political, religious and otherwise. And as it is not an intellectual concept, an idea, but a reality that must be not intellectually grasped but to be understood with one's heart, with one's mind, with one's whole being. And so every human being is the rest of the world and therefore he is the world. His consciousness modified is the rest of the world. And so when one particular human being transforms himself so radically, deeply, fundamentally, then he does affect the whole consciousness of mankind. Again this is fairly obvious. There was a Hitler who affected the whole of mankind, he was crazy, whatever you like, but he has affected mankind. So has Karl Marx, so has Buddha, and so on. So one human being, you, brings about psychological transformation, psychological revolution that brings about a change totally in consciousness, which affects the consciousness of mankind. We went into all this very carefully.
And we were talking also about desire, fear and pleasure, as perhaps the major causes of our confusion, contradiction and conflict, which we talked about last Sunday, if I remember rightly. And we said also, if one may again point out, that we are thinking together, not arguing together, not offering one opinion against another, not one particular dogma against another, but rather as two friends may talk over their problems, we, you and the speaker, are investigating, examining, not accepting, nor rejecting, the examination of our whole existence as human beings; why we human beings live the way we are living, with our confusion, sorrow, misery and all the rest of it, why we accept our daily life of conflict, struggle, in our relationships, why we dominate each other and so on. We went into all this.
And I think, if one may, this afternoon, go into the whole question of what is a religious mind. Would that be all right? I am glad you approve. That is not a sarcastic remark but I am glad you want to go into it.
First of all in understanding this problem, what is a truly religious mind, we must grasp the significance of the word, the meaning of the word, and realize that the word is not the thing. The word 'tree' is not the actual thing that is there, nor the description of what is a religious mind - which we are going to explore today and tomorrow. The description of it, the verbal explanation of it is not the described, is not the actual fact. But words are necessary to communicate. And we all perhaps understand English. We are using words without any slogans or jargons, but ordinary words with which one is quite familiar.
So we are talking over together, examining together, investigating together, not that I investigate and you listen, and agree or disagree with the investigation, which would be absurd. Whereas if we could go together and explore this extraordinary question, which has haunted man throughout the ages: what is religion, what is a mind that can hold, or understand, or comprehend the beauty of a profoundly religious mind. Because every form of political organization has failed, they have not solved the problems, human problems. The politicians are seeking power, position, they are not at all concerned, though they pretend with us, with other human beings. Nor have religious organizations ended man's suffering, his agonies, the wars, the appalling chaos that is spreading throughout the world, semi anarchy. On the contrary religions have separated man with their beliefs, dogmas, rituals and all that nonsense. When I use the word 'nonsense' it means no sense.
And I believe historically a new culture can only come about with a different religion - rather a new culture only can be born out of a religious mind. And cultures throughout the world are degenerating, disappearing. So religion - which we are going to examine the word and the whole sequence of it - religion becomes extraordinarily important.
And again scientists have not solved any of our human anxieties, human relationships. So when one observes all the things that the intellect has brought about, it has only brought greater misery, greater confusion. Which is again obviously taking place.
So we are together going to examine not only this afternoon but tomorrow afternoon, what is a religious mind. I am not going to do all the work, you are going to join me. You have to work too. That is, we are challenging, demanding, asking, challenging the brain, the mind, the whole nature of our mind, what is a religious person.
The word 'religion' - one has looked up various dictionaries, and they more or less say, originally, etymologically, the meaning, Latin, Greek and so on, the meaning was to bind. But many of the etymologists have denied that. Now they are saying religion implies, the meaning implies gathering all your energy to discover - they don't say what. Gathering all your energy. And we are saying, gathering all your energy to discover what truth is, if there is anything sacred in life - not the temples, churches, mosques, they are not sacred, they are illusions created by thought. But there must be freedom, complete psychological freedom to find out, or to come upon that thing that is wholly, completely, irrevocably sacred, not invented by thought, by man. So that is the meaning of the word 'religion'.
And the word 'mind' includes not only the sensory activities, all the emotional reactions, the images - I hope you are following all this - the images, the beliefs, the anxieties, the intellectual capacity to reason logically, reasonably, or unreasonably, to be caught in illusion and to see that one is caught in an illusion and to be free of that illusion - all that is the mind. Right? Right sir? When we talk of the mind it includes the brain, which is very, very, very old, ancient, beyond memory, and the brain which has been conditioned upon millenia upon millenia. The genetic conditioning and the cultural conditioning, the social, religious conditioning. That is the brain, which contains all the genetic memories, the experiences, the knowledge of man's existence on this earth. Which again is an obvious fact.
And the tradition, the values, the beliefs, the dogmas, the concepts, handed down from generation to generation is part of that brain, is part of that mind. All the knowledge which you have acquired recently, or throughout the immemorial past, all that is part of the mind. So we are using the word 'mind' to convey a holistic, a whole process of the past, with its tradition, with its culture, with its rituals, with all the things man has collected.
So we are using religion and the mind. We have explained through words what the speaker means by religion and the mind. And we are asking, or rather challenging: what is a religious mind? You are challenging it, I am not challenging, I am not pushing you into a corner to answer. After all existence, living, is a constant process of challenge. You can duck, or run away, or answer it along a particular cultural tradition. But when you answer according to tradition or culture, or environment, then that answer will be very limited. So we are saying, we are asking, we are challenging each other to discover, to find out by careful observation, by careful examination, by investigating 'what is' and whether 'what is' can be totally transformed.
Revolution means gathering together certain incidents, concepts, beliefs, and forming a circle, which is - are you following all this? No, no. Physical revolution, either the French or the Communist and so on, are the result of incidents, accidents, concepts, ideas, conclusions, forming a circle. And that is what is called revolution. I'll explain what I mean. Are you interested in all this? Because it is very exercising of our brains because it is part of our life, because they are all talking about revolutions. Generally what they mean by revolution, the terrorists, even the idealists and the Communists, if they are really serious Communists and not totalitarian slaves, but people who are talking, investigating into what is revolution, it generally means working along concepts, conclusions, conclusions drawn from incidents, social, environmental, religious, political and thus forming a circle. That is the circle begins and then come back to the same thing. Right, you are following? You start. This is so obvious, isn't it, must I explain all this? You start, saying, Capitalism, or Socialism is wrong. Draw a conclusion, concepts, and work it out, and then bring people to accept that, which inevitably, bureaucratically becomes the same thing it was before, which is going round in a circle. Though, if you are interested in all that, I used to have a great many Communist friends at one time, their idea was thesis, antithesis, synthesis. And from synthesis, antithesis and climb, climb, climb, change. Always intellectual concepts, based on intellectual conclusions and therefore intellect being only a part of our whole mind, such intellectual action must inevitably be divisive, contradictory, destructive. We are talking about revolution not in that sense at all. We are talking about revolution in which man, the psychological structure of man is radically, fundamentally transformed. That is the only revolution. The physical revolution cannot bring about the solutions, the ending of man's utter misery. Again this is proven when you examine all the revolutions. Going round and round in circles, coming to the same point only different people in different positions.
So we are asking, challenging each other, and I hope you are challenging yourself, I am not challenging you, the world is challenging, your husband, your wife - of course the gurus dare not challenge you. The world is challenging you, the things that are in the world demanding a real answer. And you can't impose on this challenge your own particular ideas. Right?
So let's proceed to examine together, think together, what is the nature of a mind that is profoundly religious, because religion is the only solution. You see there is so much to investigate, to go into, one doesn't know quite where to begin. All right, I've got it. Either you perceive purely the whole nature and structure of the mind instantly. I mean by that the nature and the structure. We are using the word 'structure' to mean movement. Structure means movement in the dictionary. So the nature of the mind and the movement that is going on. Not my description of the mind, not my word of the mind, but the operation of your mind, the nature of it, the quality of it, the depth of it, the superficiality of it, whether it lives on opinions, words, superficial reactions, whether it is being driven by a motive, whether the motive be enlightenment or sex or money or power, or wanting to retain what you have. So we are asking, challenging, what is the nature and the movement of a religious mind. Right? Obviously to investigate the nature of such a mind, the mind that is whole, that is sacred, that is totally free, to enquire into it one must begin with having freedom otherwise you can't enquire. Any form of investigation demands that the mind observe either microscopically, or observe the whole human activity outside there, or inside, there must be freedom to look. Right?
Freedom. That is not the freedom that has an opposite. You understand? Do you understand what I am saying, what I am trying to explain. A prisoner demanding freedom while in prison is absolutely meaningless. He can imagine it. There is only freedom when he leaves the prison. Now most of us are caught in the prison of ourselves. And to enquire into one of the most ancient demands of man, which is - what is it to have a religious quality of mind - and to enquire into that you must have freedom to look. Which means you don't belong to any religion. Right? You are neither a Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, Christian, with all their dogmas, images, all the rest of it. You don't belong to a thing to examine what the religious mind is. Right? Are you doing this? You understand, sir, this is a very serious thing to be gone into, it isn't just a thing to be played around, not made into a philosophy, which is a bundle of theories, concepts. A religious person has no philosophy because such a mind is with that which is eternally sacred.
So that is the first requirement if you are interested to examine into the question of the mind that is religious; the first thing is in an investigation of any kind, freedom is utterly important. You can't investigate in freedom now and go back to your temple. You cannot possibly go back to your tradition, to your rituals, to your puja, all that thing that goes on, this vast circus that goes on in the name of religion. Now that is the first thing if you are at all serious, not to belong to any organization, to any sect, group, community, because to enquire you mustn't be tied. It is like a donkey tied to a tether, or hobbled, it can't go very far. So that is the first thing if you are really serious, because there is no guru, no scripture, no ritual, nothing, in order to find out. It doesn't mean that one becomes lonely. It doesn't mean that you have to stand by yourself against the current. Because mankind is going in that one direction, tradition, accepting the culture they live in, the appalling things that are happening around them, they accept that. And when you break away from that you might feel that you have isolated yourself. You break away from that because that is illusion, that will never under any circumstances lead to truth. And the very observation is the operation of intelligence that says that is false. When you see that which is false, the seeing, the perception is the operation of intelligence.
Now we will have to again explain what the word 'intelligence' means. Are we all communicating with each other, or am I talking and you are just listening? I mean by the word - I won't go into the etymological meaning - not only to read between the lines, between the two printed words, but to see that which is behind the word, to understand that which is not written, that which is not said, without distortion. We will go into that as we go along. Because intelligence is the essence of compassion. And there can be no compassion without the ending of sorrow, which we are going to examine as we go along, today and tomorrow.
In this examination, in this enquiry, we will also go into the question of what is meditation. That is part of our ancient tradition.
So we said there must be freedom: freedom to observe, freedom to discover that which is false. Commentators, which is part of the Hindu tradition, the commentators of the Upanishads, the Gita, there are so many commentators, and you read them and they never help you to discover that which is false. So first to understand what is a religious mind there must be freedom. Freedom implies that you are not attached to a thing, but to observe. You have no opinions, no conclusions, no concepts, but mere observation of what is actually going on. Right sir? Will you do that? That is our communication with each other.
Who has created the gods, or only one god, or the representative of god or the god's son, or all the innumerable gods with their goddesses, who has created them, which we call religion - going to the temple, to the mosques, the churches, you know, the whole thing - who has created them? Answer it sir, answer it yourself. Man has obviously created them. Thought has brought this about. God - I am sure he will forgive us, I am only making a joke of it, please - god is the invention of man. There are the Hindu gods opposed to the Christian gods, the Muslim god, but the Buddhist have no gods but they have their own peculiar Bodhisattvas and so on.
So man has created this out of his sorrow, out of his fear, out of his death, out of his confusion, uncertainty, physical insecurity, out of this matrix the things that we have called gods have been born. And these gods have been handed down from generation to generation. If you reject all that then you create a god of yourself. Are you following all this? Your own concepts, you become an atheist, which is another form of godhood. Or because of your own uncertainty, out of your own sorrow, total insecurity, you want something continuous, something that is timeless, something that knows no death, and out of that longing you create some marvellous image for yourself. And you say, that is reality.
So one has to understand why thought does this all the time. It has done it from time immemorial. You understand sirs? Every tribe has done this. The moment man began to think, he has created the gods in heaven, or on earth, and worshipped an image, or a tree or a stone, made by the hand or by the mind. Do look into yourself because any particular religion, any particular tribal religion is not going to answer, it is not going to be the salvation of man, it has to be a global religion.
So freedom to enquire into that which is false. I am not telling you what is false. The observation of what is going on actually, that which is happening now, and seeing the false or the truth in that which is happening now is to investigate and see that which is illusory and put that aside totally. Right? That is the beginning of freedom.
Then we talked about fear, desire, and the continuous demand of various forms of pleasure - pleasure of possession, pleasure of status, pleasure of being somebody, pleasure of identification with a country, with a group, with a conclusion, the pleasure of sex, the pleasure of one's own experience, and living that experience - and ending fear, because a mind that is clouded with fear can never be religious. You understand? Obviously. How can a mind that is frightened, that says, "I must find some comfort out of my insecurity, out of my confusion"? As long as a mind is frightened it cannot possibly have the religious quality of a mind. Right sirs? Which means in the enquiring are you free of fear? Otherwise you cannot possibly have a mind that is the essence of religion. Because desire, fear and the everlasting pursuit of pleasure not only creates, brings about confusion, but also those are the elements, the qualities, that make up the self, the 'me', the centre from which all activities begin. So it does not mean that you cannot enjoy the sound of that bird, it does not mean that you cannot look at a beautiful sunset, or the sky through the leaves. That is not pleasure. The looking at the sky through the leaves, which is a delight, which is a sense of great depth and beauty, it takes place in the instant and when that is over thought comes along and says, "What a marvellous thing that is to have had. I want more of it." Then the 'more' is the pleasure, not the actual moment of the perception of something beautiful, lovely. You understand all this? Not understand verbally, in your heart you do it.
And also to understand the nature and the structure, which is the movement of a religious mind, obviously must end sorrow. I do not know - one does not know if you have gone into this question at all. Because man has carried this burden of sorrow for millenia. And we still have it. Every human being throughout the world goes through the agony of tears, loneliness, grief, the ending of something. And every human being is caught in it and doesn't know how to put it away completely, totally. Religions haven't solved this. They said, "Think about God and forget yourself", or "The son of God, he sacrificed, he suffers for you therefore you don't suffer". You know all the religious games they play.
So we are asking, you are asking whether sorrow can end, as fear? Because fears is part of sorrow. And desire is part of sorrow. And if you go into the whole question of the whole movement of pleasure it is also part of this sorrow. Only we want pleasure and avoid the other. So we are asking, can this sorrow end, not only your particular sorrow, but the sorrow of mankind? Mankind's sorrow which is poverty, the utter degradation of poverty, class division, the constant uncertainty of life, the imminent wars, the destruction, the brutality of wars, man has never stopped wars. You understand sirs, all this? So there is not only your particular little agony but also the agony of the whole of mankind of which you are a part. So we have to resolve this. Without the resolution of it there is no religious mind, because when there is the ending of that sorrow something else comes into being - which is not a promise from me.
So we have to enquire whether sorrow can end. Which is, can fear end? Now we will go into it, bearing in mind the words are not the fact. The word 'sorrow' is not the agony that one has inside. And the description, however great, however subtle, however magnified, that description is the not the actual fear. Because we also have to understand the whole meaning of death because that is part of our life - the ending of the brain cells, the ending of everything that one has collected, gathered, held on.
Are you all waiting for me to answer, go into all this? What is sorrow? What is your sorrow? Don't answer it to me. Can you find out what your sorrow is? Is it loneliness? Is it that you have not been able to identify yourself with something or other? Is it that you have lost somebody whom you loved, or had a great affection, or companionship? Is it that you cannot have the power, the position, the prestige of someone who has? Please examine all this for yourself. Is it that you want happiness and you can't have it? You want to be loved and nobody loves you? Sir, you understand? Is it that you want to achieve some extraordinary status and you know that you have not the capacity, the brains, the essential activity, and you cry?
Now please listen. Either you take one sorrow after another, one grief after another, one particular grief and resolve it but in the resolution of it another grief arises. You understand this? Or can you observe the whole nature of this sorrow as a whole? You understand? Not a particular sorrow, because the particular can never lead to the whole, the particular is the broken piece, the broken piece is not the whole. So can you see the truth of that: the particular cannot possibly lead to the whole. And you may investigate each particular hoping thereby to come to the end of sorrow, and that is an impossible thing to do because one sorrow leads to another. Right? I wonder if you understand all this?
So can you observe the whole nature, the whole movement of sorrow? That is, to observe wholly. I mean by that word 'wholly' not only to have a very clear, logical, sane mind, sane observation, logical, clear, precise, and that precision is not diluted by your prejudice, by your longing, by your motive, so that you can observe without any distortion. Which means, can you put aside your opinions, your conclusions, or the commentator's conclusion, or the Gita's, the Upanishad's, the Bible's, put away all those conclusions, concepts, and to observe wholly the whole movement of man's agony and sorrow. You understand? Through the particular to come to the whole is false. Right? So when you see that which is false, that falls away. The very falling away of it, the disappearing, or non-existent, the very perception of the false is the beginning of intelligence. It is this intelligence, not yours, or mine, or a particular intelligence, this seeing that which is true, and that which is false - not the truth according to your conclusion, according to your prejudice, according to your tradition. You must be free of all that.
So can you observe not only your sorrow but the sorrow of mankind of which you are a part, as a whole; the sorrow of a person who is physically ill, and the sorrow of a person who doesn't believe in anything? And that person who doesn't believe in anything is the same as the man who believes. Don't agree with me, please, this is very, very serious, it is your life.
Now in the same way as we talked about it the other day, fear; can you observe not a particular fear but the root of fear? We said the root of fear is time, time is thought, thought is fear. Right? We went into that very carefully the other day. And in the same way this enormous burden of man which is called sorrow, can it ever end? The moment you have a motive that it must end in order to have something else, then you are lost. So in observation of this question of sorrow there is no motive. You understand? So when there is a motive - motive means movement - when there is a self-interested movement there is distortion in observation. Right? So when there is no motive in your examination of this enormous burden which man has carried then is that sorrow different from you? You understand? No, please sir, look at it, go into it. You understand? As you are fear, as you are angry, as you are jealous - jealous is not different from you, your greed is not different from you, that's our tradition - not mine - tradition says, you are different from you greed, therefore battle with it, fight it, control it. So we are saying quite the opposite: anger is you. Only when there is a moment of anger, anger being violence and all that, at the moment of anger there is neither you but that reaction. Then thought identifies itself with that reaction, saying, that's anger, I have been angry. Therefore thought separates itself from that thing which is called anger. I hope you are following all this. We went into it.
So we are saying, the observer is the observed, the thinker is the thought, the experiencer is the experience, and sorrow is not different from himself. You understand? When that takes place, that there is no division between you and that which you are observing, that is the observer is the observed, the man who has tears, or the woman who cries, is that sorrow himself. You understand? That sorrow is not separate from himself or herself. When there is no division, the very observation of that brings about a radical change in that which is being observed.
So is there an observation of sorrow without the observer? You understand what I am saying? I lose my son and I am lost. It is a shock, I am paralysed for the moment. Then I realize I have lost something which I have treasured, which I have held, with which I have identified myself, my son. So sorrow is the loss of that. And so I then ask, please help me to get rid of my sorrow. Or, I will meet my son next life. You follow? The avoidance and the escape from what is actually going on. The observation of what is actually going on - when one loses a son, or a husband, or wife, anything, that which is actually going on, in the observation of that, if there is no division, when the observer is the observed, then in that observation that which is being observed undergoes a radical, fundamental change. Test it out!
Because in our enquiry into what is a religious life any form of fear, any form of the activity of will, which is the essence of desire, any form of seeking pleasure, will distort your observation - distort not your, observation.
So we are saying there is an ending to sorrow. And when there is an ending to sorrow out of that comes passion, not lust, passion being compassion. So a religious mind, we are enquiring, we are not learning, we are not memorizing, you understand. The sacred books - no, I won't call them sacred - the books say, your traditional books say, the perfect man who has attained enlightenment is this, this, this character, that character, he is that kind, etc., it gives a complete description of what the enlightened man is. But the description is not the described, so you can throw away all those books. But to find out for yourself there must be freedom - freedom from fear. And pleasure is totally different from the perception of something beautiful, marvellous, a lovely sky, or a single star in the heavens, or a single tree in a field. There is in that a great beauty, great love, great joy. But when thought takes over that joy it becomes pleasure.
So we are saying there is a total ending of fear and when there is the ending of that fear there is no illusion whatsoever. And with the ending of sorrow there is passion, there is that extraordinary sense of tremendous energy. Not the energy to do more mischief but the energy of this great limitless intelligence of compassion.
And we have to stop now because it is time. And we have also to go into the whole question of death, and what is meditation, because in the understanding of that the religious mind comes into being. The religious mind comes into being when we understand the whole human existence of relationship in which there is no fear, no domination, no control, when we know what love is, then there is love. We will go into that tomorrow, because love has no remembrance, love is not the movement of desire, love is not the activity of pleasure. That's why it is so essential to understand all this because we have lost that thing, probably we never had it, that thing called love. Right sirs.
Madras 5th Public Talk 13th January 1979 'What Is a Religious Mind?'
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