Flight of The Eagle
Flight of The Eagle Chapter 4 Amsterdam 1st Public Talk 3rd May 1969 'Can Man Change?'
Krishnamurti: We look at conditions prevailing in the world and observe what is happening there - the students' riots, the class prejudices, the conflict of black against white, the wars, the political confusion, the divisions caused by nationalities and religions. We are also aware of conflict, struggle, anxiety, loneliness, despair, lack of love, and fear. Why do we accept all this? Why do we accept the moral, social environment knowing very well that it is utterly immoral; knowing this for ourselves - not merely emotionally or sentimentally but looking at the world and at ourselves - why do we live this way? Why is it that our educational system does not turn out real human beings but mechanical entities trained to accept certain jobs and finally die? Education, science and religion have not solved our problems at all.
Looking at all this confusion, why does each one of us accept and conform, instead of shattering the whole process in our. selves? I think we should ask this question, not intellectually, nor in order to find some god, some realization, some peculiar happiness which inevitably leads to escapes of various kinds, but looking at it quietly, with steady eyes, without any judgment and evaluation. We should ask, as grown-up people, why it is that we live this way - live, struggle and die. And when we do ask such a question seriously, with full intention to understand it, philosophies, theories, speculative ideations have no place at all. What matters is not what should be or what might be or what principle we should follow, what kind of ideals we should have or to what religion or to which guru we should turn. All those responses are obviously utterly meaningless when you are confronted with this confusion, with the misery and constant conflict in which we live. We have made life into a battlefield, each family, each group, each nation against the other. Seeing all this, not as an idea, but as something which you actually observe, are confronted with, you will ask yourself what it is all about. Why do we go on in this way, neither living nor loving, but full of fear and terror till we die?
When you ask this question, what will you do? It cannot be asked by those people who are comfortably settled in familiar ideals, in a comfortable house, with a little money and who are highly respectable, bourgeois. If they do ask questions, such people translate them according to their individual demands for satisfaction. But as this is a very human, ordinary problem, which touches the life of everyone of us, rich and poor, young and old, why do we live this monotonous, meaningless life, going to the office or working in a laboratory or a factory for forty years, breeding a few children, educating them in absurd ways, and then dying? I think you should ask this question with all your being, in order to find out. Then you can ask the next question: whether human beings can ever change radically, fundamentally, so that they look at the world anew with different eyes, with a different heart, no longer filled with hatred, antagonism, racial prejudices, but with a mind that is very clear, that has tremendous energy.
Seeing all this - the wars, the absurd divisions which religions have brought about, the separation between the individual and the community, the family opposed to the rest of the world, each human being clinging to some peculiar ideal, dividing himself into `me' and `you,' `we' and `they' - seeing all this, both objectively and psychologically, there remains only one question, one fundamental problem and this is whether the human mind, which is so heavily conditioned, can change. Not in some future incarnation, nor at the end of life, but change radically now, so that the mind becomes new, fresh, young, innocent, unburdened, so that we know what it means to love and to live in peace. I think this is the only problem. When this is solved, every other problem, economic or social, all those things which lead to wars will end, and there will be a different structure of society.
So our question is, whether the mind, the brain and the heart can live as though for the first time, uncontaminated, fresh, innocent, knowing what it means to live happily, ecstatically with deep love. You know, there is danger in listening to rhetorical questions; this is not a rhetorical question at all - it is our life. We are not concerned with words or with ideas. Most of us are caught up with words, never realizing deeply that the word is never the thing, the description is never the thing described. And if we could, during these talks, try to understand this deep problem, how the human mind - involving as it does, the brain, the mind and the heart - has been conditioned through centuries, by propaganda, fear and other influences, then we could ask whether that mind can undergo a radical transformation; so that men can live peacefully throughout the world, with great love, with great ecstasy and the realization of that which is immeasurable.
This is our problem, whether the mind, which is so burdened with past memories and traditions, can without effort, struggle or conflict, bring about the flame of change within itself and burn away the dross of yesterday. Having put that question - which I am sure every thoughtful, serious person asks - where shall we begin? Shall we begin with change in the bureaucratic world, in the social structure, outwardly? Or shall we start inwardly, that is psychologically? Shall we consider the outside world, with all its technological knowledge, the marvels of what man has done in the scientific field, shall we begin there and bring about a revolution? Man has tried that, too. He has said, when you change the outer things radically, as all the bloody revolutions of history have done, then man will change and he will be a happy human being. The Communist and other revolutions have said: bring about order outside and there will be order within. They have also said that it doesn't matter if there is no order within, what matters is that we should have order in the world outside - ideational order, a Utopia, in the name of which millions have been killed.
So let us begin inwardly, psychologically. This doesn't mean that you let the present social order, with all its confusion and disorder, remain as it is. But is there a division between inner and outer? Or is there only one movement in which the inner and the outer exist, not as two separate things but simply as movement? I think it is very important, if we are to establish not only verbal communication - speaking English as our common language, using words that we both understand - also to make use of a different kind of communication; because we are going to go into things very deeply and very seriously, so there must be communication within and beyond verbal communication. There must be communion, which implies that both of us are profoundly concerned, care, and look at this problem with affection, with an urge to understand it. So there must be not only verbal communication, but also a deep communion in which there is no question of agreement or disagreement. Agreement and disagreement should never arise, because we are not dealing with ideas, opinions, concepts or ideals - we are concerned with the problem of human change. And neither your opinion nor my opinion has any value at all. If you say that it is impossible to change human beings, who have been like this for thousands of years, you have already blocked yourself, you will not proceed, you will not begin to inquire or to explore. Or if you merely say that this is possible, then you live in a world of possibilities, not of realities.
So one must come to this question without saying it is or it is not possible to change. One must come to it with a fresh mind, eager to find out, young enough to examine and explore. We must not only establish clear, verbal communication, but there should be communion between the speaker and yourself, a feeling of friendship and affection which exists when we are all tremendously concerned about something. When husband and wife are deeply concerned about their children, they put aside all opinions, their particular likes and dislikes, because they are concerned about the child. In that concern there is great affection, it is not an opinion that controls action. Similarly there must be that feeling of deep communion between you and the speaker, so that we are both faced with the same problem with the same intensity at the same time. Then we can establish this communion which alone brings about a deep understanding.
So there is this question as to how the mind, deeply conditioned as it is, can change radically. I hope you are putting this question to yourself, because unless there is morality which is not social morality, unless there is austerity which is not the austerity of the priest with his harshness and violence, unless there is order deeply within, this search for truth, for reality, for God - or for whatever name you like to give it - has no meaning at all. Perhaps those of you who have come here to find out how to realize God or how to have some mysterious experience, will be disappointed; because unless you have a new mind, a fresh mind, eyes that see what is true, you cannot possibly understand the immeasurable, the nameless, that which is.
If you merely want wider, deeper experiences but lead a shoddy, meaningless life, then you will have experiences that won't be worth anything. We must go into this together - you will find this question very complex because many things are involved in it. To understand it there must be freedom and energy; those two things we must all have - great energy and freedom to observe. If you are tied to a particular belief, if you are tethered to a particular ideational Utopia, obviously you are not free to look.
There is this complex mind, conditioned as Catholic or Pro- testant, looking for security, bound by ambition and tradition. For a mind that has become shallow - except in the technological field - going to the moon is a marvellous achievement. But those who built the spacecraft lead their own shoddy lives, petty, jealous, anxious and ambitious and their minds are conditioned. We are asking whether such minds can be completely free from all conditioning, so that a totally different kind of life can be lived. To find this out, there must be freedom to observe, not as a Christian, a Hindu, a Dutchman, a German, or a Russian or as anything else. To observe very clearly there must be freedom, which implies that the very observation is action. That very observation brings about a radical revolution. To be capable of such observation, you need great energy.
So we are going to find out why human beings do not have the energy, the drive, the intensity to change. They have any amount of energy to quarrel, to kill each other, to divide the world, to go to the moon - they have got energy for these things. But apparently they have not the energy to change themselves radically. So we are asking why haven't we this necessary energy?
I wonder what your response is when such a question is put to you? We said, man has enough energy to hate; when there is a war he fights, and when he wants to escape from what really is, he has the energy to run away from it - through ideas, through amusements, through gods, through drink. When he wants pleasure, sexual or otherwise, he pursues these things with great energy. He has the intelligence to overcome his environment, he has the energy to live at the bottom of the sea or to live in the skies - for this he has got vital energy. But apparently he has not the energy to change even the smallest habit. Why? Because we dissipate that energy in conflict within ourselves. We are not trying to persuade you of anything, we are not making propaganda, we are not replacing old ideas with new ones. We are trying to discover, to understand. You see, we realize that we must change. Let us take as an example violence and brutality - those are facts. Human beings are brutal and violent; they have built a society which is violent in spite of all that the religions have said about loving your neighbour and loving God. All these things are just ideas, they have no value whatsoever, because man remains brutal, violent and selfish. And being violent, he invents the opposite, which is nonviolence. Please go into this with me.
Man is trying all the time to become nonviolent. So there is conflict between what is, which is violence, and what should be, which is nonviolence. There is conflict between the two. That is the very essence of wastage of energy. As long as there is duality between what is and what should be - man trying to become something else, making an effort to achieve what `should be' - that conflict is waste of energy. As long as there is conflict between the opposites, man has not enough energy to change. Why should I have the opposite at all, as nonviolence, as the ideal? The ideal is not real, it has no meaning, it only leads to various forms of hypocrisy; being violent and pretending not to be violent. Or if you say you are an idealist and will eventually become peaceful, that is a great pretense, an excuse, because it will take many years for you to be without violence - indeed it may never happen. In the meantime you are a hypocrite and still violent. So if we can, not in abstraction but actually, put aside completely all ideals and only deal with the fact - which is violence - then there is no wastage of energy. This is really very important to understand, it isn't a particular theory of the speaker. As long as man lives in the corridor of opposites he must waste energy and therefore he can never change.
So with one breath you could wipe away all ideologies, all opposites. Please go into it and understand this; it is really quite extraordinary what takes place. If a man who is angry pretends or tries not to be angry, in that there is conflict. But if he says, `I will observe what anger is, not try to escape or rationalize it,' then there is energy to understand and put an end to anger. If we merely develop an idea that the mind must be free from conditioning, there will remain a duality between the fact and what `should be.' Therefore it is a waste of energy. Whereas if you say, `I will find out in what manner the mind is conditioned,' it is like going to the surgeon when one has cancer. The surgeon is concerned with operating and removing the disease. But if the patient is thinking about what a marvellous time he is going to have afterward, or is frightened about the operation, that is waste of energy.
We are concerned only with the fact that the mind is conditioned and not that the mind `should be free.' If the mind is unconditioned it is free. So we are going to find out, examine very closely, what makes the mind so conditioned, what are the influences that have brought about this conditioning, and why we accept it. First of all, tradition plays an enormous part in life. In that tradition the brain has developed so that it can find physical security. One cannot live without security, that is the very first, primary animal demand, that there be physical security; one must have a house, food and clothing. But the psychological way in which we use this necessity for security brings about chaos within and without. The psyche, which is the very structure of thought, also want to be secure inwardly, in all its relationships. Then the trouble begins. There must be physical security for everybody, not only for the few; but that physical security for everybody is denied when psychological security is sought through nations, through religions, through the family. I hope you understand and that we have established some kind of communication between us.
So there is the necessary conditioning for physical security, but when there is the search and the demand for psychological security, then conditioning becomes tremendously potent. That is, psychologically, in our relationship with ideas, people and things, we want security, but is there security at all, in any relationship? Obviously there is not. Wanting security psycho- logically is to deny outward security. If I want to be secure psychologically as a Hindu, with all the traditions, superstitions and ideas, I identify myself with the larger unit which gives me great comfort. So I worship the flag, the nation, the tribe and separate myself from the rest of the world. And this division obviously brings about insecurity physically. When I worship the nation, the customs, the religious dogmas, the superstitions, I separate myself within these categories and then obviously I must deny physical security for everybody else. The mind needs physical security, which is denied when it seeks psychological security. This is a fact, not an opinion - it is so. When I seek security in my family, my wife, my children, my house, I must be against the world, I must separate myself from other families, be against the rest of the world.
One can see very clearly how the conditioning begins, how two thousand years of propaganda in the Christian world has made it worship its culture, while the same kind of thing has been going on in the East. So the mind through propaganda, through tradition, through the desire to be secure, begins to condition itself. But is there any security psychologically, in relationship with ideas, with people and with things?
If relationship means being in contact with things directly, you are unrelated if you are not in contact. If I have an idea, an image about my wife I am not related to her. I may sleep with her but I am not related to her, because my image of her prevents my directly coming into contact with her. And she, with her image, prevents a direct relationship with me. Is there any psychological certainty or security such as the mind is always seeking? Obviously when you observe any relationship very closely, there is no certainty. In the case of husband and wife or boy and girl who want to establish a firm relationship, what happens? When the wife or the husband looks at anyone else there is fear, jealousy, anxiety, anger and hatred there is no permanent relationship. Yet the mind all the time wants the feeling of belonging.
So that is the factor of conditioning, through propaganda, newspapers, magazines, from the pulpit, and one becomes tremendously aware how necessary it is not to rely on outside influences at all. You then find out what it means not to be influenced. Please follow this. When you read a newspaper you are influenced, consciously or unconsciously. When you read a novel or a book you are influenced; there is pressure, strain, to put what you read into some category. That is the whole purpose of propaganda. It begins at school and you go through life repeating what others have said. You are therefore secondhand human beings. How can such a secondhand human being find out something that is original, that is true? It is very important to understand what conditioning is and to go into this very deeply; as you look at it you have the energy to break down all those conditionings that hold the mind.
Perhaps now you would like to ask questions and so go into this matter, bearing in mind that it is very easy to ask questions, but to ask the right question is one of the most difficult things. Which doesn't mean the speaker is preventing you from asking questions. We must ask questions, we must doubt everything anybody has said, books, religions, authorities, everything! We must question, doubt, be sceptical. But we must also know when to let scepticism go by and to ask the right question, because in that very question lies the answer. So if you want to ask questions, please do.
Questioner: Sir, are you crazy?
Krishnamurti: Are you asking the speaker if is he crazy? Good. I wonder what you mean by that word `crazy; do you mean unbalanced, mentally ill, with peculiar ideas, neuro- tic? All these are implied in that word `crazy.' Who is the judge - you or I or somebody else? Seriously, who is the judge? Will the crazy person judge who is crazy and who is not crazy? If you judge whether the speaker is balanced or unbalanced, is not judgment part of the craziness of this world? To judge somebody, not knowing a thing about him except his reputation, the image that you have about him. If you judge according to the reputation and the propaganda which you have swallowed, then are you capable of judging? judgment implies vanity; whether the judge be neurotic or sane, there is always vanity. Can vanity perceive what is true? - or do you not need great humility to look, to understand, to love. Sir,it's one of the most difficult things to be sane in this abnormal, insane world. Sanity implies having no illusion, no image at all about oneself or about another. You say, `I am this, I am that, I am great, I am small, I am good, I am noble; all those epithets are images about oneself. When one has an image about oneself one is surely insane, one lives in a world of illusion. And I am afraid most of us do. When you call yourself a Dutchman - forgive me for saying so - you are not quite balanced. You separate yourself, isolate yourself - as others do when they call themselves Hindus. These nationalistic, religious divisions, with their armies, with their priests, indicate a state of mental insanity.
Questioner: Can you understand violence without having the opposite of it?
Krishnamurti: When the mind wants to stay with violence it invites the ideal of nonviolence. Look, that is very simple. I want to remain with violence, which is what I am, what human beings are - brutal. But I have the tradition of ten thousand years which says, `Cultivate nonviolence'. So there is the fact that I am violent and thought says, `Look, you must be nonviolent.' That is my conditioning. How am I to be free of my conditioning so that I look, so that I remain with violence and understand it, go through it and finish with it? - not only at the superficial level but also deep down, at the so-called unconscious level. How is the mind not to be caught in the ideal? Is that the question?
Please listen. We are not talking about Martin Luther King or Mr.Gandhi, or X, Y, Z. We are not concerned with these people at all - they have their ideals, their conditioning, their political ambitions, and I am not concerned with any of that. We are dealing with what we are, you and I, the human beings we are. As human beings we are violent, we are conditioned through tradition, propaganda, culture, to create the opposite; we use the opposite when it suits us and we don't use it if it doesn't suit us. We use it politically or spiritually in different ways. But what we are now saying is that when the mind wants to stay with violence and understand it completely, tradition and habit come in and interfere. They say, `You must have the ideal of nonviolence.' There is the fact and there is the tradition. How is the mind to break away from the tradition in order to give all this attention to violence? That is the question. Have you understood it? There is the fact that I am violent, and there is the tradition which says I must not be. Now I will look, not at violence, but at the tradition only. If it interferes with my wanting to pay attention to violence, why does it interfere? Why does it come in? My concern is not understanding violence, but understanding the interference of tradition. Have you got it? I give my attention to that, and then it doesn't interfere. So I find out why tradition plays such an important part in one's life - tradition being habit. Whether it is the habit of smoking, or drinking, a sexual habit or habit of speech - why do we live in habits? Are we aware of them? Are we aware of our traditions? If you are not completely aware, if you do not understand the tradition, the habit, the routine, then it is bound to impinge, to interfere with what you want to look at. It is one of the easiest things to live in habits, but to break this down implies a great many things - I may lose my job. When I try to break through I am afraid, because to live in habit gives me security, makes me feel certain, because all other human beings are doing the same. To stand up in a Dutch world suddenly and say `I am not a Dutchman' produces a shock. So there is fear. And if you say `I am against this whole established order, which is disorder" you'll be thrown out; so you are afraid, and you accept. Tradition plays an extraordinarily important part in life. Have you ever tried to eat a meal to which you are not accustomed? Find out and you will see how your stomach and your tongue will rebel. If you are in the habit of smoking you go on smoking, and to break the habit you'll spend years fighting it.
So the mind finds security in habits, saying, `My family, my children, my house, my furniture.' When you say `my furniture' you are that furniture. You may laugh, but when that particular furniture which you love is taken away from you, you get angry. You are that furniture, that house, that money, that flag. To live in that way is to live not only a shallow, stupid life, but to live in routine and boredom. And when you live in routine and boredom you must have violence.
Amsterdam, May 3, 1969
Flight of The Eagle
Flight of The Eagle Chapter 4 Amsterdam 1st Public Talk 3rd May 1969 'Can Man Change?'
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