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Think on These Things

Part 1

This Matter of Culture Chapter 11

HAVE YOU EVER sat very quietly with closed eyes and watched the movement of your own thinking? Have you watched your mind working - or rather, has your mind watched itself in operation, just to see what your thoughts are, what your feelings are, how you look at the trees, at the flowers, at the birds, at people, how you respond to a suggestion or react to a new idea? Have you ever done this? If you have not, you are missing a great deal. To know how one's mind works is a basic purpose of education. If you don't know how your mind reacts, if your mind is not aware of its own activities, you will never find out what society is. You may read books on sociology, study social sciences, but if you don't know how your own mind works you cannot actually understand what society is, because your mind is part of society; it is society. Your reactions, your beliefs, your going to the temple, the clothes you wear, the things you do and don't do and what you think - society is made up of all this, it is the replica of what is going on in your own mind. So your mind is not apart from society, it is not distinct from your culture, from your religion, from your various class divisions, from the ambitions and conflicts of the many. All this is society, and you are part of it. There is no `you' separate from society.

Now, society is always trying to control, to shape, to mould the thinking of the young. From the moment you are born and begin to receive impressions, your father and mother are constantly telling you what to do and what not to do, what to believe and what not to believe; you are told that there is God, or that there is no God but the State and that some dictator is its prophet. From childhood these things are poured into you, which means that your mind - which is very young, impressionable, inquisitive, curious to know, wanting to find out - is gradually being encased, conditioned, shaped so that you will fit into the pattern of a particular society and not be a revolutionary. Since the habit of patterned thinking has already been established in you, even if you do `revolt' it is within the pattern. It is like prisoners revolting in order to have better food, more conveniences - but always within the prison. When you seek God, or try to find out what is right government, it is always within the pattern of society, which says, "This is true and that is false, this is good and that is bad, this is the right leader and these are the saints". So your revolt, like the so-called revolution brought about by ambitious or very clever people, is always limited by the past. That is not revolt, that is not revolution: it is merely heightened activity, a more valiant struggle within the pattern. Real revolt, true revolution is to break away from the pattern and to inquire outside of it.

You see, all reformers - it does not matter who they are - are merely concerned with bettering the conditions within the prison. They never tell you not to conform, they never say, "Break through the walls of tradition and authority, shake off the conditioning that holds the mind". And that is real education: not merely to require you to pass examinations for which you have crammed up, or to write out something which you have learnt by heart, but to help you to see the walls of this prison in which the mind is held. Society influences all of us, it constantly shapes our thinking, and this pressure of society from the outside is gradually translated as the inner; but, however deeply it penetrates, it is still from the outside, and there is no such thing as the inner as long as you do not break through this conditioning. You must know what you are thinking, and whether you are thinking as a Hindu, or a Moslem, or a Christian; that is, in terns of the religion you happen to belong to. You must be conscious of what you believe or do not believe. All this is the pattern of society and, unless you are aware of the pattern and break away from it, you are still a prisoner though you may think you are free.

But you see, most of us are concerned with revolt within the prison; we want better food, a little more light, a larger window so that we can see a little more of the sky. We are concerned with whether the outcaste should enter the temple or not; we want to break down this particular caste, and in the very breaking down of one caste we create another, a `superior' caste; so we remain prisoners, and there is no freedom in prison. Freedom lies outside the walls, outside the pattern of society; but to be free of that pattern you have to understand the whole content of it, which is to understand your own mind. It is the mind that has created the present civilization, this tradition-bound culture or society and, without understanding your own mind, merely to revolt as a communist, a socialist, this or that, has very little meaning. That is why it is very important to have self-knowledge, to be aware of all your activities, your thoughts and feelings; and this is education, is it not? Because when you are fully aware of yourself your mind becomes very sensitive, very alert.

You try this - not someday in the faraway future, but tomorrow or this afternoon. If there are too many people in your room, if your home is crowded, then go away by yourself, sit under a tree or on the river bank and quietly observe how your mind works. Don't correct it, don't say, "This is right, that is wrong", but just watch it as you would a film. When you go to the cinema you are not taking part in the film; the actors and actresses are taking part, but you are only watching. In the same way, watch how your mind works. It is really very interesting, far more interesting than any film, because your mind is the residue of the whole world and it contains all that human beings have experienced. Do you understand? Your mind is humanity, and when you perceive this, you will have immense compassion. Out of this understanding comes great love; and then you will know, when you see lovely things, what beauty is.

Questioner: How did you learn all that you are talking about, and how can we come to know it?

Krishnamurti: That is a good question, is it not?

Now, if I may talk about myself a little, I have not read any books about these things, neither the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, nor any psychological books; but as I told you, if you watch your own mind, it is all there. So when once you set out on the journey of self-knowledge, books are not important. It is like entering a strange land where you begin to find out new things and make astonishing discoveries; but, you see, that is all destroyed if you give importance to yourself. The moment you say, "I have discovered, I know, I am a great man because I have found out this and that", you are lost. If you have to take a long journey, you must carry very little; if you want to climb to a great height, you must travel light.

So this question is really important, because discovery and understanding come through self-knowledge, through observing the ways of the mind. What you say of your neighbour, how you talk, how you walk, how you look at the skies, at the birds, how you treat people, how you cut a branch - all these things are important, because they act like mirrors that show you as you are and, if you are alert, you discover everything anew from moment to moment.

Questioner: Should we form an idea about someone, or not?

Krishnamurti: Should you have ideas about people? Should you form an opinion, make a judgment about someone? When you have ideas about your teacher, what is important to you? Not your teacher, but your ideas about him. And that is what happens in life, is it not? We all have opinions about people; we say, "He is good", "He is vain", "He is superstitious", "He does this or that". We have a screen of ideas between ourselves and another person, so we never really meet that person. Hawing seen someone do something, we say, "He has done this thing; so it becomes important to date events. Do you understand? If you see someone do something which you consider to be good or bad, you then have an opinion of him which tends to become fixed and, when you meet that person ten days or a year later, you still think of him in terms of your opinion. But during this period he may have changed; therefore it is very important not to say, "He is like that", but to say, "He was like that in February", because by the end of the year he may be entirely different. If you say of anyone, "I know that person", you may be totally wrong, because you know him only up to a certain point, or by the events which took place on a particular date, and beyond that you don't know him at all. So what is important is to meet another human being always with a fresh mind, and not with your prejudices, with your fixed ideas, with your opinions.

Questioner: What is feeling and how do we feel?

Krishnamurti: If you have lessons in physiology, your teacher has probably explained to you how the whole human nervous system is built up. When somebody pinches you, you feel pain. What does that mean? Your nerves carry a sensation to the brain, the brain translates it as pain, and then you say, "You have hurt me". Now, that is the physical part of feeling.

Similarly, there is psychological feeling, is there not? If you think you are marvellously beautiful and somebody says, "You are an ugly person", you feel hurt. Which means what? You hear certain words which the brain translates as unpleasant or insulting, and you are disturbed; or somebody flatters you and you say, "How pleasurable it is to hear this". So feeling-thinking is a reaction - a reaction to a pinprick, to an insult, to flattery, and so on. The whole of this is the process of feeling-thinking but it is much more complex than this, and you can go deeper and deeper into it.

You see, when we have a feeling, we always name it, don't we? We say it is pleasurable or painful. When we are angry we give that feeling a name, we call it anger; but have you ever thought what would happen if you did not name a feeling? You try it. The next time you get angry, don't name it, don't call it anger; just be aware of the feeling without giving it a name, and see what happens.

Questioner: What is the difference between Indian culture and American culture?

Krishnamurti: When we talk about American culture we generally mean the European culture which was transplanted in America, a culture which has since become modified and extended in meeting new frontiers, physical as well as mental.

And what is Indian culture? What is the culture which you have here? What do you mean by the word `culture'? If you have ever done any gardening you know how you cultivate and prepare the soil. You dig, remove rocks, and if necessary you add compost, a decomposed mixture of leaves, hay, manure, and other kinds of organic matter, to make the soil rich, and then you plant. The rich soil gives nourishment to the plant, and the plant gradually produces that marvellously lovely thing called a rose.

Now, the Indian culture is like that. Millions of people have produced it by their struggles, by exercising their will, by wanting this and resisting that, constantly thinking, suffering, fearing, avoiding, enjoying; also climate, food and clothing have had their influence on it. So we have here an extraordinary soil, the soil being the mind; and before it was completely moulded, there were a few vital, creative people who exploded all over Asia. They did not say, as you do, "I must accept the edicts of society. What will my father think if I do not?" On the contrary, they were people who had found something and they were not lukewarm, they were hot about it. Now, the whole of that is the Indian culture. What you think, the food you eat, the clothes you put on, your manners, your traditions, your speech, your paintings and statues, your gods, your priests and your sacred books - all that is the Indian culture, is it not?

So the Indian culture is somewhat different from the European culture, but underneath the movement is the same. This movement may express itself differently in America, because the demands are different there; there is less tradition and they have more refrigerators, cars, and so on. But it is the same movement underneath - the movement to find happiness, to find out what God, what truth is; and when this movement stops, culture declines, as it has done in this country. When this movement is blocked by authority, by tradition, by fear, there is decay, deterioration.

The urge to find out what truth is, what God is, is the only real urge, and all other urges are subsidiary. When you throw a stone into still water, it makes expanding circles. The expand- ing circles are the subsidiary movements, the social reactions, but the real movement is at the centre, which is the movement to find happiness, God, truth; and you cannot find it as long as you are caught in fear, held by a threat. From the moment there is the arising of threat and fear, culture declines.

That is why it is very important, while you are young, not to become conditioned, not to be held in by fear of your parents, of society, so that there is in you this timeless movement to discover what is truth. The men who seek out what is truth, what is God - only such men can create a new civilization, a new culture; not the people who conform, or who merely revolt within the prison of the old conditioning. You may put on the robes of an ascetic, join this society or that, leave one religion for another, try in various ways to be free; but unless there is within you this movement to find out what is the real, what is truth, what is love your efforts will be without significance. You may be very learned and do the things which society calls good, but they are all within the prison walls of tradition and therefore of no revolutionary value at all.

Questioner: What do you think of Indians?

Krishnamurti: That is really an innocent question, is it not? To see facts without opinion is one thing, but to have opinions about facts is totally another. It is one thing just to see the fact that a whole people are caught in superstition, but quite another to see that fact and condemn it. Opinions are not important, because I will have one opinion, you will have another, and a third person will have still another. To be concerned with opinions is a stupid form of thinking. What is important is to see facts as they are without opinion, without judging, without comparing.

To feel beauty without opinion is the only real perception of beauty. Similarly, if you can see the people of India just as they are, see them very clearly without fixed opinions, without judging, then what you see will be real.

The Indians have certain manners, certain customs of their own, but fundamentally they are like any other people. They get bored, they are cruel, they are afraid, they revolt within the prison of society, just as people do everywhere else. Like the Americans, they also want comfort, only at present they do not have it to the same extent. They have a heavy tradition about renouncing the world and trying to be saintly; but they also have deep-rooted ambitions, hypocrisy, greed, envy, and they are broken up by castes, as human beings are everywhere else, only here it is much more brutal. Here in India you can see more closely the whole phenomenon of what is happening in the world. We want to be loved, but we don't know what love is; we are unhappy, thirsting for something real, and we turn to books, to the Upanishads, the Gita, or the Bible, so we get lost in words, in speculations. Whether it is here, or in Russia, or in America, the human mind is similar, only it expresses itself in different ways under different skies and different governments.

Think on These Things

Part 1

This Matter of Culture Chapter 11

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