How Do You Know What You Are Saying Is True?

From Krishnamurti’s Book THE WORLD OF PEACE

Question: How do you know what you are saying is true?

Krishnamurti: Why do you ask me that question? Isn’t it true that as long as there is national division, economic division, racial division, religious division, there must be conflict. That is a fact. Right? Would you accept that? So it is not what I say to be true, but the fact itself. Facts themselves show what the truth is. As we talked the other day about relationship: as long as there is this separation between two human beings, psychologically, there must be conflict. That is a fact. It is not what I say – how do I know what I say is true, but it is a fact that as long as I am ambitious and pursuing my particular form of pleasure, particular fulfilment, and my wife or husband, or girlfriend does the same, we must inevitably end up in conflict. That is a fact. So it is not: ‘How do I know what truth is?’ First of all let us look at facts.

We are greatly prejudiced people. We have a great many prejudices. We have cultivated them, we have strengthened them by public opinion and so on, that our prejudices prevent understanding other people. Right? That is a fact. So can one be free of prejudices, free of certain opinions which become so very strong in our lives? And the question then arises: how is it possible for human beings to be free of prejudices? That we can discuss. That we can have a conversation, a dialogue and say, look I have prejudices, suppose I have them, and you have them, and so these prejudices, whether they are idealistic prejudices, capitalist prejudices, totalitarian prejudices, religious prejudices, they divide people. Right? This is a simple fact. And where there is division, there must be conflict – the Arab and the Jew, the Islamic world and the rest of the world, those who are terribly bigoted and those who are not, must be in conflict. It is a fact. I have nothing to do with it. It isn’t how do I know what I am saying is true, we are just facing facts.

Now, what is a fact? What do you think is a fact? That which has happened before, an incident, a car accident, that is a fact. Or what is happening now, sitting here, is a fact. But what will happen in the future may not be a fact. So fact implies that which has happened before: yesterday, walking along the lane, I met a viper, I saw it, it didn’t bite me. That is a fact. And what is happening now, what I am thinking, what I am doing now, is a fact. And what I will do may not be a fact. It might happen or it might not happen. So if we are clear on what is a fact, then what is an idea? Is an idea a fact? And the word ‘idea’, the Greek and so on, Latin, means to observe. The root meaning of the word ‘idea’ is to observe, to perceive, to see. What we do is see a fact and make an abstraction of it and then pursue the idea. Which means there is always the fact and a conclusion from the fact, and pursue the fact, pursue the conclusion, not the understanding of the fact. Am I making myself clear?

So please it is not how do you know what you are saying is true, the speaker is merely pointing out facts. Those facts are not personal. If I say I am a Hindu and I stick to it, that is a fact. Whether it is an illusion, whether it is some kind of superstitious sentimental nonsense, that also is fact. You understand? Fact can be an illusion, or actual. But most of us live with illusions. I am an Indian – that is an illusion. And you are, if I may most gently point out, you are British – that is also an illusion. This tribal insular worship is destroying the world. That is a fact. As long as I am an Arab and you are something else, I am going to destroy you because I believe by destroying you I will go to heaven. Right? That is an illusion that they have accepted as a fact, and for that illusion they are willing to fight and kill, and destroy. Right? So can we always deal with facts? I am asking: can we always be with facts? Not translate the facts according to my prejudice, according to my belief, according to my neurotic illusions, however noble they are, can I look at these facts and understand what those facts are telling, saying? Suppose I had an accident in a car, can I look at that fact that I was rather careless, driving too fast, not paying complete attention to what I was doing because I was talking to my friend next to me – that is a fact. But I then say, ‘No, it is your fault’ – you know, the other fellow is a fool!

Now, it is a fact that we have ideals. Right? Don’t you all have ideals? No? I wish we could have a dialogue, friendly, talk to each other. Don’t you have ideals? I am afraid you do. Ideals. What are those ideals? Are they facts? The ideal that we must live peacefully. Right? The ideal that we must be – whatever it is, non-violent, or the ideals of a communist, which are drawn from historical study, but those studies are prejudiced by my conditioning, so why do we have ideals at all? I know this is a dangerous thing to say because most of us live with these extraordinary ideals. We are questioning, please I am not saying you should or should not have ideals. I am saying, why do we have ideals, faiths, beliefs, as a Christian, as a Buddhist, as a Hindu, I am an American, you are British, you know, all the rest of it – why? Is it our brain is incapable of living without any illusion? What do you say to that? Is my brain capable, strong, vital, to understand things as they are and not create a future ideal? Ideal is non-existent. And we know that ideals of every kind, faith, belief, divide people. That is a fact.

So, can we be free of ideals, of faith, of being identified with one group and against another group which identifies with another group. You follow? Be free of all this. Could we – or is that impossible? If we could have a dialogue about this then we would exchange views – yes, it is possible, it is not possible, why is it not possible – you understand? Could we do that now? To have a free mind, free brain, that is not cluttered up with a lot of rubbish, a lot of illusions, is that possible? And some of you may say, no, it is not possible because I can’t live without my beliefs. I must have my ideals, my faith, otherwise I am lost – with your faiths, with your beliefs, ideals you are already lost. That is a fact. You are very lost people. But whereas if we could have a dialogue, conversation, and say, why do I cling to my particular prejudice, particular ideal, and so on, why have I identified myself with them? Why do I identify myself with anything? You follow? Push it. Push it deeply to find out why we do all these things. Why we have allowed ourselves to be programmed. Why are we afraid of public opinion and so on and so on.

So the question: how do you know what you are saying is true? I am afraid it has very little meaning. Truth is not something that is mysterious, truth is where you are. From there we can begin. Truth is I am angry, I am jealous, I am aggressive, I quarrel. That is a fact. So one must begin, if one may most respectfully point out, where one is. That is why it is important to know oneself, to have complete knowledge of oneself, not from others, not from psychologists, brain specialists and so on, but to know what you are. Because you are the story of mankind. Do you understand all this? If you know how to read that book which is yourself, then you know all the activities and the brutalities and the stupidities of mankind because you are the rest of the world.