Can We Think Together?

From Krishnamurti’s Book THE FUTURE IS NOW

We are supposed to have lived on this earth for a million years, and during that long evolution we have remained barbarians. We may be cleaner, quicker at communication, have better hygiene, transportation and so on, but morally, ethically and – if I may use that word – spiritually, we are still barbarians. We kill each other not only in war, but also by words, by gestures. We are very competitive. We are very ambitious. Each is concerned with himself. Self-interest is the dominant note in our life – concern with our own well-being, security, possessions, power, and so on. Aren’t we concerned with ourselves – spiritually, religiously, in business? Right through the world we are all concerned with ourselves. That means isolating ourselves from the rest of humanity. That is a fact; we are not exaggerating. We are not saying something that is not true.

Wherever you go – the speaker has been all over the world and still goes round – what is happening? Increase in armaments, violence, fanaticism and the great, deep sense of insecurity, uncertainty and separateness – you and I – is a common note of mankind. Please, we are facing facts, not theories, not some kind of distant theoretical, philosophical statements. We are looking at facts. Not my facts as opposed to your facts but facts. Every country in the world, as you must all know, is gathering armaments – every country, however poor, however rich. Right? Look at your own country – the immense poverty, disorder, corruption, you all know that, and the gathering of armaments. It used to be a club to kill another, now you can vaporize mankind by the million with one atom bomb or neutron bomb. An immense revolution is going on, of which we know very little. The technological process is so rapid, that overnight there is something new. But ethically we are what we have been for a million years. You understand the contrast? Technologically we have the computer which will out-think man, which can invent new meditations, new gods, new theories. And man – that is, you and I – what is going to happen to our brains? The computer can do almost anything that human beings can, except, of course, have sex or look at the new moon. This is not some theory; it is happening now. So, what is going to happen to us as human beings?

We want entertainment. Probably this is part of your idea of entertainment, coming here, sitting listening and agreeing or disagreeing, and going back home to carry on with your life; it’s a part of entertainment, as going to church, the temple, the mosque, or football or cricket in this country. Please, this is not an entertainment. You and I, the speaker, must think together, not just sit quietly and absorb some strange atmosphere, some punya; sorry, it is not like that at all.

We are going to think together sanely, logically, look at the same thing together. Not how you look and I look, but together observe our daily life, which is far more important than anything else – observe it every minute of our day. So first we are going to think together, not merely listen, agree or disagree, which is very easy. One wishes strongly that you could put aside agreement and disagreement! That is very difficult for most people who are too eager to agree or disagree. Our reactions are so quick, we classify everything – religious man, irreligious man, mundane, and so on. So if you could, this morning at least, put aside completely agreement and disagreement and merely observe together, think together. Will you do it? – Put aside altogether your opinion and my opinion, your way of thinking and the other person’s way of thinking and merely observe together, think together.

Agreement and disagreement divide people. It is illogical to say, ‘Yes, I agree with you’ or, ‘I do not agree with you’, because you are either projecting, holding on to your opinion, your judgement, your evaluation, or discarding what is said. So could we this morning, just for amusement, for entertainment if you like, forget our opinions, our judgements, our agreements or disagreements and have a good clear brain – not devotional or emotional or romantic, but a brain that does not get involved in all the complications of theory, opinion, admission and dissension. Could we do that?

So let us proceed. What is thinking? Every human being in the world, everyone from the most ignorant, most crude, from the very, very small person in a little village to the most highly sophisticated scientist, has something in common – thinking. We all think – the villager who has never read anything, never been to a school, college or university, and most of you here who have been educated. The man who sits in the Himalayas by himself, he also thinks. And this thinking has been going on right from the beginning. So you must first ask the question: what is thinking? What is it that you think about? Will you answer that question first – not from books, not from the Gita or the Upanishads or the Bible or the Koran.

What is thinking? We live by thinking. Our daily action is based on thinking. You may think one way, and another may think another way, but it is still thinking. So, what is it? Can you think if you have no memory? Can you think backwards and forward, – what you will do tomorrow or the next hour, or what you have done yesterday or this morning? – which in the technological world of the computer is called architecture. So we must find out, together, not the Indian way of thinking or the European way of thinking, or the particular way of thinking of the Buddhist, the Hindu, the Muslim, the Christian or any other sect, but what is thinking. Unless we really understand the process of thinking, our life is always going to be very, very limited. So, we must very deeply, seriously, examine this whole process of thinking which shapes our life. Man has created god by his thinking; god has not created man. It must be a very poor god who created these human beings who are fighting each other perpetually. So, what is thinking and why have we made problems of it?

Why do we have problems in our life? We have plenty of them – political problems, financial problems, economic problems, the problems of one religion against another, problems by the thousands. What is a problem and what is the meaning of the word problem? According to the dictionary, it means something thrown at you, a challenge, something you’ve got to look at, face. You can’t dodge it, you can’t run away from it, you can’t suppress it; it’s there like a sore thumb. Why is it that all our life, from the moment we are born till we die, we have problems – about death, about fear, about a hundred things? Are you asking this question, or am I asking it for you? From the moment you are born you have problems. You go to school – there, you have to read, write, and that becomes a problem to the child. A little later he has to learn mathematics, and that becomes a problem. And the mother says, ‘Do this, and don’t do that,’ and that becomes a problem. So from childhood we are bred in problems, our brain is conditioned in problems; it’s never free from problems. As you grow, become adolescent, have sex, learn how to earn money, whether to follow society or not – all this becomes a problem. And in the end you yield to society, to the environment. Every politician in the world solves one problem and thereby creates other problems. Haven’t you noticed all this? The human brain – what is inside this skull – itself has problems. So can the brain ever be free of problems to solve problems? Do you understand my question? If the brain is not free of problems, then how can it solve any problem? This is logical. Right? So, your brain, which carries memories, which has acquired tremendous industrial knowledge, has been nurtured, educated, to have problems. We are asking now if that brain can be free of problems first, so that it can then solve problems. Can you be free of problems first? Or is that impossible? Our brain is conditioned in the various narrow religions; it is conditioned by specialization, by the environment in which we live, by our education, by poverty or richness, by the vows you have taken as monks. (I do not know why, but you have taken them and it becomes a torture, a problem.) So our brains are extraordinarily conditioned as businessman, housekeeper, and so on. And from that narrow point of view we look at the world.

So we have to go into this question not only of having problems but also of what is thinking. Why do we think at all? Is there a different way of action? Is there a different manner of approaching life, of daily living, that doesn’t require thinking at all? First, we’ll have to look very closely, together; find out for ourselves, and then act. So, we are going to go into that. What is thinking? If you didn’t think, you would not be here. You have made arrangements to come here at a certain time, and you have also made arrangements to go back. That is thinking. What is thinking philosophically? Philosophy means the love of truth, the love of life – not passing some examination at a university. So let us find out, together, what is thinking.

If you had no memory of yesterday, no memory at all of any kind, would you think? Of course not – you can’t think if you have no memory, right? So what is memory? You did something yesterday, and that is registered in the brain, and according to that memory you think and act. You remember somebody flattering you, remember somebody hurting you, saying ugly things about you. That is, memory is the outcome of knowledge. Now, what is knowledge? This is rather difficult. We all accumulate knowledge; the great scholars, the great professors, scientists, acquire tremendous knowledge. So what is knowledge? How does it come about? Knowledge comes when there is experience. You are in an accident in a car – that becomes an experience. From that experience you have knowledge. And from that knowledge you have memory. From memory you have thought. Right? So, what is experience? It is that incident, the accident in a car, which is registered in the brain as knowledge. Experience, knowledge, memory, thought: this is logical – not my way of looking at it or your way of looking at it.

So, all experience, whether it is God’s experience or your experience, is limited. The scientists are adding to it more and more every day, and that which is added to is always limited, right? I know little, and I must know more – you are adding. Your experience of something is always limited as there’s something more to be added. So experience is limited, knowledge is limited – forever. Therefore, memory is limited, and so thought is limited, right? And where there is limitation, there is division – as the Sikh, the Hindu, the Buddhist, the Muslim, the Christian, the democrat, the republican, the communist. They’re all based on thought, and therefore all the governments are limited, all your activity is limited. Whether you think most abstractly or try to be very noble, it is still thinking, right? So, from that limited quality of thinking, as thinking is always limited, our actions are limited. Now, from that you begin to enquire very carefully: can thought have its right place and have no other place at all? You understand my question? So, is there an action which is free of limitation? That is, thinking being limited, we have reduced the whole universe into a very small affair. We have made our life into such a small affair, like thinking – I must be this, I must not be that, I must have power. We have reduced the enormous quality of life into a very small, petty little affair.