Freedom and Order in the World of Reality

From Krishnamurti’s Book TRUTH AND ACTUALITY

I would like to talk about the question of what is sacred, what is the meaning of religion and of meditation. First we must examine what is reality and what is truth. Man has been concerned throughout the ages to discover, or live in truth; And he has projected various symbols, conclusions, images made by the mind or by the hand and imagined what is truth. Or he has tried to find out through the activity and the movement of thought. And I think we should be wise if we would differentiate between reality and truth and when we are clear what reality is then perhaps we shall be able to have an insight into what is truth.

The many religions throughout the world have said that there is an enduring, everlasting truth, but the mere assertion of truth has very little significance. One has to discover it for oneself, not theoretically, intellectually, or sentimentally, but actually find out if one can live in a world that is completely truthful. We mean by religion the gathering together of all energy to investigate into something: to investigate if there is anything sacred. That is the meaning we are giving it, not the religion of belief, dogma, tradition or ritual with their hierarchical outlook. But we are using the word ‘religion’ in the sense: to gather together all energy, which will then be capable of investigating if there is a truth which is not controlled, shaped, or polluted by thought.

The root meaning of the word reality is thing or things. And to go into the question of what is reality, one must understand what thought is. Because our society, our religions, our so-called revelations are essentially the product of thought. It is not my opinion or my judgement, but it is a fact. All religions when you look at them, observe without any prejudice, are the product of thought. That is, you may perceive something, have an insight into truth, and you communicate it verbally to me and I draw from your statement an abstraction and make that into an idea; then I live according to that idea. That is what we have been doing for generations: drawing an abstraction from a statement and living according to that abstraction as a conclusion. And that is generally called religion. So we must find out how limited thought is and what are its capacities, how far it can go, and be totally aware that thought doesn’t spill over into a realm in which thought has no place.

I don’t know if you can see this? Please, we are not only verbally communicating, which means thinking together, not agreeing or disagreeing, but thinking together, and therefore sharing together; not the speaker gives and you take, but together we are sharing, therefore there is no authority. And also there is a non-verbal communication, which is much more difficult, because unless we see very clearly the full meaning of words, how the mind is caught in words, how words shape our thinking, and can go beyond that, then there is no non-verbal communication, which becomes much more significant. We are trying to do both: to communicate verbally and non-verbally. That means we must both be interested at the same time, at the same level, with the same intensity, otherwise we shan’t communicate. It is like love; love is that intense feeling at the same time, at the same level. Otherwise you and I don’t love each other. So we are going to observe together what is reality, what are the limitations of thought, and whether thought can ever perceive truth. Or is it beyond the realm of thought?

I think we all agree, at least most of us do, even the scientists, that thought is a material process, is a chemical process. Thought is the response of accumulated knowledge as experience and memory. So thought is essentially a thing. There is no sacred thought, no noble thought, it is a thing. And its function is in the world of things, which is technology, learning, learning the art of learning, the art of seeing and listening. And reality is in that area. Unless we understand this rather complex problem we shall not be able to go beyond it. We may pretend, or imagine, but imagination and pretension have no place in a human being who is really serious and is desirous to find out what is truth.

As long as there is the movement of thought, which is time and measure, in that area truth has no place. Reality is that which we think and the action of thought as an idea, as a principle, as an ideal, projected from the previous knowledge into the future modified and so on. All that is in the world of reality. We live in that world of reality – if you have observed yourself you will see how memory plays an immense part. Memory is mechanical, thought is mechanical, it is a form of computer, a machine, as the brain is. And thought has its place. I cannot speak if I have no language; if I spoke in Greek you wouldn’t understand. And learning a language, learning to drive a car, to work in a factory and so on, there thought is necessary. psychologically, thought has created the reality of the ‘me’. ‘Me’, ‘my’, my house, my property, my wife, my husband, my children, my country, my God – all that is the product of thought. And in that field we have established a relationship with each other which is constantly in conflict. That is the limitation of thought.

Unless we put order into that world of reality we cannot go further. We live a disorderly life in our daily activities; that is a fact. And is it possible to bring about order in the world of reality, in the world of thought, socially, morally, ethically and so on? And who is to bring about order in the world of reality? I live a disorderly life – if I do – and being disorderly, can I bring about order in all the activities of daily life? Our daily life is based on thought, our relationship is based on thought, because I have an image of you and you have an image of me, and the relationship is between those two images. The images are the product of thought, which is the response of memory, experience and so on. Now can there be order in the world of reality? This is really a very important question. Unless order is established in the world of reality there is no foundation for further enquiry. In the world of reality, is it possible to behave orderly, not according to a pattern set by thought, which is still disorder? Is it possible to bring about order in the world of reality? That is, no wars, no conflict, no division. Order implies great virtue, virtue is the essence of order – not following a blueprint, which becomes mechanical. So who is to bring order in this world of reality? Man has said, ‘God will bring it. Believe in God and you will have order. Love God and you will have order.’ But this order becomes mechanical because our desire is to be secure, to survive, to find the easiest way of living – let us put it that way.

So we are asking, who is to bring order in this world of reality, where there is such confusion, misery, pain, violence and so on. Can thought bring about order in that reality – a world of reality which thought has created? Do you follow my question? The Communists say control the environment, then there will be order in man. According to Marx the State will wither away – you know all that. They have tried to bring order but man is in disorder, even in Russia! So one has to find out, if thought is not to bring about order, then what will? I don’t know if this is a problem to you, if it really interests you? So one has to ask, if thought, which has made such a mess of life, cannot bring clarity into this world of reality, then is there an observation in the field of reality, or of the field of reality, without the movement of thought. Are we meeting each other about this? A human being has exercised thought, he says there is disorder, I will control it, I will shape it, I will make order according to certain ideas – it is all the product of thought. And thought has created disorder. So thought has no place in order, and how is this order to come about?

Now we will go into it a little bit. Can one observe this disorder in which one lives, which is conflict, contradiction, opposing desires, pain, suffering, fear, pleasure and all that, this whole structure of disorder, without thought? You understand my question? Can you observe this enormous disorder in which we live, externally as well as inwardly, without any movement of thought? Because if there is any movement of thought, then it is going to create further disorder, isn’t it? So can you observe this disorder in yourself without any movement of thought as time and measure – that is, without any movement of memory?

We are going to see whether thought as time can come to an end. Whether thought as measure, which is comparison, as time, from here to there – all that is involved in the movement of time – whether that time can have a stop? This is the very essence of meditation. You understand? So we are going to enquire together if time has a stop, that is, if thought as movement can come to an end. Then only is there order and therefore virtue. Not cultivated virtue, which requires time and is therefore not virtue, but the very stopping, the very ending of thought is virtue. This means we have to enquire into the whole question of what is freedom. Can man live in freedom? Because that is what it comes to. If time comes to an end it means that man is deeply free. So one has to go into this question of what is freedom. Is freedom relative, or absolute? If freedom is the outcome of thought then it is relative. When freedom is not bound by thought then it is absolute. We are going to go into that.

Outwardly, politically, there is less and less freedom. We think politicians can solve all our problems and the politicians, especially the tyrannical politicians, assume the authority of God, they know and you don’t know. That is what is going on in India, freedom of speech, civil rights, have been denied, like in all tyrannies. Democratically we have freedom of choice, we choose between the Liberal, Conservatives, Labour or something else. And we think that having the capacity to choose gives us freedom. Choice is the very denial of freedom. You choose when you are not clear, when there is no direct perception, and so you choose out of confusion, and so there is no freedom in choice – psychologically, that is. I can choose between this cloth and that cloth, and so on; but psychologically we think we are free when we have the capacity to choose. And we are saying that choice is born out of confusion, out of the structure of thought, and therefore it is not free. We accept the authority of the gurus, the priests, because we think they know and we don’t know. Now if you examine the whole idea of the guru, which is becoming rather a nuisance in this country and in America, the world over – I am sorry I am rather allergic to gurus (laughter), I know many of them, they come to see me (laughter). They say, ‘What you are saying is the highest truth’ – they know how to flatter! But we are dealing, they say, with people who are ignorant and we are the intermediaries: we want to help them. So they assume the authority and therefore deny freedom. I do not know if you have noticed that not one single guru has raised his voice against tyranny.

A man who would understand what freedom is must totally deny authority, which is extraordinarily difficult, it demands great attention. We may reject the authority of a guru, of a priest, of an idea, but we establish an authority in ourselves – that is ‘I think it is right, I know what I am saying, it is my experience. All that gives one the authority to assert, which is the same thing as the guru and the priest.

Can the mind be free of authority, of tradition, which means accepting another as your guide, as somebody to tell you what to do, except in the technological field? And man must be free if he is not to become a serf, a slave, and deny the beauty and depth of the human spirit. Now can the mind put aside all authority in the psychological sense? – if you put aside the authority of the policeman you will be in trouble. That requires a great deal of inward awareness. One obeys and accepts authority because in oneself there is uncertainty, confusion, loneliness, and the desire to find something permanent, something lasting. And is there anything lasting, anything that is permanent, created by thought? Or does thought give to itself permanency? The mind desires to have something it can cling to, some certainty, some psychological security. This is what happens in all our relationships with each other. I depend on you psychologically – because in myself I am uncertain, confused, lonely – and I am attached to you, I possess you, I dominate you. So living in this world is freedom possible, without authority, without the image, without the sense of dependency? And is it freedom from something or freedom per se?

Now can we have freedom in the world of reality? You understand my question? – can there be freedom in my relationship with you? Can there be freedom in relationship between man and woman, or is that impossible? – which doesn’t mean freedom to do what one likes, or permissiveness, or promiscuity. But can there be a relationship between human beings of complete freedom? I do not know if you have ever asked this question of yourself? You might say it is possible or not possible. The possibility or the impossibility of it is not an answer, but to find out whether freedom can exist, absolute freedom in our relationships. That freedom can only exist in relationship when there is order: order not according to you, or another, but order in the sense of the observation of disorder. And that observation is not the movement of thought, because the observer is the observed; only then there is freedom in our relationship.

Then we can go to something else. Having observed the whole nature of disorder, order comes into being in our life. That is a fact, if you have gone into it. From there we can move and find out whether thought can end, can realize its own movement, see its own limitation and therefore stop. We are asking, what place has time in freedom. Is freedom a state of mind in which there is no time? – time being movement of thought as time and measure. Thought is movement, movement in time. That is, can the brain, which is part of the mind – which has evolved through centuries with all the accumulated memories, knowledge, experience – is there a part of the brain which is not touched by time? Do you understand my question? Our brain is conditioned by various influences, by the pursuit of desires; and is there a part of the brain that is not conditioned at all? Or is the whole brain conditioned and can human beings therefore never escape from conditioning? They can modify the conditioning, polish, refine it, but there will always be conditioning if the totality of the brain is limited, and therefore no freedom.

So we are going to find out if there is any part of the brain that is not conditioned. All this is meditation, to find out. Can one be aware of the conditioning in which one lives? Can you be aware of your conditioning as a Christian, a Capitalist, a Socialist, a Liberal, that you believe in this and you don’t believe in that? – all that is part of the conditioning. Can a human being be aware of that conditioning? Can you be aware of your consciousness? – not as an observer, but that you are that consciousness. And if you are aware, who is it that is aware? Is it thought that is aware that it is conditioned?

Then it is still in the field of reality, which is conditioned. Or is there an observation, an awareness in which there is pure observation? Is there an act, or an art of pure listening?

Do listen to this a little bit. The word ‘art’ means to put everything in its right place, where it belongs. Now can you observe without any interpretation, without any judgement, without any prejudice – just observe, see purely? And can you listen, as you are doing now, without any movement of thought. It is only possible if you put thought in the right place. And the art of learning means not accumulating – then it becomes knowledge and thought – but the movement of learning, without the accumulation. So there is the art of seeing, the art of listening, the art of learning – which means to put everything where it belongs. And in that there is great order.

Now we are going to find out if time has a stop. This is meditation. As we said at the beginning, it is all in the field of meditation. Meditation isn’t something separate from life, from daily life. Meditation is not the repetition of words, the repetition of a mantra, which is now the fashion and called transcendental meditation, or the meditation which can be practised. Meditation must be something totally unconscious. I wonder if you see this? If you practise meditation, that is follow a system, a method, then it is the movement of thought, put together in order to achieve a result, and that result is projected as a reaction from the past and therefore still within the area of thought.

So can there be a mutation in the brain? It comes to that. We say it is possible. That is, a mutation is only possible when there is a great shock of attention. Attention implies no control. Have you ever asked whether you can live in this world without a single control? – of your desires, of your appetites, of the fulfilment of your desires and so on, without a single breath of control? Control implies a controller: and the controller thinks he is different from that which he controls. But when you observe closely the controller is the controlled. So what place has control? In the sense of restraint, suppression, to control in order to achieve, to control to change yourself to become something else – all that is the demand of thought. Thought by its very nature being fragmentary, divides the controller and the controlled. And we are educated from childhood to control, to suppress, to inhibit – which does not mean to do what you like; that is impossible, that is too absurd, too immature. But to understand this whole question of control demands that you examine the desire which brings about this fragmentation; the desire to be and not to be. To find out whether you can live without comparison, therefore without an ideal, without a future – all that is implied in comparison. And where there is comparison there must be control. Can you live without comparison and therefore without control – do you understand? Have you ever tried to live without control, without comparison? Because comparison and control are highly respectable. The word ‘respect’ means to look about. And when we look about we see that all human beings, wherever they live, have this extraordinary desire to compare themselves with somebody, or with an idea, or with some human being who is supposed to be noble, and in that process they control, suppress. Now if you see this whole movement, then one will live without a single breath of control. That requires tremendous inward discipline. Discipline means actually to learn, not to be disciplined to a pattern like a soldier. The word ‘discipline’ means to learn. Learn whether it is possible to live without a single choice, comparison, or control. To learn about it; not to accept it, not to deny it, but to find out how to live.

Then out of that comes a brain which is not conditioned. Meditation then is freedom from authority, putting everything in its right place in the field of reality, and consciousness realizing its own limitation and therefore bringing about order in that limitation. When there is order there is virtue, virtue in behaviour.

From there we can go into the question, whether time has a stop. Which means, can the mind, the brain itself, be absolutely still? – not controlled. If you control thought in order to be still, then it is still the movement of thought. Can the brain and the mind be absolutely still, which is the ending of time? Man has always desired throughout the ages to bring silence to the mind, which he called meditation, contemplation and so on. Can the mind be still? – not chattering, not imagining, not conscious if that stillness, because if you are conscious of that stillness there is a centre which is conscious, and that centre is part of time, put together by thought; therefore you are still within the area of reality and there is no ending in the world of reality of time.

Man has made, whether by the hand or by the mind, what he thinks is sacred, all the images in churches, in temples. All those images are still the product of thought. And in that there is nothing sacred. But out of this complete silence is there anything sacred? We began by saying that religion is not belief, rituals, authority, but religion is the gathering of all energy to investigate if there is something sacred which is not the product of thought. We have that energy when there is complete order in the world of reality in which we live – order in relationship, freedom from authority, freedom from comparison, control, measurement. Then the mind and the brain become completely still naturally, not through compulsion. If one sees that anything which thought has created is not sacred, nothing – all the churches, all the temples, all the mosques in the world have no truth – then is there anything sacred?

In India, when only Brahmins could enter Temples and Gandhi was saying that all people can enter temples – I followed him around one year – and I was asked, ‘What do you say to that’? I replied, God is not in temples, it doesn’t matter who enters. That was of course not acceptable. So in the same way, we are saying that anything created by thought is not sacred, and is there anything sacred? Unless human beings find that sacredness, their life really has no meaning, it is an empty shell. They may be very orderly, they may be relatively free, but unless there is this thing that is totally sacred, untouched by thought, life has no deep meaning. Is there something sacred, or is everything matter, everything thought, everything transient, everything impermanent? Is there something that thought can never touch and therefore is incorruptible, timeless, eternal and sacred? To come upon this the mind must be completely, totally still, which means time comes to an end; and in that there must be complete freedom from all prejudice, opinion, judgement – you follow? Then only one comes upon this extraordinary thing that is timeless and the very essence of compassion.

So meditation has significance. One must have this meditative quality of the mind, not occasionally, but all day long. And this something that is sacred affects our lives not only during the waking hours but during sleep. And in this process of meditation there are all kinds of powers that come into being: one becomes clairvoyant, the body becomes extraordinarily sensitive. Now clairvoyance, healing, thought transference and so on, become totally unimportant; all the occult powers become so utterly irrelevant, and when you pursue those you are pursuing something that will ultimately lead to illusion. That is one factor. Then there is the factor of sleep. What is the importance of sleep? Is it to spend the sleeping hours dreaming? Or is it possible not to dream at all? What are dreams, why do we dream, and is it possible for a mind not to dream, so that during sleep, the mind being utterly restful, a totally different kind of energy is built in?

If during waking hours we are completely attentive to our thoughts, to our actions, to our behaviour, totally aware, then are dreams necessary? Or are dreams a continuation of our daily life, in the form of pictures, images, incidents – a continuity of our daily conscious or unconscious movements? So when the mind becomes totally aware during the day, then you will see that dreams become unimportant, and being unimportant they have no significance and therefore there is no dreaming. There is only complete sleep; that means the mind has complete rest: it can renew itself. Test it out. If you accept what the speaker is saying, then it is futile; but not if you enquire and find out if during the day you are very very awake, watchful, aware without choice – we went into what it is to be aware – then out of that awareness when you do sleep, the mind becomes extraordinarily fresh and young. Youth is the essence of decision, action. And if that action is merely centred round itself, round the centre of myself, then that action breeds mischief, confusion and so on. But when you realize the whole movement of life as one, undivided, and are aware of that, then the mind rejuvenates itself and has immense energy. All that is part of meditation.