Krishnamurti: Talk 1
Transcript of Talk 1, Rajahumundry, 20 November 1949
There is an art in listening. Listen to find out if what is said is of significance, and after listening, judge, accept, or throw out; but first of all listen. The difficulty with most of us is that we do not listen. We come prepared to be antagonistic or friendly, and not to listen neutrally. If you listen neutrally, surely then only you begin to discover what lies behind the words. Words are a means of communication. You have to learn my vocabulary, the meaning behind my words, and then you will find the significance of the subject. The thing of first importance is to learn to listen rightly. If you read a poem and are biased, how can you understand it? To appreciate what the poet wants you to understand, you must come with freedom to do so.
The problem that confronts most of us at this juncture is whether the individual is merely the instrument of society, or the end of society. Are you and I as individuals to be used, directed; educated, controlled, shaped to a certain pattern by society, government; or does society, the State, exist for the individual? Is the individual the end of society; or is he merely a puppet to be taught, exploited, butchered as an instrument of war? That is the problem that is confronting most of us. That is the problem of the world: whether the individual is a mere instrument of society, a plaything of influences to be moulded; or whether society exists for the individual.
How are you going to find this out? It is a serious problem, isn’t it? If the individual is merely an instrument of society, then society is much more important than the individual. If that is true, then we must give up individuality and work for society; then our whole educational system must be entirely revolutionized, and the individual turned into an instrument to be used and destroyed, liquidated, got rid of. But if society exists for the individual, then the function of society is not to make him conform to any pattern, but to give him the feel, the urge of freedom. So we have to find out which is false.
How would you enquire into this problem? It is a vital problem, isn’t it? It is not dependent on any ideology, either of the left or of the right; and if it is dependent on an ideology, then it is merely a matter of opinion. Ideas always breed enmity, confusion, conflict. If you depend on books of the left or of the right, or on sacred books, then you depend on mere opinion, whether of Buddha, of Christ, of capitalism, communion, or what you will. They are ideas, not truth. A fact can never be denied. Opinion about fact can be denied. If we can discover what the truth of the matter is, we shall be able to act independently of opinion. Is it not, therefore, necessary to discard what others have said? The opinion of the leftist or other leaders is the outcome of their conditioning. So if you depend for your discovery on what is found in books, you are merely bound by opinion. It is not a matter of knowledge.
How is one to discover the truth of this? On that we will act. To find the truth of this, there must be freedom from all propaganda, which means you are capable of looking at the problem independently of opinion. The whole task of education is to awaken the individual. To see the truth of this, you will have to be very clear, which means you cannot depend on a leader. When you choose a leader you do so out of confusion, and so your leaders are also confused, and that is what is happening in the world. Therefore you cannot look to your leader for guidance or help.
The problem, then, is how to find the truth of this matter: Whether the individual is the instrument of society, or whether society exists for the individual. How are you going to find this out – not intellectually, but factually? What do you mean by the individual? What is the you? What are we, physically and psychologically, outwardly and inwardly? Are we not the result of environmental influences? Are we not the result of our culture, nationality, religion, and so on? So the individual is the result of education, technical or classical. You are the result of environment. There are those who say that you are not only physical, but something more: in you is reality, God. This, after all, is but an opinion, the result of the influence of society. It is a conditioned response, nothing more. Here in India you believe you are more than the outcome of material influences. Others believe they are nothing more than that. Both beliefs are conditioned. Both are the result of social, economic, and other influences – which is fairly obvious. Therefore we have first to recognize that we are the result of the social influences about us. Whether you believe in Hinduism, Christianity, the leftist ideology, or in nothing at all, you are the result of that conditioning.
Now, to find out if you are something more, there must be freedom from conditioning. To be free you must question the whole social response, and only then can you find out whether the individual is merely the result of society, or something more. That is, you can find out the truth of this only through questioning the social, economic, environmental influence, the ideologies, and so on. Only those who question are capable of creating social revolution. such individuals, being free of patterns, beliefs, ideologies, are able to help to create a new society which is not based on any conditioning.
So, seeing that the world at the present time is in conflict, with imperialism, wars, starvation, increase in population, unemployment, antagonism – seeing all this, the person who is really serious has to find out whether the individual is the end of society, that is, whether society exists for the individual. If it does, then the relation between the individual and society is entirely different. Then the individual is a free being in relation to society which is also free. This requires an enormous understanding of oneself. Without self-knowledge there is no basis for thinking: you are merely shaped by the winds of circumstance. Without knowing the total self there can be no right thinking. The understanding of oneself is not to be found in withdrawal from life, in running away from society to the woods; on the contrary, it is to be found in relationship with one’s wife, with one’s son, with society. Relationship is a mirror in which you see yourself; but you cannot see yourself as you are if you condemn what you see. After all, if you want to understand someone, you do not condemn him, but study, observe him under all conditions. You are a silent watcher observing, not condemning – and then only do you understand. Out of that understanding comes clarity, which is the basis of right thinking. But by the mere repetition of ideas, however wonderful they may be, we become gramophones playing according to various influences, but still gramophones. It is only when we cease to be gramophone that the individual acquires significance. We are then true revolutionaries, because we discover the real. Freedom from ideas, from conditioning, can alone bring revolution – which must begin with you, not with a blueprint. Any clever person can draw up a blueprint, but it is useless. To discover what one is brings about a radical revolution, and that discovery does not depend on a blueprint. Such a discovery is essential to bring about a new State.
I have been handed several questions. Before I answer them, it is important to find out why you ask questions. Is it to strengthen your opinions, or to create a controversy, or to deny what is said? Because, if you cling to your views, you will listen with your arguments, you will not listen to find out what is being said. I hope you will listen, not in the spirit of antagonism, but to find out what the truth is. If you meet what is being said with your opinions, of what value is it to listen?
Question: In your talks you say that man is the measure of the world, and that when he transforms himself the world will be at peace. Has your own transformation shown this to be true?
Krishnamurti: What is implied in this question? That though I say I recognize that I am the world, and the world is not separate from me, though I talk against wars and so on, exploitation still goes on; so what I say is futile. Let us examine this. You and the world are not two different entities. You are the world, not as an ideal, but factually. You are the result of climate, of nationality, of various forms of conditioning; and what you think, what you feel, that you project, and you create a world of division. You want to be Telugus against Tamils, God knows why. What you project is the world; you create the world. If you are greedy, that you project; so the world is yourself. As the world is yourself, to transform the world you must know yourself. in the transformation of yourself you produce a transformation in society. The questioner implies that since there is no cessation of exploitation, what I am saying is futile. Is that true? I am going around the world trying to point out truth, not doing propaganda. Propaganda is a lie. You can propagate an idea, but you cannot propagate truth. I go around pointing out truth; and it is for you to recognize it or not. One man cannot change the world, but you and I can change the world together. This is not a political lecture. You and I have to find out what is truth; for it is truth that dissolves the sorrows, the miseries of the world. The world is not far away in Russia or America or England. The world is where you are, however small it may seem; it is you, your environment, your family, your neighbour, and if that is transformed, you bring transformation in the world. But most of us are lazy, sluggish. What I say is real in itself; but it is futile if you are unwilling to understand it. Transformation can be brought about only by the individual. Great things are performed by individuals, and you can bring about a phenomenal, radical revolution when you understand yourselves. Have you not noticed in history that it is individuals who transform, not the mass? The mass may be influenced, used; but the radical revolutions in life take place with individuals only.Wherever you live, at whatever level of society you may be placed, if you understand yourselves you will bring about transformation in your relationship with others. What is important is to put an end to sorrow; for the ending of sorrow is the beginning of revolution, and that revolution brings about transformation in the world.
Question: You say that gurus are unnecessary, but how can I find truth without the wise help and guidance which only a guru can give?
Krishnamurti: The question is whether a guru is necessary or not. Can truth be found through another? Some say it can, and some say it cannot. As this is a question of importance, I hope you will pay sufficient attention. We want to know the truth of this, not my opinion as against the opinion of another. I have no opinion in this matter. Either it is so, or it is not. Whether it is essential that you should or should not have a guru is not a question of opinion. The truth of the matter is not dependent on opinion, however profound, erudite, popular, universal. The truth of the matter is to be found out, in fact.
First of all, why do we want a guru? We say we need a guru because we are confused, and the guru is helpful: he will point out what truth is, he will help us to understand, he knows much more about life than we do, he will act as a father, as a teacher to instruct us in life; he has vast experience and we have but little; he will help us through his greater experience, and so on and on. That is, basically, you go to a teacher because you are confused. If you were clear, you would not go near a guru. Obviously, if you were profoundly happy, if there were no problems, if you understood life completely, you would not go to any guru. I hope you see the significance of this. Because you are confused, you seek out a teacher. You go to him to give you a way of life, to clarify your own confusion, to find truth. You choose your guru because you are confused, and you hope he will give you what you ask. That is, you choose a guru who will satisfy your demand; you choose according to the gratification he will give you, and your choice is dependent on your gratification. You do not choose a guru who says, “Depend on yourself; you choose him according to your prejudices. So, since you choose your guru according to the gratification he gives you, you are not seeking truth but a way out of confusion; and the way out of confusion is mistakenly called truth.
Let us examine first this idea that a guru can clear up our confusion. Can anyone clear up our confusion being the product of our responses. We have created it. Do you think some one else has created it – this misery, this battle at all levels of existence, within and without? It is the result of our own lack of knowledge of ourselves. It is because we do not understand ourselves, our conflicts, our responses, our miseries, that we go to a guru who we think will help us to be free of that confusion. We can understand ourselves only in relation ship to the present; and that relationship itself is the guru, not some one outside. If I do not understand that relationship, whatever a guru may say is useless; because, if I do not understand relationship, my relationship to property, to people, to ideas, who can resolve the conflict within me? To resolve that conflict, I must understand it myself, which means I must be aware of my self in relationship. To be aware, no guru is necessary. If I do not know myself, of what use is a guru? As a political leader is chosen by those who are in confusion, and whose choice therefore is also con fused, so I choose a guru. I can choose him only according to my confusion; hence he, like the political leader, is confused.
So, what is important is not who is right – whether I am right, or whether those are right who say a guru is necessary; but to find out why you need a guru is important. Gurus exist for exploitation of various kinds, but that is irrelevant. It gives you satisfaction if someone tells you how you are progressing. But to find out why you need a guru – there lies the key. Another can point out the way; but you have to do all the work, even if you have a guru. Because you do not want to face that, you shift the responsibility to the guru. The guru becomes use less when there is a particle of self knowledge. No guru, no book or scripture, can give you self-knowledge: it comes when you are aware of yourself in relationship. To be, is to be related; not to understand relationship is misery, strife. Not to be aware of your relationship to property is one of the causes of confusion. If you do not know your right relationship to property, there is bound to be conflict, which increases the conflict in society. If you do not understand the relationship between you and your wife, between you and your child, how can another resolve the conflict arising out of that relationship? Similarly with ideas, beliefs, and so on. Being confused in your relationship with people, with property, with ideas, you seek a guru. If he is a real guru, he will tell you to understand yourself. You are the source of all misunderstanding and confusion; and you can resolve that conflict only when you understand yourself in relationship.
You cannot find truth through anybody else. How can you? Surely, truth is not something static; it has no fixed abode; it is not an end, a goal. On the contrary, it is living, dynamic, alert, alive. How can it be an end? If truth is a fixed point, it is no longer truth: it is then a mere opinion. Sir, truth is the unknown, and a mind that is seeking truth will never find it. For mind is made up of the known, it is the result of the past, the outcome of time – which you can observe for yourself. Mind is the instrument of the known, hence it cannot find the unknown; it can only move from the known to the known. When the mind seeks truth, the truth it has read about in books, that `truth’ is self-projected; for then the mind is merely in pursuit of the known, a more satisfactory known than the previous one. When the mind seeks truth, it is seeking its own self-projection, not truth. After all, an ideal is self-projected; it is fictitious, unreal. What is real is what is, not the opposite. But a mind that is seeking reality, seeking God, is seeking the known. When you think of God, your God is the projection of your own thought, the result of social influences. You can think only of the known; you cannot think of the unknown, you cannot concentrate on truth. The moment you think of the unknown, it is merely the self projected known. So, God or truth cannot be thought about. If you think about it, it is not truth. Truth cannot be sought: it comes to you. You can go only after what is known. When the mind is not tortured by the known, by the effects of the known, then only can truth reveal itself. Truth is in every leaf, in every tear; it is to be known from moment to moment. No one can lead you to truth; and if anyone leads you, it can only be to the known.
Truth can only come to the mind that is empty of the known. It comes in a state in which the known is absent, not functioning. The mind is the warehouse of the known, the residue of the known; and for the mind to be in that state in which the unknown comes into being, it must be aware of itself, of its previous experiences, the conscious as well as the unconscious, of its responses, reactions, and structure. When there is complete self-knowledge, then there is the ending of the known, then mind is completely empty of the known. It is only then that truth can come to you uninvited. Truth does not belong to you or to me. You cannot worship it. The moment it is known, it is unreal. The symbol is not real, the image is not real; but when there is the understanding of self, the cessation of self, then eternity comes into being.
Question: In order to have peace of mind,? must I not learn to control my thoughts?
Krishnamurti: To understand this question properly, we must go into it deeply, and that requires close attention. I hope you are not too tired to follow it.
My mind wanders. Why? I want to think about a picture, a phrase, an idea, an image, and in thinking about it I see that my mind has gone off to the railway or to something that happened yesterday. The first thought has gone, and another has taken its place. Therefore I examine every thought that arises. That is intelligent, isn’t it? But you make an effort to fix your thought on something. Why should you fix it? If you are interested in the thought that comes, then it gives you its significance. The wandering is not distraction – do not give it a name. Follow the wandering, the distraction, find out why the mind has wandered; pursue it, go into it fully. When the distraction is completely understood, then that particular distraction is gone. When another comes, pursue it also. Mind is made up of innumerable demands and longings; and when it understands them, it is capable of an awareness which is not exclusive. Concentration is exclusiveness, it is resistance against something. Such concentration is like putting on blinkers – it is obviously useless, it does not lead to reality. When a child is interested in a toy, there is no distraction.
Comment from the audience: But that is momentary.
Krishnamurti: What do you mean? Do you want a sustained wall to hold you in? Are you a human being or a machine, to be limited, circumscribed? All concentration is exclusive. In that concentrated exclusion, nothing can penetrate your desire to be something, So concentration, which so many practise, is the denial of real meditation. Meditation is the beginning of self-knowledge, and without self-knowledge you cannot meditate. Without self-knowledge your meditation is valueless, it is merely a romantic escape. So, concentration, which is a process of exclusion, of resistance, cannot open the door to that state of mind in which there is no resistance. If you resist your child, you do not understand him. You must be open to all his vagaries, every one of his moods. Likewise, to understand yourself, you must be alive to every movement of the mind, every thought that arises. Every thought that comes implies some interest – do not call it distraction and condemn it: pursue it completely, fully. You want to concentrate on what is being said, and your mind wanders off to what a friend said last evening. This conflict you call distraction. So you say, “Help me to learn concentration, to fix my mind on one thing”. But if you understand what causes distraction, then there is no necessity to try to concentrate: whatever you do is concentration. So the problem is not the wandering away, but why the mind wanders. When the mind is wandering away from what is being said, then you are not interested in what is being said. If you are interested, you are not distracted. You think you ought to be interested in a picture, an idea, a lecture, but your interest is not in it; so the mind goes off all over the place. Why should you not acknowledge that you are not interested, and let the mind wander? When you are not interested, it is a waste of effort to fix the mind, which merely creates a conflict between what you think you should be, and the actual. It is like a motor car moving with the brakes applied. Such concentration is futile. It is exclusion, a pushing away. Why not acknowledge the distraction first? That is a fact. When the mind becomes quiet, when all the problems are resolved, it is like a pool with still waters in which you can see clearly. It is not quiet when it is caught up in the net of problems, for then you resort to suppression. When the mind follows and understands every thought there is no distraction, and then it is quiet. Only in freedom can the mind be silent. When the mind is silent, not only the upper part, but fully; when it is free from all values, from the pursuit of its own projections, then there is no distraction; and only then reality comes into being.