Why are you here listening to me? Have you ewer considered why you listen to people at all? And what does listening to somebody mean? All of you here are sitting in front of one who is speaking. Are you listening to hear something that will confirm, tally with your own thoughts or are you listening to find out? Do you see the difference? Listening to find out has quite a different significance from listening merely to hear that which will confirm what you think. If you are here merely to have confirmation, to be encouraged in your own thinking, then your listening has very little meaning. But, if you are listening to find out, then your mind is free, not committed to anything; it is very acute, sharp, alive, inquiring, curious, and therefore capable of discovery. So, is it not very important to consider why you listen, and what you are listening to?
Have you ever sat very silently, not with your attention fixed on anything, not making an effort to concentrate, but with the mind very quiet, really still? Then you hear everything, don’t you? You hear the far-off noises as well as those that are nearer and those that are very close by, the immediate sounds – which means, really that you are listening to everything. Your mind is not confined to one narrow little channel. If you can listen in this way, listen with ease, without strain, you will find an extraordinary change taking place within you, a change which comes without your volition, without your asking; and in that change there is great beauty and depth of insight.
Just try it sometime, try it now. As you are listening to me, listen not only to me, but to everything about you. Listen to all those bells, the bells of the cows and the temples; listen to the distant train and the carts on the road; and if you then come nearer still and listen to me also, you will find there is a great depth to listening. But to do this you must have a very quiet mind. If you really want to listen, your mind is naturally quiet, is it not? You are not then distracted by something happening next to you; your mind is quiet because you are deeply listening to everything. If you can listen in this way with ease, with a certain felicity, you will find an astonishing transformation taking place in your heart, in your mind – a transformation which you have not thought of, or in any way produced.
Thought is a very strange thing, is it not? Do you know what thought is? Thought or thinking for most people is something put together by the mind, and they battle over their thoughts. But if you can really listen to everything – to the lapping of the water on the bank of a river, to the song of the birds, to the crying of a child, to your mother scolding you, to a friend bullying you, to your wife or husband nagging you – then you will find that you go beyond the words, beyond the mere verbal expressions which so tear one’s being.
And it is very important to go beyond the mere verbal expressions because, after all, what is it that we all want? Whether we are young or old, whether we are inexperienced or full of years, we all want to be happy, don’t we? As students we want to be happy in playing our games, in studying, in doing all the little things we like to do. As we grow older we seek happiness in possessions, in money, in having a nice house, a sympathetic wife or husband, a good job. When these things no longer satisfy us, we move on to something else. We say, “I must be detached and then I shall be happy”. So we begin to practise detachment. We leave our family, give up our property and retire from the world. Or we join some religious society, thinking that we shall be happy by getting together and talking about brotherhood, by following a leader, a guru, a Master, an ideal, by believing in what is essentially a self-deception, an illusion, a superstition.
Do you understand what I am talking about?
When you comb your hair, when you put on clean clothes and make yourself look nice, that is all part of your desire to be happy, is it not? When you pass your examinations and add a few letters of the alphabet after your name, when you get a job, acquire a house and other property, when you marry and have children, when you join some religious society whose leaders claim they have messages from unseen Masters – behind it all there is this extraordinary urge, this compulsion to find happiness.
But, you see, happiness does not come so easily, because happiness is in none of these things. You may have pleasure, you may find a new satisfaction, but sooner or later it becomes wearisome. Because there is no lasting happiness in the things we know. The kiss is followed by the tear, laughter by misery and desolation. Everything withers, decays. So, while you are young you must begin to find out what is this strange thing called happiness. That is an essential part of education.
Happiness does not come when you are striving for it – and that is the greatest secret, though it is very easily said. I can put it in a few simple words; but, by merely listening to me and repeating what you have heard, you are not going to be happy. Happiness is strange; it comes when you are not seeking it. When you are not making an effort to be happy, then unexpectedly, mysteriously happiness is there, born of purity, of a loveliness of being. But that requires a great deal of understanding – not joining an organization or trying to become somebody. Truth is not something to be achieved. Truth comes into being when your mind and heart are purged of all sense of striving and you are no longer trying to become somebody; it is there when the mind is very quiet, listening timelessly to everything that is happening. You may listen to these words but, for happiness to be, you have to find out how to free the mind of all fear.
As long as you are afraid of anyone or anything, there can be no happiness. There can be no happiness as long as you are afraid of your parents, your teachers, afraid of not passing examinations, afraid of not making progress, of not getting nearer to the Master, nearer to truth, or of not being approved of patted on the back. But if you are really not afraid of anything, then you will find – when you wake up of a morning, or when you are walking alone – that suddenly a strange thing happens: uninvited, unsolicited, unlooked for, that which may be called love, truth, happiness, is suddenly there.
That is why it is so important for you to be educated rightly while you are young. What we now call education is not education at all, because nobody talks to you about all these things. Your teachers prepare you to pass examinations, but they do not talk to you about living, which is most important; because very few know how to live. Most of us merely survive, we somehow drag along, and therefore life becomes a dreadful thing. Really to live requires a great deal of love, a great feeling for silence, a great simplicity with an abundance of experience; it requires a mind that is capable of thinking very clearly, that is not bound by prejudice or superstition, by hope or fear. All this is life, and if you are not being educated to live, then education has no meaning. You may learn to be very tidy, have good manners, and you may pass all your examinations; but, to give primary importance to these superficial things when the whole structure of society is crumbling, is like cleaning and polishing your fingernails while the house is burning down. You see, nobody talks to you about all this, nobody goes into it with you. As you spend day after day studying certain subjects – mathematics, history, geography – so also you should spend a great deal of time talking about these deeper matters, because this makes for richness of life.
Questioner: Is not the worship of God true religion?
Krishnamurti: First of all, let us find out what is not religion. Isn’t that the right approach? If we can understand what is not religion, then perhaps we shall begin to perceive something else. It is like cleaning a dirty window – one begins to see through it very clearly. So let us see if we can understand and sweep out of our minds that which is not religion; don’t let us say, “I will think about it” and just play around with words. Perhaps you can do it, but most of the older people are already caught; they are comfortably established in that which is not religion and they do not want to be disturbed.
So, what is not religion? Have you ever thought about it? You have been told over and over again what religion is supposed to be – belief in God and a dozen other things – but nobody has asked you to find out what is not religion; and now you and I are going to find out for ourselves.
In listening to me, or to anyone else, do not merely accept what is said, but listen to discern the truth of the matter. If once you perceive for yourself what is not religion, then throughout your life no priest or book can deceive you, no sense of fear will create an illusion which you may believe and follow. To find out what is not religion you have to begin on the everyday level, and then you can climb. To go far you must begin near, and the nearest step is the most important one. So what is not religion? Are ceremonies religion? Doing puja over and over again – is that religion?
True education is to learn how to think, not what to think. If you know how to think, if you really have that capacity, then you are a free human being – free of dogmas, superstitions ceremonies – and therefore you can find out what religion is.
Ceremonies are obviously not religion, because in performing ceremonies you are merely repeating a formula which has been handed down to you. You may find a certain pleasure in performing ceremonies, just as others do in smoking or drinking; but is that religion? In performing ceremonies you are doing something about which you know nothing. Your father and your grandfather do it, therefore you do it, and if you don’t they will scold you. That is not religion, is it?
And what is in a temple? A graven image fashioned by a human being according to his own imagination. The image may be a symbol, but it is still only an image, it is not the real thing. A symbol, a word, is not the thing it represents. The word ‘door’ is not the door, is it? The word is not the thing. We go to the temple to worship – what? An image which is supposed to be a symbol; but the symbol is not the real thing. So why go to it? These are facts; I am not condemning; and, since they are facts, why bother about who goes to the temple, whether it be the touchable or the untouchable, the Brahman or the non-Brahman? Who cares? You see, the older people have made the symbol into a religion for which they are willing to quarrel, fight, slaughter; but God is not there. God is never in a symbol. So the worship of a symbol or of an image is not religion.
And is belief religion? This is more complex. We began near, and now we are going a little bit farther. Is belief religion? The Christians believe in one way, the Hindus in another, the Moslems in another, the Buddhists in still another, and they all consider themselves very religious people; they all have their temples, gods, symbols, beliefs. And is that religion? Is it religion when you believe in God, in Rama, Sita, Ishwara, and all that kind of thing? How do you get such a belief? You believe because your father and your grandfather believe; or having read what some teacher like Shankara or Buddha is supposed to have said, you believe it and say it is true. Most of you just believe what the Gita says, therefore you don’t examine it clearly and simply as you would any other book; you don’t try to find out what is true.
We have seen that ceremonies are not religion that going to a temple is not religion, and that belief is not religion. Belief divides people. The Christians have beliefs and so are divided both from those of other beliefs and among themselves; the Hindus are everlastingly full of enmity because they believe themselves to be Brahmans or non-Brahmans, this or that. So belief brings enmity, division, destruction, and that is obviously not religion.
Then what is religion? If you have wiped the window clean – which means that you have actually stopped performing ceremonies, given up all beliefs, ceased to follow any leader or guru – then your mind, like the window, is clean, polished, and you can see out of it very clearly. When the mind is swept clean of image of ritual, of belief, of symbol, of all words, mantrams and repetitions, and of all fear, then what you see will be the real, the timeless, the everlasting, which may be called God; but this requires enormous insight, understanding, patience, and it is only for those who really inquire into what is religion and pursue it day after day to the end. Only such people will know what is true religion. The rest are merely mouthing words, and all their ornaments and bodily decorations, their pujas and ringing of bells – all that is just superstition without any significance. It is only when the mind is in revolt against all so-called religion that it finds the real.