Krishnamurti on Revolution

Episode Notes

‘A radical revolution is necessary, a revolution that is not merely economic or social, but at much greater depth, at the very root of consciousness.’

This week’s episode on Revolution has five sections.

The first extract (2:28) is from Krishnamurti’s talk in Rishi Valley 1967, titled ‘Revolt is one thing, revolution another’.

The second extract (32:57) is from the second talk in Bombay 1967, titled ‘A radical revolution is necessary’.

The third extract (44:47) is from Krishnamurti’s seventh talk in London 1962, titled ‘A deep psychological revolution’.

The fourth extract (52:39) is from the sixth talk in Paris 1961, titled ‘Revolution from complete emptiness.’

The final extract in this episode (1:07:19) is from Krishnamurti’s seventh talk in New Delhi 1963, titled ‘A religious revolution’.

Part 1

Revolt Is One Thing, Revolution Another

There is a great deal of discontent in the world, which expresses itself in many ways – in America, in Europe, in China, in Russia, in Japan and in India too – there is enormous discontent in the world, discontent with the establishment. The establishment is the established order, a group of people who rule, who have a tradition. Here, that discontent, if it does exist, is with the ‘Holy Cow’. You know what the Holy Cow is? That again is the established order. So there is this discontent, this dissatisfaction with things as they are.

In America there are the hippies who wear extravagant clothes and grow beards. Amongst them there are people who are very serious, young boys and girls who want to lead a different kind of life, who want to create a different kind of society. They are in tremendous revolt, and the revolt takes the form of growing long hair, putting on odd clothes, not washing, not going to the office, not passing examinations, not knowing exactly what they are going to do in the future. Amongst them there are boys and girls who have formed small groups, in which one of them earns money and the rest of them live on what that single person has earned – a kind of community. In England, it is the same thing – long hair, beards, dirty clothes, unwashed faces – and it is difficult to distinguish between a boy and a girl because the boys have very long hair down to their shoulders, and the girls have long hair too. In Italy, they are called capellonis, ‘the longhaired ones’. There, they are against the Church, against the government, against the established order. Here in India, it is probably not so violently expressed except in the universities, but even there the revolt is very superficial. Throughout the world, there is a revolt against things as they are. But they don’t understand the real depths of what is involved – emotionally, psychologically, inwardly.

So, knowing what is going on in different parts of the world, and in this country too, I wonder to what extent each one of us who is being educated here is discontented? And how are we going to express that discontent? You know what discontent, being dissatisfied is? You feel that things aren’t right, that they don’t answer the real problem of life. One may pass an examination, have a job, get married, have children, but that is not the end. Most people are satisfied with that; they are caught up in society and just drift. But if one is rightly educated, one must have a tremendous discontent.

You know, discontent is one thing, revolt is another, and revolution is quite a different thing. Most of us are discontented with little things: we would like to have a better house, a better car, we would like to look nicer than some other person, we would like to get better marks, and so on. That is superficial discontent; it results generally in nothing and is very easily satisfied. When one gets what one wants, one says, ‘Everything is all right, it’s a lovely day, I am satisfied.’ That is one form of discontent, which soon finds satisfaction and settles down.

Then there is revolt against society, against the established order. There is so much poverty in the world, not only physically but inwardly; there is such misery and so many wars. There is no peace in the world, no real freedom, so that there is a constant ache and agony in the human mind and heart. Everyone revolts against all that. That revolt is a reaction, which doesn’t bring about the right order. So one asks oneself: what will bring about right order in the world?

I am sorry I don’t speak very good Hindi, Tamil or any other Indian language because I left India when I was a small boy. I hope you don’t mind hearing English, though English is, I believe, taboo in this country.

So, seeing all this confusion in the world, seeing this discontent which soon finds satisfaction and settles down, and seeing this revolt which doesn’t fundamentally answer all the problems of life, one asks oneself – as you must, if you are being educated – how does one bring about order? There is outward order, having peace in the world – not fighting one another, as Pakistan and India, Vietnam and the Americans – and inward order, living peacefully with one another, with affection, with kindliness. This is totally lacking in the world. The world is brutal, full of hatred, antagonism, jealousy, envy – you have got to get a job but I want that job too, you have got more money than me, so I want more money, you are clever and I also want to be clever – fight, fight all life long. Seeing all that, how does one bring about order, so that we can live peacefully with one another, work together, cooperate?

You know the Russian communist revolution tried to bring this about. They said no more army, no division of classes, no private property; the means of earning a livelihood belongs solely to the government, to the State. They developed an ideology and they worked according to that ideology. They made people conform to it, whether they liked it or not, and if they resisted they were killed or sent to concentration camps, to Siberia by the millions. That was a revolution based on an ideology – and all ideologies are idiotic, whether it is the ideology of the communist or of the Hindu, the Christian, or the capitalist.

Do you know what an idea is? An idea is thought organised, a reasoned-out idea. That idea becomes the ideology: that man should live this way or that way, that the government should be this way, that there should be no class distinction, and so on. So an ideology is developed ignoring what is actual.

Revolutions, social upheavals, have not answered this question of man living with man peacefully. Religions throughout the world have also failed, for Christianity and Islam have produced a great many wars. Probably only Buddhism, and after that Hinduism, have not been responsible for wars. Economic and social revolutions have not produced order, nor has time. So one asks: how will a human being bring about order within himself and outwardly? That is the only revolution – not the economic one.

Russia, after fifty years of butchery, forcing people to conform to the pattern of an ideology, sending them to concentration camps, liquidating them, is now becoming more and more bourgeois, more and more like a capitalist society, with profit-motive and so on. Seeing this throughout the world – and it is your job while you are being educated to see this whole pattern – how will you bring about order? An inner revolution is necessary so as to bring about right relationship between human beings. Every other form of revolution brings about more misery. The question is how to bring about right relationship between man and man – not through force, not with bayonets, not through organised religions, not through ideologies – for these have all failed. So how is that revolution, that right relationship to take place?

Now, how do you think it should take place if there is no ideology, no idea of ‘we should do this’ or ‘we should do that’? How are we, seeing all this, to change our relationship with our neighbour, without an ideology? An idea, an ideology, is not the actual. Take this country, for instance, where they have talked for forty years about non-violence. They have been preaching that unfortunate thing right up and down the land – north, south, east, west – for forty years. And when there was a war between Pakistan and India, these very people who had been talking about non-violence, never opened their mouths. They never said, ‘It’s all wrong, don’t kill, don’t fight; nationalism is brutal. They kept quiet. They had the ideology of non-violence, and when the actuality of violence came along, they kept quiet. I don’t believe there was one Indian who stood up against it.

So ideologies have no meaning whatsoever. Throw them over. Ideas, ideologies, formulas, systems, they have no meaning. What has meaning is the actuality, that man is violent. He is violent in business, competitive, he is violent in anger, hatred, brutality, wanting to hurt others, creating enmity. If there is money, he must have more of it; he will fight, deceive people, play the hypocrite.

So how are you and I to change, to bring about a revolutionary spirit without an ideology and yet to change? Now if you have no ideas, no ideology at all, then you are faced with the fact. Then you can’t escape through an ideology. When you are faced with actuality, words have no meaning. When you are faced with an actuality, you have to do something. When you are faced with the actuality of not having water, a drought in this valley, you do something, but if you have an ideology, it has no meaning. So can you and I be free of all ideologies and look at what we are – the fact, the actual?

If you can do that, it is the greatest revolution, for it demands instant action. Whereas if you have an ideology, you can postpone action. You say, ‘I am trying to be non-violent although I still hate people. I am trying to be unselfish although I am really selfish.’ But if you face the fact that you are really brutal, violent, selfish, then you can do something about it. Why not? Then there is no pretence. ‘I am selfish, I am going to have a good time!’ But if you have an ideology, you pretend all the time that you are not selfish; you pretend that you are not violent, but your heart and mind is full of hatred.

So order is only possible socially and economically, and in the human mind and heart, when the fact, the actual, the ‘what is’ is faced. Then out of that perception order can come into being. Then you can create a new society, not based on an ideology but on what actually is. That needs a tremendous revolution in our ways of thinking. It is like pure science. The pure scientist doesn’t work on a hypothesis, on ideas – they say, ‘I am going to investigate,’ and without any emotional or sentimental feeling about it, without any ideas, they investigate, proceed step by step. In the same way, we can be free of this violence, which is in the heart of most of us, by confronting it and working at it step by step. And I think that brings about a tremendous inward, as well as outward, revolution.

You see, world planning is only possible when you have no nationality, which is something based on an ideology. The world is caught up in these ideologies, of my country and your country, my party and your party. When people have divided themselves like this, they are not interested in peace, in bringing about order. World planning, which is absolutely necessary so that man can live with enough food, clothes, and shelter for everybody, not just for the rich alone, can only come about when there are no ideologies, no nationalities. Nationalities are rampant throughout the world, and therefore there is going to be more misery.

So what are you going to do about it? You are being educated here in this lovely valley. I don’t know if you saw the sunset yesterday evening. You know, there were clouds from the east moving in through that gap, and they were piling up against the hills, and the sun was just setting, and the clouds caught the light of the evening sun. Did you see it? How extraordinarily beautiful, vital, marvellous it was! Now in this place, you are being educated. If you are going to be discontented merely because you haven’t got a better house or a better car, then you will belong to the stupid crowd. Or if you revolt because you want a different ideology, then again you are caught in the mesh of nonsense. But it is different if you say, ‘We want order in this world, and order is not possible when there are ideologies, nationalities, separate religions.’ So it is your job – you are the coming generation, you have to change, you have to work at it, and that is part of your education.

Krishnamurti in Rishi Valley 1967, Talk 2

Part 2

A Radical Revolution Is Necessary

A radical revolution is necessary, a revolution that is not merely economic or social but at much greater depth, at the very root of consciousness. We were saying that not only do the world conditions demand that this revolution take place, but also throughout the world there is a steady decline, not technologically but in a sense religiously, if I may use that word cautiously and with a great deal of hesitancy because the word ‘religion’ has been so thoroughly misused; the intellectual people discard it totally, they deny it, they run away from that word; the scientists, the intellectuals, even the humanitarians will have nothing to do with that word, with that feeling, or with those organised beliefs which are called religion. But we are talking of a revolution in the very nature of the psyche itself, in the very structure of consciousness that has been put together through millennia, through many, many experiences, through many conditions.

We are going into this question of whether it is possible for a human being living in this world – in this brutal, violent, rather ruthless world that is becoming more and more efficient and therefore more and more ruthless – to bring about a revolution, not only outwardly in our social relationship but also much more in inward life. It seems to me that unless there is a fundamental revolution in the whole of consciousness – that is, in the whole field of thinking – man will not only deteriorate and so perpetuate violence, sorrow, but also create a society that will become more and more mechanical, more and more pleasure-giving, and therefore he will lead a very, very superficial life. If one observes, that is what is actually taking place.

Man is having more and more leisure through automation, through the development of cybernetics, through electronic brains and so on, and that leisure is going to be used either for entertainment – religious entertainment or entertainment through various forms of amusements – or for more and more destructive purposes in relationship between man and man. Or, having that leisure, he is going to turn inwardly. There are only these three possibilities. Technologically we can go to the moon, but that will not solve the human problem. Nor will the mere use of leisure for a religious or some other amusement solve it. Going to church or temple, beliefs, dogmas, reading sacred books – all that is really a form of amusement. Or man will go deeply into himself and question every value that man has created through the centuries, and try to find out if there is something more than the mere product of the brain. There are groups of people throughout the world that are revolting against the established order by taking various forms of drugs, denying any form of activity in society and so on. So what we are talking about is whether it is possible for man, living in this world, to bring about a revolution, a psychological revolution which will create a different kind of society, a different kind of order.

We need order, for there is a great deal of disorder. The whole social structure, as it is, is based on disorder, competition, rivalry, dog eating dog, man against man, class divisions, racial divisions, national divisions, tribal divisions and so on, so in the society as it is constructed, there is disorder. There is no question about it. Various forms of revolution, the Russian and other forms of revolution, have tried to bring about order in society and they have invariably failed, as is shown in Russia and China. But we need order because without order we cannot live. Even animals demand order. Their order is the order of property and sexual order. And also with us human beings, it is the same order in property, and sexual order, and we are willing to give up sexual order for rights over property – and in this field we are trying to bring about order.

Now, there can be order only when there is freedom – not as it is interpreted. Where there is no freedom, there is disorder and therefore there is tyranny. And there are ideologies imposed upon man to bring about order, which ultimately bring about disorder. So order implies discipline. But discipline as is generally understood is the discipline based on conformity, on obedience, on acceptance, or brought about through fear, through punishment, through a great deal of tyrannical power to keep you in order. We are talking of a discipline that comes through the very understanding of what freedom is. The understanding of what freedom is brings about its own discipline.

Krishnamurti in Bombay 1967, Talk 2

Part 3

A Deep Psychological Revolution

Revolution implies, surely, a total awareness of the whole psychological structure of the ‘me’, conscious and unconscious, and being completely free of it without thinking of becoming something else. Whether we are aware of it or not, most of us have established a pattern of thought and activity, a patterned way of life. In trying to bring about a change in our life, consciously or unconsciously, we accept a certain pattern, and we think we have changed, but actually there has been no change at all.

As I was saying the other day, without understanding the unconscious, any psychological change is merely conformity to a pattern established by the unconscious. And the present crisis, not only the outward crisis but also the crisis in consciousness, demands a revolution. I am not talking of social or economic revolution, which is very superficial, but of a revolution in the unconscious – a complete breaking away from the psychological structure of society, a total abandonment of ambition, envy, greed, of the desire for power, position, prestige, and so on. This is the only revolution because without it no new thing can be; without it, we merely indulge in ideas, in concepts, and therefore there is always sorrow. There is an ending to sorrow only when there is this total revolution.

So the question is, how is this inward change, this total revolution to be brought about? If we make a deliberate, conscious effort to change, we engender conflict, struggle; and change that is born of conflict, struggle is productive only of further misery.

Now, is it possible to bring about a revolution in the psyche without conscious effort? I have carefully explained that the unconscious is the storehouse of the past. In the unconscious are stored not only the experiences of the individual, but also those of the race. It is the storehouse of the whole endeavour of man throughout the ages: his search for God, his denial of God, his worship of the State, his identification with the nation, with an idea, and so on. The totality of all that is the past; it is the unconscious background of each one of us, according to which we respond. We may try to understand the unconscious through examination and analysis, but that will obviously not bring about a revolution. You can modify, reform, but your reform will need further reform; it is not a revolution, a complete breaking away from the past. One needs a young, fresh, innocent mind, and that can be only when one breaks away psychologically from the past.

Krishnamurti in London 1962, Talk 7

Part 4

Revolution From Complete Emptiness

Why does one demand a change? You never demand a change if the present conditions suit you, satisfy you. You do not want a revolution if you have a million dollars. You do not want a revolution if you are comfortable, bourgeois, settled in society, with your wife or husband, your children. Then you say, ‘For God’s sake, leave everything alone.’ You want a change only when you are disturbed, discontented, when you want more money, a better house. So if you go into it very deeply, our demand for change is the demand for a more comfortable, more profitable life. It is based on a motive, to acquire a new pattern of comfort, security.

Now, if you see that process as false, as you must, if you would find out what is true, then is there a seeking for a change? Is there a search at all? After all, you are all here, are you not, wanting to find out? What are you seeking, and why are you seeking? If you go into it deeply, you will find that you are dissatisfied with things as they are, and are wanting something new. And the new must always be gratifying, comfortable, assuring, secure. The so-called religious people are seeking God. At least they say so. But search surely implies something which you have lost, or something which you have known and want to get back. How can you seek God? You do not know anything about God except what you have been told, which is propaganda. The Church goes in for propaganda and the communists also. But you do not know anything about God, and to find out you must first totally deny, put aside all forms of propaganda, all the tricks that the Churches and others have played.

So for the complete mutation in consciousness to take place, you must deny analysis and search, and no longer be under any influence – which is immensely difficult. The mind, seeing what is false, has put the false aside completely, not knowing what is true. If you already know what is true, then you are merely exchanging what you consider is false for what you imagine is true. There is no renunciation if you know what you are going to get in return. There is only renunciation when you drop something not knowing what is going to happen. That state of negation is completely necessary.

Please follow this carefully because if you have gone so far, you will see that in that state of negation you discover what is true, because negation is the emptying of consciousness of the known.

After all, consciousness is based on knowledge, on experience, on racial inheritance, on memory, on the things one has experienced. Experiences are always of the past, operating on the present, being modified by the present and continuing into the future. All that is consciousness, the vast storehouse of centuries. It has its usefulness in mechanical living only. It would be absurd to deny all the scientific knowledge acquired through the long past. But to bring about a mutation in consciousness, a revolution in this whole structure, there must be complete emptiness. And that emptiness is possible only when there is the discovery, the actual seeing of what is false. Then you will see, if you have gone so far, that emptiness itself brings about a complete revolution in consciousness: it has taken place.

You know, so many of us are afraid, scared to be alone. We always want a hand to hold, an idea to cling to, a god to worship. We are never alone. In our room, in a bus, we have the companionship of our thoughts, our occupations, and when with other people we adjust ourselves to the group, to the company. We are actually never alone. And for most people, the very thought of it is frightening. But it is only the mind, the brain that is completely alone, empty of every demand, every form of adjustment, every influence, completely emptied, only such a mind discovers that that very emptiness is mutation.

I assure you that everything is born out of emptiness; everything new comes out of this vast, immeasurable, unfathomable sense of emptiness. This is not romanticism, it is not an idea, it is not an image, it is not an illusion. When you deny the false completely, not knowing what is true, then there is a mutation in consciousness, a revolution, a total transformation. Perhaps then there is no longer consciousness as we know it, but something entirely different. That consciousness, that state can live in this world, because we are not denying mechanical knowledge. So, if you have gone into it, there it is.

But most of us want a change which is only a modified continuity. In that, there is nothing new. In that, there is no fresh, young mind. And it is only the fresh, innocent, young mind that can discover what is true. And it is only to such a mind which is free of the known that the unnameable, the unknowable can come.

Krishnamurti in Paris 1961, Talk 6

Part 5

A Religious Revolution

To be sensitive, to have all your nerves, your eyes, your ears, function at the highest level, requires an astonishing awareness of every movement of your thought, whether you are suppressing, why you are suppressing. Then you are alive, you are watching every word, every gesture, every movement of your body and eyes. And out of this astonishing awareness and sensitivity there comes an austerity without harshness, without bigotry, without cruelty. Therefore out of this comes the religious revolution, which in essence is the highest form of intelligence. Which is to be highly sensitive, not to have your particular likes and dislikes, which everybody has, but to be sensitive to the whole human existence with all the complexities, with all the problems, with all the despairs, anxieties, sorrows, to be aware of them, to watch them. And in the very process of such observation, there is discipline, and that discipline is austere, without any sense of suppression. Then the religious spirit, the religious mind, is in a constant state of revolution. I have explained that; I won’t go back. It is only that mind that can find this energy.

There is an energy, a source of energy which can never be touched by a mind in conflict, by the so-called religious mind, do what it will. Man is seeking this energy because that is the source, the origin. Don’t give it a name; it has no name. It is an energy, and it is only that energy that is creative – not the painter, not the writer, not the people who are trying to be creative, to think creatively; they are not creative. It is only the religious mind that is in a state of revolution, that is clear. It is only such a mind that can find the source of this energy in action because that energy comprehends the whole. That energy does not comprehend, nor tries to answer in particular fragments, but it deals entirely with the whole problem of man – not at one particular level of his particular problem. You have lost that energy – not lost; probably you never had it. You have really to discover it – not to be told like a lot of infants – really to find it out through the religious revolution, through the sense of the highest beauty.

This demands all your attention, and that attention is virtue. The cultivated virtue is no longer virtue, it is just a habit formed to function in a particular pattern. Virtue is something out of time. It cannot be cultivated: you are virtuous or you are not. Think of cultivating humility! Just think of that absurdity: a vain man trying to cultivate humility. He will remain at the end still vain. He has learnt the word ‘humility’ and has covered it up. To have this humility you have to destroy completely, consciously as well as unconsciously, all vanity or pride, and on the instant, not gradually.

So the religious mind has no time. Therefore it has no idea as a psychological idea according to which it is functioning. The religious mind is acting not socially, economically, politically. It is acting because it has found, it has discovered that source which is uncontaminated by thought, uncontaminated by conflict. It is only the mind that understands the true religious spirit that can find that thing which is beyond all words.

Krishnamurti in New Delhi 1963, Talk 7

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