Krishnamurti on Values

Episode Notes

‘Is there action that is correct under all circumstances, not based on values?’

This week’s episode on Values has three sections.

The first extract (2:35) is from Krishnamurti’s first talk at Rajghat 1969, titled ‘Question your values and traditions’.

The second extract (30:20) is from the third talk in Saanen 1980, titled ‘Our actions are based on values.’

The final extract (56:42) in this episode is from Krishnamurti’s third talk in Ojai 1949, titled ‘We have taken our values and beliefs for granted’.

Part 1

Question Your Values and Traditions

You know what is happening in the world. Great technological changes are taking place. Fantastic things are being done at the technological level, at the level of electronics, computers, going to the moon, living under the sea, conquering nature – they are doing the most extraordinary things, the scientists, the doctors, the mathematicians, the biologists. And that is producing a great revolution because you cannot advance technologically unless there is a great physical change also taking place. And also if you have read or observed, you will see that there are a great many revolts in America, in Europe, revolts against the established order, against tradition, against authority, against the whole set-up of modern civilisation. They express this revolt, the students and the young people, by growing long hair, to their shoulders, putting on any old clothes, dirty, squalid, not wanting to work; and there are others who want to work, and therefore they say, ‘We will go away from the society and have our own communes,’ small groups of people who will cultivate, build, look after themselves. They may not marry and yet may have children. So there is all this so-called revolt against the established order.

And also there is religion, that is, organised religion like Catholicism, Protestantism and others like Hinduism, Buddhism and so on. All these religions are collapsing, they are going; they no longer hold man anymore. When I was in Rome about a month ago in Rome, as I understand Italian I was watching television, and there the Pope and some of the Cardinals, the high officials of the Church were talking about something nobody was interested in. The Church is going; the religious organisations throughout the world are collapsing. Everywhere – in India, even in Russia where there is dictatorship, and in China where also there is the authoritarian government – there too there is a great under-current of revolt. Last year, if you will remember, there was a revolt in Paris by young people, students. Some of them we happen to know. They didn’t want violence, they didn’t want to upset the Government, but they said things must be changed. But the outside people got hold of it and began to create violence, and all that.

So there it is: right throughout the world there is deep unrest. Nobody is accepting anymore what another says. Many young people don’t want to go and join the army and kill people. They don’t want either to go into an office and for the rest of one’s forty or fifty years – work in an office day after day, day after day, because they say that’s not living; in that, there’s no fun. And women are in revolt too. They don’t want to be treated as something lower. They don’t want to be used, sexually or otherwise. They want equality, equal wages. So this is happening right through the world – perhaps not in this country. Here there is much more tradition, weighed down by authority.

Last year or the year before, last when I was here, I asked several students what they wanted to do. They all said, ‘My father wants me to be an engineer, so I am going to be an engineer.’ The father decides what the son should be and the son just follows. Or the father says, ‘You must marry so-and-so,’ and the son says, ‘All right, father, I will.’ Here there is no revolt, there is no gap between the older generation and the younger generation. The revolt, if there is, being very traditional they go off into monasteries, into ashrams, you know, with gurus, with their peculiarities, and they end up there. That is their expression of revolt because they say, ‘What is the point of all this?’ There, they obey authority, therefore these ashrams become concentration camps.

So it is like that. Everywhere man is in travail, everywhere man is questioning, asking, demanding, looking, searching, discontent. We spoke in California, in many of the universities, and in the East – there again you will see young people so distracted, in despair, miserable, unhappy, taking to drugs, because they don’t find an answer. So when you look around the world, all over, man is asking: what is it all about? Communism in Europe has completely failed; no longer people think in terms of communism. They say it leads to bureaucracy, autocracy, misery, suppression. There was a very famous writer, a Russian writer. His books were published in Europe, and now the Literate Club of Russia has dismissed him. That means he can’t get a job, he can’t write, he can’t have a house, he can’t have a home because he expresses what he wants.

Now, seeing all this, in Asia, in Europe, North and South America, Moscow, everywhere, what is man to do? He doesn’t want to go the old way, go to the office, get married, have a family, the responsibility, you know, wars, hatred, competition – he doesn’t want all that anymore, but he is caught in it. He may not want it, but the machinery is so strong, they are caught in it. So he is asking: what is one to do? They say also, ‘God is dead.’ They don’t believe in God anymore. Yet perhaps in this country you do, because you just repeat. That means nothing. And also they say, ‘Kill the mind’ – the mind being thought. Look what thought has led us to, to a society, to a culture, that’s competitive, ruthless, producing wars, misery, chaos in the world, and so they say, ‘Destroy the mind.’ You understand what I am talking about? They are questioning everything and you must – your habits, your traditions, your values, moral values, ethical values, your society, your culture, your tradition – everything must be questioned. Otherwise, if you don’t question, you will never find out.

And because people have questioned, they have gone to the moon. Technologically they have questioned – they said, ‘Why shouldn’t we go to the moon?’ and so they worked to bring about that Apollo 13 or 12 or 10. It has taken three hundred thousand men, more, working together – together – not competing with each other but working together to produce that thing, each working minutely, carefully. I don’t know how many million parts there are in that thing, and each must function perfectly.

So they have questioned deeply all the scientific values. And therefore they have produced, created a machine that can go to the moon and do all kinds of extraordinary things. But they don’t question inwardly. Inwardly. They don’t say, ‘Now, what am I living for? What is it all this about? What is this world about?’ Not according to Sankara, Buddha, X, Y, Z – that’s all finished. Because if you question, you must question everything, not say, ‘I won’t question Sankara, I won’t question Buddha, I won’t question whatever the teacher is, guru or Sri Krishna’ – you must question everything. And you are going to question me, the speaker, everything so that you find out for yourself, so that you create a new human being in the world. Not the mere human being that repeats, repeats, repeats, passes exams, goes to college, gets a job, a family, and then dies working in an office. What for?

So that is what we are going to do when we talk together. When you and I are going to talk things over, we are going to question everything, including what the speaker says – me. So don’t accept anything, but question, find out, learn.

So what is one to do? The house is on fire. Not only your little house but the house of your neighbour, whether he is ten thousand miles away or just beyond the hedge. The world is on fire, and you must do something, not say, ‘The Gita says this or the Upanishad says that, or Shankara says this.’ That has no meaning anymore – and I doubt they had any meaning in the past either.

So we are confronted, faced with a problem of a man who is completely lost, uncertain. He says, ‘Where am I to turn to?’ Churches have failed, gurus have failed, education has no meaning, politics are just a filthy affair, so he says, ‘What am I to do? Where am I to look?’ Before, man relied on his environment to shape him. Society has shaped him, culture has moulded him, economic pressures, climate, what he eats has conditioned him. You are conditioned as Hindus, believing in something, and you believe in it because you have just been brought up in it. That is propaganda, being told by your father, by your neighbour, by your aunt, by your society to believe – from childhood you are brought up that way and you believe. In the Catholic world, the same thing is happening: propaganda, the repetition has conditioned human beings.

Why do you call yourself a Hindu and somebody else a Muslim or Buddhist? Because you have been told, ‘You are a Hindu, behave like a Hindu’ – God knows what it means but behave like that, think like that. So you are conditioned, and when you are conditioned you are separate from other conditioned entities. If I call myself a Hindu – which I don’t – an Indian, patriotic, waving the flag, and all that tommyrot, and you a Muslim, where is the relationship between you and me? We fight each other, we kill each other because I believe in one thing and you believe in another. So any form of conditioning must divide people.

That is basically the cause of this revolt, but they don’t realise it. In America, I have talked a great deal to many young people, thousands of them, over the radio and on television. That is the basic cause of this revolt right through the world. They don’t realise it, they don’t see the meaning of it. Which is, human beings, you, are conditioned by your environment, by your culture, by the books you read, by the sacred books, by the rituals. All that conditions you, shapes you. And you are shaped in one way living in Europe, and somebody else is shaped another way living in Russia or America and so on. So there is division. And where there is division there must be conflict.

You know, there is a war going on in the Middle East between Israel and the Arabs. Within a few miles, one is called an Arab, believing in Allah and all the rest of that business, and the other, Israel, who believes in something else, with their nationalism. One is fighting with the other. Both are conditioned, and both are at each other’s throat. So even the most ardent Marxists are saying, ‘Unconditioning – is it possible to uncondition the human mind?’ – of which we have been talking about for forty years. They have just picked it up.

So we are saying that the cause of strife, of violence, why we don’t live at peace with each other, is this division between human beings. Not only verbal divisions – a word like ‘Hindu’, a word like ‘Muslim’ and so on, these words create divisions – but your rituals opposed to my rituals create division, your nationality against my nationality creates division. Your God, my God, we and they, these all cause division, contradiction and therefore strife.

So the fundamental question is whether man can man free himself from his conditioning. Can the mind which is so trained, so conditioned, can it free itself, break through and be free? If you cannot answer that question, you are bound to create trouble, you are bound to create war – there will be conflict in you and outside you. Any amount of your meditating, worshipping and all that has no meaning anymore. That is just an escape. So you have to answer this question. And that is the basis of education, not merely passing some silly exams. The torture of exams! Education implies that you learn, learn to observe, look and see what is happening around you and inside yourself.

And so there it is: can you, can a human being uncondition his mind? It is really a very complex question, it needs a great deal of going into. And when that gentleman said, ‘Will you talk about psychological mutation?’ this is what it means. Can the mind, the brain as well as the whole structure and nature of mind, can it explode, break away from all this tradition, from its conditioning?

Krishnamurti at Rajghat in 1969, Talk 1

Part 2

Our Actions Are Based on Values

As one observes, our action is based on ideas. Ideas are more important than action – ideas or ideals are the platform, the background from which we act. Whether those ideas are personal or evolved through a great many centuries, or sanctioned by organised religions, we move with and live with ideas. Ideas may be symbols, memories, experiences or conclusions. Ideas create values, values which are satisfactory, desirable, worthwhile, have significance. And having established those values based on ideas, we act according to those values. And those values are created by thought.

So our action is based on values, and these values are brought about by constant adjustment to circumstances, to one’s character, to one’s desire, to one’s social and environmental condition. So our actions are based on values which are the product of thought.

We are going to point out presently that a mind that has values is very limited because those values are created by thought and desire, and therefore action is always limited. If we examine our actions, we see the whole of life is action. All life is action – speaking, walking, thinking, acting from knowledge, responsibility, friendship – the whole of our existence is action, whether that action is directed by a value or by experience, or sanctioned by society or culture or religion.

This has been the pattern of our existence, each person creating his own value, what is important, what is not important, what is worthwhile or not, what is comforting, what is desirable, and so on. So we are asking: is there an action which is not based on value? As we said, our action is based either on past memories, past values or present values, or future ideals – that which should be, that which has been and that which is. So our action is a continuous, constant movement of the past through the present, modifying itself into the future.

So our actions are always based on the past. There is no spontaneous action. Please don’t agree with me. Everybody is talking about more or less spontaneous action. There isn’t such a thing. It is essentially based on past memories, past values, modifying itself constantly, but essentially rooted in the past. And therefore there is no spontaneous action.

Then one asks: what is correct action, an action not based on the past, on values, because they limit action, because they are the outcome of thought which is the result of knowledge? So is there an action which is correct under all circumstances, not based on values?

Am I putting the question rightly? Are you meeting with me? Because it is very important to find out if there is freedom in action. Now we think there is freedom in action because we can do what we want. That is the prevalent fashion, to do, each one, what he likes without the father or the government on your back. That freedom has led more or less to this present chaos, each one doing exactly what he wants.

So one must find out for oneself what is right action, not based on concepts, ideals or values. Do we want to find out?

Questioner: Yes, we want to find out.

Krishnamurti: No, sir this is not a game we are playing. It is not something that you do this morning and forget all about it. It touches our daily life, and therefore it is very serious. It is a very serious question to ask: is there an action which is not based on Marxism, on Christianity, on Hinduism and all the rest of it? Or on any human values which are the product of thought. Therefore one must ask this question, whether there is a right action under all circumstances.

So one must go into the question: what is right? I will say what I think is right, or I have a certain belief and according to that I act, and that is right. Or I have experiences which have shaped my action and therefore they are correct. And we are pointing out, if one may, that all such expressions of action is prejudice, prejudice which has something common with ideals. Your prejudices form your ideals. Whether those prejudices are carefully culturally cultivated or religiously adopted, such action is essentially based on values. And we are asking: is there an action which is not based on any of this? Because that is freedom. Otherwise, it is like being tied to something, and therefore every action becomes corrupt.

If I am tied to a belief, naturally my action will be according to that belief and therefore limited and therefore corrupt. You may not agree, but please examine it first before you agree or disagree. We are using the word ‘corrupt’ which means ‘rompere’. The root of that word is ‘rompere’ – to break, to fragment, to bring about fragmentation. That is the root meaning of the word ‘corrupt’. So our actions are corrupt, never whole. And to find out what is correct action, one must actually be free from all values. Please see the logic of it or the sense of it.

Now what is correct action? Correct. The word ‘correct’ means precise, actual, not distorted, which must be constant. That is the meaning of the word ‘correct’. Not you give a meaning to that word ‘correct’ or the speaker gives it – the dictionary gives that meaning, which means an action which is constant, which never varies under any circumstances, is precise, not based on romantic, sentimental imagination. And is there such correct action? Action being not based on some principle, not based on some ideal, not the result of personal or cultivated values – otherwise it is corrupt action. We are going to find that out.

A mind that is tied to an idea, to a concept, to some value, or to a person, an action springing from that must always be corrupt. That is, if I am attached to a person, that attachment is going to dictate my action, obviously. If I am attached or tied to a belief my action will be according to that belief, and therefore my action is corrupt. If I act according to my experience or knowledge, and knowledge always being limited, my action will be corrupt. You understand what we are saying? It is totally different from everything that has been said. And we are saying: is there an action which is incorruptible? And we say there is, which comes when you observe, not analyse, when you observe the consequences of values, how values are created, how when you are attached to an idea, a concept, a person, such action is invariably destructive, corrupt, limited. If this is so, by observing – not analysing – they come to an end. That is, I am attached. Suppose I am attached to a symbol, whether the symbol be in the church or I have created my own symbol through mythology, and so on and so on – those symbols are created by thought. I am attached to a symbol and I act according to that symbol. The result is conflict, not only against your symbol, against your belief, but also conflict in my daily action. I observe this. I see this actual fact.

Do we see this fact, that as long as you are tied to anything, a person, a belief, a concept, an idea, to your own knowledge and experience, the outcome of that action must invariably bring conflict? Do we see that? All right, I will put it differently.

I am a Jew. I hold on to that concept. The result is, you who are a Muslim, the Arab, we are at war with each other. That is fairly simple, obvious, observable. But if you go much deeper inwardly, I may cling to a person for various reasons, and the very attachment to that brings a great deal of conflict, fear and hate. And without analysing, can I observe the fact? We will go into what we mean by observing.

Do you observe yourself without any distortion? Observe, not try to change what you see, not try to reason away what you see, or try to overcome what you see, or suppress what you see, but just to observe, as you do in a mirror, what you actually are. That is, can I observe my reaction which is aggression? I am taking that as an example. I am aggressive – God forbid! I am aggressive. Can I observe that? The cause of it, without analysing, the expression, in my face, in my voice, in my gesture, can I observe it without trying to justify it or give an excuse, or try to say ‘I am not,’ but just to observe. Can you do it? Are you doing it as we are talking? Take your own particular idiosyncrasy, your own particular character, your own particular attachment and observe it, which will become rather difficult because our minds are trained and educated to analyse. That is to find the cause through analysis and hope thereby to overcome the cause. We are saying that process of analysis will not free the cause. Merely observe without any emotional reaction, see exactly as it is, let the fact tell the story rather than you tell the story about the fact. We are always telling what to do about the fact: it must not be, it must be, we must go into it, and so on – we never allow the fact to unfold itself. That is what we are saying. Observation is the unfolding of what is going on. Are you doing this as we are talking?

You know, most of us are attached to a person – to our husband, to our children, to something or other, to our priest, to a guru, to a system of meditation, or whatever it is. Can you observe your attachment? Please, this is not a group therapy, this is not a confessional – all that nonsense is too silly. But we are asking each other: can you observe your attachment? Of course you can. You become conscious of it. Then if you observe it carefully, the immediate reaction is: why not, what is wrong with attachment? The consequences of attachment are fear, and therefore hate, jealousy and therefore lack of love. These are the consequences, aren’t they? No? You are very silent. Probably you are sitting next to your wife or husband! But if you observe it very carefully without distorting what you actually see, that observation is the act of intelligence.

May I go on? We are coming to a point when we are going into an action which is correct under all circumstances. And that is to observe the fact of what is actually happening without any distortion. I’ll show you something. That is, when we observe, is the fact, that which is happening as attachment and the consequences of that attachment, when you observe, is the observer different from the thing he observes? When you are angry, at the moment of anger there is no division between the observer and the observed. Only a second later comes the division. I have been angry. I recognise the feeling of anger because I have had it before, so the division takes place the moment when the observer separates himself from the observed.

I wonder if you see this. No, no, please, this is serious if you want to go into it because if you can see this you will eliminate conflict altogether because conflict exists between the observer and the observed. Am I using words which you are not accustomed to and therefore you find it rather puzzling?

I am attached to a person – if I am. I am attached to a person. Is the attachment different from me? Or I am attachment?

I am supplying you with energy. You see, you really don’t want to face this. Therefore you find lots of excuses. Because where there is attachment to a problem, to an idea, to an ideal, to a person, to a dogma, to a ritual, to an organisation, to certain institutions, there must be corruption. And if I am attached to my wife, there is absolute certainty of corruption, because corruption means fear. Fear brings hate, conflict, jealousy, antagonism, which are all the expression of corruption – not the act of love. So do we see this not analytically but factually? Now, when you say, ‘I see it,’ is the seer different from that which he has seen? That is, where there is division there must be conflict. That is a law. It is a law. There is conflict between the Arab and the Jew, between the communist and the Capitalist, the Hindu, the Muslim, the Christian, and so on. Where there is division, there must be conflict. Conflict is corruption. And we have lived with this norm, with this pattern, that the observer, the thinker is different from the thought. So the thinker is always trying to dominate thought. But the thinker is thought.

So when we observe attachment towards somebody or something – a piece of furniture – is the person who is attached different from himself, the attachment? Obviously not. Therefore when there is no division and therefore no conflict, the whole process of attachment comes to an end. Please test it. Don’t accept a thing anybody says, including myself. Test it. That is, see actually what you are attached to, tied to: to your name, to your family, to your brother, sister, father, wife, girlfriend, boyfriend, whatever it is, to the bishop or the pope, or some other person. If you are, just observe it. But if you like to be attached, if you like all the consequences of that attachment, you are perfectly welcome; nobody is going to stop you. But if you want to find out whether there is an action that is incorruptible, which is correct under all circumstances, then you have to be free from all values, from all attachment. Because when you observe attachment, it is intelligence that is seeing the whole process of it, not analysis.

So where there is intelligence there is correct action. Intelligence is not knowledge, is not accumulated information. Where there is insight into the attachment, that insight is intelligence, and from that intelligence there is correct action. Don’t look at me, it’s not worth it, but look at yourself and find out because man has lived with corruption for a million years and all his actions must be corrupt, must bring chaos, conflict, and his actions are based on ideals, on concepts, on values, which are all the product of thought. There is no divine, absolute value, even though the priests may say that. When they do say it, it is the activity of their own thinking.

So there is an action which is completely whole, completely incorruptible, in daily life, not somewhere in heaven. That is, can I, can a human being, live in this world with that intelligence? That intelligence is born out of insight, for an example, into attachment. Insight. Insight means having full comprehension of the whole process of attachment immediately. You all must have had an insight into something or other, occasionally, where that insight is not memory, is not the process of value or a conclusion; it is a second of complete comprehension of that which you see, totally. And that is the essence of intelligence. And that intelligence is not yours or mine, and therefore it is always acting correctly. Will you try it, do it? Do it as we are sitting here, not when you go home. As you are sitting here, observe yourself, observe your action with regard to your wife or husband, to your neighbour, to your politics, to your religion – whatever it is. And can you have, without analysis, a perception, a seeing the whole consequences and the cause of this attachment instantly, immediately? Because that implies freedom from time.

Krishnamurti in Saanen 1980, Talk 3

Part 3

We Have Taken Our Values and Beliefs for Granted

I do not see how we can have any foundation for right thinking without self-knowledge; how any action, however inclusive, however collective or individualistic, can possibly be a harmonious and true action without fully knowing oneself. Without knowing oneself, there is no possibility of really searching out what is true, what is significant, what are the right values in life. Without self-knowledge, we cannot go beyond the self-projected illusions of the mind. Self-knowledge, as we explained, implies not only the action of relationship between one individual and another, but also the action of relationship with society; and there can be no complete, harmonious society without this knowledge. So it is really very important and significant that one should know oneself as completely and fully as possible. And is this knowledge possible? Can one know integrally not partially, the total process of oneself? Because, as I said, without knowing oneself, one has no basis for thinking. One gets caught in illusions: political, religious, social illusions – they are limitless, endless. Is it possible to know oneself? And, how is it possible to know oneself – what are the means, what are the ways, what are the processes?

I think to find out what the ways are, one must find out first what the impediments are, and by studying what we consider is important in life, those things which we have accepted – the values, the standards, the beliefs, the innumerable things that we hold – by examining them, perhaps we shall find out the ways of our own thinking, and thereby know ourselves. That is, by understanding the things that we accept, by questioning them, going into them, by that very process we shall know the ways of our own thinking, our responses, our reactions; and through them, we shall know ourselves as we are. Surely, that is the only way we can find out the manner of our thinking, our responses: by studying, by going fully into the values, standards and beliefs we have accepted for generations. And seeing behind these values, we shall know how we respond, what our reactions are to them, and thereby, perhaps we shall be able to uncover the ways of our own thinking. In other words, to know oneself is to study the responses, the reactions that one has in relation to something.

One cannot know oneself through isolation. That is an obvious fact. You may withdraw to a mountain, into a cave, or pursue some illusion on the banks of a river, but if one isolates oneself, there can be no relationship, and isolation is death. It is only in relationship that one can know oneself as one is. So by studying the things we have accepted, by going into them fully, not superficially, perhaps we shall be able to understand ourselves.

Now, one of the things, it seems to me, that most of us eagerly accept and take for granted, is the question of beliefs. I am not attacking beliefs – what we are trying to do this evening is to find out why we accept beliefs, and if we can understand the motives, the causation of acceptance, then perhaps we may be able not only to understand why we do it, but also be free of it. Because one can see how political and religious beliefs, national and various other types of beliefs, do separate people, do create conflict, confusion and antagonism – which is an obvious fact, and yet we are unwilling to give them up.

There is the Hindu belief, the Christian belief, the Buddhist – innumerable sectarian and national beliefs, various political ideologies, all contending with each other, trying to convert each other. One can see, obviously, that belief is separating people, creating intolerance – and is it possible to live without belief? One can find that out only if one can study oneself in relationship to a belief. Is it possible to live in this world without a belief? Not change beliefs, not substitute one belief for another, but be entirely free from all beliefs, so that one meets life anew each minute? This, after all, is the truth: to have the capacity of meeting everything anew, from moment to moment, without the conditioning reaction of the past, so that there is not the cumulative effect which acts as a barrier between oneself and that which is.

Obviously, most of us accept or take on beliefs because, first of all, there is fear. We feel that without a belief, we shall be lost. Then we use belief as a means of conduct, as a pattern according to which we direct our lives. And also we think that through belief there can be collective action. So in other words, we think that belief is necessary for action. And is that so? Is belief necessary for action? That is, belief, being an idea, is ideation necessary for action? Which comes first, idea or action? Surely, first there is action, which is either pleasurable or painful, and according to that, we build up various theories. Action invariably comes first, does it not? And when there is fear, when there is the desire to believe in order to act, then ideation comes in.

Now if you consider, you will see that one of the reasons for the desire to accept a belief is fear. If we had no belief, what would happen to us? Wouldn’t we be very frightened of what might happen? If we had no pattern of action, based on a belief – either in God or in communism or in socialism or in imperialism, or in some kind of religious formula, some dogma in which we are conditioned – we would feel utterly lost, wouldn’t we? And is not this acceptance of a belief the covering up of that fear – the fear of being really nothing, of being empty? After all, a cup is useful only when it is empty; and a mind that is filled with beliefs, with dogmas, with assertions, with quotations, is really an uncreative mind, it is merely a repetitive mind. And to escape from that fear, that fear of emptiness, that fear of loneliness, that fear of stagnation, of not arriving, not succeeding, not achieving, not being something, not becoming something, is surely one of the reasons why we accept beliefs so eagerly and greedily. And through acceptance of belief, do we understand ourselves? On the contrary, a belief, religious or political, obviously hinders the understanding of ourselves. It acts as a screen through which we are looking at ourselves. And can we look at ourselves without beliefs? If we remove those beliefs, the many beliefs that one has, is there anything left to look at? If we have no beliefs with which the mind has identified itself, then the mind, without identification, is capable of looking at itself as it is, and then there is the beginning of the understanding of oneself.

If one is afraid, if there is fear which is covered over by a belief, and if, in understanding beliefs, one comes face to face with fear, without the screen of beliefs, is it not possible then to be free from that reaction of fear? That is, to know one is afraid, and to stay there, without any escape? To be with what is is surely much more significant, much more worthwhile, than to escape from what is through a belief.

So, one begins to see that there are various forms of escape from oneself, from one’s own emptiness, from one’s own poverty of being – escapes such as knowledge, such as amusement, various forms of addictions and distractions, both learned and stupid, clever or not worthwhile. We are surrounded by these; we are them. And if the mind can see the significance of the things to which it is held, then perhaps we shall be face to face with what we are, whatever it be. The moment we are capable of doing that, there is a real transformation. Because then there is no question of fear, for fear exists only in relationship to something. When there is you and something else to which you are related, and when you dislike that thing to which you are related and try to avoid it, then there is fear. But when you are that very thing, then there is no question of avoidance. A fact gives fear only when you bring an emotional reaction to it. But when a fact is faced as it is, there is no fear. And when what we call fear is no longer named, but only looked at, without it being given a term, then there takes place a revolution; there is no longer that sense either of avoidance or acceptance.

So to understand belief, not superficially but profoundly, one must find out why the mind attaches itself to various forms of beliefs, why beliefs have become so significant in our lives: belief about death, about life, about what happens after death; beliefs asserting that there is God or there is no God; that there is reality or there is no reality; and various political beliefs. Are these beliefs not all indicative of our own sense of inward poverty, and do they not reveal a process of escape or act as a defence? And in studying our beliefs, do we not begin to know ourselves as we are, not only at the upper levels of our mind, of our consciousness, but deeper down?

So, the more one studies oneself in relationship to something else, such as beliefs, the more the mind becomes quiet, without false regimentation, without compulsion. The more the mind knows itself, the more quiet it is, obviously. The more you know something, the more you are familiar with it, the more the mind becomes quiet. And the mind must be really quiet, not made quiet. Surely, there is a vast difference between a mind that is made quiet and a mind that is quiet. You can compel a mind by circumstances, by various disciplines, tricks, and so on, to be quiet. But that is not quietude, that is not peace; that is death. But a mind that is quiet because it understands the various forms of fear, and because it understands itself, such a mind is creative, such a mind is renewing itself constantly. It is only the mind that is self-enclosed by its own fears and beliefs that stagnates. But a mind that understands its relationship to the values about it, not imposing a standard of values, but understanding what is, surely such a mind becomes quiet, is quiet. It is not a question of becoming. It is only then that the mind is capable of perceiving what is real from moment to moment. Reality is not something at the end, an end result of accumulative action. Reality is to be perceived only from moment to moment; and it can be perceived only when there is not the accumulative effect of the past on the moment, the now.

Krishnamurti in Ojai 1949, Talk 3

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