Krishnamurti on God
This week’s episode on God has six sections.
The first extract (2:10) is from Krishnamurti’s second question and answer meeting in Bombay 1985, titled ‘To understand the human psyche is more important than to talk about God’.
The second extract (9:10) is from the second question and answer meeting in Madras 1981, titled ‘Does God exist?’
The third extract (18:20) is from the third talk in Saanen 1984, titled ‘Thought created God’.
The fourth extract (25:20) is from the seventh talk in London 1962, titled ‘The religious mind isn’t the mind that believes’.
The fifth extract (41:08) this week is from the second question and answer meeting at Brockwood Park in 1984, titled ‘Why do we pray?’
The final extract (53:54) this week is from the first discussion at Brockwood Park in 1971, titled ‘I don’t know what God is’.
To Understand the Human Psyche Is More Important Than to Talk About God
Question: Since you say that there is no such thing as God, and you also condemn idol worship, then the question of how we are born and how nature came into existence comes into the picture. Kindly explain.
Krishnamurti: Scientists say we came from water, from the cells, from the animal, the ape, and all that is part of nature. It has taken three and a half million years or more or less to become a human being – which is what we are now. Either that is so, or you believe God has made us. Either you believe in the scientific theory or the scientific facts, or you believe that God has made us, or that there is God in us – whatever game you like to play. Scientists have proved as a fact that we have come from a tiny cell multiplying itself from the water and gradually becoming earthborn, and from the ape we have become what we are. That is, we are part of nature, the whole world is part of us. And if you believe that some creator has made you, that creator must be a rather silly, rather blind, idiotic man or woman – because look at us, what we are. (Laughter) Now you laugh but all the temples, mosques and churches are filled with this. We are not made in the image of God but we have made God our image. Do you understand the difference?
To find out, to discover or to come upon that which is not the word, not memory, not tradition, which is not of time and so on, we must understand what we are first, why we have become like this – barbarous, violent, greedy, envious, money-minded, hating each other – you know all the things that are going on in the world. It is far more important to find that first rather than to ask who made us. We are what we are now – blind, rather stupid, gullible, frightened, lonely, depressed, sorrowful – all that is what we are. And to understand this whole structure of the human psyche is far more important than merely talking about God, or do some repetitive ritual, or going to a temple and worshiping a piece of stone.
The speaker doesn’t condemn anything. Forgive me for pointing this out. He just shows what we human beings are doing. He is acting as a mirror for you to look into that mirror. That mirror is not the authority. It has no authority, it’s just a mirror. And that mirror, when you see it clearly, understand what you see in that mirror, then throw away the mirror, break it up, don’t make another idol of it or another personal worship.
So first, what is important is to find out how we live. Why we are so narrow, limited, so self-centred, self-interested? It may sound repetitive, but that is the most important factor that shapes all our lives.
Krishnamurti in Bombay 1985, Question and Answer Meeting 2
Does God Exist?
Question: Kindly give a straight reply. Does God exist, or not? Yes or no? If yes, how best to realise him in this life?
Krishnamurti: (Laughs) This is a lovely question, isn’t it? (Laughter) Man throughout history, from the ancient Greeks and Sumerians, has had this idea of God. I am not at all sure whether in the Upanishads they mention God at all, or is it a later invention?
So what is God? We are investigating, I am not attacking God. I am not denying God but we are investigating whether there is such a thing as God.
Who invented God? Did God invent us, did God create us? God, who is omnipotent, omniscient, eternal, merciful, is just, is all goodness – that is your concept of God. If you say he has created us, then we are part of his image, we are part of him. That is, we are omniscient, generous, loving and eternal. Are we? Or we think we are? Do you understand my question? If God created you, he must be an extraordinary entity, because he wants you to lead a terrible life. If God made you, why are you like this? You must be extraordinary human beings, mustn’t you – beautiful, full of joy, excitement, full of delight. But you are not. So either you have created God, or God has created you. But if you examine very closely, you have created God.
In India I was told there are about 300,000 Gods or more. (Laughs) Every local person has his own god. So, we have created God. See the irony of it. Thought has created God, and then thought worships the image thought has created. Which is, to worship oneself and call it God, thinking the better part of you is God.
Let’s be clear. Have you created God? The local gods around the corner, or the local god in Rome, or in Tirupati, or wherever – you have created them, haven’t you? You are so very uncertain, aren’t you, so frightened. If you say we have created God, then you are scared stiff because you have created, out of your fear, that. Out of your fear, you want security, you want safety, you want to feel there is somebody looking after you because you are afraid. So you create that and then worship that. Just see what you are doing! Going to Tirupati and putting all your money in the bag – do you think gods want your money? Look at it all. You have nothing to offer but money, garlands, prostrations and rituals. You have nothing else to offer. Have you realised the tragedy of this?
If you love – not God; it is very easy to love God because it is an abstraction, it has not much meaning – but if you love, that very love is God, that very love is sacred. You won’t go outside to look for God.
And the questioner wants to know if I believe in God. I don’t. Because God is something created by man. There is such a thing as eternity, which is to be outside of time. For that, you must have a mind, a heart that is completely free from all the burdens of life – from your vanity, your arrogance, your selfishness. And we say we are not capable of it, tell us what to do. You are back in the cycle: somebody to tell you what to do.
You are in a jungle; you have to walk through it by yourself, and for that you need vitality and vigour and strength. Not belief in God, in goodness – belief has no place where truth is concerned.
Krishnamurti in Madras 1981, Question and Answer Meeting 2
Thought Created God
We have sought security inwardly. Thought has created God. Would you be shocked by that? Thought has created it. Thought has put all together the various rituals, the various dogmas, beliefs, faith – this is the common factor of all religions. And thought, not finding psychological security, projected the concept of God from the ancient days – from Jupiter, Zeus, and the Asiatics had their own peculiar ancient deities. Is there such security psychologically at all?
One follows another, especially in the so-called – the speaker doesn’t like that word ‘spiritual’ – in the so-called spiritual world one seeks security – following the guru, following the various traditional concepts: Catholic, Protestant, Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, and also gurus, and the security in knowledge, in a skill, in various forms of activity, consoling, disturbing, destructive, but trying to find security through all these means. And the brain needs extraordinary security, otherwise it can’t function clearly.
So one questions whether, apart from physical security which is slowly being denied and destroyed, there is psychological security at all. Please let us investigate this very carefully because most of us want in our relationships some kind of stability, some kind of safety, a sense of being at home – not in a house, but inwardly being at home with somebody – a man or woman, or with some symbol or concept. Or as the Christians would have it, in faith. God knows why, or what it means, but they find security in faith. And in the Asiatic world, especially in India, doubt has been one of the major tenets of their religion, that one must question the very highest authority. One must doubt. So in that doubting, questioning, probing, one asks, if one has done it very, very deeply: is there security at all?
One must have physical security – that is understood – and that is being destroyed through nationalism, through wars, through division. There is the peculiar thing going on called The United Nations, which is a contradictory in terms. Nations cannot be united, they are always separative, divisive. They can never be united and therefore they are always at war, getting more armaments, and so on and so on, I don’t have to go into all that because we all know that. And nobody seems to say, ‘Let’s stop all this.’ The religions encourage it, this division – Catholic, Protestant, Hindu, Buddhist and all that nonsense – to me. And this division, the divisive process which is going on throughout the world is bringing about great conflict. And inwardly too we are divisive. We are, as human beings, broken up, fragmented, never whole, holistic. And if one begins to inquire more deeply, is there any security at all?
Krishnamurti in Saanen 1984, Talk 3
The Religious Mind Isn’t the Mind That Believes
Religious people say you must turn to God and be in a state of receptivity so that the Grace of God can come into being. There is every form of religious practice – I was going to use the word ‘chicanery’ – to persuade, influence or control the human mind to the end that it may in one form or another achieve this innocency. There are also those who try various drugs and experience heightened sensitivity of perception, an extraordinary state of bliss. But innocency cannot be brought about by any drug, by any form of yoga, by any belief or rejection of belief, or by waiting for the Grace of God. All these things imply effort, seeing the urge to escape from the fact of what is. Innocency can come into being only when there is total freedom from the known – that is, a dying to the known, a dying to the past, to pleasurable memories, to ideas, to all the things that one has cherished or built up or put together as character.
Unfortunately, most of us do not want to die to anything, particularly to that which gives us pleasure, to the memory of things that we have known and cherished. We would rather find an escape, live in an illusion. But one must die to the known for innocency to be. This is not a mere verbal statement or conclusion: there must be an actual dying to the known, to the past. And one cannot die to the known if one has a motive to die; for motive is rooted in time and thought – and thought is the response of the background of consciousness, which is the known.
We are all conditioned, whether as English, Russians, Hindus, Christians, Buddhists, or what you will. We are shaped by society, by environment. We are the environment. Most of you undoubtedly believe in God and in Jesus because you have been brought up in that belief, whereas in Russia they are conditioned not to accept any of that. The totality of the mind’s conditioning is the known, and that conditioning can be broken but not through analysis. It can be broken only when it is approached negatively, and this negative is not the opposite of the positive. As love is not the opposite of hate, so this negative is not the opposite of the positive – the positive being examination, analysis, trying to change the existing pattern or trying to conform to a different pattern. All this we consider to be positive, and the negative we are talking about is not the opposite of that. Nor is it a synthesis. A synthesis implies the coming together of the opposites, but this is productive of a further set of opposites. The negative we are talking about is a denial of the opposites altogether. When one denies totally the approach – which is part of our conditioning – that seeks to change the psyche through effort, through analysis, then one’s approach is negative, and it is only in this state of negation that the mind is innocent. Such a mind is really the religious mind.
The religious mind isn’t the mind that believes, that goes to church every day, or once a week; it isn’t the mind that has a creed or is bound by dogmas and superstitions. The religious mind is really a scientific mind – scientific in the sense that it is able to observe facts without distortion, to see itself as it is. To be free of one’s conditioning requires not a believing or an accepting mind, but a mind that is capable of observing itself rationally, sanely, and a seeing of the fact that unless there is a total breaking up of the psychological structure of society, which is the ‘me’, there can be no innocency, and that without innocency the mind can never be religious.
The religious mind is not fragmentary, it does not divide life into compartments. It comprehends the totality of life – the life of sorrow and joy and passing satisfactions. Being totally free from the psychological structure of ambition, greed, envy and competition, from all demand for the ‘more’, the religious mind is in a state of innocency. It is only such a mind that can go beyond itself, not the mind that merely believes in a beyond, or that has some hypothesis about God.
The word ‘God’ is not God; the concept you have of God is not God. To find out if there is that which may be called God, all verbal concepts and formulations, all ideas, all thought, which is the response of memory, must come totally to an end. Only then is there that state of innocency in which there is no self-deception, no wanting, no desire for a result. Then you will find out for yourself what is true.
Such a mind is no longer seeking experience. A mind that seeks experience is immature. The innocent mind has ceased to be concerned with experience. It is free of the word – the word being the capacity to recognize from the background of the known. Recognition implies association, either verbal or through actual experience, and without that association you cannot recognize anything. The religious or innocent mind is free of the word, free of concepts, patterns, formulations, and such a mind alone can find out for itself whether there is or is not the immeasurable.
Krishnamurti in London 1962, Talk 7
Why Do We Pray?
Question: Why do you not find value in prayer?
Krishnamurti: Do you find value in prayer? I don’t know why you accuse me of not having any value in prayer.
Why do we pray? You know that there is a whole group or community of monks who are perpetually praying? One group finishes praying, another group takes it up. And we also pray when we are in difficulty. When there is a great crisis in our life, we want to pray or say, ‘Somebody help there, please.’
You know that joke about a man hanging onto a cliff? He says, ‘Please God, save me!’ And God says, ‘Have faith and jump!’ (Laughter) And the man who is hanging onto the cliff says, ‘Isn’t there somebody else above you?’ (Laughter) Sorry!
Why do we pray at all? Praying has been going on in the Christian world, in the Islamic world, and in a different way in the Buddhist and Hindu world – praying. To whom are you praying? To an outside agency? The outside agency being God or the Lord. The Lord, according to different countries and cultures and traditions. The Almighty of different concepts – to whom are we praying? And why do we pray? Does prayer answer our difficulties?
In some cases when you are praying, not merely using certain words, chanting and so on, but praying silently without words, perhaps you might have an answer because your whole brain has become quiet. In that quietness, in that stillness of the brain without the movement of thought, you find an answer. And then you say, ‘I must pray more and more.’ Which is, you have achieved, you have gathered some experience and that experience has brought a certain result, and you like those results, so you keep this going. Then it becomes a habit and you have lost everything.
Why do we pray at all? We are not condemning it or saying it is all right – we are questioning the whole thing, with a certain scepticism, with a certain quality of the brain that says, ‘Give me the reason, not just emotional reactions.’
One is in great difficulty. There is great crisis, pain, sorrow – insoluble. At that moment, we look to somebody to help, and the somebody is not one’s husband, wife, children or neighbour – or somebody across the street because I know the others too well; they are also in the same position as myself – and so I turn to some outside agency. An outside agency means not something that is organised by thought: God, Christ, or in India it is another deity, and so on. I pray on my knees because I can’t solve this problem at all. I cannot resolve my sorrow, my pain, my loneliness, and so I gradually begin to depend on something externally. Either it is the doctor, the psychiatrist or God. They are all the same the moment I want to be helped. One we call saintly prayer, the other mundane, but they are both the same. They are all the same.
So why do I do this? Because I want to be helped. I am not able to solve the problem, or I think I am not able to solve the problem. It is very painful, devastating, it disturbs my whole life and I want someone to calm my being, to help me to overcome this. And this has been done for forty, fifty and more thousand years. It was the thunder and lightning before, then it was the worship of trees, and now the worship of symbols and images. Not much difference.
So I have to ask: why do I want help? It may sound rather cruel but it is not, the person who is always asking for help becomes weaker and weaker and weaker, duller. Then he becomes utterly dependent on something, either on drugs or on people, or on ideals, and ultimately on his concept of God. Whether it is a drug or God, it is still along the same lines because you want to be helped.
Now we are asking ourselves: is it possible to solve our own problems without aid from another? Which requires a great deal of stamina and energy, saying, ‘This problem of envy, what is envy, it is always comparison and a little more than comparison – the craving, the want, can that end without time?’ Then I don’t have to pray. The person who is like that is totally free from all contamination of thought.
So it requires the understanding of fear to be able to stand completely on your feet. And that is now slowly being denied. Drugs – cocaine, heroin and all that – are spreading in the world. We are bored with life and we want substitutions for life, and so prayer is your own desire to achieve something which will be most gratifying. An easy way to live without any understanding. It is much more complicated than merely the statements of the speaker. You see, we are all so petty, small-minded. And if we could step out of that – not tomorrow, now – then life is something that is endless, immense.
Krishnamurti at Brockwood Park in 1984, Question and Answer Meeting 2
I Don’t Know What God Is
Do you believe in God? How silent you are. When you touch the real things you become quiet because you are frightened. So I want to find out. The mind says, ‘What is love? They talk about it so much – love God, love humanity, I love my wife, I love my country. What does it mean? I want to find out.’ Don’t you? You don’t. To find out, I must have energy. So how do I have that energy? By not asserting, or introducing something which I am familiar with – they say love is God, love is sex, love is happiness, love is beauty – all those are distractions, wastage of energy. Can I put all that aside?
I want to find out if there is such thing as God. I don’t know. Millions of people, the propagandists, the priests, the books, the everyday politicians, and all the muckery – everybody talks about God, except perhaps the communists, but they have their own gods. I want to find out. How do I find out? I am burning with it, not just sitting there. I want to find out. I want to find out if there is something real, and for that I must have tremendous energy. So I must first gather this energy. So I must find out how I waste energy. I obviously waste energy when I believe in God. Or when I don’t believe in God, it is a wastage of energy. To believe or not to believe, or to say, ‘Yes, there is God – look at nature, without God…’ – you follow? – all that tommyrot. I want to find out. To find out there must be freedom of energy, and that’s why I say, ‘I don’t know.’ When I say, ‘I don’t know,’ that gives me tremendous energy. I don’t know what God is. I am not an atheist; I don’t believe or disbelieve – I don’t know. That means is my mind free of fear? Because when I say, ‘I don’t know,’ there is a tremendous sense of uncertainty, nothing I can rely on. God was a marvellous refuge in which I took shelter. When I say, ‘I don’t know,’ I refuse that shelter. So I have no saviour, no guru, no teacher – I must find out.
Krishnamurti at Brockwood Park in 1971, Discussion 1