Krishnamurti on Peace

Episode Notes

‘Peace is necessary in order to grow, to flower, to understand, to have time to look around, to explore into ourselves and what we find there. We must have peace.’

This week’s episode on Peace has three sections.

The first extract (2:26) is from Krishnamurti’s first talk in Saanen 1983, titled ‘Is it possible to live in peace?’

The second extract (30:32) is from the second question and answer meeting at Brockwood in 1984, titled ‘Peace requires intelligence’.

The final extract (58:08) this week is from Krishnamurti’s ninth talk in Saanen 1964, titled ‘Peace of mind’.

Part 1

Is It Possible To Live in Peace?

In a world that has no peace whatsoever, there is such chaos, disorder, great danger, terrorism, threats of war. These are all facts. And in this world, living every day of our lives with all the turmoil, with all the labour that man has to do, with all the problems we have to face, is it at all possible to live in peace?

In the world there is no peace. The politicians talk about it, the hierarchy of the Catholic Church talks about it, so do the Hindus and the Buddhists and the Muslims and so on, but actually there is no peace. And peace is necessary in order to grow, to flower, to understand, to have time to look around, to explore into ourselves and what we can find there. We must have peace. Not freedom from something. Freedom between two wars, between two rows, between two problems, or a sense of physical relaxation, that is not peace. Peace is something much more fundamental, much more deep than the superficial freedom one has or one thinks one has. So we are going together this morning to talk over together as two friends whether it is possible to live in peace, both inwardly, psychologically, and outwardly.

We may want peace, and we may see the necessity of having peace, but we do not live a peaceful life. And the world is preparing for war – ideologies fighting each other. They do not consider human beings but only the extension of power and so on. So we cannot possibly look for peace from the politicians and governments. That is a fact. They have talked about Pacem in Terris, peace on earth, but there has never been peace on earth. On the contrary, religions have helped to bring about wars. You know all about it so I won’t go into it. They have tortured, condemned, excommunicated, burnt, and then the next moment they talk about peace. Probably not the ancient Buddhists and Hindus. In their religion they have accepted the dictum ‘Don’t kill,’ but they do kill. That is just an idea again. And the Islamic world is full of what they are – you know all about it. Those religions that are established on books become bigotry and fundamentalist, and they also become terrorists of the world. And institutions and foundations, groups have promised peace, but they too do not give peace.

So where does one find peace? Because one must see very clearly that without peace we are like animals, we are destroying each other. We are destroying the earth, the ocean, the air. And politically and religiously we look to leaders to unify and bring about peace in the world, but they have not succeeded either. Governments, politicians, religious people, those groups that are searching for peace, none of them have given human beings, you and me, peace. So where do we find it? Without that fundamental necessity, we cannot possibly understand the greater things of life.

So together we are going to go into this, not verbally, not intellectually, but find out for ourselves as human beings, without any guide, without any leadership because they have all failed – without any priest, without any psychologists, can we have peace in the world? In the world and in us. First, can we have peace in ourselves?

The word ‘peace’ is a rather complicated word. One can give different meanings to it depending upon our mood, depending on our intellectual concepts – romantically, emotionally, we can give different meanings to it. But can we together not give different meanings, but comprehend the word and the significance and the depth of that word? It is not merely the freedom from something: peace of mind, physical peace, but the ending of all conflict. That is real peace, not only in ourselves but with our neighbours and with the world. Peace with the environment, the ecology and all that, to have deep-rooted peace, unshakeable and not superficial, not a passing thing but the timeless depth of peace.

One has sought peace through meditation. All over the world that has been one of the purposes of meditation. But meditation is not the search for peace. Meditation is something far different, which we will go into presently.

So what is peace and how can we establish and lay the foundation so that we build on that, psychologically speaking? You understand, we are talking over together; I am not pointing out. The speaker is not the authority, but in talking over together, things become very clear. If we can talk over together without any bias, without any prejudice, having no conclusions or concepts what peace is, then we can go into it together. But if you have opinions about peace, what peace should be, then your inquiry stops.

Opinions have no value, though the whole world is run on opinions. Opinions are limited. Your opinion or the speaker’s opinion, opinions of the totalitarian governments or the opinions of the church people, governments and so on, they are all limited. Your judgement and the opinion which gives values are all limited. I hope we understand the word, what it means to be limited. When you think about yourself from morning till night, as most people do, it is very, very limited. When you say you are Swiss, it is very limited. When you are proud to be British, as though you are God’s chosen people, that too is limited.

So opinions are limited. When one sees that clearly then one does not cling to opinions or the values that opinions have created. Because your opinion against another opinion doesn’t bring about peace. That is what is happening in the world, one ideology against another ideology – communist, socialist, democrats, and so on. So please understand, if I may repeat again, that we are talking over together, and if you are adhering to your opinion and I am sticking to mine, we shall never meet. So there must be freedom from opinion and its values.

Can we go on from there? That you are actually not holding your opinions and using them as axes to beat each other, to kill each other, but the opinions you have are limited, and therefore they must inevitably bring about conflict. If you hold on to your conclusions, and your conclusions are also limited, and another holds his conclusions, his experiences, which are always limited, then there must be not only conflict but wars, destruction and all the rest of it. If you see that very clearly, then opinions become very, very superficial; they have no meaning.

So please, when you are inquiring into what is peace, and whether you can live in peace, don’t have opinions about it. Be free to inquire, and in that inquiry act. The very inquiry is action. Not that you inquire first and then act, but in the process of inquiry you are acting. I hope again this is clear, that there must be freedom. It is the very basis of peace. There must be freedom from all the values of opinions so that we can together actually, not theoretically but factually see that you and the speaker have no opinions. Which is a tremendous demand because we live on opinions. All the newspapers, magazines and books are based on opinions: somebody says that; you agree, and that is your opinion too. Another reads another book and forms an opinion.

So please, to find out the true meaning of peace, the depth of it, the beauty of it and the quality of it, there must be no bias. Obviously, that is the first demand – not that you must have faith in peace, or make the goal of your life to live peacefully, or search out from books, from others what is peace, but to inquire very deeply whether your whole being can live in peace.

Action is not separate from perception. When you see something to be true, that very perception is action. Not that you perceive or understand and then act. That is an intellectual concept, and you put that concept into action. The seeing is the action. The seeing that the world is broken up in tribalism – the British, the German, the Hindu, the Buddhist, the Swiss – they are tribes – to see that fact that they are tribes, glorified as nations, and this tribalism is creating havoc in the world, bringing wars in the world. Each tribe thinks of its own culture opposed to other cultures, but tribalism is the root, not the culture. So observing that, the fact of that, is the action which frees the brain from the condition of tribalism; when you see actually, not theoretically or ideationally but as a fact that tribalism, which has had certain benefits, but the very fact that it exists as glorified nations, is one of the causes of war. That is a fact. There are other causes of war – economic and so on – but one of the causes is tribalism. When you see that, perceive that, and that cannot bring about peace, the very perception frees the brain from its conditioning of tribalism.

We are talking over together. The speaker is not persuading you. He is not trying to convince you of anything. He is not doing propaganda of any kind, but we are facing things as they are, head-on. And one of the factors of contention throughout the world is religion. You are a Catholic, I am a Muslim, and so on. Based on ideas, propaganda of two thousand years, and the Hindus and Buddhists three to five thousand years, we have been programmed like a computer. Please see the fact that programming has brought about great architecture, great pictures, great chants, great music, but it has not brought about peace to mankind. When you see the fact of that, you do not belong to any religion – you are neither a Hindu, Buddhist, Christian – nothing. When you see that the division takes place when there are half a dozen gurus in the same place – you know what they are doing, don’t you? – they bring about misery, contradiction conflict. ‘Your guru is better than mine. My group is more sanctified than yours. I have been initiated, you have not’ – you know all the nonsense that goes on. So when you see all this as an actual fact, which is so around you, then you do not belong to any group, to any guru, to any religion, to any political commitment of ideas. Please, this is very serious. If you really want to, and there is urgency to live peacefully, there must be freedom from all this because they are the causes of dissension. Division.

Truth is not yours or mine. It doesn’t belong to any church, to any group, to any religion. The brain must be free to discover it, and peace can only exist when there is freedom from this fallacy. Are we together so far, even intellectually? You know, for most of us to be so drastic about things is very difficult because we have taken security in things of illusion, in things that are not facts, and it is very difficult to let them go. It is not a matter of exercising will or making the decision that I will not belong to anything – that is another fallacy. We commit ourselves to something: to a group, to an idea, to a religious quackism because we think there is some kind of security for us. And in all these things, there is no security, and therefore there is no peace.

The brain must be secure, and the brain with its thought has sought security in things that are illusory. So freedom from that – can you do it? Are you serious enough to want or crave, to demand that one must live in peace?

Krishnamurti in Saanen 1983, Talk 1

Part 2

Peace Requires Intelligence

We should talk over together what peace is and its relationship to intelligence.

In a world that is disintegrating with wars, nationalism, sectarianism, idealism, and every form of division, opinion against opinion, data against data, judgement against judgement, and so on, can we have peace in the world? Can we live peacefully? What does it mean to live together – man, woman and so on, or a group of people, not committed to any belief or sect or faith and so on – can we live together peacefully? Apparently this is one of the most difficult things in the world. Here in England, too, there is a great deal of disturbance going on, strike after strike, and all the travails of human beings. And in the search for peace, one goes off to a monastery, shaves one’s head, puts on some kind of garb and takes vows. This has been tried for generation upon generations, in India, in the West and in the Far East: a group of people committed to living peacefully and to subjugate all their opinions, conforming to a certain pattern of idealism, certain dogmas, a way of monastic life and so on.

One heard the other day rather an extraordinary thing. There was a man who was very good at writing, literary – he was doing quite well in newspapers, magazines and all the rest of it. He gave up all that one day and went off to some kind of retreat, an ashram a guru collects around himself. And there, what do you think he is doing? Pulling old nails out of old wood. And he is perfectly happy. He is living peacefully, he says. Is that peace? To completely forget the world, what is happening in the world; forget any kind of responsibility, put aside any kind of relationship with another and disappear into a commune, into a community, or enter into a monastery, highly organised, with the abbot whom he must obey utterly, and so on?

How does one find peace in the world and in oneself? I am sure one has asked this question of oneself: to live completely peacefully in relationship to others. Not isolate oneself; that is fairly simple, and it also has its own dangers. The dangers are that you become more and more self-centred or commit yourself to a symbol, a figure, or to some doctrinaire or concept and devote all one’s energy to that, keeping that to oneself and working in a garden or in a vineyard. Champagne and the good wines of France were produced by the monks. And the monks have also fought, killed people. This has been going on for centuries. And one is living in a world that is really monstrously destructive, divisive, with every form of brutality and so on. Where does one find peace?

Can a group of people live together peacefully? Whether they are teachers, educators, man, woman, and so on? Does one look for peace, or does one bring about peace? Does peace lie externally, outside the skin as it were? Does one really want peace? One sets aside all the things that desire, will and thought have conceived what peace is, wanting peace and committed to some form of regulation, whether it is so-called spiritual or otherwise. Lots of people have disappeared into the army because they have no responsibility there – the government looks after you, like in a monastery, but you work, march, are ready to kill, and so on.

So can one bring about peace within oneself? Is it possible, living in this world, knowing what the world is becoming more and more, both scientifically and so-called nationally, can one live, or bring, create peace? To live in peace implies no act of divisiveness, no act of separation, no sense of me first and you second, both in a queue and at home! Is that possible at all? Not only for oneself but living with a group of people.

The speaker has been living for over sixty years with a group of people – in India, in America, here, all over the world – part of the world, rather – and there is always contention, always dissension, opinion against opinion: ‘Why shouldn’t I think this way, you think your way,’ and so on. This process has been going on, not only now. Always, perhaps. And one wonders if it is at all possible to create peace. One is using the word ‘create’ in the ordinary sense of the word, not creation – that’s another matter. Can one, in a group of people, create peace? In your house, perhaps four of you or two of you, in a family, can you bring peace about? Or is that impossible?

Does one really want to live in peace? If one does, what price do you pay for it? Not in coins, not in bank notes and so on, but what are you willing or are desirous? Or saying, as we must live in peace and it is only in peace that one can really flower, what will you do, what will you put aside, what gesture will you make? It is very easy to superficially say, ‘Yes, I am willing to live in peace. I will join your beastly little community or your commune, or I will follow a guru and come and live in that community.’ That is very easy and rather slack. Forgive that word. It is rather indifferent to what is happening to the rest of the world. It is a form of exclusiveness. Not that one is against elite, but the exclusive way of looking at life.

Now, are we willing to give up, put aside our own particular opinions, particular judgements? Not that one must not have objections, discussions, stating what one thinks. And if one sees what one thinks is not correct, yield, change. Is all that possible, or we are all so obstinate that we never, under any circumstances yield, unless we are forced?

So we come to a point. If one really wants peace in oneself and in one’s family, or in one’s group of people, to be highly sensitive, not only to one’s own particular desires – that is fairly simple – to one’s own self-centred images, but to be sensitive to nature, to other people’s ideas, other people’s way of looking, their difficulties, the whole process of living together, which requires an enormous sense of yielding and watching and observing, and not interpreting but seeing what the other is. He may be brutal, he may be insensitive, but help him to be sensitive. Help him – you follow? It is a constant sense of movement, not taking a stand at any time. Is that at all possible? Not only in a family or in a group of people like in a school. We are very close to a school here, and we are having a lot of trouble there too.

So this is a great problem. We are not only responsible here at the school at Brockwood but also responsible to ourselves and to our environment, to the way we live. Because peace requires a great deal of intelligence – you can’t just say, ‘I must live peacefully. I must leave the place where there is conflict,’ and go somewhere else, hoping to find where there is no conflict. Such a place doesn’t exist unless one becomes completely dull, completely insensitive and doesn’t care a damn what is happening.

So one has to inquire: what is intelligence? Because peace requires tremendous intelligence. It isn’t a thing you buy in the market, or in books, or repeating some chants or some words, or praying for peace – good God! Humanity has prayed for peace from the beginning of days, and there has been no peace in the world or in oneself. And to have that quality of peace which is unshakeable, which has no shadow of disturbance in it, requires great intelligence.

So we must ask ourselves: what is that intelligence? Is that intelligence born of books? Is that intelligence the outcome of complicated, subtle thought? Is it a projection of an ideal and conforming to that pattern?

Thought with its limitation has a certain quality of intelligence, otherwise we couldn’t be sitting here. You need intelligence to travel, to go to the moon. To go to the moon there must have been thousands of people cooperating together to produce that rocket that went up there. That is a form of intelligence. And a scientist, a surgeon, to operate requires great skill, requires some form of intelligence. So is all that, born of knowledge, born of experience, accumulated skills with their high discipline, all the result and the product, the movement of thought? And thought being limited, as we talked about, can thought bring about peace? Which has its own limited intelligence. Or is intelligence nothing whatsoever to do with the activity of thought?

Thought with its limitation has created the most extraordinary things in the modern world – rapid communication. One does not know if you have been on a battleship or a submarine, the complications of it, the extraordinary energy that has gone to build those things – and the dynamo, motors and so on. Immense energy, a great deal of thought and knowledge have gone into all this. Therefore there is that quality of limited intelligence because it is based essentially on thought or knowledge. And is there an intelligence that is not limited? One must ask these questions if one wants peace; one must ask these essential questions. Not only peace but a way of living with great depth, with great beauty, and it is only that quality of intelligence that can bring this about.

Can there be peace without love? Can there be peace without a sense of compassion? Can there be compassion if one belongs to a certain sect, religion, group and so on? If I am attached to my particular conditioning as a Hindu, Muslim, Christian or Buddhist, I can read books that talk about compassion as being essential. There is no end to the making of books. So where does one find this intelligence or come upon it? One cannot possibly cultivate that intelligence. You can cultivate the limited intelligence in the world of science, biology, mathematics, art and so on; that can be cultivated carefully, day after day, till you have that extraordinary skill. But is compassion, with its extraordinary intelligence, cultivable? Then, as it is not, you cannot cultivate day-by-day love. So what will you do? If we want to live peacefully, deeply, without a single shadow of conflict between each other, what shall we do? Or not do? One has to go really very deeply into the question of desire, will and love.

Krishnamurti at Brockwood Park in 1984, Question and Answer Meeting 2

Part 3

Peace of Mind

What do you do when you are directly faced with an immense problem, when something tremendous and immediate happens to you? The experience is so vital, so demanding, that it completely absorbs you, does it not? Your mind is taken over by that tremendous happening, so it becomes quiet. That is one form of silence. Your mind responds like a child who has been given a very interesting toy. The toy absorbs him and causes him to concentrate, so for the moment he ceases to be mischievous, he no longer runs about, and so on. And the same thing happens to grown-ups when they are confronted with a great issue of some kind. Not comprehending the whole significance of it, the mind gives itself over to that experience and becomes numbed, shocked, paralysed, so that it is fleetingly silent. This is something which most of us have experienced.

Then there is a silence of the mind which comes when the problem is looked at with complete concentration. In that state, there is no distraction because for the moment the mind has no other thought, no other interest. It doesn’t look anywhere else because it is only concerned with that one thing. There is an intensification of concentration to the exclusion of everything else, and in that effort there is a vitality, a demand, an urgency which also produces a certain quality of silence.

When the mind is absorbed by a toy, or loses itself in a problem, it is merely escaping. When images and symbols – words like ‘God’, ‘saviour’, and so on – take over the mind, that also is a deep escape, a flight from the actual. In that flight there is a certain quality of silence. When the mind sacrifices or forgets itself through complete identification with something, it may be perfectly quiet but it is then in a neurotic state. The demand to be identified with a purpose, with an idea, with a symbol, with a country, with a race – all that is neurotic, as all would-be religious people are. They have identified themselves with the saviour, with the master, with this or that, which gives them a tremendous release and brings them a certain beatific outlook on life – which is a totally neurotic attitude.

Then there is the mind that has learned to concentrate, that has taught itself never to look away from the idea, the image, the symbol, which it has projected in front of itself. And what takes place in that state of concentration? All concentration is effort, and all effort is resistance. It is like building a defensive wall around yourself with a little hole through which you look at just one idea or thought, so that you can never be shaken, never made uncertain. You are never open but are always living within your shell of concentration, behind the walls of your inspired pursuit of something. And from this you get a tremendous sense of vitality, a drive which enables you to do extraordinary things – to help people in the slums, to live in the desert, to do all manner of good works – but it is still the self-centred activity of a mind that concentrates on one thing to the exclusion of everything else. And that also gives to the mind a certain quality of peace, of silence.

Now, there is a silence which has nothing whatsoever to do with any of these neurotic states. And that is where our difficulty lies. Unfortunately – and I am saying this very politely – most of us are neurotic. So, to understand what that silence is, one must first be completely free of all neuroticism.

In the silence of which I am speaking there is no self-pity, no pursuit of a result, no projection of an image; there are no visions and no struggle to concentrate. That silence comes unasked when you have understood the mind’s absorption in an idea and the various forms of concentration it practices, and when you have also understood the whole process of thinking. Out of observing, watching the self-centred activity of the mind, there comes an extraordinarily pliable sense of discipline – and that discipline you must have. It is not a defensive, reactionary discipline; it has nothing to do with sitting cross-legged in a corner and all the other childish stuff, and in it there is no imitation, no conformity, no effort to achieve a result. To observe all the movements of thought and desire, the hunger for new experiences, the process of identifying oneself with something merely to observe and to understand all that, brings about naturally an ease of discipline in freedom. With this discipline of understanding comes a peculiar quality of immediate awareness, of direct perception, a state of complete attention. In this attention there is virtue – and that is the only virtue.

Social morality, the character that is developed through resistance in conformity with the respectability and ethics of society, this is not virtue at all. Virtue is the understanding of this whole social structure which man has built around himself, and it is also the understanding of the mind’s so-called self-sacrifice through identification and control. Attention is born of that understanding, and only in attention is there virtue.

You must have a virtuous mind, but a mind that is merely conforming to the social and religious patterns of a particular society, whether communist or capitalist, is not virtuous. There must be virtue because without virtue there is no freedom. But like humility, virtue cannot be cultivated. You cannot cultivate virtue any more than you can cultivate love. But when there is complete attention, there is also virtue and love.

Out of complete attention comes total silence, not only at the level of the conscious mind but also at the level of the unconscious. Both the conscious and the unconscious are really quite trivial, and the perception of their triviality frees the mind from the past as well as from the present. In giving its whole attention to the present, there comes a silence in which the mind is no longer experiencing. All experiencing has come to an end because there is nothing more to experience. Being totally awake, the mind is a light unto itself. In this silence there is peace. It is not the peace of the politicians nor the peace between two wars. It is a peace not born of reaction. And when the mind is thus completely still, it can proceed.

The movement of stillness is entirely different from the movement of self-centred activity. That movement of stillness is creation. When the mind is capable of moving with that stillness, it knows death and love, and it can then live in this world and yet be free of the world.

Krishnamurti in Saanen 1964, Talk 9

Listen on:

Apple Podcasts



Google Podcasts

Amazon Music

Apple Podcasts



Google Podcasts

Amazon Music