Krishnamurti on Religion
‘Religion is not the authoritarian, accepted form of religion, the state religion, the religion of belief, of faith, of dogma, of rituals, of worshipping a symbol.’
This week’s episode on Religion has five sections.
The first extract (2:24) is from Krishnamurti’s sixth talk in Ojai 1982, titled ‘What is religion?’
The second extract (19:07) is from the fourth talk in Madras 1974, titled ‘Religion is the core of a new culture’.
The third extract (33:38) is from Krishnamurti’s second talk in London 1982, titled ‘The religious mind’.
The fourth extract (47:31) is from the sixth talk in Saanen 1984, titled ‘The religious mind is in a state of creation’.
The final short extract (54:29) is from a recording by Krishnamurti in Ojai 1984, titled ‘Religion is a form of science’. This recording made for the book ‘Krishnamurti to Himself’ is an exclusive to this podcast and has not been made available before now.
What Is Religion?
Religion is not the authoritarian, accepted form of religion. The state religion, the religion of belief, of faith, of dogma, of rituals, of worshiping a symbol – that is not religion, obviously. So we are going to inquire into what religion is. We have inquired into fear, into the nature of that extraordinary thing called love, whether human beings can ever end their suffering, their misery, their anxiety, and also we should inquire together into what religion is.
Man worships; there are still those in the East who worship a tree, who worship a mountain. In India they give the Himalayas a special peace, a special name, and they worshipped at one time the earth, the trees, the heavens, the sun, as the Egyptians did, but we consider all that as illusion, nonsense. And as we are so terribly sophisticated, we worship a symbol, pray to that symbol, to that saviour – as in India, it’s another form of the same thing. Worship has been part of human life from the ancient of days. You may not worship a tree, but you go to the church or to a temple or a mosque, and there you pray, you worship.
There is not much difference between the worship of a tree, which is alone in a marvellous field of green, and the symbol that thought has created in the church, in the temple, in the mosque. There is not much difference between the two because man suffers, he is in trouble, he doesn’t know to whom to turn to, so he invents a comforting God, which is, thought invents a God and then worships that which he has invented. These are facts, whether you like it or not. You invent the whole rituals of Christianity. As in India, there are complicated rituals, and it is the invention of thought. And then thought says that is divine revelation. I do not know if you have not noticed in Asia, which includes India, and here, divine revelation plays an extraordinary part. But that divinity is brought about by thought. The interpreter of that divinity is the priest. He thinks, and his thought has created various forms of rituals.
So we are asking, is religion all this? Is religion based upon books, the printed word? Where religion is based on a book, whether it is the Christian, Hindu, Muslim or Buddhist, then there is dogma; the authority of the book becomes all-important; there is bigotry, narrowness of mind. Both the Muslim world and the Christian world are based on books: the Koran and the Bible. In India, fortunately for them, they have got a hundred books, a hundred gods – no, more than that: three hundred thousand gods. Don’t please laugh, this is very serious but sounds funny. And there they are tolerant, which means they put up with anything: false gods, true gods, any kind of illusion, any kind of assertions of any so-called religious man. Here in the West, as in the Muslim world, the book plays an extraordinarily important part, and therefore those who believe in the book, deeply convinced by every word in that book, they become bigoted, dogmatic, assertive, aggressive, and if they are not semi-civilised, they will kill. This is happening in the world.
So is religion, the word religion, the etymological meaning of that word, is unknown. It arises from certain Latin words, which we’ll not go into, but it actually means, according to certain dictionaries, the capacity to gather all your energy to discover, to come upon that which is true. That is the root meaning of that word. So we are gathering our energy – all our energy, not a specialised energy; the energy of thought, the energy of emotions, the passionate energy, to inquire into what is truth. And to go into it deeply, we must inquire also into what thought is, that has invented all the religions in the world. All the rituals, all the dogmas, the beliefs, the faiths, it is the result of thought. There is nothing divine about anything. Thought can say what it has invented is divine, but thought is not sacred, is not holy. So it is important to go into this question of what thought is. We have gone into it previously, but the more you look at it, the more you inquire into the very nature of thought, the more complicated, the more it demands a subtle mind, a quickness of mind – not a mechanical mind, not a mind that accepts, not a mind that acquiesces, but a mind that is doubtful, questioning, demanding, has this great energy. And when you give this total energy – not an energy which is partial because you are interested in some form of entertainment, or in some form of relief, in some form of comfort; that is
all partial energy – whereas if you demand totally to understand the nature of the human mind, why we live the way we are living, destroying the earth, destroying ourselves, wars, misery, then you have to give all your energy. And where there is this total energy, complete passion to understand, to find out a way of living which is totally different from mechanistic, repetitive way. So we have to go into this question deeply once again: what is thought; why thought plays such an extraordinarily importance in our life, in our relationship.
Is thought love? Please inquire with the speaker; really the speaker is putting your question, not his question – you are putting this question for yourself. Thought has created the marvellous cathedrals, magnificent structures in Europe and some of them here; and thought also has put all those things inside the cathedrals and churches, the temples and mosques. So one asks: is thought sacred? Because it has put all this in these buildings and then you worship it. I wonder if one sees the illusion of this, the ironic, actual deception, that thought has invented the symbol, the ritual, the host, and the different things in India and Asia; thought has been responsible for all this, some of it copied from the ancient Egyptians, from India, and so on. And then thought, having created this marvellous structure in stone, then inside all the symbols, the agony, and in the Asiatic world, a different symbol, then thought says you must worship that. So we are asking: is thought sacred in itself, or is it merely a material process? If it is not sacred, then it is a material process. But thought has invented these: heaven and hell, the saviours of the world according to different religions, their rituals – it is all the result of thought. And then thought turns around and says you must worship it.
So we must find out for ourselves, not according to any authority in spiritual or religious matters. There is authority of the surgeon; that is a totally different matter. But to discover, to come upon that which is eternal, if there is such thing as eternity, your mind must be free in all spiritual matters, in all psychic matters; that is, in the psychological realm, which is you, there must be total freedom to find out.
Krishnamurti in Ojai 1982, Talk 6
Religion Is the Core of a New Culture
Observe what is going on in the world, not only politically, economically, and the world of division between Arabs and Jews, Hindus and Muslims and so on, so on, but also look at various religions which have never brought peace to mankind – on the contrary, their divisions – and they must be divided because they are essentially based on thought.
So what is religion, what do we mean by that word? We know what it is not: all the circus that goes on in the name of religion. Please don’t be insulted, we are just stating facts. All the churches, temples and mosques, all the structure that has been put together by thought, however beautiful – some cathedrals, some mosques, some temples are extraordinarily beautiful, but they have nothing whatsoever to do with reality. And when one really, not verbally, discards all that, not because someone says you must discard it or someone you feel knows better than you do, saying this is not religion, then you do not discard it; it is merely accepting an authority – and when you accept authority in spiritual matters, that is the very essence of decay, degeneracy. (Are you still with me? Verbally or in reality?) When you discard all that nonsense, which means ‘no sense’, then we can begin to find out, if you are serious, what religion means – the ceremony, the rituals, the temples, the vows you take as a compensation to your daily, ugly life. You take vows to go to the temple and do all kinds of things as a compensation, and all that, the beliefs, the dogmas, the rituals, the private worship, has nothing to do with the reality of what religion is.
And one is serious because religion is the core of a new culture. Without religion, there is no culture, and because there is no religion in the world, there is no culture. You may have beautiful paintings, you may write marvellous literature, paint most extraordinarily, compose lovely music, but that is not culture; that doesn’t bring about a new quality of mind. And we need a new quality of mind when the whole world around us is collapsing, degenerating. Merely to revive the old religions, as some are trying to do, is meaningless. But a man who is deeply concerned, as you must be, if you are concerned with the world, with the starvation, with the wars, with the corruption, with hypocrisy, with the total dishonesty that is going on, one must in all seriousness find out what the true significance of a religious mind is, because it is only such a mind that can bring about a new culture. Not a religious mind, not one religious mind, but the religious mind of man which is you. That means together.
In the old days, if you have observed in history, watched the things about you, there were religious leaders. That very word is the denial of religion: a leader in the religious world. Because when there is a movement in religious matters, that very movement is the factor of degeneration because then you are merely following; you are merely accepting authority of another. When you understand the nature and structure of authority, have an insight into it in spiritual matters, there is no authority, including that of the speaker, then we can proceed in our inquiry into what religion is.
Religion, if you look in a good dictionary, means gathering together energy to be totally good. I am adding, the speaker is adding the extra words ‘to be totally good’. Good in action, good in thought, excellent in the way of life. And that implies diligence, care, attention. Care implies care in your work, in your thoughts, how you bring up your children, how you treat your wife, your husband; care means affection, love. And most of us are negligent, we are careless, we are inconsiderate; we think goodness is something to be cultivated, something that will come through time, gradually. We never say ‘be good’, not ‘I will be’.
And religion also implies the understanding, the discovery for one’s own mind, what is sacred, and also if there is such a thing as the eternal. Religion means beauty, goodness, which means also excellence and the finding or coming upon something sacred, and the inquiry into something that is not touched by thought. Thought is time, thought is measure, and to find out if there is or if there is not something that is nameless, timeless, that has no beginning and no end, all that is religion.
And as we said, without that quality of mind which is explosive, not acquiescent, without that quality of mind, you cannot have a culture which is absolutely necessary, a culture not brought about by a few but by a religious mind, which means light to yourself, not the light of another but light which you have found for yourself. All that is implied in religion.
So meditation is the inquiry into that which is sacred. And also to find out – these are words; you can’t find out if there is eternity – to feel that, to have that quality of a mind that is really timeless. So, that is what we are going to do together. We are not going to meditate together – that is phoney, imaginative, romantic nonsense, but we are going together to find out what it means to meditate and what it means to have the capacity of freedom that can come upon the thing that is sacred, and from there move to something that may be timeless.
Krishnamurti in Madras 1974, Talk 4
The Religious Mind
So we should consider what a religious mind is. Religions throughout the world have played an extraordinary part in one’s life, seriously or superficially. It has become an entertainment. All the words and the symbols and the processions and all the things that go on in the name of religion are put together by thought. And thought, as we talked about the other day, is not sacred at all; it is merely a material process, born of knowledge, memory stored in the brain.
So first to find out what is truly a religious mind, one must be free of all religious dogma, whether the Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, Muslim or whatever it is – entirely, totally, completely free of all that because that’s part of our conditioning. We have been programmed for two thousand years as Christians, three to five thousand years as Hindus, Buddhists and so on. And to find out for oneself what is a religious mind, there must be complete freedom from all orthodoxy, tradition, and all the amusements in the name of religion that goes on. Because in those ideas, in those concepts, in the symbols, saviours, we have found security for a complex, miserable, confusing life. That is our safety, an escape from this. But when we have put order in our lives here, now, then there is no fear, and the mind that is absolutely without a shadow of fear psychologically has that quality of a religious mind. Beliefs, whether Christian or Buddhist or Hindu or Muslim – why should we have beliefs at all? Belief in God. God is the invention of thought because God is the ultimate security. And in the name of God we have done terrible things, burnt people, tortured people. So one has to be free entirely of all belief and faith and dogma.
Why is it that when we talk about religious matters, we are so gullible? We don’t exercise, apparently, our reason, sanity, common sense. We accept everything. And scepticism and doubt is denied in the Christian world. In the Hindu and Buddhist organisation of religion, doubt is encouraged. Doubt is a part of virtue. So the mind can only understand that which is religion in the sense to find out or to come upon that which is sacred, if there is something sacred. Because technological culture cannot possibly bring about a totally global culture, religion – that is impossible; global interrelationship of humanity, which is the only goal of all politics. And to come upon this, if there is anything sacred, which thought has not invented, meditation is necessary.
India, unfortunately, has brought this word into the Western world recently. The Christian world had its own contemplative order, a contemplative state of mind. The gurus and others have brought this idea of meditation, and people have invented or brought their old tradition from Tibet, from Zen in Japan, from Burma, from India – the mischief began in India first. Their meditation means you must practise something, practise a method, practise to be silent, practise to be aware, practise the moment, which is the present, and so on, so on – practise.
When you are practising something you are being repetitive. If you are playing the piano and you are practising, you may be practising the wrong note. But here you think it is necessary to practise, day after day, take a vow, being a monk, you know, the whole business of it – there is no time to go into that. So we practise. The more you practise, the more your brain will become dull, obviously – whether you are practising various systems of meditation, which means your brain is becoming more and more mechanical; it is never free.
And to find out or come upon that which is nameless, timeless, sacred, there must be complete freedom, not brought about by desire, by thought, but by ending that which is not free, like attachment, like the pursuit of pleasure, the self-fulfilment, self-centred activity and so on. This demands a great deal of inquiry, a great deal of energy, perception, knowing oneself. Knowing oneself not through any form of analysis but knowing oneself through observation of one’s reactions in relationship with each other. Those reactions reveal what we are. And when it reveals what we are, that revelation becomes knowledge to us, and so we accumulate more and more knowledge of ourselves. And that knowledge becomes a hindrance to freedom. Please, I haven’t time to go into it – just see the truth of it quickly.
So one asks: is there a stop to thought and time? Because if there is time, that is, if there is thought, the perpetual occupation, as most of us are perpetually occupied, thinking about various things, chattering, the mind is never… the brain is never quiet, but always groping, searching, remembering, hoping. Such a mind, obviously, is never quiet. But to perceive that it is not quiet, without any direction, saying it must be quiet, to perceive it, to observe it is not quiet, then it becomes extraordinarily quiet, without any compulsion, without any practice, which means one requires great sensitivity, attention and awareness. Only in that absolute silence of the mind, a silence which is not cultivated by thought – it isn’t a silence between two noises or between two thoughts – this silence is not that – silence demands total freedom from all self-centred activity and pursuit of pleasure and fear and so on – only in that silence completely can there be that which is nameless.
Krishnamurti in London 1982, Talk 2
The Religious Mind Is in a State of Creation
Then what is creation and what is invention? Religion is creation, not invention. Invention is the accumulated thought in which there is a gap, and then something new is discovered, but it is still within the realm of thought. I do not know if you have, but the speaker has discussed this matter with scientists and specialists and so on. What is creation? Not only the creation of a baby from the cells and all the rest of it, but much more beyond all that. What is creation? Not: who created? If you say it is God, then it is finished – your God and my God and the Muslim God and the Hindu God and your own particular pet God. That is an easy way of explanation, and most people are satisfied with it. But if you shake away all that, slough it off, then what is creation? Is it born of knowledge? If it is born of knowledge, it is not creation because knowledge is limited because we are adding more and more and more knowledge. Where there is more, there is limitation, which will be measurement – the more, the better, is measurement. So where there is knowledge there is invention. And creation is not related to knowledge. Therefore all the paintings of the world that they think are great creations are the activity of thought directed in different directions – great artists, great poetry, marvellous music, it is all the activity of thought and so on – I don’t have to go into all that.
So creation is religion. A mind, a brain that has knowledge where it is necessary in the physical world, writing, talking, driving and so on; and knowledge has no place in the psychological world because knowledge is limited and therefore creates division, conflict and all the rest of it. When you say, ‘I know my wife,’ you have already destroyed your wife. Do you understand that? Aren’t you shocked by this? Because then your relationship with another is based on knowledge, which is thought, and thought is not love. All your desires, appetites, sensations are thought, and therefore it is not love.
Where there is love there is compassion. Compassion cannot come into being when there is no total freedom. If I am attached to my culture, to my tradition, to my religion as a Hindu, and talk about compassion, it is childish. Where there is compassion, there is intelligence. That is it. And that intelligence is supreme; it is not yours or the speakers or somebody else’s, it is intelligence. In that intelligence there is absolute security, and nowhere else. And so religion, meditation is free of knowledge, and therefore the religious brain is creating, is in a state of creation.
Do you understand all this? Even logically, intellectually, see this. If you really understand it, it is something that will totally revolutionise your daily life. We will be the beginning of a new religion, which is nothing to do with present religions. That is creation.
Krishnamurti in Saanen 1984, Talk 6
Religion Is a Form of Science
Humanity seems to be in a perpetual movement of destruction and building up again – destroy and build; destroy human beings and give birth to a greater population. But if all the scientists in the world put their tools down and said, ‘We will not contribute to war, to destroying humanity,’ they could turn their attention, their skill, their commitment to bringing about a better relationship between nature, environment and human beings. If there is some peace among a few people, then those few, not necessarily the elite, will employ all their skill to bring about a different world. Then religion and science can go together.
Religion is a form of science. That is, to know and to go beyond all knowledge, to comprehend the nature and immensity of the universe, not through a telescope but the immensity of the mind and the heart. And this immensity has nothing whatsoever to do with any organised religion.
How easily man becomes a tool of his own belief, his own fanaticism, committed to some kind of dogma which has no reality. No temple, no mosque, no church holds truth. They are symbols perhaps, but symbols are not the actual. In worshipping a symbol, you will lose the real, the truth. But unfortunately the symbol has been given far greater importance than truth; one worships the symbol. All religions are based on conclusions and beliefs, and all beliefs are divisive, whether political beliefs or religious. Where there is division, there must be conflict.
Krishnamurti in Ojai 1984, Direct Recording