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Jiddhu Krishnamurti (1895 - 1986)


I WOULD LIKE TO discuss or consider the question of self-deception, the delusions that the mind indulges in and imposes upon itself and upon others. That is a very serious matter, especially in a crisis of the kind which the world is facing. But in order to understand this whole problem of self-deception we must follow it not merely at the verbal level but intrinsically, fundamentally, deeply. We are too easily satisfied with words and counter-words; we are worldlywise; and, being worldly-wise, all that we can do is to hope that something will happen. We see that the explanation of war does not stop war; there are innumerable historians, theologians and religious people explaining war and how it comes into being but wars still go on, perhaps more destructive than ever. Those of us who are really earnest must go beyond the word, must seek this fundamental revolution within ourselves. That is the only remedy which can bring about a lasting, fundamental redemption of mankind.

Similarly, when we are discussing this kind of self-deception, I think we should guard against any superficial explanations and rejoinders; we should, if I may suggest it, not merely listen to a speaker but follow the problem as we know it in our daily life; that is we should watch ourselves in thinking and in action, watch how we affect others and how we proceed to act from ourselves.

What is the reason, the basis, for self-deception? How many of us are actually aware that we are deceiving ourselves? Before we can answer the question "What is self-deception and how does it arise?", must we not be aware that we are deceiving ourselves? Do we know that we are deceiving ourselves? What do we mean by this deception? I think it is very important, because the more we deceive ourselves the greater is the strength in the deception; for it gives us a certain vitality, a certain energy, a certain capacity which entails the imposing of our deception on others. So gradually we are not only imposing deception on ourselves but on others. It is an interacting process of self-deception. Are we aware of this process? We think we are capable of thinking very clearly, purposefully and directly; and are we aware that, in this process of thinking, there is self-deception?

Is not thought itself a process of search, a seeking of justification, of security, of self-protection, a desire to be well thought of, a desire to have position, prestige and power? Is not this desire to be, politically, or religio-sociologically, the very cause of self-deception? The moment I want something other than the purely materialistic necessities, do I not produce, do I not bring about, a state which easily accepts? Take, for example, this: many of us are interested to know what happens after death; the older we are, the more interested we are. We want to know the truth of it. How shall we find it? Certainly not by reading nor through the different explanations.

How will you find it out? First, you must purge your mind completely of every factor that is in the way - every hope, every desire to continue, every desire to find out what is on that other side. Because the mind is constantly seeking security, it has the desire to continue and hopes for a means of fulfilment, for a future existence. Such a mind, though it is seeking the truth of life after death, reincarnation or whatever it is, is incapable of discovering that truth, is it not? What is important is not whether reincarnation is true or not but how the mind seeks justification, through self-deception, of a fact which may or may not be. What is important is the approach to the problem, with what motivation, with what urge, with what desire you come to it. The seeker is always imposing this deception upon himself; no one can impose it upon him; he himself does it. We create deception and then we become slaves to it. The fundamental factor of self-deception is this constant desire to be something in this world and in the world hereafter. We know the result of wanting to be something in this world; it is utter confusion, where each is competing with the other, each is destroying the other in the name of peace; you know the whole game we play with each other, which is an extraordinary form of self-deception. Similarly, we want security in the other world, a position.

So we begin to deceive ourselves the moment there is this urge to be, to become or to achieve. That is a very difficult thing for the mind to be free from. That is one of the basic problems of our life. Is it possible to live in this world and be nothing? Then only is there freedom from all deception, because then only is the mind not seeking a result, the mind is not seeking a satisfactory answer, the mind is not seeking any form of justification, the mind is not seeking security in any form, in any relationship. That takes place only when the mind realizes the possibilities and subtleties of deception and therefore, with understanding, abandons every form of justification, security - which means the mind is capable, then, of being completely nothing. Is that possible?

So long as we deceive ourselves in any form, there can be no love. So long as the mind is capable of creating and imposing upon itself a delusion, it obviously separates itself from collective or integrated understanding. That is one of our difficulties; we do not know how to co-operate. All that we know is that we try to work together towards an end which both of us bring into being. There can be co-operation only when you and I have no common aim created by thought. What is important to realize is that co-operation is only possible when you and I do not desire to be anything. When you and I desire to be something, then belief and all the rest of it become necessary, a self-projected Utopia is necessary. But if you and I are anonymously creating, without any self-deception, without any barriers of belief and knowledge, without a desire to be secure, then there is true co-operation.

Is it possible for us to co-operate, for us to be together without an end in view? Can you and I work together without seeking a result? Surely that is true co-operation, is it not? If you and I think out, work out, plan out a result and we are working together towards that result, then what is the process involved? Our thoughts, our intellectual minds, are of course meeting; but emotionally, the whole being may be resisting it, which brings about deception, which brings about conflict between you and me. It is an obvious and observable fact in our everyday life. You and I agree to do a certain piece of work intellectually but unconsciously, deeply, you and I are at battle with each other. I want a result to my satisfaction; I want to dominate; I want my name to be ahead of yours, though I am said to be working with you. So we both, who are creators of that plan, are really opposing each other, even though outwardly you and I agree as to the plan.

Is it not important to find out whether you and I can co-operate, commune, live together in a world where you and I are as nothing; whether we are able really and truly to co-operate not at the superficial level but fundamentally? That is one of our greatest problems, perhaps the greatest. I identify myself with an object and you identify yourself with the same object; both of us are interested in it; both of us are intending to bring it about. Surely this process of thinking is very superficial, because through identification we bring about separation - which is so obvious in our everyday life. You are a Hindu and I a Catholic; we both preach brotherhood, and we are at each other's throats. Why? That is one of our problems, is it not? Unconsciously and deeply, you have your beliefs and I have mine. By talking about brotherhood, we have not solved the whole problem of beliefs but have only theoretically and intellectually agreed that this should be so; inwardly and deeply, we are against each other.

Until we dissolve those barriers which are a self-deception which give us a certain vitality, there can be no co-operation between you and me. Through identification with a group, with a particular idea, with a particular country, we can never bring about co-operation.

Belief does not bring about co-operation; on the contrary, it divides. We see how one political party is against another, each believing in a certain way of dealing with economic problems, and so they are all at war with one another. They are not resolved in solving, for instance, the problem of starvation. They are concerned with the theories which are going to solve that problem. They are not actually concerned with the problem itself but with the method by which the problem will be solved. Therefore there must be contention between the two, because they are concerned with the idea and not with the problem. Similarly, religious people are against each other, though verbally they say they have all one life, one God; you know all that. Inwardly their beliefs, their opinions, their experiences are destroying them and are keeping them separate.

Experience becomes a dividing factor in our human relationship; experience is a way of deception. If I have experienced something, I cling to it, I do not go into the whole problem of the process of experiencing but, because I have experienced, that is sufficient and I cling to it; thereby I impose, through that experience, self-deception.

Our difficulty is that each of us is so identified with a particular belief, with a particular form or method of bringing about happiness, economic adjustment, that our mind is captured by that and we are incapable of going deeper into the problem; therefore we desire to remain aloof individually in our particular ways, beliefs and experiences. Until we dissolve them, through understanding - not only at the superficial level, but at the deeper level also - there can be no peace in the world. That is why it is important for those who are really serious, to understand this whole problem - the desire to become, to achieve, to gain - not only at the superficial level but fundamentally and deeply; otherwise there can be no peace in the world.

Truth is not something to be gained. Love cannot come to those who have a desire to hold on to it, or who like to become identified with it. Surely such things come when the mind does not seek, when the mind is completely quiet, no longer creating movements and beliefs upon which it can depend, or from which it derives a certain strength, which is an indication of self-deception. It is only when the mind understands this whole process of desire that it can be still. Only then is the mind not in movement to be or not to be; then only is there the possibility of a state in which there is no deception of any kind.