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Jiddhu Krishnamurti (1895 - 1986)


I WOULD LIKE to discuss with you the problem of freedom. It is a very complex problem, needing deep study and understanding. We hear much talk about freedom, religious freedom, and the freedom to do what one would like to do. Volumes have been written on all this by scholars. But I think we can approach it very simply and directly, and perhaps that will bring us to the real solution.

I wonder if you have ever stopped to observe the marvellous glow in the west as the sun sets, with the shy young moon just over the trees? Often at that hour the river is very calm, and then everything is reflected on its surface: the bridge, the train that goes over it, the tender moon, and presently, as it grows dark, the stars. It is all very beautiful. And to observe, to watch, to give your whole attention to something beautiful, your mind must be free of preoccupations, must it not? It must not be occupied with problems, with worries, with speculations. It is only when the mind is very quiet that you can really observe, for then the mind is sensitive to extraordinary beauty; and perhaps here is a clue to our problem of freedom.

Now, what does it mean to be free? Is freedom a matter of doing what happens to suit you, going where you like, thinking what you will? This you do anyhow. Merely to have independence, does that mean freedom? Many people in the world are independent, but very few are free. Freedom implies great intelligence, does it not? To be free is to be intelligent, but intelligence does not come into being by just wishing to be free; it comes into being only when you begin to understand your whole environment, the social, religious, parental and traditional influences that are continually closing in on you. But to understand the various influences - the influence of your parents, of your government, of society, of the culture to which you belong, of your beliefs, your gods and superstitions, of the tradition to which you conform unthinkingly - to understand all these and become free from them requires deep insight; but you generally give in to them because inwardly you are frightened. You are afraid of not having a good position in life; you are afraid of what your priest will say; you are afraid of not following tradition, of not doing the right thing. But freedom is really a state of mind in which there is no fear or compulsion, no urge to be secure.

Don't most of us want to be safe? Don't we want to be told what marvellous people we are, how lovely we look, or what extraordinary intelligence we have? Otherwise we would not put letters after our names. All that kind of thing gives us self-assurance, a sense of importance. We all want to be famous people - and the moment we want to be something, we are no longer free.

Please see this, for it is the real clue to the understanding of the problem of freedom. Whether in this world of politicians, power, position and authority, or in the so-called spiritual world where you aspire to be virtuous, noble, saintly, the moment you want to be somebody you are no longer free. But the man or the woman who sees the absurdity of all these things and whose heart is therefore innocent, and therefore not moved by the desire to be somebody - such a person is free. If you understand the simplicity of it you will also see its extraordinary beauty and depth.

After all, examinations are for that purpose: to give you a position, to make you somebody. Titles, position and knowledge encourage you to be something. Have you not noticed that your parents and teachers tell you that you must amount to something in life, that you must be successful like your uncle or your grandfather? Or you try to imitate the example of some hero, to be like the Masters, the saints; so you are never free. Whether you follow the example of a Master, a saint, a teacher, a relative, or stick to a particular tradition, it all implies a demand on your part to be something; and it is only when you really understand this fact that there is freedom.

The function of education, then, is to help you from childhood not to imitate anybody, but to be yourself all the time. And this is a most difficult thing to do: whether you are ugly or beautiful, whether you are envious or jealous, always to be what you are, but understand it. To be yourself is very difficult, because you think that what you are is ignoble, and that if you could only change what you are into something noble it would be marvellous; but that never happens. Whereas, if you look at what you actually are and understand it, then in that very understanding there is a transformation. So freedom lies, not in trying to become something different, nor in doing whatever you happen to feel like doing, nor in following the authority of tradition, of your parents, of your guru, but in understanding what you are from moment to moment.

You see, you are not educated for this; your education encourages you to become something or other - but that is not the understanding of yourself. Your `self' is a very complex thing; it is not merely the entity that goes to school, that quarrels, that plays games, that is afraid, but it is also something hidden, not obvious. It is made up, not only of all the thoughts that you think, but also of all the things that have been put into your mind by other people, by books, by the newspapers, by your leaders; and it is possible to understand all that only when you don't want to be somebody, when you don't imitate, when you don't follow - which means, really, when you are in revolt against the whole tradition of trying to become something. That is the only true revolution, leading to extraordinary freedom. To cultivate this freedom is the real function of education.

Your parents, your teachers and your own desires want you to be identified with something or other in order to be happy, secure. But to be intelligent, must you not break through all the influences that enslave and crush you?

The hope of a new world is in those of you who begin to see what is false and revolt against it, not just verbally but actually. And that is why you should seek the right kind of education; for it is only when you grow in freedom that you can create a new world not based on tradition or shaped according to the idiosyncrasy of some philosopher or idealist. But there can be no freedom as long as you are merely trying to become somebody, or imitate a noble example.

Questioner: What is intelligence?

Krishnamurti: Let us go into the question very slowly, patiently, and find out. To find out is not to come to a conclusion. I don't know if you see the difference. The moment you come to a conclusion as to what intelligence is, you cease to be intelligent. That is what most of the older people have done: they have come to conclusions. Therefore they have ceased to be intelligent. So you have found out one thing right off: that an intelligent mind is one which is constantly learning, never concluding.

What is intelligence? Most people are satisfied with a definition of what intelligence is. Either they say, "That is a good explanation", or they prefer their own explanation; and a mind that is satisfied with an explanation is very superficial, therefore it is not intelligent.

You have begun to see that an intelligent mind is a mind which is not satisfied with explanations, with conclusions; nor is it a mind that believes, because belief is again another form of conclusion. An intelligent mind is an inquiring mind, a mind that is watching, learning, studying. Which means what? That there is intelligence only when there is no fear, when you are willing to rebel, to go against the whole social structure in order to find out what God is, or to discover the truth of anything.

Intelligence is not knowledge. If you could read all the books in the world it would not give you intelligence. Intelligence is something very subtle; it has no anchorage. it comes into being only when you understand the total process of the mind - not the mind according to some philosopher or teacher, but your own mind. Your mind is the result of all humanity, and when you understand it you don't have to study a single book, because the mind contains the whole knowledge of the past. So intelligence comes into being with the understanding of yourself; and you can understand yourself only in relation to the world of people, things and ideas. Intelligence is not something that you can acquire, like learning; it arises with great revolt, that is, when there is no fear - which means, really, when there is a sense of love. For when there is no fear, there is love.

If you are only interested in explanations, I am afraid you will feel that I have not answered your question. To ask what is intelligence is like asking what is life. Life is study, play, sex, work, quarrel, envy, ambition, love, beauty, truth - life is everything, is it not? But you see, most of us have not the patience earnestly and consistently to pursue this inquiry.

Questioner: Can the crude mind become sensitive?

Krishnamurti: Listen to the question, to the meaning behind the words. Can the crude mind become sensitive? If I say my mind is crude and I try to become sensitive, the very effort to become sensitive is crudity. Please see this. Don't be intrigued, but watch it. Whereas, if I recognize that I am crude without wanting to change, without trying to become sensitive, if I begin to understand what crudeness is, observe it in my life from day to day - the greedy way I eat, the roughness with which I treat people, the pride, the arrogance, the coarseness of my habits and thoughts - then that very observation transforms what is.

Similarly, if I am stupid and I say I must become intelligent, the effort to become intelligent is only a greater form of stupidity; because what is important is to understand stupidity. However much I may try to become intelligent, my stupidity will remain. I may acquire the superficial polish of learning, I may be able to quote books, repeat passages from great authors, but basically I shall still be stupid. But if I see and understand stupidity as it expresses itself in my daily life - how I behave towards my servant, how I regard my neighbour, the poor man, the rich man, the clerk - then that very awareness brings about a breaking up of stupidity. You try it. Watch yourself talking to your servant, observe the tremendous respect with which you treat a governor, and how little respect you show to the man who has nothing to give you. Then you begin to find out how stupid you are; and in understanding that stupidity there is intelligence, sensitivity. You do not have to become sensitive. The man who is trying to become something is ugly, insensitive; he is a crude person.

Questioner: How can the child find out what he is without the help of his parents and teachers?

Krishnamurti: Have I said that he can, or is this your interpretation of what I said? The child will find out about himself if the environment in which he lives helps him to do so. If the parents and teachers are really concerned that the young person should discover what he is, they won't compel him; they will create an environment in which he will come to know himself.

You have asked this question; but is it a vital problem to you? If you deeply felt that it is important for the child to find out about himself, and that he cannot do this if he is dominated by authority, would you not help to bring about the right environment? It is again the same old attitude: tell me what to do and I will do it. We don't say, "Let us work it out together". This problem of how to create an environment in which the child can have knowledge of himself is one that concerns everybody - the parents, the teachers and the children themselves. But self-knowledge cannot be imposed, understanding cannot be compelled; and if this is a vital problem to you and me, to the parent and the teacher, then together we shall create schools of the right kind.

Questioner: The children tell me that they have seen in the villages some weird phenomena, like obsession, and that they are afraid of ghosts, spirits, and so on. They also ask about death. What is one to say to all this?

Krishnamurti: In due course we shall inquire into what death is. But you see, fear is an extraordinary thing. You children have been told about ghosts by your parents, by older people, otherwise you would probably not see ghosts. Somebody has told you about obsession. You are too young to know about these things. It is not your own experience, it is the reflection of what older people have told you. And the older people themselves often know nothing about all this. They have merely read about it in some book, and think they have understood it. That brings up quite a different question: is there an experience which is uncontaminated by the past? If an experience is contaminated by the past it is merely a continuity of the past, and therefore not an original experience.

What is important is that those of you who are dealing with children should not impose upon them your own fallacies, your own notions about ghosts, your own particular ideas and experiences. This is a very difficult thing to avoid, because older people talk a great deal about all these inessential things that have no importance in life; so gradually they communicate to the children their own anxieties, fears and superstitions, and the children naturally repeat what they have heard. It is important that the older people, who generally know nothing about these things for themselves, do not talk about them in front of children, but instead help to create an atmosphere in which the children can grow in freedom and without fear.