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Jiddhu Krishnamurti (1895 - 1986)


AS ONE TRAVELS one is very much aware that human problems everywhere, though apparently dissimilar, are really more or less similar; the problems of violence and the problem of freedom; the problem of how to bring about a real and better relationship between man and man, so that he may live at peace, with some decency and not be constantly in conflict, not only within himself but also with his neighbour. Also there is the problem, as in the whole of Asia, of poverty, starvation and the utter despair of the poor. And there is the problem, as in this country and in Western Europe, of prosperity; where there is prosperity without austerity there is violence, there is every form of unethical luxury - the society which is utterly corrupt and immoral.

There is the problem of organized religion - which man, throughout the world is rejecting, more or less - and the question of what a religious mind is and what meditation is - which are not monopolies of the East. There is the question of love and death - so many interrelated problems. The speaker does not represent any system of conceptual thinking or ideology, Indian or otherwise. If we can talk over together these many problems, not as with an expert or a specialist - because the speaker is neither - then possibly we can establish right communication; but bear in mind that the word is not the thing, and that the descrip- tion, however detailed, however intricate, however well-reasoned out and beautiful, is not the thing described.

There are the whole separate worlds, the ideological divisions of the Hindu, the Muslim, the Christian and the Communist, which have brought about such incalculable harm, such hatred and antagonism. All ideologies are idiotic, whether religious or political, for it is conceptual thinking, the conceptual word, which has so unfortunately divided man.

These ideologies have brought about wars; although there may be religious tolerance, it is up to a certain point only; after that, destruction, intolerance, brutality, violence - the religious wars. Similarly there are the national and tribal divisions caused by ideologies, the black nationalism and the various tribal expressions.

Is it at all possible to live in this world non-violently, in freedom, virtuously? Freedom is absolutely necessary; but not freedom for the individual to do what he likes to do, because the individual is conditioned - whether he is living in this country or in India or anywhere else - he is conditioned by his society, by his culture, by the whole structure of his thought. Is it at all possible to be free from this conditioning, not ideologically, not as an idea, but actually psychologically, inwardly, free? - otherwise I do not see how there can be any democracy or any righteous behaviour. Again, the expression "righteous behaviour" is rather looked down upon, but I hope we can use these words to convey what is meant without any derogatory sense.

Freedom is not an idea; a philosophy written about freedom is not freedom. Either one is free or one is not. One is in a prison, however decorative that prison is; a prisoner is free only when he is no longer in prison. Freedom is not a state of the mind that is caught in thought. Thought can never be free. Thought is the response of memory, knowledge and experience; it is always the product of the past and it cannot possibly bring about freedom because freedom is something that is in the living active present, in daily life. Freedom is not freedom from something - freedom from something is merely a reaction.

Why has man given such extraordinary importance to thought? - thought which formulates a concept according to which he tries to live. The formulation of ideologies and the attempted conformity to those ideologies is observable throughout the world. The Hitler movement did it, the Communist people are doing it very thoroughly; the religious groups, the Catholics, the protestants, the Hindus, and so on have asserted their ideologies through propaganda for two thousand years, and have made man conform through threats, through promises. One observes this phenomenon throughout the world; man has always given thought such extraordinary significance and importance. The more specialized, the more intellectual, the more thought becomes of serious import. So we ask: Can thought ever solve our human problems?

There is the problem of violence, not only the student revolt in Paris, Rome, London and Columbia, here and in the rest of the world, but this spreading of hatred and violence, black against white, Hindu against Muslim. There is the incredible brutality and extraordinary violence that human hearts carry - though outwardly educated, conditioned, to repeat prayers of peace. Human beings are extraordinarily violent. This violence is the result of political and racial divisions and of religious distinctions.

This violence that is so embedded in each human being, can one actually transform it, change it completely, so that one lives at peace? This violence man has obviously inherited from the animal and from the society in which he lives. Man is committed to war, man accepts war as the way of life; there may be a few pacifists here and there, carrying anti-war slogans, but there are those who love war and have favourite wars! There are those who may not approve of the Vietnamese War but they will fight for something else, they will have another kind of war. Man has actually accepted war, that is, conflict, not only within himself but outwardly, as a way of life. What the human being is, totally, both at the conscious as well as at the deeper levels of his consciousness, produces a society with a corresponding structure - which is obvious. And one asks again: Is it at all possible for man, having accustomed himself through education, through acceptance of the social norm and culture, to bring about a psychological revolution within himself? - not a mere outward revolution.

Is it at all possible to bring about a psychological revolution immediately? - not in time, not gradually, because there is no time when the house is burning; you do not talk about gradually putting out the fire; you have no time, time is a delusion. So what will make man change? What will make either you or me as a human being, change? Motive, either of reward or punishment? That has been tried. Psychological rewards, the promise of heaven, the punishment of hell, we have had in abundance and apparently man has not changed, he is still envious, greedy, violent, superstitious, fearful and so on. Mere motive, whether it is given outwardly or inwardly, does not bring about a radical change. Finding, through analysis, the cause why man is so violent, so full of fear, so greatly acquisitive, competitive, so violently ambitious - which is fairly easy - will that bring about a change? Obviously not, neither that nor the uncovering of the motive. Then what will? What will bring about, not gradually, but immediately, the psychological revolution? That, it seems to me, is the only issue.

Analysis - analysis by the specialist, or introspective analysis - does not answer the issue. Analysis takes time, it requires a great deal of insight, for if you analyse wrongly the following analysis will be wrong. If you analyse and come to a conclusion and proceed from that conclusion then you are already stymied, you are already blocked. And in analysis there is the problem of the "analyser" and the "analysed".

How is this radical, fundamental, change to be brought about psychologically, inwardly if not through motive, or through analysis and the discovery of the cause? One can easily find out why one is angry, but that does not stop one from being angry. One can find out what the contributory causes of war are, be they economic, national, religious, or the pride of the politicians, the ideologies, the commitments and so on, yet we go on killing each other, in the name of God, in the name of an ideology, in the name of country, in the name of whatever it is. There have been 15,000 wars in 5,000 years! - still we have no love, no compassion!

In penetrating this question one comes upon the inevitable problem of the "analyser" and that which is "analysed", the "thinker" and the "thought", the "observer" and the "observed", and the problem of whether this division between the "observer" and the "observed" is real, real in the sense of being an actual problem and not something theoretical. Is the "observer" - the centre from which you look, from which you see, from which you listen - a conceptual entity who has separated himself from the observed? When one says one is angry, is the anger different from the entity who knows he is angry? - is violence separate from the "observer"? Is not violence part of the observer? Please, this is a very important thing to understand. The central thing to understand, when we are concerned with this question of immediate psychological change - not change in some future state or at some future time. Is the "observer", the "me", the "ego", the "thinker", the "experiencer", different from the thing, the experience, the thought, which he observes? When you look at that tree, when you see the bird on the wing, the evening light on the water, is the "experiencer" different from that which he observes? Do we, when we look at a tree, ever "look" at it? Please do go with me a little. Do we ever look directly at it? - or do we look at it through the imagery of knowledge, of the past experience that we have had? You say, "Yes, I know what a lovely colour it is, how beautiful the shape is." You remember it and then enjoy the pleasure derived through that memory, through the memory of the feeling of closeness to it and so on. Have you ever observed the "observer" as different from the observed? Unless one goes into this profoundly what follows may be missed. As long as there is a division between the "observer" and the "observed" there is conflict. The division, spacial and verbal that comes into the mind with the imagery, the knowledge, the memory of last year's autumnal colours, creates the "observer" and the division from the observed is conflict. Thought brings about this division. You look at your neighbour, at your wife, at your husband or your boyfriend or girlfriend, whoever it be, but can you look without the imagery of thought, without the previous memory? For when you look with an image there is no relationship; there is merely the indirect relationship between the two groups of images, of the woman or of the man, about each other; there is conceptual relationship, not actual relationship.

We live in a world of concepts, in a world of thought. We try to solve all our problems, from the most mechanical to psychological problems of the greatest depth, by means of thought.

If there is a division between the "observer" and the "observed" that division is the source of all human conflict. When you say you love somebody, is that love? For in that love is there not both the "observer" and the thing you love, the observed? That "love" is the product of thought, divided off as a concept and there is not love.

Is thought the only instrument that we have to deal with all our human problems? - for it does not answer, it does not resolve our problems. It may be, we are just questioning it, we are not dogmatically asserting it. It may be that thought has no place whatsoever, except for mechanical, technological, scientific matters.

When the "observer" is the "observed" then conflict ceases. This happens quite normally, quite easily: in circumstances when there is great danger there is no "observer" separate from the "observed; there is immediate action, there is instant response in action. When there is a great crisis in one's life - and one always avoids great crises - one has no time to think about it. In such circumstance the brain, with all its memories of the old, does not immediately respond, yet there is immediate action. There is an immediate change, psychologically, inwardly, when the division of the "observer" from the "observed" comes to an end. To put it differently: one lives in the past, all knowledge is of the past. One lives there, one's life is there, in what has been - concerned with "what I was" and from that, "what I shall be". One's life is based essentially on yesterday and "yesterday" makes us invulnerable, deprives us of the capacity of innocency, vulnerability. So "yesterday" is the "observer; in the "observer" are all the layers of the unconscious as well as the conscious.

The whole of humankind is in each one of us, in both the conscious and the unconscious, the deeper layers. One is the result of thousands of years; embedded in each one of us - as one can find if one knows how to delve into it, go deeply inside - is the whole history, the whole knowledge, of the past. That is why self-knowledge is immensely important. "Oneself" is now second - hand; one repeats what others have told us, whether it be Freud or whoever the specialist. If one wants to know oneself one cannot look through the eyes of the specialist; one has to look directly at oneself.

How can one know oneself without being an "observer"? What do we mean by "knowing"? - I am not quibbling about words - what do we mean by "knowing", to "know"? When do I "know" something? I say I "know" Sanskrit, I "know" Latin - or I say I "know" my wife or husband. Knowing a language is different from "knowing" my wife or husband. I learn to know a language but can I ever say I know my wife? - or husband? When I say I "know" my wife it is that I have an image about her: but that image is always in the past; that image prevents me from looking at her - she may already be changing. So can I ever say I "know"? When one asks, "Can I know myself without the observer?, - see what takes place. It is rather complex: I learn about myself; in learning about myself I accumulate knowledge about myself and use that knowledge, which is of the past, to learn something more about myself. With the accumulated knowledge I have about myself I look at myself and I try to learn something new about myself. Can I do that? It is impossible.

To learn about myself and to know about myself: the two things are entirely different. Learning is a constant, non-accumulative process, and "myself" is something changing all the time, new thoughts, new feelings, new variations, new intimations, new hints. To learn is not something related to the past or the future; I cannot say I have learnt and I am going to learn. So the mind must be in a constant state of learning, therefore always in the active present, always fresh; not stale with the accumulated knowledge of yesterday. Then you will see, if you go into it, that there is only learning and not the acquiring of knowledge; then the mind becomes extraordinarily alert, aware and sharp to look. I can never say I "know" about myself: and any person who says, "I know", obviously does not know. Learning is a constant, active process; it is not a matter of having learnt. I learn more in order to add to what I have already learnt. To learn about myself there must be freedom to look and this freedom to look is denied when I look through the knowledge of yesterday.

Questioner: Why does the separation between the "observer" and the "observed" lead to conflict?

Krishnamurti: Who is the maker of effort? Conflict exists as long as there is effort, as long as there is contradiction, So, is there not a contradiction between the "observer" and the "observed" - in that division? This is not a matter of argument or opinion - you can look at it. When I say "this is mine" - whether property, whether sexual rights, or whether it is my work - there is a resistance which separates and therefore there is conflict. When I say "I am a Hindu", "I am a Brahmin", this and that, I have created a world around myself with which I have identified myself which breeds division. Surely, when one says one is a Catholic, one has already separated oneself from the non-Catholics. All division, outwardly as well as inwardly, breeds antagonism. So the problem arises, can I own anything without creating antagonism, without creating this definite contradiction, which breeds conflict? Or is there a different dimension altogether where the sense of non-ownership exists, and therefore there is freedom?

Questioner: Is it possible to act at all without having mental concepts? Could you have even walked into this room and sat down in that chair without having a concept of what a chair is? You seem to be implying that there need be no concepts at all.

Krishnamurti: Perhaps I may not have explained it in sufficient detail. One must have concepts. If I ask you where you live, unless you are in a state of amnesia, you will tell me. The "telling me" is born of a concept, of a remembrance - and one must have such remembrances, concepts. But it is the concepts that have bred ideologies which are the source of mischief - You, an American, I, a Hindu, Indian. You are committed to one ideology and I am committed to another ideology. These ideologies are conceptual and we are willing to kill each other for them though we may co-operate scientifically, in the laboratory. But in human relationship, has conceptual thinking any place? This is a more complex problem. All reaction is conceptual, all reaction: I have an idea and according to that idea I act; that is, first an idea, a formula, a norm, and then according to that an action. So there is a division between the concept, or idea, and the action. The conceptual side of this division is the "observer". The action is something outside us and hence the division, conflict. That raises the question as to whether a mind that has been conditioned, educated, brought up socially, can free itself from conceptual thinking and yet act non-mechanically. Can a mind be in a state of silence and act, can it operate without concepts? I say it is possible; but it has no value because I say so. I say it is possible and that that is meditation: To resolve this question as to whether the mind - the whole mind - can be utterly silent, free from conceptual thinking, free from thinking altogether, so that only when thought is necessary does it think. I am talking English, there is an automatic process going on. Can you listen to me completely silently, without any interference of thought? - seeing that the moment you try to do this you are already in thought. Is it possible to look - at a tree, at the microphone - without the word, the word being the thought, the concept? To look at a tree without a concept is fairly easy. But to look at a friend, to look at somebody who has hurt you, who has flattered you, to look without a word, without a concept is more difficult; it means that the brain is quiet, it has its responses, its reactions, it is quick, but it is so quiet that it can look completely, totally, out of silence. It is only in that state that you understand and act with an action that is non-fragmentary.

Questioner: Yes, I think I know what you are saying.

Krishnamurti: Good, but you have to do it. One has to know oneself; then arises the problem of the "observer, and the "observed", "analyser" and "analysed" and so on. There is a look without all this, which is instant understanding.

Questioner: You are trying to communicate with words something which you say it is impossible to do with words.

Krishnamurti: There is verbal communication because you and I, both of us, understand English. To communicate with each other properly you and I must both be urgent and have the capacity, the quality of intensity, at the same time - otherwise we do not communicate. If you are looking out of the window and I am talking, or if you are serious and I am not serious, then communication ceases. Now, to communicate something which you or I have not gone into is extremely difficult. But there is a communication which is not verbal, which comes about when you and I are both serious, both intense and immediate, at the same time, at the same level; then there is "communion" which is non-verbal. Then we can dispense with words. Then you and I can sit in silence; but it must be not my silence or your silence, but that of both of us; then perhaps there can be communion. But that is asking too much.