Six talks given by Krishnamurti in Poona in 1958.

© 1996 Krishnamurti Foundation of America

1° talk 7th Sep 2° talk 10th Sep 3° talk 14th Sep 4° talk 17th Sep 5° talk 21st Sep 6° talk 24th Sep

J. Krishnamurti -- Poona -- 1st Public Talk -- 7th September 1958

I think it would be well if we could establish a true relationship between the speaker and the audience, otherwise there may be a great deal of misunderstanding and misjudgment. Obviously the speaker has something to say, and you have come to listen. What he has to say may have very little value, or it may have significance if one is capable of listening with quiet attention.

It is important to know how to listen. Most of us do not listen; we come either with a tendency to resist or to refute what is being said, or we compare it with what we have previously heard, or learnt from books. In this process, obviously, there is no listening, because when you are thinking of what somebody else has said on a subject your mind is merely going back to various memories ­ merely trying to compare what is being said with what you have already heard or read. So please, if I may suggest, do follow what is being said.

There are so many terrible things taking place in the world, so much misery and confusion, such decadence, corruption and evil; and I feel that if one is at all earnest, intent on understanding these human problems, one must approach the matter with a certain serious purpose. What I am going to say may be entirely different from what you know or believe ­ and I think it will be. I am saying this, not from any sense of conceit or over­confidence, but because most of us, when anything unfamiliar is said, are apt to reject it off hand or to ridicule it. This is especially so with the experts, those who are specialists in some department ­ the scientists, technicians, lecturers, professors, and so on. They are particularly apt to discard a new approach to our many problems because they divide life into departments and think only in terms of their specialized field. Life's problems are not going to be solved by the specialists. If a man is an economist he tends to think that all the problems of life will be solved by some economic system which will bring about equality of opportunity for achievement, for gain, and to him every other form of thought, of investigation, of search, seems of secondary importance or not worth while.

So, considering all these things, it would be nice, I think, if we could, at least for this hour, listen with a sense of humility, with an attitude of trying to find out what the speaker intends to convey. Afterwards you can question it, discuss it, refute it, or brush it aside. But first, surely, if there is to be any form of communication, there must be a certain understanding, a common ground established between speaker and listener. Listening is very difficult; it is an art. I am sure you have never really listened to anybody because your mind is always occupied, thinking of other things, is it not so? You never actually listen to your wife, to your children, to your neighbor, because your mind is caught up in its own fears and anxieties, in the innumerable preoccupations that arise in the mind and prevent full communication. If you observe yourself you will see how extraordinarily difficult it is to listen to anything, especially to a speaker who is going to say things which you will not like, or which you do not immediately understand, or which seem contradictory. Such things are apt to produce a great deal of confusion, and so you tend to brush them all aside.

So it is necessary to listen with a sense of humility. Humility is entirely different from being humble. Humbleness can be achieved, gathered, cultivated by one who is already full of vanity and arrogance; but humility is not a quality to be acquired, it is a state of being. You are, or you are not, in a state of humility, and we shall discuss all this presently as we go into our many problems in the talks which are to follow.

But I am suggesting now that if one wants to learn, to understand what another says, there must be that humility which listens, which does not either accept or reject, but inquires. To inquire there must be that state of humility, because if you already know, you cease to inquire. If you take a position of agreeing or denying, you put an end to inquiry. Inquiry is only possible when there is a certain freedom of the mind, freedom to go into what is being said, to inquire, to find out. So it is essential that we should listen with a sense of freedom and humility, for only then shall we be able to communicate with each other.

I am not here to instruct you what to do or what not to do, but together we are going to inquire into our many problems. Therefore the thinking should not be one­sided, with you merely receiving. We shall be endeavoring, you and I, to inquire into the whole problem of human existence, into the whole process of living, of death, of meditation, of conflict, of human relationships. All that we are going into. But first it is essential that the mind that wishes to inquire be somewhat pliable and free, not rigid, not prejudiced, not prone to take a stand from which it is unwilling to move.

Surely it behooves us to make this inquiry, seeing that there is so much conflict and misery, such fearful economic stresses and strains, so much starvation and degradation. Obviously a change is necessary, a radical change. A fundamental revolution is necessary because things cannot go on as they are. Of course if we are earning sufficient money, if we are clever enough to get through life without too much conflict and are concerned only with ourselves, then we do not mind if things go on as they are. But if we are at all inquiring, serious, we must surely try to find out, must we not?, how to bring about a change. Because religions obviously mean very little; they only offer an escape. You may go to a guru or a priest, repeat mantrams or prayers, follow some doctrine or ritual, but they are all avenues of escape. They will not solve your problems ­ and they have not done so. The problems still exist, and it is no good running away from them. Whether you go to the temple, or retire to the Himalayas to become a sannyasi, it is still a running away.

Throughout the world it is the same problem. Religions have failed, and education also. Passing a lot of examinations and putting the alphabet after your name has not solved your problems. No system, educational, economic, political, religious or philosophical, has solved our problems ­ which is obvious, because we are still in conflict. There is appalling poverty, confusion, strife between man and man, group and group, race and race. Neither the Communist nor any other social or economic revolution has solved this problem, or ever will. Because man is a total entity, he has to be taken as a totality ­ not partially, at different layers of his existence. The specialist is only concerned with a particular layer ­ the politician merely with governing, the economist merely with money values, the religionist with his own creed, and so on. Apparently nobody considers the human problem as a whole and tackles it, not partially, but wholly. The religious person says, "Give up the world if you really want to solve the problem; but the world is inside oneself. The tears, the innumerable struggles and fears, they are all inside. Or the social reformer says, "Forget yourself and do good", and you may work to forget yourself; but the problem is still there. All the various specialists offer their own remedies, but no one apparently is concerned with the total transformation of man himself. All they offer is various forms of thinking. If you leave one religion and go to another, you only change your mode of thinking. No one seems to be concerned with the quality of thought, with the quality of the mind that thinks.

The problem is enormous, as you and I know fairly well ­ we have only to observe as we pass down the street, as we get on the bus, as we talk to a friend or to a politician or to a religious person. We can watch this whole process of degradation going on, every form of decline and corruption, a mounting confusion; and surely we can hope to solve it only when the mind is capable of thinking of the problem in a totally different way. There must be a revolution in the mind itself, not merely a change at some partial level of human existence; and with that revolution in our thinking, with that radical transformation of the mind, we can approach the problem wholly. The problem is constantly changing, is it not? The problem is not static, but we approach it with a mind that is already conditioned, that has already taken a stand and accepted certain sanctions, edicts, values. So while the problem is a living thing, changing, vital, we approach it with a dead mind, and so the conflict increases and the confusion worsens.

So there must be a revolution in thinking, a revolution in the mind itself, and not in what the mind thinks about. There is surely a vast difference between the two. We are mostly concerned with what the mind thinks about. The Communist is concerned with conditioning the mind to think what it is told, and the so­called religious person is concerned with the same thing. Most of us are concerned with thinking only the thoughts which we already know and have accepted, and these thoughts further condition the mind, obviously. Every thought that you have ­ as an economist, as a specialist, as a believer in God or a non­believer, as a man who pursues virtue or does not ­ shapes the mind. Your thinking depends upon your conditioning, how you have been brought up, what the pressures of your environment are ­ religion, society, family, tradition. So if we are at all serious we shall not be concerned with substituting one thought for another, or with sublimating thought to some other level. We must be concerned with the radical transformation of the capacity to think, not merely with the choice of what to think. That is where the revolution should take place, and not at any particular layer of human existence. I hope I am making this point clear. If not, we shall discuss it as we go along. A revolution in the way of thinking is essential ­ not the choice of what to think, or the pursuit of right thought, but a revolution in the capacity itself, in the mind itself. Unless there is a radical change in the mind, you can have no answer to your problems. Do what you will, read any books, follow any authority, any guru, you will never solve your problems unless there is a radical transformation of the mind itself.

What is happening now? You are either a Hindu, a Moslem, a Buddhist, a Catholic, an American, a Russian, or some kind of specialist, and so on; and you approach life with your particular pattern of thinking. The Communist wants to solve the problems of life in his way, the Catholic, the Hindu, the Buddhist, in his; so there is ever contention, conflict, bitterness, anxiety, war, which is obviously not the way to solve our human problems. So long as you remain whatever you are, you are not going to solve any fundamental problem. And if you as a student, specialize to be a scientist hoping science is going to solve everything, it is not going to, I assure you. You may be able to go up into the sky, produce various forms of sputniks, but our problems of human existence are still there ­ how you treat your wife, how I treat you and you treat me, our ambitions, our greeds, our frustrations, whether there is God, what happens after death, what is meditation, what is virtue, what is the true religious life. Surely all these are our problems, and now we approach them as specialists, as persons conditioned with various hopes, desires, beliefs, and so we never solve them.

Therefore there must be a revolution in the mind. This revolution is not a matter of mere agreement, it is not a matter of conviction, it is not a matter of belief: it must take place. It cannot take place if you believe that there must be a revolution in the mind. That is merely a concept, an ideal, which is worthless. You know there is a vast difference between the word and the verb. The word has very little meaning except as a means of communication, and all thoughts, plans, ideals, concepts, theories, speculations, and the pursuit of them are at the verbal level. If you merely live at the verbal level it does not bring about a fundamentally new way of thinking. What does bring it about is `the verb', `being' ­ not in relation to an idea, but action itself. Perhaps this is a little bit difficult, but please just listen to it even if only for intellectual amusement. You see, most of us are caught in words, with slogans, ideas, phrases, concepts. These are entirely different from `the verb' ­ which is not action related to an idea but a state of being, acting. Because the moment you really understand something ­ which is not just agreeing or being convinced or submitting to pressure, for all these are related to `the word' and do not bring understanding ­ , you act. When there is an understanding which is `the verb' then there is an `acting' which is a state of being. If you think about it a little you will see the difference between the two, the verb and the word, the doing and the thought of doing, the word love and loving. Now most of us are caught in the thought that we should love, as a noble, ideological, perfect thing; that is merely the word. The verb is `loving', unrelated to any action; it is a state of being, of loving. This is only by the way, to demonstrate how our minds operate.

Our minds function in words, in concepts, in ideals, in what should be; and it is there that the revolution must take place. The mind must be in a state of being, in a state of verb, if one can so put it ­ not in the state of the word but in the state of the verb. You can see the difference, can you not? To bring into being that state of the verb is the revolution. If you think about it you will see the extraordinary meaning of it, what significance it has ­ the being and the thought of being.

So our concern then, if we are at all serious, is to bring about a revolution in the mind. I have more or less described, given a significance to that word `revolution' before, and also what we mean by a serious person. Let us examine for a minute or two that word `serious'. What is serious? And what does that word mean? Are you serious? Is the man who gives up the world and takes the yellow robe serious? Is the man who becomes a social reformer serious? The man who pursues God, is he serious? The man who mesmerizes himself by listening to songs and all the rest of it, is he serious? And the man who completely identifies himself with an idea or who says: "I have taken a vow and I am going to stick to it for the rest of my life", is he serious? Or the man who immolates himself, who identifies himself with a country, is he serious?

So looking at all the various forms of so­called seriousness, including the insane man who thinks he is sane, are all these people serious? Are all these people really devoted to what they are doing? Surely, that is the test, is it not? Devotion is earnestness; and earnestness is devoid of enthusiasm. The man who is enthusiastic is not earnest; he is just enthused for the time being ­ as a balloon that is blown up, pops and makes a lot of noise. So any one of these who is not concerned with the search for the true in what he is pursuing, such a person is not serious. This is not a mere definition, but if you will examine it you will see the significance of what is being said.

Surely devotion is not to something, to a God, to a guru, to a picture or some figure. Such devotion is obviously an escape, a running away, trying to forget yourself in something. Whether it is to the country, the State, a picture or to some idea, such devotion is merely a flight, an escape from the facts of existence. Devotion is something entirely different. Devotion is the capacity to inquire persistently into the ways of the mind, because without understanding the mind, whatever you do ­ whatever you think, or pursue, whatever your ideals, your authorities ­ has no meaning at all. That is, without understanding yourself, what you do and what you think, or trying to alter what you do and what you think, has little meaning. You understand this, do you not? Without knowing myself, how do I know what I think is true, how can I know of Truth, how can I know of God, whether there is God or there is not? Without knowing myself, what right have I to seek to reform another, or tell another what to do? And would I, even if I knew myself, tell another what to do?

So, without knowing oneself there can be no radical change, therefore no radical action, and therefore no radical transformation in the mind. By knowing oneself I do not mean some super­self, the Paramatman, the soul ­ which are merely things you have been told about. To me, without knowing oneself totally, these are all false, they have no reality. After all, if you do not know what you think and why you think, from what source your thought springs and from what background your action comes, whether you believe in God or not has no meaning. Because you have been brought up as Hindus, you believe in God; because your society, your neighbor, your tradition says `believe' ­ you believe. But go to Russia and they will say what nonsense it all is, they will brush you off as stupid and regard your action as insane. Whereas he, the Russian, is conditioned also, conditioned to believe that there is no God, to believe that the State is the only right thing to follow. He is conditioned, as you are conditioned. So when you say you believe in God it has no meaning. Please see how important it is to understand this. Because if you are really seeking God you must put away all these things, you must put away all your gurus, your knowledge, your tradition, and not follow or accept any authority. That means an inward revolution. And it is only such a man, who thinks clearly, who knows his own conditioning, his entire being ­ not only the conscious but the unconscious, the totality of his thought ­ it is only such a man who can inquire if there is or is not truth, God, or whatever name you like to give it. But that means hard work, and nobody wants to work hard, whether at home or in the office or in search of truth; and so we are inefficient, corrupt; and we want to understand truth without work.

Understanding yourself means ­ not the super­self, the Atman, the super­consciousness and all that ­ but understanding the ways of your own reactions, understanding yourself as you are, what you think, why you think, why you do certain things and say certain words. To understand is to be conscious, to be aware of what you are. You will find that it is extraordinarily difficult because most of us are unwilling to understand ourselves. We would rather believe, be told, pushed, persuaded, driven politically, economically or environmentally. But to watch yourself in all your relationships whether with your servant, your wife, your husband, or others, to watch yourself when you get into a bus, to be aware when you look at nature, at the trees, the clouds, to watch all your own reactions and to be aware, ­ that, Sirs, is real meditation. Then you can go very far. Then you will not create for yourself any illusions.

So there must be the understanding of oneself and in that there is the revolution. I cannot understand myself if I do not examine myself. When you are angry ­ at the moment of anger you are not aware of yourself ­ watch yourself, look at it, and find out why you are angry. Go into it, go into the whole process of anger. I am only taking that as an example. It requires a great deal of thought, penetration, but that is real devotion ­ not the phony devotion to a guru from whom you are going to get some return; that is just a bargain. Real devotion is to inquire into why you are angry, into the source of your anger, and to understand.

To understand something, surely, there must be neither acceptance nor condemnation. There are many of you here who have heard me for a number of years, unfortunately, because therefore you say: "I know what he is going to say about this", and so you close your ears. But to find out the whole significance of why one accepts or condemns requires a constant renewal of listening, of understanding. It is not a matter of listening to me only, but of listening to yourself to find out why you condemn, why you have shut yourself off or why you have accepted. I have said this for a number of years, that if you want to understand something there must be neither condemnation nor acceptance, but rather you must look at it. There are many who have heard me for ten or twenty years and who say: "I agree with you; but they have not done anything about it. They are at the state of `the word' and not at the state of `the verb'. The verb is the doing, not the thought of doing.

So to understand why I accept or reject, why I condemn or compare, requires a great deal of penetration into oneself. After all, why do you accept authority? Why do you accept authority at any level ­ political, economic, social, religious ­ the authority of the book or the authority of your own experience? Why do you accept, and why do you reject? Why do you reject Communism, Socialism, Capitalism or whatever it may be? Don't you see that unless you really know what it is, ­ that drive, that push, the influence which is making you accept or reject, causing you to compare, to justify, identify or deny ­ you are merely the tool of authority. The man who follows, the man who leads, the man who has ideals, does not know love. The man who follows, how can he know love? He is just following, and the following is enslavement to `the word'. And the man who is a leader, who says: "I know and you don't know. I am right and you are wrong", ­ how can he love? He may identify himself with his country, with an idea, with a reform and he may lead a most exemplary life of denial and simplicity, but he is full of authority, full of his own knowledge, experience, ideas, and how can such a man know love? Nor can the idealist, because he is always thinking of `what should be'. So, without knowing yourself, what you do and what you think have no reality; your Gods have no reality, nor your village­reforms which you are doing for various reasons, many of which may be childish, immature, merely respectable.

So in order to bring about a fundamental change in the ways of one's thinking one must begin with self­knowledge, knowledge of oneself, of the ways of one's own thinking, not with so­called knowledge about God. Knowledge about God is all unreal, false, unless you know yourself. So the religious person is the man who begins with the understanding of himself, not with the leading of a particular life in accordance with some tradition or some book. Surely it is essential to know yourself, to know how to think clearly, without bias, without prejudice, without fear, and therefore to act without fear, ­ which means character. Character is not for the person who merely obeys the law ­ either the law of society or his own law ­ but for the person who thinks clearly and whose thought is produced through self­knowledge. Self­knowledge is the knowledge of why you are angry, why you are ambitious, ruthless, sexual, and all the other things which are to be discovered. You have to know about yourself, and the knowing is quite different from merely bringing about a change in the known. I can know why I am angry; we can all know. It is fairly easy, if you know the A B C of psychology, to know why you are greedy, ambitious, rude, cruel, brutal. But knowing about it and actually understanding it are entirely different. The very process of understanding brings about a change. Because when you understand yourself there is clarity of thinking, and in that clarity there is character. Character is not produced by following an ideal and sticking to that ideal; that is merely obstinacy. Character implies clarity, and there is no clarity so long as you do not know yourself; and you cannot know yourself if you are not fully aware of yourself. And in understanding oneself, as we have said, there must be no acceptance or justification of what you are, no excuses, no saying: "I am like this because of my environment", or "I know I am conditioned because I live in a little province and so my mind is provincial", and so on.

To see all this, to be aware of it, to know it, to go into it and see the significance of it, requires devotion, endeavor, hard work. Then only can the mind bring about within itself a revolution which will answer all the problems of our life. When you know the source of your problems and the causes of your problems, and when you know that their solution is within your own understanding, then you see that you need not follow anybody; then you have no guru, no authority, no book, no tradition, because you are a light unto yourself. These are not words. I am saying all this because it is so. But you cannot accept it because I say so, for then you become merely a follower, which is an evil thing to be, whether politically or religiously. Whereas, if you begin to understand yourself, to go into yourself profoundly, ­ which requires a great deal of attention, a great deal of devotion ­ then only will you be able to solve the many problems which confront each one of us.

September 7, 1958

J. Krishnamurti -- Poona -- 2nd Public Talk -- 10th September 1958 (top)

Last Sunday we gave a general outline of what we are going to consider during these different assemblies, and I propose that I take up a certain point, a certain idea and work it out fully, go into it in detail. But once again I would like to point out how important it is that we should establish a communication between us. It is really a fact that I am not talking as to a large group but to each individual, because to me there is no mass, group, class, race, but only the individual ­ the individual who is capable of thinking independently and therefore of breaking down his conditioning, thus bringing about a creative state of mind. So I am talking to you as though individually and personally. And since you have taken the trouble to come to hear what I have to say, please listen carefully. Do not translate it in terms of your particular vernacular, either local or traditional. When I talk about the understanding of the self, do not translate it into some Sanskrit word, do not make it into something fantastic and say it is self­realization. I just mean the plain `understand yourself', which is infinitely more difficult than understanding the various theories which you have. If you do not want to listen, that is all right, but if you want to hear, please hear properly and you cannot hear properly if you begin to translate what is being said into your own terminology, into your own ways of thinking. Then you are really not understanding what the speaker has to say.

You have to find out what the speaker has to say before you accept, reject or criticize. First you have to find out what he means, what he intends. He may exaggerate, he may not give the right emphasis, but you have to take all that in by listening. Then you and I can establish a right relationship. I have something to say which I think will upset the apple­cart, the tradition, all those things that you know. But please do not begin, before you have found out what is actually being said, to build a defensive barrier. Keep your reactions to what I have to say until later when you will have the right to criticize, to discard, to accept or to go into it, as you will. But until then I suggest to you ­ the individual who is in this room sitting with me ­ that you do not quickly react. Listen in a friendly manner, but with a clear mind; not accepting or rejecting or taking what I say and opposing it by quoting some authority, because I do not believe in authorities. Truth is not come at by the process of authority. It must be discovered from moment to moment. It is not a thing that is permanent, enduring, continuous. It must be found each minute, each second. That requires a great deal of attention, a great alertness of mind, and you cannot understand it or allow it to come to you if you merely quote authorities, merely speculate as to whether there is or is not God. You must as an individual experience it, or rather, allow that thing to come to you. You cannot possibly go to it. Please let us be clear on this point, that you cannot by any process, through any discipline, through any form of meditation, go to truth, God, or whatever name you like to give it. It is much too vast, it cannot possibly be conceived of; no description will cover it, no book can hold it nor any word contain it. So you cannot by any devious method, by any sacrifice, any discipline or through any guru go to it. You must await, it will come to you, you cannot go to it. That is the first fundamental thing one has to understand, that not through any trick of the mind, not through any control, through any virtue, any compulsion, any form of suppression, can the mind possibly go to truth. All that the mind can do is to be quiet, ­ but not with the intention of receiving it. And that is one of the most difficult things of all because we think truth can be experienced right away through doing certain things. Truth is not to be bought any more than love can be bought. And if you and I understand that very clearly from the very beginning, what I have to say will have a very different, a very definite meaning. Otherwise you will be in a state of self­contradiction. You think there is Truth, God, a state which is permanent and you want it, so you practice, discipline, do various forms of exercise, but it cannot be bought. Any amount of devotion, sacrifice, knowledge, virtue cannot call it into being. The mind must be free, it must have no borders, no frontier, no limitation, no conditioning. The whole sense of acquisitiveness must come to an end but not in order to receive.

If one really understood that, one would see what an extraordinary thing this creativity of the mind is. Then you would really understand how to free the mind so that it is in a state of alert watchfulness, never asking, never seeking, never demanding.

As I have said, I am talking to the individual because only the individual can change, not the mass; only you can transform yourself; and so the individual matters infinitely. I know it is the fashion to talk about groups, the mass, the race as though the individual had no importance at all, but in any creative action it is the individual who matters. Any true action, any important decision, the search for freedom, the inquiry after truth, can only come from the individual who understands. That is why I am talking only to the individual. You will probably say: "What can I, the individual do?" Confronted with this enormous complication, the national and religious divisions, the problems of misery, starvation, war, unemployment, the rapid degradation and disintegration, what can one individual do about it all? Nothing. The individual cannot tackle the mountain outside, but the individual can set a new current of thought going which will create a different series of actions. He cannot do anything about worldwide conditions because historically events must take their own brutal, cruel, indifferent course. But if there were half­a­dozen people who could think completely about the whole problem, they would set going a different attitude and action altogether, and that is why the individual is so important. But if he wants to reform this enormous confusion, this mountain of disintegration, he can do very little; indeed, as is being shown, he can have no effect on it at all, but if any one of us is truly individual in the sense that he is trying to understand the whole process of his mind, then he will be a creative entity, a free person, unconditioned, capable of pursuing truth for itself and not for a result.

So, as I have said, that reality of which the mind cannot possibly conceive, which it cannot possibly speculate upon or reduce to words, that truth must come to you, the individual; you cannot go to it. After all, it is fairly obvious, is it not?, that the individual mind, which is also the collective mind is narrow, petty, brutal, ugly, selfish, arrogant. How can such a mind invite the Unknown? For whatever it thinks must be petty, small ­ even as its Gods are. Your God is the invention of the mind. You may put a garment round it but its garments are yours; it is your God but it is not Truth, it is not Reality. Do what you will, Reality cannot be invited; it must come to you. So what is one to do? How is one to experience that something which is not merely created by the mind? That is only possible when the mind begins to understand its own process, its own ways. I am using the word `process' not in the sense of a means to an end. Generally we mean by that word `process' that if you do certain things there will be a result, ­ if you put oil in the machine it will run properly; if you follow certain disciplines, make sacrifices, you will get something in return. I am not using the word in that sense at all. I am using the word `process' as meaning the operation of the mind as it works, not as it searches for a result.

So the mind must come to the state when it is free from all effort, and I want to discuss this evening the whole problem of effort and conflict and whether there is a state which the mind can reach without conflict in order to arrive at the truth. For it is only when the mind ceases to be in self­contradiction and therefore ceases to be in conflict that it is capable of looking and of understanding. It is fairly clear that a mind which is in conflict can never understand anything, and so we want to find out why the mind is in a state of self­contradiction. Surely, if we can understand the conflict within the mind itself we shall go very far because it will reveal why there is this contradiction within oneself. If we can go slowly, step by step, into that question and if you really follow it, not oppose it then perhaps you will come to a state of mind in which there is no conflict at all. But you cannot accept my words, for it means that you also must work, not merely listen, that you must become aware of the operation of your own mind. I am only explaining, but it is for you to watch your own mind in operation.

So first of all, why is there conflict in our lives? We generally take it for granted that it must be so, that it is inevitable, that man is born in conflict; and we try to find ways and means to overcome that conflict. In relationships, in political or in any other sphere, there is a conflict within, which brings about self­contradiction; outwardly also there is the contradiction between what we feel we should be and what we are. I want to find out why this contradiction exists. I do not accept that it is natural, inevitable, that there is no solution for it and so we must escape from it. That is immature thinking. I want to understand it, and so I will not escape from it, dodge it, or go to a guru or a cinema. To me, turning to a book, going to a guru or going into deep meditation when you are in conflict are all the same as taking to drink. But I want to understand if one can remove this inward contradiction. If that is clear we can proceed from there, and please do not say at the end: "Why did you not talk about birth control", or: "I came here to find out what religion is, if there is a God". A contradictory mind cannot find anything whatsoever of the truth. Just think of it, Sirs, how can you, being in contradiction, know anything which is not contradictory? How can you possibly know that state which has no opposites, no divisions, which is the Immeasurable? This question you will answer for yourself, and find the truth of it, only when you find out if you can eliminate contradiction within yourself; and that is essential. What you are seeking at present is not the elimination of contradiction but you are seeking peace for yourself, some state in which the mind will not be disturbed at all. It is like sitting on a volcano and saying: "Let me have peace". There is no meaning to it. So I say: Let us examine what is in the volcano, let it come out, the ugly, the bestial, the loveliness, everything, ­ let it come up and let me look at it, which means that the mind must have no fear. So let us go into it.

Now why is there this state of contradiction in us? Let us begin at the lowest level. I want money, and also I do not want money because I think that it is good to be poor. I am not talking of the man who whole­heartedly says: "I want to be rich" ­ and goes after it; to him there is no contradiction. He is completely full of energy because he is aggressive, brutal, ruthless, corrupt, violent, he wants money, he wants position; so there is no conflict within. In Hitler, Krushchev and all the big ones of the world there is no consciousness of contradiction because they want this thing and go after it, by right means or crooked. We would like to be in that position also but unfortunately we are not. So we are in contradiction and so we want a state of mind which will be permanently peaceful, which will have no contradiction. Or take the man who is somewhat insane. To him there is no conflict because he simply says: "I am God", or "I am Napoleon", or he identifies himself with some other belief and so there is no sense of contradiction. He is what he imagines, and being that, he is full of energy. Have you not noticed such people? They will travel up and down the land, doing this and doing that, because they are completely taken up with an idea, they are completely absorbed. And we also would like to be in that state. So we pursue various ideas until we find something which will suit us, and there we stop. So we must ask again: Why is there in us this contradiction? Contradiction is conflict, is it not? If I am greedy and I do not want to be greedy, there is immediately a state of contradiction in me which brings a conflict; but if I am completely greedy there is no conflict. Or if I am completely non­greedy, there is no conflict. But why is there this contradiction which, if we are intelligent, if our mind is alert, becomes ever stronger and stronger and is not easily to be got rid of? The stronger, the more active, the more passionate one is, the more energetic one becomes and the contradiction becomes ever greater until having established a deep, lasting contradiction we try to escape from it by saying that life is a process of disintegration, disillusionment, and we philosophize indefinitely. Whereas I think this contradiction can be totally removed, not partly but totally. When you love something, when you are interested in something, there is no effort in the sense of working at it. For most of us work is effort; going to the office, doing various things you do not want to do, disciplining yourself, means work which means effort. But if you can go beyond the words we are using to understand this contradiction, you will find a state of being without effort.

Let us look at violence and non­violence. We are violent and we say we must not be violent. The non­violence is the ideal, it is the projection of the mind which feels itself to be violent. So you make non­violence into an ideal and then proceed to try to transform violence into that ideal. But the non­violence has no reality! No ideal has any reality, obviously. You do not easily agree with me at first because it is very difficult to eject ideas, ideals from the mind, which means that your mind is so conditioned by ideals that a new idea cannot be received by it. You are as mesmerized by the ideal as the lunatic by his idea. I am not insulting you, but I am just saying how difficult it is for a mind which thinks in habits to consider a new idea. We can see very clearly how ideals are created. I am something ­ violent, greedy or what you will ­ , and I want to transform that into the so­called ideal, the opposite. So I create the opposite ideal to what I actually am and I begin to have an infinite variety of conflicts. I am this and I must be that; that is the source of conflict. The moment the mind says: "I am not but I must be", you have begun the whole process of conflict.

Most of you will think that if you do not make an effort you will go to seed, vegetate, and that if there were no pressure, conflict, compulsion you would become like a cow. Therefore you bring up your children ­ as does society, the whole world ­ geared to the effort to become something, which involves this perpetual movement of conflict. So I can see, can I not?, that there must be conflict so long as there is an ideal, and that so long as the mind is concerned with the future, with what should be, it is not concerned with what is. It is fairly obvious that one cannot have a divided mind, part of the mind thinking of non­violence and the other part occupied with violence. Therefore you see that so long as there is any kind of ideal in the mind there must be a state of contradiction. This does not mean that you can merely accept what is, and just stagnate. For, here begins the real revolution, if you can put away all your ideals; and how difficult that is! You have been brought up with ideals. All the books, all the saints, the professors, the erudite people, everyone has said that you must have ideals, and that thought has become a habit. It is purely a habit. You are holding on to so many lovely ideals, and when someone comes along and tells you how absurd these ideals are, how they have no reality at all, then, for the mind to really see that ideals have no factual reality, that is to know the truth. Truth is not something away over the hills and mountains. It is the perception of the true in the simple things, and if you see the truth of what we have been saying now, you will break the habit.

But for centuries we have been brought up on ideals, the ideal that you must become something, either the executive, the chief business man or the Prime Minister; and if you cannot be any of these then you turn towards becoming a saint. You are always wanting to become something, either in this world or in the so­called spiritual world. So you have ideals for here and ideals for there. And therefore you have set up a vast field of conflict, which is habit. It has become such a strong, impregnable habit, and you have not thought it out. It is a very difficult habit to break because you are fearful of what is going to happen. Your relationship with people will change; you will no longer easily accept everything that everybody has said. You will begin to question. You might lose your job. So fear steps in and dictates. Fear says: Do not give up these things because what is going to happen then? Your wife believes in ideals and if you give them up there are going to be perpetual quarrels in the house. Who are you to go against the whole authority which has been set up? What right have you to do so? So society smothers you. And unconsciously you are frightened, and you say: "Please, I will only accept these ideals verbally, as I know they have no meaning." But you have not solved the problem of conflict.

Conflict arises, does it not?, because man has never tackled the problem of what is, irrespective of what should be. To understand what is, requires a great deal of attention, intense search, intense inquiry; but to follow an ideal is very easy ­ and it does not mean a thing. But if you say: "I am violent and I am going to disregard all the idealistic nonsense about non­violence and understand the violence", your position is clear. Then the question arises, since you are free of the ideal, will you no longer seek to change what is? Previously the ideal acted as a lever with which you sought to change what is. You thought the idea of non­violence acted as an influence by which you could get rid of violence. That is, having created contradiction through the ideal, we hope, through conflict, to get rid of violence. But we have never succeeded in getting rid of violence. It goes on with brutality, outwardly or suppressed, and produces its own results. So can I be left only with violence, not holding on to its opposite also? If so, I have removed one of the causes of conflict, perhaps the major cause.

But to be free of ideals is most difficult, for you may remove them outwardly but still have inward ideals ­ the so­called inward experience which tells you what to do. You may reject outward authority, and fairly intelligent people have done that, but inwardly they still want to be something, not only the boss of the town or the boss of the school but they also want to be spiritual, to achieve a state of mind which is at perfect peace. But the desire to be at peace indicates that you are not at peace, so you have to tackle what is actual. So you see the complex nature of contradiction! Though you may consciously say how absurd these ideals are, they are embedded in the unconscious. Your whole race is steeped in ideals; it is not a matter of just removing a few silly ones, but you have to understand the whole process of the mind.

One of the difficulties for most of us is that we do not seem to be able to see the whole. We only see the part. Do not at once say: "How am I to see the whole?" That is not the problem. The problem is that our minds are so small that we do not seem able to take in the whole at one glance. We cannot see the whole mountain, the whole hill because our minds being small, being petty, are occupied with details, and a collection of details does not make the whole. Please ask yourself why your mind does not receive the truth totally free of the falseness of the whole process of idealization. Must we go through the removal of each ideal, one by one? This would be an enormous task, would it not? Day after day, struggling, tearing them out; it would take years, surely, to go step by step taking one ideal after another and discarding it. So can I not see the whole simple truth that ideals are totally unnecessary? Can I not see the immense significance of it in a flash, and let that truth which I have seen operate?

The truth that a cobra bites and you might die from it, you all know. That is a fact. So what do you do? When you go out into the woods and walk at night you are naturally very careful all the time. You do not have to say: "I must think about cobras". The fear of being bitten is operating in you. Or in your bathroom you may have m bottle marked poison. The liquid is poisonous and that is the fact. And so, without thinking, your mind is always alert even in the dark and you do not take the bottle and drink. So you know the truth that the poison in the cobra and the poison in the bottle are dangerous and your mind is alert to it, not just for one moment but all the time. Similarly if you can see the truth that ideals have no reality, see it right through, completely, then the perception of the total truth that ideals have no value will begin to operate of itself. You do not have to operate. It will operate.

If you see the truth of that then you do not have to make an effort to break the ideals one by one. The truth will do it. So the point I want to go into is: can you not see the totality of the truth of something immediately, as you see the truth that a cobra is poisonous? If you see the truth that conflict must cease, and that conflict is brought about through this division of what I should be and what I am, then you do not have to do a thing. Your conscious mind cannot deal with the imponderable unconscious, but the truth that you have seen will do so. Now has this happened to you? That is, do you see the truth of all this; not all the implications of it, because that is merely a matter of exploration and time. If you feel the truth of it then for the moment let us leave it aside and tackle the problem of what is, because our whole endeavor is to eliminate self­contradiction.

With most people, the more tension there is in contradiction the more active they are. There is tension in contradiction, is there not? I am violent and I must not be violent; that opposition creates a tension, does it not?, and from that tension you act ­ write a book, or try to do something about it. That is our entire activity at present. You say in India that you are a non­violent race. God knows what it means! For you are preparing an army and spending 37% of your money on it, I was told. And look what it is doing to you, not only to the poor people but right through the race. You say one thing and do quite the opposite, why? Because, you say, if we had no army Pakistan would attack, and Pakistan says the same nonsense, and so you keep up this game. Not only in India but throughout the world it is the same contradiction ­ that we are all kind, loving people and preparing for war! So this nation, this race, the group, the family, the individual is in a state of contradiction, and the more intense the contradiction the greater the tension, and the greater the tension the greater the activity. The activity takes different forms, from writing a book to becoming a hermit. So each one of us is somewhat schizophrenic, in a state of contradiction. And not knowing how to get away from it we turn to religion, or to drugs, or chase women, or go to the temple ­ any form of activity which takes us away from what is. We reform the village but we never tackle this fundamental thing.

So I want to tackle what is, because if I do not, I see that I will be ever in contradiction. A man at peace within himself needs no Gods because then he can go very deeply into himself, and very far, where frontiers of recognition have completely stopped; and the frontiers of recognition must end before the mind can receive that which is eternal. Do not just agree, because the fact is that it is one of the most difficult things to do and requires tremendous work on yourself. That work is not effort. It becomes an effort, a conflict, a contradiction only when you still want to become something.

So I want to examine what is, which is that I am greedy, I am violent. I am examining that and I see that there must be no contradictory approach to it. I must look at what I am and understand it, but not in relation to what should be. Can I do that? Again you will find that it is one of the most difficult things to do ­ to examine what is without judgment, without comparison, without acceptance, without condemnation, because the moment you condemn you enter the field of contradiction. So can you and I look at violence without introducing the element which creates contradiction, the element of either acceptance or denial. So can I look at my violence? What is the state of the mind that, having eliminated contradiction, looks at that violence? I am left only with that which is actual, am I not?, with the simple fact that I am violent, greedy or sexual. Can I look at it?

What is the state of the mind that looks at a fact? Have you ever really looked at any fact ­ a woman, a man, a child, a flower, a sunset? What do you do when you look? You are thinking of something else, are you not? You say, that is a handsome man and I must not look at him, or that is a beautiful woman and I wish she were my wife. You never look without a reaction. You look at a sunset and merely say how lovely it is or that it is not as beautiful as it was yesterday. So you have never looked at it. Your memory of yesterday destroys the perception of what is, today. How extraordinarily difficult it is for us to look at something clearly, openly, simply! Now let us look at another fact. Why are you listening to me? You are listening to me, obviously, because I have a reputation. You think I can do something for you. You think you must listen to me either because intellectually it amuses you or for various reasons and so you are not actually listening. What is actually happening is, that since what I say contradicts what you think, you do not listen. All you are listening to is what you think you know about me ­ and you do not really know a thing! What is important is not to know about me but to really follow what is being said, to find out if it has any basis, any reality, any sense or whether it is nonsense, false. That is the only important thing, and what you think about me personally is totally irrelevant.

So I ask, have you ever looked at a fact? Please, when you go home really try it, just for fun. If you have a flower in your room look at it, and see what the mind does; see whether the mind can look at it, or whether it immediately says: it is a rose, or it has faded, and so on. You can, perhaps, look at a flower, at your wife or child but it is much more difficult to look at yourself, totally, to watch yourself without introducing the factor of contradiction or acceptance. Can I just look at my violence without any form of acceptance or denial? You will see if you try, how extraordinarily difficult it is, because the habit comes in and says all kinds of things. To look at a fact, whether a political fact, a religious fact or the fact of starvation, requires attention, not a state of contradiction. There can be no attention if there is contradiction.

There is starvation in many parts of the world, perhaps not in America, Europe or Russia, but all over Asia there is. Everybody talks about it and nothing happens. Why? The Communists, the socialists, the reformers and the big politicians they all talk about it, all the world talks and yet nothing happens. The fact is that there is starvation, and another fact is that each group wants the solution of starvation to be according to its own system and says: My system is better than yours. Because there are national divisions, the manipulation of power politics, this goes on and on. So the fact is that nobody wants to tackle the problem of starvation. They merely want to act in their own way. These are all facts. So can you find out how the mind looks at a fact? Your approach to the fact is far more important than the fact itself because if you approach it rightly the fact undergoes a tremendous change.

I think we had better stop now, but we will take this up again next time because there is much more involved in this; this is only the A B C and nothing else. And when you ask me to go on and say that you are not tired, I say that you should be tired. If you have been merely accepting what I say, you have not been thinking. It is not a problem to you, it is not operating in you, and that is exactly the position. You listen, but you will tell your child to remember the ideals, and the contradictory process will go on. So it really means nothing to you; if it meant something you would be exhausted. Because this all means a complete revolution.

Next time I am going into the whole question of fear, habit and tradition, for all these are the factors which prevent you from doing something about the fact. When the mind is capable of knowing why it cannot look at the fact and frees itself from the accumulated contradictions and conditionings, then the fact undergoes a tremendous change. Then there is no fact. Then you will see that violence has completely gone, been completely wiped away. Then the mind, being free, is no longer in contradiction and therefore no longer in a state of effort, no longer trying to be something.

September 10, 1958

J. Krishnamurti -- Poona -- 3rd Public Talk --14th September 1958

The last time we met we were talking about the whole problem of effort, whether through effort there can be any Radical change; whether it is possible for a mind which is in a state of self­contradiction to put an end to that contradiction through any form of coercive discipline, through any form of suppression, through any endeavor to overcome it. We have said that a mind in contradiction must be in a state of effort and we inquired whether inward dissension, inward conflict could ever produce that change which is necessary if we are to see things clearly and live a peaceful, quiet life. It seems to me that it is important to understand this issue really deeply ­ that a small, respectable, petty mind must inevitably create contradiction within itself. Life is not petty. We try to reduce life to our own level of pettiness but it is too vast, too enormous, too demanding, too urgent. Life presents us with innumerable pressures, challenges which the petty mind cannot deal with and so, unconsciously or consciously, it creates a state of self­contradiction. Now can such a petty mind, the respectable mind, through any endeavor bring about a state in which there is no contradiction? That is our problem.

Obviously, life's challenge is too demanding, too enormous, too extraordinarily complex to be solved only at any one particular point. It must be tackled totally, as a whole thing. It cannot be tackled merely from the scientific point of view or from the romantic or the so­called religious point of view which, after all, is nothing but a series of dogmas, beliefs and ceremonies. But the petty mind is caught in all these escapes and it has reduced its environment to a social condition into which it can fit itself. Surely you and I can see that life is too extraordinarily beautiful, too deep, too profound to be easily comprehended, and yet with my narrow little mind I am trying to meet it. My little mind which is fearful, anxious, acquisitive, violent, has got so many social and religious sanctions according to which it must live and so there is ever the contradiction between what is and what it thinks should be. And having created this contradiction there is tension, and from that tension endless activity; and I try to reform that activity instead of understanding the petty mind which creates the contradiction. It is like trying to correct my shadow in the sun; I see that the shadow is very sharp and so I furiously scratch at the shadow thinking that thereby I am doing a revolutionary thing. But the really revolutionary thing is to bring about a radical change in the mind itself not in the mere thought which is but a projection of the state of contradiction.

So how is my mind which is obviously very limited and conditioned to transform itself? The mind is conditioned, is it not? All your environment is shaping the mind; the climate, the customs, the tradition, the racial influences, the family, ­ innumerable conscious and unconscious pressures are shaping the mind. You are a Hindu, a Parsi, a Mussulman, a Christian or whatever you are, because you have been influenced by your environment. So your mind is conditioned and being conditioned you face life, whose challenge is not within time, with your conditioned responses which are always within time. We think the challenge of starvation, the challenge of the appalling inequalities can be dealt with in terms of time because we treat the challenge in terms of our own conditioning. Being a Socialist, a Communist or what you will, I meet with my conditioned mind which has been shaped by many influences, a challenge which is itself out of time. All challenges must be out of time. The challenge of life cannot be held within the period of time for then it becomes the familiar and therefore I think I can deal with it. When the challenge comes to us it is never in terms of the known. I will explain, if I can, what I mean.

I ask you, ­ what is God? Being a respectable Hindu or Christian or what you will, you will answer according to your conditioning. But God is something unnameable, unknowable, unthinkable by a conditioned mind; it is something which is totally unknown, but your mind answers according to your conditioning. So the challenge is always reduced to time and your responses are always within time. Please think about it with me and do not just deny or accept. There is an art in listening and it is very difficult to listen to something with which you are not familiar. Your mind is always translating, correlating, referring what is said to what you already know ­ to what Shankara, Buddha or someone else has said ­ , and in that process there is no attention. You are already away, off in thought, and if you approve or disapprove you have already ceased to listen. But if you can listen with that attention which is not translating what is being heard, which does not compare, which is really giving the whole of its being to what is being said, in that attention there is listening. I do not know if you have ever tried to listen to somebody with your total being. In that there is no effort; effort and strain mean that you are either trying to get something from the speaker or are afraid, avoiding, resisting, and those processes are not listening at all. So if I may, I most respectfully suggest that you listen to see the truth of what is being said. Truth is not something extraordinary, mysterious, romantic, speculative. Truth is, that black is black; that there is a cloud in the sky. To discover what is false and what is true you have to free the mind from its past traditions, hopes and fears, and look. Truth is something to be discovered from moment to moment, not something that is accumulated.

I do not know if you have ever thought about this whole problem of accumulating, gathering, learning. A mind that has learnt is incapable of learning. If I may ask, Sirs, what is your reaction to that statement? Because this is not just a lecture where you listen and agree or disagree and then go home and do what you like, but this is an experiment together where during my exploration you are watching your own mind. If you so watch your own mind then I think these talks will have immense benefit and you will see things happening unconsciously, without your demanding it.

So I say a learned mind cannot learn. A mind that has gathered, that has experienced and that says "I know"; the mind that has studied so much and is so full of other peoples' opinions, ideas, speculations, descriptions, how can such a mind learn? Learning is from moment to moment; but if you learn in order to accumulate and with that accumulation try to direct your life, then you have ceased to live. You have merely gathered and are then projecting what you think life should be. Therefore there is a contradiction between life which is vast and profound and your mind which is caught in its own environmental influences. So we come again to the question of how to free the mind from self­contradiction because that is one of our major problems. I think this, and I do that. Watch yourself and you will see. One is full of arrogance, of pride, both of race and of achievement and at the same time one wants also to have the beauty of humility. So I am in contradiction which always implies conflict and to overcome that conflict I exert myself, saying I must put away pride and try to have humility. So I discipline myself, dedicate myself to God and give all my endeavors to what I think is the highest. First I have developed arrogance, pride, and then I offer it to God because I am suffering. That is what we are really doing, is it not?

Now the fact is that contradiction is the very center of the self. I mean by the self not the Atman, the Paramatman or any speculative self, which for me has no reality. I am talking of our everyday self, the self which is greedy; the self which suffers; the self which is frustrated in its ambition, which is perpetually worrying, the self which says: "I must achieve, fulfill", yet knows that in the struggle for fulfillment there is only the shadow of frustration and despair. That self is the reality. So there is this contradiction. I am proud and at the same time I want to taste the beauty of humility. Of the two, which is real? Surely it is pride? The humility, the what I should be, in some imagined future may or may not come into being.

So the problem is how to transform pride without bringing in any contradictory idea with which I hope to remove pride. I feel it is really very important to understand this because we all have this problem of effort; the effort in our work, in our thinking, in trying to change ourselves, the effort to bring about a different society, to resist hate, to get rid of fear, to know of love. Our whole being is a constant effort. There is never a moment of that real feeling which comes to a mind that understands a thing for itself and is not trying to make what is into something else. I do not know if you have noticed it but if there is any pressure, any influence behind your thinking, thought can never fly straight to the truth of a thing. If I think I must do something because someone wants me to do it, then the doing is always biased. The influenced thought can never be a straight thought. If I do something because I am afraid or because I want something out of it, that act is a perverted act, it is not a clean, straight act. In the same way if a thought has any pressure behind it, it must go crooked. So the problem is how to free the mind from this contradiction and how to free the mind from pride. The mind can only free itself from pride when the ideal ceases to be. Because the ideal is not the fact; the fact is pride. So I have to remove from my mind the whole idea of what should be, remove the ideal totally. Then I have only the sense of pride and I can look at it completely.

One can see that ideals mean nothing. You are not really idealists, you are verbalists. An ideal is merely an escape from doing something actual. I am proud and I say that tomorrow, later on, I will be without pride. You will never be. So how am I to deal with the fact that I am afraid, that I am proud, that I am arrogant? Because, as I have said, what is important is the individual, not the mass. If the individual changes radically, the mass changes. It is not the other way round. No mass can be creative, produce a picture, write a poem or anything else. So I am asking you, how will you deal with the fact that you are proud?

Now what is wrong with pride? Why should you not be proud, and what does pride mean? What are you proud of? Of your family, your wealth, your beauty, your character? And if one does not feel proud one feels inferior, the opposite, and says "I am a nobody", which is another subtle form of pride. And so one is caught again. So before I begin to inquire why the mind must free itself from pride I must know what is wrong with pride. We will come back to it, but let us take something else first.

Most of us have fear of some kind hidden in the corners of the mind; the fear of death, of what the neighbor will say, of losing one's job or not being able to fulfill. Now why does one want to get rid of fear? Can I think clearly when I am afraid? Obviously not. If I am afraid of what my neighbor is going to say then I am living according to the ideas of my neighbor because I want to be considered respectable in society. I am afraid of not being respectable and therefore I comply, conform. So I am always living at a very, very superficial level and at the same time wanting to be conscious of the profound. So there again I bring contradiction into myself. Then I say I must get rid of fear. Have you ever tried to get rid of fear? Let us take the fear of death. It is not just the old people who are afraid of death, the young people are afraid also; everyone in the world is afraid of death, of ceasing to be, even though they may rationalize it. How do you solve that problem? When somebody dies whom you like and you are confronted with death, what happens? You try to console yourself in some belief, reincarnation or the idea of resurrection or some form of rationalization. But fear still exists and you have just run away from it.

Now if I am to tackle that problem of fear and not escape from it, then I will have to go into the whole question of death, death being an end to what I think has a continuity. I feel I must live on for the next 500 years or even indefinitely, because thereby I shall do something or be something. But the fact is that if I live a thousand years I shall be the same at the end, because I do not change now. So the problem is not death but whether there is such a thing as continuity. Is this not so? Surely, if I can solve the question of continuity then I shall not be afraid of death. But, what we do now is to try to escape from death by various forms of rationalization, and in spite of my rationalization I am still afraid. So I see through all the escapes ­ the radio, the book, the ceremony, the God, the belief ­ and I see that all the escapes are on the same level and that none is superior to the other. I see that through escape there is no solution, and so I have to find out if there is such a thing as continuity, if there is in me a permanent entity that continues and if there is anything permanent at all in life.

Do you know anything which is permanent, without change? I would like my relationship with my wife, my husband to be permanent, continuous; I would like to keep my property, I would like to live in a state of perpetual fame, perpetual love or perpetual bliss and peace, but is there such a thing? Even your properties are now being questioned and if you have more than so much land you are heavily taxed. Is there anything permanent? The Communists wanted the permanent worship of the state, but they have already had to modify this. There is continuous modification going on everywhere and it is only the religious mind with its impregnable beliefs that seems impervious to any change. So is there such a thing as continuity or is life a ceaseless change? Surely life is a movement in which there is no permanency. If you look at it carefully you will see that there is no permanency. There is no permanency even in our thinking, our beliefs, our ideals. Everything you do is uncertain, and you might lose your job tomorrow. So being uncertain, we want continuity, permanency, and so we are back again to the state of contradiction.

And it is this contradiction that we must understand because if we could really understand that, we would then be able to approach every problem ­ pride, fear, death or whatever it is ­ totally differently.

Our whole life is geared to contradiction, our whole being is in a state of contradiction, not only the conscious mind but the unconscious mind, and yet I see that if I am to think clearly, if there is to be any understanding of what is true, the mind must be free, clear. So how is one to be free of contradiction? Can I look at anything without bringing the opposite into it? After all, do I know love only because I know hate? Can I look at this duality completely, understand it fully, go into it with all my being to understand the truth of it? Are you aware of yourself, of what you are? Surely we know that we are in contradiction, that we say this and do that; you must know of this whirlpool? Then what do you do about it? You try to get rid of it by doing something about it, which means that you are not dealing with the problem itself but trying to cover the problem with another series of ideas. So, without covering the problem with thoughts, can I look at the fact of my pride? Have you tried it, Sirs, since I last suggested it? Can you look at a flower without naming it, and can you look at a quality of which you are aware in yourself without trying to do something about it? Have you ever looked at anger without saying to yourself that you must not be angry? If so, you will know how very difficult it is just to look at the fact because the mind is always interfering with the fact by bringing in the memory of what should be. And I say that if the mind can look at the fact without bringing in past experiences, past memories, just being aware of the fact, then that very awareness of the fact changes it totally. The awareness of the fact brings about a cessation of conflict.

If I know that I am a liar and I do not merely try to change it, saying I must tell the truth, then I can go into the whole question of why I lie. Because I want to know the whole background of my lying, to see the significance of why I lie, I go into it. And I see that I lie because I am afraid. Superficially or very deeply I am afraid of what I have done or said, and that you may discover it; or I am afraid of losing my job, endless different things. Now how is it possible to free the mind from fear? If I do anything about it there is a contradiction and therefore a conflict, an everlasting battle going on. So, let me not say that I must not be afraid, but let me look at the whole process of what has brought about that fear.

Let us take another fact, that we avoid the ugly and cling to the beautiful. Please follow me a little. We think we know beauty because we know the ugly; we know beauty as something manifest, as something expressed. I say this is a beautiful building or an ugly building, but how do I know it is ugly or beautiful? It is because of opinion, because I have been told, is it not? My mind is trained, conditioned according to tradition as to what is beautiful and what is ugly. Has beauty an opposite? Please do not try to answer, but just listen. Has beauty an opposite, the ugly? If beauty has an opposite, is it beauty?

You may say that life is the false as well as the true, and that I know what cold is because I know what heat is, I know pain because I know when there is no pain; there is man and there is woman. The state of duality, which we all know, is inevitable perhaps, but why do we create conflict because of that? The problem we are investigating is not that there is or is not the beautiful and the ugly, but why there is the conflict, the tensions, this enormous amount of worry trying to be this and not to be that? The worry and conflict arise because I want to be this and not that, because this is profitable and the other is not; with the chosen state I want to be identified and the other I want to put away. So the identification with the one and the avoidance of the other is the whole center of contradiction. And that contradiction cannot be overcome through any form of discipline. Do what you will, follow any system, you will not overcome it. What will free the mind from contradiction is to tackle the mind itself and find out why the mind attaches itself to the one state and avoids the other. That requires self­knowledge, going into yourself, studying yourself patiently, deeply. But we do not want to do that; we want an immediate result.

So the problem we are going into is not whether in reality there is no man or woman, no evil or good, nothing beautiful or ugly, but why does the mind operate in these divisions. And this means really going into the whole question of what is thinking. Because we always think in this way ­ that there is beauty and there is the ugly and I want the one and not the other. So I say to myself: What is this machinery of thinking which says I must have this and I must not have that, thereby creating contradiction within me? And I ask what is this thing that is thinking? I am not going away from the main subject but I am now going to inquire into the question of what is thinking. Have you ever asked yourself that question, or do you just have thoughts? We have never asked, have we?, what is thinking; so let us look, let us go into it.

Thinking, surely, is a reaction. If there were no reaction there would be no thinking. I know the sannyasis and the so­called saints do various things in order not to have reactions and therefore destroy themselves, but we are not concerned with that. Thinking is essentially a reaction. I ask you where you live and you answer without hesitation, because you know so well where you live. If I ask you a more complex question, you take time to answer. The gap between the question and the answer is caused by the process of thinking, is it not? Please follow this. So the gap between the question and the answer means that you are inquiring, bringing your memories into operation, and your memory then answers. Then if I ask you a question still more complex, the time interval is greater and in that interval the mind is very active, inquiring, searching through your memories, your records of books and accumulated knowledge, and when it has found what it wants it gives an answer. If I ask you a very complex question the interval is much wider and after searching your mind you say you do not know. Do please listen; it is not a laughing matter. You say, "I do not know", but that is merely a hesitation, an interval in which you are still inquiring, waiting for the mind to find an answer, which means again that the mind is still operating, searching, demanding, waiting, which is all reaction, is it not? All our responses are reactions and that, surely, is clear. That is all we know of the ways of our thinking, that it is reaction, more complex or less complex, more subtle or less subtle, more crooked or more refined. But the whole process of thinking is mechanical. Thinking is merely a reaction to something I know or which I do not know; but I can find out. That is what the computers are doing. They can answer anything you want based on the same principle of association and recollection.

So our thinking now is entirely mechanical and with that mechanical habit we approach life, which is not mechanical. Life is not just a printing press throwing out news. So with my mechanical thinking I approach life which is not mechanical, and therefore there is contradiction. I try to overcome this contradiction again through the process of thinking, the same mechanical habit, and therefore the contradiction between me and life persists. Now can I approach life in a totally different way?

Let us look at it again. I am inquiring into thinking because it is our thoughts, obviously, which have made this contradiction. There is truth, there is the false, there is the beautiful and there is the ugly, I am sexual and I do not want to be sexual, and so on; these are undeniable facts. Thought identifies itself with the one state and denies the other. So I have to understand the whole process of thinking, not only at the conscious level but at the unconscious level, deep down. That brings out the question of the conscious and the unconscious mind. I ask you, what are you, what does the `you' consist of? It consists of all that you think, all that you want to be, your ambitions, hopes, fears, the totality of all that is yours. You are the product of racial influences, past traditions, what man has passed on for centuries upon centuries; you are also the superficial, sophisticated, educated mind, ­ the technically trained professor, lawyer, policeman or whatever your training or lack of training has produced. So you are not only the product of the last forty or twenty years, but also the product of the centuries of the past. You are the totality of all that, but do you know it? I have described all this and you may now say you know it, but there is a difference between hearing and knowing. That is, you have heard and understood the words I have said and so you say "I know it". But there is also another state which is, that you experience this totality. The experiencing of that totality of what you are, is the real knowing; the other is the mere acceptance of the description. Most of us only know in the descriptive sense, not in the experiential sense. If you really know yourself in the sense of experiencing the totality of yourself as of the past, then you can break that totality or continue it. At this point you can see, if you will look, how contradiction arises. There is a knowing which is an experiencing of all that you are, which I have just described, and which includes both the conscious as well as the unconscious. But you are not going to experience it because you say that it is too difficult. So one part of your mind says: "I will listen to you and know it all verbally", and the other part says: "I must try and experience that, it must be a marvelous state of experiencing". So you have created a contradiction. You want to experience this totality of your being because you see that the verbal knowing is silly, but you are preventing yourself by not going into it, by being satisfied at the verbal level. I say you cannot free the mind from contradiction until you know the totality of all this. Part of you is the trained or untrained person, but part of you is also the traditional past which tells you to do your duty, to think of God, put on ashes, or whatever you do. All that is there, and you are living at a very, very superficial level. So there is contradiction, and so you have dreams, anxieties, depressions. Until you have gone into your whole background you cannot possibly be free of this contradiction.

Now, how is one to be totally aware of all this? Must I go through layer after layer analyzing, looking bit by bit into the whole content of myself, like stripping the peel off the onion? That would take all your life, would it not? Your whole mind is conditioned, the totality of your being is conditioned, and whatever you do to get rid of it you are still within the field of that conditioning. So thought operating upon the conditioned state will not free the conditioned mind, because thought is the result, the reaction to that conditioning. So thought is not the means by which to destroy our conditioning.

To free the mind from all conditioning, you must see the totality of it without thought. This is not a conundrum; experiment with it and you will see. Do you ever see anything without thought? Have you ever listened, looked, without bringing in this whole process of reaction? You will say that it is impossible to see without thought; you will say no mind can be unconditioned. When you say that, you have already blocked yourself by thought, for the fact is you do not know.

So can I look, can the mind be aware of its conditioning? I think it can. Please experiment. Can you be aware that you are a Hindu, a Socialist, a Communist, this or that, just be aware without saying that it is right or wrong? Because it is such a difficult task, just to see, we say it is impossible. I say it is only when you are aware of this totality of your being without any reaction, that the conditioning goes, totally, deeply ­ which is really the freedom from the self.

Do not immediately translate this into the terms of what you now believe or do not believe, for the whole of that is the self, and thought, which is the reaction of the self, cannot act upon the self without adding to it. Do you not see this? And yet that is what we are doing all the time. Whereas if you see the truth that thought cannot break this conditioning because all thought, analysis, probing, introspection is merely a reaction to your present state, ­ then you are only aware of the conditioning. In that awareness there is no choice, because choice again brings thought into being. Therefore to be aware of this conditioning implies no choice, no condemnation, no justification, no comparison, but just to be aware. When you are so aware your mind is already free of that conditioning. By simply being aware of the whole process of your conditioning you will see that you are introducing a new factor altogether, a factor in which there is no identification with or rejection of the self; and that factor is the release, the wiping away of all conditioning. That is why I suggest to you that you experiment until we meet again; that you so observe, and be aware.

September 14, 1958

J. Krishnamurti -- Poona -- 4th Public Talk -- 17th September 1958

I would like, if I may, to discuss this afternoon something which may be rather difficult and which I think needs a great deal of understanding and penetration. For most of us everyday living is so oppressive, so demanding and insistent that whether we are laborers or clerks, professors or what you will, nearly all of our time is taken up with our occupation and we have very little time in which to think about the wider and fuller implications of living. It seems to me that though one may feel serious, though one may feel dedicated, though one may have some insight into things, nevertheless some time must be given to the whole process of the understanding of the mind ­ the mind which is not only the reactions, the functioning in association, in memory, but also the mind that is and must be empty and function from that emptiness. It is going to be difficult because inevitably you will translate what is being said into terms of your own experience, your own knowledge, your own tradition, thereby nullifying what you hear. If I say something totally new which you are not able to understand immediately, the mind will translate it into terms of the old. It is like putting new wine into old bottles. We hear something for the first time and immediately the mind sets going its activity of associating, and translates what is being said in terms of its own background, and thereby destroys that which it is hearing.

So it seems to me that it is very important to listen and not to turn to tradition because tradition will not help to bring about clarity. Tradition invariably perpetuates respectability and the respectable mind is far from reality; not that the disrespectable mind is any nearer reality. The respectable mind functions in the field of tradition, whether the tradition be ancient or modern, Communist, Catholic, Hindu, Buddhist or whatever it is; which really means that the mind has given itself over to what it has heard, or read or been told, and is living according to the sanctions, ideas and experiences of others. If you are to experience anything new you must set all that aside, surely, and that is where our difficulty lies. The mind is so stubborn in its demand for certainty that it insists on walking always on the path of safety where there can be no adventure, no risk, no evaluation, no observation or experiencing. So the mind gradually falls into a framework of tradition and thereby ceases to experience anything other than what it has been conditioned to. But that is not an original experience and it is only the original experience that really unburdens the mind of its conditioning and enables you to see something for yourself. To see something for yourself will break down the limitations of the mind. Even some flower by the wayside, if you really see it, can do an extraordinary thing to you. It breaks up the pettiness, the habitual grooves of the mind if you can see something original, experience something original.

If you are at all aware of your own thinking, of your own ways of acting you will find that you have very little, if anything at all, original. The young mind is the deciding mind, the young mind is the mind which is inquiring, searching, looking, experiencing. The traditional mind is the old mind; it is a dead mind even though it can quote all the Vedas, repeat pages from the sacred books. As a race we are very old and so we have been brought up in this tradition and we repeat, repeat, and there is nothing original, you have nothing of your own, nothing that is creative. If you are at all creative it is merely in the scientific field, in the laboratory, and there is not that inner creative state of being which alone can experience something new, something which will solve the problems of the world. But unfortunately this country as well as other countries are burdened with the old mind, and it is extraordinarily difficult to break through tradition and not to think in terms of what Shankara, Buddha, Christ or your own favorite guru round the corner has told you. To put away all this, requires a great deal of understanding of why the mind seeks authority, tradition. Obviously it wants to be secure; but the mind that is secure can never experience newly; it can only repeat, and the repetition is not experiencing. So beware of the persons who quote the Gita or anything else; they destroy your capacity to be creative. The creative individual is a danger to society and so society holds and destroys the individual who is beginning to awaken, to be discontented, searching, experiencing. Authority in any form is evil, and I am using that word without any condemnation. As a cobra is poisonous so authority is poisonous. You may laugh, but your laughter is an indication that you are brushing it off; you do not really see the poisonous nature of authority. Authority leads you to security, safety; at least you think it does, but it does not; it destroys you. So for me, as I am talking about all this, there is only the teaching and not the teacher. The speaker is not at all important; and the teaching is only important if you understand and experience; but if you merely repeat, or compare, then it is dead. So please remove the person from the teaching so that you can penetrate into what is being said without being influenced. Then you remove all authority and are face to face with the fact of whether it is true or false. But if you introduce the person and his so­called achievement with the looks, gestures and tradition, then you pervert the teaching. If you really get that one thing ­ that what is important is what is said and not who says it ­ then you would see what an extraordinary thing happens to your mind. Then you would find that you would like to see what the truth of the teaching is and whether it is false or real. That requires real, dispassionate, critical observation, examination.

What I want to discuss is something which through my description you can experience. The description is not the real but only your experience can be the real. So do not take what you listen to as the real and your experiencing as the unreal.

Now action and reason both bind, because action without reason is incomplete and reason without action is incomplete; and both action and reason, without the understanding of the process of the mind, bind. Is it not so? I may be able to reason most logically, cleverly as any lawyer, but if the background from which my reasoning springs is never touched upon, enquired into, broken into, I am bound by my background. And a man who acts without reason through various mysteries, illusions, delusions and hallucinations, such a man obviously is also bound and creates mischief. So action and reason both bind unless there is understanding of the ways of the mind. In this world we have to live, which is to act and to reason, but the more clever you are at reasoning and acting the more mischief you do, unless you first understand the whole background of your being, your tendencies, ways of thinking, and conditioning. This seems all so obvious. Most of us are concerned with action and we want to do things; we cannot sit still or retire into the hills; we feel we have to act, to reform, to bring about a different world, a different state of being, a revolution. And we think that can be brought about by logical, careful reasoning, through the dialectical approach and all that business. But a really radical revolution has to be brought about by the individual, not by the mass because there is no such thing as the mass. The individual has to understand the whole process of the mind, which means your own mind, not mine. You are not listening to understand me, you are listening to understand yourself, and the understanding of yourself ­ in which there is both action and reasoning ­ is meditation. Let us go into it.

First of all, in meditation there is no such thing as distraction. Distraction belongs to concentration. You know how all the so­called religious people throughout the world concentrate; whether they live in monasteries, in caves, go to the temple or sit by themselves quietly of a morning, to them concentration is very important. But concentration is destructive. Concentration implies distraction, which is the wandering away of the mind. Please watch your own mind. I do not know if you have ever concentrated for any length of time, but if you have you will know what happens. Your mind narrows down, focuses, cutting out every other thought, desire, influence and is completely absorbed in something. Let us go into that and examine the state of absorption. You must have seen a boy absorbed by a toy; the toy is exciting,. new, mechanical, complicated, and he is completely absorbed by it. Is that concentration? Yes, because the toy absorbs his whole being and he is concentrated on it. There the toy is important. With you, the book, the word, the mantram, the toy of a master, a picture, an image is important and you hope it will absorb you; and if it does not, you absorb the idea and live in that. Either the image absorbs you or you absorb the image and live accordingly. If you can be completely absorbed in an idea, legend, myth and get into some meditative illusion, then you think you have realized truth. But a mind so absorbed in one thing is incapable of seeing the real. Such a mind is a destructive mind; it destroys itself. You begin to see things which are not there, which is hallucination, or you see things which are really there but translate them to suit your own desires, which is delusion.

So if one observes the dangers of concentration one will see that there is quite a different process of attention which is not concentration. You can never learn through concentration; you can always learn through attention. Attention is never a narrowing down; on the contrary it is extensive. A mind that is merely concentrating on what you will, is not in a state of meditation. There are people who have given twenty years to meditation and they have come to a point beyond which they cannot go, because what they have meditated upon has become their barrier, their prison; and they cannot break through. They see visions, God, this and that, and are very popular as great saints. But what they see is their own projection, their own thought crystallizing, taking shape, in which they are caught, and we think that is a marvelous thing. It is the most stupid thing, and I am using that word in its dictionary meaning and not in a condemnatory sense.

Can you not see it, experience the truth of it, that concentration is destructive to the mind? The mind is a moving thing, vital, extensive with tremendous energy; it is the reservoir of that creativeness of which you have no idea; it can penetrate into the most complex and unknown thing; it can go into the unconscious and discover that which is most extraordinary. And yet you force it to a narrow point because you think that that is God, the real thing, and thereby you destroy it. Look at all the saints and sannyasis and what they have done to this poor unfortunate country! They have disciplined their desires, controlled their minds, suppressed every form of beauty and therefore they have no passion, the living quality, the living fountain of reality.

So if you see the truth of this, ­ that concentration is destructive, is like building a barrier, a wall round yourself ­ then what will you do? Then you must inquire whether there is a different kind of attention, must you not? But first one must really see that concentration cannot free the mind; on the contrary it imprisons the mind. Even the school boy knows that to learn you must be awake and listening. To learn is not just to repeat from some beastly book to pass an examination. Learning is the sense of understanding, inquiring searching, for which your mind must be extraordinarily quick, fluid, with the capacity of insight.

So a mind that has the power of concentration, that says it has complete control over thought, is a stupid mind. If that is so, then you must find a way of inquiring which is not merely through concentration. Concentration implies distraction, does it not? The mind takes up a position and says everything else is a distraction. It says I must think about this and exclude everything else. Now to me there is no such thing as distraction because there is no central position which the mind takes and then says: I will pursue this and not that. So let us remove both the word and the condemnatory feeling of distraction. Please experience what I am saying. Remove that word distraction not merely verbally but emotionally, inwardly. Then you will see what happens to your mind. To us at present there is concentration and distraction, a concentrated outlook and a wandering off. So you see we have created a duality, and therefore a conflict. You spend your life battling between the chosen thought and the distractions, and when you can get an hour when you are completely held by an idea you feel you have achieved something. But if you remove this idea of distraction altogether then you will find that your mind is in a state of reaction ­ in a state of association which you call "wandering". That is the fact, and you have removed the element of conflict. Then you are free to deal with the wanderings; you can inquire as to why the mind wanders and not merely try to stop it, to control it.

Then, since you have removed the word, the feeling of being distracted, what is now operating is a mind that is attentive to the wandering, to reaction.

Is that not so? I have taken away the feeling of distraction and now my mind is very alert to every movement of thought, because it has not taken up a position in which it calls every movement of thought a distraction. I hope you are experiencing as I am talking. So your mind then is in a state of attention, not trying to learn something or to reject, control or suppress.

Let us inquire into that word `attention'. But I hope it is clear so far. We are trying to understand what meditation is ­ not how to meditate. If you learn various systems of meditation that is not meditation; you are just learning a technique. Now I say there is an attention which can become concentrated, but concentration cannot become attentive. So it is important to discover what attention is, and this will help also the student who wants to learn, if he goes into it very deeply. The question now is, can a concentrated mind learn? Have you ever observed the state of your mind when it learns? I am saying something new, something new is being said and you are learning about it. We have seen that concentration is destructive, so what is the state of the mind that is learning? It is attentive without compulsion; it is attentive without conformity, without any form of influence, without manipulation, without seeking a reward or avoiding punishment. Are you noticing your own mind? So a mind that learns is an attentive mind in which these other influences do not exist. In that state of attention you learn. That is the only state in which you can truly experience; not in any other state. Now you and I have established, or rather understood, what it means to be attentive, to have that attention in which there is no form of compulsion; so you are attending without effort, are you not?, because you are learning. I am not mesmerizing you. I am not trying to put something over you. You want to find out, you want to learn and I am forcing you to learn. That is a different matter. We are inquiring into that state of mind which learns and we realize that that state of mind is attention.

Please go into it and you will see that that state has no border, there is no frontier. Does that mean anything to you? Please do not agree with me because it is not a matter of agreement; it is a matter of direct experience. In concentration or absorption ­ as a devotee is absorbed in whatever he pursues ­ in that state there is a demarcation. Have you not noticed? When you are concentrating you can almost feel the borders of the mind. All your faculties ­ emotional, mental, verbal, ­ everything is focused on a certain point, and when there is a focus and no expansion, there is a frontier. A mind which is attentive, which knows what attention really is ­ which I have described ­ has no frontier. The mind can come to such a state. Do you understand, Sirs? That is an important discovery for you; it is an experience.

I will put it in different words. Our mind is the mechanism of recognition; it is the machine, the record of recognition. You recognize the tree, the light, the temple, the man, the woman, the bird; you know your thoughts, your tendencies, the insults you have received, the hurts you have felt, ­ all these memories are the records of recognition' are they not? So our minds are the process, the mechanism of recognition and we are always trying to expand this recognition ­ to know more, to experience more, to read more. This acquisition is all within the field of recognition. Essentially recognition is the center of the self, not the illusory super­self but the self which is ambitious, vicious, unkind, brutal, which is trying to become a great man, or a saint, or which just wants to be a nobody. It is that center which is expanding through recognition. So the mind can know the frontiers of its recognition. Do you know that, Sirs? Please do not agree, because you do not know it. You have never played with it; you have never gone into it. But if you go into it, you will find that you can enlarge the process of recognition, widen the field, the frontier, keep on widening, widening. It is like the conception of the family, the group, the race, the national and the international feeling ­ all essentially the same, but vastly expanding.

Now if one understands and experiences the state of attention, then you will find that the mind can go beyond the frontiers of recognition. To put it again differently, the mind functions within the frontiers of the known. I know Poona, Bombay, London, New York; I know my family, my virtues, my tendencies; I know what I want; I know my tradition, that there is God or that there is no God; my memory is all this. So my memory functions in the field of the known. You can enlarge that field and know more and more, indefinitely, which is the endless activity of the clever mind, the erudite mind, the scholarly mind, the mind which knows so much. It has a center from which it goes to the frontier and comes back. It moves in waves but always within the field of the known, and when one talks about the Unknown, the Unknowable, the Unthinkable, this center moves to the frontier and tries to peep over the boundary by speculation, but it is anchored to the known. All its Gods are known. Your sacred books have told about it, some poor gentleman experienced it thousands of years ago, and you repeat it and hope to experience it. So you have a center which is hoping to reach something which you think exists; that is, your mind projects what it knows into the future. But however distant thought may go, it is still within the field of the known.

So seeing all this, ­ the ways, the tricks, the subtleties, the cunning processes of thought ­ how is the mind to break through it all, not taking centuries, many lives, but as a hungry man who wants food immediately. You cannot say to him, let Socialism come and you will have food; he wants food now. Likewise the mind must see that in the field of the known there is no answer. The mind can go up to the frontier of the known, the recognizable, which includes the unknown which it has projected, but it cannot break through. Nor does it want to break through; most people do not want to, because the Unknown is too dangerous. It is like entering the uncharted seas, you fear you may get drowned. So you say, I had better remain here and bring the whole world into my narrow heart. So how is the mind to break through?

This is real meditation. You understand, Sirs? It was meditation from the moment I began to inquire into tradition and understood putting away tradition because it is the desire for security; then putting away all the teachers, but understanding the teaching; then removing all authority and looking at insecurity; then understanding concentration and its destructiveness; and then discovering, experiencing, a state of mind which is attentive.

Such a mind is not a talkative mind. The attentive mind is not a chattering mind. If you see the beauty of it, if you really experience it, then you can watch your own mind operating. Then the mind watches itself as it functions in tradition and up to the frontiers of the known.

So the inquiry, from when we began till now, is a process of meditation. Meditation is not how to have peace of mind, how to be silent, how to achieve. Those are all immature, childish pursuits. You can take a drug and make your mind absolutely quiet. You can do all kinds of tricks and have peace of mind, but such a mind is still petty, small, narrow. So this whole process, this whole awakening of the mind to itself is meditation. Any inquiry into the unknown is speculation, and a speculative mind is not an attentive mind. The philosophers, the erudite ones, the theoreticians, the people who say God is this or that, just spin words. So a mind that is attentive has not the virtue of respectability. It has virtue, but not a virtue you can recognize. Its virtue cannot be held, as you cannot hold the wind in your fist. Virtue cannot be held in your mind as a possession, and that is the beauty of it. The moment you are conscious that you are virtuous, you cease to be so; and the mind that ceases to be attentive is no longer a virtuous mind. And an attentive mind which is not absorbed by any toy, or belief, or idea, such a mind is an empty mind. You look surprised, Sirs, and that is because you have not really followed the whole of this inquiry; if you had followed it, which means experienced it, you would see that your mind is empty. Let me put it the other way round.

Now the mind is occupied with thoughts, wandering thoughts, thoughts that come and go ceaselessly, or the particular thoughts which the mind pursues. Is it not so? Either thoughts wander through the mind like a breeze through the house or the mind pursues thoughts. Now I have opened the door on to the attentive mind but you have to walk through to it. You cannot find it by searching in the mind. The attentive mind is empty ­ which is not being empty­headed, blank. Only the empty cup is useful, not the cup which is full. A mind that is purged of all those things that we have been talking about, a mind in which there is no conflict, such a mind being empty can either receive the Unknown, or it can remain empty and function from there. If one goes through all this and inquires, experiences, that is the real religious evolution, the only thing that is going to do anything worth while in this world; not the Communist, the Socialist or any form of revolution. The real evolution is in the mind, and that state of real emptiness is the creative state because that which is empty has no frontiers; it has neither depth nor height. It is this creativity of the mind in the individual that is going to create a new world, and that is the only solution, the only salvation.

September 17 1958

J. Krishnamurti -- Poona -- 5th Public Talk -- 21st September 1958

I should think one of our great problems must be to know what is freedom, and the need to understand this problem must be fairly immense and continuous since there is so much propaganda, from so many specialists, so many and various forms of outward and inward compulsion, and all the chaotic, contradictory persuasions, influences and impressions. I am sure we must have asked ourselves the question: What is freedom? As you and I know, everywhere in the world authoritarianism is spreading; not only at the political, social and economic levels but also at the so­called spiritual level. Everywhere there is a compelling environmental influence; newspapers tell us what to think, and there are so many five, ten or fifteen­year plans. Then there are these specialists at the economic, scientific and bureaucratic levels; there are all the traditions of everyday activity, what we must do and what we must not do; then there is the whole influence of the so­called sacred books; and there is the cinema, the radio, the newspaper; everything in the world is trying to tell us what to do, what to think and what we must not think. I do not know if you have noticed how increasingly difficult it has become to think for oneself. We have become such experts in quoting what other people say, or have said, and in the midst of this authoritarian welter where is the freedom? And what do we mean by freedom? Is there such a thing? I am using that word freedom in its most simple sense in which is included liberation, the mind that is liberated, free. I want, if I may, to go into that this evening.

First, I think we must realize that our minds are really not free. Everything we see, every thought we have, shapes our mind; whatever you think now, whatever you have thought in the past and whatever you are going to think in the future, it all shapes the mind. You think what you have been told either by the religious person, or the politician, by the teacher in your school, or by books and newspapers. Everything about you influences what you think. What you eat, what you look at, what you listen to, your wife, your husband, your child, your neighbor, everything is shaping the mind. I think that is fairly obvious. Even when you think that there is a God or that there is no God, that also is the influence of tradition. So our mind is the field in which there are many contradictory influences which are in battle one against the other.

Do please listen to all this because, as I have been saying, unless we directly experience for ourselves, your coming to a talk of this kind has no value at all. Please believe me that unless you experience what is being said, not merely follow the description but be aware, be cognizant, know the ways of your own thinking and thereby experience, these talks will have no meaning whatsoever. After all, I am only describing what is actually taking place in one's life, in one's environment, so that we can be aware of it and see if we can break through it, and what the implications of breaking through are. Because obviously we are now slaves, either the Hindu slave, the Catholic slave, the Russian slave or slaves of one kind or another. We are all slaves to certain forms of thought, and in the midst of all this we ask if we can be free and talk about the anatomy of freedom and authority, and so on.

I think it must be fairly obvious to most of us that what we think is conditioned. Whatever your thought ­ however noble and wide or however limited and petty ­ it is conditioned, and if you further that thought there can be no freedom of thought. Thought itself is conditioned, because thought is the reaction of memory and memory is the residue of all your experiences which in turn are the result of your conditioning. So if one realizes that all thinking, at whatever level, is conditioned then we will see that thinking is not the means of breaking through this limitation, ­ which does not mean that we must go into some blank or speculative silence. Actually the fact is, is it not?, that every thought, every feeling, every action is conformative, conditioned, influenced. For instance a saint comes along and by his rhetoric, gestures, looks, by quoting this and that to you, influences you. And we want to be influenced and are afraid to move away from every form of influence and see if we can go deeply and discover if there is a state of being which is not the result of influence.

Why are we influenced? In politics, as you know, it is the job of the politician to influence us; and every book, every teacher, every guru ­ the more powerful, the more eloquent the better we like it ­ imposes his thought, his way of life, his manner of conduct, upon us. So life is a battle of ideas, a battle of influences, and your mind is the field of the battle. The politician wants your mind; the guru wants your mind; the saint says, do this and not that, and he also wants your mind; and every tradition, every form of habit or custom, influences, shapes, guides, controls your mind. I think that is fairly obvious. It would be absurd to deny it. The fact is so.

You know, Sirs, if I may deviate a little, I think it is essential to appreciate beauty. The beauty of the sky, the beauty of the sun upon the hill, the beauty of a smile, a face, a gesture, the beauty of the moonlight on the water, of the fading clouds, the song of the bird, it is essential to look at it, to feel it, to be with it, and I think this is the very first requirement for a man who would seek truth. Most of us are so unconcerned with this extraordinary universe about us; we never even see the waving of the leaf in the wind; we never watch a blade of grass, touch it with our hand and know the quality of its being. This is not just being poetic, so please do not go off into a speculative emotional state. I say it is essential to have that deep feeling for life and not be caught in intellectual ramifications, discussions, passing examinations, quoting and brushing something new aside by saying it has already been said. Intellect is not the way. Intellect will not solve our problems; the intellect will not give us that nourishment which is imperishable. The intellect can reason, discuss, analyze, come to a conclusion from inferences and so on, but intellect is limited for intellect is the result of our conditioning. But sensitivity is not. Sensitivity has no conditioning; it takes you right out of the field of fears and anxieties. The mind that is not sensitive to everything about it ­ to the mountain, the telegraph pole, the lamp, the voice, the smile, everything ­ is incapable of finding what is true.

But we spend our days and years in cultivating the intellect, in arguing, discussing, fighting, struggling to be something, and so on. And yet this extraordinarily wonderful world, this earth that is so rich ­ not the Bombay earth, the Punjab earth, the Russian earth or the American earth ­ this earth is ours, yours and mine, and that is not sentimental nonsense, it is a fact. But unfortunately we have divided it up through our pettiness, through our provincialism. And we know why we have done it ­ for our security, for better jobs and more jobs. That is the political game that is being played throughout the world, and so we forget to be human beings, to live happily on this earth which is ours and to make something of it. And it is because we do not have that feeling for beauty which is not sentimental, which is not corrupting, which is not sexual, but a sense of caring, it is because we have lost that feeling ­ or perhaps we have never had it ­ that we are fighting, battling with each other over words, and have no immediate understanding of anything. Look what you are doing in India, breaking up the land into sections, fighting and butchering, and this is happening the world over, and for what? To have better jobs, more jobs, more power? And so in this battle we lose that quality of mind which can see things freely, happily, and without envy. We do not know how to see somebody happy, driving a luxurious car, and to look at him and be happy with him; nor do we know how to sympathize with the very, very poor. We are envious of the man with the car, and we avoid the man who has nothing. So there is no love, and without that quality of love which is really the very essence of beauty, do what you will ­ go on all the pilgrimages in the world, go to every temple, cultivate all the virtues you can think of ­ you will get nowhere at all. Please believe me, you will not have it, that sense of beauty and love even if you sit cross­legged for meditation, holding your breath for the next ten thousand years. You laugh but you do not see the tragedy of it. We are not in that sensitive state of mind which receives, which sees immediately something which is true. You know a sensitive mind is a defenseless mind, it is a vulnerable mind, and the mind must be vulnerable for truth to enter ­ the truth that you have no sympathy, the truth that you are envious.

So it is essential to have this sense of beauty, for the feeling of beauty is the feeling of love. As I said, this is a slight digression but I think it has significance in relation to what we are talking about. We are saying that a mind that is influenced, shaped, authority bound, obviously can never be free; and whatever it thinks, however lofty its ideals, however subtle and deep, it is still conditioned. I think it is very important to understand that the mind, through time, through experience, through the many thousands of yesterdays, is shaped, conditioned and that thought is not the way out. Which does not mean that you must be thoughtless; on the contrary. When you are capable of understanding very profoundly, very deeply, extensively, widely, subtly, then only will you fully recognize how petty thinking is, how small thought is. Then there is a breaking down of the wall of that conditioning.

So can we not see that fact ­ that all thought is conditioned? Whether it is the thought of the Communist, Capitalist, Hindu, Buddhist or the person who is speaking, thinking is conditioned. And obviously the mind is the result of time, the result of the reactions of a thousand years and of yesterday, of a second ago and ten years ago; the mind is the result of the period in which you have learnt and suffered and of all the influences of the past and present. Now such a mind, obviously, cannot be free, and yet that is what we are seeking, is it not? You know even in Russia, in all the totalitarian countries where everything is controlled, there is this search for freedom. That search is there in the beginning for all of us when we are young, for then we are revolutionary, we are discontented, we want to know, we are curious, we are struggling; but soon that discontent is canalized into various channels, and there it dies slowly. So there is always within us the demand, the urge to be free, and we never understand it, we never go into it, we have never searched out that deep instinctual demand. Being discontented when young, being dissatisfied with things as they are, with the stupidities of traditional values, we gradually, as we grow older, fall into the old patterns which society has established, and we get lost. It is very difficult to keep the pure discontent, the discontent which says: This is not enough; there must be something else. We all know that feeling, the feeling of otherness which we soon translate as God, or Nirvana, and we read a book about it and get lost. But this feeling of otherness, the search, the inquiry for it, that, I think, is the beginning of the real urge to be free from all these political, religious and traditional influences, and to break through this wall. Let us inquire into it.

Surely there are several kinds of freedom. There is political freedom; there is the freedom which knowledge gives, when you know how to do things, the know­how; the freedom of a wealthy man who can go round the world; the freedom of capacity, to be able to write, to express oneself, to think clearly. Then there is the freedom from something; freedom from oppression, freedom from envy, freedom from tradition, from ambition, and so on. And then there is the freedom which is gained, we hope, at the end ­ at the end of the discipline, at the end of acquiring virtue, at the end of effort, the ultimate freedom we hope to get through doing certain things. So, the freedom that capacity gives, the freedom from something and the freedom we are supposed to gain at the end of a virtuous life ­ those are types of freedom we all know. Now are not those various freedoms merely reactions? When you say: `I want to be free from anger', that is merely a reaction; it is not freedom from anger. And the freedom which you think that you will get at the end of a virtuous life, by struggle, by discipline, that is also a reaction to what has been. Please, Sirs, follow this carefully, because I am going to say something somewhat difficult in the sense that you are not accustomed to it. There is a sense of freedom which is not from anything, which has no cause, but which is a state of being free. You see, the freedom that we know is always brought about by will, is it not? I will be free; I will learn a technique; I will become a specialist; I will study, and that will give me freedom. So we use will as a means of achieving freedom, do we not? I do not want to be poor and therefore I exercise my capacity, my will, everything to get rich. Or, I am vain and I exercise will, not to be vain. So we think we­shall get freedom through the exercise of will. But will does not bring freedom, on the contrary, as I will show you.

What is will? I will be, I must not be, I am going to struggle to become something, I am going to learn, ­ all these are forms of exercising will. Now what is this will, and how is it formed? Obviously through desire. Our many desires, with their frustrations, compulsions and fulfillments, form as it were the threads of a cord, a rope. That is will, is it not? Your many contradictory desires together become a very strong and powerful rope with which you try to climb to success, to freedom. Now will desire give freedom, or is the very desire for freedom the denial of it? Please watch yourselves, Sirs, watch your own desires, your own ambition, your own will. And if one has no will and is merely being driven, that also is a part of will, ­ the will to resist and go with the tide. Through that weight of desire, through that rope, we hope to climb to God, to bliss or whatever it is.

So I am asking you whether your will is a liberating factor? Is freedom come by through will? Or, is freedom something entirely different, which has nothing to do with reaction, which cannot be achieved through capacity, through thought, experience, discipline or constant conformity? That is what all the books say, do they not? Conform to the pattern and you will be free in the end; do all these things, obey, and ultimately there will be freedom. To me all that is sheer nonsense because freedom is at the beginning not at the end, as I will show you.

To see something true is possible, is it not? You can see that the sky is blue ­ thousands of people have said so ­ but you can see that it is so for yourself. You can see for yourself, if you are at all sensitive, the movement of a leaf From the very beginning there is the capacity to perceive that which is true, instinctively, not through any form of compulsion, adjustment, conformity. Now, Sirs, I will show you another truth.

I say that a leader, a follower, a virtuous man does not know love. I say that to you. You who are leaders, you who are followers, who are struggling to be virtuous, I say you do not know love. Do not argue with me for a moment; do not say, `Prove it to me'. I will reason with you, show you, but first, please listen to what I have to say, without being defensive, aggressive, approving or denying. I say that a leader, a follower, or a man who is trying to be virtuous, such an individual does not know what love is. If you really listen to that statement not with an aggressive or a submissive mind, then you will see the actual truth of it. If you do not see the truth of it, it is because you do not want to or you are so supremely contented with your leadership, your following, or your so­called virtues that you deny everything else. But if you are at all sensitive, inquiring, open as when looking out of a window, then you must see the truth of it, you are bound to. Now I will give you the reasons because you are all fairly reasonable, intellectual people and you can be convinced. But you will never actually know the truth through intellect or reason. You will be convinced through reason, but being convinced is not the perception of what is true. There is a vast difference between the two. A man who is convinced of something is incapable of seeing what is true. A man who is convinced can be unconvinced and convinced again in a different way. But a man who sees that which is true, is not `convinced', he sees that it just is true.

Now as I said, a leader who says, I know the way, I know all about life, I have experienced the ultimate Reality, I have the goods, obviously is very concerned about himself and his visions and about transmitting his visions to the poor listener; a leader wants to lead people to something which he thinks is right. So the leader, whether it is the political, the social, the religious leader or whether it is your wife or husband, such a one has no love. He may talk about love, he may offer to show you the way of love, he may do all the things that love is supposed to do, but the actual feeling of love is not there, ­ because he is a leader. If there is love you cease to be a leader, for love exercises no authority. And the same applies to the follower. The moment you follow, you are accepting authority, are you not? ­ the authority which gives you security, a safe corner in heaven or a safe corner in this world. When you follow, seeking security for yourself, your family, your race, your nation, that following indicates that you want to be safe, and a man who seeks safety knows no quality of love. And so also with the virtuous man. The man who cultivates humility surely is not virtuous? Humility is not a thing to be cultivated.

So, I am trying to show you that a mind that is sensitive, inquiring, a mind that is really listening can perceive the truth of something immediately. But truth cannot be `applied'. If you see the truth, it operates without your conscious effort, of its own accord.

So, discontent is the beginning of freedom, and so long as you are trying to manipulate discontent, to accept authority in order that this discontent shall disappear, enter into safe channels, then you are already losing that pristine sense of real feeling. Most of us are discontented, are we not?, either with our jobs, our relationships or whatever we are doing. You want something to happen, to change, to move, to break through. You do not know what it is. There is a constant searching, inquiring, especially when one is young, open, sensitive. Later on, as you become old, you settle down in your habits, your job, because your family is safe, your wife will not run away. So this extraordinary flame disappears and you become respectable, petty and thoughtless.

So, as I have been pointing out, freedom from something is not freedom. You are trying to be free from anger; I do not say you must not be free from anger, but I say that that is not freedom. I may be rid of greed, pettiness, envy, or a dozen other things and yet not be free. Freedom is a quality of the mind. That quality does not come about through very careful, respectable searching's and esquires, through very careful analysis or putting ideas together. That is why it is important to see the truth that the freedom we are constantly demanding is always from something, such as freedom from sorrow. Not that there is no freedom from sorrow, but the demand to be free from it, is merely a reaction and therefore does not free you from sorrow. Am I making myself clear? I am in sorrow for various reasons, and I say I must be free. The urge to be free of sorrow is born out of pain. I suffer, because of my husband, or my son, or something else, I do not like that state I am in and I want to get away from it. That desire for freedom is a reaction, it is not freedom. It is just another desirable state I want in opposition to what is. The man who can travel around the world because he has plenty of money, is not necessarily free; nor is the man who is clever or efficient, for his wanting to be free is again merely a reaction. So can I not see that freedom, liberation, cannot be learnt or acquired or sought after through any reaction? Therefore I must understand the reaction; and I must also understand that freedom does not come through any effort of will. Will and freedom are contradictory, as thought and freedom are contradictory. Thought cannot produce freedom because thought is conditioned. Economically you can, perhaps, arrange the world so that man can be more comfortable, have more food, clothing and shelter, and you may think that is freedom. Those are necessary and essential things, but that is not the totality of freedom. Freedom is a state and quality of mind. And it is that quality we are inquiring into. Without that quality, do what you will, cultivate all the virtues in the world, you will not have that freedom.

So how is that sense of otherness, that quality of mind to come about? You cannot cultivate it because the moment you use your brain you are using thought, which is limited. Whether it is the thought of the Buddha or anyone else, all thought is limited. So our esquire must be negative; we must come to that freedom obliquely, not directly. Do you understand, Sirs? Am I giving some indication, or none at all? That freedom is not to be sought after aggressively, is not to be cultivated by denials, disciplines, by checking yourself, torturing yourself, by doing various exercises and all the rest of it. It must come without your knowing like virtue. Cultivated virtue is not virtue; the virtue which is true virtue is not self­conscious. Surely a man who has cultivated humility, who, because of his conceit, vanity, arrogance has made himself humble, such a man has no true sense of humility. Humility is a state in which the mind is not conscious of its own quality, as a flower which has fragrance is not conscious of its own perfume. So this freedom cannot be got through any form of discipline, nor can a mind which is undisciplined understand it. You use discipline to produce a result, but freedom is not a result. If it is a result, it is no longer free because it has been produced.

So, how is the mind, which is full of multitudinous influences, compulsions, various forms of contradictory desires, the product of time, how is that mind to have the quality of freedom? You understand, Sirs? We know that all the things that I have been talking about are not freedom. They are all manufactured by the mind under various stresses, compulsions and influences. So, if I can approach it negatively, in the very awareness that all this is not freedom, then the mind is already disciplined ­ but not disciplined to achieve a result. Let us go into that briefly.

The mind says, I must discipline myself in order to achieve a result. That is fairly obvious. But such discipline does not bring freedom. It brings a result because you have a motive, a cause which produces the result, but that result is never freedom, it is only a reaction. That is fairly clear. Now, if I begin to understand the operations of that kind of discipline, then, in the very process of understanding, inquiring, going into it, my mind is truly disciplined. I do not know if you can see what I mean, quickly. The exercise of will to produce a result, is called discipline; whereas, the understanding of the whole significance of will, of discipline, and of what we call result, demands a mind that is extraordinarily clear and `disciplined' not by the will but through negative understanding.

So, negatively, I have understood the whole problem of what is not freedom. I have examined it, I have searched my heart and my mind, the recesses of my being, to understand what freedom means, and I see that none of these things we have described is freedom because they are all based on desire, compulsion, will, on what I will get at the end, and they are all reactions. I see factually that they are not freedom. Therefore, because I have understood those things, my mind is open to find out or receive that which is free.

So, my mind has a quality which is not that of a disciplined mind seeking a result, nor that of the undisciplined mind which wanders about; but it has understood, negatively, both what is and what should be, and so can perceive, can understand that freedom which is not from something, that freedom which is not a result. Sirs, this requires a great deal of esquire. If you just repeat that there is a freedom which is not the freedom from something, it has no meaning. So please do not say it. Or if you say, `I want to get that other freedom', you are also on the wrong track, for you cannot. The universe cannot enter into the petty mind; the Immeasurable cannot come to a mind that knows measurement. So our whole esquire is how to break through the measurement, ­ which does not mean I must go off to an ashram, become neurotic, devotional, and all that nonsense.

And here, if I may say so, what is important is the teaching and not the teacher. The person who speaks here at the moment is not important; throw him overboard. What is important is what is being said. So the mind only knows the measurable, the compass of itself, the frontiers, ambitions, hopes, desperation, misery, sorrows and joys. Such a mind cannot invite freedom. All that it can do, is to be aware of itself and not condemn what it sees; not condemn the ugly or cling to the beautiful, but see what is. The mere perception of what is, is the beginning of the breaking down of the measurement of the mind, of its frontiers, its patterns. Just to see things as they are. Then you will find that the mind can come to that freedom involuntarily, without knowing. This transformation in the mind itself is the true revolution. All other revolutions are reactions, even though they use the word freedom and promise Utopia, the heavens, everything. There is only true revolution in the quality of the mind.

September 21, 1958

J. Krishnamurti -- Poona -- 6th Public Talk -- 24th September 1958

As this is the last talk, I am going to cover as much ground as possible. Most of us, I think, from childhood to maturity and even up to the grave are accustomed to being told what to do and what to think. Not only the society about us but all our religious books, our governments, everybody tells us what to do and what to think, and it would be a great mistake if you expect the same thing from the speaker, because what is important is to find out for oneself what one thinks and from that find out what to do. It is essential, surely, to know oneself ­ not the self which is supposed to be beyond consciousness, which is described in various books and so on, but the self that is within the limitations and the frontiers of consciousness. In the understanding of that everyday consciousness, in the unrolling of that extraordinary map, in venturing on the ocean of the unfolding self and seeing its whole significance, comes right action, which is true vocation. But if one does not know the ways of one's own mind, the ways of one's own thought, if one does not perceive the first reaction to every challenge, the first movement of thought to form a demand, if one leaves that first movement of the mind unexplored, unquestioned, without discovering the cause of the responses, then we shall be utterly lost in the verbal and theoretical activities of the mind.

Most of us are concerned with action, with what to do. There is so much sorrow, misery and starvation, and what can the human being who is conscious of all this do about it? Is he to leave the reformation entirely to the Government or should he, as an individual, join an organization which will bring about a little more order, a more equal distribution of land, a little more happiness and beauty in life? That is one of our problems, is it not? Has true religion any relation to reformation? Has the really religious man any relationship with politics and government? Or must he concern himself entirely with all the implications of that word `religion' ­ which is not the same thing at all as organized religion, belief, dogma, ritual, the reading of sacred books and doing nothing about it? All that is merely verbal enjoyment. The problem is, is it not?, that one sees the misery in this world, the unemployment, the starvation, the appalling state of things, and what is one to do? Should one join a group to bring about reformation or is that the function of the government? Please, I am not asking you to do anything. We are just examining the whole problem of action because most of us want to do something in this world either in a limited, narrow sense or in a wider sense. To do something about it is a human, instinctual response but there is a great deal of confusion which I am briefly exploring now. Which does not mean that you must follow any of the things I say because to be a leader or a follower destroys human relationship. Neither a leader nor a follower can bring about a mind that is capable of affection, of love.

So one of our problems is action. We see this misery about us, and what should we do? Should one join a group to bring about reforms, or should one see to it that the government makes such laws, restrictions and edicts as will bring about a right reformation? And why do the people who are dedicated to some kind of reform join hands with the politicians? Is it because they think that by joining hands with the government they can accelerate reformation or is it because they are trying to fulfill themselves through reforms and through politics? Helping to bring about a reformation in society gives us an opportunity to expand ourselves, does it not? It gives us a chance to become important. Then we are somebody, in the religious as well as in the political field. But is that the function of the truly religious man? I hope you understand the question, Sirs? It is the function of the government to pass laws against corruption, to see that there is no starvation, no war, no extremes of wealth and poverty, and when the government does not do it, is it your responsibility, as an individual, to see that there are politicians to do all this? Why should you or I take an interest in politics? I am not suggesting that you should dissociate yourselves from voting and all that business, but is it the duty of the religious man to enter the field of politics, which is concerned only with immediate results ­ to build a dam, to bring hydroelectric current all over the country, and so on? Is it the duty of the religious man, is it his job, his vocation, to enter into that field?

Now we want to do both, don't we? We want to be serious or so­called religious and we also want to dabble in politics. So I am trying to find out what is the real function of a religious man. We know the function of the politician, ­ not the crooked man but the right kind of politician. It is his job to see that certain things are done, carried out, and that he himself is incorruptible. But what is a religious man, and if he is really religious, will he take part in politics, in the immediate reformation? Let us go into the question of what we mean by religion and the religious man. Obviously we do not mean the man who goes to the temple three times a day, nor the man who repeats a lot of words, nor the man who follows some doctrine like the savage gathering to himself all kinds of beliefs. And surely he is not a religious man who repeats what Shankara has said, or Buddha or Christ; he merely spins words. Such a mind is a diseased mind. The religious man is he who, realizing his conditioning, is breaking through that conditioning. Such a man does not belong to any religion, he has no beliefs, follows no ritual, no dogma because he sees that dogma, ritual, belief are merely conditioning factors, the influences of the society around him. Whether he lives in Russia, Italy, India, America or anywhere else, the environment is conditioning him and influencing him to believe or not to believe. But the religious man is he who, through self­knowledge, begins to discover his conditioning and to break through it; and the breaking through is not a matter of time.

Now what do we mean by time? Sirs, I am describing but it is for you to experience, so do not say to yourself, that you will listen very carefully in order to see whether Shankara, Christ or Buddha says the same thing. We are discussing, you and I, as two individuals trying to find out for ourselves, and if you compare what you hear with what you have read, then you are not listening, then you are not experiencing as we go along. We are trying to discover what it is to be religious and whether the religious man is concerned with time as a means of arriving at virtue or as a means of conquering his disabilities, his afflictions. In examining this process of time, which is the distance between what we are and what we want to be, we say time is necessary. We say time is essential to cultivate virtue, time is necessary to free the mind from its conditioning, time is required to travel the distance from an idea to another idea, to the ideal. The distance from a point to a point, that is what we mean by time, whether it is chronological or psychological, ­ chronological time means needing a whole lifetime, or many lives, and psychological time means the `I will arrive', `I will be' state of mind. The `will be' is time, is it not?

So, is time necessary in order to understand or is understanding something that is immediate, something unrelated to time? Surely, if you are really listening, then time ceases. I do not know if you have ever experimented with the question of time. If you have, you will realize that all understanding is in the immediate present, and by the present I do not mean in opposition to the past or the future, but a mind that is completely attentive with an attention that has no causation, that does not wish to arrive somewhere. So I am trying to uncover that instantaneous understanding of the conditioning of the mind, and in that understanding break through the conditioning. That is what we are examining. I realize that my mind is conditioned by society and I want to know if time is necessary to break through that conditioning. Is time necessary in order to see, to understand something? Will I understand after two hours, or by the end of the day or after many days, or do I understand something immediately? We generally think that time is necessary in order to understand. We rely on progress, we say, give me time, give me opportunity, let me use discipline, grow, become, and at the end I will understand. That is the traditional, the religious and the so­called human approach. And I ask myself if that is so. Is understanding really a matter of time or is it a matter of the immediate present? If it is a matter of the immediate present it means that the mind must be free of the idea that it will understand in the future. After all, when it says, `I will understand', the `will' is the time period. Now during that time period what actually happens? You go on in your own sweet way, do you not?, carrying on with all your pleasures and pains because you really do not want to understand; but when you do want to understand then the action is immediate. Please, this does not require time in which to think if what is said is true or not, but it requires a certain state of attention. I do not know if you have ever thought what we mean by yesterday, tomorrow and today. In chronological time we know that yesterday was Tuesday, but it means also all the content of yesterday and the memories, the experiences, the pleasures and unhappiness of the many, many yesterdays which conditioned yesterday. And what do we mean by tomorrow? We mean all the past passing through today into the future which is somewhat modified, but which has the same content as yesterday. That is what we mean by yesterday, today and tomorrow; yesterday, with all its struggles efforts and miseries, passing through today and coming to tomorrow, which is the future. And what is today? Is today merely a passage of yesterday to tomorrow?

Please, Sirs, do listen, and you will see it. Is today merely the passage of yesterday through this thing called today and going on to tomorrow, or is today something entirely different? Is there not the timeless today, the feeling that today is dissociated with the past or with the future? But you cannot dissociate from the past if you are not dead to the past. If you carry the burden of yesterday through today and on to tomorrow then there is no ending of yesterday. Then you only know a continuity not an ending. I do not know if you have ever tried dying to something, ending. Have you ever tried dying to a pleasure? I know you have tried dying to sorrow, to a worry, to an unpleasant, irritating problem, but you have never died to a pleasure, have you? It is this pleasure of wanting, wanting to be different tomorrow, which is the reason for our continuity from yesterday through the present to tomorrow; it is as simple as that. So, is it possible to die to yesterday? Can I not die today to my property, my desires, my virtues, my ambitions and all the petty little activities, put them away from me completely? Have you ever tried it? I am afraid you have not, and yet you talk in apprehension about dying in old age, whereas if you die to yesterday there would be no fear of death in the tomorrow, because there would be nothing to carry over to tomorrow of those things to which you are clinging. If you have really listened to this, you will have experienced that state of mind which is dead to yesterday. Unfortunately most of you are being stimulated by me, but if you really do die to the past, even for a second, then that experience is the perceiving of something true, and that will act. As a poison will act of itself in your body, so the truth will act as a poison unless there is action in relation to that perception.

So a religious man, as I was saying, is concerned with freeing the mind from conditioning through self­knowledge, and we say that time is necessary to break the conditioning because the conditioning is not only at the conscious level but also at the unconscious level where there is the residue of the racial, family and general human experience. Now must one go through all that process or is there a way of really breaking through and understanding it immediately? That is the real crux of the problem. I say that there is a way of doing it immediately and that there is no other way. The desire for another day is the allocation of time for the mind to continue merely playing with the idea of being free from conditioning. To realize that the mind is conditioned and is a prisoner in that conditioning requires attention and it is that attention, that immediate perception which frees the mind. Such a man is not concerned with reforms, for all reforms are within the field of time. So I am talking of the man who is not concerned with bureaucracy, administration, and all the immediate reforms and edicts but who is concerned ­ however much he may make a mistake ­ with truth, whose primary interest is that. Such a mind has no authority either over somebody else or over itself. It is not out to guide people, it is not out to tell people what to think, whether there is a God or no God. Such a mind is concerned with helping man to free himself from his own conditioning, and I say such a man is a religious man. You may ask, what has such a man to do with society which needs reformation, purgation? I say that the religious man will be the most important factor because he is the revolution. It is not that he will bring about a revolution but that he himself is in a state of revolution. I leave it to you to think out the difference.

Most of us see all these things either clearly or in confusion but we can see that to extricate oneself from conditioning raises the problem of fear. Is it not so? Fear is something which exists not by itself but only in relation to something else. I am afraid of public opinion, I am afraid that someone might discover my foolishness, I am afraid of death, of losing my job, of not being an important person. And it is this feeling of fear which creates confusion in the mind; nothing else. Being confused, we try to solve the problems which the confusion has created. Instead of going to the cause we try to reform the effects, whereas if we examine it very closely we will discover that the cause and the effect are not separate. The cause is not here and the effect over there; cause­effect are always together. So confusion or the lack of clarity of thought is brought about by fear.

Let us look at it again. What is the cause of confusion? Take a very simple thing. I must act, and I want to do good in the world. I know that the government is supposed to do good in the world, but I myself want to be religious and I also want to be powerful, saying I want to help. Actually I want a Rolls­Royce, and all the rest of it, do I not? So ambition, wanting to fulfill, is the cause of confusion not only in the religious but in the political field as well. The search for fulfillment is the cause of fear and confusion. Confusion does not come suddenly out of the sky; it comes because of various causes. So as our minds are confused, what is the cause of it? If one were able to think clearly there would be no sense of confusion. If my mind were very clear, not clear about something but in a state of clarity there would be no confusion. I hope you understand the difference between the mind being clear about something and being clear in itself. So, out of the cause comes confusion; the confusion does not come first and then the cause. We are talking about fear, and I say that fear comes because we want to fulfill. I need not describe what I mean by fulfillment ­ the sense of my family, self­importance, being the big fish in a little pond, the powerful politician, the great saint, using any avenue through which I can expand myself. And so long as I want to be the chief man in the little town, there is always the fear that you will want to be the same. And so we begin to compete and I am always anxious, and all the rest of it. So fear begins. So long as there is the desire to be something there must be fear and that fear causes confusion. I do not say it is the chief cause but it is one of the causes.

I am going to examine what we mean by fear, but please do not merely listen to the words. You know what you are afraid of, do you not? You are afraid of losing your job, of your wife becoming ill, or you love someone and that person does not love you, or you fear death. If you are at all alert you can see for yourself what you are afraid of. Please watch your own fear as I describe it. Now what do we mean by fear? Let us take death for an example. What does fear of death mean? It means I am afraid of the future, I am afraid of what might be, I am afraid of coming to an end. That fear exists in time. The thought of tomorrow and of me not being something in the tomorrow, the future, brings fear. That is, thought creates fear by thinking of tomorrow. Is that not so? I am a dishonest man and I cover it up because I do not want you to discover it, and I am afraid you might. I am afraid that you might see through me some time ­ which is again in the future. Fear is of time. Whereas, if I can say: `Yes, I am dishonest and I do not mind your discovering it now', ­ then I abolish time, and there is no more fear. There is only the fact. When I know the fact there is no fear. But in being confused about the fact, and in trying to change the fact into what I think it should be, according to my fancy, fear begins. If I know I am a liar, a greedy man, there is no fear. It is so. But if I try to cover up a lie and try to be something else, then fear begins. Therefore the desire to change without understanding the actual fact, without looking fully at the fact but merely wishing it to be something else, that is the beginning of fear ­ in which is involved time and the desire to achieve. So you have fear which causes confusion. Unless you eradicate fear you cannot be free of confusion. Understanding fear implies understanding the process of the mind, the self, and how it creates the thing called time. Which means that thought creates time. I am not talking of chronological time in the sense of the train going at 9.30. I am talking of the process of fear, of the self that creates time in order to be something in the future, and in that process there is frustration and sorrow. And in order to escape from that sorrow you invent all sorts of nonsense, myths, and live in a state of illusion and fear.

So we come to the point, which is: Can the mind look at the fact without the desire to change the fact? I am greedy, I am envious ­ envy is a part of greed, is it not? Can I look at the fact that I am envious? Please, Sirs, look at it. Do not merely listen to me, but look at the fact, if you can. Then you will see how extraordinarily difficult it is to look at anything, to know that you are violent, to know it in the sense that you see that you are violent. When you do not compare, condemn or justify yourself with regard to it, is there not understanding of the fact and therefore a fundamental change in the fact itself? That is, I am violent. Can I look at it without any sense of avoidance, can I attend to it? I have explained before what I mean by attention. Attention is not of time, it is not saying `I must attend', or `I will cultivate it', which requires time. But the mind that says, `I must see this thing', acts, looks. When you are really interested in something, when your whole life depends on it, you give complete attention.

So the mind that is capable of freeing itself from its conditioning is really freeing itself from the known, is it not? The mind is put together by the known, in which there is suffering, pleasure and the desire for fulfillment. The mind is all that; it is the result of time. The mind works within the field of the known. These are obvious psychological facts. Thought can only function in the field of the known because thought is the result of the known, the reaction of the past, of experiences which have been stored up. The mind is the bank of memory, of associations, and from that there comes the response. The response is thinking.

So thinking is within the field of the known, and within that field and from that field it tries to find out what the Unknown is. That is impossible. I sit here and wish to know what is beyond that hill. Someone sees it and describes it and I sit here and read books about it and say it is Buddha, Shankara, Christ, and begin to speculate. So all knowledge is within the field of the known and from that center you try to move into the Unknown. You cannot. You cannot invite the Unknown, the Immeasurable, that which is Inconceivable, into the known. That is why the mind must free itself from the known, the known being all the memories, the experiences, the pains, sorrows, desires and the will ­ all the psychological accumulations. Then you will see that freedom from your conditioning is not a matter of time. Conditioning is to be broken through immediately. Understanding is in the present only, in the immediate. And there is no understanding because you are not giving your full attention. Do not say, `How am I to give full attention?', for then you are barking up the wrong tree. Then you will seek a system which will cripple the mind further. No system is going to free the mind, but what will free the mind from its own knowledge is the understanding of the immediate reaction to a challenge. If I ask you, `Do you believe in God?', your response is immediate. Go into that response. Find out why you answer that way. If you go into that one response you will uncover the whole thing. If you would understand what is, that which is Immeasurable, it is essential that the mind be free from the known ­ the known of Shankara, Buddha, Christ, the known of every book, every thought, every experience. The mind must be empty, but not vague, blank, mesmerized into vacancy. The mind must be purgated of all the past, not only of its sorrows but also of its pleasures, and that means enormously hard work ­ much harder than the practice of any discipline in the world. Because it requires attention from moment to moment so that the mind does not accumulate. You see a beautiful sunset and there is a tremendous feeling of loveliness, and the mind holds on to that experience as an accumulation. And if you are not attentive you have given soil for that experience to take root and abide. Therefore it becomes of the known. Unless there is full attention every experience engenders the soil in which it can abide.

This attention you will not get through any practice, through any meditation. It is there, if you are interested, if you have eyes to see, if you say, `I must find out'. Then you will see that such a mind is the Unknown. All this I have been talking about is not a theory, it is not something for you to learn and repeat. It is something for you to go into. It is a field in which you have to work, you cannot learn from me. There is no teacher, no guru for this. You have to see, you have to suffer, you have to travel the unknown sea by yourself, in yourself, and that requires enormous work, it demands attention, and where there is attention there is love.

September 24, 1958

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