You are here
Part II, Chapter 2 - San Diego State College, 3rd Public Talk - 7th April 1970 - ‘Violence’
Part II, Chapter 2 - San Diego State College, 3rd Public Talk - 7th April 1970 - ‘Violence’
WHAT SHALL WE discuss this morning? The word ‘discussion’ is not right, it is more a dialogue. Opinions will lead us nowhere and indulging in mere intellectual cleverness will have very little meaning, because truth is not to be found through the exchange of opinions or of ideas. So if we are to talk over together any problem it must be on the level which is not intellectual, emotional or sentimental.
Questioner: I think the war against Communism is in a certain sense justified. I would like to find out with you if I am right or wrong. You must understand, I lived ten years under communism, I was in a Russian concentration camp, I was also in a Communist prison. They understand only one language which is power. So my question is: is this war self-protection or not?
Krishnamurti: I believe that every group that brings about war always says that it is a self-protective war. There have always been wars, offensive or defensive; but there are wars which have been a peculiar, monstrous game throughout the centuries. And we are, unfortunately, so-called educated and cultured, yet still we indulge in the most savage forms of butchery. So could we go into the question of what this deep violence, this aggression in man, is? – could we see whether it is at all possible to be free of it?
There have been those who have said, ‘Under no circumstance express violence; that implies leading a peaceful life although surrounded by people who are very aggressive, violent; it implies a kind of nucleus in the midst of people who are savage, brutal, violent. But how does the mind free itself of its accumulated violence, cultured violence, self-protective violence, the violence of aggression, the violence of competition, the violence of trying to be somebody, the violence of trying to discipline oneself according to a pattern, trying to become somebody, trying to suppress and bully oneself, brutalise oneself, in order to be non-violent – how is the mind to be free of all such forms of violence?
There are so many different kinds of violence. Shall we go into each kind of violence or shall we take the whole structure of violence? Can we look at the whole spectrum of violence, not just at one part of it?
The source of violence is the ‘me’, the ego, the self, which expresses itself in so many ways – in division, in trying to become or be somebody – which divides itself as the ‘me’ and the ‘not me’, as the unconscious and the conscious; the ‘me’ that identifies with the family or not with the family, with the community or not with the community and so on. It is like a stone dropped in a lake: the waves spread and spread, at the centre is the ‘me’. As long as the ‘me’ survives in any form, very subtly or grossly, there must be violence.
But to ask the question, ‘What is the root cause of violence?’, to try to find out what the cause is, is not necessarily to get rid of it.
I think, if I were to know why I am brutal, that I would have finished with it. Then I spend weeks, months, years, searching for the cause, or reading the explanations given by experts, of the various causes of violence or aggression; but in the end I am still violent. So, do we enquire into this question of violence through the discovery of the cause and the effect? - or do we take the whole and look at it? We see that the cause becomes the effect and the effect becomes the cause – there is no cause and no effect so markedly different – it is a chain, a cause becoming the effect and the effect becoming the cause – and we go along this process indefinitely. But if we could look at this whole problem of violence, we will comprehend it so vitally that it will come to an end.
We have built a society which is violent and we, as human beings, are violent; the environment, the culture in which we live, is the product of our endeavour, of our struggle, of our pain, of our appalling brutalities. So the most important question is: is it possible to end this tremendous violence in oneself? That is really the question.
Questioner: Is it possible to transform violence?
Krishnamurti: Violence is a form of energy; it is energy utilized in a certain way which becomes aggression. But we are not for the moment trying to transform or change violence but to understand it and comprehend it so fully that one is free of it; the mind has gone beyond it – whether it has transcended it or transformed it, is not so relevant. Is it possible? – is it not possible? – it is possible – these words! How does one think about violence? How does one look at violence? Please listen to the question: how does one know that one is violent? When one is violent, is one aware that one is violent? How does one know violence? This question of knowing is really complex. When I say, ‘I know you’, what does ‘I know’ mean? I know you as you were when I met you yesterday, or ten years ago. But between ten years ago and now you have changed and I have changed, therefore I do not know you. I know you only as of the past, therefore I can never say ‘I know you’ – do please understand this simple thing first. Therefore I can only say, ‘I’ve been violent, but I do not know what violence is now.’ You say something to me which irritates my nerves and I am angry. A second later, you say, ‘I’ve been angry.’ At the moment of anger you do not recognise it, only later do you do that. You have to examine the structure of recognition; if you do not understand that you will not be able to meet anger afresh. I am angry, but I realize I am angry a moment later. The realization is the recognition that I have been angry; it is taking place after I have been angry – otherwise I do not know it as anger. See what has happened: the recognition interferes with the actuality. I am always translating the present actuality in terms of the past.
So can one, without translating the present in terms of the past, look at the response anew, with a fresh mind? You call me a fool and my whole blood comes to the surface and says, ‘You’re another.’ And what has taken place, in me, emotionally, inwardly? I have an image about myself as something which I think is desirable, noble, worthwhile; and you are insulting that image. It is that image that responds, which is the old. So the next question is: can the response not be from the old? – can there be an interval between the ‘old’ and the new actuality? – can the old be hesitant, so as to allow the new to take place? I think that is where the whole problem is.
Questioner: Are you saying that all violence is just the division between what is not and what is?
Krishnamurti: No, sir. Let us begin again. We are violent. Throughout existence, human beings have been violent and are violent. I want to find out, as a human being, how to transcend this violence, how to go beyond it. What am I to do? I see what violence has done in the world, how it has destroyed every form of relationship, how it has brought deep agony in oneself, misery – I see all that. And I say to myself, I want to live a really peaceful life in which there is deep abundance of love – all the violence must go. Now what have I to do? First I must not escape from it; let us be sure of that. I must not escape from the fact that I am violent – ‘escaping’ being condemning it or justifying it, or the naming of it as violence – the naming is a form of condemnation, a form of justification.
I have to realize that the mind must not be distracted from this fact of violence, neither in seeking the cause nor in the explanation of the cause, nor in naming the fact that I am violent, nor in justifying it, condemning it, trying to get rid of it. These are all forms of distraction from the fact of violence. The mind must be absolutely clear that there is no escape from it; nor must there be the exercise of will which says, ‘I will conquer it’ – will is the very essence of violence.
Questioner: Basically, are we trying to find what violence is by finding the order in it?
Krishnamurti: No, sir. How can there be order in violence? – violence is disorder.
There must be no escape from it of any kind, no intellectual or explanatory justification – see the difficulty of this, for the mind is so cunning, so sharp to escape, because it does not know what to do with its violence. It is not capable of dealing with it – or it thinks it is not capable – therefore it escapes. Every form of escape, distraction, of movement away, sustains violence. If one realizes this, then the mind is confronted with the fact of ‘what is’ and nothing else.
Questioner: How can you tell whether it is violence if you do not name it?
Krishnamurti: When you name it you are relating it through the name to the past, therefore you are looking at it with the eyes that are touched by the past, therefore you are not looking at it afresh – that is all. Do you get the point?
You look at violence, justifying it, saying that the violence is necessary in order to live in this monstrous society, saying that violence is part of nature – ‘look, nature kills’ – you are conditioned to look with condemnation, justification or resistance. You can only look at it afresh, anew, when you become aware that you are identifying what you see with the images of what you already know and that therefore you are not looking at it afresh. So the question then arises: how are these images formed, what is the mechanism that forms images? My wife says to me, ‘You are a fool.’ I do not like it and it leaves a mark on my mind. She says something else; that also leaves a mark on my mind. These marks are the images of memory. Now when she says to me, ‘You are a fool’, if at that very minute I am aware, giving attention, then there is no marking at all – she may be right.
So inattention breeds images; attention frees the mind from the image. This is very simple. In the same way, if when I am angry I become completely attentive, then there is not that inattention which allows the past to come in and interfere with the actual perception of anger at the moment.
Questioner: Is that not an act of will?
Krishnamurti: We said: ‘Will is in essence violence.’ Let us examine what will is: ‘I want to do that’ – ‘I won’t have that’ – ‘I shall do that’ – I resist, I demand, I desire, which are forms of resistance. When you say, ‘I will that’, it is a form of resistance and resistance is violence.
Questioner: I follow you when you say that we avoid the problem by seeking an answer; that gets away from ‘what is’.
Krishnamurti: So, I want to know how to look at ‘what is’.
Now, we are trying to find out if it is possible to transcend violence. We were saying: ‘Do not escape from it; do not move away from that central fact of violence.’ The question was asked: ‘How do you know it is violence?’ Do you know it only because you are able to recognise it as having been violence? But when you look at it without naming, without justifying or condemning (which are all the conditioning of the past) then you are looking at it afresh – are you not? Then is it violence? This is one of the most difficult things to do, because all our living is conditioned by the past. Do you know what it is to live in the present?
Questioner: You say, ‘Be free of violence’ – that includes a lot more; how far does freedom go?
Krishnamurti: Go into freedom; what does it mean? There are all the deep down angers, frustrations, resistances; the mind must also be free of those, must it not? I am asking: can the mind be free of active violence in the present, be free of all the unconscious accumulations of hate, anger, bitterness, which are there, deep down? How is this to be done?
Questioner: If one is free of this violence in oneself, then when one sees violence outside of oneself, is one not depressed? What is one to do?
Krishnamurti: What one is to do is to teach another. Teaching another is the highest profession in the world – not for money, not for your big bank account, but just to teach, to tell others.
Questioner: What is the easiest way to...
Krishnamurti: What is the easiest way?.... (Laughter.)... A circus! Sir, you teach another and by teaching you are learning yourself. It is not that first you have learnt, accumulated, then you inform. You yourself are violent; understanding yourself is to help another to understand himself, therefore the teaching is the learning. You do not see the beauty of all this.
So, let us go on. Do you not want to know from your heart what love is? Has it not been the human cry, for millennia, to find out how to live peacefully, how to have real abundance of love, compassion. That can only come into being when there is the real sense of ‘non-me’, you understand. And we say: Look, to find that out – whether it is from loneliness, or anger, or bitterness – look, without any escape. The escape is the naming of it, so do not name it, look at it. And then see – not naming – if bitterness exists.
Questioner: Do you advocate getting rid of all violence, or is some violence healthy in one’s life? I do not mean physical violence, but getting rid of frustrations. Can this be helpful, trying to keep from being frustrated?
Krishnamurti: No, Madame. The answer is in the question: Why be frustrated? Have you ever asked yourself why you are frustrated? And to answer that question have you ever asked: What is fulfilment? – why do you want to fulfil? Is there such a thing as fulfilment? What is it that is fulfilling? – is it the ‘me’, the ‘me’ that is violent, the ‘me’ that is separating, the ‘me’ that says, ‘I am bigger than you’, that pursues ambition, fame, notoriety? Because it wants to become bitter. Do you see that there is such a thing as the ‘me’ wanting to expand itself, which, when it cannot expand, feels frustrated and therefore bitter? – that bitterness, that desire to expand, is violence. Now when you see the truth of that, then there is no desire for fulfilment at all, therefore there is no frustration.
Questioner: Plants and animals are both living things, they both try to survive. Do you draw a distinction between killing animals to eat and killing plants to eat? If so why?
Krishnamurti: One has to survive, so one kills the least sensitive thing that is available, I have never eaten meat in all my life. And I believe some scientists are gradually coming to that point of view also: if they do, then you will accept it!
Questioner: It seems to me, that everyone here is used to Aristotelian thinking, and you are using non-Aristotelian tactics; and the gap is so complete I am amazed. How can we commune very closely?
Krishnamurti: That is the difficulty, sir. You are used to one particular formula or language, with a certain meaning, and the speaker has not that particular view. So there is a difficulty in communication. We went into that: we said, the word is not the thing, the description is not the described, the explanation is not the explained. You keep on sticking to the explanation, holding on to the word; that is why there is difficulty.
So: we see what violence is in the world – part of fear, part of pleasure. There is a tremendous drive for excitement: we want that, and we encourage society to give it to us. And then we blame society; whereas it is we who are responsible. And we are asking ourselves whether the terrific energy of this violence can be used differently. To be violent needs energy: can that energy be transformed or moved in another direction? Now, in the very understanding and seeing the truth of that, that energy becomes entirely different.
Questioner: Are you saying then that non-violence is absolute? – that violence is an aberration of what could be?
Krishnamurti: Yes, if you want to put it that way.
We are saying that violence is a form of energy and love is also a form of energy – love without jealousy, without anxiety, without fear, without bitterness, without all the agony that goes with so-called love. Now, violence is energy, and love hedged about, surrounded with jealousy, is also another form of energy. To transcend both, go beyond both, implies the same energy moved in a totally different direction or dimension.
Questioner: Love with jealousy is actually violence?
Krishnamurti: Of course it is.
Questioner: So you have the two energies, you have the violence and the love.
Krishnamurti: It is the same energy, sir.
Questioner: When should we have psychic experiences?
Krishnamurti: What has that to do with violence? When should you have psychic experiences? Never! Do you know what it means to have psychic experiences? To have the experience, extrasensory perceptive experience, you must be extraordinarily mature, extraordinarily sensitive, and therefore extraordinarily intelligent; and if you are extraordinarily intelligent, you do not want psychic experience. (Laughter.)
Do give your heart to this, please: human beings are destroying each other through violence, the husband is destroying the wife and the wife is destroying the husband. Though they sleep together, walk together, each lives in isolation with his own problems, with his own anxieties; and this isolation is violence. Now when you see all this so clearly in front of you – see it, not just think about it – when you see the danger of it, you act, do you not? When you see a dangerous animal, you act; there is no hesitation, there is no argument between you and the animal – you just act, you run away or do something. Here we are arguing because you do not see the tremendous danger of violence.
If you actually, with your heart, see the nature of violence, see the danger of it, you are finished with it. Now how can one point out the danger of it, if you do not want to see? – neither Aristotelian nor non-Aristotelian language will help you.
Questioner: How do we meet violence in other people?
Krishnamurti: That is really quite a different problem, is it not? My neighbour is violent: how shall I deal with it? Turn the other cheek? He is delighted. What shall I do? Would you ask that question if you were really non-violent, if there were no violence in you? Do listen to this question. If in your heart, in your mind, there is no violence at all, no hate, no bitterness, no sense of fulfilment, no wanting to be free, no violence at all, would you ask that question about how you meet the neighbour who is violent? Or would you know then what to do with your neighbour? Others may call what you do violent, but you may not be violent; at the moment your neighbour acts violently you will know how to deal with the situation. But a third person, watching, might say, ‘You are also violent’. But you know you are not violent. So what is important is to be for yourself completely without violence and it does not matter what another calls you.
Questioner: Is not the belief in the unity of all things just as human as the belief in the division of all things?
Krishnamurti: Why do you want to believe in anything? Why do you want to believe in the unity of all human beings? – we are not united, that is a fact; why do you want to believe in something which is non-factual. There is this whole question of belief; just think, you have your belief and another has his belief; and we fight and kill each other for a belief.
Why do you have any belief at all? Do you have belief because you are afraid? No? Do you believe that the sun rises? – it is there to see, you do not have to believe in that. Belief is a form of division and therefore of violence. To be free of violence implies freedom from everything that man has put to another man, belief, dogma, rituals, my country, your country, your god and my god, my opinion, your opinion, my ideal. All those help to divide human beings and therefore breed violence. And though organized religions have preached the unity of mankind, each religion thinks it is far superior to the other.
Questioner: I interpreted what you were saying about unity to mean that those who preach unity are actually aiding the division.
Krishnamurti: Quite right, sir.
Questioner: Is the purpose for living just to be able to cope with existence?
Krishnamurti: You say, ‘Is this the purpose of living?’ – but why do you want a purpose for living? – live. Living is its own purpose; why do you want a purpose? Look: each one has his own purpose, the religious man his purpose, the scientist his purpose, the family man his purpose and so on, all dividing. The life of a man who has a purpose is breeding violence. It is so clear and simple.