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Part V, Chapter 1 - Talk at Rome Cinema Pasquino, 21st October 1970 - ‘Psychological Revolution’
Part V, Chapter 1 - Talk at Rome Cinema Pasquino, 21st October 1970 - ‘Psychological Revolution’
LIFE IS SERIOUS; one has to give one’s mind and one’s heart to it, completely; one cannot play with it. There are so many problems; there is so much confusion in the world; there is the corruption of society and the various religious and political divisions and contradictions. There is great injustice, sorrow and poverty – not only the poverty outside but the poverty inside. Any serious man – fairly intelligent and not just sentimentally emotional – seeing all this, sees the necessity of change.
Change is either a complete psychological revolution in the nature of the whole human being, or it is a mere attempt at the reformation of the social structure. The real crisis in the life of man, you and I, is whether such a complete psychological revolution can be brought about – independent of nationality and of all religious division.
We have built this society; our parents, and their parents before them, have produced this corrupt structure and we are the product of that. We are society, we are the world, and if we do not change ourselves radically, really very, very deeply, then there is no possibility of changing the social order. Most of us do not realize this. Everyone, especially the younger generation, says: ‘We must society’. We talk a great deal but we do nothing about it. It is we ourselves that have to change, not society – do please realize this. We have to bring about in ourselves, at the highest and at the deepest levels, a change in our whole way of thinking, living, feeling; then only is the social change possible – mere social revolution, the change of the structure of society outwardly by physical revolution, inevitably brings about, as has been seen, dictatorship or the totalitarian state, which deny all freedom.
To bring about such a change in ourselves is a lifetime’s work – not just something for a few days then to be forgotten – it is a constant application, a constant awareness of what is going on, within and without.
We have to live in relationship; without it we cannot possibly exist. To be related means to live totally, wholly; for this there must be in ourselves a radical transformation. How shall we radically transform ourselves? If this seriously interests you then we shall have communication with each other; we shall think together, feel and understand together. So: how can man, you and I, totally change? That is the question and nothing else is relevant – it is a question not only for the young but also for the old.
In this world there is tremendous agony, immense sorrow, war, brutality and violence; there is starvation of which you know nothing. One realizes that there is so much that can be done but for the vast fragmentation that there is, in the political world with its many parties and in the many religions; they all talk about peace but deny it, for there can only be peace, reality and love, when there is no division.
So again, seeing this vast fragmentation both inwardly and outwardly, the only issue is that a human being must radically, profoundly, bring about in himself a revolution. This is a very serious problem, it is an issue that affects one’s whole life; in it is involved meditation, truth, beauty, love. These are not just words. One has to find a way of living where they come into reality.
One of the most important things in life is love. But what is called love is associated with sex, which has become so tremendously important; everything seems to revolve around sex. Why do human beings right through the world, whatever their cultures be, whatever religious sanctions say – find sex so extraordinarily important? – and with it is associated the word ‘love’ – why?
When you look at your own life, you see how it has become mechanical; our education is mechanical; we acquire knowledge, information, which gradually becomes mechanical. We are machines, second-hand people. We repeat what others have said. We read enormously. We are the result of thousands of years of propaganda. We have become psychologically and intellectually mechanical. In a machine there is no freedom. Sex offers freedom; there for a few seconds is freedom, you have completely forgotten yourself and your mechanical life. So sex has become enormously significant; its pleasure you call love. But is love pleasure? Or is love something entirely different, something in which there is no jealousy, no dependency, no possessiveness?
One has to give one’s life to find out what love means, just as one has to give one’s whole life to find out what meditation is and what truth is. Truth has nothing whatsoever to do with belief.
Belief comes into being when there is fear. One believes in God because in oneself one is so completely uncertain. One sees the transient things of life – there is no certainty, there is no security, there is no comfort, but immense sorrow – so thought projects something with the attribute of permanency, called God, in which the human mind takes comfort. But that is not truth.
Truth is something that is to be found when there is no fear. Again, one has to give a great deal of attention to understand what fear is – both physical and psychological fear. One has these problems in life which one has not understood, which one has not transcended; thereby one continues a corrupt society, whose morality is immoral and in which virtue, goodness, beauty, love, of which we talk so much, soon become corrupt.
Will the understanding of these problems take time? Is change immediate? Or is it to be brought about through the evolution of time? If time is taken – that is to say, at the end of your life you have reached enlightenment – then in that time you continue to sow seeds of corruption, war, hatred. So can this radical inward revolution happen instantly? It can happen instantly when you see the danger of all this. It is like seeing the danger of a precipice, of a wild animal, of a snake; then there is instant action. But we do not see the danger of all this fragmentation which takes place when the ‘self’, the ‘me’, becomes important – and the fragmentation of the ‘me’ and the ‘not me’. The moment there is that fragmentation in yourself there must be conflict; and conflict is the very root of corruption. So, it behoves one to find out for oneself the beauty of meditation, for then the mind, being free and unconditioned, perceives what is true.
To ask questions is important; it is not only that one exposes oneself, but in asking questions one will find for oneself the answer. If one puts the right question the right answer is in the question. One must question everything in life, one’s short hair or long hair, one’s dress, the way one walks, the way one eats, what one thinks, how one feels, everything must be questioned: then the mind becomes extraordinarily sensitive, alive and intelligent. Such a mind can love; such a mind alone knows what a religious mind is.
Questioner: What is the meditation of which you speak?
Krishnamurti: Do you know anything of what meditation means even?
Questioner: I know there are various forms of meditation, but I do not know which one you speak of.
Krishnamurti: A system of meditation is not meditation. A system implies a method, which you practise in order to achieve something at the end. Something practised over and over again becomes mechanical – does it not? How can a mechanical mind – which has been trained and twisted, tortured to comply to the pattern of what it calls meditation – hoping to achieve a reward at the end – be free to observe, to learn?
There are various schools, in India and further East, where they teach methods of meditation – it is really most appalling. It means training the mind mechanically; it therefore ceases to be free and does not understand the problem.
So when we use the word ‘meditation’ we do not mean something that is practised. We have no method. Meditation means awareness; to be aware of what you are doing, what you are thinking, what you are feeling, aware without any choice, to observe, to learn. Meditation is to be aware of one’s conditioning, how one is conditioned by the society in which one lives, in which one has been brought up, by the religious propaganda – aware without any choice, without distortion, without wishing it were different. Out of this awareness comes attention, the capacity to be completely attentive. Then there is freedom to see things as they actually are, without distortion. The mind becomes unconfused, clear, sensitive; such meditation brings about a quality of the mind that is completely silent – of which quality one can go on talking, but it will have no meaning unless it exists.
Questioner: Will not this way lead to more isolation, more confusion?
Krishnamurti: First of all: are not most human beings terribly confused? Are you not very confused? – see the fact, know whether you are confused or not. A mind that is confused, whatever it does, brings about confusion. A mind that is confused says ‘I will practise meditation,’ or ‘I will find out what love is’ – how can a confused mind find anything, except its own projection of confusion. If one has realized this fact, then what shall one do?
One is confused and one tries to bring about a state of mind which is not confused. One tries this, that, ten different things – drugs, drink, sex, worship, escapes – you follow – throw bombs, anything. The first thing is to stop action, to stop doing something. Also, one must stop all movement away from confusion so that there is no action springing to, or away from, confusion. So all action then stops, there is only confusion. There is no escape from it, neither is there trying to find a way out of it, nor trying to replace that confusion by clarity; there is no movement of thought away from this, causing further confusion; thought is not concerned with action for the moment. Then the question arises: are you aware of this confusion as being something outside of you as the ‘observer’, or are you part of this confusion? Is the ‘observer’ different from the thing observed – the confusion? If the ‘observer’ is differentiated from the thing observed then there is a contradiction – that very contradiction is the cause of confusion. So, how the mind looks at this confusion is important. Does it observe it as something apart, separated from itself, or is the ‘observer’ the observed? Please do understand this most important thing. Once you have understood this you will see what a tremendous difference it makes in life; all conflict is removed. The ‘observer’ no longer says: ‘I must change it’, ‘I must bring about clarity’, ‘I must overcome it’, ‘I must try to understand it’, ‘I must escape from it’. All such activity is that of the ‘observer’ who has separated himself from the confusion and has generated conflict between himself and the confusion.
Questioner: I admit my confusion.
Krishnamurti: Ah! The moment you say ‘I admit my confusion’, there is an entity who admits it. You do not see the importance of this. I observe; in observing do I find I am observing as an outsider, or as part of this confusion? If I am part of the confusion the mind becomes completely quiet, there is no movement, I am still, I do not move away from it. Therefore, when there is no division between the ‘observer’ and the observed there is complete cessation of confusion.
And the other question that was asked: ‘If I am to learn from myself, what happens when the world around me controls me, conscripts me, takes me to war, tells me what to do politically, economically, religiously? There are the psychologists and the gurus from the East – they all tell me what to do. If I obey – which is what they all want me to do, promising Utopia at the end of it, or Nirvana, Enlightenment or truth – then I become mechanical. The root meaning of the word ‘obey’ is to hear. By hearing constantly what other people tell me, I gradually slip into obedience. If I learn from myself, I also learn about others. And if the government ask me to join the army, I will do what I think is right at the moment I am asked. A free mind does not obey. A free mind is free because in itself there is no confusion. Then you will say, ‘What is the good of having one individual, one human being, with such a mind when all about it there is corruption, confusion?’ Do you think you would ask such a question if you had such a mind?
What is the meaning of having a mind so completely clear and unconfused?
Questioner: Surely there will be no words any more?
Krishnamurti: Those are all your speculations, are they not? How do you know?
Questioner: Words are the basis of ideas. There would be no ideas any more and the mind would be free; then we would not have relationships, we would not seek any more. We would have silence, complete silence and we would understand. Everybody can have a free mind.
Krishnamurti: I understand what you are saying very clearly.
But, first of all: are we concerned with the world as something separate from ourselves? Is the world ‘you’ actually – not theoretically ‘you’? Do you feel the quality of a mind that says, ‘I am the world, the world is me, the me and the world are not two separate entities’? The ‘self’ is divided from the community, the ‘self’ is against the world, the ‘self’ is against your friend, against your wife, your husband. The ‘self’ is important, is it not. And that ‘self’ is asking the question, ‘What will the world be if there is no self’? Find out if you can live without the ‘self’ and then you will see the truth of it. Also there is the previous question: what is the good of one human being in the world having a clear, unspotted mind, free – what is the point of it? Now who is asking the question? He who is confused or he whose mind is clear, unconfused, free? ‘Who’ is asking this question? Does the flower ask this question? Does love ask this question? Do you ask a question of this kind when you are confronted with a tremendous issue? Do you ask this question: what value is it if I know what it means to love when the others do not know what it means to love? You just love. You do not ask this question. When you have no fear, psychologically, and everyone around you has this fear, will you then ask: ‘What is the good of my having no fear when all the others have fear?’ Then what do you do? You have no fear and others have fear – what do you do? – you try to help me to learn the whole structure of fear.
Questioner: How do you prevent language creating division?
Each language has its own peculiar structure, a certain pattern, and language becomes a barrier.
Krishnamurti: So, how does one get over this barrier? Is it not fairly clear that the word is not the thing? Whether you use an Italian word or an English word or a Greek word, that word is not the thing. The word ‘door’ is not the door. The word, the description, the explanation, is not the thing explained or described: if this is seen, then there is no longer a dependency on the mere word. Now thought is manufactured of words; thought is always responding, according to memory, in verbal structures. Thought is limited by words, is the slave of words. Can one listen without the word interfering? You say to me ‘I love you’, but what happens there? The words do not mean anything at all; but there may be a feeling of relationship which has not been brought about by the response of thought to the words; there may be a direct communication. So the mind, being aware that the word is not the thing, that the word, which is thought, interferes, listens freely, without prejudice – as it does when you say ‘I love you’.
Can you listen without interpreting, without your prejudices interfering, twisting – listen as you may listen to the song of a bird? (In Italy there are so few birds; they kill them. What monstrous people we are.) Can you listen to the song of the bird without verbal comment, without naming it, saying, ‘It is a blackbird’, ‘I would like to go on listening to it; can you listen without any of that interference, just listen – eh? You can, can you not? Now: can you listen equally to what goes on in yourself? – without prejudice, without a formula, without distortion – just as you may listen to that bell (noise of bell without any association, just listening to the pure sound of it; then you are the sound, you are not listening to the sound as something separate.
Questioner: To do this we need to practise.
Krishnamurti: To so listen you need to practise! Somebody must teach you! The moment somebody teaches you, you have the guru and the disciple, the authority and the learner. Now when that bell rang, did you listen to it – without any interpretation, with complete attention? If you saw that you said to yourself, ‘It is mid-day’, ‘What time is it?’, ‘It is meal time’, then you saw that you were not actually giving complete attention to that sound; so you learnt – you were not taught – that you were not listening.
Questioner: There is a difference between a bell ringing or a bird singing, on the one hand, and a word in a sentence which is interlaced with other words. I can isolate the sound of a bird, but a word in a sentence I cannot isolate.
Krishnamurti: Listening to a bird is objective, outside. But can I listen to myself using a word in the context of a sentence; can I listen to the word and be free of the word and its context?
You may say: ‘That is a beautiful table.’ You have given that table certain appreciation; you have called it beautiful. I may look at it and say: ‘What an ugly table.’ So the word denotes your feeling; it is not the actual thing; it comes into being as an associated idea. Can you look at your friend without the image you have created about that friend – the image being the word, the symbol? We cannot, because we do not know how that image has been built. You tell me something, which is pleasurable, and I create an image out of that, that you are my friend; another tells me something which is unpleasant, similarly I build an image; when I meet you it is as a friend, when I meet another it is not as a friend. But can the mind not build an image at all, though you say pleasant or unpleasant things? It can stop building the image when I give attention; then there is no image-formation; I can listen – listen without any image.
Questioner: Would it be possible to go back to what you were saying at the beginning, about changing ourselves in society? How is it possible to really change yourself when you are obliged to conserve your relationships. I am in the Capitalist world and all my relations have to be capitalistic otherwise I would starve.
Krishnamurti: And if you lived in the Communist world, you would also adjust yourself there.
Krishnamurti: So what will you do?
Questioner: How can I change?
Krishnamurti: You have put the question: if I live in a capitalist society I have to adjust myself to the Capitalist demands; yet if I lived in a Communist society, totalitarian, bureaucratic society, I would also have to do exactly the same things – so what will I do?
Questioner: I do not think it would be the same thing.
Krishnamurti: But it is the same pattern. There you might have short hair and you would have to go to work, do this or that. But it is within the same whirlpool. What will you do? A human being, realizing that change within himself is of primary importance – whether he lives here or there - where is his concern? He must change himself: what does this change imply? Freedom from psychological fear, freedom from greed, envy, jealousy, dependency; freedom from the fear of being lonely, from the fear of conformity – right? If you have all these things working inside you – realising no conformity – you live as well as you can, there or here. But, unfortunately for us, the important thing is not revolution inwardly but change this and that externally.
Questioner: And then what happens if someone kills you?
Krishnamurti: Ah! No one can kill a free man. They can put his eyes out; inwardly he is free, nothing can touch that freedom.
Questioner: Would you give a definition of egoism?
Krishnamurti: If you want a definition look it up in a dictionary. ‘Definition’ – please, I have said very carefully that the description is not the described. What is this self that is isolating itself all the time? Even though you love somebody, whether you sleep with that somebody, etc., there is always this self which is separate – with its ambitions, its fears, its agonies, with its occupation with itself in self-pity. As long as that self exists there must be separation, as long as that exists there must be conflict – right? How is that self to disappear – without effort? The moment you make an effort, there is the ‘Higher Self’, so-called, that is dominating the ‘lower self.’ How can the mind dissipate this thing called ‘the self’? What is the self? – is it a bundle of memories? – or is it something permanent? If it is a bundle of memories, it is of the past; that is the only thing you have, it is nothing permanent. The self is the ‘me’ that has accumulated knowledge and experience, as memory, as pain; and that becomes the centre from which all action takes place. See it actually as it is.
Every religion, every society and culture, realizes that ‘the self’ wants to express itself; in art, self-expression is tremendously important; it is also very important in its assertion to dominate. Every religion has tried to destroy the self – ‘Do not bother about the self,’ ‘Put God in its place, or the State in its place’. And that has not succeeded. The self has identified itself with God – whatever that is – and so it remains. We are saying: observe that self in operation, learn about it, watch it, be aware of it, do not destroy it, do not say, ‘I must get rid of it’ or ‘must change it’, just watch it, without any choice, without any distortion; then out of that watching and learning, the self disappears.
Rome. 21 October 1970.