First and Last Freedom
The First and Last Freedom
By J. Krishnamurti
E-Text Source: www.jkrishnamurti.org
Foreword by Aldous Huxley
Chapter 1 - Introduction
Chapter 2 - What are We Seeking
Chapter 3 - Individual and Society
Chapter 4 - Self-Knowledge
Chapter 5 - Action and Idea
Chapter 6 - Belief
Chapter 7 - Effort
Chapter 8 - Contradiction
Chapter 9 - What is the Self
Chapter 10 - Fear
Chapter 11 - Simplicity
Chapter 12 - Awareness
Chapter 13 - Desire
Chapter 14 - Relationship and Isolation
Chapter 15 - Thinker and Thought
Chapter 16 – Can Thinking Solve
Chapter 17 - Function of Mind
Chapter 18 - Self-Deception
Chapter 19 - Self-Centred Activity
Chapter 20 - Time and Transformation
Chapter 21 - Power and Realization
Question and Answers
Question 1 - On the Present Crisis
Question 2 - On Nationalism
Question 3 - Why Spiritual Teachers?
Question 4 - On Knowledge
Question 5 - On Discipline
Question 6 - On Loneliness
Question 7 - On Suffering
Question 8 - On Awareness
Question 9 - On Relationship
Question 10 - On War
Question 11 - On Fear
Question 12 - On Boredom and Interest
Question 13 - On Hate
Question 14 - On Gossip
Question 15 - On Criticism
Question 16 - On Belief in God
Question 17 - On Memory
Question 18 - Surrender to What is
Question 19 - On Prayer and Meditation
Question 20 - On Mind
Question 21 - On Sex
Question 22 - On Love
Question 23 - On Death
Question 24 - On Time
Question 25 - On Action without Idea
Question 26 - On Old and New
Question 27 - On Naming
Question 28 - On Known and Unknown
Question 29 - Truth and Lie
Question 30 - On God
Question 31 - On Immediate Realization
Question 32 - On Simplicity
Question 33 - On Superficiality
Question 34 - On Triviality
Question 35 - On Stillness of Mind
Question 36 - On Meaning of Life
Question 37 - On Confusion of Mind
Question 38 - On Transformation
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Foreword by Aldous Huxley
MAN IS AN amphibian who lives simultaneously in two worlds - the given and the homemade, the world of matter, life and consciousness and the world of symbols. In our thinking we make use of a great variety of symbol-systems - linguistic, mathematical, pictorial, musical, ritualistic. Without such symbol-systems we should have no art, no science, no law, no philosophy, not so much as the rudiments of civilization: in other words, we should be animals.
Symbols, then, are indispensable. But symbols - as the history of our own and every other age makes so abundantly clear - can also be fatal. Consider, for example, the domain of science on the one hand, the domain of politics and religion on the other. Thinking in terms of, and acting in response to, one set of symbols, we have come, in some small measure, to understand and control the elementary forces of nature. Thinking in terms of and acting in response to, another set of symbols, we use these forces as instruments of mass murder and collective suicide. In the first case the explanatory symbols were well chosen, carefully analysed and progressively adapted to the emergent facts of physical existence. In the second case symbols originally ill-chosen were never subjected to thoroughgoing analysis and never re-formulated so as to harmonize with the emergent facts of human existence. Worse still, these misleading symbols were everywhere treated with a wholly unwarranted respect, as though, in some mysterious way, they were more real than the realities to which they referred. In the contexts of religion and politics, words are not regarded as standing, rather inadequately, for things and events; on the contrary, things and events are regarded as particular illustrations of words. Up to the present symbols have been used realistically only in those fields which we do not feel to be supremely important. In every situation involving our deeper impulses we have insisted on using symbols, not merely unrealistically, but idolatrously, even insanely. The result is that we have been able to commit, in cold blood and over long periods of time, acts of which the brutes are capable only for brief moments and at the frantic height of rage, desire or fear. Because they use and worship symbols, men can become idealists; and, being idealists, they can transform the animal's intermittent greed into the grandiose imperialisms of a Rhodes or a J. P. Morgan; the animal's intermittent love of bullying into Stalinism or the Spanish Inquisition; the animal's intermittent attachment to its territory into the calculated frenzies of nationalism. Happily, they can also transform the animal's intermittent kindliness into the lifelong charity of an Elizabeth Fry or a Vincent de Paul; the animal's intermittent devotion to its mate and its young into that reasoned and persistent co-operation which, up to the present, has proved strong enough to save the world from the consequences of the other, the disastrous kind of idealism. Will it go on being able to save the world? The question cannot be answered. All we can say is that, with the idealists of nationalism holding the A-bomb, the odds in favour of the idealists of co-operation and charity have sharply declined.
Even the best cookery book is no substitute for even the worst dinner. The fact seems sufficiently obvious. And yet, throughout the ages, the most profound philosophers, the most learned and acute theologians have constantly fallen into the error of identifying their purely verbal constructions with facts, or into the yet more enormous error of imagining that symbols are somehow more real than what they stand for. Their word-worship did not go without protest. "Only the spirit," said St. Paul, "gives life; the letter kills." "And why," asks Eckhart, "why do you prate of God? Whatever you say of God is untrue." At the other end of the world the author of one of the Mahayana sutras affirmed that "the truth was never preached by the Buddha, seeing that you have to realize it within yourself". Such utterances were felt to be profoundly subversive, and respectable people ignored them. The strange idolatrous over-estimation of words and emblems continued unchecked. Religions declined; but the old habit of formulating creeds and imposing belief in dogmas persisted even among the atheists.
In recent years logicians and semanticists have carried out a very thorough analysis of the symbols, in terms of which men do their thinking. Linguistics has become a science, and one may even study a subject to which the late Benjamin Whorf gave the name of meta-linguistics. All this is greatly to the good; but it is not enough. Logic and semantics, linguistics and meta-linguistics - these are purely intellectual disciplines. They analyse the various ways, correct and incorrect, meaningful and meaningless, in which words can be related to things, processes and events. But they offer no guidance, in regard to the much more fundamental problem of the relationship of man in his psychophysical totality, on the one hand, and his two worlds, of data and of symbols, on the other.
In every region and at every period of history, the problem has been repeatedly solved by individual men and women. Even when they spoke or wrote, these individuals created no systems - for they knew that every system is a standing temptation to take symbols too seriously, to pay more attention to words than to the realities for which the words are supposed to stand. Their aim was never to offer ready-made explanations and panaceas; it was to induce people to diagnose and cure their own ills, to get them to go to the place where man's problem and its solution present themselves directly to experience.
In this volume of selections from the writings and recorded talks of Krishnamurti, the reader will find a clear contemporary statement of the fundamental human problem, together with an invitation to solve it in the only way in which it can be solved - for and by himself. The collective solutions, to which so many so desperately pin their faith, are never adequate. "To understand the misery and confusion that exist within ourselves, and so in the world, we must first find clarity within ourselves, and that clarity comes about through right thinking. This clarity is not to be organized, for it cannot be exchanged with another. Organized group thought is merely repetitive. Clarity is not the result of verbal assertion, but of intense self-awareness and right thinking. Right thinking is not the outcome of or mere cultivation of the intellect, nor is it conformity to pattern, however worthy and noble. Right thinking comes with self-knowledge. Without understanding yourself you have no basis for thought; without self-knowledge, what you think is not true."
This fundamental theme is developed by Krishnamurti in passage after passage. `'There is hope in men, not in society, not in systems, organized religious systems, but in you and in me." Organized religions, with their mediators, their sacred books, their dogmas, their hierarchies and rituals, offer only a false solution to the basic problem. "When you quote the Bhagavad Gita, or the Bible, or some Chinese Sacred Book, surely you are merely repeating, are you not? And what you are repeating is not the truth. It is a lie, for truth cannot be repeated." A lie can be extended, propounded and repeated, but not truth; and when you repeat truth, it ceases to be truth, and therefore sacred books are unimportant. It is through self-knowledge, not through belief in somebody else's symbols, that a man comes to the eternal reality, in which his being is grounded. Belief in the complete adequacy and superlative value of any given symbol system leads not to liberation, but to history, to more of the same old disasters. "Belief inevitably separates. If you have a belief, or when you seek security in your particular belief, you become separated from those who seek security in some other form of belief. All organized beliefs are based on separation, though they may preach brotherhood." The man who has successfully solved the problem of his relations with the two worlds of data and symbols, is a man who has no beliefs. With regard to the problems of practical life he entertains a series of working hypotheses, which serve his purposes, but are taken no more seriously than any other kind of tool or instrument. With regard to his fellow beings and to the reality in which they are grounded, he has the direct experiences of love and insight. It is to protect himself from beliefs that Krishnamurti has "not read any sacred literature, neither the Bhagavad Gita nor the Upanishads". The rest of us do not even read sacred literature; we read our favourite newspapers, magazines and detective stories. This means that we approach the crisis of our times, not with love and insight, but "with formulas, with systems" - and pretty poor formulas and systems at that. But "men of good will should not have formulas; for formulas lead, inevitably, only to "blind thinking". Addiction to formulas is almost universal. Inevitably so; for "our system of upbringing is based upon what to think, not on how to think". We are brought up as believing and practising members of some organization - the Communist or the Christian, the Moslem, the Hindu, the Buddhist, the Freudian. Consequently "you respond to the challenge, which is always new, according to an old pattern; and therefore your response has no corresponding validity, newness, freshness. If you respond as a Catholic or a Communist, you are responding - are you not? - according to a patterned thought. Therefore your response has no significance. And has not the Hindu, the Mussulman, the Buddhist, the Christian created this problem? As the new religion is the worship of the State, so the old religion was the worship of an idea." If you respond to a challenge according to the old conditioning, your response will not enable you to understand the new challenge. Therefore what "one has to do, in order to meet the new challenge, is to strip oneself completely, denude oneself entirely of the background and meet the challenge anew". In other words symbols should never be raised to the rank of dogmas, nor should any system be regarded as more than a provisional convenience. Belief in formulas and action in accordance with these beliefs cannot bring us to a solution of our problem. "It is only through creative understanding of ourselves that there can be a creative world, a happy world, a world in which ideas do not exist." A world in which ideas do not exist would be a happy world, because it would be a world without the powerful conditioning forces which compel men to undertake inappropriate action, a world without the hallowed dogmas in terms of which the worst crimes are justified, the greatest follies elaborately rationalized.
An education that teaches us not how but what to think is an education that calls for a governing class of pastors and masters. But "the very idea of leading somebody is antisocial and anti-spiritual". To the man who exercises it, leadership brings gratification of the craving for power; to those who are led, it brings the gratification of the desire for certainty and security. The guru provides a kind of dope. But, it may be asked, "What are you doing? Are you not acting as our guru?" "Surely," Krishnamurti answers, "I am not acting as your guru, because, first of all, I am not giving you any gratification. I am not telling you what you should do from moment to moment, or from day to day, but I am just pointing out something to you; you can take it or leave it, depending on you, not on me. I do not demand a thing from you, neither your worship, nor your flattery, nor your insults, nor your gods. I say," This is a fact; take it or leave it. And most of you will leave it, for the obvious reason that you do not find gratification in it."
What is it precisely that Krishnamurti offers? What is it that we can take if we wish, but in all probability shall prefer to leave? It is not, as we have seen, a system of belief, a catalogue of dogmas, a set of ready-made notions and ideals. It is not leadership, not mediation, not spiritual direction, not even example. It is not ritual, not a church, not a code, not uplift or any form of inspirational twaddle.
Is it, perhaps, self-discipline? No; for self-discipline is not, as a matter of brute fact, the way in which our problem can be solved. In order to find the solution, the mind must open itself to reality, must confront the givenness of the outer and inner worlds without preconceptions or restrictions. (God's service is perfect freedom. Conversely, perfect freedom is the service of God.) In becoming disciplined, the mind undergoes no radical change; it is the old self, but "tethered, held in control".
Self-discipline joins the list of things which Krishnamurti does not offer. Can it be, then, that what he offers is prayer? Again, the reply is in the negative. "Prayer may bring you the answer you seek; but that answer may come from your unconscious, or from the general reservoir, the storehouse of all your demands. The answer is not the still voice of God." Consider, Krishnamurti goes on, "what happens when you pray. By constant repetition of certain phrases, and by controlling your thoughts, the mind becomes quiet, doesn't it? At least, the conscious mind becomes quiet. You kneel as the Christians do, or you sit as the Hindus do, and you repeat and repeat, and through that repetition the mind becomes quiet. In that quietness there is the intimation of something. That intimation of something, for which you have prayed, may be from the unconscious, or it may be the response of your memories. But, surely, it is not the voice of reality; for the voice of reality must come to you; it cannot be appealed to, you cannot pray to it. You cannot entice it into your little cage by doing puja, bhajan and all the rest of it, by offering it flowers, by placating it, by suppressing yourself or emulating others. Once you have learned the trick of quietening the mind, through the repetition of words, and of receiving hints in that quietness, the danger is - unless you are fully alert as to whence those hints come - that you will be caught, and then prayer becomes a substitute for the search for Truth. That which you ask for you get; but it is not the truth. If you want, and if you petition, you will receive, but you will pay for it in the end."
From prayer we pass to yoga, and yoga, we find, is another of the things which Krishnamurti does not offer. For yoga is concentration, and concentration is exclusion. "You build a wall of resistance by concentration on a thought which you have chosen, and you try to ward off all the others." What is commonly called meditation is merely "the cultivation of resistance, of exclusive concentration on an idea of our choice". But what makes you choose? "What makes you say this is good, true, noble, and the rest is not? Obviously the choice is based on pleasure, reward or achievement; or it is merely a reaction of one's conditioning or tradition. Why do you choose at all? Why not examine every thought? When you are interested in the many, why choose one? Why not examine every interest? Instead of creating resistance, why not go into each interest as it arises, and not merely concentrate on one idea, one interest? After all, you are made up of many interests, you have many masks, consciously and unconsciously. Why choose one and discard all the others, in combating which you spend all your energies, thereby creating resistance, conflict and friction. Whereas if you consider every thought as it arises - every thought, not just a few thoughts - then there is no exclusion. But it is an arduous thing to examine every thought. Because, as you are looking at one thought, another slips in. But if you are aware without domination or justification, you will see that, by merely looking at that thought, no other thought intrudes. It is only when you condemn, compare, approximate, that other thoughts enter in."
"Judge not that ye be not judged." The gospel precept applies to our dealings with ourselves no less than to our dealings with others. Where there is judgement, where there is comparison and condemnation, openness of mind is absent; there can be no freedom from the tyranny of symbols and systems, no escape from the past and the environment. Introspection with a predetermined purpose, self-examination within the framework of some traditional code, some set of hallowed postulates - these do not, these cannot help us. There is a transcendent spontaneity of life, a `creative Reality', as Krishnamurti calls it, which reveals itself as immanent only when the perceiver's mind is in a state of `alert passivity', of `choiceless awareness'. Judgement and comparison commit us irrevocably to duality. Only choiceless awareness can lead to non-duality, to the reconciliation of opposites in a total understanding and a total love. Ama et fac quod vis. If you love, you may do what you will. But if you start by doing what you will, or by doing what you don't will in obedience to some traditional system or notions, ideals and prohibitions, you will never love. The liberating process must begin with the choiceless awareness of what you will and of your reactions to the symbol-system which tells you that you ought, or ought not, to will it. Through this choiceless awareness, as it penetrates the successive layers of the ego and its associated subconscious, will come love and understanding, but of another order than that with which we are ordinarily familiar. This choiceless awareness - at every moment and in all the circumstances of life - is the only effective meditation. All other forms of yoga lead either to the blind thinking which results from self-discipline, or to some kind of self-induced rapture, some form of false samadhi. The true liberation is "an inner freedom of creative Reality". This "is not a gift; it is to be discovered and experienced. It is not an acquisition to be gathered to yourself to glorify yourself. It is a state of being, as silence, in which there is no becoming, in which there is completeness. This creativeness may not necessarily seek expression; it is not a talent that demands outward manifestation. You need not be a great artist or have an audience; if you seek these, you will miss the inward Reality. It is neither a gift, nor is it the outcome of talent; it is to be found, this imperishable treasure, where thought frees itself from lust, ill will and ignorance, where thought frees itself from worldliness and personal craving to be. It is to be experienced through right thinking and meditation." Choiceless self-awareness will bring us to the creative Reality which underlies all our destructive make-believes, to the tranquil wisdom which is always there, in spite of ignorance, in spite of the knowledge which is merely ignorance in another form. Knowledge is an affair of symbols and is, all too often, a hindrance to wisdom, to the uncovering of the self from moment to moment. A mind that has come to the stillness of wisdom "shall know being, shall know what it is to love. Love is neither personal nor impersonal. Love is love, not to be defined or described by the mind as exclusive or inclusive. Love is its own eternity; it is the real, the supreme, the immeasurable."
Chapter - 1
TO COMMUNICATE with one another, even if we know each other very well, is extremely difficult. I may use words that may have to you a significance different from mine. Understanding comes when we, you and I, meet on the same level at the same time. That happens only when there is real affection between people, between husband and wife, between intimate fiends. That is real communion. Instantaneous understanding comes when we meet on the same level at the same time.
It is very difficult to commune with one another easily, effectively and with definitive action. I am using words which are simple, which are not technical, because I do not think that any technical type of expression is going to help us solve our difficult problems; so I am not going to use any technical terms, either of psychology or of science. I have not read any books on psychology or any religious books, fortunately. I would like to convey, by the very simple words which we use in our daily life, a deeper significance; but that is very difficult if you do not know how to listen.
There is an art of listening. To be able really to listen, one should abandon or put aside all prejudices, pre-formulations and daily activities. When you are in a receptive state of mind, things can be easily understood; you are listening when your real attention is given to something. But unfortunately most of us listen through a screen of resistance. We are screened with prejudices, whether religious or spiritual, psychological or scientific; or with our daily worries, desires and fears. And with these for a screen, we listen. Therefore, we listen really to our own noise, to our own sound, not to what is being said. It is extremely difficult to put aside our training, our prejudices, our inclination, our resistance, and, reaching beyond the verbal expression, to listen so that we understand instantaneously. That is going to be one of our difficulties.
If during this discourse, anything is said which is opposed to your way of thinking and belief just listen; do not resist. You may be right, and I may be wrong; but by listening and considering together we are going to find out what is the truth. Truth cannot be given to you by somebody. You have to discover it; and to discover, there must be a state of mind in which there is direct perception. There is no direct perception when there is a resistance, a safeguard, a protection. Understanding comes through being aware of what is. To know exactly what is, the real, the actual, without interpreting it, without condemning or justifying it, is, surely, the beginning of wisdom. It is only when we begin to interpret, to translate according to our conditioning, according to our prejudice, that we miss the truth. After all, it is like research. To know what something is, what it is exactly, requires research - you cannot translate it according to your moods. Similarly, if we can look, observe, listen, be aware of what is, exactly, then the problem is solved. And that is what we are going to do in all these discourses. I am going to point out to you what is, and not translate it according to my fancy; nor should you translate it or interpret it according to your background or training.
Is it not possible, then, to be aware of everything as it is? Starting from there, surely, there can be an understanding. To acknowledge, to be aware of to get at that which is, puts an end to struggle. If I know that I am a liar, and it is a fact which I recognize, then the struggle is over. To acknowledge, to be aware of what one is, is already the beginning of wisdom, the beginning of understanding, which releases you from time. To bring in the quality of time - time, not in the chronological sense, but as the medium, as the psychological process, the process of the mind - is destructive, and creates confusion. So, we can have understanding of what is when we recognize it without condemnation, without justification, without identification. To know that one is in a certain condition, in a certain state, is already a process of liberation; but a man who is not aware of his condition, of his struggle, tries to be something other than he is, which brings about habit. So, then, let us keep in mind that we want to examine what is, to observe and be aware of exactly what is the actual, without giving it any slant, without giving it an interpretation. It needs an extraordinarily astute mind, an extraordinarily pliable heart, to be aware of and to follow what is; because what is is constantly moving, constantly undergoing a transformation, and if the mind is tethered to belief, to knowledge, it ceases to pursue, it ceases to follow the swift movement of what is. What is is not static, surely - it is constantly moving, as you will see if you observe it very closely. To follow it, you need a very swift mind and a pliable heart - which are denied when the mind is static, fixed in a belief, in a prejudice, in an identification; and a mind and heart that are dry cannot follow easily, swiftly, that which is.
One is aware, I think, without too much discussion, too much verbal expression, that there is individual as well as collective chaos, confusion and misery. It is not only in India, but right throughout the world; in China, America, England, Germany, all over the world, there is confusion, mounting sorrow. It is not only national, it is not particularly here, it is all over the world. There is extraordinarily acute suffering, and it is not individual only but collective. So it is a world catastrophe, and to limit it merely to a geographical area, a coloured section of the map, is absurd; because then we shall not understand the full significance of this worldwide as well as individual suffering. Being aware of this confusion, what is our response today? How do we react?
There is suffering, political, social, religious; our whole psychological being is confused, and all the leaders, political and religious, have failed us; all the books have lost their significance. You may go to the Bhagavad Gita or the Bible or the latest treatise on politics or psychology, and you will find that they have lost that ring, that quality of truth; they have become mere words. You yourself who are the repeater of those words, are confused and uncertain, and mere repetition of words conveys nothing. Therefore the words and the books have lost their value; that is, if you quote the Bible, or Marx, or the Bhagavad Gita, as you who quote it are yourself uncertain, confused, your repetition becomes a lie; because what is written there becomes mere propaganda, and propaganda is not truth. So when you repeat, you have ceased to understand your own state of being. You are merely covering with words of authority your own confusion. But what we are trying to do is to understand this confusion and not cover it up with quotations; so what is your response to it? How do you respond to this extraordinary chaos, this confusion, this uncertainty of existence? Be aware of it, as I discuss it: follow, not my words, but the thought which is active in you. Most of us are accustomed to be spectators and not to partake in the game. We read books but we never write books. It has become our tradition, our national and universal habit, to be the spectators, to look on at a football game, to watch the public politicians and orators. We are merely the outsiders, looking on, and we have lost the creative capacity. Therefore we want to absorb and partake.
But if you are merely observing, if you are merely spectators, you will lose entirely the significance of this discourse, because this is not a lecture which you are to listen to from force of habit. I am not going to give you information which you can pick up in an encyclopaedia. What we are trying to do is to follow each other's thoughts, to pursue as far as we can, as profoundly as we can, the intimations, the responses of our own feelings. So please find out what your response is to this cause, to this suffering; not what somebody else's words are, but how you yourself respond. Your response is one of indifference if you benefit by the suffering, by the chaos, if you derive profit from it, either economic, social, political or psychological. Therefore you do not mind if this chaos continues. Surely, the more trouble there is in the world, the more chaos, the more one seeks security. Haven't you noticed it? When there is confusion in the world, psychologically and in every way, you enclose yourself in some kind of security, either that of a bank account or that of an ideology; or else you turn to prayer, you go to the temple - which is really escaping from what is happening in the world. More and more sects are being formed, more and more `isms' are springing up all over the world. Because the more confusion there is, the more you want a leader, somebody who will guide you out of this mess, so you turn to the religious books, or to one of the latest teachers; or else you act and respond according to a system which appears to solve the problem, a system either of the left or of the right. That is exactly what is happening.
The moment you are aware of confusion, of exactly what is, you try to escape from it. Those sects which offer you a system for the solution of suffering, economic, social or religious, are the worst; because then system becomes important and not man - whether it be a religious system, or a system of the left or of the right. System becomes important, the philosophy, the idea, becomes important, and not man; and for the sake of the idea, of the ideology, you are willing to sacrifice all mankind, which is exactly what is happening in the world. This is not merely my interpretation; if you observe, you will find that is exactly what is happening. The system has become important. Therefore, as the system has become important, men, you and I, lose significance; and the controllers of the system, whether religious or social, whether of the left or of the right, assume authority, assume power, and therefore sacrifice you, the individual. That is exactly what is happening.
Now what is the cause of this confusion, this misery? How did this misery come about, this suffering, not only inwardly but outwardly, this fear and expectation of war, the third world war that is breaking out? What is the cause of it? Surely it indicates the collapse of all moral, spiritual values, and the glorification of all sensual values, of the value of things made by the hand or by the mind. What happens when we have no other values except the value of the things of the senses, the value of the products of the mind, of the hand or of the machine? The more significance we give to the sensual value of things, the greater the confusion, is it not? Again, this is not my theory. You do not have to quote books to find out that your values, your riches, your economic and social existence are based on things made by the hand or by the mind. So we live and function and have our being steeped in sensual values, which means that things, the things of the mind, the things of the hand and of the machine, have become important; and when things become important, belief becomes predominantly significant - which is exactly what is happening in the world, is it not?
Thus, giving more and more significance to the values of the senses brings about confusion; and, being in confusion, we try to escape from it through various forms, whether religious, economic or social, or through ambition, through power, through the search for reality. But the real is near, you do not have to seek it; and a man who seeks truth will never find it. Truth is in what is - and that is the beauty of it. But the moment you conceive it, the moment you seek it, you begin to struggle; and a man who struggles cannot understand. That is why we have to be still, observant, passively aware. We see that our living, our action, is always within the field of destruction, within the field of sorrow; like a wave, confusion and chaos always overtake us. There is no interval in the confusion of existence.
Whatever we do at present seems to lead to chaos, seems to lead to sorrow and unhappiness. Look at your own life and you will see that our living is always on the border of sorrow. Our work, our social activity, our politics, the various gatherings of nations to stop war, all produce further war. Destruction follows in the wake of living; whatever we do leads to death. That is what is actually taking place. Can we stop this misery at once, and not go on always being caught by the wave of confusion and sorrow? That is, great teachers, whether the Buddha or the Christ, have come; they have accepted faith, making themselves, perhaps, free from confusion and sorrow. But they have never prevented sorrow, they have never stopped confusion. Confusion goes on, sorrow goes on. If you, seeing this social and economic confusion, this chaos, this misery, withdraw into what is called the religious life and abandon the world, you may feel that you are joining these great teachers; but the world goes on with its chaos, its misery and destruction, the everlasting suffering of its rich and poor. So, our problem, yours and mine, is whether we can step out of this misery instantaneously. If, living in the world, you refuse to be a part of it, you will help others out of this chaos - not in the future, not tomorrow, but now. Surely that is our problem. War is probably coming, more destructive, more appalling in its form. Surely we cannot prevent it, because the issues are much too strong and too close. But you and I can perceive the confusion and misery immediately, can we not? We must perceive them, and then we shall be in a position to awaken the same understanding of truth in another. In other words, can you be instantaneously free? - because that is the only way out of this misery. Perception can take place only in the present; but if you say, "I will do it tomorrow the wave of confusion overtakes you, and you are then always involved in confusion.
Now is it possible to come to that state when you yourself perceive the truth instantaneously and therefore put an end to confusion? I say that it is, and that it is the only possible way. I say it can be done and must be done, not based on supposition or belief. To bring about this extraordinary revolution - which is not the revolution to get rid of the capitalists and install another group - to bring about this wonderful transformation, which is the only true revolution, is the problem. What is generally called revolution is merely the modification or the continuance of the right according to the ideas of the left. The left, after all, is the continuation of the right in a modified form. If the right is based on sensual values, the left is but a continuance of the same sensual values, different only in degree or expression. Therefore true revolution can take place only when you, the individual, become aware in your relationship to another. Surely what you are in your relationship to another, to your wife, your child, your boss, your neighbour, is society. Society by itself is non-existent. Society is what you and I, in our relationship, have created; it is the outward projection of all our own inward psychological states. So if you and I do not understand ourselves, merely transforming the outer, which is the projection of the inner, has no significance whatsoever; that is there can be no significant alteration or modification in society so long as I do not understand myself in relationship to you. Being confused in my relationship, I create a society which is the replica, the outward expression of what I am. This is an obvious fact, which we can discuss. We can discuss whether society, the outward expression, has produced me, or whether I have produced society.
Is it not, therefore, an obvious fact that what I am in my relationship to another creates society and that, without radically transforming myself, there can be no transformation of the essential function of society? When we look to a system for the transformation of society, we are merely evading the question, because a system cannot transform man; man always transforms the system, which history shows. Until I, in my relationship to you, understand myself I am the cause of chaos, misery, destruction, fear, brutality. Understanding myself is not a matter of time; I can understand myself at this very moment. If I say, "I shall understand myself to-morrow", I am bringing in chaos and misery, my action is destructive. The moment I say that I "shall" understand, I bring in the time element and so am already caught up in the wave of confusion and destruction. Understanding is now, not tomorrow. To-morrow is for the lazy mind, the sluggish mind, the mind that is not interested. When you are interested in something, you do it instantaneously, there is immediate understanding, immediate transformation. If you do not change now, you will never change, because the change that takes place tomorrow is merely a modification, it is not transformation. Transformation can only take place immediately; the revolution is now, not tomorrow.
When that happens, you are completely without a problem, for then the self is not worried about itself; then you are beyond the wave of destruction.
Chapter - 2
What Are We Seeking?
WHAT IS IT THAT most of us are seeking? What is it that each one of us wants? Especially in this restless world, where everybody is trying to find some kind of peace, some kind of happiness, a refuge, surely it is important to find out, isn't it?, what it is that we are trying to seek, what it is that we are trying to discover. Probably most of us are seeking some kind of happiness, some kind of peace; in a world that is ridden with turmoil, wars, contention, strife, we want a refuge where there can be some peace. I think that is what most of us want. So we pursue, go from one leader to another, from one religious organization to another, from one teacher to another.
Now, is it that we are seeking happiness or is it that we are seeking gratification of some kind from which we hope to derive happiness? There is a difference between happiness and gratification. Can you seek happiness? Perhaps you can find gratification but surely you cannot find happiness. Happiness is derivative; it is a by-product of something else. So, before we give our minds and hearts to something which demands a great deal of earnestness, attention, thought, care, we must find out, must we not? what it is that we are seeking; whether it is happiness, or gratification. I am afraid most of us are seeking gratification. We want to be gratified, we want to find a sense of fullness at the end of our search.
After all, if one is seeking peace one can find it very easily. One can devote oneself blindly to some kind of cause, to an idea, and take shelter there. Surely that does not solve the problem. Mere isolation in an enclosing idea is not a release from conflict. So we must find, must we not? what it is, inwardly, as well as outwardly, that each one of us wants. If we are clear on that matter, then we don't have to go anywhere, to any teacher, to any church, to any organization. Therefore our difficulty is, to be clear in ourselves regarding our intention, is it not? Can we be clear? And does that clarity come through searching, through trying to find out what others say, from the highest teacher to the ordinary preacher in a church round the corner? Have you got to go to somebody to find out? Yet that is what we are doing, is it not? We read innumerable books, we attend many meetings and discuss, we join various organizations - trying thereby to find a remedy to the conflict, to the miseries in our lives. Or, if we don't do all that, we think we have found; that is we say that a particular organization, a particular teacher, a particular book satisfies us; we have found everything we want in that; and we remain in that, crystallized and enclosed.
Do we not seek, through all this confusion, something permanent, something lasting, something which we call real, God, truth, what you like - the name doesn't matter, the word is not the thing, surely. So don't let us be caught in words. Leave that to the professional lecturers. There is a search for something permanent, is there not? in most of us - something we can cling to, something which will give us assurance, a hope, a lasting enthusiasm, a lasting certainty, because in ourselves we are so uncertain. We do not know ourselves. We know a lot about facts, what the books have said; but we do not know for ourselves, we do not have a direct experience.
And what is it that we call permanent? What is it that we are seeking, which will, or which we hope will give us permanency? Are we not seeking lasting happiness, lasting gratification, lasting certainty? We want something that will endure everlastingly, which will gratify us. If we strip ourselves of all the words and phrases, and actually look at it, this is what we want. We want permanent pleasure, permanent gratification - which we call truth, God or what you will.
Very well, we want pleasure. Perhaps that may be putting it very crudely, but that is actually what we want - knowledge that will give us pleasure, experience that will give us pleasure, a gratification that will not wither away by tomorrow. And we have experimented with various gratifications, and they have all faded away; and we hope now to find permanent gratification in reality, in God. Surely, that is what we are all seeking - the clever ones and the stupid ones, the theorist and the factual person who is striving after something. And is there permanent gratification? Is there something which will endure?
Now, if you seek permanent gratification, calling it God, or truth, or what you will - the name does not matter - surely you must understand, must you not, the thing you are seeking. When you say, "I am seeking permanent happiness" - God, or truth, or what you like - must you not also understand the thing that is searching, the searcher, the seeker? Because there may be no such thing as permanent security, permanent happiness. Truth may be something entirely different; and I think it is utterly different from what you can see, conceive, formulate. Therefore, before we seek something permanent, is it not obviously necessary to understand the seeker? Is the seeker different from the thing he seeks? When you say, `'I am seeking happiness", is the seeker different from the object of his search? Is the thinker different from the thought? Are they not a joint phenomenon, rather than separate processes? Therefore it is essential, is it not? to understand the seeker, before you try to find out what it is he is seeking.
So we have to come to the point when we ask ourselves, really earnestly and profoundly, if peace, happiness, reality, God, or what you will, can be given to us by someone else. Can this incessant search, this longing, give us that extraordinary sense of reality, that creative being, which comes when we really understand ourselves? Does self-knowledge come through search, through following someone else, through belonging to any particular organization, through reading books, and so on? After all, that is the main issue, is it not? that so long as I do not understand myself, I have no basis for thought, and all my search will be in vain. I can escape into illusions, I can run away from contention, strife, struggle; I can worship another; I can look for my salvation through somebody else. But so long as I am ignorant of myself, so long as I am unaware of the total process of myself I have no basis for thought, for affection, for action.
But that is the last thing we want: to know ourselves. Surely that is the only foundation on which we can build. But, before we can build, before we can transform, before we can condemn or destroy, we must know that which we are. To go out seeking, changing teachers, gurus, practicing yoga, breathing, performing rituals, following Masters and all the rest of it, is utterly useless, is it not? It has no meaning, even though the very people whom we follow may say: "Study yourself", because what we are, the world is. If we are petty, jealous, vain, greedy - that is what we create about us, that is the society in which we live.
It seems to me that before we set out on a journey to find reality, to find God, before we can act, before we can have any relationship with another, which is society, it is essential that we begin to understand ourselves first. I consider the earnest person to be one who is completely concerned with this, first, and not with how to arrive at a particular goal, because, if you and I do not understand ourselves, how can we, in action, bring about a transformation in society, in relationship, in anything that we do? And it does not mean, obviously, that self-knowledge is opposed to, or isolated from, relationship. It does not mean, obviously, emphasis on the individual, the me, as opposed to the mass, as opposed to another.
Now without knowing yourself, without knowing your own way of thinking and why you think certain things, without knowing the background of your conditioning and why you have certain beliefs about art and religion, about your country and your neighbour and about yourself how can you think truly about anything? Without knowing your background, without knowing the substance of your thought and whence it comes - surely your search is utterly futile, your action has no meaning, has it? Whether you are an American or a Hindu or whatever your religion is has no meaning either.
Before we can find out what the end purpose of life is, what it all means - wars, national antagonisms, conflicts, the whole mess - we must begin with ourselves, must we not? It sounds so simple, but it is extremely difficult. To follow oneself to see how one's thought operates, one has to be extraordinarily alert, so that as one begins to be more and more alert to the intricacies of one's own thinking and responses and feelings, one begins to have a greater awareness, not only of oneself but of another with whom one is in relationship. To know oneself is to study oneself in action, which is relationship. The difficulty is that we are so impatient; we want to get on, we want to reach an end, and so we have neither the time nor the occasion to give ourselves the opportunity to study, to observe. Alternatively we have committed ourselves to various activities - to earning a livelihood, to rearing children - or have taken on certain responsibilities of various organizations; we have so committed ourselves in different ways that we have hardly any time for self-reflection, to observe, to study. So really the responsibility of the reaction depends on oneself not on another. The pursuit, all the world over, of gurus and their systems, reading the latest book on this and that, and so on, seems to me so utterly empty, so utterly futile, for you may wander all over the earth but you have to come back to yourself. And, as most of us are totally unaware of ourselves, it is extremely difficult to begin to see clearly the process of our thinking and feeling and acting.
The more you know yourself the more clarity there is. Self-knowledge has no end - you don't come to an achievement, you don't come to a conclusion. It is an endless river. As one studies it, as one goes into it more and more, one finds peace. Only when the mind is tranquil - through self-knowledge and not through imposed self-discipline - only then, in that tranquillity, in that silence, can reality come into being. It is only then that there can be bliss, that there can be creative action. And it seems to me that without this understanding, without this experience, merely to read books, to attend talks, to do propaganda, is so infantile - just an activity without much meaning; whereas if one is able to understand oneself, and thereby bring about that creative happiness, that experiencing of something that is not of the mind, then perhaps there can be a transformation in the immediate relationship about us and so in the world in which we live.
Chapter - 3
Individual and Society
THE PROBLEM THAT confronts most of us is whether the individual is merely the instrument of society or the end of society. Are you and I as individuals to be used, directed, educated, controlled, shaped to a certain pattern by society and government; or does society, the State, exist for the individual? Is the individual the end of society; or is he merely a puppet to be taught, exploited, butchered as an instrument of war? That is the problem that is confronting most of us. That is the problem of the world; whether the individual is a mere instrument of society, a plaything of influences to be moulded; or whether society exists for the individual.
How are you going to find this out? It is a serious problem, isn't it? If the individual is merely an instrument of society, then society is much more important than the individual. If that is true, then we must give up individuality and work for society; our whole educational system must be entirely revolutionized and the individual turned into an instrument to be used and destroyed, liquidated, got rid of but if society exists for the individual, then the function of society is not to make him conform to any pattern but to give him the feel, the urge of freedom. So we have to find out which is false.
How would you inquire into this problem? It is a vital problem, isn't it? It is not dependent on any ideology, either of the left or of the right; and if it is dependent on an ideology, then it is merely a matter of opinion. Ideas always breed enmity, confusion, conflict. If you depend on books of the left or of the right or on sacred books, then you depend on mere opinion, whether of Buddha, of Christ, of capitalism, communism or what you will. They are ideas, not truth. A fact can never be denied. Opinion about fact can be denied. If we can discover what the truth of the matter is, we shall be able to act independently of opinion. Is it not, therefore, necessary to discard what others have said? The opinion of the leftist or other leaders is the outcome of their conditioning, so if you depend for your discovery on what is found in books, you are merely bound by opinion. It is not a matter of knowledge.
How is one to discover the truth of this? On that we will act. To find the truth of this, there must be freedom from all propaganda, which means you are capable of looking at the problem independently of opinion. The whole task of education is to awaken the individual. To see the truth of this, you will have to be very clear, which means you cannot depend on a leader. When you choose a leader you do so out of confusion, and so your leaders are also confused, and that is what is happening in the world. Therefore you cannot look to your leader for guidance or help.
A mind that wishes to understand a problem must not only understand the problem completely, wholly, but must be able to follow it swiftly, because the problem is never static. The problem is always new, whether it is a problem of starvation, a psychological problem, or any problem. Any crisis is always new; therefore, to understand it, a mind must always be fresh, clear, swift in its pursuit. I think most of us realize the urgency of an inward revolution, which alone can bring about a radical transformation of the outer, of society. This is the problem with which I myself and all seriously-intentioned people are occupied. How to bring about a fundamental, a radical transformation in society, is our problem; and this transformation of the outer cannot take place without inner revolution. Since society is always static, any action, any reform which is accomplished without this inward revolution becomes equally static; so there is no hope without this constant inward revolution, because, without it, outer action becomes repetitive, habitual. The action of relationship between you and another, between you and me, is society; and that society becomes static, it has no life-giving quality, so long as there is not this constant inward revolution, a creative, psychological transformation; and it is because there is not this constant inward revolution that society is always becoming static, crystallized, and has therefore constantly to be broken up.
What is the relationship between yourself and the misery, the confusion, in and around you? Surely this confusion, this misery, did not come into being by itself. You and I have created it, not a capitalist nor a communist nor a fascist society, but you and I have created it in our relationship with each other. What you are within has been projected without, on to the world; what you are, what you think and what you feel, what you do in your everyday existence, is projected outwardly, and that constitutes the world. If we are miserable, confused, chaotic within, by projection that becomes the world, that becomes society, because the relationship between yourself and myself between myself and another is society - society is the product of our relationship - and if our relationship is confused, egocentric, narrow, limited, national, we project that and bring chaos into the world.
What you are, the world is. So your problem is the world's problem. Surely, this is a simple and basic fact, is it not? In our relationship with the one or the many we seem somehow to overlook this point all the time. We want to bring about alteration through a system or through a revolution in ideas or values based on a system, forgetting that it is you and I who create society, who bring about confusion or order by the way in which we live. So we must begin near, that is we must concern ourselves with our daily existence, with our daily thoughts and feelings and actions which are revealed in the manner of earning our livelihood and in our relationship with ideas or beliefs. This is our daily existence, is it not? We are concerned with livelihood, getting jobs, earning money; we are concerned with the relationship with our family or with our neighbours, and we are concerned with ideas and with beliefs. Now, if you examine our occupation, it is fundamentally based on envy, it is not just a means of earning a livelihood. Society is so constructed that it is a process of constant conflict, constant becoming; it is based on greed, on envy, envy of your superior; the clerk wanting to become the manager, which shows that he is not just concerned with earning a livelihood, a means of subsistence, but with acquiring position and prestige. This attitude naturally creates havoc in society, in relationship, but if you and I were only concerned with livelihood we should find out the right means of earning it, a means not based on envy. Envy is one of the most destructive factors in relationship because envy indicates the desire for power, for position, and it ultimately leads to politics; both are closely related. The clerk, when he seeks to become a manager, becomes a factor in the creation of power-politics which produce war; so he is directly responsible for war.
What is our relationship based on? The relationship between yourself and myself, between yourself and another - which is society - what is it based on? Surely not on love, though we talk about it. It is not based on love, because if there were love there would be order, there would be peace, happiness between you and me. But in that relationship between you and me there is a great deal of ill will which assumes the form of respect. If we were both equal in thought, in feeling, there would be no respect, there would be no ill will, because we would be two individuals meeting, not as disciple and teacher, nor as the husband dominating the wife, nor as the wife dominating the husband. When there is ill will there is a desire to dominate which arouses jealousy, anger, passion, all of which in our relationship creates constant conflict from which we try to escape, and this produces further chaos, further misery.
Now as regards ideas which are part of our daily existence, beliefs and formulations, are they not distorting our minds? For what is stupidity? Stupidity is the giving of wrong values to those things which the mind creates, or to those things which the hands produce. Most of our thoughts spring from the self-protective instinct, do they not? Our ideas, oh, so many of them, do they not receive the wrong significance, one which they have not in themselves? Therefore when we believe in any form, whether religious, economic or social, when we believe in God, in ideas, in a social system which separates man from man, in nationalism and so on, surely we are giving a wrong significance to belief which indicates stupidity, for belief divides people, doesn't unite people. So we see that by the way we live we can produce order or chaos, peace or conflict, happiness or misery.
So our problem, is it not? is whether there can be a society which is static, and at the same time an individual in whom this constant revolution is taking place. That is, revolution in society must begin with the inner, psychological transformation of the individual. Most of us want to see a radical transformation in the social structure. That is the whole battle that is going on in the world - to bring about a social revolution through communistic or any other means. Now if there is a social revolution, that is an action with regard to the outer structure of man, however radical that social revolution may be its very nature is static if there is no inward revolution of the individual, no psychological transformation. Therefore to bring about a society that is not repetitive, nor static, not disintegrating, a society that is constantly alive, it is imperative that there should be a revolution in the psychological structure of the individual, for without inward, psychological revolution, mere transformation of the outer has very little significance. That is society is always becoming crystallized, static, and is therefore always disintegrating. However much and however wisely legislation may be promulgated, society is always in the process of decay because revolution must take place within, not merely outwardly. I think it is important to understand this and not slur over it. Outward action, when accomplished, is over, is static; if the relationship between individuals, which is society, is not the outcome of inward revolution, then the social structure, being static, absorbs the individual and therefore makes him equally static, repetitive. Realizing this, realizing the extraordinary significance of this fact, there can be no question of agreement or disagreement. It is a fact that society is always crystallizing and absorbing the individual and that constant, creative revolution can only be in the individual, not in society, not in the outer. That is creative revolution can take place only in individual relationship, which is society. We see how the structure of the present society in India, in Europe, in America, in every part of the world, is rapidly disintegrating; and we know it within our own lives. We can observe it as we go down the streets. We do not need great historians to tell us the fact that our society is crumbling; and there must be new architects, new builders, to create a new society. The structure must be built on a new foundation, on newly discovered facts and values. Such architects do not yet exist. There are no builders, none who, observing, becoming aware of the fact that the structure is collapsing, are transforming themselves into architects. That is our problem. We see society crumbling, disintegrating; and it is we, you and I, who have to be the architects. You and I have to rediscover the values and build on a more fundamental, lasting foundation; because if we look to the professional architects, the political and religious builders, we shall be precisely in the same position as before.
Because you and I are not creative, we have reduced society to this chaos, so you and I have to be creative because the problem is urgent; you and I must be aware of the causes of the collapse of society and create a new structure based not on mere imitation but on our creative understanding. Now this implies, does it not?, negative thinking. Negative thinking is the highest form of understanding. That is in order to understand what is creative thinking, we must approach the problem negatively, because a positive approach to the problem - which is that you and I must become creative in order to build a new structure of society - will be imitative. To understand that which is crumbling, we must investigate it, examine it negatively - not with a positive system, a positive formula, a positive conclusion.
Why is society crumbling, collapsing, as it surely is? One of the fundamental reasons is that the individual, you, has ceased to be creative. I will explain what I mean. You and I have become imitative, we are copying, outwardly and inwardly. Outwardly, when learning a technique, when communicating with each other on the verbal level, naturally there must be some imitation, copy. I copy words. To become an engineer, I must first learn the technique, then use the technique to build a bridge. There must be a certain amount of imitation, copying, in outward technique, but when there is inward, psychological imitation surely we cease to be creative. Our education, our social structure, our so-called religious life, are all based on imitation; that is I fit into a particular social or religious formula. I have ceased to be a real individual; psychologically, I have become a mere repetitive machine with certain conditioned responses, whether those of the Hindu, the Christian, the Buddhist, the German or the Englishman. Our responses are conditioned according to the pattern of society, whether it is eastern or western, religious or materialistic. So one of the fundamental causes of the disintegration of society is imitation, and one of the disintegrating factors is the leader, whose very essence is imitation.
In order to understand the nature of disintegrating society is it not important to inquire whether you and I, the individual, can be creative? We can see that when there is imitation there must be disintegration; when there is authority there must be copying. And since our whole mental, psychological make-up is based on authority, there must be freedom from authority, to be creative. Have you not noticed that in moments of creativeness, those rather happy moments of vital interest, there is no sense of repetition, no sense of copying? Such moments are always new, fresh, creative, happy. So we see that one of the fundamental causes of the disintegration of society is copying, which is the worship of authority.
Chapter - 4
THE PROBLEMS OF the world are so colossal, so very complex, that to understand and so to resolve them one must approach them in a very simple and direct manner; and simplicity, directness, do not depend on outward circumstances nor on our particular prejudices and moods. As I was pointing out, the solution is not to be found through conferences, blueprints, or through the substitution of new leaders for old, and so on, The solution obviously lies in the creator of that problem, in the creator of the mischief, of the hate and of the enormous misunderstanding that exists between human beings, The creator of this mischief, the creator of these problems, is the individual, you and I, not the world as we think of it. The world is your relationship with another. The world is not something separate from you and me; the world, society, is the relationship that we establish or seek to establish between each other.
So you and I are the problem, and not the world, because the world is the projection of ourselves and to understand the world we must understand ourselves. That world is not separate from us; we are the world, and our problems are the world's problems. This cannot be repeated too often, because we are so sluggish in our mentality that we think the world's problems are not our business, that they have to be resolved by the United Nations or by substituting new leaders for the old. It is a very dull mentality that thinks like that, because we are responsible for this frightful misery and confusion in the world, this ever-impending war. To transform the world, we must begin with ourselves; and what is important in beginning with ourselves is the intention. The intention must be to understand ourselves and not to leave it to others to transform themselves or to bring about a modified change through revolution, either of the left or of the right. It is important to understand that this is our responsibility, yours and mine; because, however small may be the world we live in, if we can transform ourselves, bring about a radically different point of view in our daily existence, then perhaps we shall affect the world at large, the extended relationship with others.
As I said, we are going to try and find out the process of understanding ourselves, which is not an isolating process. It is not withdrawal from the world, because you cannot live in isolation. To be is to be related, and there is no such thing as living in isolation. It is the lack of right relationship that brings about conflicts, misery and strife; however small our world may be, if we can transform our relationship in that narrow world, it will be like a wave extending outward all the time. I think it is important to see that point, that the world is our relationship, however narrow; and if we can bring a transformation there, not a superficial but a radical transformation, then we shall begin actively to transform the world. Real revolution is not according to any particular pattern, either of the left or of the right, but it is a revolution of values, a revolution from sensate values to the values that are not sensate or created by environmental influences. To find these true values which will bring about a radical revolution, a transformation or a regeneration, it is essential to understand oneself. Self-knowledge is the beginning of wisdom, and therefore the beginning of transformation or regeneration. To understand oneself there must be the intention to understand - and that is where our difficulty comes in. Although most of us are discontented, we desire to bring about a sudden change, our discontent is canalized merely to achieve a certain result; being discontented, we either seek a different job or merely succumb to environment. Discontent, instead of setting us aflame, causing us to question life, the whole process of existence, is canalized, and thereby we become mediocre, losing that drive, that intensity to find out the whole significance of existence. Therefore it is important to discover these things for ourselves, because self-knowledge cannot be given to us by another, it is not to be found through any book. We must discover, and to discover there must be the intention, the search, the inquiry. So long as that intention to find out, to inquire deeply, is weak or does not exist, mere assertion or a casual wish to find out about oneself is of very little significance.
Thus the transformation of the world is brought about by the transformation of oneself, because the self is the product and a part of the total process of human existence. To transform oneself, self-knowledge is essential; without knowing what you are, there is no basis for right thought, and without knowing yourself there cannot be transformation. One must know oneself as one is, not as one wishes to be which is merely an ideal and therefore fictitious, unreal; it is only that which is that can be transformed, not that which you wish to be. To know oneself as one is requires an extraordinary alertness of mind, because what is is constantly undergoing transformation, change, and to follow it swiftly the mind must not be tethered to any particular dogma or belief, to any particular pattern of action. If you would follow anything it is no good being tethered. To know yourself, there must be the awareness, the alertness of mind in which there is freedom from all beliefs, from all idealization because beliefs and ideals only give you a colour, perverting true perception. If you want to know what you are you cannot imagine or have belief in something which you are not. If I am greedy, envious, violent, merely having an ideal of non-violence, of non-greed, is of little value. But to know that one is greedy or violent, to know and understand it, requires an extraordinary perception, does it not? It demands honesty, clarity of thought, whereas to pursue an ideal away from what is is an escape; it prevents you from discovering and acting directly upon what you are.
The understanding of what you are, whatever it be - ugly or beautiful, wicked or mischievous - the understanding of what you are, without distortion, is the beginning of virtue. Virtue is essential, for it gives freedom. It is only in virtue that you can discover, that you can live - not in the cultivation of a virtue, which merely brings about respectability, not understanding and freedom. There is a difference between being virtuous and becoming virtuous. Being virtuous comes through the understanding of what is, whereas becoming virtuous is postponement, the covering up of what is with what you would like to be. Therefore in becoming virtuous you are avoiding action directly upon what is. This process of avoiding what is through the cultivation of the ideal is considered virtuous; but if you look at it closely and directly you will see that it is nothing of the kind. It is merely a postponement of coming face to face with what is. Virtue is not the becoming of what is not; virtue is the understanding of what is and therefore the freedom from what is. Virtue is essential in a society that is rapidly disintegrating. In order to create a new world, a new structure away from the old, there must be freedom to discover; and to be free, there must be virtue, for without virtue there is no freedom. Can the immoral man who is striving to become virtuous ever know virtue? The man who is not moral can never be free, and therefore he can never find out what reality is. Reality can be found only in understanding what is; and to understand what is, there must be freedom, freedom from the fear of what is.
To understand that process there must be the intention to know what is, to follow every thought, feeling and action; and to understand ‘what is’ is extremely difficult, because ‘what is’ is never still, never static, it is always in movement. The ‘what is’ is what you are, not what you would like to be; it is not the ideal, because the ideal is fictitious, but it is actually what you are doing, thinking and feeling from moment to moment. What is is the actual, and to understand the actual requires awareness, a very alert, swift mind. But if we begin to condemn what is, if we begin to blame or resist it, then we shall not understand its movement. If I want to understand somebody, I cannot condemn him: I must observe, study him. I must love the very thing I am studying. If you want to understand a child, you must love and not condemn him. You must play with him, watch his movements, his idiosyncrasies, his ways of behaviour; but if you merely condemn, resist or blame him, there is no comprehension of the child. Similarly, to understand what is, one must observe what one thinks, feels and does from moment to moment. That is the actual. Any other action, any ideal or ideological action, is not the actual; it is merely a wish, a fictitious desire to be something other than what is.
To understand what is requires a state of mind in which there is no identification or condemnation, which means a mind that is alert and yet passive. We are in that state when we really desire to understand something; when the intensity of interest is there, that state of mind comes into being. When one is interested in understanding what is, the actual state of the mind, one does not need to force, discipline, or control it; on the contrary, there is passive alertness, watchfulness. This state of awareness comes when there is interest, the intention to understand.
The fundamental understanding of oneself does not come through knowledge or through the accumulation of experiences, which is merely the cultivation of memory. The understanding of oneself is from moment to moment; if we merely accumulate knowledge of the self, that very knowledge prevents further understanding, because accumulated knowledge and experience becomes the centre through which thought focuses and has its being. The world is not different from us and our activities because it is what we are which creates the problems of the world; the difficulty with the majority of us is that we do not know ourselves directly, but seek a system, a method, a means of operation by which to solve the many human problems.
Now is there a means, a system, of knowing oneself? Any clever person, any philosopher, can invent a system, a method; but surely the following of a system will merely produce a result created by that system, will it not? If I follow a particular method of knowing myself, then I shall have the result which that system necessitates; but the result will obviously not be the understanding of myself. That is by following a method, a system, a means through which to know myself, I shape my thinking, my activities, according to a pattern; but the following of a pattern is not the understanding of oneself.
Therefore there is no method for self-knowledge. Seeking a method invariably implies the desire to attain some result - and that is what we all want. We follow authority - if not that of a person, then of a system, of an ideology - because we want a result which will be satisfactory, which will give us security. We really do not want to understand ourselves, our impulses and reactions, the whole process of our thinking, the conscious as well as the unconscious; we would rather pursue a system which assures us of a result. But the pursuit of a system is invariably the outcome of our desire for security, for certainty, and the result is obviously not the understanding of oneself. When we follow a method, we must have authorities - the teacher, the guru, the saviour, the Master - who will guarantee us what we desire; and surely that is not the way to self-knowledge.
Authority prevents the understanding of oneself, does it not? Under the shelter of an authority, a guide, you may have temporarily a sense of security, a sense of well-being, but that is not the understanding of the total process of oneself. Authority in its very nature prevents the full awareness of oneself and therefore ultimately destroys freedom; in freedom alone can there be creativeness. There can be creativeness only through self-knowledge. Most of us are not creative; we are repetitive machines, mere gramophone records playing over and over again certain songs of experience, certain conclusions and memories, either our own or those of another. Such repetition is not creative being - but it is what we want. Because we want to be inwardly secure, we are constantly seeking methods and means for this security, and thereby we create authority, the worship of another, which destroys comprehension, that spontaneous tranquillity of mind in which alone there can be a state of creativeness.
Surely our difficulty is that most of us have lost this sense of creativeness. To be creative does not mean that we must paint pictures or write poems and become famous. That is not creativeness - it is merely the capacity to express an idea, which the public applauds or disregards. Capacity and creativeness should not be confused. Capacity is not creativeness. Creativeness is quite a different state of being, is it not? It is a state in which the self is absent, in which the mind is no longer a focus of our experiences, our ambitions, our pursuits and our desires. Creativeness is not a continuous state, it is new from moment to moment, it is a movement in which there is not the `me', the `mine', in which the thought is not focused on any particular experience, ambition, achievement, purpose and motive. It is only when the self is not that there is creativeness - that state of being in which alone there can be reality, the creator of all things. But that state cannot be conceived or imagined, it cannot be formulated or copied, it cannot be attained through any system, through any philosophy, through any discipline; on the contrary, it comes into being only through understanding the total process of oneself.
The understanding of oneself is not a result, a culmination; it is seeing oneself from moment to moment in the mirror of relationship - one's relationship to property, to things, to people and to ideas. But we find it difficult to be alert, to be aware, and we prefer to dull our minds by following a method, by accepting authorities, superstitions and gratifying theories; so our minds become weary, exhausted and insensitive. Such a mind cannot be in a state of creativeness. That state of creativeness comes only when the self, which is the process of recognition and accumulation, ceases to be; because, after all, consciousness as the `me' is the centre of recognition, and recognition is merely the process of the accumulation of experience. But we are all afraid to be nothing, because we all want to be something. The little man wants to be a big man, the un-virtuous wants to be virtuous, the weak and obscure crave power, position and authority. This is the incessant activity of the mind. Such a mind cannot be quiet and therefore can never understand the state of creativeness.
In order to transform the world about us, with its misery, wars, unemployment, starvation, class divisions and utter confusion, there must be a transformation in ourselves. The revolution must begin within oneself - but not according to any belief or ideology, because revolution based on an idea, or in conformity to a particular pattern, is obviously no revolution at all. To bring about a fundamental revolution in oneself one must understand the whole process of one's thought and feeling in relationship. That is the only solution to all our problems - not to have more disciplines, more beliefs, more ideologies and more teachers. If we can understand ourselves as we are from moment to moment without the process of accumulation, then we shall see how there comes a tranquillity that is not a product of the mind, a tranquillity that is neither imagined nor cultivated; and only in that state of tranquillity can there be creativeness.