Thought and the problems of our world
Our consciousness is the common ground on which all humanity stands
1st Public Talk, Brockwood Park
August 29, 1981
I hope that you will not treat this as a weekend affair.
The politicians are thinking in terms of tribalism, they have not the global outlook, or the concern with the whole of humanity. They are concerned about their own insular party, their own ideologies and theories. They are not concerned with humanity. Nor are the scientists, they are helping to create the bomb, or have helped to create it, and they too, it appears, are not deeply concerned with the future of man. Nor, obviously, the religious people - the established, orthodox, traditional religion - they are not thinking in terms of the whole religious mind of all humanity. Nor are the gurus - you have seen the latest television and all that nonsense that goes on in the world. And they have their own particular form of discipline, ashramas which are really concentration camps and so on.
So when you look around all over the world, there is no one concerned deeply, sincerely, with the future of man. So it behoves us not to depend on anybody, including the speaker. It behoves us to be utterly responsible for our own conduct, our own attitudes, prejudices and so on. If one is concerned at all about mankind, about man, about the human being that is caught in this modern society, which is already disintegrating, where there is so much violence, despair, anxiety, uncertainty, it seems to one that we have to be responsible for all our actions. We are the humanity. What we suffer, what we go through in daily life, our quarrels, our disenchantment, all our troubles, religious, psychological, political, is the concern of all human beings.
Wherever you go all over the world every human being faces this problem, not only us here in this tent, in this island but all over Europe, America, and India and Asia, they are all uncertain, there is no security, there is terrorism. And to escape from all this they are trying to form some kind of community, a commune where they can be safe. But one cannot be safe in this world as it is. So what we are, our consciousness, our attitudes, our miseries, are like the rest of the world. This is a fact. And our consciousness is the rest of mankind. Please, as we have said, during all these talks, during the past and the present talks, please let us think together, not you think one way, I think another way, but let us think together and observe what is happening round us. Not as British, as French, as Irish, or American, or as Hindus, but as human beings living on this earth, which is our earth, not the British, not the French, not the American, nor the Russian, it's our earth on which we are supposed to live happily, securely, which is being utterly denied to all of us. After all these twenty, thirty centuries, we are what we were at the very beginning of time, slightly modified, perhaps better bathrooms, better communication, better hygiene and so on, but there are the wars that are threatening, not only far away but this may happen any time very close to us; because it is in the hands of these extraordinary politicians and we have trusted our lives to them and they are not giving us security.
And seeing all that, what is one to do? What is, as a human being living in this dreadful world, which is becoming more and more dangerous, more and more insecure, both theologically as well as physically, what is one to do? What action, what kind of attitudes, what kind of beliefs and so on is one to have? Or, we have tried all those, we have had ideals, various forms of faiths, dogmas, political theories, dialecticism, opinion against opinion, and through opinion trying to find out what is truth. We have had all these and many more varieties of political, religious thinking. But apparently all those activities have not deeply, profoundly affected man. We have not, observing what is taking place in the world objectively, we have not progressed very much psychologically, inwardly. We are still burdened with sorrow, with fear, with the urge to find something that is beyond all time, beyond all belief. And after all these millions of years we are still where we were, fighting each other, killing each other, more efficiently and on a vast, wide scale.
So seeing all that, one asks oneself if one is at all serious: what is our action as a human being, living in this world, what is it to be? Or is the question limited? Not what I should do, or you should do, which becomes rather limited, but rather as a human being representing the rest of mankind, because we are the rest of mankind, because all mankind wherever they live go through all kinds of disasters, despairs, anxieties, fears, we are like the rest of mankind. I think the right question would be: what, as a human being who is the whole of mankind, if you realise that, that you are not a separate individual fighting your own little battle in your own backyard, as it were, between two human beings, but rather that we are, each one of us, is the rest of mankind. One may intellectually observe it, logically see that wherever one lives under whatever form of government, tyrannical or so-called democratic, Left or Right, and whatever their religious beliefs may be, man, throughout the world, is in a state of confusion, state of despair, there is very little future for him. So if one realises that we are the rest of mankind, then as a human being who is the whole of mankind, what is he to do?
Then the question becomes extraordinarily wide and important. I don't know if we agree to this, if we see this thing together. That is, if we both of us observe the same thing - not according to one's own particular conditioning, as a Christian, Hindu or whatever it is, but seeing the actual, that we are not separate individuals living in this planet, struggling, struggling, struggling but we are the rest of mankind, actually, psychologically. Physically you may be different, you may be tall, brown, white, pink, black, whatever the colour, but inwardly, psychologically, deeply there is a great similarity, a common ground upon which we all stand. This is logical, this is real, this is not a theory invented by the speaker, an ideal to be pursued, some Utopia to be worked for, but an actuality, which is that each one of us is not a separate individual on this earth but we are the rest of mankind. One may intellectually, that is, verbally, theoretically accept such a proposition, but the intellectual comprehension is rather superficial. But if one felt this actually in one's heart, in the very depth of one's being, that we are not individuals as we have been educated, conditioned, all religions have maintained that we are separate individuals, our separate souls, separate - to use certain Indian Sanskrit words, which we won't (laughter) - that we are all separate individuals, each one seeking his own salvation, each one seeking his own fulfilment, fulfilling his own particular demands, which is what every human being in the world is doing. This is the common ground on which we stand. If one - or when one actually realises this, that our consciousness is the consciousness of the rest of mankind, it is a tremendous revolution. Not only the verbal, logical understanding of it but the feeling, the beauty, the passion behind it, the vitality behind such comprehension of truth, then one has a great deal of energy. The battle then is with the world not with your little self.
So our consciousness is made up of all our thoughts, is made up of all the contents of our civilization, traditional religions with their dogmas, beliefs, all that, and also the specialization, being educated in a certain direction, that is part of our consciousness. Part of our consciousness is our belief, our experience, our griefs, sorrows, pains, accidents, experiences, all that and more is our consciousness. Right? Can we go on? Are we thinking together? I am not telling you for you to accept or to reject but we are thinking together by observing what is going on in the world and what is going on inwardly in ourselves. And seeing what other human beings are going through, you must invariably come to this reality, to this truth that we are all whole, we are not separate. And our consciousness is put together by thought. Right? Are we together in all this? Thought predominates all our activities. Thought has constructed the atom bomb, the marvellous cathedrals and the things that are in the cathedrals. Thought has created all the travail, all the problems that we have. If we do not think at all, if there is no possibility of a single movement of thought, there would be no problem. Probably we would be like vegetables but we would have no problems.
So thought is responsible for fear, for anxiety, for sorrow, for the pursuit of happiness and the pursuit of what is called god, enlightenment, it is all the movement of thought. Again, it is not a particular theory of the speaker but it is an actuality. Thought has invented all the religions, all the content of the religions, the rituals, the dogmas, the beliefs, the hierarchical outlook of a religious mind - all the product of thought. There is no denying of that. Thought may say what is being said in all the scriptures is above thought, but it represents, it is put down by thought, obviously. All the literature, religious and otherwise, is the result of thought. Right? And our brains are trained to solve problems which thought has created. Again that is fairly clear. I hope you are all following all this. Are we following each other? Right?
Our brains are trained to solve problems, whether the problems be scientific, engineering, social or religious and so on, the brain through all these centuries has been trained to solve those problems. The brain is the movement of thought. We are only using a small part of the brain. The specialist will tell you this too, that we are not employing the whole of the brain but only very small part of it. And that part is conditioned by time, which is evolution, by experience, by knowledge, that part has been trained to solve problems which thought has created. See what the brain is doing. First it has been educated to act partially, and that partiality is the result of partial thinking. Thinking is limited because it is based on knowledge, on experience and so on memory, so knowledge can never be complete about anything. Right? And so our thinking is limited. And that thinking creates the problems and our brains are trained to solve the problems which thought has created and so it is caught in this cycle. Right? I wonder if we see this together. Right?
Please, let's think together. Don't make an effort to think. Probably you are not used to this kind of thinking, but just observe. Let's observe together what thought is, how thought has created this tent, the light, electric light, the roads, the motor cars, the gods, all the things that thought has done is incredible. Not only has it created wars but also all the instruments of war. It has created nationalities, divisions, the separate religious divisions, as the Hindus, the Buddhists, and so on. Thought has been responsible for this, because thought says I must be secure. To be secure I must have a relationship with others, with those others who live in a community, the community being isolated, separate nationalities in which there is security, then that seeking security through nationalism is creating, partly, wars. So the problem is there again. You follow all this? Thought creates the problem and then tries to solve the problem. And in trying to solve the problem it becomes more and more complicated, which is happening in the world. The politicians are trying to solve problems, but they are not, they are increasing them. Like the gurus they want to solve problems, they are again multiplying them. This is happening.
So if we begin to understand the nature of thought, and thought being limited and knowledge also always limited, one must find a different action, not that of thought - you're following? - but there must be a different avenue, a different approach to the whole problem of existence. Is this somewhat - are we meeting together? We have approached the problem of existence with all the travail, with all the complexities of it by the employment of thought, by the intellect, or romantically, emotionally, sentimentally. Neither of these two have worked, which is obvious. So there must be a different approach to the whole problem of existence. The existence which is common to all mankind, not my existence, your existence, but the existence of mankind, living on this earth. Mankind that has suffered so enormously through innumerable wars and we are still perpetuating the same thing. I wonder if you have noticed that no one talks anymore about peace, even the priests have given that up, except the gurus who talk about peace somewhere else. There are no pacifists any more, there are no really deep conscientious objectors, nobody says, 'Let's all be against war, the whole world'. Nobody talks about it. They demonstrate against this or that, or they have peculiar isolated demands, but nobody, as far as one has observed and one may be mistaken, there is not a group of people, as there were in the ancient days, who says, 'We are against war, we will not kill under any circumstances' - and the usual question: 'What would you do if your sister is attacked?' - you follow? That is just an evasion of the real issue. I wonder if you have noticed this, which is an obvious deterioration of the world. Nobody says, 'I am entirely against war.' War means against nationalism, against separate gods, religion - you follow? - the whole thing that is divisive - only then you can have peace. But if each one of us is trying to find peace through our own little meditation, this or that, it is utterly meaningless.
So we have come back to the question: if thought is not capable of solving all these problems, human problems, the problems of relationship with each other, the problems that thought creates images, the problems of fear, sorrow, meditation, all that, if thought cannot resolve all these problems, which apparently it cannot, after all these millennia, we must look in other directions - right? Not pursue the same old traditional path. Right? Are we prepared for that? Are we prepared, or do we see that there must be a totally different approach to the whole problem of existence, whether it is sexual, religious, sensory, political, all the rest of it. How will you find out a totally different approach which is not contaminated by thought, because one realises thought is utterly limited? The problems are much too great which thought has created, and thought cannot solve them any more. If one actually, not intellectually nor emotionally but actually realises it, as you realise pain, if one is passionately aware of it, then what is the other direction? Right?
How does one respond to a challenge of that kind? How do you respond to that question? Seeing that thought cannot solve these problems, technologically it can, a better means of killing, laser ray - you know all that. What is your answer? We are supposed to be educated people, some of us have been to college, universities, highly sophisticated and as one cannot escape from all this, even if you went off to some isolated monastery, or became a hermit, you would still have these problems. You may not want to look at them, you may turn your back on them but there they are. So what is your response?
There is another question arises from this, which is: the computers are taking over all our thinking. They outstrip man, they are going to, or already have done. They think much faster, they can learn and unlearn, and so keep on learning and discover that their learning is not complete and learn further. Which means they are being programmed by experts, and the machines, these computers, can learn not only from the professors, from the programmers, but from themselves. Probably some of you know about this, you have read about it. We have talked to some experts on computers, and within ten years they say they will outstrip completely man. They'll think faster, learn faster, correct themselves, perhaps invent something new, new theories which man has not thought of. So there is this question. This is a very important problem for man. Of course the computers cannot look at the stars and enjoy the stars; they can compose, perhaps not like Beethoven. Perhaps they do not know what love is - but neither do we. So there is this machine which is ultra intellectual machine - ultra intellectual machine, it is called. They are inventing this; it is so rapid. So what becomes of man? Do you understand? Look at the problem, please face the problems! What happens to us who have lived by exercising our brain, whatever little part of that brain is, and that little part is being taken over by a machine which is super brain, then what happens to each one of us? What happens to our brain which is no longer being employed as a thinking machine? I wonder if you follow all this! I am afraid you don't.
They are very concerned, some of us, who have gone into this a little bit, are very concerned what is going to be the future of man. When the machine can take over all the activities of the brain, then what happens to the brain? Either - there are only two possibilities - either the brain pursues entertainment - you understand? - football, which is already happening, sports, the religious entertainments. That is one direction, to be amused, entertained. Or a totally different thing, which is go, pursue the inward process of man - you understand? - the inward psychological discovery, deeper and deeper. Those are the only two possibilities left to man. But the entertainment industry is already gaining. The televisions - you know all this, I don't have to tell you. And there are very few who are concerned with the psychological understanding of man, completely, not the psychologists, not the professionals, not the psychiatrists, but you and I, who are the rest of mankind, we have to discover whether our brains are being trained by the entertainment industry to pursue that line - please this is awfully serious, all this, do please pay attention to all this. Either we pursue that, or turn inward, not selfishly, not egocentric movement, or ego trip, but to understand the whole psychological movement, the self, the me, the ego, and see if it is possible to go beyond all that. So those are the only two paths left for us when the computer takes completely over. The computer with the robot is already building cars. When the robot doesn't do it properly the computer tells it and it acts properly - you follow? So all that is being taken over gradually.
So what is a man to do? You understand my question? Do we think or observe individually, personally, from a particular condition, from a particular form of belief, prejudice? Or do we free ourselves from all that and turn inwardly, not selfishly, please bear in mind, not selfishly, not saying 'I must save my soul' - it's all too silly. But to enter into a world which will eventually dominate the outer, which it is doing now - the ambitious politician may use party politics but the ambition, the personal ambition, it overrides everything else. This is all so obvious.
So psychologically one has to understand the whole structure of the human being. Is that possible? Have we time? Have we enough energy? Or is it all too vague? You follow my question? It is like looking at a map. If you have a particular direction from here to there, then you only observe the road, how many miles, what are the towns you pass through and so on, so as long as you have a direction you never look at the whole map. Right? I wonder if you do. So to understand the psychological structure of man, there needs be no direction. I wonder if you see this. Direction is a motive. As long as I have a motive to understand the psychological depth of humanity, which is as long as I want to be free from something or other, then I have a direction, I have a motive, therefore I do not comprehend the whole psychological structure of man. You understand this? Are we thinking together? Or am I just talking to myself? So is that possible, first, that mankind has developed a machine that is going to take things over, our thinking, it will learn faster, it will correct itself, build new machines from the old, constantly improving, much more rapidly then man can, till it reaches ultra-intelligent machine. And realizing all that what is a human being to do? Please put yourself that question and answer it, not turn to a guru, to another priest, to another psychologist and all the rest of it. Let's find out together what we can do, because they have all failed us. Right?
Do we want to solve our problems - the problems of relationship, problems of society, problems of war, the problem whether there is god or not, whether there is something beyond all time - are all these problems? You understand my question? Do we make of them problems? Or they exist, we have to find the truth of them, either they are false or true. Right? To find out the truth of relationship, not the solution, or the issue which arises in relationship which must be solved. You understand the difference? I wonder if you do. That is, to find what is the truth of relationship. Not how to solve my problem with my wife, but to discover for oneself the truth of relationship. Right? You understand? Now what is relationship? The truth of it, not what I would like it to be. What is the truth of it? Whether that relationship is intimate or not, what is the actual fact of it? Because if I know the actuality, the truth of it, then I can work at it, it can be dissolved. But if I am merely concerned with solving problems, which my brain is trained to solve problems, then I am back in the old rut. I wonder if you understand this. Are we together in this? So I have to find out the truth of relationship. Or what is false in relationship. Both the positive and the negative, not in between. The fact in relationship is division - me and you. That is a fact. Why does this division exist? What is the truth or the falseness of this division between man and woman and so on? Why is there this division between people? Not the problems it creates and the pursuit of solving the problems it creates, but rather why the division exists at all. I wonder if you follow this. Is this getting too much? What time is it?
Audience: Twenty five past twelve.
Krishnamurti: Twenty five past twelve - goodness, how time flies!
Why is there division between me and another who happens to be my wife, or my husband - why? What creates this division? This is a problem for all of us. Right? Not only - you follow? - the division between nations, the division between religions, the divisions between various gurus - you follow? The absurdity of it all! All of them saying, 'We are seeking truth'. Why is there this division? What has created this division? Is it one's particular demands - sexual, ambition, desire, each one of us seeking fulfilment in his own way, each one of us pursuing a path different from another? I am married - I am not but suppose I am married. I am ambitious to climb the ladder, the ladder of a certain career, my wife is also concerned to succeed in some other direction. So is ambition the factor of this division? Please, go into all this. I believe in god and she doesn't. I never enquire why I believe, I just believe. And she doesn't, she hasn't either enquired why she doesn't. We both are prejudiced and we hold on to our prejudices - is that the cause of division? Or is the cause of division much deeper than that? These are all superficial reasons. Is there a deeper cause which brings about this terrible division between human beings? Because of that division they are willing to kill each other. Is there a deeper cause? Think it out, sir, go into it. Is it our training, our education, religious and otherwise, that we are separate individuals, only sexually we meet and otherwise we are totally separate? I pursue my path, worldly or otherwise, and she does the same. So is the division caused by this idea - idea, that we are separate? Psychologically, inwardly, she suffers, I suffer. She is unhappy, depressed, moody and I am also on my own, occasionally, and so on. So is the root of all this division the concept of an individual? I know it goes against all tradition - you follow? - against all social, moral religious structure - and we have to tear down all that because we have to understand that we, as we are now living we are going to destroy ourselves. It is happening. It is happening in Beirut - it may not be happening in England but it is happening, in Far Asia.
So we have to understand very deeply and so eradicate that which is false, not the problems the falseness creates. Right? So is this the root of it, that each one of us has been brought up to be separate individual with his own soul, with his own - the whole of it. Is that a fact? Or it's merely a concept? What is the difference between a fact and a concept? You understand? Concept being that which has been put together by thought, by experience, by knowledge. That is a concept, something conceived, something that we have accepted through a million years of tradition. So, that tradition may be utterly false. So the fact is something, and the conclusion, concept is another. Right? The fact is I am separate from my wife. That is a fact. And my concept says, we are separate - you understand? Is my concept stronger than the realization that I am separate from her - the realization? You understand what I am talking about? The fact and idea are two different things. Right? The idea is that I am separate, that is the idea. I want to find out if the idea is different from actuality. Am I actually an individual? Right? Am I? I suffer like you suffer, I am anxious as you are, I am frightened, as you are, I am lost, I am confused, as you are. So psychologically, inwardly, we are the same, with variations but we stand on the same ground. The ground may be unequal but it is the ground on which we all stand.
So the concept must be wrong. So can I be free from the concept, not from the problems, and face the actuality of what is? The actually of 'what is' is that I am like you, that I go through hell as you do, tortured, disturbed. So the realization that I am like you altogether removes the image of you - you understand? No. Are you following? I have created an image of you, as I have created an image of the kings, and ministers and all that business, I have created an image about you, about my wife, you, or husband. That image has been put together through many years, or through many days. The creating the image is to be secure. Right? I have an image of my guru - thank god I haven't got any, but suppose I have (laughter) - I have an image of my guru, which I have built up through reputation, not knowing at all what are the implications of it, because I am too gullible, I will accept anything anybody says about that, which I want to achieve also, so I accept, I build an image. The image is not the actual. I have an image about my wife. My wife is not the image, I wonder if you and that is one of the factors that divides. Right? So the image making ends when I realise we two are standing on the same ground. Right? I stop building image because we are all You understand all this?
So we are not concerned, neither she nor me, with the resolution of problems, which is, if I am merely concerned with the resolution of problems then I am operating with a brain that is trained to solve problems. I wonder if you see this. And therefore I am beginning, caught in it and the solution of problems can never end because in solving one I create another, which is happening politically. We are a crazy crowd all right.
So one has realised that it is not important to solve problems but to face actually what is going on. What is going on, happening, is I have separated myself from you. That separation is the creation of image about you, and that separation is the education in which I have been brought up, the culture, the tradition that I am totally separate from you, which is so idiotic - you follow? It has no basis, and yet I accept such a concept.
So I now have moved altogether into a different dimension - you follow? Which is we are all standing on the same ground, man, woman, whether he is black, white, purple, whatever colour he is. Inwardly we are tortured, all that. That is important to understand, not the problems that it creates. Right? That's enough for this morning.