Your consciousness is the consciousness of all humanity
If you fundamentally change you affect the whole consciousness of man
1st Public Talk Calcutta
November 20, 1982
From the very beginning, we ought to establish our relationship. This is not a lecture as it is commonly understood. A lecture is a discourse on a particular subject by way of instruction. This is a conversation between you and the speaker. The speaker is not telling you what to do, what to think, how you should behave and so on. But he is having a conversation between you as a person sitting there, and the speaker, here. He is sitting on a platform for the convenience of others, but he has no authority. This is a conversation between two people concerned with what is happening in the world; what is happening to man, not a particular man, but man in the world, what is man doing to man; what he has done to other men. And we are going to talk over together amicably, dispassionately, objectively. So please, together, we are going to think of what is exactly happening in the world, not in any particular part of the world, but what is happening to man on the earth.
To have a conversation with another, a friendly, serious communication with each other, we must learn how to listen. We hardly ever listen to another. We carry on with our own thoughts, with our own problems, with our own particular ideas and conclusions, and so it is very difficult to listen to another. And we are suggesting that you listen. There is an art of listening.
We are going to talk over together a great many things: the state of war, divided nations, divided groups, human relationship. We are going to talk over together the problems of fear, pleasure and all the complexity of human thought. And we are going to talk over together whether sorrow can ever end, and the implications and the complexities of death. And we are also going to talk over together what is religion, what is meditation, and if there is anything sacred, eternal. We are going to talk over together all these things. And one must have the art of listening to all this; not what you think with all your traditions, with all your knowledge, but to listen to another who is telling you something. And then communication becomes simple, easy. But if we are not thinking together, which is a quite an arduous task, then you and the speaker will be thinking in two different directions. So there is an art of listening, not translating what the speaker is saying but to listen to the word, the content of the word, the significance and the depth of the word. The speaker is going into many of these problems step by step: slowly, clearly, objectively. And one must listen to the word as both of us perhaps understand English - we are using ordinary, daily language. There is no jargon, there is no specialised subject about which we are talking. We are talking of human beings and their problems, not a particular human being, but humanity as a whole.
Is this all right, sir, now? Is this all right? Can you all hear?
K: Yes? Yes!
As I said, the word has great depth, the meaning of it, and as we are speaking in English, using the daily language without any mysterious words being used, it is important that you and the speaker establish a right relationship. He is not a guru. He is not going to inform you what to think, how to think, but we are together going to observe the activities of human beings right throughout the world: why they have become what they are, after forty thousand years of evolution; why man is killing each other, destroying each other, exploiting each other; why man has divided the world into nationalities as the Jew, the Arab, the Hindu, Muslim and so on. We are going to look at all this because it is important to look, to observe, not from a particular point of view as a Bengali, as an Indian, or as a European or Russian or Chinese or American. We are going to look together why man has become what he is: cruel, destructive, violent, idealistic; and in the world of technology are doing astonishing things of which most of us are unaware. Why after thousands of years of wars, shedding tears, why a human being through a long period of time, why he is actually behaving in this manner. So, please, we are thinking together, not agreeing together, nor resisting what is being said, nor accepting, but observing, looking as you would look at a map, exactly what is going on.
Man has divided the world into nationalities; man has divided the world into the Catholic, the Protestant, the Hindu, the Muslim and so on, religiously. Where there is division, as the Arab and the Jew, the Hindu and the Muslim and so on, where there is division, there must be conflict. This is a natural law, which is what is actually taking place in the world. Why is there this division? Who has brought this about?
Please, I hope you are thinking together, you and the speaker.
You are not just listening to him, merely accepting or rejecting what he is saying. This is your problem, the problem of humanity. And as we are human beings, at least we hope so, as we are human beings, we must consider all these questions. Doubt, investigate, never accepting what the authorities or what the gurus or the sacred books, including the speaker, never accepting - questioning, doubting, asking. If you merely accept or reject you remain where you are without bringing about a radical mutation in this whole psyche, in the whole content of consciousness. So, please, if one may ask most respectfully, please let us think together. You are walking down a lane, not in the lanes of Calcutta, but in a nice, quiet wooded place with clean air, and we are talking over together as two friends the problems which, as a human being, he faces and the problems of humanity. So we are talking together; we are listening to each other. It's a dialogue between you and the speaker. Dialogue means conversation between two people; as there is such a large audience, that is not possible. But one can talk to each other though there are one thousand or two thousand people here.
So why has man - it includes the woman naturally - become what he is in spite of great experience, in spite of great knowledge, in spite of vast technological advancement, why have we remained more or less what we have been for forty thousand years, why? Is it because our minds, our brain is programmed, like a computer. The computer is programmed by the professionals and it can repeat, perhaps much quicker than man, more rapidly, giving infinite information and so on. Is it that every human being in this world has been programmed to be a Bengali, to be a Muslim, to be a Hindu and so on, so on, so on? So is your brain programmed - that is, to think in a conventional, narrow, limited way? Because our brain within the skull is limited, but it has the capacity of extraordinary invention, extraordinary technological advancement. Perhaps most of us do not know what is actually going on in the biological world, in the technological world, in the world of warfare, because most of us are concerned with our daily living, with our own particular problems, with our own fulfilments, and so we generally forget the vast advancement humanity is making in one direction, in the technological world, and totally, completely neglecting in the psychological world, in the world of human behaviour, in the world of consciousness.
So we are together going to discover the causes of all this. That is why human beings, being programmed as a Christian for two thousand years, believing in certain doctrines, certain beliefs, stating there is only one saviour, and the Muslim also has been programmed for the last one thousand or more years to believe in certain principles, call himself Muslim, and the Hindus have been programmed perhaps for the last three to five thousand years. So our brains are conditioned. I wonder if one ever realises how our brain is acting, thinking, looking. So, where there is limitation, there must be conflict. We are going to go into all this. That is, our brains are conditioned to be this or that, to behave in a certain manner, to enjoy, to suffer, to have a great burden of fear, uncertainty, confusion and the ultimate fear of death. So we are conditioned to that.
And there is a whole group of people, scholars, professors, writers who say - including the communists with their guru Marx - they say the human brain will always be conditioned. It can never be free. You can modify that conditioning by environmental influence, by law and so on. It can always be modified, changed here and there, but actually the human brain can never be free. Please understand the implication of that. Therefore the totalitarian governments are controlling human thought; they are not allowing them to think freely and if they do, they are sent to the psychiatric ward, and so on, to concentration camps. But we are asking, please, do pay a little attention to this. It is most important for you to find this out for yourself which is, whether the human brain which has been conditioned through experience, through knowledge, whether that brain can ever be free to have no fear, no conditioning. Where there is conditioning, there must be conflict because all conditioning is limited. Right? Is this clear? Are we meeting each other?
K: Just a minute, sir, please; you will ask questions perhaps at the end of the talk if there is time. But I'm asking - but the speaker is asking if you are following him at all, or at the end of the long day you're tired and may not be listening at all. So he may be talking to himself. So please be good enough, since you are here, to pay attention to what is being said because it's your life, not the speaker's life. It is your daily conflicting, confused existence with all the sorrow, with all the pain and grief. So, please in talking over together, you are aware of your own thinking, your own reactions, your own responses, how they are limited; how they are conditioned; how you depend on past knowledge. And so our life become very narrow, rather sloppy, confused and there is the fear of insecurity. If one is aware at all of one's own activities - inward activities, your thoughts, your feelings, your reactions, then you will find out for yourself how conditioned you are, how limited you are, and when you recognise that fact, then you realise the consequences of that conditioning, that limitation. Wherever there is limitation as a Hindu or Muslim, there must be conflict. Wherever there is a division between husband and wife, there must be conflict. And human beings, throughout the world, after all this evolution are still in conflict with each other, not only the conflict of war, the preparation for war, the new machines that are killing, may kill millions of people with one blow.
So, please, most respectfully, consider all this because we are concerned with your life as a human being. And that life, our daily living, has become extraordinarily complex, extraordinarily dangerous, difficult, uncertain. The future of man is really at stake. This is not a threat; this is not a pessimistic point of view. The crisis is not only physical but the crisis is in consciousness, in our being. So please, in talking over together, become aware of all this. So in becoming aware, you begin to discover: you begin to find out for yourself how your life has become such pain, such anxiety, such uncertainty. If you are so aware, you can then proceed further, deeply, more and more but if you merely listen to the words - and words have very little meaning - words have certain significance, but if one lives in words, as most people do, in symbols, in myths, in romantic nonsense, then we make life more and more difficult, more and more dangerous for each other. So please be good enough to listen, to find out, to question, to doubt, so that your own brain becomes aware of itself.
So we are asking why human beings who have developed the most marvellous technology the world has ever known: easy communication, electricity, sanitation and so on; we don't have to go into all that. But psychologically, inwardly, we remain as we have been more or less for the last forty thousand years. Inwardly, I wonder if one realises that: we have systems, we have ideals, we have all the so-called sacred books which are not sacred at all, they are just words. Why human beings, which is you, have not radically brought about a change, a psychological revolution, and we are going to enquire into that. And whether it is possible to bring about total mutation in the brain cells themselves.
I hope this is clear that we are talking about human condition and whether that condition can be radically changed; bring about a mutation in that, not transformation. Transformation means transforming from one form to another form. But we are talking about the radical change of human behaviour so that he is not terribly self-centred as he is, which is causing such great destruction in the world. If one is aware - and one hopes that you are - aware of your conditioning, then we can begin to ask whether that conditioning can be totally changed so that a man is completely free. Now he thinks he is free to do what he likes. Each individual thinks he can do what he likes, all over the world, and his freedom is based on choice, because he can choose where to live, what kind of work he can do, choose between this idea and that idea, this ideal or that ideal, change from one god to another god, from one guru to another, one philosopher from another. This capacity to choose brings in the concept of freedom. But in the totalitarian states, there is no freedom, you can't do what you want to do. It is totally controlled. So choice is not freedom. Choice is merely moving in the same field from one corner to another. Is this clear? I hope you are following all that is being said. So our brain being limited, we are asking is it possible for the brain to free itself so that there is no fear, completely no fear; we have right relationship with each other - man, woman; right relationship with all the neighbours in the world.
So we are going to ask the nature of our consciousness. Our consciousness is what you are: your belief, your ideals, your gods, your violence, fear, myths, romantic concepts, your pleasure, your sorrow, and the fear of death, and the everlasting question of man which has been from time immemorial, whether there is something sacred beyond all this. That is your consciousness. That is what your are. You are not different from your consciousness. So we are asking whether the content of that consciousness can be totally changed.
First, your consciousness is not yours. Your consciousness is the consciousness of all humanity, because what you think, your beliefs, your sensations, your reactions, your pain, your sorrow, your insecurity, your gods and so on is shared by all humanity. Go to America, go to England, Europe or Russia, China, human beings suffer; they are frightened of death, they have beliefs, they have ideals, they speak a particular language but the thinking, the feelings, the reactions, the responses generally is shared by all human beings. This is a fact, not merely the invention or speculation of the speaker. This is a fact that you suffer; your neighbour suffers; that neighbour may be thousands of miles away, he suffers. He is insecure, as you are. You may have a lot of money, but inwardly there is insecurity. So is a rich man in America or the man in power, they all go through this pain, anxiety, loneliness, despair. So your consciousness is not yours any more than your thinking is not individual thinking. Thinking is common, is general, from the poorest man, the most uneducated, unsophisticated man in a little tiny village to the most sophisticated brain, the great scientist, they all think. They may think differently. Their thinking may be more complex, but thinking is general, shared by all human beings. Therefore it is not your individual thinking. This is rather difficult to see and recognise the truth of it, because we are so conditioned as individuals.
All your religious books whether Christian or Muslim, and other religious books, they all sustain and nourish this idea, concept of an individual. You have to question that. You have to find out the truth of the matter. And we are investigating together, and we see that every human being in the world, however miserable, however low in the structure of society, and the great philosophers of the world, great scientists, all think. And again human consciousness is similar, is shared by all human beings. Therefore there is no individual. Outside, peripheral, he may be more educated, he may be taller, he may be shorter; outside, outside the skin as it were, he may be different. But inwardly he shares the ground of all humanity. This is a fact if you examine it very closely, but if you are frightened, if you are caught in the conditioning of being an individual, you will never understand the immensity and the extraordinary fact that you are the entire humanity. From that there is love, compassion, intelligence, but if you are merely conditioned to the idea that you are individual, then you have endless complications because it is based on illusion, not on fact. The illusion may be thousands of years, but it is still illusion. You are the result of your environment; you are the result of the language you speak; you are the result of the food you eat, the clothes, the climate, the tradition handed down from generation to generation; you are all that. You are the product of the society which you have created. Society is not different from you. Man has created the society, the society of greed, envy, hatred, brutality, violence, wars; he has created all that and also he has created the extraordinary world of technology.
So you are the world and the world is you. So you are the world and the world is you; your consciousness is not yours; it is the ground on which all human beings share; all human beings think. So you are actually not an individual. That's one of the realities, truth that one must understand, not accept what the speaker is saying, but question your own isolation because individual means isolation, to separate himself from another, like nations isolate themselves as Indians, all the rest of it. And they think in isolation there is security. There is no security in isolation. But the governments of the world, representing humanity of each country, they are maintaining this isolation, and therefore they are perpetuating war.
So if you recognise the truth, the fact that you are not an individual - you may be short, you may be tall, but inwardly there is no division. We all share the same problems. When you recognise that truth, and I hope you do, then the problem is: can you, as a human being representing all humanity, bring about a fundamental, psychological revolution? You might say if I, as a human being, change, will it affect in any way the rest of mankind? That is the usual question. I may change; I may radically bring about a mutation in the mind which we'll go into presently. If I do change, if there is a change in a particular person, how will it affect the whole consciousness of mankind? Please do put that question to yourself. Even as a single isolated human being, which you are not, even if you think so, you are asking, if I change, what effect has it in the world? You know they are making experiments in the scientific world, of which perhaps some of you may have heard. We were talking with one of those people who are experimenting that certain rats in a particular place, say for instance, a group of rats in London: they are experimenting with that group of rats. If one generation of rats learns a particular lesson very slowly, it takes many generations to learn completely but the next generation learns much quicker. It is not genetic transformation; it is not genetic action, but a generation of five or ten rats, the last generation, the latest generation learns the lesson far quicker, in a couple of days. Now they are doing the same experiment in Australia, same experiment in America and other places: those rats which have learnt much quicker in London affect the whole group of rats' consciousness. You understand this? Am I making it clear?
K: No. How easily you say, 'no'. One group of rats, one generation learns a lesson very slowly. The next generation learns a little faster and so on. The last generation - say twenty-five generations - the last generation learns the lesson in a couple of hours. Now what they have learnt in a couple of hours is transmitted to all the rats in the world. They are experimenting with that. And it is not a genetic transformation, but a group consciousness is being affected. You understand this? That is simple enough. I'm not going to explain further. If you don't understand, you'd better study.
So the question is: if you change fundamentally, you affect the whole consciousness of man. Napoleon affected the whole consciousness of Europe. Stalin affected the whole consciousness of Russia, and human beings all over the world like the Christian saviour, he has affected the consciousness of the world, and the Hindus with their peculiar gods have affected the consciousness of the world. So, when you as a human being radically transform psychologically, that is, be free of fear, have right relationship with each other, the ending of sorrow, and so on, which is radical transformation - which we shall go into presently - then you affect the whole consciousness of man. So it is not an individual affair. It is not a selfish affair. It is not individual salvation. It is the salvation of all human beings of which you are.
So, first then we must enquire what is relationship? Why in human relationship with each other there is such conflict, such misery, such intense sense of loneliness. We are going to enquire together into that. Enquire means to investigate, to question, to doubt about our relationship, between man and woman, between your nearest neighbour and the farthest neighbour. Why is there such conflict? From the past history, from all the knowledge that has been acquired, studied, man has lived in conflict with each other. But relationship is existence. Without relationship you cannot exist. In that existence there is conflict. But relationship is absolutely necessary. Life is relationship; action is relationship; what you think brings about relationship or destroys relationship. The hermit, the monk, the sannyasi, he may think he is separate, but he is related: related to the past, related to the environment, related to the man who brings him some grains, some food, some clothes. So life is relationship. Without life, without that interaction in relationship, there is no existence. So we are going together to explore why human beings live in conflict with each other? Why there is conflict between you and your husband, between the wife and the man? Why? Please ask this question of yourself. Though the speaker may put the question, you are putting the question. Find out. Let's enquire together, because where there is conflict in relationship there is no love, there is no compassion and there is no intelligence. We will go into the word 'intelligence', 'compassion', and 'love'. But one wonders whether in this country, as in other countries, there is love at all?
So we are exploring together what is relationship? Are you actually related in the sense - of course, blood relationship and so on - you may be related to a man, woman, sexually, but apart from that, are you related to anybody? Relation means non-isolation. That is, the man goes to the office everyday of his life, to a factory, to some form of occupation, leaving the house at 9 o'clock or 6 o'clock, spending the whole day working, working, working for fifty, sixty years, and then dies, and there the man is ambitious, greedy, envious, struggling, competing; comes home and the woman, the wife is also competitive, jealous, anxious, ambitious, going on in her own way. They may meet sexually, talk together, care somewhat, have children, but they remain separate, like two railway lines never meeting. And this is what we call relationship, which is an actuality. It's not the speaker's invention. It is not his opinion or conclusion, but this is a fact of everyone's life, the perpetual dissension between two people, each holding to his opinions, to his conclusions. The word 'conclusion' means putting an ends to an argument. 'I conclude that there is god'. Therefore I've put myself in a position, I have ended the argument; I conclude. So, please do not conclude, that is, bringing something to an end, argument. We are not concluding; we are observing the fact. The fact is, however intimate that relationship may be, there is always conflict. One dominating the other; one possessing the other; one jealous of the other. And so this is what we call relationship.
Now, can that relationship which we know now, can that relationship be totally changed? Ask yourself this. Why is there conflict between two human beings, whether they are highly educated or not at all educated. They may be great scientists, but they are ordinary human beings, like you and another - fighting, quarrelling, ambitious. And why does this state exist? Is it not because each person is concerned with himself? So he is isolating himself. In isolation you cannot have right relationship. You understand, this is so terribly obvious. You hear this, but you will not do anything about it because we fall into habit; we fall into a rut, into a groove, into a narrow little life, and we put up with it, however miserable, unhappy quarrelsome, ugly it is. So, please enquire, question, doubt whether it is possible to live with another with complete harmony, without any dissension, without any division.
If you really, deeply, enquire, you will find that you have created an image about her, and she has created an image about you. These two images - you understand the image? - the image is the picture of living together for twenty years: the nagging, the cruel words, the indifference, the lack of consideration and so on, and on. Each has built an image about the other, a picture about the other. These two pictures, images, words, are in relationship with each other. You understand all this? So where there is an image about another, a picture about another, there must be conflict. I am sure you all have an image about the speaker. I am quite sure of it. Why? You don't know the speaker. You can never know the speaker, as you don't know your husband, your wife. But you have created an image about him. That is, religious, non-religious, he is stupid, he is very clever, he is beautiful, he is this, he is that. And with that image you look at the person. The image is not the person. The image is the reputation, and reputations are easily created, reputation which may be good or bad. But the human brain, the thought creates the image. The image is a conclusion, and we live by images. And the image, the imagination, the making of pictures has no place in love. We don't love each other. We may hold hands; we may sleep together, we may do this and the other, ten different things, but we have no love for each other. If you had that quality, that perfume of love, there would be no wars. There would be no Hindus, Muslims, Jew and Arab. But you listen to all this and you will still remain with your images; you will still wrangle with each other, quarrel with each other, dissent. You understand, our life has become so extraordinarily meaningless. I wonder how many of you realise this. We are put together by thought. Your gods are put together by thought. All the rituals, all the dogmas, the philosophy are all put together by thought, and thought is not sacred.
Thought is always limited, which we will talk about perhaps tomorrow, why thought is limited. And so thought has created the image: about you as the audience, about you as the wife and the husband, about you as the Indian and you as the American and so on. It is these images which are unreal, are separating humanity. If you never call yourself an Indian, and I never call myself a Russian, or an American but we are human beings, we should then have no wars. We should have global government, global relationship, but you are not interested in all that. You remain mediocre, forgive me if I use that word. The word 'mediocre' means a man who has only climbed half way up the hill, who has never climbed right to the top - psychologically, not in the business world or the technological world. You hear all this and if you don't change radically, you are bringing about destruction for the future generation. So, please give ear, give thought, attention to what is going on outside you and also what is going on, which is much more important, inwardly, for the inward psyche conquers the outer environment, as you see it in Russia. We give such importance to the outer: we must have right society, right laws, feed the poor, be concerned with the poor, which we are not saying we should not be, but the inward thought - inward feelings, inward isolations - is separating man against man, and you are responsible for this. Each one of us is responsible for this. Unless you change fundamentally, inwardly, the future is very dangerous. They are preparing for nuclear war, which means if a nuclear bomb - the neutron bomb - falls over New York, ten million people are vaporised. There is no existence of those ten million people; they have vanished completely from the earth; and those who remain are wounded, their eyes melt, and there is only one doctor for ten thousand people. They are preparing for all this, and this country too. And you are responsible for all this. Unless you fundamentally bring about a change in your daily life, to have right relationship with each other, to live correctly, not ambitious and so on, then only is it possible for the ending of conflict between human beings.
Right, sirs. May I go?
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Introduction to Krishnamurti’s teachings
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