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Freedom of choice is not freedom

First Discussion with Students at Claremont Colleges

Monday, November 11, 1968

Krishnamurti: I think this is a kind of dialogue in which each one of us perhaps could partake. And if we could take any question and go into it thoroughly then perhaps it might be worthwhile. So what would you like to discuss or talk over or explore together?

Questioner: I have a question. From what you say about the mind, to you the mind is like a machine, as I understand it, there is no free will, there is no independent thought, it’s all cause and effect, a chain. So man is exactly like a machine, except for his capacity for love. Is that wrong?

Krishnamurti: Please correct me if I repeat the question wrongly, and if I may suggest, if we could put several questions, and out of that we can choose one or two and then explore them.

The question is: is there such a thing as free will, and if there isn’t, are you trying to say that the only sane and rational activity in life is love. Isn’t that it, sir?

Questioner: Approximately, yes.

Krishnamurti: Approximately.

Questioner: What is thought, and can we verbalise without thinking?

Krishnamurti: What is thought, and can we verbalise it without thinking.

Questioner: What is faith and can there be clear perception through faith?

Krishnamurti: What is faith; can there be clear perception through faith.

Questioner: What is the difference between thought and meditation?

Krishnamurti: What is the difference between thought and meditation.

Questioner: How are we related to one another?

Krishnamurti: How are we related to one another.

Questioner: How is meditation, clear perception, seeing, related to what we’re doing now all day?

Questioner: How is meditation related to everyday activities.

Krishnamurti: How is meditation related to everyday life and activity.

Questioner: [Inaudible]

Krishnamurti: I am sorry, sir, it’s not very clear; I can’t hear.

Questioner: Does the search for truth have any relevance? Does the search for truth and ultimate reality have any significance, any meaning?

Krishnamurti: Has the ultimate truth any significance in daily life?

Questioner: Has the search for truth any meaning.

Krishnamurti: Has search for truth any meaning. Right?

Now isn’t that enough questions? [Laughter] Now, out of that, can we take one or two, or perhaps one that would cover all the other questions?

Questioner: What could be the worth of loving?

Krishnamurti: I am not deaf, sir, but I would like it a little bit louder.

Questioner: What would be the worth of loving where there isn’t any love?

Krishnamurti: What is the significance of love when there isn’t any love – is that it?

Can we take one question and explore that, and then perhaps we shall come, we shall include all the others? Could we take thought, free will, and what is the meaning of ultimate reality, if it has any, in life, daily life? Could we take that as the basis of our discussion? Could we?

Questioner: Yes, sir.

Krishnamurti: All right.

First of all, what do we mean by free will? Is there such thing? Freedom and will. What do we mean by that word ‘freedom’ and the word ‘will’? Is freedom an idea, a concept which must inevitably be projected by a person who is not free? – bound by fear, by the morality of society, by various enforcing influences that limit his life. When we use the word ‘free’, what do we mean by that word? Are we free at all? Actually, is any one of us free? Or is freedom merely an idea, not an actuality at all, like a prisoner wanting to be free? The actuality is he’s in prison; freedom is an idea outside the wall. Shouldn’t we be clear what we mean by that word? Not only dictionary meaning but also psychological, inward meaning behind that word. Is freedom from something? – from fear, from anxiety, from guilt, from a sense of inferiority – from something; or is freedom ‘per se’, in itself, not from something? If it is from something, is it freedom? One may be free from anxiety; you’re free from that thing but you’re not free – there is anger, there is jealousy, there are innumerable forms of restrictions. So, is freedom from something? Freedom. I may be free from one thing but yet I’m caught in hundred other things. And can this freedom be achieved or come upon by going through one barrier after another, from one thing after another? I don’t know if I’m making myself clear. Or is freedom, in itself, is what the mind’s after?

Well, sirs, this is a discussion, exchange, it’s not a…

Questioner: Isn’t freedom what we feel?

Krishnamurti: Is freedom what we feel? Is it?

Questioner: [Inaudible]

Krishnamurti: No, sir, we are trying to find out what we mean by that word, whether there...

Questioner: Pardon me, what I meant was freedom from the past. You say we are the past, and that’s all we are, isn’t it?

Krishnamurti: I don’t know [laughs]. I said so, but that doesn’t mean anything. Sir, look, the whole communist world says there is no such thing as freedom, that’s just a bourgeois idea, because man is limited by his environment, by the society he’s grown in, and so on, so on – he can never be free. And others say you can only be free in heaven, not on earth, because man is conditioned by the society he lives in, by the culture, by the education, by the climate, by the food, by the thousand influences and experiences. So, one places freedom far away, in some abstraction, and the other denies freedom altogether. Now, I want to find out, if we are at all fairly sane, I want to find out what freedom is. Is it unattainable by human beings? Freedom in itself, not from something. Please see the importance of that. If I am to be free from something, and ultimately I’ll be free, that’ll take all my life.

Questioner: What about freedom from thought?

Krishnamurti: Wait, sir. Freedom from something is the freedom from thought, freedom from anxiety, freedom from guilt, freedom from fear – all ‘from’, which implies analysis, causation, and so on and on and on and on. That’ll take me all my life, and perhaps I may never come to that freedom.

And, what is will? We’ll come back to freedom presently. What is will, what do we mean by that word? I will, I will not, I must, I must not, I have decided, there is a decision, and a vague indifference. You follow? A decisive, precise action based upon a conclusion, or a conception or an idea, and follow that through, and see that action corresponds or approximates the idea. I don’t know if you’re following all this. So, there is will to do and not to do. And what is this, what is the nature of this will, what is the structure of this will? And can will be ever free, be free?

Questioner: It seems to me that one way of looking at will and freedom is to look at what they are not, where they are restricted... [inaudible]

Krishnamurti: Wait, you are saying will is choice.

Questioner: Yes.

Krishnamurti: Wait, wait, wait, just a minute. To choose – among so many things I choose that, and act according to that. Right?

Questioner: Yes.

Krishnamurti: Now, what is the necessity of choice at all?

Questioner: [Inaudible]

Krishnamurti: Freedom may be a quality of feeling. We are trying now, sir, to find out what we mean by will and choice. When do we choose? Do please... When do we choose?

Questioner: When we want something.

Krishnamurti: Ah, no, not when we want something. When does choice take place?

Questioner: When there is conflict.

Questioner: When we have alternatives.

Krishnamurti: Choice takes place between two things, or several things – right? – I choose this and not that. Right? And I’m asking myself, is choice necessary at all? We say choice is necessary, that is the expression of freedom. Right? Because I’m capable of choosing, it indicates I’m free. Right? Yes? Do look at it, what a pitfall you’re going to fall into presently. If there is choice amongst several things, it means what? That I’m uncertain. Right? I’m uncertain between this, this, this.

Questioner: Doesn’t it mean that there has to be a chooser?

Krishnamurti: We’ll come to that – doesn’t it mean that there has to be a chooser. Because I’m confused, I choose. I don’t know – right? If I see something very clearly, there’s no choice. Right? It is only when I do not see very clearly there must be the exercise of choice. No? Don’t agree, sir, look at it, because… So I choose one politician against another politician. Though I know both of them are silly, I choose one of them. I choose because I’m not clear, and they are not clear. So my choice is inevitably confused. I don’t know if you... This is not logic, this is obvious perception; you can see this yourself. If I don’t know which road I must take, I ask somebody, and he tells me – there is no choice there. Choice exists only when there is confusion. No? And we say, because I can choose I am free. It’s nonsense, it doesn’t mean a thing. But if I see something very clearly, choice is not. So choice comes into being only when the mind is confused. All right?

Questioner: But what if the thing outside of ourselves that we might want to partake of, and which we can only partake of one or the other?

Krishnamurti: Which is choice.

Questioner: So we have to choose.

Krishnamurti: I’m asking, sir. You say you have to choose.

Questioner: No, if you want to, if you want to do, if you like several things, but you can’t go to all of the things – you have to choose which you go to. If you were attracted to…

Krishnamurti: I see. If you’re attracted to several things, you have to find out what is the major attraction and follow that. In that there is choice. Right? I’m attracted to this, this, this, but amongst all this attraction there is one principal attraction, and that I choose. Right? And I say I am free because I have chosen, because I have the capacity to choose.

Yes, sir?

Questioner: [Inaudible]

Krishnamurti: No, sir, what I’m asking is: is choice ever necessary? Not that we don’t choose; we do unfortunately choose – not only what university you go to, what clothes you put on and all that kind of thing, but also inwardly we choose. I say what is this strange phenomena of choice? When a man sees something very clearly – politically, religiously, in the business world, and so on, so on – sees very clearly, what is the need for choice?

Questioner: Most of us can’t see very clearly all the time, and I think that I have to choose something.

Krishnamurti: Most of us can’t see all the time very clearly, therefore we have to choose. So the question is not choice, but that we don’t see clearly.

Questioner: Why don’t most of us see clearly?

Krishnamurti: That is the point that we are coming to. If I see something very clearly, there is no choice. So I ask myself why don’t I see clearly. To see clearly you must have the overall, picture, mustn’t you, not just one point. I don’t know if you are following this. Say for instance, if I see the nature of action, the total action, not a particular action, if I see the structure and nature of total action, then from that perception I act. In that there is no choice. I wonder if you get this.

Questioner: [Inaudible]

Krishnamurti: I don’t know whether I’m speaking Americanism, or I don’t understand American expressions – would you please speaker a little slower?

Questioner: Should we first seek truth before we seek anything else?

Krishnamurti: Should we seek truth first, before anything else. Look [laughs], again what do you mean by that word ‘seek’? Please examine that word. I seek truth. When shall I know I have found it?

Questioner: You won’t know.

Krishnamurti: You won’t know, therefore how can I seek it? And to find it, if I say, ‘I’ve got it,’ means that I’ve already recognised it. Right? No? I must have the capacity to recognise truth. Recognition implies I’ve already experienced it. Right? Otherwise I couldn’t recognise it. Therefore it’s already something that has happened and therefore it’s already old, therefore it’s not true. I don’t know if you... No, sir?

Questioner: [Inaudible]

Krishnamurti: Ah, non capisco. I don’t understand it, sir. I am sorry, I don’t know... I’m not deaf but somehow I can’t hear this – too big.

Questioner: Echo.

Krishnamurti: Echo.

Sir, would you put what he said to me, what he said in two or three words? [Laughter] I’m not belittling, sir, but I couldn’t capture it.

Questioner: Why is it that the past is no longer real? In the conditioning we talked about, we may not be able to hold on to... [inaudible]

Questioner: Why is it that the thing is no longer real simply because we have glimpsed it in the past.

Krishnamurti: Ah! Why is it not real when it has been glimpsed in the past. Then it is a memory isn’t it, sir? This is a very complex question to go into. For the moment we’ll leave that; we’ll come to it perhaps later. We are talking of two things: freedom and will. We say there is freedom because we are able to choose. Because we have the capacity to choose, we think we are free. But are we free because we have the capacity to choose? Choice, when you examine it, go into it inwardly, you see choice comes out only when I’m uncertain, I don’t know what to do. If I knew what to do, if I see something very clearly there is no choice. It’s only when I am uncertain, questioning, doubting, looking, searching, asking, waiting, then I begin to say, ‘Well, I must choose.’

Questioner: Then it’s the mind that knows, isn’t it?

Krishnamurti: No, wait, sir, wait, sir, see the implication of the word ‘choice’ and ‘freedom’. Do you – wait a minute, wait – do you choose your girl- or boyfriend through choice? [Laughs] Look at all the girls all over the world and say, ‘That’s the girl I choose.’ [Laughter] Do you?

So, there is choice only when the mind is confused. Right? Don’t accept, please.

Questioner: You mean that certainty is always good?

Krishnamurti: Is certainty always good. If I use that word ‘certainty’ – to be sure is to be unsure – but I use the word ‘certainty’ in the sense seeing things clearly. Let’s stick to that word ‘perception’. If I see something very clearly there is no choice – that’s obvious. It’s only when I do not see clearly there is confusion.

Questioner: Is it possible for someone to think he sees clearly and actually not to see clearly at all?

Krishnamurti: We’re going to find that out, sir.

So, why is it that we don’t see clearly? Take for instance, we don’t see clearly war is dreadful, is evil, is something bestial, uncivilised – why don’t we see that?

Questioner: We are conditioned not to see it.

Krishnamurti: Someone says we are conditioned therefore we don’t see clearly that war is uncivilised.

Questioner: Aren’t you drawn into either making a choice or seeing a war... [inaudible]?

Krishnamurti: Yes, sir, but we must go into this step by step otherwise we shan’t see the whole of it.

Questioner: Is it possible to see clearly?

Krishnamurti: That is the question, sir. Here it is – just look, listen – that is, we have lived, historically speaking, for five thousand, five hundred years, and during those five thousand years there have been fifteen thousand wars, historically, I believe. And man is still going on killing each other, for various ideological reasons, for religious reasons, the Catholic has killed the Protestant, and so on, so on, so on. Now, why don’t we see very clearly that killing is dreadful – why?

Questioner: Sir, I think there is an oversimplification here, of seeing clearly, because seeing clearly is a religious concept in which you are giving the individual capacity to see things in totality, but then the individual is never alone, the individual is also within the social context, and therefore the conflict is between individual perception and the entrapment of social context.

Krishnamurti: Yes, that’s right, but you see, after all, the individual is the social entity. I mean, I am, you are the result of the society in which you live. And the separation between the individual and the society seems to me unreal. Just a minute, sir. We are human beings who have created this society, and in this society we are caught. And, as a human being living in a culture, in a society, we are so conditioned we don’t see clearly. My question is, our question is: why is it we don’t see?

Questioner: Perhaps one could see clearly one situation, and then that same person may see another situation very clearly, and this enables him to understand each situation clearly, but he is not able – I have tried many times – to see through all...

Krishnamurti: Which means what, sir? Yes, yes, which means what? Go into it, sir – which means what?

Questioner: That we’ve made a choice, so we don’t see it clearly.

Krishnamurti: No, he put a question, sir, just see what it means. Sometimes I see very clearly, at other times I don’t. And it’s almost impossible, he’s saying, to see the whole of it, and act from there. Which means what? Which means, not only am I not seeing clearly, my intelligence isn’t functioning all the time. Intelligence, not mine or yours – intelligence.

Yes, sir?

Questioner: We have to be worried about the fact that we can’t see... [inaudible]

Krishnamurti: I’m asking, sir – that’s the problem – why is it that we don’t see?

Questioner: Doesn’t perception usually involve some activity of the mind and this memory gets between us and seeing?

Krishnamurti: Doesn’t perception involve an activity of the mind, and the mind is so burdened, so conditioned, so fearful, therefore it never sees clearly. All right, sir, let’s put it that way. If there is fear, I can’t see clearly. Right? And can mind be free of fear, and therefore sees clearly? I’m only taking that one thing. I’m afraid, and therefore my mind is clouded. And if there is no fear, perhaps then I’ll see very clearly. So then my problem is: how am I to be free of fear? Not in little bits but completely be free, totally, not only at the conscious level but at the deeper level of the unconscious, at the – we won’t use that technical term ‘the unconscious’, but at the deeper level of the mind. Right? Can we proceed along there? No? If I’m a prisoner to my own fury, I can’t see anything clearly. If I’m prejudiced, if I say, ‘My religion is the greatest religion; I believe in that,’ obviously I don’t see clearly. So first, to see clearly I must be free from the conditioning of propaganda, of ten thousand years as a Hindu, be free from it, and then perhaps I can see clearly. No? What do you say?

Questioner: Yes.

Krishnamurti: [Laughs] And can I be free from my conditioning as a Hindu?

Questioner: Yes.

Krishnamurti: You say yes? Have you ever tried?

Questioner: [Inaudible]

Krishnamurti: Have you ever tried, sir, to be free from something, what is implied in it? Look, a Hindu is brought up in a certain tradition from childhood. It is imprinted on his mind, if he is a very orthodox Hindu, right from childhood – he should, should not, believe, believe not, do this, do that – and it is dinned into him day after day, by example, by precept, by everything around him. And at the end of five years he says, ‘I am a Hindu’ – not knowing what it means. So, can the mind which has been so heavily conditioned, be free?

Do you remember that lovely story – I’m sorry, I’ll repeat it now; it’s not a diversion but it’s quite amusing – a Russian comes to France and asks a friend; he said, ‘Can I buy a car here?’ and the Frenchman says, ‘Of course you can buy any car you want if you have the money. There are so many cars on the market you can buy.’ He said, ‘You don’t have to consult the government?’ ‘Of course not.’ Then he says, ‘Can I buy petrol, gas for the car?’ Oh, he says, ‘You go to any pump and they’ll give it to you.’ ‘Then can I go on any route I like or must I go along the road the government wants me to go?’ ‘Of course not,’ he says, ‘You can take any route to go to any place, and stay in any hotel, if you have the money.’ ‘You mean to say I don’t have to consult the government?’ He said, ‘Of course not.’ So the Russian said, ‘What poor organisation!’ That’s exactly it. You follow? We are so conditioned in a particular culture – Catholic, Buddhist, Greek Orthodox, Protestant, and so on and on, and we are held there. And you say, ‘Well, it is fairly easy to throw it off.’ Can you throw it off so easily? You can very easily, if you know the nature, the thing that conditions you.

Questioner: How does one know if one sees very clearly...?

Krishnamurti: How does one know one sees very clearly. I beg your pardon, sir?

Questioner: [Inaudible]

Krishnamurti: Yes, sir.

Questioner: [Inaudible]

Krishnamurti: So freedom of choice is not freedom. Freedom exists only when I perceive very clearly, when the mind sees things as they are. That is, when I see that I’m prejudiced, that I dislike, or like. See the thing very clearly as it is without evaluating it, without condemning it.

Yes, sir?

Questioner: You said before, you asked us why don’t we see clearly that war is so dreadful. It seems to me that to say that war is dreadful is not the…

Krishnamurti: Sir, I said that to put it briefly. I could have enlarged it, gone into it, and not said it is dreadful, but to convey something quickly.

So, our problem then is: choice is not freedom. Choice comes out of confusion. And I am confused, as we are confused as human beings. That is the first factor to realise: as a human being we are confused. And whatever comes out of that confusion, any thought, any action, is still confused. Yes?

Yes?

Questioner: Is merely seeing something purely… [inaudible]

Krishnamurti: Yes, sir, of course, obviously. Look...

Questioner: [Inaudible]

Krishnamurti: Again we have to go into this question of seeing. What do you mean by seeing? I see you have a blue shirt on – visual perception. I see by your talk that you are a Hindu, or a Christian, because you have limited your perception to that point, you won’t go beyond it. I see I am frightened. I am aware – I’m aware that shirt is blue, I am aware that you limit your thought by accepting certain dogma, and refuse to go beyond it, I am aware that I am frightened. That’s what we mean by saying ‘seeing’, being aware. I am either aware with choice – you follow? – I say, ‘I like this, I don’t like this, this is right, this is wrong, this should be, that must...’ – condemning, judging, evaluating, is part of awareness – or I am aware without choice. Right? I’m aware. I’m aware of that blue shirt, I’m aware of the roof, I’m aware of the proportions of this hall, I’m aware of the things outside me, and also I’m aware of my reactions to that. And I’m also aware how those reactions come from my prejudices – my Victorian training or my classical training or my modern training, and so on. So, this awareness indicates the conditioning in which I am. That is awareness, is perception. Right? And when I choose, saying, ‘I prefer this, and I don’t like it,’ and I’m still aware in this choice, it limits my awareness, obviously. But whereas if I see the colour, and not say I like or dislike, but look at it, be aware without any choice, then I can look. If I say, ‘I don’t like communists,’ then it’s finished. But to be aware of the nature of communism, the implications of it, is to look into it, explore it.

Sirs, let’s go back. So, freedom can only exist where there is no choice [laughs]. Do you swallow that pill? [Laughter] Freedom is when there is clear awareness, without any choice.

Questioner: Whose freedom is that?

Krishnamurti: Whose freedom is it then – you understand? – whose freedom is it then. Is freedom yours and mine? If it is yours, you are not free. Oh, you don’t see all this. If you say, ‘This is my freedom, I’m going to hold on to it’… [laughs]

Questioner: [Inaudible]

Krishnamurti: That’s right, sir. When there is no dualistic process, and therefore no conflict and no contradiction, then there is freedom, and therefore freedom from choice. And if there is freedom from choice, will has no place at all – isn’t it? That doesn’t mean I’m weak minded. After all, will is the expression of desire. I desire that and I’m going to get it. I want that suit and I’m going to get it. I don’t like that and I’m going to avoid it. And on that principle we have lived, of like and dislike, of choice, I will do this and I will not do that, I must achieve success, and so on, so on, so on. On the exercising of will we have lived, and therefore we have lived on conflict. So when you are questioning the whole structure of human acceptance and human values, and then you realise how dangerous you are to others, then you have quite a different problem.

Questioner: Is it possible to be free in society?

Krishnamurti: Is it possible to be free living in this society. Why not? I mean, does freedom mean I grow long hair and put on all kinds of stuff, and jingle a bell and take drugs, and all that? That’s not freedom. Freedom implies freedom of order... without order how can I be free? Order implies not the order of society. Society is immoral, and this immorality it calls order. And I must be free, and there must be freedom from the immorality of society to be moral. I don’t know if you... Is this all too much?

Questioner: No.

Krishnamurti: No?

Questioner: No.

Krishnamurti: Do you accept this?

Questioner: What do you do with society?

Krishnamurti: Leave the society alone, sir, for the moment. Do you accept what the speaker is saying?

Questioner: No.

Krishnamurti: No. Quite right, sir, I’m glad.

Questioner: Freedom from society?

Krishnamurti: No, sir, look, look...

Questioner: [Inaudible]

Krishnamurti: No, sir, the question was: can one live freely in this society? I said of course, otherwise what is the point of freedom? And freedom implies not only freedom to act independently of society, to act morally, which is not the morality of society, which is immoral, therefore if you deny the morality of society, deny it, not verbally but actually deny it, and therefore be moral – you follow? – in the denial of what is not moral you are moral.

Questioner: How long will you stay part of the society if you deny it?

Krishnamurti: How long will you stay part of this society if you are moral. Right?

Questioner: Right.

Krishnamurti: Now what does that mean? Society accepts hate – right? – and society says that is perfectly moral – hate in the office, hate at home, hate in the battlefield, and so on, so on, so on, that says this hate is perfectly healthy, moral. And that is not morality. So, can I live in this society by not hating at all?

Questioner: Yes.

Krishnamurti: Sir, don’t say yes. Verbally it is very easy, ideologically say, ‘Yes, that’s possible,’ but to actually do it. I’m not talking of theories because that has no value. To actually say I’m not going to hate. I will not admit in my heart or my mind any form of antagonism. Wait, sir, wait, sir, look at it. No hate whatsoever. That means that you have compassion, that there is love. And you say, can I live with compassion and love in this society? You only ask if you haven’t done it.

Yes, sir?

Questioner: You were saying can you live with compassion and love in the society as though it were something you could do or not do. It seems to me that you can live with compassion and love in society ten minutes of the day.

Krishnamurti: Ah, not ten minutes of the day, my Lord, that’s not compassion and love. For the ten minutes of the day I am kind, the rest of the time I blow everybody up. [Laughter] No meaning.

Questioner: Can hate be an outgrowth of love?

Krishnamurti: Can hate be the outgrowth of love. Which is saying love is hate – that’s what you’re saying, aren’t you. By hating I shall love.

Questioner: Love can engender hate.

Krishnamurti: Love can engender hate – in whom?

Questioner: In you. There are some things…

Krishnamurti: Wait, sir, wait, sir. I love, you love, you have compassion, I do something to you which is harmful to you – does that engender hate in you?

Questioner: If I love you… [inaudible]

Krishnamurti: No, sir. Has love an opposite? Is love the opposite of hate? Do please... Is it?

Yes, sir?

Questioner: Where does indifference fit in?

Krishnamurti: Where does indifference fit in. It doesn’t. No, let’s stick to one thing, please, which is, is love the opposite of hate?

Questioner: It can be.

Krishnamurti: Not ‘can be’, sir [laughs].

Questioner: It isn’t love.

Questioner: Fear is the opposite of love.

Questioner: Is love the absence of hate?

Krishnamurti: Is love the absence of hate. You’re playing with words – aren’t we?

Sir, look what does love mean? What do you mean by love? You see, we’re wandering off from the subject – but it doesn’t matter. When you say, ‘I love somebody,’ that woman or that girl or that boy, when the husband says to the wife, ‘I love you,’ what does that word mean? I love my country, I love my God, I love my Queen or King or constitution – what does than mean, love? When my wife looks at somebody I’m jealous. Right? And is jealousy part of love?

Questioner: Is love to have a clear understanding?

Krishnamurti: You see, you want to define it, you want to describe it, but the description, as we said, is not the thing described. You see...

Yes, sir?

Questioner: [Inaudible]

Krishnamurti: Sir, look, sir, let’s put it round this way: I want to find out as a human being what love is. I realise what other human beings have said about love – love God, love your neighbour, you know, dozens, dozens, it’s loaded, that word. I don’t know anything about it. Actually I don’t. You follow? I really don’t know anything about it, but I want to find out. Now, how do I set about it? Wait. I set about it by denying what it is not. Obviously jealousy is not, anger is not, domination is not, possessing somebody is not, ambition is not [laughs], hatred is not, to kill another is not. So can I actually put all that aside, not verbally but actually? If I can’t I shan’t be able to find out. In this society competition is considered the highest form of civilising process. You see what competition does – fighting, fighting, fighting, for yourself, against – you know? And I say, ‘By Jove, that’s not love,’ and can I live without competing in this world? Of course I can.

Questioner: You ask can I live without competing in this world.

Krishnamurti: Without competing – no, sir, knowing that competition is a form of hatred, is a form of... destructive way of living, in which there is no love. So I say, can I live without competition, earn a livelihood without competition, knowing what the significance of competition is. I compete in the office, go to the church and say, ‘Love your neighbour.’ [Laughs] You follow, sir? It’s absurd.

Questioner: [Inaudible]

Questioner: He wants to know what is your answer, sir.

Krishnamurti: To what?

Questioner: Whether there is love when I compete.

Krishnamurti: Obviously not, sir.

Questioner: Whether you can live in a society without competition.

Krishnamurti: I say you can but what importance has that? What is important is to find out for yourself whether you can live without hate, without competition, without this appalling, grinding way of living. Not become a hippie, not just revolt and do some absurd thing, but to live without hate. Try it, do it, sir, you’ll find out what it means.

Yes, sir?

Questioner: Does this mean that love and hate are really... [inaudible]

Questioner: Love and hate are not two different transitive verbs, they seem to be the two ends of a continuum. According to the way you respond to circumstances, you can be said to love and to hate. It would seem rather a difference in degree than two separate things.

Krishnamurti: Sir, do you hate?

Questioner: Extreme dislike.

Krishnamurti: All right – extreme dislike. In that state do you love? Is it a continuum of love, extreme dislike? Is it a continuous thing from love to dislike? I dislike that person, and in that state can I say I love him?

Questioner: Yes.

Krishnamurti: What are you saying, sir?

Questioner: [Inaudible] ...I can love certain aspects of him, and other aspects I dislike.

Krishnamurti: Ah, you love a certain part and you dislike other parts. I love you because you have a nice face, but I hate what you talk about. [Laughter] Sir, what is this? So don’t talk but let me look at your face! [Laughs] Crazy!

Questioner: Can we go into the principle you talked about, the principle by which you become conditioned? You mentioned it was important to understand that.

Krishnamurti: How we become conditioned – it’s fairly simple, isn’t it? The question is: how do we become conditioned. If you live in Italy and you listen to the radio or see the television, there is, three or four times a week, the Pope speaks, the cardinals talk about something; there are two priests, Tuesdays and Fridays, who talk about Jesus, and the love of Jesus, the Saviour – that is repeated, repeated, repeated, repeated for two thousand years. What happens to your mind? You begin to repeat it, don’t you? Propaganda conditions your mind, which is influence. Think this way; think there is God, or think there is no God. And you keep on repeating, repeating, and at the end of five years you say there is no God, or God. It’s the same: ‘Buy this soap,’ keep on repeating ‘buy this soap’ for the next five years and you’ll buy that soap. The principle of conditioning is very simple. We are slaves to propaganda – religious propaganda, military propaganda, educational propaganda, and so on and on and on.

Questioner: [Inaudible] ...are you saying that Jesus doesn’t exist or hasn’t existed?

Questioner: You mentioned this man on television in Italy who keeps on talking about Jesus. Are you saying now that there’s no such thing as Jesus?

[Laughter]

Krishnamurti: I really don’t know. The books and the propagandists say there was. I don’t know, do you?

Questioner: We know what we hear and what we believe in, maybe what we feel also.

Krishnamurti: Look, sir, you go to an Indian village in India, and he has never heard about the Saviour and the Jesus. And he says, when you talk to him about it, he says, ‘What are you talking about, who is he?’ But he has his own God.

No, sir, I’m not, we’re not doing propaganda for this or for that. We say that to find out what truth is you must be free of propaganda: the propaganda of the Church, the propaganda of literature, propaganda of tradition, so that you see things clearly for yourself.

Questioner: When you see things clearly, is seeing things clearly ever a value judgement or is it only just seeing that something is? You said if you make the value judgement... [inaudible]

Questioner: Is seeing things clearly ever to assess them in terms of good or bad?

Krishnamurti: Never! Sir, what is good here is bad in India [laughs]. What is bad there is good here. So, sir, look, sir, do you judge what is good and bad by your like and dislike, by your pleasure and fear?

Questioner: Yes.

Krishnamurti: Sir, what is good? Wait a minute, let’s go into it. What is good? Where does goodness flower? Does it flower in the field of conflict?

Questioner: Sir, how does one transcend propaganda?

Questioner: How do you transcend propaganda, and when you do, do you see clearly?

Krishnamurti: When do you transcend propaganda, and then do you see clearly. You know it is one of the most difficult things to be free of influence, good or bad? Have you ever tried it? After all, you smoke, you eat meat – I’m not saying you must not or must – now, that is the result of propaganda, isn’t it, tradition. How are you going to find out when you’re free of it? By giving it up, see how difficult it is – no? And propaganda, influence – there is obvious influence and very subtle forms of influence. Now, as you are listening to me, to the speaker, is he influencing you to think this way or not to think that way? If he is, beware of him, push him away. But if he says look clearly, find out, examine, search, question, ask, never accept, never obey, go into it – that’s not propaganda. I mean, we are, as one observes, right through the world, we are the result of this propaganda. We are the result, we are that. Of words – you are a Christian, I’m a Hindu, communist, socialist, capitalist, and so on and on and on and on. To be free of all that.

Questioner: You eat and I eat, yet there is not enough food for all the people to eat; someone must go hungry...

Krishnamurti: Wait, sir. You’re making a statement I believe which is not accurate. You must eat and I must eat; somebody must go hungry.

Questioner: Yes.

Krishnamurti: Look, in India there are thousands, millions of people who are hungry, and how is that problem going to be solved?

Questioner: How is it to be solved?

Krishnamurti: It’s not being solved. So you say, ‘Well, some will be well fed, others will not be fed, that’s the law of nature.’ I say that’s absurd. I won’t accept that. Why can’t we – wait, sir – why can’t we find ways and means of feeding everybody?

Questioner: It’s impossible to feed everybody.

Krishnamurti: No, wait. It is possible if we are not nationalistic, if there were no sovereign governments, if everybody says our main concern is to feed the people, not according to communists or socialists, concerned with the people, feeding people, we’ll do it. But we’re more concerned... as communists we must feed the people according to my way. This is all simple enough.

Is it time to stop? What time is it, sir?

Questioner: Six o’clock.

Krishnamurti: I think that’s enough, isn’t it? We’ll meet again tomorrow morning at 10:30. Ah, afternoon.

Questioner: Tomorrow and the next day, but only... [inaudible]

Krishnamurti: Beg your pardon, sorry. Thursday, we meet again if you care to.

First Discussion with Students at Claremont Colleges

Monday, November 11, 1968

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