Sunday, January 29, 1950
Let us see what place the individual has in society – whether the individual can do anything to bring about a radical change in society; whether the transformed entity, the intelligent human being who has fundamentally transformed himself, has any influence, any action, upon the current of events; or whether the individual I am talking of, the transformed entity, cannot do anything himself but can, merely by his very existence, inject some kind of order into society, into the stream of chaos and confusion. We see all over the world that mass action obviously produces results. Seeing that, we feel that individual action has very little importance, that you and I, though we may transform ourselves, can have very little influence; and so we ask what value do we have when we cannot affect the stream.
Now, why do we think in mass terms? Are fundamental revolutions brought about by the mass, or are they started by the few who see and who, by their talk and energy, influence very many people? That is how revolutions are brought about. Is it not a mistake to think that, as individuals, we cannot do anything? Is it not a fallacy to think that all fundamental revolutions are produced by the mass? Why do we think that individuals are not important as individuals? If we have this attitude of mind, we will not think for ourselves but will respond automatically. Is action always of the mass? Does it not spring essentially from the individual and then spread from individual to individual? There is really no such thing as the mass. After all, the mass is an entity formed of people who are caught, hypnotized by words, by certain ideas. The moment we are not hypnotized by words, we are outside that stream – something no politician would like. Should we not remain outside the stream and collect more and more from the stream in order to affect the stream? Is it not important that there should be a fundamental transformation in the individual first, that you and I should radically change first, without waiting for the whole world to change? Is it not an escapist's view, a form of laziness, an avoidance of the issue to think that you and I, in however small a degree, cannot affect society as a whole?
When we see so much misery, not only in our own lives, but also in the society around us, what is it that prevents us from transforming ourselves, from changing ourselves fundamentally? Is it merely habit, lethargy, the quality of the mind that likes the pattern in which it is enclosed and does not want it to break? Surely, it is not only that, because economic circumstances break up that pattern, but the inward psychological pattern persists. Why does it persist? In order to change fundamentally, radically, do we need an outside influence or agency – like sorrow, economic or social revolution, or a guru – all of which are a form of compulsion? An outside agency implies conformity, dependence, compulsion, fear. Do we change fundamentally through dependence? And is it not one of our difficulties that we are dependent for change on outside agencies, economic upheavals, and so on? This dependence upon an outside agency prevents radical revolution, because radical revolution can come about only in understanding the total process of oneself. If you depend on an outside agency of any kind to bring about transformation, you have introduced fear and certain other factors which actually prevent transformation. A man who really wants transformation does not depend upon any outside agency; he has no struggle within himself, he sees the necessity and transforms himself.
Is the transformation of the individual really difficult? Is it difficult to be kind, to be compassionate, to love somebody? After all, that is the very essence of a radical transformation. The difficulty with us is that we have a dualistic nature in which there is hate, dislike, various forms of antagonism, and so on, which takes us away from the central issue. We are so caught up in the impulses that incite hatred, dislike, that the very flame is lost and we are left with the smoke, and then our problem is how to get rid of the smoke. We have not got the flame of creation at all, but we think the smoke is the flame. Is it not necessary to investigate what the flame is – that is, see things anew without being caught in a pattern, look at things as they are without naming them? Is it really difficult? The difficulty with most of us is that we have committed ourselves up to the hilt, we have assumed innumerable responsibilities, duties, and so on, and we say that we cannot get out of them. Surely, that is not a real difficulty. When we feel something deeply we do what we want to do, irrespective of the family, of society, and all that. So, the only difficulty which stands in the way is that we do not sufficiently feel the importance of radical individual transformation. It is imperative to bring about transformation. Transformation will take place when we live without verbalization, when we see things as they are and accept truth as it is. It must begin with us as individuals. It does not begin merely because we do not pay enough attention, we do not give our whole being to the understanding of this one thing; we see so much misery outside of us and confusion within us, and yet we do not want to break through it.
Now, what happens when I have a problem and try to resolve it? In the resolution of that problem, I find several others that have come in – in solving one problem, I have multiplied it. So, I want to find the solution to the problem without increasing the problem; I want to live happily, I want to be free of psychological sorrow without finding a substitute for it. Is it possible to find out if one can really resolve sorrow, to inquire into it without anybody's authority, to go into it in oneself, watching oneself all the time in every kind of relationship? Is not that the only way out of the difficulty? – watching ourselves constantly, what we think, what we feel, what we do, being in that state of watchfulness in which everything is revealed. You must experiment with it and not merely say it cannot be done or accept my authority and merely repeat it. Let us say that you are happy and I am not, and I want to be happy; I do not want to be drugged by belief and all that, but I want to go to the very end of it. So I come to you and inquire, and I go deeper and deeper into it. What is preventing you from doing that now? Why is it you do not have the feeling of happiness, of creation, of seeing things as they are? Why do you not operate in that deep sense? Because you say that sorrow is helpful to happiness, that sorrow is a means to happiness, and you have accepted sorrow, or some kind of substitution. We have made ourselves so dull that we do not see the need for changing; that is the difficulty.
You may say that you want to change but that there is something which prevents the change from taking place. Explanations will not bring about change. To say that the ego is in the way is explanation, mere description. You want me to describe how to overcome the impediments, but we must find a way of jumping the hurdle if we can; we must venture out into the stream and see what happens – not sit on the shore and speculate. What is actually preventing us from taking the jump? Tradition – which is memory, which is experience – prevents us, does it not? We are so satisfied with words, with explanations, that we do not take the jump even when we see the necessity for jumping. It is suggested that there is no venturing out in the stream because of fear of the unknown. But can I ever know what will happen, can I ever know the unknown? If I knew, then I would have no fear, and it would not be the unknown. I can never know the unknown without venturing.
Is it fear that is holding us from venturing forth? What is fear? Fear can exist only in relation to something, it is not in isolation. How can I be afraid of death, how can I be afraid of something I do not know? I can be afraid only of what I know. When I say I am afraid of death, am I really afraid of the unknown, which is death, or am I afraid of losing what I have known? My fear is not of death, but of losing my association with things belonging to me. My fear is always in relation to the known, not to the unknown. So, my inquiry now is how to be free from the fear of the known, which is the fear of losing my family, my reputation, my character, my bank account, my appetites, and so on. You may say that fear arises from conscience, but your conscience is formed by your conditioning, it may be foolish or wise, so conscience is still the result of the known. What do I know? Knowing is having ideas, having opinions about things, having a sense of continuity as the known, and no more. Ideas are memories, the result of experience, which is response to challenge. I am afraid of the known, which means I am afraid of losing people, things, or ideas; I am afraid of discovering what I am, afraid of being at a loss, afraid of the pain which might come into being when I have lost, or have not gained, or have no more pleasure.
There is fear of pain. Physical pain is the nervous response; psychological pain arises when I hold on to things that give me satisfaction, for then I am afraid of anyone or anything that may take them away from me. The psychological accumulations prevent psychological pain as long as they are undisturbed; that is, I am a bundle of accumulations, experiences, which prevent any serious form of disturbance – and I do not want to be disturbed. Therefore, I am afraid of anyone who disturbs them. Thus, my fear is of the known; I am afraid of the accumulations, physical or psychological, that I have gathered as a means of warding off pain or preventing sorrow. But sorrow is in the very process of accumulating to ward off psychological pain. Knowledge also helps to prevent pain. As medical knowledge helps to prevent physical pain, so beliefs help to prevent psychological pain, and that is why I am afraid of losing my beliefs, though I have no perfect knowledge or concrete proof of the reality of such beliefs. I may reject some of the traditional beliefs that have been foisted on me because my own experience gives me strength, confidence, understanding, but such beliefs and the knowledge which I have acquired are basically the same – a means of warding off pain.
Fear exists as long as there is accumulation of the known, which creates the fear of losing. Therefore, fear of the unknown is really fear of losing the accumulated known. Accumulation invariably means fear, which in turn means pain, and the moment I say, « I must not lose, » there is fear. Though my intention in accumulating is to ward off pain, pain is inherent in the process of accumulation. The very things which I have create fear, which is pain.
The seed of defense brings offense. I want physical security; thus I create a sovereign government, which necessitates armed forces, which means war, which destroys security. Wherever there is a desire for self-protection, there is fear. When I see the fallacy of demanding security, I do not accumulate any more. If you say that you see it but you cannot help accumulating, it is because you do not really see that, inherently, in accumulation there is pain.
Fear exists in the process of accumulation, and belief in something is part of the accumulative process. My son dies, and I believe in reincarnation to prevent me psychologically from having more pain, but in the very process of believing, there is doubt. Outwardly I accumulate things, and bring war; inwardly I accumulate beliefs, and bring pain. As long as I want to be secure, to have bank accounts, pleasures, and so on, as long as I want to become something, physiologically or psychologically, there must be pain. The very things I am doing to ward off pain, bring me fear, pin.
Fear comes into being when I desire to be in a particular pattern. To live without fear means to live without a particular pattern. When I demand a particular way of living, that in itself is a source of fear. My difficulty is my desire to live in a certain frame. Can I not break the frame? I can do so only when I see the truth – that the frame is causing fear and that this fear is strengthening the frame. If I say I must break the frame because I want to be free of fear, then I am merely following another pattern which will cause further fear. Any action on my part based on the desire to break the frame will only create another pattern and therefore fear. How am I to break the frame without causing fear, that is, without any conscious or unconscious action on my part with regard to it? This means that I must not act, I must make no movement to break the frame. So, what happens to me when I am simply looking at the frame without doing anything about it? I see that the mind itself is the frame, the pattern; it lives in the habitual pattern which it has created for itself. So, the mind itself is fear. Whatever the mind does goes towards strengthening an old pattern or furthering a new one. This means that whatever the mind does to get rid of fear causes fear. Seeing the truth of all this, seeing the process of it, what happens? The mind becomes sensitive, quiet. Now, why is not the mind quiet all the time? Each time the pattern crystallizes, why does not the mind see the truth of it? Because, the mind wants permanency, stability, a refuge from which it can act. The mind wants to be secure. There is the breaking up of one particular pattern, and a few minutes later there is again crystallization; and instead of examining this new crystallization and understanding it fully, the mind goes back to the old experience and says, « I have seen the truth, and that must continue. » In seeking continuation, the mind creates a new pattern and gets caught in it. Each time the crystallization takes place, it has to be watched and understood, and the repetition occurs because of the incompleteness of understanding. Truth is noncontinuity. The truth of yesterday is not the truth of today. Truth is not of time and so, not of memory; it is not something to be experienced, to be remembered, gained, lost, or achieved. We pursue truth in order to gain it and give it a continuity, and once we really see this, then the pattern will break up because then the mind is already adrift.
Second Public Talk in Madras
Sunday, January 29, 1950
© 2016 Copyright by Krishnamurti Foundations