07 Dec Human problems everywhere, though apparently dissimilar, are really more or less similar. (JIDDU KRISHNAMURTI)
Human problems everywhere, though apparently dissimilar, are really more or less similar
As one travels one is very much aware that human problems everywhere, though apparently dissimilar, are really more or less similar; the problems of violence and the problem of freedom; the problem of how to bring about a real and better relationship between man and man, so that he may live at peace, with some decency and not be constantly in conflict, not only within himself but also with his neighbour. Also there is the problem, as in the whole of Asia, of poverty, starvation and the utter despair of the poor. And there is the problem, as in this country and in Western Europe, of prosperity; where there is prosperity without austerity there is violence, there is every form of unethical luxury – the society which is utterly corrupt and immoral. There is the problem of organized religion – which man, throughout the world is rejecting, more or less – and the question of what a religious mind is and what meditation is – which are not monopolies of the East. There is the question of love and death – so many interrelated problems. The speaker does not represent any system of conceptual thinking or ideology, Indian or otherwise. If we can talk over together these many problems, not as with an expert or a specialist – because the speaker is neither – then possibly we can establish right communication; but bear in mind that the word is not the thing, and that the description, however detailed, however intricate, however wellreasoned out and beautiful, is not the thing described.
There are the whole separate worlds, the ideological divisions of the Hindu, the Muslim, the Christian and the Communist, which have brought about such incalculable harm, such hatred and antagonism. All ideologies are idiotic, whether religious or political, for it is conceptual thinking, the conceptual word, which has so unfortunately divided man.
These ideologies have brought about wars; although there may be religious tolerance, it is up to a certain point only; after that, destruction, intolerance, brutality, violence – the religious wars. Similarly there are the national and tribal divisions caused by ideologies, the black nationalism and the various tribal expressions.
Is it at all possible to live in this world non-violently, in freedom, virtuously? Freedom is absolutely necessary; but not freedom for the individual to do what he likes to do, because the individual is conditioned – whether he is living in this country or in India or anywhere else – he is conditioned by his society, by his culture, by the whole structure of his thought. Is it at all possible to be free from this conditioning, not ideologically, not as an idea, but actually psychologically, inwardly, free? – otherwise I do not see how there can be any democracy or any righteous behaviour. Again, the expression “righteous behaviour” is rather looked down upon, but I hope we can use these words to convey what is meant without any derogatory sense.
Freedom is not an idea; a philosophy written about freedom is not freedom. Either one is free or one is not. One is in a prison, however decorative that prison is; a prisoner is free only when he is no longer in prison. Freedom is not a state of the mind that is caught in thought. Thought can never be free. Thought is the response of memory, knowledge and experience; it is always the product of the past and it cannot possibly bring about freedom because freedom is something that is in the living active present, in daily life. Freedom is not freedom from something – freedom from something is merely a reaction.
Why has man given such extraordinary importance to thought? – thought which formulates a concept according to which he tries to live. The formulation of ideologies and the attempted conformity to those ideologies is observable throughout the world. The Hitler movement did it, the Communist people are doing it very thoroughly; the religious groups, the Catholics, the protestants, the Hindus, and so on have asserted their ideologies through propaganda for two thousand years, and have made man conform through threats, through promises. One observes this phenomenon throughout the world; man has always given thought such extraordinary significance and importance. The more specialized, the more intellectual, the more thought becomes of serious import. So we ask: Can thought ever solve our human problems?
There is the problem of violence, not only the student revolt in Paris, Rome, London and Columbia, here and in the rest of the world, but this spreading of hatred and violence, black against white, Hindu against Muslim. There is the incredible brutality and extraordinary violence that human hearts carry – though outwardly educated, conditioned, to repeat prayers of peace. Human beings are extraordinarily violent.
This violence is the result of political and racial divisions and of religious distinctions. This violence that is so embedded in each human being, can one actually transform it, change it completely, so that one lives at peace? This violence man has obviously inherited from the animal and from the society in which he lives. Man is committed to war, man accepts war as the way of life; there may be a few pacifists here and there, carrying anti-war slogans, but there are those who love war and have favourite wars! There are those who may not approve of the Vietnamese War but they will fight for something else, they will have another kind of war. Man has actually accepted war, that is, conflict, not only within himself but outwardly, as a way of life.
What the human being is, totally, both at the conscious as well as at the deeper levels of his consciousness, produces a society with a corresponding structure – which is obvious. And one asks again: Is it at all possible for man, having accustomed himself through education, through acceptance of the social norm and culture, to bring about a psychological revolution within himself? – not a mere outward revolution.
Is it at all possible to bring about a psychological revolution immediately? – not in time, not gradually, because there is no time when the house is burning; you do not talk about gradually putting out the fire; you have no time, time is a delusion. So what will make man change? What will make either you or me as a human being, change? Motive, either of reward or punishment? That has been tried. Psychological rewards, the promise of heaven, the punishment of hell, we have had in abundance and apparently man has not changed, he is still envious, greedy, violent, superstitious, fearful and so on. Mere motive, whether it is given outwardly or inwardly, does not bring about a radical change. Finding, through analysis, the cause why man is so violent, so full of fear, so greatly acquisitive, competitive, so violently ambitious – which is fairly easy – will that bring about a change? Obviously not, neither that nor the uncovering of the motive. Then what will? What will bring about, not gradually, but immediately, the psychological revolution?
Υou are the world