Jiddu Krishnamurti Five Conversations

1st Conversation
Meditation is the way of total transformation of man’s mania. Man is caught in
principles  and  ideologies  which  prevent  him  from  putting  an  end  to  the  conflict
between  himself  and  another.  The  ideology  of  nationality  and  religion  and  the
obstinacy of his own vanity is destroying man. This destructive process goes on
throughout  the  world.  Man  has  tried  to  end  it  through  tolerance,  conciliation,
through  the  exchange  of  words,  and  face-saving  devices  –  but  he  remains
entrenched in his own conditioning.
Goodness does not lie in dogma, nor in the vanity of principle and formula.
These deny love, and meditation is the flowering of that love.
The valley was very still that early morning. Even the owl had stopped calling
his mate; his deep hoot had ceased an hour earlier. The sun wasn’t up yet and
the stars were still brilliant. One star was just setting over the western hills and
the light from the east was slowly spreading. As the sun rose, the rocks, with dew
on  them,  were  shining,  and  the  cactus  and  the  leaves  became  silver,  highly
polished. And the beauty of the land began to awaken.
The monkeys were on the veranda now, two of them, red-faced, with brown
coats,  and  tails  not  too  long.  One  was  scratching  the  other  looking  for  insects,
and when he found them he picked them out carefully and swallowed them. They
were restless, and they jumped off the veranda on to the branch of a large rain
tree and wandered off into the gully.
Even though the village had awakened there was still the stillness of the night.
It  was  a  peculiar  stillness.  It  was  not  the  absence  of  noise.  It  was  not  that  the
mind brought about the stillness or conceived it out of its own endless chattering.
It was a stillness that came without asking, without any cause. And the hills, the
trees, the people, the monkeys, the crows which were calling, were all in it. And it
would go on until the evening. Only man was not aware of it. It would be there   4
again when the night came, and the rocks would know it, and the newly planted
banyan tree, and the lizard between the rocks. There were four or five people in
the room. Some were students, others college graduates with jobs. One of the
students said:
«I listened to you last year, and again this year. I know we are all conditioned. I
am aware of society’s brutalities, and of my own envy and anger. I know also the
history of the church and its wars and its unprincipled activities. I have studied
history and the endless wars of the entrenched beliefs and ideologies which are
creating so much conflict in the world. This mania of man – which is me also –
seems to hold us and we seem to be doomed forever, unless, of course, we can
bring about a change in ourselves. It’s the small minority that really matters, that
really having changed itself can do something in this murderous world. And a few
of  us  have  come,  representing  others,  to  discuss  this  matter  with  you.  I  think
some of us are serious, and I don’t know how far this seriousness will carry us.
So,  first  of  all,  taking  us  as  we  are,  half-serious,  somewhat  hysterical,
unreasonable, carried away by our assumptions and vanities – taking us as we
are,  can  we  really  change?  If  not,  we’re  going  to  destroy  each  other;  our  own
species will disappear. There may be a reconciliation in all this terror but there is
always the danger of some maniacal group letting loose the atom bomb, and then
we shall all be engulfed in it. So seeing all this, which is fairly obvious, which is
being described endlessly by authors, professors, sociologists, politicians and so
on – is it possible to change radically?»
Some  of  us  are  not  quite  sure  that  we  want  to  change,  for  we  enjoy  this
violence. For some of us it is even profitable. And for others, all they desire is to
remain in their entrenched positions. There are still others who through change
seek some form of super excitement, over-rated emotional expression. Most of us
want  power  in  some  form  or  another.  The  power  over  oneself,  the  power  over
another,  the  power  which  comes  with  new  and  brilliant  ideas,  the  power  of
leadership,  fame,  and  so  on.  Political  power  is  as  evil  as  religious  power.  The   5
power of the world and the power of an ideology do not change man. Nor does
the volition to change, the will to transform oneself, bring about this change.
«l can understand that,» said the student.»Then what is the way of change if
will, if principles and ideologies are not the way? Then what is the motive power?
And change – to what?»
The older people in the room listened to this rather seriously. They were all
attentive, and not one of them looked out of the window to see the green-yellow
bird  sitting  on  a  branch  sunning  himself  that  early  morning,  preening  himself,
grooming his feathers and looking at the world from the height of that tall tree.
One of the older men said:I am not at all sure that I want any change at all. It
might be for the worse. It’s better, this orderly disorder, than an order which may
mean uncertainty, total insecurity and chaos. So when you talk of how to change,
and the necessity of change, I am not at all sure I agree with you, my friend. As a
speculative idea I enjoy it. but a revolution which will deprive me of my job, my
house, my family and so on, is a most unpleasant idea and I don’t think I want it.
You’re young, and you can play with these ideas. All the same, I will listen and
see what the outcome of this discussion will be.»
The students looked at him with that superiority of freedom, with that sense of
not  being  committed  to  a  family,  to  a  group,  or  to  a  political  or  religious  party.
They  had  said  they  were  neither  capitalist  not  communists;  they  were  not
concerned with political activity at all. They smiled with tolerance and a certain
feeling of awkwardness. There is that gap which exists between the older and the
younger generations, and they were not going to try to bridge it.
«We  are  the  uncommitted,»  the  student  went  on,  «and  therefore  we  are  not
hypocrites. Of course we don’t know what we want to do, but we know what is not
right. We don’t want social, racial differences, we’re not concerned with all these
silly religious beliefs and superstitions, nor do we want political leaders – though   6
there must be a totally different kind of politics which will prevent wars. So we are
really  concerned,  and  we  want  to  be  involved  in  the  possibilities  of  man’s  total
transformation.  So,  to  put  the  question  again:  firstly,  what  is  this  thing  that  is
going to make us change? And secondly – change to what?»
Surely, the second question is involved in the first, isn’t it? If you already know
what you are changing to, is that change at all? If one knows what one will be
tomorrow, then `what will be’ is already in the present. The future is the present;
the known future is the known present. The future is the projection, modified, of
what is known now.
«Yes, I see that very clearly. So there is only, then, the question of change, not
the  verbal  definition  of  what  we  change  to.  So  we’ll  limit  ourselves  to  the  first
question. How do we change? What is the drive, the motive, the force that will
make us break down all barriers?»
Only complete inaction, only the complete negation of `what is’. We do not see
the great force that is in negation. If you reject the whole structure of principle and
formula,  and  hence  the  power  derived  from  it,  the  authority,  that  very  rejection
gives you the force necessary to reject all other structures of thought – and so you
have the energy to change! The rejection is that energy.
«Is  this  what  you  call  ‘dying’  to  the  historical  accumulation  which  is  the
Yes. That very dying is to be born anew. There you have the whole movement
of change – the dying to the known.
«Is this rejection a positive, definite act?»
When the students revolt it is a positive, definite act, but such action is only
very  partial  and  fragmentary.  It  is  not  a  total  rejection.  When  you  ask:  «Is  it  a
positive act, this dying, this rejection?» – it is and it isn’t. When you positively leave   7
a house and enter into another house your positive action ceases to be positive
action at all because you have abandoned one power structure for another, which
you will again have to leave. So this constant repetition which appears to be a
positive action, is really inaction. But if you reject the desire and the search for all
inward security, then it is a total negation which is a most positive action. It is this
action only which transforms man. If you reject hate and envy, in every form, you
are rejecting the whole structure of what man has created in himself and outside
himself. It is very simple. One problem is related to every other problem.
«So, is this what you call `seeing the problem’?»
This  seeing  reveals  the  whole  structure  and  nature  of  the  problem.  The
«seeing» is not the analyzing of the problem; it is not the revealing of the cause
and the effect. It is all there, laid out, as it were, on a map. It is there for you to
see, and you can see it only if you have no stand from which to look, and this is
our  difficulty.  We  are  committed,  and  inwardly  it  gives  us  great  pleasure  to
«belong». When we belong, then it is not possible to see; when we belong, we
become  irrational,  violent,  and  then  we  want  to  end  violence  by  belonging  to
something else. And so we are caught in a vicious circle. And this is what man
has done for millions of years and he vaguely calls this «evolution.» Love is not at
the  end  of  time.  Either  it  is  now,  or  it  isn’t.  And  hell  is  when  it  is  not,  and  the
reformation of hell is the decoration of the same hell.    8
2nd Conversation
In Europe spring was slipping into summer. It began in the warm south with
mimosa, and then came the flowering fruit trees and the lilac, and the blue sky
deepened; and you followed it north where spring was late. The chestnuts were
just putting out their leaves and there were no blossoms on them yet. And the
lilac was still in bud. And as you watched, the chestnut leaves became bigger,
thicker, and covered the road and the view across the meadow. They were now
in  full  bloom  along  the  avenues  in  the woods, and the lilac, which had already
faded in the south, was in bloom. There was a white lilac in a little yard; there
were few leaves, but the white bloom seemed to cover the horizon. And as you
went up north, spring was just beginning. The tulips, whole fields of them, were in
bloom, and the ducks had their yellow little chicks who paddled rapidly after the
mother in the still water of the canal. The lilac was still in bloom and the trees
were still bare, and as the days went by spring was ripening. And the flat earth,
with its vast horizon and clouds so low you felt you could touch them, stretched
from side to side.
Spring was in full glory here; there was no separateness. The tree and you
and those ducks with their little chicks, the tulips and the vast expanse of the sky
– there was no separation. The intensity of it made the colour of the tulip, the lily
and the tender green leaf, so vivid, so close, that the senses were the flowers, the
man and the woman who went by on their bicycles, and the crow high up in the
air.  There  is  really  no  separateness  between  the  new  grass,  the  child  and
yourself: we do not know how to look, and the looking is the meditation.
He was a young man, bright, clear-eyed and urgent. He said he was thirty-five
or  so,  and  had  a  good  job.  He  was  not  bothered  by  nationalism,  racial
disturbances or the conflicts of religious beliefs. He said he had a problem and
hoped  he  could  discuss  it  without  being  vulgar,  without  slipping  into  crude
expressions. He said he was married and had a child, and the child was lovely,   9
and he hoped she would grow up into a different world. His problem was, he said,
sex. It was not the adjustment to his wife, nor was there another woman in his
life. He said it was becoming a problem because he seemed to be consumed by
it. His job, which he did fairly well, was wrapped up with his sexual thoughts. He
wanted more and more of it – the pleasure and the enjoyment, the beauty and the
tenderness  of  it.  He  didn’t  want  to  make  it  into  a  problem,  as  it  was  with  most
people who were either frigid or made the whole of life a sexual issue. He loved
his wife and he felt he was beginning to use her for his own personal pleasure;
and now his appetite was growing and not lessening with the years, and it was
becoming a great burden.
Before we go into this problem I think we should understand what love and
chastity  are.  The  vow  of  chastity  is  not  chastity  at  all,  for  below  the  words  the
craving  goes  on,  and  trying  to  suppress  it  in  different  ways,  religious  and
otherwise,  is  a  form  of  ugliness  which,  in  its  very  essence,  is  unchaste.  The
chastity of the monk, with his vows and denials, is essentially worldliness, which
is unchaste. All forms of resistance build a wall of separateness which turns life
into  a  battlefield;  and  so  life  becomes  not  chaste  at  all.  Therefore  one  has  to
understand the nature of resistance. Why do we resist at all? Is it the outcome of
tradition, fear – fear of going wrong, of stepping out of line?
Society  has  imprinted  its  respectability  so  deeply  on  us  that  we  want  to
conform. If we had no resistance at all, would we become unbalanced? Would
our appetites increase? Or, is this very resistance breeding the conflict and the
To walk through life without resistance is to be free, and freedom, whatever it
does,  will  always  be  chaste.  The  word  «chastity»  and  the  word  «sex»  are  brutal
words;  they  do  not  represent  reality.  Words  are  false,  and  love  is  not  a  word.
When love is pleasure, there is pain and fear in it, and so love goes out of the
window, and life becomes a problem. Why is it that we have made sex into such   10
an enormous issue – not only in our personal lives but also in the magazines, the
films, the pictures, the religious which have condemned it? Why has man given
such extraordinary importance to this fact of life, and not to the other facts of life,
like power and cruelty?
To deny sex is another form of brutality; it is there, it is a fact. When we are
intellectual  slaves,  endlessly  repeating  what  others  have  said,  when  we  are
following, obeying, imitating, then a whole avenue of life is closed; when action is
merely  a  mechanical  repetition  and  not  a  free  movement,  then  there  is  no
release; when there is this incessant urge to fulfil, to be, then we are emotionally
thwarted, there is a blockage. So sex becomes the one issue which is our very
own,  which  is  not  second-hand.  And  in  the  act  of  sex  there  is  a  forgetting  of
oneself, one’s problems and one’s fears. In that act there is no self at all. This
self-forgetfulness  is  not  only  in  sex,  but  comes  also  with  drink,  or  drugs,  or  in
watching some game. It is this self-forgetfulness that we are seeking, identifying
ourselves  with  certain  acts  or  with  certain  ideologies  and  images,  and  so  sex
becomes a problem. Then chastity becomes a thing of great importance, or the
enjoyment  of  sex,  the  chewing  over  it,  the  endless  images,  become  equally
When  we  see  this  whole  thing,  what  we  make  of  love,  of  sex,  of  self-
indulgence, of taking vows against it – when we see this whole picture, not as an
idea  but  as  an  actual  fact,  then  love,  sex  and  chastity  are  one.  They  are  not
separate. It is the separation in relationship that corrupts. Sex can be as chaste
as the blue sky without a cloud; but the cloud comes and darkens, with thought.
Thought says: «This is chaste, and this is indulgence», «This must be controlled,»
and «In this I will let myself go». So thought is the poison, not love, not chastity,
not sex.
That which is innocent, whatever it does, is always chaste; but innocence is
not the product of thought.    11  12
3rd Conversation
«What is action?» he asked. «And what is love? Is there a link between them,
or are they two different things?»
He was a big man and had long hair, almost touching his shoulders, which
emphasized the squareness of his face. He wore corduroy trousers and had an
air of roughness. He was soft-spoken, with a ready smile and a quick mind. He
wasn’t particularly interested in himself but was keen to ask questions and to find
the right answers.
Love and action are not separate; they are made separate by thought. Where
there is love, action is part of it. Action by itself has very little meaning. Action is
the response to challenge, and the response is from the background of culture,
social  influences  and  tradition,  so  it  is  always  old.  Challenge  is  always  new,
otherwise  you  wouldn’t  call  it  challenge.  Unless  response  is  adequate  to
challenge there must be conflict, and therefore decay. Our actions, springing from
the past, must ever lead to disorder and decay.
«So, is there an action which is not in itself the cause of decay? And is such
action possible in this world?» he asked.
It is possible only when we understand the nature of challenge. Is there only
one  challenge,  or  are  there  multiple  challenges?  Or,  do  we  translate  this  one
challenge into diversified and fragmentary challenges? Surely there is only one,
but  our  mind,  being  fragmentary,  translates  that  one  challenge  into  many  and
tries  to  respond  to  these  multiple  fragments.  And  so  our  actions  become
contradictory  and  conflicting,  causing  misery  and  confusion  in  all  our
«That I see,» he said,»our minds are fragmentary; I see that very clearly, but
what is this one challenge?»    13
It  is  that  man  should  be  completely,  totally,  free.  Not  free  from  any  one
particular issue or from one particular bondage, but from all bondages and from
all issues. When you accept the challenge – and this challenge has always been
there  for  man  to  accept  from  the  most  ancient  of  times  until  now  –  when  you
accept the challenge you cannot possibly interpret it according to any cond- ition
of  culture  or  society.  To  deny  freedom  is  to  retrogress.  Can  you  accept  this
challenge, not intellectually, but with the impact, with the intensity, of some acute
and  dangerous  disease?  If  you  do  not  accept  it  then  you  are  merely  acting
according  to  your  own  personal  pleasure  and  idiosyncrasy,  which  make  for
bondage,  slavery,  to  a  particular  pattern  of  thought.  If  you  do  not  accept  this
challenge – that man be completely free – then you deny love. Then action is a
series  of  adjustments  to  social  and  environmental  demands,  with  its  agonies,
despairs and fears.
«But can one be so completely free, living in this murderous world?»
That is a wrong question. That is merely an intellectual inquiry which has very
little validity. Be free, and then you will love, in whatever society or culture it be.
Without  freedom  man  withers  away,  however  great  his  work,  whether  in  art,
science, politics or religion. Freedom and action are not separate. Being free is
action; it isn’t that there is action to be free, doing in order to be free. Love: and
hate  ceases.  Rut  to  deny  hate  in  order  to  love  is  part  of  that  pleasure  which
thought  establishes.  So  freedom,  love  and  action  are  interrelated,  not  to  be
separated, not to be cut up into political or social activity and so on. The mind,
being established in freedom, acts. And this action is love.    14
4th Conversation
We went past the well-known village which had become fashionable both in
winter and in summer, along a stream; and the car turned to the right and went
through  a  valley  with  steep  hills  on  both  sides,  covered  with  pine  trees.  And
occasionally we saw the chamois playing about high up in the opening of the pine
trees. The road went along a stream, and then we climbed, not too steeply. One
could  have  walked  up  the  slope  very  easily.  And  then  we  entered  an  unpaved
road which was very dusty and rough, with big pot-holes, and a lovely stream full
of green-blue water was by its side. The car couldn’t go any further and the path
went on through a thin pine wood where many of the trees had been uprooted by
the recent storm. This path through the silent wood became more and more quiet
and lonely. There were no birds here, there was only the song of the water as it
rushed down over the rocks and fallen trees, over the big boulders. That was the
only sound; and here and there the water was very quiet in deep pools where one
could have bathed if the water hadn’t been too cold. Here there were many wild
flowers, yellow, violet and pink. It was really a beautiful place, full of the sound of
the river, cascading down. But over it all there was that strange silence that exists
where  man  has  not  been.  There  was  moss  under  foot  and  a  leaning  tree  was
covered with it, end in the sunlight it was very brilliant, green and yellow. On the
other side of the ravine one could see the evening light of the sun and the brilliant
green of a meadow that stretched upward to the sky, which was intensely blue.
This  silence  enveloped  you,  and  you  remained  there  quietly,  watching  the
light, listening to the water and to the intense silence which no breeze disturbed.
It was a lovely evening, and it seemed a pity to return.
He was a youngish man and had probably studied human nature a little not
only  from  books  but  from  observation,  from  talking  to  many  people.  He  had
travelled extensively and said that he had met many people and was interested in
this whole business of man’s relationship to himself. He had witnessed the recent   15
students’  riots  in  different  parts  of  the  world,  this  spontaneous  outburst  against
the established order, and apparently he knew some of the leaders, both in the
south and in the north. He was concerned with the uncovering of the self that is
hidden both in the subconscious as well as in the upper layers of consciousness.
He said:l see the necessity of exploring this whole field and dying to it, so that
a new thing can come into being, but I can’t die to something I don’t know – the
subconscious,  the  deeper  layers  which  lie  so  secretly  hidden,  which  are  a
fathomless  storehouse  of  things  unknown  or  half-forgotten,  which  respond  and
contract  from  a  source  which  remains  covered.  Though  you  have  said  the
subconscious is as trivial as the conscious, and that therefore it is of very little
importance;  though  you  have  compared  it  to  a  computer  and  have  pointed  out
that it is mechanical yet this subconscious is responsible for all our behaviour, all
our relationships. How can you call it trivial? Do you realize what you are saying?»
To understand all this, which is quite a complex problem, it is important to look
at the whole structure of consciousness and not break it up into the conscious
and  the  hidden.  We  accept  this  division  as  natural,  but  is  it  natural,  or  is  it  an
observation from a fragment? Our difficulty is going to be to see the whole and
not the fragment. Then the problem arises as to who is the observer who sees
the whole? Is he not also a fragment who can therefore only look fragmentarily?
«Are we ever the whole, or only fragments acting separately in contradiction?»
We must be clear on this question of the whole and the fragment. Can we ever
see the whole, or have a feeling of the whole, through this fragment? Do you see
the whole tree or only a branch of the tree? You can see the whole of the tree if
you are at a certain distance – not too far and yet not too close. If you are too
close,  you  see  only  the  various  separate  branches.  So  to  see  the  whole  of
anything there must be – not the space that the word creates – but the space of
freedom. Only in freedom can you see the whole. We are, as you said, sir, always   16
acting in fragments which are in opposition to each other, or in a fragment which
is in harmony with one other fragment.
«Our whole life is broken up into the family, the businessman, the citizen, the
artist, the sensualist, the good man, and so on. We know only this fragmentary
action with its terrible tensions and delights.»
These  fragments  have  their  own  hidden  motives  opposed  to  other  hidden
motives  which  are  different  and  contradictory,  and  the  upper  layers  of
consciousness  respond  according  to  these  underground  opposing  elements  of
conditioning.  So  we  are  a  bundle  of  contradictory  motives  and  drives  which
respond to environmental challenge.
«The everyday mind is these responses in actual action, and in conflict which
is actually visible.»
So then what is the problem? What do you want to resolve or understand?
«The problem is that I must see the totality of all these hidden motives and
conditionings which are responsible for the visible conflict. In other words, I must
see the so-called subconscious. Even if I were not in conflict – and I am in conflict
– even if I weren’t then l’d still have to know all this subconscious in order to know
myself at all. And can I ever know myself?»
Either you know what has happened or what is actually taking place. To know
what  is  actually  taking  place  you  are  looking  with  the  eyes  of  the  past,  and
therefore you don’t know what is happening. Looking with the eyes of the past at
the living present means not seeing it. So the word «know» is a dangerous word,
as  all  words  are  dangerous  and  false.  When  you  say,»l  want  to  know  myself,»
there are two things involved. Who is the entity who says, «I must know myself,»
and  what  is  there,  apart  from  himself,  to  know?  And  so  it  becomes  an  absurd
question!  So  the  observer  is  the  observed.  The  observer  is  the  entity  who
dreams,  who  is  in  conflict,  who  wants  to  know,  and  wants  to  be  known,  the   17
illusion  and  the  demand  to  end  the  illusion,  the  dream  which  he  interprets  on
waking, and the interpretation which depends on conditioning. He is the whole,
the  analyzed  and  the  analyser,  the  experiencer  and  the  experience.  He  is  the
whole. He is the maker of god and its worshipper. All this is a fact which actually
is, which anybody with a little observation can see. Then, what is the question?
The question is this, isn’t it, sir: Is there any action within this framework which will
not create more conflict, more misery, more confusion, more chaos? Or is there
an action outside this historical accumulation?
«Are you asking if there is a part of me which can operate on this accumulation
which is not of it?»
You mean, am I positing some Atman, soul, divinity, etc., within myself which
is untouched?
«It looks like it.»
Certainly  not,  sir.  Nothing  of  the  kind.  When  you  put  this  question  you  are
really repeating an old tradition of escape. We have to think out this anew, not
repeat a time-worn superstition. Within this framework of the `me’, the ego, the
self, obviously there is no freedom, and therefore it is always breeding its own
misery, social, personal and so on. Is it ever possible to be free from this? We
spend our energies discussing political, religious, social freedom, freedom from
poverty and inequality, etc.
«I agree with you, sir. We spend our time asking if we can be free to act, to
change  the  social  structure,  to  break  down  social  disorder,  poverty,  inequality,
and so on, and I not at all sure we want freedom at all.»
Does freedom lie within the structure of this accumulated past or outside the
structure? Freedom is necessary, and freedom cannot be within this structure. So
you are asking, really, is it possible for man to go beyond this structure, to be free
–  that  is,  to  act  not  from  this  structure?  To  be,  to  act  and  to  live  outside  this   18
framework? There is such a freedom and it comes into being only when there is
the total denial – not resistance – the total denial of what actually is, without having
a secret longing for freedom. So the negation of what is, is freedom.
«How do you deny it?»
You  can’t  deny  it!  If  you  say,»l  will  deny  it,»  you  are  back  again  within  the
framework. But the very seeing of what is, is the freedom from it, and this may be
called  «denial»  or  any  other  word  you  care  to  use.  So  the  seeing  becomes  all-
important,  not  all  this  rigmarole  of  words,  cunning  subtleties  and  devious
explanations. The word is not the thing, but we are concerned with the word and
not with the seeing.
«But we are right back where we started! How can I see the totality of myself,
and who is there to see it, since the observer is the observed?»
As  we  said  previously,  sir,  you  can’t  see.  There  is  only  seeing,  not  «you»
seeing. The «what is» is before your eyes. This is seeing, this is the truth.
«Is  it  important  to  see  the  structure  which  operates,  or  the  content  of  that
What is important is to see the whole, not as structure and content, but to see
that the structure is the content and the content is the structure, the one cannot
exist without the other. So what is important is to see.    19
5th Conversation
Thought  can  never  penetrate  very  deeply  into  any  problem  of  human
relationship. Thought is superficial and old and is the outcome of the past. The
past  cannot  enter  into  something  that  is  totally  new.  It  can  explain  the  new,
organize it, communicate it, but the «word» is not the new. Thought is the word,
the  symbol,  the  image.  Without  this  symbol  is  there  thought?  We  have  used
thought to reconstruct, to change the social structure. Thought, being old, reforms
that structure into a new pattern, based upon the old. And basically, thought is
divisive, fragmentary, and whatever it does will be separative and contradictory.
However  much  it  may  explain  philosophically  or  religiously  the  new  and
necessary social structure, in it there will always be the seed of destruction, of
war and of violence. Thought is not the way to the new. Only meditation opens
the door to that which is everlastingly new. Meditation is not a trick of thought. It is
the  seeing  of  the  futility  of  thought  and  the  ways  of  the  intellect.  Intellect  and
thought are necessary in the operation of anything mechanical, but the intellect is
a fragmentary perception of the whole and meditation is the seeing of the whole.
Intellect can operate only in the field of the known and that is why life becomes a
monotonous routine from which we try to escape through revolts and revolutions –
merely to fall back once again into another field of the known. This change is no
change at all as it is the product of thought which is always old. Meditation is the
flight  from  the  known.  There  is  only  one  freedom:  it  is,  from  the  known.  And
beauty and love lie in this freedom.
It was a small room overlooking a lovely valley. It was early in the morning, the
sun breaking through the clouds and giving light here and there to the hills, to the
meadows, and to the flashing stream. Probably later it would rain; there would be
wind, but now the valley was still and undisturbed. The mountains seemed very
close, almost as if you could touch them, though they were far and hard to reach.
They had snow upon them, and it was melting in the early summer sun. When the   20
sun was out the hills cast deep shadows on the valley, and the dandelions and
the bright wild flowers in the field would be out. It was not a very wide valley and
a stream ran through it swiftly, with the noise of the mountains. The water was
clear now, a grey-blue, and as the snow melted would become muddy and fast-
moving. There was a red-coated squirrel who sat on the grass and looked at us,
full of curiosity, but always on guard, ready to scurry up the tree on to a higher
branch. When it did, it stopped and looked down to see if we were still there. It
soon lost its curiosity and went on with its own business.
The  room  was  small,  with  uncomfortable  chairs  and  a  cheap  carpet  on  the
floor. He sat on the most comfortable chair, a big man and an important man, a
high bureaucrat, very high indeed. And there were others, students, the hostess
and some guests. The official sat quietly, but he was tired. He had come a long
way,  many  hours  in  the  air,  and  was  glad  to  sit  in  a  more  or  less  comfortable
The student said:You people have made a terrible world of blood and tears.
You have had every chance to make a different world. You are highly educated,
hold  an  important  position  –  and  you  can’t  do  anything.  You  really  support  the
established  order  with  its  brutalities,  inequalities,  and  all  the  ugly  mess  of  the
present social world. We, the younger generation, despise all this, we’re in revolt
against it. We know that you’re all hypocrites. We are not of any group or of any
political  or  religious  body.  We  have  no  race,  we  have  no  gods,  for  you  have
deprived us of what might have been a reality. You have divided the world into
nationalities. We are against all this, but we don’t know what we want. We don’t
know where we’re going, but we know very well that what you offer us, we don’t
want. And the gap between you and us is very wide indeed; and probably it can
never be bridged. We are new, and we are wary of falling into the trap of the old.»
«You will fall into it,» he said, «only it will be a new trap. You may not kill each
other, and I hope you won’t, but you’ll kill each other at a different level, perhaps   21
not  physically  but  intellectually,  with  words,  cynicism  and  bitterness.  This  has
been the age-old cry against the older generation, but now it is more articulate,
more effective. You may call me a bourgeois, and I am. I have worked hard to
bring about a better world, helped to allay antagonism and opposition, but it isn’t
easy: when two opposing beliefs, ideologies, meet, there is bound to be hatred,
war  and  concentration  camps.  We’re  also  against  it,  and  we  think  we  can  do
something but there really is very little we can do.» He wasn’t defending himself.
He  was  just  stating  simple  facts  as  he  saw  them.  But  the  student,  being  very
bright, saw this and smiled unyieldingly.
«We’re  not  accusing  you.  We  have  nothing  to  do  with  you;  and  that  is  the
trouble.  We  want  a  different  world,  of  love;  we  want  matters  of  government
decided  by  computers,  not  by  personal  interests  and  ambitions,  not  by  power
groups,  religious  or  political.  So  there  is  this  gulf.  We  have taken a stand, and
some of us at least won’t yield on this matter.»
The  important  man  must  have  been  young  once,  full  of  zeal  and  brightly
curious,  but  now  it  was  over.  What  makes  the  mind  dull?  The  clamorous
demands of the younger generation will soon calm down when they get married,
settle down and have children and responsibilities. Their minds which were once
so  sharp  will  become  dull.  They,  too,  will  become  bourgeois.  Perhaps  a  few
escape  from  this  agony  –  if  they  don’t  become  specialized  and  astonishingly
«I suppose,» he said, «my mind has lost its elasticity, its flame, because I really
have nothing to live for. I used to be religious but I’ve seen too many priests in
high  positions  and  they  have  dispelled  all  my  hopes.  I’ve  studied  hard,  worked
hard,  and  I’m  trying  to  bring  opposite  elements  together,  but  it’s  all  part  of  a
routine now, and I’m well aware that I’m fading away.»
«Yes,» said the student, «there are some of us who are very bright, sharp as
needles,  brilliantly  articulate,  but  I  can  see  the  danger  of  their  becoming   22
successful leaders. There is the hero worship and gradually the brilliance of youth
and brightness of perception fade. I, too, have often asked myself why it is that
everything becomes dull, worn out, and meaningless – sex, love and the beauty of
the morning. The artist wants to express something new, but it is still the same
old mind and body behind the paintings.»
This is one of the common factors of the relationship between the old and the
young – the slow contagion of time and sorrow, the anxieties, and the bitter pill of
self-pity.  What  makes  the  mind  dull?  The  mind,  which  is  so  extraordinarily
capable of inventing new things, of going to the moon, of building computers – of
so many things that are really extraordinary, almost magical? Of course, it is the
collective  mind  that  has  produced  the  computer  or  composed  a  sonata.  The
collective, the group, is a common thought which is both in the many and in the
one. Therefore there is not the collective or the one – only thought. The individual
fights the collective and the collective fights the individual, but what is common to
both is thought. And it is thought that makes the mind dull, whether the thought
be in the interests of the one or of the many, the thought of self-improvement or
the social upheaval.»Thought is always in search of the secure – the security that
is  in  the  house,  in  the  family,  in  the  belief,  or  the  security  that  denies  all  this.
Thought is security, and the security is not only in the past from which the future
security is built, but also the security that it tries to establish beyond time.»
There was a silence. And a sparrow came on to the balcony where there were
a  few  crumbs  of  bread  and  was  pecking  at  them.  Soon  its  young  came  too,
fluttering their wings, and the mother began to feed them, one after the other. And
a patch of blue sky, so intense, appeared over the green hill.
«But we can’t do without thought,» said the student.»All our books, everything
that’s written, put down on paper, is the result of thought. And do you mean to say
all this is unnecessary? There would be no education at all if you had your way. Is this so? It seems rather strange and fantastic. You appeared a few moments ago
quite intelligent. Are you going back into primitivism?’,
Not at all. What are you educated for, anyway? You may be a sociologist, an
anthropologist  or  a  scientist,  with  your  specialized  mind  working  away  at  a
fragment of the whole field of life. You are filled with knowledge and words, with
capable  explanations  and  rationalizations.  And  perhaps  in  the  future  the
computer will be able to do all this infinitely better than you can.
So  education  may  have  a  different  meaning  altogether  –  not  merely
transferring what is printed on a page to your brain. Education may mean opening
the doors of perception on to the vast movement of life. It may mean learning how
to  live  happily,  freely,  without  hate  and  confusion,  but  in  beatitude.  Modern
education is blinding us; we learn to fight each other more and more, to compete,
to struggle with each other. Right education is surely finding a different way of life,
setting the mind free from its own conditioning. And perhaps then there can be
love which in its action will bring about true relationship between man and man.


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