What is Environment? 28 Extracts from talks given between 1933-09-12 and 1980 by J Krishnamurti

1933-09-12 4th Public Talk, Frognerseteren, Norway

From these prejudices there arises conflict, transient joys and suffering. But we are unconscious of this, unconscious that we are slaves to certain forms of tradition, to social and political environment, to false values.

1933-12-29 1st Public Talk, Adyar, Madras, India

To me, then, true criticism consists in trying to find out the intrinsic worth of the thing itself, and not in attributing a quality to that thing. You attribute a quality to an environment, to an experience, only when you want to derive something from it, when you want to gain or to have power or happiness. Now this destroys true criticism. Your desire is perverted through attributing values, and therefore you cannot see clearly. Instead of trying to see the flower in its original and entire beauty, you look at it through coloured glasses, and therefore you can never see it as it is.

1933-12-30 2nd Public Talk, Adyar, Madras, India

Religion, politics, society are exploiting you, and you are being conditioned by them; you are being forced in a particular direction. You are not human beings; you are mere cogs in a machine. You suffer patiently, submitting to the cruelties of environment, when you, individually, have the possibilities of changing them.

1934-01-01 4th Public Talk, Adyar, Madras, India

There is no joy in your work, in your environment; you are afraid, you are envious of the possessions of others. From that there arises struggle, and from that struggle comes discontent. Then, to overcome that discontent, to find satisfaction, you turn to the opposite.

1934-01-02 5th Public Talk, Adyar, Madras, India

Now there is the memory which is associated with the pleasure of yesterday. That is, you have enjoyed a beautiful scene; you have admired the sunset or the moonlight on the waters. Then later, say when you are in your office, your mind returns to that scene. Why? Because when you are in an unpleasant and ugly environment, when your mind and heart are caught up in what is not pleasant, your mind tends automatically to return to the pleasant experience of yesterday. This is one type of memory. Instead of changing conditions around you, instead of altering the environment about you, you retrace the steps of a pleasant experience and dwell on that memory, supporting and tolerating the unpleasant because you feel that you cannot alter it. Therefore the past lingers in the present. Have I made that clear?

1934-03-28 1st Public Talk Town Hall, Auckland, New Zealand

Look and you will see that most human beings are slaves, merely cogs in this machine. They are not really human beings, but merely react to a set environment and therefore there is no true individual action, individual thought; and to find out that intimate relationship between all our actions, religious, political or social, you as an individual must think, not as a group, not as a collective body; and that is one of the most difficult things to do, for individuals to step out of the social structure, or the religious, and examine it critically, to find out what is false and what true in that structure.

Now you are driven whether you like it or not, whether you think it is sane or not; you are driven by conditions, environment, which you have created, because you are still possessive, and now perhaps another system will come along and drive you to the opposite - to be non-possessive. Surely it is not morality; it is just sheepishness to be driven by environment to be possessive or non-possessive. Whereas, to me, true morality consists in understanding fully the absurdity of possessiveness and voluntarily fighting it; not being driven either way.

1934-03-30 1st Talk in Vasanta School Gardens, Auckland, New Zealand

But if you want to alter it, and if you think that, as human beings, we ought to have a different state, different condition, different environment, not only for the select few, but for the whole of humanity, then let us consider the problem together; not that I want to dogmatize or to push you in one direction or another, influencing you to act in a particular fashion, but rather through considering together we shall come to a natural conclusion from which we must necessarily and naturally act.

Please, I hope you will think with me with regard to this, otherwise you will not quite understand it. So, with the burden of the past, the burden of innumerable memories, we confront, we meet every experience - a fresh experience, a fresh thought, a fresh environment, a fresh day; with the background of the past we meet the present.

1934-03-31-A 2nd Talk in Vasanta School Gardens, Auckland, New Zealand

Again, to repeat the same thing put differently, we have external ideals imposed on us through education, through politics, through social influence, environment. Then we feel they are confining, limiting, controlling, dominating, usurping our individual thought, so we develop our own ideals - we think we develop our own ideals, beliefs, to which we try to conform.

So to put it differently, mind and heart are the result of environment, and then your environment controls the way you think and the way you feel.

There must be something more, something which is more lasting.'` I said to discover that, let us begin from things we know, and from that start - not from a mysterious thing which we do not know, about which we can but romance. So mind and heart, thought and feeling, are the result of environment, and so long as you are a slave to that environment, there cannot be understanding; you cannot then master environment, and to master environment is to understand it.

That is, environment is after all, the social system and that system which we call religion, made up of many doctrines, beliefs, dogmas, innumerable prejudices, and the mind is a slave to this environment. Take for instance, if you depend on mind for your livelihood, as most people do, as everyone must, you are controlled to a great extent by the beliefs that you hold.

Suppose that you are a Roman Catholic, and you want to find a job in a Protestant place, or if Protestant, you want to find a job in a Roman Catholic institution or office; if they discover your beliefs, it might not be so easy to find a job, so you put away your beliefs or accept what the other says momentarily, because you desire to earn money, because you must have money. Through external environment, mentally, you are under control, so your beliefs are merely the result of environment, conditioned by the environment; and as long as you do not break down the false environment of society and religion, your beliefs and ideals are worthless, because they are but the result of environment born of fear.

So to understand that which is lasting, eternal, there must be conflict between the individual and the environment, and only in that conflict can you pierce through the walls of limitation. We accept thoughtlessly or unconsciously so many conditions imposed by society or by religion, accept them as being true. Traditionally, our mind is driven into a mould, and we unconsciously accept these things, and therefore we are slaves to these things; and it is only by continually questioning, by constant awareness, that we can free the mind from the environment, and therefore be master of the environment.

After all, virtue is merely the result of a false environment, isn't it? To resist the environment, you must have great character nowadays.

If the environment is changed, if the social conditions are changed, then to be possessive or non-possessive is the same thing, then you call possessiveness neither virtue nor an evil thing. Whereas now, as society is constituted, to break away from these false standards is considered either a virtue or a sin. But if we begin to alter the environment in which the mind and heart are held, then this whole idea of virtue and sin have a different meaning altogether; because, to me, virtue is not to be sought after, to be gained, to be possessed, or sin to be abhorred or run away from - whatever is meant by sin.

So if you merely accept either, and live in either, surely you are not being creatively individual. You are merely like so many sheep, either capitalistic sheep or communistic sheep, driven by environment, condition, forced to accept. Surely such a thing is not moral; such a thing is not rich or spiritual, true, And I say the true human state can only come about when you, as individuals, voluntarily do these things, because you see the necessity, the immense profundity in this - not merely superficial excitation.

1934-03-31-B Talk to Theosophists in New Zealand

You are Christians; find out what is true and false in Christianity - and you will then find out what is true. Find out what is true and false in your environment with all its oppressions and cruelties, and then you will find out what is true. Why do you want philosophies?

1934-04-01 2nd Talk in Town Hall, Auckland, New Zealand

Now, to me, to discover the cause of suffering, there must be that acute state of mind and heart which is seeking, which is trying to discover. In that state, you will see that the mind and heart have become the slave of environment. Mind, with the vast majority of people, is nothing but environment. Mind and heart are environment, depending on their condition; and as long as the mind is a slave to environment, there must be suffering, there must be continual conflict of the individual against society; and the individual will be free of environment only when he, by questioning the environment, conquers the limitation placed on him by environment. That is, it is only when you understand the true significance of each environment, the true worth of the environment which has been placed about you by society, by religions, that you pierce through the limitation imposed, and thereby there is born true intelligence. When you understand a thing you are no longer in conflict, you are no longer bound by that which has been imposed on you by authority, by tradition, by deep-rooted prejudices. So intelligence is necessary to be supremely happy and to awaken that intelligence, mind must be free of environment. The innumerable encrustations created by religions and society, throughout the ages, have become our environment. You can be free of environment, which individuals have created, only when you understand its standards, its values, its prejudices, its authorities. And you then begin to find out what is the fundamental cause of suffering, which is the lack of true intelligence, and that intelligence is not to be discovered by some miraculous process, but by being continually aware, therefore continually questioning, trying to discover the false and the true in the environment placed about us.

Whether you call yourselves believers or disbelievers, by your conduct you are not showing it; so whether you believe in God or not is of very little importance. It is merely a superficial idea imposed by conditions and environment, through fear, through authority, through imitation.

Now, I say this friction is a false thing, that it cannot exist in a humanity where there is well-organized planning for the needs of human beings, where there is true affection. So let us find out if the "I" is the false creation of a false environment, a false society, or if the "I" is something permanent, eternal. To me, this limited consciousness is not eternal. It is the result of false environment and beliefs. If you were doing what you really wanted to do in life, not being forced to do some particular job which you loathe, if you were following your true vocation, fulfilling yourself in your true vocation, then work would no longer be friction.

But your work is not your vocation. Environment and social conditions are forcing you to do a certain piece of work whether you like it or not, so you have already created a friction. Then certain moral standards, certain authorities have established various ideals as true, as false, as being virtuous, and so on, and you accept these.

But your work is not your vocation. Environment and social conditions are forcing you to do a certain piece of work whether you like it or not, so you have already created a friction. Then certain moral standards, certain authorities have established various ideals as true, as false, as being virtuous, and so on, and you accept these.

So gradually your whole mind is warped and perverted and in conflict till you have become conscious of that "I" and nothing else. Therefore, you start with a wrong cause, produced by a wrong environment, and you have a wrong answer. That memory has many layers, and constitutes that consciousness which we call the "I". And I say that this "I" is the false result of a false environment, and hence its problems, its solutions, must be entirely false, illusory. Whereas, if you, as individuals, begin to awaken to the limitations of environment imposed on you by society, by religions, by economic conditions, and begin to question, and thereby create conflict, then you will dissipate that little consciousness which you call the "I; then you will know what is that fulfillment, that creative living in the present.

There is still in that consciousness death; there is still in that consciousness a limitation; there is still in that consciousness an emptiness, a continual gnawing of sorrow. Whereas, if you free the mind from that consciousness of the "I" by discovering the right values of environment, which no one can tell you, then you will know for yourselves that fulfillment which is truth, which is God, or any name you like to give it. But through the developing of that limited self-consciousness, which is the false result of a false cause, you will not find out what truth is, or what God is, what happiness is, what perfection is; for in that self-consciousness there must be continual conflict, continual striving, continual misery.

You are constantly self-conscious, and that is a fact, but as I showed you, it has no reality. It is merely the habit of centuries of false environment which has made a fact of something which is not real. And though that fact may exist, and does exist, so long as that continues there cannot be fulfillment. There is still in that consciousness death; there is still in that consciousness a limitation; there is still in that consciousness an emptiness, a continual gnawing of sorrow. Whereas, if you free the mind from that consciousness of the "I" by discovering the right values of environment, which no one can tell you, then you will know for yourselves that fulfillment which is truth, which is God, or any name you like to give it. But through the developing of that limited self-consciousness, which is the false result of a false cause, you will not find out what truth is, or what God is, what happiness is, what perfection is; for in that self-consciousness there must be continual conflict, continual striving, continual misery.

Then no one need tell you what the cause is, because you are functioning intelligently, because you are beginning to question, not to accept. Then you are becoming real individuals, not machines driven by environment and fear. Then there will be more thoughtfulness, more affection, more humanity in the world, not these awful divisions.

Now what is an individual? Not a human being who is driven to action by environment, by circumstances. I say true individuality consists in freeing the mind from the environment of the false, and therefore becoming truly individual, and so there must be co-operation.

1934-04-02 3rd Talk in Vasanta School Gardens, Auckland, New Zealand

Therefore, we say, "To find, to think about something which I like, I must meditate." So you are giving a false answer to a false cause. That is, environment - economic, social, religious - prevents you from doing, fulfilling what you want to do; and as it prevents you, you have to find moments, an hour or two, in which to live. So, disciplining the mind, forcing it to a particular pattern then, is necessary, and hence the whole idea of discipline. Whereas, if you really understood the limitation of environment, and broke through it with action, then this process of disciplining the mind to act in a certain manner would become wholly unnecessary.

If you condition that free flowing movement of thought, of mind and heart, then you must have conflict, and that conflict then must have a remedy, and then the process begins: the searching for remedies, substitutes, and never trying to find out the cause of this conflict. So through the process of full awareness, you liberate the mind and heart from the hindrances which have been set about them through environment; and as long as environment is conditioning the mind, as long as the mind has not discovered the true significance of the environment, there must be conflict, and hence the false answer which is self-discipline. As long as that ego consciousness remains, there must be fear; and that is the fundamental cause of fear. And I tried to explain last night also, how this limited consciousness which we call the "I" is brought about, how it is created through false environment, and the fighting that is brought about by that environment. That is, as the system now exists, you have to fight for yourself to live at all, so that creates fear; and then we try to find remedies to get rid of this fear.

We are just like animals really, though we may call ourselves civilized, each one fighting for himself and his family; and that is one of the fundamental causes of fear. If you really understand environment and the battling against it, then you do not care, and fear loses its grip.

To be really free of that fear, which is to be free of that emptiness, that shallowness, is not to cover it up by remedies; but rather to recognize that shallowness, become aware of it, which gives you then the alertness of mind to find out the values and the significance of each experience, of each standard, of each environment. Through that you will discover true intelligence; and intelligence is deep, profound, limitless, and therefore shallowness disappears. Because instinct has been so perverted, so bound by tradition, by authority, by environment, that you can no longer trust it. That is, the instinct of possessiveness is a false thing, an unnatural thing.

But the essential thing is that there is this continual movement of mind and heart. If all action is really the expression of that movement, then action becomes the new society, the new environment and therefore society is not being approximated to some ideal, but in that action, society is also moving, never static, never still, and morality is then a voluntary perception, not forced through fear, or imposed externally by society or by religion.

1934-04-06 Talk to Business Men in Auckland, New Zealand

So why call yourselves by different names and separate yourselves? Whereas, if we really altered the environment to which we have become such slaves, then we should be really Gods in ourselves, not follow anybody. Personally, I do not belong to any sect, large or small.

I will put it this way. An ordinary individual now, as he is, is nothing else but the focal point of the environment, of society, of religion, of moral edicts and economic conditions - as the ordinary individual, he is that.

Because what we call individuals are nothing else but the result of false environment. This focal point of the present state of individuality is really false, isn't it?

I call that a true moral act when we perceive a thing completely and act, and not when forced by circumstances, or there is brought about a brotherhood forced by the sheer brutal necessity of life. That is, when business people, the capitalist, the financiers, begin to see that this distinction does not pay, that they cannot make more money, they cannot be in the same position, then they will bring about environment forcing the individual to become brotherly; as now you are forced by environment to be unbrotherly, to exploit, so you will also be forced to co-operate. Surely that is not brotherhood: that is merely an action brought about by convenience, without human intelligence and understanding.

1934-06-16 1st Public Talk the Oak Grove, Ojai, California

Now, each one tries to immortalize the product of environment; that thing which is the result of the environment we try to make eternal. That is, the various fears, hopes, longings, prejudices, likes, personal views which we glorify as our temperament - these are, after all, the result, the product of environment; and the bundle of these memories, which is the result of environment, the product of the reactions to environment, this bundle becomes that consciousness which we call the "I".

The whole struggle is between the result of environment with which mind identifies itself and becomes the "I", between that, and environment. After all, the "I", the consciousness with which the mind identifies itself is the result of environment. The struggle takes place between that "I" and the constantly changing environment.

In other words, falsehood tries to become the real, the eternal. When you understand the significance of the environment, there is no reaction and therefore there is no conflict between the reaction, that is, between what we call the "I" and the creator of the reaction which is the environment. So this seeking for immortality, this craving to be certain, to be lasting, is called the process of evolution, the process of acquiring truth or God or the understanding of life.

You follow him with thought, or without thought; with thought when you think that you are following him with intelligence because he is going to lead you to immortality, to the realization of that ecstasy. That is, you want another to immortalize for you that reaction which is the outcome of environment, which is in itself inherently false. Out of the desire to immortalize that which is false you create religions, sociological systems and divisions, political methods, economic panaceas, and moral standards.

So this continual search in which each one of us is caught up, the search for happiness, for truth, for reality, for health - this continual desire is cultivated by each one of us in order that we may be secure, permanent. And out of that search for permanency, there must be conflict, conflict between the result of environment, that is the "I", and the environment itself.

When you talk about "I", "mine", my house, my enjoyment, my wife, my child, my love, my temperament, what is that? It is nothing but the result of environment, and there is a conflict between that result, the "I", and the environment itself. Conflict can only and must inevitably exist between the false and the false, not between truth and the false.

So do not think this struggle between the self and the environment, which you call the true struggle, is true. Isn't there a struggle taking place in each one of you between yourself and your environment, your surroundings, your husband, your wife, your child, your neighbour, your society, your political organizations?

You consider that battle necessary in order to help you to realize happiness, truth, immortality, or ecstasy. To put it differently: What you consider to be the truth is but self-consciousness, the "I", which is all the time trying to become immortal, and the environment which I say is the continual movement of the false. This movement of the false becomes your ever changing environment, which is called progress, evolution. So to me, happiness, or truth, or God, cannot be found as the outcome of the result of environment, the "I", the continually changing conditions.

I will try to put it again, differently. There is conflict, of which each one of you is conscious, between yourself and the environment, the conditions. Now, you say to yourself: "If I can conquer environment, overcome it, dominate it, I shall find out, I shall understand; so there is this continual battle going on between yourself and environment.

Now what is the "yourself"? It is but the result, the product of environment. So what are you doing? You are fighting one false thing with another false thing, and environment will be false so long as you do not understand it. Therefore the environment is producing that consciousness which you call the "I", which is continually trying to become immortal.

And to make it immortal there must be many ways, there must be means, and therefore you have religions, systems, philosophies, all the nuisances and barriers that you have created. Hence there must be conflict between the result of environment and environment itself; and, as I said, there can be conflict only between the false and the false; never between truth and the false. Whereas, in your minds there is this firmly established idea that in this struggle between the result of environment, which is the "I", and the environment itself, lies power, wisdom, the path to eternity, to reality, truth, happiness.

Our vital concern should be with this environment, not with the conflict, not how to overcome it, not how to run away from it. By questioning the environment and trying to understand its significance, we shall find out its true worth.

Most of us are enmeshed, caught up in the process of trying to overcome, to run away from circumstances. environment; we are not trying to find out what it means, what is its cause, its significance, its value. When you see the significance of environment, it means drastic action, a tremendous upheaval in your life, a complete, revolutionary change of ideas, in which there is no authority, no imitation. But very few are willing to see the significance of environment, because it means change, a radical change, a revolutionary change, and very few people want that. So most people, vast numbers of people, are concerned with the evasion of environment; they cover it up, or try to find new substitutions by getting rid of Jesus Christ and setting up a new saviour; by seeking new teachers in place of the old, but they do not ever inquire whether they need a guide at all.

There are escapes through religions, with their edicts, moral standards, fears, authorities; and escapes through self-expression - what you call self-expression, what the vast majority of people call self-expression, is but the reaction against environment, is but the effort to express oneself through reaction against that environment - self-expression through art, through science, through various forms of action. Here I am not including the true, spontaneous expressions of beauty, of art, of science; they in themselves are complete.

I am talking of the man who is seeking these things as a means of self-expression. A real artist does not talk about his self-expression, he is expressing that which he intensely feels; but there are so many spurious artists, like the spurious spiritual people, who are all the time seeking self-expression as a means of getting something, some satisfaction which they cannot find in the environment in which they live.

Through this search for security and permanency, we have established religions with all their inanities, divisions, exploitations, as means of escape; and these means of escape become so vital, so important, because, to tackle environment, that is, the conditions about us, demands tremendous action, voluntary, dynamic action, and very few are willing to take that action. On the contrary, you are willing to be forced to an action by environment, by circumstances; that is, if a man becomes highly moral and virtuous through depression, you say what a nice man he is, how he has changed. For that change you depend upon environment; and so long as there is the dependence on environment for righteous action, there must be means of escape, substitutions, call it religion or what you will. Whereas, for the true artist who is also truly spiritual there is spontaneous expression, which in itself is sufficient, complete, whole.

You are seeking; and what are you seeking? There is a conflict between yourself and the constant movement of environment. You are seeking a means to overcome that environment, so as to perpetuate your own self which is but the result of that environment; or, because you have been thwarted so often by environment, which prevents you from self-expressing, as you call it, you seek a new means of self-expression through service to humanity, through economic adjustments, and all the rest of it.

If there is conflict, there is the desire to overcome that conflict, to escape from that conflict, to dominate it. And as I have said, conflict can exist only between two false things, between that supposed reality which you call the "I", which to me is nothing else but the result of environment, and the environment itself. And hence if your mind is merely concerned with the overcoming of that struggle, then you are perpetuating falseness, and hence there is more conflict, more sorrow. But if you understand the significance of environment, that is, wealth, poverty, exploitation, oppression, nationalities, religions, and all the inanities of social life in modern existence, not trying to overcome them but seeing their significance, then there must be individual action, and complete revolution of ideas and thought. Then there is no longer a struggle, but rather light dispelling darkness.

1934-06-17 2nd Public Talk in the Oak Grove, Ojai, California

If you observe, you will see that when there is conflict, you are at once seeking a solution for it. You want to find a way out of that conflict, and you generally do find a way out; but you have not solved the conflict, you have merely shifted it by substituting a new environment, a new condition, which will in turn produce further conflict. So let us look into this whole idea of conflict, from where it arises, and what we can do with it.

Now, conflict is the result of environment, isn't it? To put it differently, what is environment? When are you conscious of environment? Only when there is conflict and a resistance to that environment.

So, if you observe, if you look into your lives, you will see that conflict is continually twisting, perverting, shaping your lives; and intelligence, which is the perfect harmony of mind and heart, has no part in your lives at all. That is, environment is continually shaping, moulding your lives to action, and naturally out of that continual twisting, moulding, shaping, perversion, conflict is born. So where there is this constant process of conflict there cannot be intelligence. And yet we think that by continually going through conflict we shall arrive at that intelligence, that fullness, and that plenitude of ecstasy. But by the accumulation of conflict we cannot find out how to live intelligently; you can find out how to live intelligently only when you understand the environment which is creating conflict, and mere substitution, that is, the introduction of new conditions, is not going to solve the conflict. And yet if you observe you will see that when there is conflict, mind is seeking a substitution. We either say, "It is heredity, economic conditions, past environment", or we assert our belief in karma, reincarnation, evolution; so we are trying to give excuses for the present conflict in which the mind is caught, and are not trying to find out what is the cause of conflict itself, which is to inquire into the significance of environment.

Conflict then can exist only between environment - environment being economic and social conditions, political domination, neighbours - between that environment, and the result of environment which is the "I". Conflict can exist only so long as there is reaction to that environment which produces the "I", the self. The majority of people are unconscious of this conflict - the conflict between one's self, which is but the result of the environment, and the environment itself; very few are conscious of this continuous battle. One becomes conscious of that conflict, that disharmony, that struggle between the false creation of the environment, which is the "I", and the environment itself, only through suffering.

Suffering makes one conscious of this conflict, and yet suffering will not lead man to that fullness, to that richness, that plenitude, that ecstasy of life, because after all, suffering can only awaken the mind to great intensity. And when the mind is acute, then it begins to question, the environment, the conditions, and in that questioning, intelligence is functioning; and it is only intelligence that will lead man to the fullness of life and to the discovery of the significance of sorrow. Intelligence begins to function in the moment of acuteness of suffering, when mind and heart are no longer escaping, escaping through the various avenues which you have so cleverly made, which are so apparently reasonable, factual, real.

Whenever there is the lack of understanding of environment there must be conflict. Environment gives birth to conflict, and so long as we do not understand environment, conditions, surroundings, and are merely seeking substitutions for these conditions, we are evading one conflict and meeting another. But if in that acuteness of suffering which brings forth in its fullness a conflict, if in that state we begin to question environment, then we shall understand the true worth of environment, and intelligence then functions naturally. Hitherto mind has identified itself with conflict, with environment, with evasions, and therefore with suffering; that is, you say, "I suffer." Whereas, in that state of acuteness of suffering, in that intensity of suffering in which there is no longer escape, mind itself becomes intelligence.

You have so many environments, which have been imposed on you by society, by religion, by economic conditions, by social distinctions, by exploitation and political oppressions. The "I" has been created by that imposition, by that compulsion; there is the "I" in you which is fighting the environment and hence there is conflict. It is no use creating a new environment, because the same thing will still exist. But if in that conflict there is conscious sorrow and suffering - and there is always suffering in all conflict, only man wants to run away from that struggle and he therefore seeks substitutes - if in that acuteness of suffering you stop searching for substitutes and really face the facts, you will see that mind, which is the summation of intelligence, begins to discover the true worth of environment, and then you will realize that mind is free of conflict. In the very acuteness of suffering lies its own dissolution. To put it briefly again, before I answer the questions that have been given to me: First of all everyone is caught up in suffering and conflict, but most people are unconscious of that conflict; they are merely seeking substitutions, solutions and escapes. Whereas if they cease seeking escapes and begin to question the environment which causes that conflict, then mind becomes acute, alive, intelligent. In that intensity mind becomes intelligence and therefore sees the full worth and significance of the environment which creates conflict.

But to think over it is not to intellectualize it, that is, to sit down and make it vanish away through the intellect. To find out if what I am saying is true, you have to put it into action, and to put it into action you must question the environment. That is, if you are in conflict, naturally you must question the environment, but most minds have become so perverted that they are not aware that they are seeking solutions, escapes through their marvellous theories.

So if there is conflict, and if you want to find out the cause of that conflict, naturally the mind must discover it through acuteness of thought and therefore the questioning of all that which environment places about you - your family, your neighbours, your religions, your political authorities; and by questioning there will be action against the environment. There is the family, the neighbour and the state, and by questioning their significance you will see that intelligence is spontaneous, not to be acquired, not to be cultivated.

Question: You say that the "I" is the product of environment. Do you mean that a perfect environment could be created which would not develop the "I" consciousness? If so, the perfect freedom of which you speak is a matter of creating the right environment. Is this correct?

Krishnamurti: Wait a minute. Can there ever be right environment, perfect environment? There cannot.

What is environment? Environment is created, this whole human structure has been created, by human fears, longings, hopes, desires, attainments. Now, you cannot make a perfect environment because each man is creating, according to his fancies and desires, new sets of conditions; but having an intelligent mind, you can pierce through all these false environments and therefore be free of that "I" consciousness. Please, the "I" consciousness, the sense of "mine", is the result of environment; isn't it? As that has not been the case with you, there is the sense of "mine', possessiveness. That is the result of environment, that "I" is but the false reaction to environment. Whereas if the mind begins to question the environment itself, there is no longer a reaction to environment. Therefore we are not concerned with the possibility of there ever being a perfect environment.

After all, what is perfect environment? Each man will tell you what to him is a perfect environment. The artist will say one thing, the financier another, the cinema actress another; each man asks for a perfect environment which satisfies him, in other words, which does not create conflict in him. Therefore there cannot be a perfect environment. But if there is intelligence, then environment has no value, no significance, because intelligence is then freed from circumstance, it is functioning fully.

The question is not whether we can create a perfect environment, but rather how to awaken that intelligence which shall be free of environment, imperfect or perfect. I say you can awaken that intelligence by questioning the full value of any environment in which your mind is caught up. Then you will see that you are free of any particular environment, because then you are functioning intelligently, not being twisted, perverted, shaped by environment.

Question: How then can you say that there is no conflict between the false and the true? Krishnamurti: I said yesterday that there can be struggle only between two false things, conflict between the environment and the result of environment which is the "I". Now between these two lie innumerable avenues of escape which the "I" has created, which we call vice, goodness, morality, moral standards, fears, and all the many opposites; and the struggle can exist only between the two, between the false creation of the environment which is the "I", and the environment itself.

First of all, in order to fight, you must know what you are fighting, so there must be understanding of the fundamental, not of the divisions between the false things. Now we are so conscious, we are so fully conscious of the divisions between the false things, between the result and the environment, that we fight them, and therefore we want to reform, we want to change, we want to alter, without fundamentally changing the whole structure of human life. That is, we still want to preserve the "I" consciousness which is the false reaction to environment; we want to preserve that and yet want to alter the world. So what one has to do is to find out if one is dealing with the fundamental, or merely with the superficial. And to me the superficial will exist so long as you are merely concerned with the alteration of environment so as to alleviate conflict. That is, you still want to cling to the "I" consciousness as "mine", but yet desire to alter the circumstances so that they will not create conflict in that "I".

I call that superficial thought, and from that there naturally is superficial action. Whereas if you think fundamentally, that is, question the very result of the environment which is the "I", and therefore question the environment itself, then you are acting fundamentally, and therefore lastingly. And in that there is an ecstasy, in that there is a joy of which now you do not know because you are afraid to act fundamentally.

Question: In your talk yesterday you spoke of environment as the movement of the false. Do you include in environment all the creations of nature, including human forms? Krishnamurti: Doesn't environment continually change? Doesn't it? For most people it doesn't change because change implies continual adjustment, therefore continual awareness of mind, and most people are concerned with the static condition of the environment. Yet environment is moving because it is beyond your control, and it is false so long as you do not understand its significance.

"Does environment include human forms?" Why set them apart from nature? We are not concerned so much with nature, because we have almost brought nature under control, but we have not understood the environment created by human beings.

So we are not concerned with the stability, with the continuance of an environment which we understand, because the moment we understand it there is no conflict. That is, we are seeking security, emotional and mental, and we are happy so long as that security is assured and therefore we never question environment, and hence the constant movement of environment is a false thing which is creating disturbance in each one. As long as there is conflict, it indicates that we have not understood the conditions placed about us; and that movement of environment remains false so long as we do not inquire into its significance, and we can only discover it in that state of acute consciousness of suffering.

Question: It is perfectly clear to me that the "I" consciousness is the result of environment, but do you not see that the "I" did not originate for the first time in this life? From what you say it is obvious that the "I" consciousness, being the result of environment, must have begun in the distant past and will continue in the future.

First of all you will admit, if you think about it, that the "I" is the result of environment. Now to me it doesn't matter whether it is the past environment or present environment. After all, environment is of the past also. You have done something which you haven't understood, you did something yesterday which you haven't understood, and that pursues you till you understand it. You cannot solve that past environment till you are fully conscious in the present. So it doesn't matter whether the mind is crippled by past or present conditions, What matters is that you shall understand the environment and this will liberate the mind from conflict.

I will show you why. If the "I" is the result of the environment, if the "I" is but the essence of conflict, then the mind must be concerned, not with that continuance of conflict, but with freedom from that conflict. So it does not matter whether it is the past environment which is crippling the mind, or the present which is perverting it, or whether the "I" has had a birth in the distant past. You know what it means, that you have a burden in the present, the burden of the past in the present. That is, you bring with you the environment of the past into the present, and because of that burden, you control the future, you shape the future. If you come to think of it, it must be so, that if your mind is perverted by the past, naturally the future must also be twisted, because if you have not understood the environment of yesterday it must be continued today; and therefore, as you don't understand today, naturally you will not understand tomorrow either. That is, if you have not seen the full significance of an environment or of an action, this perverts your judgment of today's environment, of today's action born of environment, which will again pervert you tomorrow. So one is caught up in this vicious circle, and hence the idea of continual rebirth, rebirth of memory, or rebirth of the mind continued by environment.

But I say mind can be free of the past, of past environment, past hindrances, and therefore you can be free of the future, because then you are living dynamically in the present, intensely, supremely. In the present is eternity, and to understand that, mind must be free of the burden of the past; and to free the mind of the past there must be an intense questioning of the present, not the considering of how the "I" will continue in the future.

1934 3rd Public Talk, Ojai, California

So let us decide whether you want a shelter, a safety zone, which will no longer yield conflict, whether you want to escape from the present conflict to enter a condition in which there shall be no conflict; or whether you are unaware, unconscious of this conflict in which you exist. If you are unconscious of the conflict, that is, the battle that is taking place between that self and the environment, if you are unconscious of that battle, then why do you seek further remedies? Remain unconscious.

1935 5th Public Talk, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

You follow a system or mould yourself after a pattern because there is fear, the fear of right and wrong which has been established according to the tradition of a system. If thought is merely functioning in the groove of a pattern without understanding the significance of environment, there must be conscious or unconscious fear, and such thought must inevitably lead to confusion, to illusion and false action

1935 Public Talks in Argentina

You have this mould, this environment of which almost all of us are unconscious, for it is part of us; it is the very expression of our desires, fears and hopes. While you conform consciously or thoughtlessly to this system, you are not individuals.

1948 2nd Public Talk, New Delhi, India

So, to understand this environment and be free of it in ourselves, not only is it necessary to know all the hidden, stored up influences in the unconscious, but to know what we are in conflict with. As we have seen, each one of us is the result of environment, and we are not separate from environment.

1955 1st Public Talk, Amsterdam, Holland

Surely the contradiction is part of the environment, it is not separate from it. We are part of the environment, - which is, religion, education, social morality, business values, tradition, beliefs, various impositions of churches, governments, the whole process of the past: those are all superficial conditionings; and there are also the inward unconscious responses to those superficial conditionings.

1957 3rd Public Talk, Colombo

So it is very important to understand not only the conscious, but also the unconscious mind. The unconscious mind is much more powerful, much more insistent much more directive and conservative than the conscious mind; because the conscious is merely the educated mind which adjusts itself to the environment. He is adjusting himself, as you do, to the environment, to the pressure from outside, but inwardly he is the same - that is, the unconscious is still the residue of the past.

1958 3rd Public Talk, Poona, India

The mind is conditioned, is -- Page 17 -- it not? All your environment is shaping the mind; the climate, the customs, the tradition, the racial influences, the family, - innumerable conscious and unconscious pressures are shaping the mind. You are a Hindu, a Parsi, a Mussulman, a Christian or whatever you are, because you have been influenced by your environment.

1964 4th Public Talk, Saanen, Switzerland

How is the unconscious to be cleansed immediately of the past? The analysts think that the unconscious can be partially or even completely cleansed through analysis - through investigation, exploration, confession, the interpretation of dreams, and so on - so that at least you become a `normal' human being, able to adjust yourself to the present environment.

1965-66 2nd Public Talk, Madras, India

When we observe - without reading psychologists, the Freuds, the Jungs, and all the rest of the modern philosophers and psychologists - we know what the unconscious is: the racial residue, the experience of the race, the social conditions, the environment, the tradition, the culture - culture being political, religious, educational - which are all deeply embedded in the unconscious.

(1966-1971 The Urgency of Change)

All these are the factors which condition us. Our conscious and unconscious responses to all the challenges of our environment - intellectual, emotional, outward and inward - all these are the action of conditioning. Language is conditioning; all thought is the action, the response of conditioning.

1971 Public talk, Rome, Italy

So thought is the instrument of pleasure, and thought is the instrument of pain, fear - consciously or unconsciously. Then there is the whole question of hidden fears, unconscious, deep rooted fears inherited through the environment, through culture, through the race, through family, you know, the stored up fears. Now how is one to be free of all that?

1972 4th Public Talk, Saanen, Switzerland

If you have, what place has thought in the whole of consciousness? How deeply the unconscious, the hidden parts of our minds, the secret recesses, how deeply they are contaminated by the environment, by the society in which we live, by or through education and so on. How deeply the whole mind is polluted and whether it is possible to free the mind altogether from this pollution of civilization.

(1973-1979 Exploration into Insight)

Or does the unconscious invite these fears? Does it hold them, do they exist in the traditional depths of the unconscious; or is it a thing that the unconscious gathers from the environment? Now, why does the unconscious hold fears at all?

1980 2nd Public Talk, Sri Lanka

Then the book says in the next chapter, man has lived with fear from time immemorial - fear, not only fear of nature, fear of the environment, fear of disease, fear of accidents and so on, but also the much deeper layers of fear, the deeper, unconscious, untrodden waves of fear. We are going to read the book together till the chapter ends and says, "Watch it and you will be able to end it".


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