“…the many you’s of many thousands of years, the many, many generations that have produced the present.”
This conversation with a group of young people could have taken place yesterday in New Delhi, Berkeley, Rome or Johannesburg.
Excerpt from The Only Revolution:
There were several people in the room. They had come to carry on a conversation which had been started a few days before. They were mostly young people, some with long hair, others with beards, tight trousers, skirts very high, painted lips and piled-up hair.
The conversation began very lightly; they were not quite sure of themselves or where this conversation was going to lead.
“Of course we cannot follow the established order,” said one of them, “but we are caught in it. What is our relationship with the older generation and their activity?”
Mere revolt is not the answer, is it? Revolt is a reaction, a response which will bring about its own conditioning. Every generation is conditioned by the past generation, and merely to rebel against conditioning does not free the mind which has been conditioned. Any form of obedience is also a resistance which brings about violence. Violence among the students, or the riots in the cities, or war, whether far removed from yourself or within yourself, will in no way bring clarity.
“But how are we to act within the society to which we belong?`’
If you act as a reformer then you are patching up society, which is always degenerating, and so sustaining a system which has produced wars, divisions and separativeness. The reformer, really, is a danger to the fundamental change of man. You have to be an outsider to all communities, to all religions and to the morality of society, otherwise you will be caught in the some old pattern, perhaps somewhat modified.
You are an outsider only when you cease to be envious and vicious, cease to worship success or its power motive. To be psychologically an outsider is possible only when you understand yourself – who are part of the environment, part of the social structure which you yourself have built – you being the many you’s of many thousands of years, the many, many generations that have produced the present. In understanding yourself as a human being you will find your relationship with the older passing generations.
“But how can one be free of the heavy conditioning as a Catholic? It is so deeply ingrained in us, deeply buried in the unconscious.”
Whether one is a Catholic, or a Muslim, or Hindu, or a Communist, the propaganda of a hundred, two hundred, or five thousand years is part of this verbal structure of images which goes to make up our consciousness. We are conditioned by what we eat, by the economic pressures, by the culture and society in which we live. We are that culture, we are that society. Merely to revolt against it is to revolt against ourselves. If you rebel against yourself, not knowing what you are, your rebellion is utterly wasted. But to be aware, without condemnation, of what you are – such awareness brings about action which is entirely different from the action of a reformer or a revolutionary.
“But, sir, our unconscious is the collective racial heritage and according to the analysts this must be understood.”
I don’t see why you give such importance to the unconscious. It is as trivial and shoddy as the conscious mind, and giving it importance only strengthens it. If you see its true worth it drops away as a leaf in the autumn. We think certain things are important to keep and that others can be thrown away. War does produce certain peripheral improvements, but war itself is the greatest disaster for man. Intellect will in no way solve our human problems. Thought has tried in many, many ways to overcome and go beyond our agonies and anxieties. Thought has built the church, the saviour, the guru; thought has invented nationalities; thought has divided the people in the nation into different communities, classes, at war with each other. Thought has separated man from man, and having brought anarchy and great sorrow, it then proceeds to invent a structure to bring people together. Whatever thought does must inevitably breed danger and anxiety. To call oneself an Italian or an Indian or an American is surely insanity, and it is the work of thought.
“But love is the answer to all this, isn’t it?”
Again you’re off! Are you free from envy, ambition, or are you merely using that word “love” to which thought has given a meaning? If thought has given a meaning to it, then it is not love. The word love is not love – no matter what you mean by that word. Thought is the past, the memory, the experience, the knowledge from which the response to every challenge comes. So this response is always inadequate, and hence there is conflict. For thought is always old; thought can never be new. Modern art is the response of thought, the intellect, and though it pretends to be new it is really as old, though not as beautiful, as the hills. It is the whole structure built by thought – as love, as God, as culture, as the ideology of the politburo – which has to be totally denied for the new to be. The new cannot fit into the old pattern. You are really afraid to deny the old pattern completely.
“Yes, sir, we are afraid, for if we deny it what is there left? With what do we replace it?”
This question is the outcome of thought which sees the danger and so is afraid and wants to be assured that it will find something to replace the old. So again you are caught in the net of thought. But if factually, not verbally or intellectually, you denied this whole house of thought, then you might perhaps find the new – the new way of living, seeing, acting. Negation is the most positive action. To negate the false, not knowing what is true, to negate the apparent truth in the false, and to negate the false as the false, is the instant action of a mind that is free from thought. To see this flower with the image that thought has built about it is entirely different from seeing it without that image. The relationship between the observer and the flower is the image which the observer has about the observed, and in this there is a great distance between them.
When there is no image the time interval ceases.
source: Krishnamurti, The Only Revolution, pp 106 – 109