Carlo Suarés : Interview with Krishnamurti
Revue Planète (n 0 14 / Jan-Feb. 1964).

This text was written on the notes taken during a week of interview which took place in French. It has been read and edited by Krishnamurti himself. It can be seen as a development of one of the most original thoughts there is, and perhaps a kind of spiritual testament.

Are religions really important?

Krishnamurti: What do they want from me, your planet friends? Do they want real facts, or just learning? Do they think I will bring them reading results? Any conclusions? Any opinions? Summaries? Ideas?

Carlos Suarés: It's not what they want.

Krishnamurti: Tell them that I haven't read anything, that I have no references. For me, there is no psychological mutation until the additive process stops.

Carlos Suarés: You have just said the word mutation. It's a word we often find in Planet, but accompanied, in general, by the idea that the metamorphosis of this modern world can lead us, as naturally, to a change of interior state, while you want a total and immediate revolution of consciousness, which no evolution can bring about.

Krishnamurti: We all know that our era is explosive, that the means of man, which have remained more or less constant for millennia, are suddenly multiplied millions of times; that electronic calculators, to mention just that, are becoming more fantastic hour by hour; that tomorrow we will go to the Moon or somewhere else; that biology is discovering the mystery of life and even creating life. We know that the most established data in science is crumbling; that everything is constantly questioned and that brains are forced and forced to move. We know all this; there is therefore no need to return to this aspect of our times. In today's confusion, man is looking for material security that can only be found through technological knowledge. Religions have become superstructures which have little real importance in world affairs, while the fundamental questions remain unanswered: Time, Pain, Fear ...

Mutation, Religions, Fear ...

Carlos Suarés: This is where we can start a debate. I believe that many readers of Planète will say this to you, since they also agree to note that the medium is in full upheaval: why, therefore, not to think that this formidable movement will not occur at the same time in our brains?

Krishnamurti: We can, indeed, think so. But is this what we can call a mutation? Have an electronic brain? The brain is not all consciousness.

Carlos Suarés: It's not just the brain. Our consciousness is expanding with the size of the planet, and what is happening on the other side of the world ...

Krishnamurti: Yes, yes, I understand ...

Carlos Suarés: ... The burned Buddhist monks, the blacks of America ...

Krishnamurti: Yes, but yes, they are part of us, and the appalling misery in Asia, and all the tyrannies everywhere, and the cruelty, and the ambition, and the greed, and the countless conflicts of the world; we feel it all. All of this is us. Have all of this in mind, and see how extraordinary the mutation has to be.

Carlos Suarés: Right now, in France, a current of thought which, noting that the complexity of the human environment has become inextricable, would like a collective human thought to be constituted, capable of bringing together in a synthesis the scattered sons of our knowledge

Krishnamurti: What other questions do you see?

Carlos Suarés: The religious question, of course. Can we foresee a religion of the future based on a better knowledge of the Cosmos and on the feeling that man is part of it?

Krishnamurti: And what else?

Carlos Suarés: I have been asked to ask you what you think about the fact that in the depths of modern man, whether young or old, there is fear ...

Krishnamurti: I see. If you don't mind, we will get to work But are you sure that Planet will agree to publish everything I say?

Carlos Suarés: I have formal assurance. Can you, in one sentence, give me the essentials of what you intend to do?

Krishnamurti: To decondition the whole of consciousness.

Carlos Suarés: Do you mean that you ask everyone to decondition the absolute whole of their own consciousness? Let me tell you that what is most puzzling in your teaching is your insistent assertion that this total deconditioning of consciousness needs no time.

Krishnamurti: If it were an evolutionary process, I would not call it mutation. A mutation is an abrupt change of state.

Psychological mutation is not what you think

Carlos Suarés: I do not imagine a "mutant", that is to say a man changing his state of consciousness, who would not take with him the result of all the past. Man changes the environment and the environment changes it ...

Krishnamurti: No: man modifies the medium and the medium modifies that part of man which is connected to the modification of the medium, not the whole man, in its extreme depth. No external pressure can do that: it only modifies superficial parts of consciousness. No psychological analysis can cause the mutation either because all analysis is in the field of duration. And no experience can provoke it, however exalted and "spiritual" it may be. On the contrary, the more it appears as a revelation, the more it conditions. In the first two cases - psychological modification produced by analysis or introspection, and modification produced by external pressure - the individual undergoes no profound transformation: he is only modified, shaped, readjusted, so as to be adapted to the social.

In the third case, modification brought about by a so-called spiritual experience, either in accordance with an organized faith, or entirely personal, the individual is projected into the escape dictated to him by the authority of some symbol.

In all cases, there is the action of a constraining force based on social morality, that is to say, a state of contradiction and conflict. Any society is contradictory in itself. Every society demands efforts on the part of those who constitute it. Now contradiction, conflict, effort, competition are barriers that prevent any mutation, because mutation means freedom.

Carlos Suarés: Where did the escapes in the symbols come from?

Krishnamurti: There are symbolic images only in the unexplored parts of consciousness. Even words are just symbols. We must die the words.

Carlos Suarés: But the theologies ...

Krishnamurti: Let us leave the theologies there. All theological thought lacks maturity.

Let's not lose the thread of our interview. We were in the experience, and we said that all experience is conditional. Indeed, all lived experience - and I am not speaking only of those said to be spiritual - necessarily has its roots in the past.

Whether it's reality or my neighbor, what I recognize involves association with the past. A so-called spiritual experience is the response of the past to my anxiety, my pain, my fear, my hope. This response is the projection of compensation for a miserable state. My conscience projects the opposite of what it is, because I am convinced that this exalted and happy opposite is a consoling reality. So, my Catholic or Buddhist faith builds and projects the image of the Virgin or the Buddha, and these fabrications arouse intense emotion in these same unexplored layers of consciousness which, having fabricated it without knowing it, take it for reality. Symbols, or words, become more important than reality. They settle as a memory in a consciousness that says, "I know, because I had a spiritual experience. So words and conditioning vitalize each other in the vicious circle of a closed circuit.

Carlos Suarés: An induction phenomenon?

Krishnamurti: Yes. The memory of the intense emotion, the shock, the ecstasy generates an aspiration towards the repetition of the experience, and the symbol becomes the supreme inner authority, the ideal towards which all efforts are directed. Capturing vision becomes a goal; think about it constantly and discipline yourself, a means. But thought is that very thing that creates a distance between the individual as he is and the symbol or the ideal. You can only mutate if you die at this distance. The mutation is only possible when all experience ceases completely. The man who no longer has any experience is an enlightened man. But see what is happening everywhere: we are always looking for deeper and wider experiences. We are convinced that to live experiences is to really live. In fact, what we experience is not reality, but the symbol, the concept, the ideal, the word. We live by words. If the so-called spiritual life is a perpetual conflict, it is because it is claimed to be nourished by concepts as if, being hungry, one could nourish oneself on the word "bread". We live by words, not facts. In all phenomena of life, whether it is spiritual life, sexual life, the material organization of our business or our leisure, we stimulate ourselves by means of words. Words are organized into ideas, thoughts and, on these stimulants, we believe that we live all the more intensely the better we have been able, thanks to them, to create distances between reality (us, as we are) and a ideal (the projection of the opposite of what we are). So we turn our backs on mutation.

Die to time, systems, words

Carlos Suarés: Lets recap. As long as there is a conflict in consciousness, whatever it is, there is no mutation. As long as the authority of the Church or the State dominates our thoughts, there is no mutation. As long as our personal experience is erected in inner authority, there is no mutation. As long as education, social background, tradition, culture, in short our civilization, with all its cogs, conditions us, there is no mutation. As long as there is adaptation, there is no mutation. As long as there is escape, of whatever kind, there is no mutation. As long as I strive for asceticism, as long as I believe in a revelation, as long as I have an ideal whatever it is, there is no mutation. As long as I try to know myself by analyzing myself psychologically, there is no mutation. As long as there is an effort towards a mutation, there is no mutation. As long as there are images, symbols, or ideas, or even words, there is no mutation. Have I said enough? Not. Because, having reached this point, I can only be led to add: as long as there is thought, there is no mutation.

Krishnamurti: That's right.

Carlos Suarés: So what is this mutation that you talk about all the time?

Krishnamurti: It is a total explosion inside the unexplored layers of consciousness, an explosion in the germ or, if you will, in the root of conditioning, a destruction of duration.

Carlos Suarés: But life itself is conditioning. How can one destroy duration and not destroy life itself?

Krishnamurti: Do you really want to know?

Carlos Suarés: Yes.

Krishnamurti: Die for the duration. Die in the total conception of Time: in the past, in the present and in the future. Die to systems, die to symbols, die to words, for these are factors of decomposition. Die to your psyche because it is the one that makes up the Psychological Time.

This Time has no reality.

Carlos Suarés: So what remains, if not despair, anguish, fear of a conscience that has lost all support and even the notion of its own identity?

Krishnamurti: If a man asked me that question, I would answer him that he did not make the trip, that he was afraid to cross the other bank. What is fear?

Carlos Suarés: What you are saying is scary. And I wonder if consciousness doesn't need this fear deep down. This would explain why it is still maintained, fueled by religions, which are supposed to be refuges and tranquilizers. They maintain fear by preventing consciousness from perceiving itself as it is. They interpose, between consciousness and reality, the screen of theologies.

Krishnamurti: This problem is both deep and vast. Let's approach it by feeling it, so to speak, from various sides. Fear is Time and Thought. We give continuity to fear by means of thought, and by means of thought we give continuity to pleasure. This fact is simple: by thinking about the object of our pleasure, we give pleasure to continuity, and we do the same for fear, by thinking about the object of our fear. If I am afraid of you - or of death, or anything else - I think of you or of death and so keep the fear alive. If, on the other hand, we happen to meet the object of our fear face to face, that fear ceases.

Carlos Suarés: How is that?

Krishnamurti: I am talking about psychological fear, not fear of physical danger that we are trying to avoid, which is natural. Consider the fear of death. What does it consist of? We divide the whole of the vital phenomenon into life and death. Life is known and nothing is known about death. Are we afraid of what we don't know or, rather, are we afraid of losing what we know? It is obvious that life and death are two aspects of the same phenomenon. If we stop considering them as two different phenomena, there is no more conflict.

Carlos Suarés: Can we not ask ourselves the question of what is fear in itself?

Krishnamurti: There is no fear in itself. There is never that fear of something.

The question of death

Carlos Suarés: But isn't there a fundamental fear?

Krishnamurti: No. Fear is always the fear of something. Examine the matter very carefully and you will see it. All fear, even unconscious, is the result of a thought. The fear that is widespread in all areas and the psychological fear inside me is always the fear of not being. Not to be this or that, or not to be short. The obvious contradiction between the fact that everything that exists is transient and the search for psychological permanence is the source of fear. To be free from fear, one must explore the whole idea of permanence. The man who has no illusions is not afraid. This does not mean that he is cynical, bitter or indifferent.

Carlos Suarés: This means that he has seen that the psychological structure on which he bases the notion of his identity is not real, that it is verbal.

Krishnamurti: So here we are facing one of the major problems: death. To understand this question, not verbally but in fact, I mean to penetrate the fact of death in all reality, we must get rid of any concept, any speculation, any belief about it, because any idea that the 'we can have on this is engendered by fear. If we are fearless, you and I can ask the question of death correctly. We will not ask ourselves what happens "after", but we will explore death as a fact. To understand what death is, all groping begging in the dark must stop. Are we, you and I, in this frame of mind which does not seek to know what there is "after death", but which wonders what is death? Do you see the difference? If one wonders what there is "after", it is because one does not wonder what it is. And are we in a condition to ask ourselves this question? Can we really wonder what death is as long as we don't wonder what life is? And is it to wonder what life is, as long as one has notions, ideas, theories about what it is? What is the life we know? We know of the existence of a consciousness that is constantly struggling in all kinds of internal and external conflicts.

Torn apart in its contradictions, this existence is contained in the circle of its demands and obligations, the pleasures it seeks and the sufferings it flees. We are completely absorbed by an inner void that the accumulation of material or mental possessions can never fill. In this state, the question of what death is cannot be asked, because the question of what life is does not arise. Is the existence we know life? Similarly, do the explanations: resurrection of the dead, reincarnation, etc., come from an understanding of death? They are only projections of ideas that we have about the fragment of existence that we call life. Dying to the psychological structure with which we identify; to die every minute, every day, every act that one does, to die immediately from pleasure and to the length of the sentence, and know all that is involved in this dying; then we are apt to ask the question: what is death?

We don't argue with bodily death. And yet, only those who know how to die from moment to moment can avoid engaging in death with an impossible dialogue. In this perpetual death is a perpetual renewal, a freshness that does not belong to the world of continuity in Duration. This dying is creation. Creation is death and love.

Churches can do nothing

Carlos Suarés: I have questions for you about religion. The most recent of the great religions were all the same born at times when the Earth was a flat disc, when the sun traversed the vault of the sky, etc. Until recently (Galileo is not far away), they violently imposed childish imagery of the Cosmos. Today, not being able to do otherwise, they take the step of science and are content to admit that their cosmogonies are only symbolic. But they proclaim that, despite this capitulation, they are the depositaries of eternal truths. What do you think?

Krishnamurti: They are continuing their propaganda with a view to gaining power over consciences. They seek to seize childhood in order to condition it better. The religions of the Churches and those of the States proclaim the necessity of all the virtues, while their History is only a series of violence, terrors, tortures, unimaginable massacres.

Carlos Suarés: But don't you think that the Churches today are less closely militant? Do we not see the leaders of the largest churches declare that human brotherhood is more important than the detail of worship?

Krishnamurti: If a declaration of fraternity is more important than worship, it is because worship has lost its importance in the eyes of its pontiffs. This so-called universalism is at most a tolerance. To be tolerant is hardly to tolerate the neighbor under certain conditions. All tolerance is intolerance, just as nonviolence is violence. In truth, in our time, religion, as a true communion of man with that which exceeds him, does not play a role in the progress of human affairs. Religious organizations, on the other hand, are political and economic instruments.

Carlos Suarés: But can't these religious organizations guide men towards a reality that exceeds them?

Krishnamurti: No.

What is a free spirit?

Carlos Suarés: So let's move on to religious sentiment. Could not modern man, who consciously lives in the universe of Einstein and no longer in that of Euclid, communicate better with the reality of the universe thanks to a consciousness which has been adequately informed and extended ?

Krishnamurti: He who wants to broaden his consciousness may as well choose, among psychodrugs, the one which will suit him best. As for better communing with the universe thanks to an accumulation of information and scientific knowledge about the atom or galaxies, as much to say that an immense bookish erudition, about love, makes us know the love. And your ultramodern man, if aware of the latest scientific discoveries, will he have set fire to his unconscious universe?

As long as a single unconscious patch remains in him, he will project an unreality of symbols and words by means of which he will have the illusion of communing with something superior.

Carlos Suarés: Do you not think, however, that a religion of the future on a scientific basis is possible?

Krishnamurti: Why are we talking about the religion of the future? Let's see what true religion is. An organized religion can only produce social reforms, superficial changes. Any religious organization necessarily falls within a social framework. I am talking about a religious revolution which can only take place outside the psychological structure of any society. A truly religious spirit is devoid of all fear, for it is free from all the structures that civilizations have imposed over the millennia. Such a mind is empty, in the sense that it has emptied itself of all the influences of the past, collective and personal, as well as the pressures exerted by the activity of the present which creates the future.

Carlos Suarés: Such a spirit, because it has emptied itself of its content which in truth contained it, is extraordinarily free ...

Krishnamurti: He is free, lively and completely silent. It is the silence that matters. It is a state without measure. Only then can we see, but not as experience, That which has no name, which is beyond thought, which is energy without cause. Without this creative silence, whatever we do, there will be no brotherhood or peace on earth, that is to say, no true religion.

Carlos Suarés: All religions recommend some form of prayer, some method of contemplation in order to enter into communion with a higher reality, including the name, God, Atman, Cosmos, etc. varied. What religious act are you proceeding with? Are you praying?

Krishnamurti: The repetition of sanctifying words calms a restless mind while sleeping.

Prayer is a sedative that allows you to live inside a psychological enclosure without feeling the need to tear it apart, to destroy it. The prayer mechanism, like all mechanisms, gives mechanical results. There is no prayer capable of piercing self-ignorance. Any prayer to what is unlimited presupposes that a limited mind knows where and how to reach the unlimited. It means that he has ideas, concepts, beliefs about it, and that he's caught in a whole system of explanations, in a mental prison. Far from liberating, prayer traps. Freedom is the very essence of religion, in the true sense of the word. This essential freedom is denied by all religious organizations, despite what they say. Far from being a state of prayer, self-knowledge is the beginning of meditation. It is neither an accumulation of knowledge about psychology, nor a state of so-called religious submission, in which we hope for grace. This is what demolishes the disciplines imposed by Society or the Church. It is a state of attention and not a concentration on anything in particular. The brain being calm and silent observes the outside world and no longer projects any imagination or illusion. To observe the movement of life, it is as fast as it is, active and without direction. Only then can the immeasurable, the timeless, the infinite be born. That's what true religion is.

What remains to be awakened

Carlos Suarés: Do you think that a collective thought, that a collective intelligence, having recorded and synthesized the recent acquisitions of all the sciences, if it could be constituted, would be able to guide humanity towards a healthy evolution?

Krishnamurti: From the ox cart to the astronautical rocket the progression is due to a certain part of the brain. Would it develop, this part, millions of times, it would not advance the fundamental problem that human consciousness poses about itself. And it will grow. This process is irreversible and necessary. But there is another part of the brain that is not awake and that we can vitalize today. This awakening is not a matter of time. It is a revolutionary explosion which, at the source of everything, arises and prevents the crystallization, the hardening, by the deposits of the past, of a psychological structure. This lucidity addresses each problem as it arises, and the importance of the problem becomes secondary. Freedom and peace can only be established in the world if this emergence, which is causeless energy, neither individual nor collective, is alive.

Entretien avec Krishnamurti par Carlo Suarés - 3e millinaire