Jiddu Krishnamurti on Peace in Our time
In his later years, J. Krishnamurti spoke at the United Nations in New York, on the 11th April 1985, where he was awarded the United Nations 1984 Peace medal.
In November of 1985, he revisted the places he had grown up in India, holding a last set of farewell talks between then and January 1986. These last talks were on fundamental principles of belief and lessons. J. Krishnamurti passed away two and a half months later at the age of 90 from pancreatic cancer. His remains were cremated and scattered by friends and former associates in the three countries where he had spent most of his life, India, England and United States of America.
Speech Delivered to the United Nations
Probably since the beginning of man, human beings have had no peace at all. And there have been a great many oganizations, including this organization, to bring about peace in the world, pacem in terris. But there has been no peace. For various obvious reasons: nationalism, which is glorified tribalism, various opposing religions, divisions of classes, races and so on. There have been divisions on the earth from the beginning of time: the family, the community, bigger community, the nation, and so on. And also from what one observes, religion has been one of the causes of wars. One sees the Israelis and the Arabs, the Hindus and the Muslims, the Americans and the Russians, ideas against ideas, ideologies opposing ideologies, the communist ideology and the so-called democratic ideologies. Why is it, after all these millenia upon millenia, why is it that human beings throughout the world don't live in peace? Why is it our society in which we live, whether it is the American society, the European, or Indian, or Japanese, that society has not given us peace either. That society, the culture, the tradition, is created by all human beings. We have created this society. We are responsible for this society, which is corrupt, immoral, violent, divisive, cruel and so on. We have created this, this society in which we live. We are the society.
Please the speaker is not a communist in the orthodox sense of that word. We are what we have made of the society. So we are society. That is a fact, not an exotic or stupid, irrational thought. We are society. Each one of us have made this terrible confusing, contradictory, brutal society. And until human beings, each one of us, radically transforms himself we will have perpetual wars, there will be no peace on earth. Religions have talked about it endlessly. The popes, the priests, local parish clergyman, have talked about peace. This Institution, with all its power, with its position, with its international grasp, this Institution has not brought about peace either. Forgive me for saying this, if you don't mind. And will institutions, foundations, will they ever bring peace on earth? Or it doesn't lie in that field at all - organisations or institutions, propaganda and all the rest of it? Or do we realize, each one of us, I am asking this most respectfully, do we realize that we are responsible for this? Not intellectually, or verbally, or just accepting a theory, but we are responsible for this horror that is going on in the world; every form of violence, terrorism, wars, we are responsible for it. War is not in Beirut, it is in our hearts and minds. This has been said so often, one is rather bored by all that. And we human beings seem to be incapable of living peacefully in our relationship with each other, living peacefully without any dogmatism, ideals, concepts. Because beliefs, faith, conclusions, ideals, have separated man. And man apparently has not been able to live without any of those bondages. Man is conditioned, human beings right throughout the world are conditioned. Their brains have been moulded according to a particular tradition, various forms of superstitions called religion. And is it possible for human beings wherever they live to be free of their conditioning? The conditioning as an American, as a European, Hindu and so on, is it possible for us, who are so advanced in technology, is it possible for us to radically, fundamentally, bring about psychological change? This is really a very, very serious question. This is what the biologists, bio-technologists are trying to do - trying to bring about a radical change in the very brain cells themselves so that human beings can live peacefully, not everlastingly fight each other.
So facing all this, not abstractly, as a human being, what is he to do actually? Form another group? Another religion? Another Institution? Or as a human being become aware of his conditioning? Be concerned with his conditioning and free the brain from that conditioning? Otherwise we are going to have perpetual wars, there will be no peace on earth in spite of all the religions, in spite of every institution. It must begin with us, not without somebody else out there. So is it possible to bring about a deep mutation in the very brain cells themselves? Why are human beings so conditioned - Germans, French, Russians, Italians, British, Americans, Hindus and so on, why? Is it because we want security, both external and inward? Is there such security inwardly, psychologically to be safe? Is there such security? Or psychological security is an illusion? We can go into all this in detail but our time is very, very limited. So is there psychological security, either in the family, in a group, in a community, in a nation and internationalism and all that business? Is there any kind of security inwardly? And that is, if we are not sure about that, certain, clear, we try to seek security outwardly, externally, through nations, through religious oganizations, through some ideologies. So it is very important, it seems to one, that we should talk over together now and discover for ourselves if there is an inner security - security in our relationships with each other, however intimate it may be, between man and woman, security in community and so on. Is there security in our relationship with each other, man and woman, wife and husband? If there is security why is there such contention between man and woman, wife and husband, such conflict in their relationship, each one pursuing his own ambitions, his own fulfilments, his own desires and so on. Is it not important to find out for ourselves if there is such security in relationship. If there is such security in this then that security is the beginning of peace. If there is no security in our relationship with each other that is the beginning of conflict, war.
So we ought to really seriously enquire into this question. That is, become aware, conscious, of our relationship with each other because to go very far we must begin very near. And the nearest is man and woman, wife and husband. In that relationship there is conflict as there is now, then that conflict is spread, ultimately war. We have never given thought to this, that as our house is burning, which is society is burning, declining, degenerating, are we all so degenerating? To slide, slip down, implies our whole life is a routine, our whole life is a series of battles, struggles, conflicts. If we don't alter there, how can you bring about peace on earth. It seems to logical, so rational, sane, but we don't do that. So could we, as human beings, not as Americans and all the rest of that business, could we as human beings become aware, pay attention to our intimate relationship because unless the psychological world is quiet, sane, peaceful, that psychological state will always overcome every kind of organization, whether it be communist organization, totalitarian, or so-called democratic organization. The psyche is far more important than the external legislation, governments and so on. I wonder if one realizes all this? Do we, sitting here, peacefully, so-called peacefully, realize our responsibility as human beings? The wars that are going on in the world is our war, because our consciousness - if I can go into all this much more deeply - our human consciousness, which is made up of biological reactions, fears, hurts, pleasure, beliefs, dogmas, rituals and endless suffering, that is the content of our consciousness. If you observe this closely it is a fact that every human being throughout the world shares this, every human being suffers, every human being has fear, pleasure, sense of loneliness, despair, anxiety, confusion, every human being, whether they live in the Far East, or here, or in Russia, or in other places. We have been brought up, educated to consider ourselves as individuals. Is that so? Is that a fact? Because we share the consciousness of humanity, because we all suffer, we all go through great agonies, boredom, every form of uncertainty. You may have great talents, great capacities, but behind those capacities lies the ordinary, daily consciousness of all humanity. So each one is humanity, not separate individuals. I know you will not accept this because you have been conditioned from the beginning by religions, by society, by culture, that each one is separate individuals, separate soul. And therefore he must seek his own salvation, his own expression, his own fulfilment. And this so-called separate individuality is creating havoc in the world, which does not mean that we all become the same automatic, turned out in the same mould. On the contrary, freedom is the highest form of existence. It is the greatest art, to live freely. But we are not free. One thinks one is free to do what one likes, specially in this country, each individual thinks he is supreme to do what he wants. His own fulfilment, the expression of his own desires and so on. But if we examine closely and seriously, we share the consciousness of the entire humanity. Because this is a fact. Individuality may be an illusion. And to that illusion we are committed. But when you travel around and observe very closely, every human being, whether he has great position, great deal of money, status, power, he is like the rest of the world psychologically, he goes through great pain, desperate loneliness and all the rest of the psychological world of uncertainty, confusion. And we are the rest of humanity. We are not Africans and Europeans and all that nonsense. We are humanity. Unless we realize that one major fact in our life, we are the rest of humanity, black, white, purple or whatever colour they be, psychologically we are one. Unless human beings deeply realize that we are going to have wars, we are going to be eternally in conflict, as we are now. And no organization in the world is going to change that fact. We have had religions all over, various types of religions, Catholic and Protestant, and the division in Protestantism. There have been religions of various types in Asia. All invented by thought. And thought has made man separate because thought is the result of experience, knowledge, memory and so thought is always limited. It is never complete, it can never be complete because it is based on knowledge and knowledge is always finite, limited. It can expand, it can change but it is still within the field of knowledge. And knowledge is always limited. And we try to change the world through our knowledge. And this experiment to change the world through knowledge has never succeeded.
So what is a human being to do, if you are serious, concerned, with the world, with your own life? What is a human being to do? Form innumerable oganizations, with their bosses and their secretaries and so on? Or each one of us is responsible because we have created this society, we are responsible for every kind of war. So is it possible, not merely intellectually, but actually, in our daily life, radically to change, bring about a deep mutation? Unless we are capable of doing that we are going to have perpetual wars. No organization in the world has prevented any wars. For the last historical process there have been practically wars every year for the last five, six thousand years, all over the world. And man has been responsible for these wars. You may not have a war in America, in this part of the world, but you have wars in other parts of the world because we are divided, as Americans and Russians, and English and French and all the rest of it, not only nationally but religiously, Christians, Buddhists, Hindus. So there is this constant division, both outwardly and inwardly, it is bringing about great conflict. We are one human being, not separate. We don't seem to realize that. You suffer, you go through great anxieties, uncertainties, so does every other human being in the world. And we haven't been able to solve that basic issue, whether we can live with ourselves peacefully. Peace doesn't begin on the other side of the world, whether we live peacefully, without conflict.
And I think this is a very important question which we must put to ourselves: why is it that human beings who have lived on this earth perhaps fifty thousand years, we have done extraordinary things technologically, we have done practically nothing in our relationship with each other? We are perpetually in conflict with each other, man and woman, and this conflict is extended into war. So we are asking a most fundamental question: why do human beings who have lived on this earth for so many millenia, who have done extraordinary things technologically, who have brought about good health for people, we have done the most incredible things externally, but inwardly we are savages. Forgive me for using that word. We are fighting each other, even in our most intimate relationships. So how can one have external peace in the world, pacem in terris, if one is not peaceful in oneself? We never answer that question, we are always trying to bring changes in the outer, but we never ask of ourselves why we live this way, perpetually in conflict. It is fairly obvious when you ask that question seriously, not casually, we never spend a day trying to find out why we live this way, building a vast network of escapes from this basic fact. And we are still going on. We never seem to realize that unless each one of us fundamentally changes radically there will be no peace on earth as long as you are an American, Russian, different ideologies, different concepts, different gods, and so on, we will never have peace on this earth.
So it behoves us, and each one of us, to find out why we live this way. And whether it is possible radically to change our whole psyche. If there is not a revolution there, mere outward revolutions have very little meaning. We have had communist revolution, French revolution, other forms of revolution throughout the world and we remain what we are, self-centred, cruel and all the rest of it.
I have finished sirs.