Tree of Knowledge

Tree of Knowledge

On Conflict

J. Krishnamurti

I think it would be a good idea if we could investigate the word serious. Most of us think we are quite serious. We think we are serious if we follow a certain action to which we are committed, or pursue to the end a particular idea, a particular belief, or having committed ourselves to a certain ideology, we pursue that throughout life, not deviating from it. We also think we are very serious if we have a concept, a formula of life, and carry that out throughout our existence.

Now, is that seriousness? If we have committed ourselves to a particular belief, and pursued that belief, if we have given ourselves over to a certain ideological formula, and have lived according to that formula or according to a belief, which is a concept, does all that constitute seriousness? I am just questioning it because that word has great content in it. If we could, as it were, open up that word, and investigate its significance and its structure, then perhaps we could establish a communication with each other, because what we are talking about is quite serious. And so, to establish a relationship between the speaker and yourself, we must understand the verbal meaning, the content of words, the nature of the usage of words.

If you are going to come here to all these discussions, then either you are very serious, or you are just being entertained by a speaker who perhaps has a new set of ideas. I do not consider any person who is committed to a belief, a dogma, a formula, a course of action, to be serious at all. We have to establish that. To be really serious means to be free – free to investigate, to find out, to have passion to pursue. People do have passion to pursue according to a formula. A man who believes ardently pursues; he lives a life, but it is a life committed to an idea; and a life committed to an idea, to a formula, to a belief, to a concept, to a utopia, is just going round and round in circles. It is really a form of self-worship through identification with a belief.

By using that word serious we mean something entirely different. To inquire into, or examine into, the reality of life, into what is existence, we must be totally free; otherwise, we can’t examine. If we are conditioned by belief… then we are not free to investigate. It seems to me that a person who is serious, who is essentially free, demands freedom. If the mind has been brainwashed through propaganda, through a certain belief, such a person is not free to inquire, and therefore he is not serious. We must really deny this two thousand years of propaganda, of which we are the result. Our social, economic, cultural structure is the result of propaganda, of our religious beliefs, and with that background, with that conditioned mind, it’s impossible to examine, or to inquire into a different way of living.

In the deep consciousness of man, there is a crisis because he has to face a tremendous change in the world, not only outwardly, but inwardly. The outward response depends on the inward state, naturally; and if the inward state is merely a response of a conditioned mind, then of course the crisis doesn’t exist at all. If I am a dyed-in-the-wool Catholic, my response to this enormous change that’s going on outwardly will be very limited. It will have no value at all.

Is it possible to find a way of life, a way of daily living, which is basically and radically free, and therefore revolutionary? There is only one revolution for me, and that is the religious revolution. The others are not revolutions at all; economic, social, political, and all the rest are not revolutions. There is only one revolution, which is the religious mind in revolt, not as a reaction, but a mind that has established a way of life in which there is no contradiction. All our lives are in contradiction, and therefore in conflict, either the conflict born of trying to conform, conflict through fulfillment, or the conflict engendered by social influence.

Human beings have lived in this state of conflict as long as human history is known. Everything they touch turns into conflict, within and without. Either it’s a war between people or life as a human being is a battlefield within. We all know this constant, everlasting battle, outwardly and inwardly. Conflict does produce a certain result by the use of the will, but conflict never is creative. That’s a dangerous word to use; we’ll go into it a little later. To live, to flower in goodness, there must be peace, not economic peace, the peace between two wars, the peace of politicians negotiating treaties, the peace which the church talks about, or what the organized religions preach, but peace that one has discovered for oneself. It is only in peace that we can flower, can grow, can be, can function. It cannot come into being when there is conflict of any kind, conscious or unconscious.

How is one to avoid this conflict: You can’t avoid conflict. You have to understand the nature of conflict. It is one of the most difficult things to understand conflict. We have tried to avoid conflict, so we take to drink, sex, church, organized religions, social activities, superficial amusements — every form of escape. We have tried to avoid this conflict, but we haven’t been able to. The very avoidance is contributory to conflict.

If both of us understand the necessity of ending conflict – understand it even verbally for the moment – then we can proceed; then we can begin to investigate what conflict is, why conflict comes into being, and whether it is at all possible to end conflict by increasing, or by insisting upon, a factor which is called the will. What is conflict, both outwardly and inwardly? We can see outwardly the wars, which are the result of nationalities, economic pressures, religious, personal prejudices.

Then there is the inward conflict, which is much more complex. Why is there conflict in us? We are examining; we are not saying that we should or should not be without conflict. We are examining it, and to examine we must be very clear in our thinking, very acute in our observation; we must be intensely aware in observing the whole nature and the significance of conflict. Why is there conflict? What do we mean by that word struggle! We are examining the meaning of the word, not what brings about conflict. When are we at all conscious of this word, of the fact? Only when there is pain; only when there is a contradiction; only when there is the pursuit of pleasure and it is denied.

I am aware of conflict when my form of pleasure in fulfillment, in ambition, in various forms is thwarted. When pleasure of ambition is frustrated, then I am conscious of conflict, but as long as the pleasure of ambition continues without any blockage, I have no sense of conflict at all. There is pleasure in conformity. I want to conform to society because it pays me; it gives me profit. For security, for a means of livelihood, to become famous, to be recognized, to be somebody in society, I must conform to the norm, to the pattern set by society. As long as I am conforming to it completely, which is a great pleasure, there is no conflict; but there is conflict the moment there is a distraction from that conformity.

J. Krishnamurti

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