Questioner: I am a reformer, a social worker. Seeing the extraordinary injustice there is in the world my whole life has been dedicated to reform. I used to be a Communist but I can’t go along with Communism any more, it has ended in tyranny. Nevertheless, I am still dedicated to reforming society so that man can live in dignity, beauty and freedom, and realize the potential which nature seems to have given him, and which he himself seems always to have stolen from his fellow man. In America there is a certain kind of freedom, and yet standardization and propaganda are very strong there – all the mass media exert a tremendous pressure on the mind. It seems that the power of television, this mechanical thing that man has invented, has developed its own personality, its own will, its own momentum; and though probably nobody – perhaps not even any one group – is deliberately using it to influence society, its trend shapes the very souls of our children. And this is the same in varying degrees in all democracies. In China there seems to be no hope at all for the dignity or freedom of man, while in India the government is weak, corrupt and inefficient. It seems to me that all the social injustice in the world absolutely must be changed. I want passionately to do something about it, yet I don’t know where to begin to tackle it.
Krishnamurti: Reform needs further reform, and this is an endless process. So let us look at it differently. Let us put aside the whole thought of reform; let us wipe it out of our blood. Let us completely forget this idea of wanting to reform the world. Then let us see actually what is happening, right throughout the world. Political parties always have a limited programme which, even if fulfilled, invariably brings about mischief, which then has to be corrected once again. We are always talking about political action as being a most important action, but political action is not the way. Let us put it out of our minds. All social and economic reforms come under this category. Then there is the religious formula of action based on belief, idealism, dogmatism, conformity to some so-called divine recipe. In this is involved authority and acceptance, obedience and the utter denial of freedom. Though religions talk of peace on earth they contribute to the disorder because they are a factor of division. Also the churches have always taken some political stand in times of crisis, so they are really political bodies, and we have seen that all political action is divisive. The churches have never really denied war: on the contrary they have waged war. So when one puts aside the religious recipes, as one puts aside the political formulas – what is left, and what is one to do? Naturally civic order must be maintained: you have to have water in the taps. If you destroy civic order you have to start again from the beginning. So, what is one to do?
Questioner: That is what I am actually asking you.
Krishnamurti: Be concerned with radical change, with total revolution. The only revolution is the revolution between man and man, between human beings. That is our only concern. In this revolution there are no blueprints, no ideologies, no conceptual utopias. We must take the fact of the actual relationship between men and change that radically. That is the real thing. And this revolution must be immediate, it must not take time. It is not achieved through evolution, which is time.
Questioner: What do you mean? All historical changes have taken place in time; none of them has been immediate. You are proposing something quite inconceivable.
Krishnamurti: If you take time to change, do you suppose that life is in suspension during the time it takes to change? It isn’t in suspension. Everything you are trying to change is being modified and perpetuated by the environment, by life itself. So there is no end to it. It is like trying to clean the water in a tank which is constantly being refilled with dirty water. So time is out. Now, what is to bring about this change? It cannot be will, or determination, or choice, or desire, because all these are part of the entity that has to be changed. So we must ask what actually is possible, without the action of will and assertiveness which is always the action of conflict.
Questioner: Is there any action which is not the action of will and assertiveness?
Krishnamurti: Instead of asking this question let us go much deeper. Let us see that actually it is only the action of will and assertiveness that needs to be changed at all, because the only mischief in relationship is conflict, between individuals or within individuals, and conflict is will and assertiveness. Living without such action does not mean that we live like vegetables. Conflict is our main concern. All the social maladies you mentioned are the projection of this conflict in the heart of each human being. The only possible change is a radical transformation of yourself in all your relationships, not in some vague future, but now.
Questioner: But how can I completely eradicate this conflict in myself, this contradiction, this resistance, this conditioning? I understand what you mean intellectually, but I can only change when I feel it passionately, and I don’t feel it passionately. It is merely an idea to me; I don’t see it with my heart. If I try to act on this intellectual understanding I am in conflict with another, deeper, part of myself.
Krishnamurti: If you really see this contradiction passionately, then that very perception is the revolution. If you see in yourself this division between the mind and the heart, actually see it, not conceive of it theoretically, but see it, then the problem comes to an end. A man who is passionate about the world and the necessity for change, must be free from political activity, religious conformity and tradition – which means, free from the weight of time, free from the burden of the past, free from all the action of will: this is the new human being. This only is the social, psychological, and even the political revolution.
From The Urgency of Change