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‘Is There a God?’
Questioner: I really would like to know if there is a god. If there isn’t life has no meaning. Not knowing god, man has invented him in a thousand beliefs and images. The division and the fear bred by all these beliefs have divided him from his fellow men. To escape the pain and the mischief of this division he creates yet more beliefs, and the mounting misery and confusion have engulfed him. Not knowing, we believe. Can I know god? I’ve asked this question of many saints both in India and here and they’ve all emphasized belief. “Believe and then you will know; without belief you can never know.” What do you think?
Krishnamurti: Is belief necessary to find out? To learn is far more important than to know. Learning about belief is the end of belief. When the mind is free of belief then it can look. It is belief, or disbelief, that binds; for disbelief and belief are the same: they are the opposite sides of the same coin. So we can completely put aside positive or negative belief; the believer and the non-believer are the same. When this actually takes place then the question, “Is there a god?” has quite a different meaning. The word god with all its tradition, its memory, its intellectual and sentimental connotations – all this is not god. The word is not the real. So can the mind be free of the word?
Questioner: I don’t know what that means.
Krishnamurti: The word is the tradition, the hope, the desire to find the absolute, the striving after the ultimate, the movement which gives vitality to existence. So the word itself becomes the ultimate, yet we can see that the word is not the thing. The mind is the word, and the word is thought.
Questioner: And you’re asking me to strip myself of the word? How can I do that? The word is the past; it is memory. The wife is the word, and the house is the word. In the beginning was the word. Also the word is the means of communication, identification. Your name is not you, and yet without your name I can’t ask about you. And you’re asking me if the mind can be free of the word – that is, can the mind be free of its own activity?
Krishnamurti: In the case of the tree the object is before our eyes, and the word refers to the tree by universal agreement. Now with the word god there is nothing to which it refers, so each man can create his own image of that for which there is no reference. The theologian does it in one way, the intellectual in another, and the believer and the non-believer in their own different ways. Hope generates this belief, and then seeking. This hope is the outcome of despair – the despair of all we see around us in the world. From despair hope is born, they also are two sides of the same coin. When there is no hope there is hell, and this fear of hell gives us the vitality of hope. Then illusion begins. So the word has led us to illusion and not to god at all. God is the illusion which we worship; and the non-believer creates the illusion of another god which he worships – the State, or some utopia, or some book which he thinks contains all truth. So we are asking you whether you can be free of the word with its illusion.
Questioner: I must meditate on this.
Krishnamurti: If there is no illusion, what is left?
Questioner: Only what is.
Krishnamurti: The “what is” is the most holy.
Questioner: If the “what is” is the most holy then war is most holy, and hatred, disorder, pain, avarice and plunder. Then we must not speak of any change at all. If “what is” is sacred, then every murderer and plunderer and exploiter can say, “Don’t touch me, what I’m doing is sacred”.
Krishnamurti: The very simplicity of that statement, “ ‘what is’ is the most sacred”, leads to great misunderstanding, because we don’t see the truth of it. If you see that what is is sacred, you do not murder, you do not make war, you do not hope, you do not exploit. Having done these things you cannot claim immunity from a truth which you have violated. The white man who says to the black rioter, “What is is sacred, do not interfere, do not burn”, has not seen, for if he had, the Negro would be sacred to him, and there would be no need to burn. So if each one of us sees this truth there must be change. This seeing of the truth is change.
Questioner: I came here to find out if there is god, and you have completely confused me.
Krishnamurti: You came to ask if there is god. We said: the word leads to illusion which we worship, and for this illusion we destroy each other willingly. When there is no illusion the “what is” is most sacred. Now let’s look at what actually is. At a given moment the “what is” may be fear, or utter despair, or a fleeting joy. These things are constantly changing. And also there is the observer who says, “These things all change around me, but I remain permanent”. Is that a fact, is that what really is? Is he not also changing, adding to and taking away from himself, modifying, adjusting himself, becoming or not becoming? So both the observer and the observed are constantly changing. What is is change. That is a fact. That is what is.
Questioner: Then is love changeable? If everything is a movement of change, isn’t love also part of that movement? And if love is changeable, then I can love one woman today and sleep with another tomorrow.
Krishnamurti: Is that love? Or are you saying that love is different from its expression? Or are you giving to expression greater importance than to love, and therefore making a contradiction and a conflict. Can love ever be caught in the wheel of change? If so then it can also be hate; then love is hate. It is only when there is no illusion that “what is” is most sacred. When there is no illusion “what is” is god or any other name that can be used. So god, or whatever name you give it, is when you are not. When you are, it is not. When you are not, love is. When you are, love is not.