The book The First and Last Freedom was first published in 1954. In the book there is a questions and answers section and I share it here because I feel the present crisis at that time is still very much the present crisis we are moving through right now in 2021. My intention for sharing this is to invite a deeper inquiry within myself and for you reading. A revolution in thinking is required and this happens within each of us. Nothing on the outside will change until we look within and make the changes on the inside. This requires radical responsibility.
1 ‘ON THE PRESENT CRISIS’
Question: You say the present crisis is without precedent. In what way is it exceptional?
Krishnamurti: Obviously the present crisis throughout the world is exceptional, without precedent. There have been crises of varying types at different periods throughout history, social, national, political. Crises come and go; economic recessions, depressions, come, get modified, and continue in a different form. We know that; we are familiar with that process. Surely the present crisis is different, is it not? It is different first because we are dealing not with money nor with tangible things but with ideas. The crisis is exceptional because it is in the field of ideation. We are quarrelling with ideas, we are justifying murder; everywhere in the world we are justifying murder as a means to a righteous end, which in itself is unprecedented. Before, evil was recognized to be evil, murder was recognized to be murder, but now murder is a means to achieve a noble result. Murder, whether of one person or of a group of people, is justified, because the murderer, or the group that the murderer represents, justifies it as a means of achieving a result which will be beneficial to man. That is we sacrifice the present for the future — and it does not matter what means we employ as long as our declared purpose is to produce a result which we say will be beneficial to man. Therefore, the implication is that a wrong means will produce a right end and you justify the wrong means through ideation. In the various crises that have taken place before, the issue has been the exploitation of things or of man; it is now the exploitation of ideas, which is much more pernicious, much more dangerous, because the exploitation of ideas is so devastating, so destructive. We have learned now the power of propaganda and that is one of the greatest calamities that can happen: to use ideas as a means to transform man. That is what is happening in the world today. Man is not important — systems, ideas, have become important. Man no longer has any significance. We can destroy millions of men as long as we produce a result and the result is justified by ideas. We have a magnificent structure of ideas to justify evil and surely that is unprecedented. Evil is evil; it cannot bring about good.
War is not a means to peace.
War may bring about secondary benefits, like more efficient aeroplanes, but it will not bring peace to man. War is intellectually justified as a means of bringing peace; when the intellect has the upper hand in human life, it brings about an unprecedented crisis.
There are other causes also which indicate an unprecedented crisis. One of them is the extraordinary importance man is going to sensate values, to property, to name, to caste and country, to the particular label you wear. You are either a Mohammedan or a Hindu, a Christian or a Communist. Name and property, caste and country, have become predominantly important, which means that man is caught in sensate value, the value of things, whether made by the mind or by the hand. Things made by the hand or by the mind have become so important that we are killing, destroying, butchering, liquidating each other because of them. We are nearing the edge of a precipice; every action is leading us there, every political, every economic action is bringing us inevitably to the precipice, dragging us into this chaotic, confusing abyss. Therefore the crisis is unprecedented and it demands unprecedented action. To leave, to step out of that crisis, needs a timeless action, an action which is not based on idea, on system, because any action which is based on a system, on an idea, will inevitably lead to frustration. Such action merely brings us back to the abyss by a different route. As the crisis is unprecedented there must also be unprecedented action, which means that the regeneration of the individual must be instantaneous, not a process of time. It must take place now, not tomorrow; for tomorrow is a process of disintegration. If I think of transforming myself tomorrow I invite confusion, I am still within the field of destruction. Is it possible to change now? Is it possible completely to transform oneself in the immediate, in the now? I say it is.
The point is that as the crisis is of an exceptional character to meet it there must be revolution in thinking;
and this revolution cannot take place through another, through any book, through any organization. It must come through us, through each one of us. Only then can we create a new society, a new structure away from this horror, away from these extraordinarily destructive forces that are being accumulated, piled up; and that transformation comes into being only when you as an individual begin to be aware of yourself in every thought, action and feeling.
More can be read on this link J Krishnamurti online