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Thoughts On Prejudice – Jiddu Krishnamurti

An excerpt on the damaging effect of prejudice from a talk of Jiddu Krishnamurti.

Prejudice has something in common with ideals, beliefs and faiths. We must be able to think together; but our prejudices, our ideals and so on, limit the capacity and the energy required to think, to observe and examine together so as to discover for ourselves what lies behind all the confusion, misery, terror, destruction and tremendous violence in the world.

To understand, not only the mere outward facts that are taking place, but also the depth and the significance of all this, we must be able to observe together - not you observing one way and the speaker another, but together observe the same thing. That observation, that examination, is prevented if we cling to our prejudices, to our particular experiences and our particular comprehension.

Thinking together is tremendously important because we have to face a world that is rapidly disintegrating, degenerating, a world in which there is no sense of morality, where nothing is sacred, where no one respects another. To understand all this, not only superficially, casually, we have to enter into the depths of it, into what lies behind it. We have to enquire why it is that after all these millions of years of evolution, man, you and the whole world, have become so violent, callous, destructive, enduring wars and the atomic bomb. The technological world is evolving more and more; perhaps that may be one of the factors causing man to become like this. So, please let us think together, not according to my way or your way, but simply using the capacity to think.

Now, is there another form of learning; learning, not in the context of knowledge, but a different form, a non-accumulative perception-action? To find out we have to enquire whether it is possible to observe the content of our consciousness and to observe the world without a single prejudice. Is that possible? Do not say it is not possible, just ask the question. See whether, when you have a prejudice, you can observe clearly. You cannot, obviously. If you have a certain conclusion, a certain set of beliefs, concepts, ideals, and you want to see clearly what the world is, all those conclusions, ideals, prejudices and so on will actually prevent it. It is not a question of how to get rid of your prejudices but of seeing clearly, intelligently, that any form of prejudice, however noble or ignoble will actually prevent perception. When you see that, prejudices go. What is important is not the prejudice but the demand to see clearly.

The way we have lived, over millions of years, has been the repetition of the same process of acquiring knowledge and acting from that knowledge. That knowledge and action is limited. That limitation creates problems and the brain has become accustomed to solving the problems which knowledge has repeatedly created. The brain is caught in that pattern and we are saying that that pattern will never, in any circumstance, solve our human problems. Obviously we have not solved them up till now. There must be a different, a totally different, movement, which is a non-accumulative perception-action. To have non-accumulative perception is to have no prejudice. It is to have absolutely no ideals, no concepts, no faith - because all those have destroyed man, they have not solved his problems.

There is group consciousness, national consciousness, linguistic consciousness, professional consciousness, racial consciousness, and there is fear, anxiety, sorrow, loneliness, the pursuit of pleasure, love and finally death. If you keep acting in that circle, you maintain the human consciousness of the world. Just see the truth of this. You are part of that consciousness and you sustain it by saying, `I am an individual. My prejudices are important. My ideals are essential' - repeating the same thing over and over again. Now the maintenance, the sustenance and the nourishment, of that consciousness takes place when you are repeating that pattern. But when you break away from that consciousness, you are introducing a totally new factor in the whole of that consciousness.

Now, if we understand the nature of our own consciousness, if we see how it is operating in this endless cycle of knowledge, action and division - a consciousness which has been sustained for millennia - if we see the truth that all this is a form of prejudice and break away from it, we introduce a new factor into the old. It means that you, as a human being who is of the consciousness of the rest of mankind, can move away from the old pattern of obedience and acceptance. That is the real turning point in your life. Man cannot go on repeating the old pattern, it has lost its meaning.

Source - Network of Thought By J. Krishnamurti - Chapter 2 - 2nd Public Talk - Saanen - 14th July 1981