I found myself watching a documentary on Al Jazeera last night. It featured a number of very poor people, adults and children, in Burundi, talking about their situation, their hope and aspirations. Naturally their aspirations centred on finding adequate food, some shelter, a modicum of security, but that is not what I wanted to explore here. A group of adults were remembering the terrible slaughter that went on some some decades ago, ostensibly between the “Hutu's” and “Tutsi's”. It was the same in neighbouring Rwanda.

One poor guy said as a child he had no idea of being a Hutu or a Tutsi. He had a very good friend on the streets, another child with whom they shared everything. One day someone told his friend that the friend was Hutu, and the guy himself was a Tutsi. Immediately his friend tried to kill him.

As I understand it, I could be wrong, the designation “Hutu” and “Tutsi” was a largely artificial distinction. In fact it was imposed on the native people when the overlords of that time, the Belgians, issued everyone with identity cards. There was a space for that designation, and it had to be filled in, and often this was done randomly. But it resulted in an incredibly bloody civil war, with millions being hacked to death or maimed with machetes.

So what does this tell us about the human mind, about ourselves? A great deal, no?, about the perils of identification, how the mind is enslaved by the images it holds, by the knowledge that it accumulates and won't let go of. It seems such a ridiculous way to live. It IS a ridiculous way to live, no doubt about it! So much enslaved/identified that we are willing to kill, to torture, to slaughter even children. And the end result of such images (like American and Russian or Chinese) may be the end of human existence (Last year, believe it or not, the US military announced they considered a nuclear was “winnable”).

In the face of all this, I think we have to ask ourselves, earnestly, why we hold on to our identifications. And I am sure if we look into ourselves deeply we WILL find there is identification, at some level. In fact isn't the self entirely a result of images, of identification? And are we entirely free of the self?

Put it another way, why do we live in the past, live in memory? But we don't live IN memory, we ARE memory. I was experimenting with this. Is it that without memory it seems that we are nothing, absolutely nothing? Which may be true. And I see that “I” am a sort of concentration of memory. And so I always act from memory, from the past. Is this not sterile? It has its place of course, but it is in no way creative.

Question: If you live in an eternal now, having annihilated the idea of time and broken the ties that bind you to the past, how can you speak about your past and about your previous experiences? Are not these memories ties?

Krishnamurti: If action is born out of a prejudice, a hindrance, then it creates further limitation and brings sorrow. But if it is the outcome of discernment, then action is ever renewing itself and is never limiting. This liberation of action does not mean that you cannot remember incidents, but those past incidents will no longer control action.

If one acts through the background of many prejudices, surely that action, being impeded, must inevitably create a further limitation of the mind. If one has a background of religious prejudices, action must create conflict in the present. But if one begins to question and thus understand the significance of values, traditions, ideals, past accumulations which make up the background, then the mind shall know the beauty of action without sorrow. Experiment with what I am saying and you will know. We have many prejudices, fears, accumulative values, which are continually thwarting fulfillment in action, and so there is an ever increasing incompleteness and the burden of tomorrow.

From first talk at Montevideo 1935

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