Question: Our ideals are the only thing between ourselves and madness. You are breaking a dam which keeps chaos out of our homes and fields. Why are you so foolhardy? The immature and the unsteady minds will be thrown off their feet by your sweeping generalizations.
Krishnamurti: This question is put with regard to what I have said concerning ideals, examples, and the opposites; so, we will have to go over what I have said concerning ideals. And, as I have just said, please listen, not as if through a wall of resistance, but rather with a wish to understand. You have certain traditions and ideals, and perhaps what I am going to say will be contrary to everything that you think; and what I say may or may not be the truth. So, you have to listen with a certain resistance, with a certain freedom, with a certain elasticity; but if you merely enclose yourself within the walls of your own ideals, your own understanding, then, surely, what is being said will have no meaning. What I am going to say may be, and I think probably will be, quite contrary to what you believe; so, please listen to it, not with any dogmatism, or with any defensive mechanism, but with a sense of trying to understand what the other fellow is trying to say.
Now, I have said that ideals in any form are an escape from the understanding of what is; that ideals, however noble, however intriguing, however fine, have no reality. Ideals are fictitious, without significance, because it is more important to understand what is than to pursue an ideal, or follow an ideal or a mode of action. We have innumerable ideals - non-violence, good, non-greed, peace, merit, and so on. You know the innumerable ideals within which our minds are enclosed. Now, are not these ideals fictitious? They are not really factual, they are non-existent, and since they are non-existent, of what value are they? Do they help me to understand my conflict, my violence, my greed, or are they a hindrance to that understanding? Will the screen of ideals help me to understand my arrogance, my violence, my evil? If ideals help me to understand, then they have significance; but if they do not give understanding, then they are valueless. Can a violent man become peaceful through the ideal of non-violence? Can I understand violence through the screen of my own idealism of non-violence? Must I not put aside the screen, the ideal, and examine my violence directly? And will the ideal help me to understand violence? This ia a very fundamental and important question. We ought to spend a little time on it, because the issues arising from it are very significant, and our whole social structure is based on this idealism which has no reality behind it.
Public Talk 29th February, 1948