Question: How is it possible to awaken thought in an organism wherein the mechanism requisite for the apprehension of abstract ideas is absent?
Krishnamurti: By the simple process of suffering; by the process of continual experience. But you see, we have taken such shelter behind false values that we have ceased to think at all, and then we ask, "What are we to do? How are we to awaken thought?" We have cultivated fears which have become glorified as virtues and ideals, behind which mind takes shelter, and all action proceeds from that shelter, from that mould. Therefore there is no thinking. You have conventions, and the adjusting of oneself to these conventions is called thought and action, which is not at all thought or action, because it is born of fear, and therefore cripples the mind.
How can you awaken thought? Circumstances, or the death of someone you love, or a catastrophe, or depression, force you into conflict. Circumstances, outer circumstances, force you to act, and in that compulsion there cannot be the awakening of thought, because you are acting through fear. And if you begin to see that you cannot wait for circumstances to force you to act, then you begin to observe the very circumstances themselves; then you begin to penetrate and understand the circumstances, the environment, You don't wait for depression to make you into a virtuous person, but you free your mind from possessiveness, from compulsion.
The acquisitive system is based on the idea that you can possess, and that it is legal to possess. Possession glorifies you. The more you have, the better, the nobler you are considered. You have created that system, and you have become a slave to that system. You can create another society, not based on acquisitiveness, and that society can compel you as individuals to conform to its conventions, just as this society compels you to conform to its acquisitiveness. What is the difference? None whatever. You as individuals are merely being forced by circumstances or law to act in a particular direction, and therefore there is no creative thinking at all; whereas if intelligence is beginning to function, then you are not a slave to either society, the acquisitive or the non-acquisitive. But to free the mind, there must be great intensity; there must be this continual alertness, observation, which itself creates conflict. This alertness itself produces a disturbance, and when there is that crisis, that intensity of conflict, then mind, if it is not escaping, begins to think anew, to think creatively, and that very thinking is eternity.
11th Public Talk 30th June, 1934