In a 1955 talk entitled “Can We Create a New Culture?” the philosopher J. Krishnamurti explores the need to transcend the conventions of the various cultures and societies into which we are socialized in order to achieve a break-through to knowledge, truth, and a positive change in world and civil affairs. The passage on how this affects even the solitary is a provocative one:
Can the man who belongs to society — it does not matter what society — ever find truth, God? Can society help the individual in that discovery, or must the individual, you and I, break away from society?
Surely it is in the very process of breaking away from society that there is the understanding of what is truth, and that truth then creates the ripples which become a new society, a new culture. The sannyasi, the monk, the hermit renounces the world, renounces society, but his whole pattern of thinking is still conditioned by society; he is still a Christian or a Hindu, pursuing the ideal of Christianity or of Hinduism. His meditations, his sacrifices, his practices, are all essentially conditioned and, therefore, what he discovers as truth, as God, as the absolute, is really his own conditioned reaction. Hence, society cannot help man to find out what is true.