Think on These Things
I DON'T KNOW IF on your walks you have noticed a long, narrow pool beside the river. Some fishermen must have dug it, and it is not connected with the river. The river is flowing steadily, deep and wide, but this pool is heavy with scum because it is not connected with the life of the river, and there are no fish in it. It is a stagnant pool, and the deep river, full of life and vitality, flows swiftly along.
Now, don't you think human beings are like that? They dig a little pool for themselves away from the swift current of life, and in that little pool they stagnate, die; and this stagnation, this decay we call existence. That is, we all want a state of permanency; we want certain desires to last for ever, we want pleasures to have no end. We dig a little hole and barricade ourselves in it with our families, with our ambitions, our cultures, our fears, our gods, our various forms of worship, and there we die, letting life go by - that life which is impermanent, constantly changing, which is so swift, which has such enormous depths, such extraordinary vitality and beauty.
Have you not noticed that if you sit quietly on the banks of the river you hear its song - the lapping of the water, the sound of the current going by? There is always a sense of movement, an extraordinary movement towards the wider and the deeper. But in the little pool there is no movement at all, its water is stagnant. And if you observe you will see that this is what most of us want: little stagnant pools of existence away from life. We say that our pool-existence is right, and we have invented a philosophy to justify it; we have developed social, political, economic and religious theories in support of it, and we don't want to be disturbed because, you see, what we are after is a sense of permanency. Do you know what it means to seek permanency? It means wanting the pleasurable to continue indefinitely and wanting that which is not pleasurable to end as quickly as possible. We want the name that we bear to be known and to continue through family through property. We want a sense of permanency in our relationships, in our activities, which means that we are seeking a lasting, continuous life in the stagnant pool; we don't want any real changes there, so we have built a society which guarantees us the permanency of property, of name, of fame.
But you see, life is not like that at all; life is not permanent. Like the leaves that fall from a tree, all things are impermanent, nothing endures; there is always change and death. Have you ever noticed a tree standing naked against the sky, how beautiful it is? All its branches are outlined, and in its nakedness there is a poem, there is a song. Every leaf is gone and it is waiting for the spring. When the spring comes it again fills the tree with the music of many leaves, which in due season fall and are blown away; and that is the way of life.
But we don't want anything of that kind. We cling to our children, to our traditions, to our society, to our names and our little virtues, because we want permanency; and that is why we are afraid to die. We are afraid to lose the things we know. But life is not what we would like it to be; life is not permanent at all. Birds die, snow melts away, trees are cut down or destroyed by storms, and so on. But we want everything that gives us satisfaction to be permanent; we want our position, the authority we have over people, to endure. We refuse to accept life as it is in fact.
The fact is that life is like the river: endlessly moving on, ever seeking, exploring, pushing, overflowing its banks, penetrating every crevice with its water. But, you see, the mind won't allow that to happen to itself. The mind sees that it is dangerous, risky to live in a state of impermanency, insecurity, so it builds a wall around itself: the wall of tradition, of organized religion, of political and social theories. Family, name, property, the little virtues that we have cultivated - these are all within the walls, away from life. Life is moving, impermanent, and it ceaselessly tries to penetrate, to break down these walls, behind which there is confusion and misery. The gods within the walls are all false gods, and their writings and philosophies have no meaning because life is beyond them.
Now, a mind that has no walls, that is not burdened with its own acquisitions, accumulations, with its own knowledge, a mind that lives timelessly, insecurely - to such a mind, life is an extraordinary thing. Such a mind is life itself, because life has no resting place. But most of us want a resting place; we want a little house, a name, a position, and we say these things are very important. We demand permanency and create a culture based on this demand, inventing gods which are not gods at all but merely a projection of our own desires.
A mind which is seeking permanency soon stagnates; like that pool along the river, it is soon full of corruption, decay. Only the mind which has no walls, no foothold, no barrier, no resting place, which is moving completely with life, timelessly pushing on, exploring, exploding - only such a mind can be happy, eternally new, because it is creative in itself.
Do you understand what I am talking about? You should, because all this is part of real education and, when you understand it, your whole life will be transformed, your relationship with the world, with your neighbour, with your wife or husband, will have a totally different meaning. Then you won't try to fulfil yourself through anything, seeing that the pursuit of fulfilment only invites sorrow and misery. That is why you should ask your teachers about all this and discuss it among yourselves. If you understand it, you will have begun to understand the extraordinary truth of what life is, and in that understanding there is great beauty and love, the flowering of goodness. But the efforts of a mind that is seeking a pool of security, of permanency, can only lead to darkness and corruption. Once established in the pool, such a mind is afraid to venture out, to seek, to explore; but truth, God, reality or what you will, lies beyond the pool.
Do you know what religion is? It is not the chant, it is not in the performance of puja, or any other ritual, it is not in the worship of tin gods or stone images, it is not in the temples and churches, it is not in the reading of the Bible or the Gita, it is not in the repeating of a sacred name or in the following of some other superstition invented by men. None of this is religion.
Religion is the feeling of goodness that love which is like the river living moving everlastingly. In that state you will find there comes a moment when there is no longer any search at all; and this ending of search is the beginning of something totally different. The search for God, for truth, the feeling of being completely good - not the cultivation of goodness, of humility, but the seeking out of something beyond the inventions and tricks of the mind, which means having a feeling for that something, living in it, being it - that is true religion. But you can do that only when you leave the pool you have dug for yourself and go out into the river of life. Then life has an astonishing way of taking care of you, because then there is no taking care on your part. Life carries you where it will because you are part of itself; then there is no problem of security, of what people say or don't say, and that is the beauty of life.
Questioner: What makes us fear death?
Krishnamurti: Do you think a leaf that falls to the ground is afraid of death? Do you think a bird lives in fear of dying? It meets death when death comes; but it is not concerned about death, it is much too occupied with living, with catching insects, building a nest, singing a song, flying for the very joy of flying. Have you ever watched birds soaring high up in the air without a beat of their wings, being carried along by the wind? How endlessly they seem to enjoy themselves! They are not concerned about death. If death comes, it is all right, they are finished. There is no concern about what is going to happen; they are living from moment to moment, are they not? It is we human beings who are always concerned about death - because we are not living. That is the trouble: we are dying, we are not living. The old people are near the grave, and the young ones are not far behind.
You see, there is this preoccupation with death because we are afraid to lose the known, the things that we have gathered. We are afraid to lose a wife or husband, a child or a friend; we are afraid to lose what we have learnt, accumulated. If we could carry over all the things that we have gathered - our friends our possessions, our virtues, our character - then we would not be afraid of death, would we? That is why we invent theories about death and the hereafter. But the fact is that death is an ending, and most of us are unwilling to face this fact. We don't want to leave the known; so it is our clinging to the known that creates fear in us, not the unknown. The unknown cannot be perceived by the known. But the mind, being made up of the known, says, "I am going to end", and therefore it is frightened.
Now, if you can live from moment to moment and not be concerned about the future, if you can live without the thought of tomorrow - which does not mean the superficiality of merely being occupied with today; if, being aware of the whole process of the known, you can, relinquish the known, let it go completely, then you will find that an astonishing thing takes place. Try it for a day - put aside everything you know, forget it, and just see what happens. Don't carry over your worries from day to day, from hour to hour, from moment to moment; let them all go, and you will see that out of this freedom there comes an extraordinary life that includes both living and dying. Death is only the ending of something, and in that very ending there is a renewing.
Questioner: It is said that in each one of us truth is permanent and timeless, but, since our life is transitory, how can there be truth in us?
Krishnamurti: You see, we have made of truth something permanent. And is truth permanent? If it is, then it is within the field of time. To say that something is permanent implies that it is continuous; and what is continuous is not truth. That is the beauty of truth: it must be discovered from moment to moment, not remembered. A remembered truth is a dead thing. Truth must be discovered from moment to moment because it is living, it is never the same; and yet each time you discover it, it is the same.
What is important is not to make a theory of truth, not to say that truth is permanent in us and all the rest of it - that is an invention of the old who are frightened both of death and of life. These marvellous theories - that truth is permanent, that you need not be afraid because you are an immortal soul, and so on - have been invented by frightened people whose minds are decaying and whose philosophies have no validity. The fact is that truth is life, and life has no permanency. Life has to be discovered from moment to moment, from day to day; it has to be discovered, it cannot be taken for granted. If you take it for granted that you know life, you are not living. Three meals a day, clothing, shelter, sex, your job, your amusement and your thinking process - that dull, repetitive process is not life. Life is something to be discovered; and you cannot discover it if you have not lost, if you have not put aside the things that you have found. Do experiment with what I am saying. Put aside your philosophies, your religions, your customs, your racial taboos and all the rest of it, for they are not life. If you are caught in those things you will never discover life; and the function of education, surely, is to help you to discover life all the time.
A man who says he knows is already dead. But the man who thinks, "I don't know", who is discovering, finding out, who is not seeking an end, not thinking in terms of arriving or becoming - such a man is living, and that living is truth.
Questioner: Can I get an idea of perfection?
Krishnamurti: Probably you can. By speculating, inventing, projecting, by saying, "This is ugly and that is perfect", you will have an idea of perfection. But your idea of perfection, like your belief in God, has no meaning. Perfection is something that is lived in an unpremeditated moment, and that moment has no continuity; therefore perfection cannot be thought out, nor can a way be found to make it permanent. Only the mind that is very quiet, that is not premeditating, inventing, projecting, can know a moment of perfection, a moment that is complete.
Questioner: Why do we want to take revenge by hurting another who has hurt us?
Krishnamurti: It is the instinctive, survival response, is it not? Whereas, the intelligent mind, the mind that is awake, that has thought about it very deeply, feels no desire to strike back - not because it is trying to be virtuous or to cultivate forgiveness, but because it perceives that to strike back is silly, it has no meaning at all. But you see, that requires meditation.
Questioner: I have fun in teasing others, but I myself get angry when teased.
Krishnamurti: I am afraid it is the same with older people. Most of us like to exploit others, but we don't like it when we in our turn are exploited. Wanting to hurt or to annoy others is a most thoughtless state, is it not? It arises from a life of self-centredness. Neither you nor the other fellow likes being teased, so why don't you both stop teasing? That means being thoughtful.
Questioner: What is the work of man?
Krishnamurti: What do you think it is? Is it to study, pass examinations, get a job and do it for the rest of your life? Is it to go to the temple, join groups, launch various reforms? Is it man's work to kill animals for his own food? Is it man's work to build a bridge for the train to cross, to dig wells in a dry land, to find oil, to climb mountains, to conquer the earth and the air, to write poems, to paint, to love, to hate? Is all this the work of man? Building civilizations that come toppling down in a few centuries, bringing about wars, creating God in one's own image, killing people in the name of religion or the State, talking of peace and brotherhood while usurping power and being ruthless to others - this is what man is doing all around you, is it not? And is this the true work of man?
You can see that all this work leads to destruction and misery, to chaos and despair. Great luxuries exist side by side with extreme poverty; disease and starvation, with refrigerators and jet planes. All this is the work of man; and when you see it don't you ask yourself, "Is that all? Is there not something else which is the true work of man?" If we can find out what is the true work of man, then jet planes, washing machines, bridges, hostels will all have an entirely different meaning; but without finding out what is the true work of man merely to indulge in reforms, in reshaping what man has already done, will lead nowhere.
So, what is the true work of man? Surely, the true work of man is to discover truth, God; it is to love and not to be caught in his own self-enclosing activities. In the very discovery of what is true there is love, and that love in man's relationship with man will create a different civilization, a new world.
Questioner: Why do we worship God?
Krishnamurti: I am afraid we don't worship God. Don't laugh. You see, we don't love God; if we did love God, there would not be this thing we call worship. We worship God because we are frightened of him; there is fear in our hearts, not love. The temple, the puja, the sacred thread - these things are not of God, they are the creations of man's vanity and fear. It is only the unhappy, the frightened who worship God. Those who have wealth, position and authority are not happy people. An ambitious man is a most unhappy human being. Happiness comes only when you are free of all that - and then you do not worship God. It is the miserable, the tortured, those who are in despair that crawl to a temple; but if they put aside this so-called worship and understand their misery, then they will be happy men and women, for they will discover what truth is, what God is.
HAVE YOU EVER paid any attention to the ringing of the temple bells? Now, what do you listen to? To the notes, or to the silence between the notes? If there were no silence, would there be notes? And if you listened to the silence, would not the notes be more penetrating, of a different quality? But you see, we rarely pay real attention to anything; and I think it is important to find out what it means to pay attention. When your teacher is explaining a problem in mathematics, or when you are reading history, or when a friend is talking, telling you a story, or when you are near the river and hear the lapping of the water on the bank, you generally pay very little attention; and if we could find out what it means to pay attention, perhaps learning would then have quite a different significance and become much easier.
When your teacher tells you to pay attention in class, what does he mean? He means that you must not look out of the window, that you must withdraw your attention from everything else and concentrate wholly on what you are supposed to be studying. Or, when you are absorbed in a novel, your whole mind is so concentrated on it that for the moment you have lost interest in everything else. That is another form of attention. So, in the ordinary sense, paying attention is a narrowing-down process, is it not?
Now, I think there is a different kind of attention altogether. The attention which is generally advocated, practised or indulged in is a narrowing-down of the mind to a point, which is a process of exclusion. When you make an effort to pay attention, you are really resisting something - the desire to look out of the window, to see who is coming in, and so on. Part of your energy has already gone in resistance. You build a wall around your mind to make it concentrate completely on a particular thing, and you call this the disciplining of the mind to pay attention. You try to exclude from the mind every thought but the one on which you want it to be wholly concentrated. That is what most people mean by paying attention. But I think there is a different kind of attention, a state of mind which is not exclusive, which does not shut out anything; and because there is no resistance, the mind is capable of much greater attention. But attention without resistance does not mean the attention of absorption.
The kind of attention which I would like to discuss is entirely different from what we usually mean by attention, and it has immense possibilities because it is not exclusive. When you concentrate on a subject, on a talk, on a conversation, consciously or unconsciously you build a wall of resistance against the intrusion of other thoughts, and so your mind is not wholly there; it is only partially there, however much attention you pay, because part of your mind is resisting any intrusion, any deviation or distraction.
Let us begin the other way round. Do you know what distraction is? You want to pay attention to what you are reading, but your mind is distracted by some noise outside and you look out of the window. When you want to concentrate on something and your mind wanders off, the wandering off is called distraction, then part of your mind resists the so-called distraction, and there is a waste of energy in that resistance. Whereas, if you are aware of every movement of the mind from moment to moment, then there is no such thing as distraction at any time and the energy of the mind is not wasted in resisting something. So it is important to find out what attention really is.
If you listen both to the sound of the bell and to the silence between its strokes, the whole of that listening is attention. Similarly, when someone is speaking, attention is the giving of your mind not only to the words but also to the silence between the words. If you experiment with this you will find that your mind can pay complete attention without distraction and without resistance. When you discipline your mind by saying, "I must not look out of the window, I must not watch the people coming in, I must pay attention even though I want to do something else", it creates a division which is very destructive because it dissipates the energy of the mind. But if you listen comprehensively so that there is no division and therefore no form of resistance then you will find that the mind can pay complete attention to anything without effort. Do you see it? Am I making myself clear?
Surely, to discipline the mind to pay attention is to bring about its deterioration - which does not mean that the mind must restlessly wander all over the place like a monkey. But, apart from the attention of absorption, these two states are all we know. Either we try to discipline the mind so tightly that it cannot deviate, or we just let it wander from one thing to another. Now, what I am describing is not a compromise between the two; on the contrary, it has nothing to do with either. It is an entirely different approach; it is to be totally aware so that your mind is all the time attentive without being caught in the process of exclusion.
Try what I am saying, and you will see how quickly your mind can learn. You can hear a song or a sound and let the mind be so completely full of it that there is not the effort of learning. After all, if you know how to listen to what your teacher is telling you about some historical fact, if you can listen without any resistance because your mind has space and silence and is therefore not distracted, you will be aware not only of the historical fact but also of the prejudice with which he may be translating it, and of your own inward response.
I will tell you something. You know what space is. There is space in this room. The distance between here and your hostel, between the bridge and your home, between this bank of the river and the other - all that is space. Now, is there also space in your mind? Or is it so crowded that there is no space in it at all? If your mind has space, then in that space there is silence - and from that silence everything else comes, for then you can listen, you can pay attention without resistance. That is why it is very important to have space in the mind. If the mind is not overcrowded, not ceaselessly occupied, then it can listen to that dog barking, to the sound of a train crossing the distant bridge, and also be fully aware of what is being said by a person talking here. Then the mind is a living thing, it is not dead.
Questioner: Yesterday after the meeting we saw you watching two peasant children, typically poor, playing by the roadside. We would like to know what sentiments arose in your mind while you were looking at them.
Krishnamurti: Yesterday afternoon several of the students met me on the road, and soon after I left them I saw the gardener's two children playing. The questioner wants to know what feelings I had while I was watching those two children.
Now, what feelings do you have when you observe poor children? That is more important to find out than what I may have felt. Or are you always so busy going to your hostel or to your class that you never observe them at all?
Now, when you observe those poor women carrying a heavy load to the market, or watch the peasant children playing in the mud with very little else to play with, who will not have the education that you are getting, who have no proper home, no cleanliness, insufficient clothing, inadequate food - when you observe all that, what is your reaction? It is very important to find out for yourself what your reaction is. I will tell you what mine was.
Those children have no proper place to sleep; the father and the mother are occupied all day long, with never a holiday; the children never know what it is to be loved, to be cared for; the parents never sit down with them and tell them stories about the beauty of the earth and the heavens. And what kind of society is it that has produced these circumstances - where there are immensely rich people who have everything on earth they want, and at the same time there are boys and girls who have nothing? What kind of society is it, and how has it come into being? You may revolutionize, break the pattern of this society, but in the very breaking of it a new one is born which is again the same thing in another form - the commissars with their special houses in the country, the privileges, the uniforms, and so on down the line. This has happened after every revolution, the French, the Russian and the Chinese. And is it possible to create a society in which all this corruption and misery does not exist? It can be created only when you and I as individuals break away from the collective, when we are free of ambition and know what it means to love. That was my whole reaction, in a flash.
But did you listen to what I said?
Questioner: How can the mind listen to several things at the same time?
Krishnamurti: That is not what I was talking about. There are people who can concentrate on many things at the same time - which is merely a matter of training the mind. I am not talking about that at all. I am talking about a mind that has no resistance, that can listen because it has the space, the silence from which all thought can spring.
Questioner: Why do we like to be lazy?
Krishnamurti: What is wrong with laziness? What is wrong with just sitting still and listening to a distant sound come nearer and nearer? Or lying in bed of a morning and watching the birds in a nearby tree, or a single leaf dancing in the breeze when all the other leaves are very still? What is wrong with that? We condemn laziness because we think it is wrong to be lazy; so let us find out what we mean by laziness. If you are feeling well and yet stay in bed after a certain hour, some people may call you lazy. If you don't want to play or study because you lack energy, or for other health reasons, that again may be called laziness by somebody. But what really is laziness?
When the mind is unaware of its reactions, of its own subtle movements, such a mind is lazy, ignorant. If you can't pass examinations, if you haven't read many books and have very little information, that is not ignorance. Real ignorance is having no knowledge of yourself, no perception of how your mind works, of what your motives, your responses are. Similarly, there is laziness when the mind is asleep. And most people's minds are asleep. They are drugged by knowledge, by the Scriptures, by what Shankara or somebody else has said. They follow a philosophy, practise a discipline, so their minds - which should be rich, full, overflowing like the river - are made narrow, dull, weary. Such a mind is lazy. And a mind that is ambitious, that pursues a result, is not active in the true sense of the word; though it may be superficially active, pushing, working all day to get what it wants, underneath it is heavy with despair, with frustration.
So one must be very watchful to find out if one is really lazy. Don't just accept it if people tell you that you are lazy. Find out for yourself what laziness is. The man who merely accepts, rejects or imitates, the man who, being afraid, digs a little rut for himself - such a man is lazy and therefore his mind deteriorates, goes to pieces. But a man who is watchful is not lazy, even though he may often sit very quietly and observe the trees, the birds, the people, the stars and the silent river.
Questioner: You say that we should revolt against society, and at the same time you say that we should not have ambition. Is not the desire to improve society an ambition?
Krishnamurti: I have very carefully explained what I mean by revolt, but I shall use two different words to make it much clearer. To revolt within society in order to make it a little better, to bring about certain reforms, is like the revolt of prisoners to improve their life within the prison walls; and such revolt is no revolt at all, it is just mutiny. Do you see the difference? Revolt within society is like the mutiny of prisoners who want better food, better treatment within the prison; but revolt born of understanding is an individual breaking away from society, and that is creative revolution.
Now, if you as an individual break away from society, is that action motivated by ambition? If it is, then you have not broken away at all, you are still within the prison, because the very basis of society is ambition, acquisitiveness, greed. But if you understand all that and bring about a revolution in your own heart and mind, then you are no longer ambitious, you are no longer motivated by envy, greed, acquisitiveness, and therefore you will be entirely outside of a society which is based on those things. Then you are a creative individual and in your action there will be the seed of a different culture.
So there is a vast difference between the action of creative revolution, and the action of revolt or mutiny within society. As long as you are concerned with mere reform, with decorating the bars and walls of the prison, you are not creative. Reformation always needs further reform, it only brings more misery, more destruction. Whereas, the mind that understands this whole structure of acquisitiveness, of greed, of ambition and breaks away from it - such a mind is in constant revolution. It is an expansive, a creative mind; therefore, like a stone thrown into a pool of still water, its action produces waves, and those waves will form a different civilization altogether.
Questioner: Why do I hate myself when I don't study?
Krishnamurti: Listen to the question. Why do I hate myself when I don't study as I am supposed to? Why do I hate myself when I am not nice, as I should be? In other words, why don't I live up to my ideals?
Now, would it not be much simpler not to have ideals at all? If you had no ideals, would you then have any reason to hate yourself? So why do you say, "I must be kind, I must be generous, I must pay attention, I must study"? If you can find out why, and be free of ideals, then perhaps you will act quite differently - which I shall presently go into.
So, why do you have ideals? First of all, because people have always told you that if you don't have ideals you are a worthless boy. Society, whether it is according to the communist pattern or the capitalist pattern, says, "This is the ideal", and you accept it, you try to live up to it, do you not? Now, before you try to live up to any ideal, should you not find out whether it is necessary to have ideals at all? Surely, that would make far more sense. You have the ideal of Rama and Sita, and so many other ideals which society has given you or which you have invented for yourself. Do you know why you have them? Because you are afraid to be what you are. Let us keep it simple, don't let us complicate it. You are afraid to be what you are - which means that you have no confidence in yourself. That is why you try to be what society, what your parents and your religion tell you that you should be.
Now, why are you afraid to be what you are? Why don't you start with what you are and not with what you should be? Without understanding what you are, merely to try to change it into what you think you should be has no meaning. Therefore scrap all ideals. I know the older people won't like this, but it doesn't matter. Scrap all ideals, drown them in the river, throw them into the wastepaper basket, and start with what you are - which is what?
You are lazy, you don't want to study, you want to play games, you want to have a good time, like all young people. Start with, that. Use your mind to examine what you mean when you talk about having a good time - find out what is actually involved in it, don't go by what your parents or your ideals say. Use your mind to discover why you don't want to study. Use your mind to find out what you want to do in life - what you want to do, not what society or some ideal tells you to do. If you give your whole being to this inquiry, then you are a revolutionary; then you have the confidence to create, to be what you are, and in that there is an ever renewing vitality. But the other way you are dissipating your energy in trying to be like somebody else.
Don't you see, it is really an extraordinary thing that you are so afraid to be what you are; because beauty lies in being what you are. If you see that you are lazy, that you are stupid, and if you understand laziness and come face to face with stupidity without trying to change it into something else, then in that state you will find there is an enormous release, there is great beauty, great intelligence.
Questioner: Even if we do create a new society by revolting against the present one, isn't this creation of a new society still another form of ambition.
Krishnamurti: I am afraid you did not listen to what I said. When the mind revolts within the pattern of society, such a revolt is like a mutiny in a prison, and it is merely another form of ambition. But when the mind understands this whole destructive process of the present society and steps out of it, then its action is not ambitious. Such action may create a new culture, a better social order, a different world, but the mind is not concerned with that creation. Its only concern is to discover what is true; and it is the movement of truth that creates a new world, not the mind which is in revolt against society.
I WONDER HOW MANY of you noticed the rainbow last evening? It was just over the water, and one came upon it suddenly. It was a beautiful thing to behold, and it gave one a great sense of joy, an awareness of the vastness and beauty of the earth. To communicate such joy one must have a knowledge of words, the rhythm and beauty of right language, mustn't one? But what is far more important is the feeling itself, the ecstasy that comes with the deep appreciation of something lovely; and this feeling cannot be awakened through the mere cultivation of knowledge or memory.
You see, we must have knowledge to communicate, to tell each other about something; and to cultivate knowledge there must be memory. Without knowledge you cannot fly an airplane, you cannot build a bridge or a lovely house, you cannot construct great roads, look after trees, care for animals and do the many other things that a civilized man must do. To generate electricity, to work in the various sciences, to help man through medicine, and so on - for all this you must have knowledge, information, memory, and in these matters it is necessary to receive the best possible instruction. That is why it is very important that you should have technically first-class teachers to give you right information and help you to cultivate a thorough knowledge of various subjects.
But, you see, while knowledge is necessary at one level, at another level it becomes a hindrance. There is a great deal of knowledge available about physical existence, and it is being added to, all the time. It is essential to have such knowledge and to utilize it for the benefit of man. But is there not another kind of knowledge which, at the psychological level becomes a hindrance to the discovery of what is true? After all, knowledge is a form of tradition, is it not? And tradition is the cultivation of memory. Tradition in mechanical affairs is essential, but when tradition is used as a means of guiding man inwardly, it becomes a hindrance to the discovery of greater things.
We rely on knowledge, on memory in mechanical things and in our everyday living. Without knowledge we would not be able drive a car, we would be incapable of doing many things. But knowledge is a hindrance when it becomes a tradition, a belief which guides the mind, the psyche, the inward being; and it also divides people. Have you noticed how people all over the world are divided into groups, calling themselves Hindus, Moslems, Buddhists, Christians, and so on? What divides them? Not the investigations of science, not the knowledge of agriculture, of how to build bridges or fly jet planes. What divides people is tradition, beliefs which condition the mind in a certain way.
So knowledge is a hindrance when it has become a tradition which shapes or conditions the mind to a particular pattern, because then it not only divides people and creates enmity between them, but it also prevents the deep discovery of what is truth, what is life, what is God. To discover what is God, the mind must be free of all tradition, of all accumulation, of all knowledge which it uses as a psychological safeguard.
The function of education is to give the student abundant knowledge in the various fields of human endeavour and at the same time to free his mind from all tradition so that he is able to investigate, to find out, to discover. Otherwise the mind becomes mechanical, burdened with the machinery of knowledge. Unless it is constantly freeing itself from the accumulations of tradition, the mind is incapable of discovering the Supreme, that which is eternal; but it must obviously acquire expanding knowledge and information so that it is capable of dealing with the things that man needs and must produce.
So knowledge, which is the cultivation of memory, is useful and necessary at a certain level, but at another level it becomes a detriment. To recognize the distinction - to see where knowledge is destructive and has to be put aside, and where it is essential and to be allowed to function with as much amplitude as possible - is the beginning of intelligence.
Now, what is happening in education at the present time? You are being given various kinds of knowledge, are you not? When you go to college you may become an engineer, a doctor, or a lawyer, you may take a Ph.D. in mathematics or in some other branch of knowledge, you may study domestic science and learn how to keep house, how to cook, and so on; but nobody helps you to be free of all traditions so that from the very beginning your mind is fresh, eager and therefore capable of discovering something totally new all the time. The philosophies, theories and beliefs which you acquire from books, and which become your tradition, are really a hindrance to the mind, because the mind uses these things as a means of its own psychological security and is therefore conditioned by them. So it is necessary both to free the mind from all tradition, and at the same time to cultivate knowledge, technique; and this is the function of education.
The difficulty is to free the mind from the known so that it can discover what is new all the time. A great mathematician once told of how he had been working on a problem for a number of days and could not find the solution. One morning, as he was taking a walk as usual, he suddenly saw the answer. What had happened? His mind, being quiet, was free to look at the problem, and the problem itself revealed the answer. One must have information about a problem, but the mind must be free of that information to find the answer.
Most of us learn facts, gather information or knowledge, but the mind never learns how to be quiet, how to be free from all the turmoils of life, from the soil in which problems take root. We join societies, adhere to some philosophy, give ourselves over to a belief, but all this is utterly useless because it does not solve our human problems. On the contrary, it brings greater misery, greater sorrow. What is needed is not philosophy or belief, but for the mind to be free to investigate, to discover and to be creative. You cram up to pass examinations, you gather a lot of information and write it all out to get a degree, hoping to find a job and get married; and is that all? You have acquired knowledge, technique, but your mind is not free, so you become a slave to the existing system - which really means that you are not a creative human being. You may have children, you may paint a few pictures or write an occasional poem, but surely that is not creativeness. There must first be freedom of the mind for creativeness to take place, and then technique can be used to express that creativeness. But to have the technique is meaningless without a creative mind, without the extraordinary creativeness which comes with the discovery of what is true. Unfortunately most of us do not know this creativeness because we have burdened our minds with knowledge, tradition, memory, with what Shankara, Buddha, Mao or some other person has said. Whereas, if your mind is free to discover what is true, then you will find that there comes an abundant and incorruptible richness in which there is great joy. Then all one's relationships - with people, with ideas and with things - have quite a different meaning.
Questioner: Will the naughty boy change through punishment or through love?
Krishnamurti: What do you think? Listen very carefully to the question; think it out, feel it out. Will a naughty boy change through punishment or through love? If he changes through punishment, which is a form of compulsion, is that change? You are a bigger person, you have authority as the teacher or the parent, and if you threaten him, frighten him, the poor chap may do as you say; but is that change? Is there change through any form of compulsion? Can there ever be change through legislation, through any form of fear?
And, when you ask if love will bring about a change in the naughty boy, what do you mean by that word `love'? If to love is to understand the boy - not to change him, but to understand the causes that are producing naughtiness - then that very understanding will bring about in him the cessation of naughtiness.
If I want to change the boy so that he will stop being naughty, my very desire to change him is a form of compulsion, is it not? But if I begin to understand why he is naughty, if I can discover and eradicate the causes that are producing naughtiness in him - it may be wrong food, a lack of sleep, want of affection, the fact that he is being teased by another boy and so on - then the boy will not be naughty. But if my desire is merely to change the boy, which is wanting him to fit into a particular pattern, then I cannot understand him.
You see, this brings up the problem of what we mean by change. Even if the boy ceases to be naughty because of your love for him, which is a kind of influence, is that a real change It may be love, but it is still a form of pressure on him to do or be something. And when you say a boy must change, what do you mean by that? Change from what to what? From what he is to what he should be? If he changes to what he should be, has he not merely modified what he was, and therefore it is no change at all?
To put it differently, if I am greedy and I become non-greedy because you and society and the sacred books all tell me that I must do so, have I changed, or am I merely calling greed by a different name? Whereas, if I am capable of investigating and understanding the whole problem of my greed, then I shall be free of it - which is entirely different from becoming greedy.
Questioner: How is one to become intelligent?
Krishnamurti: The moment you try to become intelligent, you cease to be intelligent. This is really important, so give your mind to it a little bit. If I am stupid and everybody tells me that I must become intelligent, what generally happens? I struggle to become intelligent, I study more, I try to get better marks. Then people say, "He is working harder," and pat me on the back; but I continue to be stupid because I have only acquired the trimmings of intelligence. So the problem is not how to become intelligent, but how to be free of stupidity. If, being stupid, I try to become intelligent, I am still functioning stupidly.
You see, the basic problem is that of change. When you ask, "What is intelligence and how is one to become intelligent?" it implies a concept of what intelligence is, and then you try to become like that concept. Now, to have a formula, a theory or concept of what intelligence is, and to try to mould yourself according to that pattern, is foolish, is it not? Whereas, if one is dull and begins to find out what dullness is without any desire to change it into something else, without saying, "I am dull, stupid, how terrible!", then one will find that in unravelling the problem there comes an intelligence freed of stupidity, and without effort.
Questioner: I am a Moslem. If I don't follow daily the traditions of my religion, my parents threaten to turn me out of the house. What should I do?
Krishnamurti: You who are not Moslems will probably advise the questioner to leave home, will you not? But regardless of the label you wear - Hindu, Parsi, communist Christian, or what you will - the same thing applies to you, so don't feel superior and ride the high horse. If you tell your parents that their traditions are really old superstitions, they also may turn you out of the house.
Now, if you were raised in a particular religion and your father says that you must leave home unless you observe certain practices which you now see to be old superstitions, what are you going to do? It depends on how vitally you don't want to follow the old superstitions, does it not? Will you say, "I have thought about the matter a great deal, and I think that to call oneself a Moslem, a Hindu, a Buddhist, a Christian, or any of these things, is nonsense. If for this reason I must leave home, I will. I am ready to face whatever life brings, even misery and death, because this is what I feel to be right and I am going to stand by it" - will you say that? If you don't, you will just be swallowed by tradition, by the collective. So, what are you going to do? If education does not give you that kind of confidence, then what is the purpose of education. Is it merely to prepare you to get a job and fit into a society which is obviously destructive? Don't say, "Only a few can break away, and I am not strong enough". Anyone can break away who puts his mind to it. To understand and withstand the pressure of tradition you must have, not strength, but confidence - the tremendous confidence which comes when you know how to think things out for yourself. But you see, your education does not teach you how to think; it tells you what to think. You are told that you are a Moslem, a Hindu, a Christian, this or that. But it is the function of right education to help you to think for yourself, so that out of your own thinking you feel immense confidence. Then you are a creative human being and not a slavish machine.
Questioner: You tell us that there should be no resistance in paying attention. How can this be?
Krishnamurti: I have said that any form of resistance is inattention, distraction. Don't accept it, think it over. Don't accept anything, it does not matter who says it, but investigate the matter for yourself. If you merely accept, you become mechanical dull, you are already dead; but if you investigate, if you think things out for yourself, then you are alive, vital, a creative human being.
Now, can you pay attention to what is being said and at the same time be aware that somebody is coming in, without turning your head to see who it is and without any resistance against turning your head? If you resist turning your head to look, your attention has already gone and you are wasting your mental energy in that resistance. So, can there be a state of total attention in which there is no distraction and therefore no resistance? That is, can you pay attention to something with your whole being and yet keep the outside of your consciousness sensitive to all that is happening about you and within yourself? You see, the mind is an extraordinary instrument, it is constantly absorbing - seeing various forms and colours, receiving innumerable impressions, catching the meaning of words, the significance of a glance, and so on; and our problem is to pay attention to something while at the same time keeping the mind really sensitive to everything that is going on, including all the unconscious impressions and responses.
What I am saying really involves the whole problem of meditation. We cannot enter into that now; but if one doesn't know how to meditate, one is not a mature human being. Meditation is one of the most important things in life - far more important than passing examinations to get a degree. To understand what is right meditation is not to practise meditation. The `practice' of anything in spiritual matters is deadly. To understand what is right meditation there must be an awareness of the operations of one's own consciousness, and then there is complete attention. But complete attention is not possible when there is any form of resistance. You see, most of us are educated to pay attention through resistance, and so our attention is always partial, never complete - and that is why learning becomes tedious, boring, a fearful thing. Therefore it is very important to pay attention in the deep sense of the word, which is to be aware of the workings of one's own mind. Without self-knowledge you cannot pay complete attention. That is why, in a real school, the student must not only be taught various subjects but also helped to be aware of the process of his own thinking. In understanding himself he will know what it is to pay attention without resistance, for the understanding of oneself is the way of meditation.
Questioner: Why are we interested in asking questions?
Krishnamurti: Very simple: because one is curious. Don't you want to know how to play cricket or football, or how to fly a kite? The moment you stop asking questions you are already dead - which is generally what has happened to older people. They have ceased to inquire because their minds are burdened with information, with what others have said; they have accepted and are fixed in tradition. As long as you ask questions you are breaking through, but the moment you begin to accept, you are psychologically dead. So right through life don't accept a thing, but inquire, investigate. Then you will find that your mind is something really extraordinary, it has no end, and to such a mind there is no death.
THAT GREEN FIELD with mustard-yellow flowers and a stream running through it is a lovely thing to look upon, is it not? Yesterday evening I was watching it, and in seeing the extraordinary beauty and quietness of the countryside one invariably asks oneself what is beauty. There is an immediate response to that which is lovely and also to that which is ugly, the response of pleasure or of pain, and we put that feeling into words saying, "This is beautiful" or "This is ugly". But what matters is not the pleasure or the pain; rather, it is to be in communion with everything, to be sensitive both to the ugly and the beautiful.
Now, what is beauty? This is one of the most fundamental questions, it is not superficial, so don't brush it aside. To understand what beauty is, to have that sense of goodness which comes when the mind and heart are in communion with something lovely without any hindrance so that one feels completely at ease - surely, this has great significance in life; and until we know this response to beauty our lives will be very shallow. One may be surrounded by great beauty, by mountains and fields and rivers, but unless one is alive to it all one might just as well be dead.
You girls and boys and older people just put to yourselves this question: what is beauty? Cleanliness, tidiness of dress, a smile, a graceful gesture, the rhythm of walking, a flower in your hair, good manners, clarity of speech, thoughtfulness, being considerate of others, which includes punctuality - all this is part of beauty; but it is only on the surface, is it not? And is that all there is to beauty, or is there something much deeper?
There is beauty of form, beauty of design, beauty of life. Have you observed the lovely shape of a tree when it is in full foliage, or the extraordinary delicacy of a tree naked against the sky? Such things are beautiful to behold, but they are all the superficial expressions of something much deeper. So what is it that we call beauty?
You may have a beautiful face, clean-cut features, you may dress with good taste and have polished manners, you may paint well or write about the beauty of the landscape, but without this inward sense of goodness all the external appurtenances lead to a very superficial, sophisticated life, life without much significance.
So we must find out what beauty really is, must we not? Mind you, I am not saying that we should avoid the outward expressions of beauty. We must all have good manners, we must be physically clean and dress tastefully, without ostentation, we must be punctual, clear in our speech, and all the rest of it. These things are necessary and they create a pleasant atmosphere; but by themselves they have not much significance.
It is inward beauty that gives grace, an exquisite gentleness to outward form and movement. And what is this inward beauty without which one's life is very shallow? Have you ever thought about it? Probably not. You are too busy, your minds are too occupied with study, with play, with talking, laughing and teasing each other. But to help you to discover what is inward beauty, without which outward form and movement have very little meaning, is one of the functions of right education; and the deep appreciation of beauty is an essential part of your own life.
Can a shallow mind appreciate beauty? It may talk about beauty; but can it experience this welling up of immense joy upon looking at something that is really lovely? When the mind is merely concerned with itself and its own activities, it is not beautiful; whatever it does, it remains ugly, limited, therefore it is incapable of knowing what beauty is. Whereas, a mind that is not concerned with itself, that is free of ambition, a mind that not caught up in its own desires or driven by its own pursuit of success - such a mind is not shallow, and it flowers in goodness. Do you understand? It is this inward goodness that gives beauty even to a so-called ugly face. When there is inward goodness the ugly face is transformed, for inward goodness is really a deeply religious feeling. Do you know what it is to be religious? It has nothing to do with temple bells, though they sound nice in the distance, nor with pujas, nor with the ceremonies of the priests and all the rest of the ritualistic nonsense. To be religious is to be sensitive to reality. Your total being - body, mind and heart - is sensitive to beauty and to ugliness, to the donkey tied to a post, to the poverty and filth in this town, to laughter and tears, to everything about you. From this sensitivity for the whole of existence springs goodness, love; and without this sensitivity there is no beauty, though you may have talent, be very well dressed, ride in an expensive car and be scrupulously clean.
Love is something extraordinary, is it not? You cannot love if you are thinking about yourself - which does not mean that you must think about somebody else. Love is, it has no object. The mind that loves is really a religious mind because it is in the movement of reality, of truth, of God, and it is only such a mind that can know what beauty is. The mind that is not caught in any philosophy, that is not enclosed in any system or belief, that is not driven by its own ambition and is therefore sensitive, alert, watchful - such a mind has beauty.
It is very important while you are young to learn to be tidy and clean, to sit well without restless movement, to have good table manners and to be considerate, punctual; but all these things, however necessary, are superficial, and if you merely cultivate the superficial without understanding the deeper thing, you will never know the real significance of beauty. A mind that does not belong to any nation, group or society, that has no authority, that is not motivated by ambition or held by fear - such a mind is always flowering in love and goodness. Because it is in the movement of reality, it knows what beauty is; being sensitive to both the ugly and the beautiful, it is a creative mind, it has limitless understanding.
Questioner: If I have an ambition in childhood, will I be able to fulfil it as I grow up?
Krishnamurti: A childhood ambition is generally not very enduring, is it? A little boy wants to be an engine driver; or he sees a jet plane go flashing across the sky and he wants to be a pilot; or he hears some political orator and wants to be like him, or sees a sannyasi and decides to become one too. A girl may want to have many children, or be the wife of a rich man and live in a big house, or she may aspire to paint or to write poems.
Now, will childhood dreams be fulfilled? And are dreams worth fulfilling? To seek the fulfilment of any desire, no matter what it is, always brings sorrow. Perhaps you have not yet noticed this, but you will as you grow up. Sorrow is the shadow of desire. If I want to be rich or famous, I struggle to reach my goal, pushing others aside and creating enmity; and, even though I may get what I want, sooner or later something invariably happens. I fall ill, or in the very fulfilling of my desire I long for something more; and there is always death lurking around the corner. Ambition, desire and fulfilment lead inevitably to frustration, sorrow. You can watch this process for yourself. Study the older people around you, the men who are famous, who are great in the land, those who have made names for themselves and have power. Look at their faces; see how sad, or how fat and pompous they are. Their faces have ugly lines. They don't flower in goodness because in their hearts there is sorrow.
Is it not possible to live in this world without ambition just being what you are? If you begin to understand what you are without trying to change it, then what you are undergoes a transformation. I think one can live in this world anonymously, completely unknown, without being famous, ambitious, cruel. One can live very happily when no importance is given to the self; and this also is part of right education.
The whole world is worshipping success. You hear stories of how the poor boy studied at night and eventually became a judge, or how he began by selling newspapers and ended up a multimillionaire. You are fed on the glorification of success. With the achievement of great success there is also great sorrow; but most of us are caught up in the desire to achieve, and success is much more important to us than the understanding and dissolution of sorrow.
Questioner: In the present social system is it not very difficult to put into action what you are talking about?
Krishnamurti: When you feel very strongly about something, do you consider it difficult to put it into action? When you are keen to play cricket, you play it with your whole being, don't you? And do you call it difficult? It is only when you don't totally feel the truth of something that you say it is difficult to put it into action. You don't love it. That which you love you do with ardour, there is joy in it, and then what society or what your parents may say does not matter. But if you are not deeply convinced, if you do not feel free and happy in doing what you think is right, surely your interest in it is false, unreal; therefore it becomes mountainous and you say it is difficult to put it into action.
In doing what you love to do there will of course be difficulties, but that won't matter to you, it is part of life. You see, we have made a philosophy of difficulty, we consider it a virtue to make effort, to struggle, to oppose.
I am not talking of proficiency through effort and struggle, but of the love of doing something. But don't battle against society, don't tackle dead tradition, unless you have this love in you, for your struggle will be meaningless, and you will merely create more mischief. Whereas, if you deeply feel what is right and can therefore stand alone, then your action born of love will have extraordinary significance, it will have vitality, beauty.
You know, it is only in a very quiet mind that great things are born; and a quiet mind does not come about through effort, through control, through discipline.
Questioner: What do you mean by a total change, and how can it be realized in one's own being?
Krishnamurti: Do you think there can be a total change if you try to bring it about? Do you know what change is? Suppose you are ambitious and you have begun to see all that is involved in ambition: hope, satisfaction, frustration, cruelty, sorrow, inconsideration, greed, envy, an utter lack of love. Seeing all this, what are you to do? To make an effort to change or transform ambition is another form of ambition, is it not? It implies a desire to be something else. You may reject one desire, but in that very process you cultivate another desire which also brings sorrow.
Now, if you see that ambition brings sorrow, and that the desire to put an end to ambition also brings sorrow, if you see the truth of this very clearly for yourself and do not act, but allow the truth to act, then that truth brings about a fundamental change in the mind, a total revolution. But this requires a great deal of attention, penetration, insight.
When you are told, as you all are, that you should be good, that you should love, what generally happens? You say, "I must practise being good, I must show love to my parents, to the servant, to the donkey, to everything". That means you are making an effort to show love - and then `love' becomes very shoddy, very petty, as it does with those nationalistic people who are everlastingly practising brotherhood, which is silly, stupid. It is greed that causes these practices. But if you see the truth of nationalism, of greed, and let that truth work upon you, let that truth act, then you will be brotherly without making any effort. A mind that practises love cannot love. But if you love and do not interfere with it, then love will operate.
Questioner: Sir, what is self-expansion?
Krishnamurti: If you want to become the governor or a famous professor, if you imitate some big man or hero, if you try to follow your guru or a saint, then that process of becoming, imitating, following is a form of self-expansion, is it not? An ambitious man, a man who wants to be great, who wants to fulfil himself may say, "I am doing this in the name of peace and for the sake of my country; but his action is still the expansion of himself.
Questioner: Why is the rich man proud?
Krishnamurti: A little boy asks why the rich man is proud. Have you really noticed that the rich man is proud? And do not the poor also have pride? We all have our own peculiar arrogance which we show in different ways. The rich man, the poor man the learned man, the man of capacity, the saint, the leader - each in his own way has the feeling that he has arrived, that he is a success, that he is somebody or can do something. But the man who is nobody, who does not want to be a somebody, who is just himself and understands himself - such a man is free of arrogance, of pride.
Questioner: Why are we always caught in the `me' and the 'mine', and why do we keep bringing up in our meetings with you the problems which this state of mind produces?
Krishnamurti: Do you really want to know, or has somebody prompted you to ask this question? The problem of the `me' and the `mine' is one in which we are all involved. It is really the only problem we have, and we are everlastingly talking about it in different ways, sometimes in terms of fulfilment and sometimes in terms of frustration, sorrow. The desire to have lasting happiness, the fear of dying or of losing property, the pleasure of being flattered, the resentment of being insulted, the quarrelling over your god and my god, your way and my way - the mind is ceaselessly occupied with all this and nothing else. It may pretend to seek peace, to feel brotherly, to be good, to love, but behind this screen of words it continues to be caught up in the conflict of the `me' and the `mine', and that is why it creates the problems which you bring up every morning in different words.
Questioner: Why do women dress themselves up?
Krishnamurti: Have you not asked them? And have you never watched the birds? Often it is the male bird that has more colour, more sprightliness. To be physically attractive is part of the sexual relationship to produce young. That is life. And the boys also do it. As they grow up they like to comb their hair in a particular way, wear a nice cap, put on attractive clothes - which is the same thing. We all want to show off. The rich man in his expensive car, the girl who makes herself more beautiful, the boy who tries to be very smart - they all want to show that they have something. It is a strange world, is it not? You see, a lily or a rose never pretends, and its beauty is that it is what it is.
ARE YOU INTERESTED in trying to find out what is learning? You go to school to learn, don't you? And what is learning? Have you ever thought about it? How do you learn, why do you learn, and what is it that you are learning? What is the meaning, the deeper significance of learning? You have to learn to read and write, to study various subjects, and also to acquire a technique, to prepare yourself for a profession by which to earn a livelihood. We mean all of that when we talk about learning - and then most of us stop there. As soon as we pass certain examinations and have a job, a profession, we seem to forget all about learning.
But is there an end to learning? We say that learning from books and learning from experience are two different things; and are they? From books we learn what other people have written about sciences, for example. Then we make our own experiments and continue to learn through those experiments. And we also learn through experience - at least that is what we say. But after all to fathom the extraordinary depths of life, to find out what God or truth is, there must be freedom; and, through experience, is there freedom to find out,to learn?
Have you thought about what experience is? It is the feeling in response to a challenge, is it not? To respond to a challenge is experience. And do you learn through experience? When you respond to a challenge, to a stimulus, your response is based on your conditioning, on the education you have received, on your cultural, religious, social and economic background. You respond to a challenge conditioned by your background as a Hindu, a Christian, a communist, or whatever you are. If you do not break away from your background, your response to any challenge only strengthens or modifies that background. Hence you are really never free to explore, to discover, to understand what is truth, what is God,
So, experience does not free the mind, and learning through experience is only a process of forming new patterns based on one's old conditioning. I think it is very important to understand this, because as we grow older we get more and more entrenched in our experience, hoping thereby to learn; but what we learn is dictated by the background, which means that through the experience by which we learn there is never freedom but only the modification of conditioning.
Now, what is learning? You begin by learning how to read and write, how to sit quietly, how to obey or not to obey; you learn the history of this or that country, you learn languages which are necessary for communication; you learn how to earn a livelihood, how to enrich the fields, and so on. But is there a state of learning in which the mind is free of the background, a state in which there is no search? Do you understand the question?
What we call learning is a continuous process of adjusting, resisting, subjugating; we learn either to avoid or to gain something. Now, is there a state in which the mind is not the instrument of learning but of being? Do you see the difference? As long as we are acquiring, getting, avoiding, the mind must learn, and in such learning there is always a great deal of tension, resistance. To learn you must concentrate, must you not? And what is concentration?
Have you ever noticed what happens when you concentrate on something? When you are required to study a book which you don`t want to study, or even if you do want to study, you have to resist and put aside other things. You resist the inclination to look out of the window, or to talk to somebody, in order to concentrate. So in concentration there is always effort, is there not? In concentration there is a motive, an incentive, an effort to learn in order to acquire something; and our life is a series of such efforts, a state of tension in which we are trying to learn. But if there is no tension at all, no acquiring, no laying up of knowledge, is not the mind then capable of learning much more deeply and swiftly? Then it becomes an instrument of inquiry to find out what is truth, what is beauty, what is God - which means, really, that it does not submit to any authority, whether it be the authority of knowledge or society, of religion, culture or conditioning.
You see, it is only when the mind is free from the burden of knowledge that it can find out what is true; and in the process of finding out, there is no accumulation, is there? The moment you begin to accumulate what you have experienced or learnt, it becomes an anchorage which holds your mind and prevents it from going further. In the process of inquiry the mind sheds from day to day what it has learnt so that it is always fresh, uncontaminated by yesterday's experience. Truth is living, it is not static, and the mind that would discover truth must also be living, not burdened with knowledge or experience. Then only is there that state in which truth can come into being.
All this may be difficult in the verbal sense, but the meaning is not difficult if you apply your mind to it. To inquire into the deeper things of life, the mind must be free; but the moment you learn and make that learning the basis of further inquiry, your mind is not free and you are no longer inquiring.
Questioner: Why do we so easily forget what we find difficult to learn?
Krishnamurti: Are you learning merely because circumstances force you to learn? After all, if you are studying physics and mathematics but you really want to become a lawyer, you soon forget the physics and mathematics. Do you really learn if you have an incentive to learn? If you want to pass certain examinations merely in order to find a job and get married, you may make an effort to concentrate, to learn; but once you pass the examinations you soon forget what you have learned, do you not? When learning is only a means to get somewhere, the moment you have got where you want to go, you forget the means - and surely that is not learning at all. So there may be the state of learning only when there is no motive no incentive when you do the thing for the love of itself.
Questioner: What is the significance of the word `progress`?
Krishnamurti: Like most people, you have ideals, have you not? And the ideal is not real, not factual; it is what should be, it is something in the future. Now, what I say is this; forget the ideal, and be aware of what you are. Do not pursue what should be, but understand what is. The understanding of what you actually are is far more important than the pursuit of what you should be. Why? Because in understanding what you are there begins a spontaneous process of transformation, whereas in becoming what you think you should be there is no change at all, but only a continuation of the same old thing in a different form. If the mind, seeing that it is stupid, tries to change its stupidity into intelligence, which is what should be, that is silly, it has no meaning, no reality; it is only the pursuit of a self-projection, a postponement of the understanding of what is. As long as the mind tries to change its stupidity into something else, it remains stupid. But if the mind says, "I realize that I am stupid and I want to understand what stupidity is, therefore I shall go into it, I shall observe how it comes into being", then that very process of inquiry brings about a fundamental transformation.
"What is the significance of the word `progress'?" Is there such a thing as progress? You see the bullock cart moving at two miles an hour, and that extraordinary thing called the jet plane travelling at 6oo or more miles per hour. That is progress, is it not? There is technological progress: better means of communication, better health and so on. But is there any other form of progress? Is there psychological progress in the sense of spiritual advancement through time? Is the idea of progress in spirituality really spiritual, or merely an invention of the mind?
You know, it is very important to ask fundamental questions; but unfortunately we find very easy answers to fundamental questions. We think the easy answer is a solution, but it is not. We must ask a fundamental question and let that question operate, let it work in us to find out what is the truth of it.
Progress implies time, does it not? After all, it has taken us centuries to come from the bullock cart to the jet plane. Now, we think that we can find reality or God in the same way, through time. We are here, and we think of God as being over there, or somewhere far away, and to cover that distance, that intervening space, we say we need time. But God or reality is not fixed, and neither are we fixed; there is no fixed point from which to start and no fixed point towards which to move. For reasons of psychological security we cling to the idea that there is a fixed point in each of us, and that reality is also fixed; but this is an illusion, it is not true. The moment we want time in which to evolve or progress inwardly, spiritually, what we are doing is no longer spiritual, because truth is not of time. A mind which is caught up in time demands time to find reality. But reality is beyond time, it has no fixed point. The mind must be free of all its accumulations, conscious as well as unconscious, and only then is it capable of finding out what is truth, what is God.
Questioner: Why do birds fly away when I come near?
Krishnamurti: How nice it would be if the birds did not fly away when you came near! If you could touch them, be friendly with them, how lovely it would be! But you see, we human beings are cruel people. We kill the birds, torture them, we catch them in nets and put them in cages. Think of a lovely parrot in a cage! Every evening it calls to its mate and sees the other birds flying across the open sky. When we do all these things to the birds, do you think they will not be frightened when we come near them? But if you sit quietly in an isolated spot and are very still, really gentle, you will soon find that the birds come to you; they hover quite close and you can observe their alert movements, their delicate claws, the extraordinary strength and beauty of their feathers. But to do that you must have immense patience, which means you must have a great deal of love, and also there must be no fear. Animals seem to sense fear in us, and they in turn get frightened and run away. That is why it is very important to understand oneself.
You try sitting very still under a tree, but not just for two or three minutes, because the birds won't get used to you in so short a time. Go and sit quietly under the same tree every day, and you will soon begin to be aware that everything around you is living. You will see the blades of grass sparkling in the sunshine, the ceaseless activity of the little birds, the extraordinary sheen of a snake, or a kite flying high in the skies enjoying the breeze without a movement of its wings. But to see all this and to feel the joy of it you must have real quietness inside you.
Questioner: What is the difference between you and me?
Krishnamurti: Is there any fundamental difference between us? You may have a fair skin and I may be quite dark; you may be very clever and know a lot more than I; or I may live in a village while you travel all over the world, and so on. Obviously there are differences in form, in speech, in knowledge, in manners in tradition and culture; but whether we are Brahmins or non-Brahmins, whether we are Americans, Russians, Japanese, Chinese, or what you will, is there not a great similarity between us all? We are all afraid, we all want security, we all want to be loved, we all want to eat and to be happy. But you see, the superficial differences destroy our awareness of the fundamental similarity between us as human beings. To understand and to be free of that similarity brings about great love, great thoughtfulness. Unfortunately, most of us are caught up in, and therefore divided by, the superficial differences of race, of culture, of belief. Beliefs are a curse, they divide people and create antagonism. It is only by going beyond all beliefs, beyond all differences and similarities, that the mind can be free to find out what is true.
Questioner: Why does the teacher get cross with me when I smoke?
Krishnamurti: Probably he has told you many times not to smoke because it is not very good for little boys; but you keep on smoking because you like the taste, so he gets cross with you. Now, what do you think? Do you think one should get used to smoking, or acquire any other habit, while one is so very young? If at your age your body gets accustomed to smoking, it means you are already a slave to something; and is that not a terrible thing? Smoking may be all right for older people, but even that is extremely doubtful. Unfortunately, they have their excuses for being slaves to various habits. But you who are very young, immature, adolescent, you who are still growing - why should you get used to anything, or fall into any habit, which only makes you insensitive? The moment the mind gets used to something it begins to function in the groove of habit, therefore it becomes dull, it is no longer vulnerable; it loses that sensibility which is necessary to find out what is God, what is beauty, what is love.
Questioner: Why do men hunt tigers?
Krishnamurti: Because they want to kill for the excitement of killing. We all do lots of thoughtless things - like tearing the wings from a fly to see what will happen. We gossip and say harsh things about others; we kill to eat; we kill for so-called peace; we kill for our country or for our ideas. So there is a great streak of cruelty in us, is there not? But if one can understand and put that aside, then it is great fun just to watch the tiger go by - as several of us did one evening near Bombay. A friend took us into the forest in his car to look for a tiger which somebody had seen nearby. We were returning and had just rounded a curve, when suddenly there was the tiger in the middle of the road. Yellow and black, sleek and lean, with a long tail, he was a lovely thing to watch, full of grace and power. We switched off the headlights and he came growling towards us, passing so close that he almost touched the car. It was a marvellous sight. If one can watch a thing like that without a gun it is much more fun, and there is great beauty in it.
Questioner: Why are we burdened with sorrow?
Krishnamurti: We accept sorrow as an inevitable part of life and we build philosophies around it; we justify sorrow, and we say that sorrow is necessary in order to find God. I say, on the contrary, there is sorrow because man is cruel to man. Also we don't understand a great many things in life which therefore bring sorrow - things like death, like not having a job, like seeing the poor in their misery. We don't understand all this, so we are tortured; and the more sensitive one is, the more one suffers. Instead of understanding these things, we justify sorrow; instead of revolting against this whole rotten system and breaking through it, we merely adjust ourselves to it. To be free of sorrow one must be free of the desire to do harm - and also of the desire to do `good', the so-called good that is equally the result of our conditioning.