Think on These Things
A MAN IN sannyasi robes used to come every morning to gather flowers from the trees in a nearby garden. His hands and his eyes were greedy for the flowers, and he picked every flower within reach. He was evidently going to offer them to some dead image, a thing made of stone. The flowers were lovely, tender things just opening to the morning sun, and he did not pick them gently, but tore them off, viciously stripping the garden of whatever it held. His god demanded lots of flowers - lots of living things for a dead stone image.
Another day I watched some young boys picking flowers. They were not going to offer the flowers to any god; they were talking and thoughtlessly tearing off the flowers, and throwing them away. Have you ever observed yourself doing this? I wonder why you do it? As you walk along you will break off a twig, strip away the leaves and drop it. Have you not noticed this thoughtless action on your part? The grown-up people do it too, they have their own way of expressing their inner brutality, this appalling disrespect for living things. They talk about harmlessness, yet everything they do is destructive.
One can understand your picking a flower or two to put in your hair, or to give to somebody with love; but why do you just tear at the flowers? The grown-ups are ugly in their ambition, they butcher each other in their wars and corrupt each other with money. They have their own forms of hideous action; and apparently the young people here as elsewhere are following in their footsteps.
The other day I was out walking with one of the boys and we came upon a stone lying on the road. When I removed it, he asked, "Why did you do that?" What does this indicate. Is it not a lack of consideration, respect? You show respect out of fear, do you not? You promptly jump up when an elder comes into the room, but that is not respect, it is fear; because if you really felt respect you would not destroy the flowers, you would remove a stone from the road, you would tend the trees and help to take care of the garden. But, whether we are old or young, we have no real feeling of consideration. Why? Is it that we don't know what love is?
Do you understand what simple love is? Not the complexity of sexual love nor the love of God, but just love, being tender, really gentle in one's whole approach to all things. At home you don't always get this simple love, your parents are too busy; at home there may be no real affection, no tenderness, so you come here with that background of insensitivity and you behave like everybody else. And how is one to bring about sensitivity? Not that you must have regulations against picking the flowers, for when you are merely restrained by regulations, there is fear. But how is there to come into being this sensitivity which makes you alert not to do any harm to people, to animals, to flowers?
Are you interested in all this? You should be. If you are not interested in being sensitive, you might as well be dead - and most people are. Though they eat three meals a day, have jobs, procreate children, drive cars, wear fine clothes, most people are as good as dead.
Do you know what it means to be sensitive? It means, surely, to have a tender feeling for things: to see an animal suffering and do something about it, to remove a stone from the path because so many bare feet walk there, to pick up a nail on the road because somebody's car might get a puncture. To be sensitive is to feel for people, for birds, for flowers, for trees - not because they are yours, but just because you are awake to the extraordinary beauty of things. And how is this sensitivity to be brought about?
The moment you are deeply sensitive you naturally do not pluck the flowers; there is a spontaneous desire not to destroy things, not to hurt people, which means having real respect, love. To love is the most important thing in life. But what do I mean by love? When you love someone because that person loves you in return, surely that is not love. To love is to have this extraordinary feeling of affection without asking anything in return. You may be very clever, you may pass all your examinations, get a doctorate and achieve a high position, but if you have not this sensitivity, this feeling of simple love, your heart will be empty and you will be miserable for the rest of your life.
So it is very important for the heart to be filled with this sense of affection, for then you won't destroy, you won't be ruthless, and there won't be wars any more. Then you will be happy human beings; and because you are happy you won't pray, you won't seek God, for that happiness itself is God.
Now, how is this love to come into being? Surely, love must begin with the educator, the teacher. If, besides giving you information about mathematics, geography, or history, the teacher has this feeling of love in his heart and talks about it, if he spontaneously removes the stone from the road and does not allow the servant to do all the dirty jobs; if in his conversation, in his work, in his play, when he eats, when he is with you or by himself, he feels this strange thing and points it out to you often, then you also will know what it is to love.
You may have a clear skin, a nice face, you may wear a lovely sari or be a great athlete, but without love in your heart you are an ugly human being, ugly beyond measure; and when you love, whether your face is homely or beautiful, it has a radiance. To love is the greatest thing in life; and it is very important to talk about love, to feel it, to nourish it, to treasure it, otherwise it is soon dissipated, for the world is very brutal. If while you are young you don't feel love, if you don't look with love at people, at animals, at flowers, when you grow up you will find that your life is empty; you will be very lonely, and the dark shadows of fear will follow you always. But the moment you have in your heart this extraordinary thing called love and feel the depth, the delight, the ecstasy of it, you will discover that for you the world is transformed.
Questioner: Why is it that always so many rich and important people are invited to school functions?
Krishnamurti: What do you think? Don't you want your father to be an important man? Are you not proud if he becomes a member of parliament and is mentioned in the newspaper. If he takes you to live in a big house or if he goes to Europe and comes back puffing a cigar, are you not pleased?
You see, the wealthy and those in power are very useful to institutions. The institution flatters them and they do something for the institution, so it works both ways. But the question is not just why the school invites the important people to its functions; it is why you also want to be an important person or why you want to marry the richest, the best known, or the most handsome man. Don't you all want to be a big something or other? And when you have those desires, you have in you already the seed of corruption. Do you understand what I am saying?
Put aside for the moment the question of why the school invites the wealthy because there are also poor people at these functions. But do any of you sit near the poor people, near the villagers? Do you? And have you noticed another extraordinary thing: how the sannyasis want to be seated prominently, how they push their way to the front? We all want to have prominence, recognition. The true Brahmin is one who does not ask anything from anyone, not because he is proud, but because he is a light unto himself; but we have lost all that.
You know, there is a marvellous story about Alexander when he came to India. Having conquered the country, he wanted to meet the prime minister who had created such order in the land and had brought about such honesty, such incorruptibility among the people. When the king explained that the prime minister a Brahmin who had returned to his village, Alexander asked that he come to see him. The king sent for the prime minister, but he would not come because he did not care to show himself off to anyone. Unfortunately we have lost that spirit. Being in ourselves empty, dull, sorrowful, we are psychological beggars, seeking someone or something to nourish us, to give us hope, to sustain us, and that is why we make normal things ugly.
It is all right for some prominent official to come to lay the corner stone of a building; what harm is there in that? But what is corrupting is the whole spirit behind it. You never go to visit the villagers, do you? You never talk to them, feel with them, see for yourself how little they have to eat, how endlessly they work day after day without rest; but because I happen to have pointed out to you certain things, you are ready to criticize others. Don't sit around and criticize, that is empty, but go and find out for yourself what the conditions are in the villages and do something there: plant a tree, talk to the villagers, invite them here, play with their children. Then you will find that a different kind of society comes into being, because there will be love in the land. A society without love is like a land without rivers, it is as a desert; but where there are rivers the land is rich, it has abundance, it has beauty. Most of us grow up without love, and that is why we have created a society as hideous as the people who live in it.
Questioner: You say that God is not in the graven image, but others say that he is indeed there, and that if we have faith in our hearts his power will manifest itself. What is the truth of worship?
Krishnamurti: The world is as full of opinions as it is of people. And you know what an opinion is. You say this, and somebody else says that. Each one has an opinion, but opinion is not truth; therefore do not listen to mere opinion, it does not matter whose it is, but find out for yourself what is true. Opinion can be changed overnight, but truth cannot be changed.
Now, you want to find out for yourself whether God or truth is in the graven image, do you not? What is a graven image? It is a thing conceived by the mind and fashioned of wood or of stone by the hand. The mind projects the image; and do you think an image projected by the mind is God, though a million people assert that it is?
You say that if the mind has faith in the image, then the image will give power to the mind. Obviously; the mind creates the image and then derives power from its own creation. That is what the mind is everlastingly doing: producing images and drawing strength, happiness, benefit from those images, thereby remaining empty, inwardly poverty-stricken. So what is important is not the image, or what the millions say about it, but to understand the operation of your own mind.
The mind makes and unmakes gods, it can be cruel or kind. The mind has the power to do the most extraordinary things. It can hold opinions, it can create illusions, it can invent jet planes that travel at tremendous speed; it can build beautiful bridges, lay vast railways, devise machines that calculate beyond the capacity of man. But the mind cannot create truth. What it creates is not truth, it is merely an opinion, a judgment. So it is important to find out for yourself what is true.
To find out what is true, the mind must be without any movement, completely still. That stillness is the act of worship, not your going to the temple to offer flowers and pushing aside the beggar on the way. You propitiate the gods because you are afraid of them, but that is not worship. When you understand the mind and the mind is completely still, not made still, then that stillness is the act of worship; and in that stillness there comes into being that which is true, that which is beautiful, that which is God.
Questioner: You said one day that we should sit quietly and watch the activity of our own mind, but our thoughts disappear as soon as we begin consciously to observe them. How can we perceive our own mind when the mind is the perceiver as well as that which it perceives?
Krishnamurti: This is a very complex question, and many things are involved in it.
Now, is there a perceiver, or only perception? Please follow this closely. Is there a thinker, or only thinking? Surely, the thinker does not exist first. First there is thinking, and then thinking creates the thinker - which means that a separation in thinking has taken place. It is when this separation takes place that there comes into being the watcher and the watched, the perceiver and the object of perception. As the questioner says, if you watch your mind, if you observe a thought, that thought disappears, it fades away; but there is actually only perception, not a perceiver. When you look at a flower, when you just see it, at the moment is there an entity who sees? Or is there only seeing? Seeing the flower makes you say, "How nice it is, I want it; so the 'I' comes into being through desire, fear, greed, ambition, which follow in the wake of seeing. It is these that create the `I', and the `I' is non-existent without them.
If you go deeper into this whole question you will discover that when the mind is very quiet, completely still, when there is not a movement of thought and therefore no experiencer, no observer, then that very stillness has its own creative understanding. In that stillness the mind is transformed into something else. But the mind cannot find that stillness through any means, through any discipline, through any practice; it does not come about through sitting in a corner and trying to concentrate. That stillness comes when you understand the ways of the mind. It is the mind that has created the stone image which people worship; it is the mind that has created the Gita, the organized religions, the innumerable beliefs; and, to find out what is real, you must go beyond the creations of the mind.
Questioner: Is man only mind and brain, or something more than this?
Krishnamurti: How are you going to find out? If you merely believe, speculate, or accept what Shankara, Buddha, or somebody else has said, you are not investigating, you are not trying to find out what is true.
You have only one instrument, which is the mind; and the mind is the brain also. Therefore, to find out the truth of this matter, you must understand the ways of the mind, must you not? If the mind is crooked you will never see straight; if the mind is very limited you cannot perceive the illimitable. The mind is the instrument of perception and, to perceive truly, the mind must be made straight, it must be cleansed of all conditioning, of all fear. The mind must also be free of knowledge, because knowledge diverts the mind and makes things twisted. The enormous capacity of the mind to invent, to imagine, to speculate, to think - must not this capacity be put aside so that the mind is very clear and very simple? Because it is only the innocent mind, the mind that has experienced vastly and yet is free of knowledge and experience - it is only such a mind that can discover that which is more than brain and mind. Otherwise what you discover will be coloured by what you have already experienced, and your experience is the result of your conditioning.
Questioner: What is the difference between need and greed?
Krishnamurti: Don't you know? Don't you know when you have what you need? And does not something tell you when you are greedy? Begin at the lowest level, and you will see it is so. You know that when you have enough clothes, jewels, or whatever it is, you don't have to philosophize about it. But the moment need moves into the field of greed, it is then that you begin to philosophize to rationalize, to explain away your greed. A good hospital, for example, requires so many beds, a certain standard of cleanliness, certain antiseptics, this and that. A travelling man must perhaps have a car, an overcoat, and so on. That is need. You need a certain knowledge and skill to carry on your craft. If you are an engineer you must know certain things - but that knowledge can become an instrument of greed. Through greed the mind uses the objects of need as a means of self-advancement. It is a very simple process if you observe it. If, being aware of your actual needs, you also see how greed comes in, how the mind uses the objects of need for its own aggrandizement, then it is not very difficult to distinguish between need and greed.
Questioner: If the mind and the brain are one, then why is it that when a thought or an urge arises which the brain tells us is ugly the mind so often goes on with it?
Krishnamurti: Actually what takes place? If a pin pricks your arm, the nerves carry the sensation to your brain, the brain translates it as pain, then the mind rebels against the pain, and you take away the pin or otherwise do something about it. But there are some things which the mind goes on with, even though it knows them to be ugly or stupid. It knows how essentially stupid it is to smoke, and yet one goes on smoking. Why? Because it likes the sensations of smoking, and that is all. If the mind were as keenly aware of the stupidity of smoking as it is of the pain of a pinprick, it would stop smoking immediately. But it doesn't want to see it that clearly because smoking has become a pleasurable habit. It is the same with greed or violence. If greed were as painful to you as the pinprick in your arm, you would instantly stop being greedy, you wouldn't philosophize about it; and if you were really awake to the full significance of violence, you wouldn't write volumes about non-violence - which is all nonsense, because you don't feel it, you just talk about it. If you eat something which gives you a violent tummyache, you don't go on eating it, do you? You put it aside immediately. Similarly, if you once realized that envy and ambition are poisonous, vicious, cruel, as deadly as the sting of a cobra, you would awaken to them. But, you see, the mind does not want to look at these things too closely; in this area it has vested interests, and it refuses to admit that ambition, envy, greed, lust are poisonous. Therefore it says, "Let us discuss non-greed, non-violence, let us have ideals" - and in the meantime it carries on with its poisons. So find out for yourself how corrupting, how destructive and poisonous these things are, and you will soon drop them; but if you merely say, "I must not" and go on as before, you are playing the hypocrite. Be one thing or the other, hot or cold.
IS IT NOT a very strange thing in this world, where there is so much distraction, entertainment, that almost everybody is a spectator and very few are players? Whenever we have a little free time, most of us seek some form of amusement. We pick up a serious book, a novel, or a magazine. If we are in America we turn on the radio or the television, or we indulge in incessant talk. There is a constant demand to be amused, to be entertained, to be taken away from ourselves. We are afraid to be alone, afraid to be without a companion, without a distraction of some sort. Very few of us ever walk in the fields and the woods, not talking or singing songs, but just walking quietly and observing things about us and within ourselves. We almost never do that because, you see, most of us are very bored; we are caught in a dull routine of learning or teaching, of household duties or a job, and so in our free time we want to be amused, either lightly or seriously. We read, or go to the cinema - or we turn to a religion, which is the same thing. Religion too has become a form of distraction, a kind of serious escape from boredom, from routine.
I don't know if you have noticed all this. Most people are constantly occupied with something - with puja, with the repetition of certain words, with worrying over this or that - because they are frightened to be alone with themselves. You try being alone, without any form of distraction, and you will see how quickly you want to get away from yourself and forget what you are. That is why this enormous structure of professional amusement, of automated distraction, is so prominent a part of what we call civilization. If you observe you will see that people, the world over, are becoming more and more distracted, increasingly sophisticated and worldly. The multiplication of pleasures, the innumerable books that are being published, the newspaper pages filled with sporting events - surely, all these indicate that we constantly want to be amused. Because we are inwardly empty, dull, mediocre, we use our relationships and our social reforms as a means of escaping from ourselves. I wonder if you have noticed how lonely most people are? And to escape from loneliness we run to temples, churches, or mosques, we dress up and attend social functions, we watch television, listen to the radio, read, and so on.
Do you know what loneliness means? Some of you may be unfamiliar with that word, but you know the feeling very well. You try going out for a walk alone, or being without a book, without someone to talk to, and you will see how quickly you get bored. You know that feeling well enough, but you don't know why you get bored, you have never inquired into it. If you inquire a little into boredom you will find that the cause of it is loneliness. It is in order to escape from loneliness that we want to be together, we want to be entertained, to have distractions of every kind: gurus, religious ceremonies, prayers, or the latest novels. Being inwardly lonely we become mere spectators in life; and we can be the players only when we understand loneliness and go beyond it.
After all, most people married seek other social relationships because they don't know how to live alone. Not that one must live alone; but, if you marry because you want to be loved, or if you are bored and use your job as a means of forgetting yourself, then you will find that your whole life is nothing but an endless search for distractions. Very few go beyond this extraordinary fear of loneliness; but one must go beyond it, because beyond it lies the real treasure.
You know, there is a vast difference between loneliness and aloneness. Some of the younger students may still be unaware of loneliness, but the older people know it: the feeling of being utterly cut off, of suddenly being afraid without apparent cause. The mind knows this fear when for a moment it realizes that it can rely on nothing, that no distraction can take away the sense of self-enclosing emptiness. That is loneliness. But aloneness is something entirely different; it is a state of freedom which comes into being when you have gone through loneliness and understand it. In that state of aloneness you don't rely on anyone psychologically because you are no longer seeking pleasure, comfort, gratification. It is only then that the mind is completely alone, and only such a mind is creative.
All this is part of education: to face the ache of loneliness, that extraordinary feeling of emptiness which all of us know, and not be frightened when it comes; not to turn on the radio, lose oneself in work, or run to the cinema, but to look at it, go into it, understand it. There is no human being who has not felt or will not feel that quivering anxiety. It is because we try to run away from it through every form of distraction and gratification - through sex, through God, through work, through drink, through writing poems or repeating certain words which we have learnt by heart - that we never understand that anxiety when it comes upon us.
So, when the pain of loneliness comes upon you, confront it, look at it without any thought of running away. If you run away you will never understand it, and it will always be there waiting for you around the corner. Whereas, if you can understand loneliness and go beyond it, then you will find there is no need to escape, no urge to be gratified or entertained, for your mind will know a richness that is incorruptible and cannot be destroyed.
All this is part of education. If at school you merely learn subjects in order to pass examinations, then learning itself becomes a means of escape from loneliness. Think about it a little and you will see. Talk it over with your educators and you will soon find out how lonely they are, and how lonely you are. But those who are inwardly alone, whose minds and hearts are free from the ache of loneliness - they are real people, for they can discover for themselves what reality is, they can receive that which is timeless.
Questioner: What is the difference between awareness and sensitivity?
Krishnamurti: I wonder if there is any difference? You know, when you ask a question, what is important is to find out for yourself the truth of the matter and not merely accept what someone else says. So let us find out together what it is to be aware.
You see a lovely tree with its leaves sparkling after the rain; you see the sunlight shining on the water and on the gay-hued feathers of the birds; you see the villagers walking to town carrying heavy burdens, and hear their laughter; you hear the bark of a dog, or a calf calling to its mother. All this is part of awareness, the awareness of what is around you, is it not? Coming a little closer, you notice your relationship to people, to ideas and to things; you are aware of how you regard the house, the road; you observe your reactions to what people say to you, and how your mind is always evaluating, judging, comparing or condemning. This is all part of awareness, which begins on the surface and then goes deeper and deeper; but for most of us awareness stops at a certain point. We take in the noises, the songs, the beautiful and ugly sights, but we are not aware of our reactions to them. We say, "That is beautiful" or "That is ugly" and pass by; we don't inquire into what beauty is, what ugliness is. Surely, to see what your reactions are, to be more and more alert to every movement of your own thought, to observe that your mind is conditioned by the influence of your parents, of your teachers, of your race and culture - all this is part of awareness, is it not?
The deeper the mind penetrates its own thought processes, the more clearly it understands that all forms of thinking are conditioned; therefore the mind is spontaneously very still - which does not mean that it is asleep. On the contrary, the mind is then extraordinarily alert, no longer being drugged by mantrams, by the repetition of words, or shaped by discipline. This state of silent alertness is also part of awareness; and if you go into it still more deeply you will find that there is no division between the person who is aware and the object of which he is aware.
Now, what does it mean to be sensitive? To be cognizant of colour and form, of what people say and of your response to it; to be considerate, to have good taste, good manners; not to be rough, not to hurt people either physically or inwardly and be unaware of it; to see a beautiful thing and linger with it; to listen tentatively without being bored to everything that is said, so that the mind becomes acute, sharp - all this is sensitivity, is it not? So is there much difference between sensitivity and awareness? I don't think so.
You see, as long as your mind is condemning, judging, forming opinions, concluding, it is neither aware nor sensitive. When you are rude to people, when you pick flowers and throw them away, when you ill-treat animals, when you scratch your name on the furniture or break the leg of a chair, when you are unpunctual to meals and have bad manners in general, it all indicates insensitivity, does it not? It indicates a mind that is not capable of alert adjustment. And surely it is part of education to help the student to be sensitive, so that he will not merely conform or resist, but will be awake to the whole movement of life. The people who are sensitive in life may suffer much more than those who are insensitive; but if they understand and go beyond their suffering they will discover extraordinary things.
Questioner: Why do we laugh when somebody trips and falls?
Krishnamurti: It is a form of insensitivity, is it not? Also there is such a thing as sadism. Do you know what that word means? An author called the Marquis de Sade once wrote a book about a man who enjoyed hurting people and seeing them suffer. From that comes the word `sadism', which means deriving pleasure from the suffering of others. For certain people there is a peculiar satisfaction in seeing others suffer. Watch yourself and see if you have this feeling. It may not be obvious, but if it is there you will find that it expresses itself in the impulse to laugh when somebody falls. You want those who are high to be pulled down; you criticize, gossip thoughtlessly about others, all of which is an expression of insensitivity, a form of wanting to hurt people. One may injure another deliberately, with vengeance, or one may do it unconsciously with a word, with a gesture with a look; but in either case the urge is to hurt somebody, and there are very few who radically set aside this perverted form of pleasure.
Questioner: One of our professors says that what you are telling us is quite impractical. He challenges you to bring up six boys and six girls on a salary of 120 rupees. What is your answer to this criticism?
Krishnamurti: If I had only a salary of 12 rupees I would not attempt to raise six boys and six girls; that is the first thing. Secondly, if I were a professor it would be a dedication and not a job. Do you see the difference? Teaching at any level is not a profession, it is not a mere job; it is an act of dedication. Do you understand the meaning of that word `dedication'? To be dedicated is to give oneself to something completely, without asking anything in return; to be like a monk, like a hermit, like the great teachers and scientists - not like those who pass a few examinations and call themselves professors. I am talking of those who have dedicated themselves to teaching, not for money, but because it is their vocation, it is their love. If there are such teachers, they will find that boys and girls can be taught most practically all the things I am talking about. But the teacher, the educator, the professor to whom teaching is only a job for earning a living - it is he who will tell you that these things are not practical.
After all, what is practical? Think it out. The way we are living now, the way we are teaching, the way our governments are being run with their corruption and incessant wars - do you call that practical? Is ambition practical, is greed practical? Ambition breeds competition and therefore destroys people. A society based on greed and acquisition has always within it the spectre of war, conflict, suffering; and is that practical? Obviously it is not. That is what I am trying to tell you in all the various talks.
Love is the most practical thing in the world. To love, to be kind, not to be greedy, not to be ambitious, not to be influenced by people but to think for yourself - these are all very practical things, and they will bring about a practical, happy society. But the teacher who is not dedicated, who does not love, who may have a few letters after his name but is merely a purveyor of information which he has picked up from books - he will tell you that all this is not practical, because he has not really thought about it. To love is to be practical - far more so than the absurd practicality of this so-called education which produces citizens who are utterly incapable of standing alone and thinking out any problem for themselves.
You see, this is part of awareness: to be cognizant of the fact that they are giggling over there in the corner, and at the same time to continue with one's own seriousness.
The difficulty with most grown-up people is that they have not solved the problem of their own living, and yet they say to you, "I will tell you what is practical and what is not". Teaching is the greatest vocation in life, though now it is the most despised; it is the highest, the noblest of callings. But the teacher must be utterly dedicated, he must give himself to it completely, he must teach with his heart and mind, with his whole being; and out of that dedication things are made possible.
Questioner: What is the good of education if while being educated we are also being destroyed by the luxuries of the modern world?
Krishnamurti: I am afraid you are using wrong words. One must have a certain amount of comfort, must one not? When one sits quietly in a room, it is well that the room be clean and tidy, though it may be utterly empty of all furniture but a mat; it should also be of good proportions and have windows of the right size. If there is a picture in the room it should be of something lovely, and if there is a flower in a vase it should have behind it the spirit of the person who placed it there. One also needs good food and a quiet place to sleep. All this is part of the comfort which is offered by the modern world; and is this comfort destroying the so-called educated man? Or is the so-called educated man, through his ambition and greed, destroying ordinary comfort for every human being? In the prosperous countries modern education is making people more and more materialistic, and therefore luxury in every form is perverting and destroying the mind; and in the poor countries, like India, education is not encouraging you to create a radically new kind of culture, it is not helping you to be a revolutionary. I have explained what I mean by a revolutionary - not the bomb-throwing, murderous kind. Such people are not revolutionaries. A true revolutionary is a man who is free of all inducement, free of ideologies and the entanglements of society which is an expression of the collective will of the many; and your education is not helping you to be a revolutionary of that kind. On the contrary, it is teaching you to conform, or merely to reform what is already there.
So it is your so-called education that is destroying you, not the luxury which the modern world provides. Why should you not have cars and good roads? But, you see, all the modern techniques and inventions are being used either for war, or merely for amusement, as a means of escape from oneself, and so the mind gets lost in gadgets. Modern education has become the cultivation of gadgets, the mechanical devices or machines which help you to cook, to clean, to iron, to calculate and do various other essential things, so that you don't have to think about them all the time. And you should have these gadgets, not to get lost in gadgetry, but to free your mind to do something totally different.
Questioner: I have a very black skin, and most people admire a lighter complexion. How can I win their admiration?
Krishnamurti: I believe there are special cosmetics which are supposed to make your skin lighter; but will that solve your problem? You will still want to be admired, to be socially prominent, you will still long for position, prestige; and in the very demand for admiration, in the struggle for prominence, there is always the sting of sorrow. As long as you want to be admired, to be prominent, your education is going to destroy you, because it will help you to become somebody in this society, and this society is pretty rotten. We have built this destructive society through our greed, through our envy, through our fear, and it is not going to be transformed by ignoring it or calling it an illusion. Only the right kind of education will wipe away greed, fear, acquisitiveness, so that we can build a radically new culture, a different world altogether; and there can be the right kind of education only when the mind really wants to understand itself and be free of sorrow.
ONE OF OUR most difficult problems is what we call discipline, and it is really very complex. You see, society feels that it must control or discipline the citizen, shape his mind according to certain religious, social, moral and economic patterns.
Now, is discipline necessary at all? Please listen carefully, don't immediately say `yes' or `no'. Most of us feel, especially while we are young, that there should be no discipline, that we should be allowed to do whatever we like, and we think that is freedom. But merely to say that we should or should not have discipline, that we should be free, and so on, has very little meaning without understanding the whole problem of discipline.
The keen athlete is disciplining himself all the time, is he not? His joy in playing games and the very necessity to keep fit makes him go to bed early, refrain from smoking, eat the right food and generally observe the rules of good health. His discipline is not an imposition or a conflict, but a natural outcome of his enjoyment of athletics.
Now, does discipline increase or decrease human energy. Human beings throughout the world, in every religion, in every school of philosophy, impose discipline on the mind, which implies control, resistance, adjustment, suppression; and is all this necessary? If discipline brings about a greater output of human energy, then it is worthwhile, then it has meaning; but if it merely suppresses human energy, it is very harmful, destructive. All of us have energy, and the question is whether that energy through discipline can be made vital, rich and abundant, or whether discipline destroys whatever energy we have. I think this is the central issue. Many human beings do not have a great deal of energy, and what little energy they have is soon smothered and destroyed by the controls, threats and taboos of their particular society with its so-called education; so they become imitative, lifeless citizens of that society. And does discipline give increased energy to the individual who has a little more to begin with? Does it make his life rich and full of vitality?
When you are very young, as you all are, you are full of energy, are you not? You want to play, to rush about, to talk; you can't sit still, you are full of life. Then what happens? As you grow up your teachers begin to curtail that energy by shaping it, directing it into various moulds; and when at last you become men and women the little energy you have left is soon smothered by society, which says that you must be proper citizens, you must behave in a certain way. Through so-called education and the compulsion of society this abounding energy you have when you are young is gradually destroyed.
Now, can the energy you have at present be made more vital through discipline? If you have only a little energy, can discipline increase it? If it can, then discipline has meaning; but if discipline really destroys one's energy, then discipline must obviously be put aside.
What is this energy which we all have? This energy is thinking, feeling; it is interest, enthusiasm, greed, passion, lust, ambition, hate. Painting pictures, inventing machines, building bridges, making roads, cultivating the fields, playing games, writing poems, singing, dancing, going to the temple, worshipping - these are all expressions of energy; and energy also creates illusion, mischief, misery. The very finest and the most destructive qualities are equally the expressions of human energy. But, you see, the process of controlling or disciplining this energy letting it out in one direction and restricting it in another becomes merely a social convenience; the mind is shaped according to the pattern of a particular culture, and thereby its energy is gradually dissipated.
So, our problem is, can this energy, which in one degree or another we all possess, be increased, given greater vitality - and if so, to do what? What is energy for? Is it the purpose of energy to make war? Is it to invent jet planes and innumerable other machines, to pursue some guru, to pass examinations, to have children, to worry endlessly over this problem and that? Or can energy be used in a different way so that all our activities have significance in relation to something which transcends them all? Surely, if the human mind, which is capable of such astonishing energy, is not seeking reality or God, then every expression of its energy becomes a means of destruction and misery. To seek reality requires immense energy; and, if man is not doing that, he dissipates his energy in ways which create mischief, and therefore society has to control him. Now, is it possible to liberate energy in seeking God or truth and, in the process of discovering what is true, to be a citizen who understands the fundamental issues of life and whom society cannot destroy? Are you following this, or is it a little bit too complex?
You see, man is energy, and if man does not seek truth, this energy becomes destructive; therefore society controls and shapes the individual, which smothers this energy. That is what has happened to the majority of grown-up people all over the world. And perhaps you have noticed another interesting and very simple fact: that the moment you really want to do something, you have the energy to do it. What happens when you are keen to play a game? You immediately have energy, have you not? And that very energy becomes the means of controlling itself, so you don't need outside discipline. In the search for reality, energy creates its own discipline. The man who is seeking reality spontaneously becomes the right kind of citizen, which is not according to the pattern of any particular society or government.
So, students as well as teachers must work together to bring about the release of this tremendous energy to find reality, God or truth. In your very seeking of truth there will be discipline, and then you will be a real human being, a complete individual, and not merely a Hindu or a Parsi limited by his particular society and culture. If, instead of curtailing his energy as it is doing now, the school can help the student to awaken his energy in the pursuit of truth, then you will find that discipline has quite a different meaning.
Why is it that in the home, in the classroom and in the hostel you are always being told what you must do and what you must not do? Surely, it is because your parents and teachers, like the rest of society, have not perceived that man exists for only one purpose, which is to find reality or God. If even a small group of educators were to understand and give their whole attention to that search, they would create a new kind of education and a different society altogether.
Don't you notice how little energy most of the people around you have, including your parents and teachers? They are slowly dying, even when their bodies are not yet old. Why? Because they have been beaten into submission by society. You see, without understanding its fundamental purpose which is to find extraordinary thing called the mind, which has the capacity to create atomic submarines and jet planes, which can write the most amazing poetry and prose, which can make the world so beautiful and also destroy the world - without understanding its fundamental purpose, which is to find truth or God, this energy becomes destructive; and then society says, "We must shape and control the energy of the individual."
So, it seems to me that the function of education is to bring about a release of energy in the pursuit of goodness, truth, or God, which in turn makes the individual a true human being and therefore the right kind of citizen. But mere discipline, without full comprehension of all this, has no meaning, it is a most destructive thing. Unless each one of you is so educated that, when you leave school and go out into the world, you are full of vitality and intelligence, full of abounding energy to find out what is true, you will merely be absorbed by society; you will be smothered, destroyed, miserably unhappy for the rest of your life. As a river creates the banks which hold it, so the energy which seeks truth creates its own discipline without any form of imposition; and as the river finds the sea, so that energy finds its own freedom.
Questioner: Why did the British come to rule India?
Krishnamurti: You see, the people who have more energy, more vitality, more capacity, more spirit, bring either misery or well-being to their less energetic neighbours. At one time India exploded all over Asia; her people were full of creative zeal, and they brought religion to China, to Japan, to Indonesia, to Burma. Other nations were commercial, which may have also been necessary, and which had its miseries - but that is the way of life. The strange part of it is that those who are seeking truth or God are much more explosive, they release extraordinary energy, not only in themselves but in others; and it is they who are the real revolutionaries, not the communists, the socialists, or those who merely reform. Conquerors and rulers come and go, but the human problem is ever the same. We all want to dominate, to submit or resist; but the man who is seeking truth is free of all societies and of all cultures.
Questioner: Even at the time of meditation one doesn't seem able to perceive what is true; so will you please tell us what is true?
Krishnamurti: Let us leave for the moment the question of what is true and consider first what is meditation. To me, meditation is something entirely different from what your books and your gurus have taught you. Meditation is the process of understanding your own mind. If you don't understand your own thinking, which is self-knowledge, whatever you think has very little meaning. Without the foundation of self-knowledge, thinking leads to mischief. Every thought has a significance; and if the mind is incapable of seeing the significance, not just of one or two thoughts, but of each thought as it arises then merely to concentrate on a particular idea, image, or set of words - which is generally called meditation - is a form of self-hypnosis. So, whether you are sitting quietly, talking, or playing, are you aware of the significance of every thought, of every reaction that you happen to have? Try it and you will see how difficult it is to be aware of every movement of your own thought, because thoughts pile up so quickly one on top of another. But if you want to examine every thought, if you really want to see the content of it, then you will find that your thoughts slow down and you can watch them. This slowing down of thinking and the examining of every thought is the process of meditation; and if you go into it you will find that, by being aware of every thought, your mind - which is now a vast storehouse of restless thoughts all battling against each other - becomes very quiet, completely still. There is then no urge, no compulsion, no fear in any form; and, in this stillness, that which is true comes into being. There is no `you' who experiences truth, but the mind being still, truth comes into it. The moment there is a `you' there is the experiencer, and the experiencer is merely the result of thought, he has no basis without thinking.
Questioner: If we make a mistake and somebody points it out to us, why do we commit the same error again?
Krishnamurti: What do you think? Why do you pick at the flowers, or tear up plants, or destroy furniture, or throw paper about, though I am sure you have been told a dozen times that you should not do it? Listen carefully and you will see. When you do such things you are in a state of thoughtlessness, are you not? You are not aware, you are not thinking, your mind has gone to sleep, and so you do things which are obviously stupid. As long as you are not fully conscious, not completely there, it is no good merely telling you not to do certain things. But, if the educator can help you to be thoughtful, to be really aware, to observe with delight the trees, the birds, the river, the extraordinary richness of the earth, then one hint will be enough, because then you will be sensitive, alive to everything about you and within yourself.
Unfortunately, your sensitivity is destroyed because, from the time you are born till you die, you are everlastingly being told to do this and not to do that. Parents, teachers, society, religion, the priest, and also your own ambitions, your own greeds and envies - they all say `do' and `don't'. To be free of all these do's and don'ts and yet to be sensitive so that you are spontaneously kind and do not hurt people, do not throw paper about or pass by a rock on the road without removing it - this requires great thoughtfulness. And the purpose of education, surely, is not just to give you a few letters of the alphabet after your name, but to awaken in you this spirit of thoughtfulness so that you are sensitive, alert, watchful, kind.
Questioner: What is life, and how can we be happy?
Krishnamurti: A very good question from a little boy. What is life? If you ask the business man, he will tell you that life is a matter of selling things, making money, because that is his life from morning till night. The man of ambition will tell you that life is a struggle to achieve, to fulfil. For the man who has attained position and power, who is the head of an organization or a country, life is full of activity of his own making. And for the labourer, especially in this country, life is endless work without a day of rest; it is to be dirty, miserable, without sufficient food.
Now, can man be happy through all this strife, this struggle, this stagnation and misery? Obviously not. So what does he do? He does not question, he does not ask what life is, but philosophizes about happiness. He talks about brotherhood while exploiting others. He invents the higher self, the super-soul, something which eventually is going to make him permanently happy. But happiness does not come into being when you seek it; it is a by-product, it comes into being when there is goodness, when there is love, when there is no ambition, when the mind is quietly seeking out what is true.
Questioner: Why do we fight among ourselves?
Krishnamurti: I think the older people also ask this question, don't they? Why do we fight? America is opposed to Russia, China stands against the West. Why? We talk about peace and prepare for war. Why? Because I think the majority of human beings love to compete, to fight, that is the plain fact, otherwise we would stop it. In fighting there is a heightened sense of being alive, that also is a fact. We think struggle in every form is necessary to keep us alive; but, you see, that kind of living is very destructive. There is a way of living without struggle. It is like the lily, like the flower that grows; it does not struggle, it is. The being of anything is the goodness of it. But we are not educated for that at all. We are educated to compete, to fight, to be soldiers, lawyers, policemen, professors, principals, business men, all wanting to ride on top. We all want success. There are many who have the outward pretensions of humility, but only those are happy who are really humble inwardly, and it is they who do not fight.
Questioner: Why does the mind misuse other human beings and also misuse itself?
Krishnamurti: What do we mean by misuse? A mind that is ambitious, greedy, envious, a mind that is burdened with belief and tradition a mind that is ruthless, that exploits people - such a mind in its action obviously creates mischief and brings about a society which is full of conflict. As long as the mind does not understand itself, its action is bound to be destructive; as long as the mind has no self-knowledge, it must breed enmity. That is why it is essential that you should come to know yourself and not merely learn from books. No book can teach you self-knowledge. A book may give you information about self-knowledge, but that is not the same thing as knowing yourself in action. When the mind sees itself in the mirror of relationship, from that perception there is self-knowledge; and without self-knowledge we cannot clear up this mess, this terrible misery which we have created in the world.
Questioner: Is the mind that seeks success different from that which seeks truth?
Krishnamurti: It is the same mind, whether it is seeking success or truth; but, as long as the mind is seeking success, it cannot find out what is true. To understand the truth is to see the truth in the false, and to see what is true as true.
HAVE YOU EVER wondered why it is that as people grow older they seem to lose all joy in life? At present most of you who are young are fairly happy; you have your little problems, there are examinations to worry about, but in spite of these troubles there is in your life a certain joy, is there not? There is a spontaneous, easy acceptance of life, a looking at things lightly and happily. And why is it that as we grow older we seem to lose that joyous intimation of something beyond, something of greater significance? Why do so many of us, as we grow into so-called maturity, become dull, insensitive to joy, to beauty, to the open skies and the marvellous earth?
You know, when one asks oneself this question, many explanations spring up in the mind. We are so concerned with ourselves - that is one explanation. We struggle to become somebody, to achieve and maintain a certain position; we have children and other responsibilities, and we have to earn money. All these external things soon weigh us down, and thereby we lose the joy of living. Look at the older faces around you, see how sad most of them are, how careworn and rather ill, how withdrawn, aloof and sometimes neurotic, without a smile. Don't you ask yourself why? And even when we do ask why, most of us seem to be satisfied with mere explanations.
Yesterday evening I saw a boat going up the river at full sail, driven by the west wind. It was a large boat, heavily laden with firewood for the town. The sun was setting, and this boat against the sky was astonishingly beautiful. The boatman was just guiding it, there was no effort, for the wind was doing all the work. Similarly, if each one of us could understand the problem of struggle and conflict, then I think we would be able to live effortlessly, happily, with a smile on our face. I think it is effort that destroys us, this struggling in which we spend almost every moment of our lives. If you watch the older people around you, you will see that for most of them life is a series of battles with themselves, with their wives or husbands, with their neighbours, with society; and this ceaseless strife dissipates energy. The man who is joyous, really happy, is not caught up in effort. To be without effort does not mean that you stagnate, that you are dull, stupid; on the contrary, it is only the wise, the extraordinarily intelligent who are really free of effort, of struggle.
But, you see, when we hear of effortlessness we want to be like that, we want to achieve a state in which we will have no strife, no conflict; so we make that our goal, our ideal, and strive after it; and the moment we do this, we have lost the joy of living. We are again caught up in effort, struggle. The object of struggle varies, but all struggle is essentially the same. One may struggle to bring about social reforms, or to find God, or to create a better relationship between oneself and one's wife or husband, or with one's neighbour; one may sit on the banks of Ganga, worship at the feet of some guru, and so on. All this is effort, struggle. So what is important is not the object of struggle, but to understand struggle itself.
Now, is it possible for the mind to be not just casually aware that for the moment it is not struggling, but completely free of struggle all the time so that it discovers a state of joy in which there is no sense of the superior and the inferior?
Our difficulty is that the mind feels inferior, and that is why it struggles to be or become something, or to bridge over its various contradictory desires. But don't let us give explanations of why the mind is full of struggle. Every thinking man knows why there is struggle both within and without. Our envy, greed, ambition, our competitiveness leading to ruthless efficiency - these are obviously the factors which cause us to struggle, whether in this world or in the world to come. So we don't have to study psychological books to know why we struggle; and what is important, surely, is to find out if the mind can be totally free of struggle.
After all, when we struggle, the conflict is between what we are and what we should be or want to be. Now, without giving explanations, can one understand this whole process of struggle so that it comes to an end? Like that boat which was moving with the wind, can the mind be without struggle? Surely, this is the question, and not how to achieve a state in which there is no struggle. The very effort to achieve such a state is itself a process of struggle, therefore that state is never achieved. But if you observe from moment to moment how the mind gets caught in everlasting struggle - if you just observe the fact without trying to alter it, without trying to force upon the mind a certain state which you call peace - then you will find that the mind spontaneously ceases to struggle; and in that state it can learn enormously. Learning is then not merely the process of gathering information, but a discovery of the extraordinary riches that lie beyond the hope of the mind; and for the mind that makes this discovery there is joy.
Watch yourself and you will see how you struggle from morning till night, and how your energy is wasted in this struggle. If you merely explain why you struggle, you get lost in explanations and the struggle continues; whereas, if you observe your mind very quietly without giving explanations, if you just let the mind be aware of its own struggle, you will soon find that there comes a state in which there is no struggle at all, but an astonishing watchfulness. In that state of watchfulness there is no sense of the superior and the inferior, there is no big man or little man, there is no guru. All those absurdities are gone because the mind is fully awake; and the mind that is fully awake is joyous.
Questioner: I want to do a certain thing, and though I have tried many times I have not been successful in doing it. Should I give up striving, or should I persist in this effort?
Krishnamurti: To be successful is to arrive, to get somewhere; and we worship success, do we not? When a poor boy grows up and becomes a multimillionaire, or an ordinary student becomes the prime minister, he is applauded, made much of; so every boy and girl wants in one way or another to succeed. Now, is there such a thing as success, or is it only an idea which man pursues? Because the moment you arrive there is always a point further ahead at which you have yet to arrive. As long as you pursue success in any direction you are bound to be in strife, in conflict, are you not? Even when you have arrived, there is no rest for you, because you want to go still higher, you want to have more. Do you understand? The pursuit of success is the desire for the `more', and a mind that is constantly demanding the `more' is not an intelligent mind; on the contrary, it is a mediocre, stupid mind, because its demand for the `more' implies a constant struggle in terms of the pattern which society has set for it.
After all, what is contentment, and what is discontent? Discontent is the striving after the `more', and contentment is the cessation of that struggle; but you cannot come to contentment without understanding the whole process of the `more', and why the mind demands it.
If you fail in an examination, for example, you have to take it again, do you not? Examinations in any case are most unfortunate, because they don't indicate anything significant, they don't reveal the true worth of your intelligence. Passing an examination is largely a trick of memory, or it may be a matter of chance; but you strive to pass your examinations, and if you don't succeed you keep at it. With most of us it is the same process in everyday life. We are struggling after something, and we have newer paused to inquire if the thing we are after is worth struggling for. We have never asked ourselves if it's worth the effort, so we haven't yet discovered that it's not and withstood the opinion of our parents, of society, of all the Masters and gurus. It is only when we have understood the whole significance of the `more' that we cease to think in terms of failure and success.
You see, we are so afraid to fail, to make mistakes, not only in examinations but in life. To make a mistake is considered terrible because we will be criticized for it, somebody will scold us. But, after all, why should you not make a mistake? Are not all the people in the world making mistakes? And would the world cease to be in this horrible mess if you were never to make a mistake? If you are afraid of making mistakes you will never learn. The older people are making mistakes all the time, but they don't want you to make mistakes, and thereby they smother your initiative. Why? Because they are afraid that by observing and questioning everything, by experimenting and making mistakes you may find out something for yourself and break away from the authority of your parents, of society, of tradition. That is why the ideal of success is held up for you to follow; and success, you will notice, is always in terms of respectability. Even the saint in his so-called spiritual achievements must become respectable, otherwise he has no recognition, no following.
So we are always thinking in terms of success, in terms of the `more' and the `more' is evaluated by the respectable society. In other words, society has very carefully established a certain pattern according to which it pronounces you a success or a failure. But if you love to do something with all your being you are then not concerned with success and failure. No intelligent person is. But unfortunately there are very few intelligent people, and nobody tells you about all this. The whole concern of an intelligent person is to see the facts and understand the problem - which is not to think in terms of succeeding or failing. It is only when we don't really love what we are doing that we think in those terms.
Questioner: Why are we fundamentally selfish? We may try our best to be unselfish in our behaviour, but when our own interests are involved we become self-absorbed and indifferent to the interests of others.
Krishnamurti: I think it is very important not to call oneself either selfish or unselfish, because words have an extraordinary influence on the mind. Call a man selfish, and he is doomed; call him a professor, and something happens in your approach to him; call him a Mahatma, and immediately there is a halo around him. Watch your own responses and you will see that words like `lawyer', `business man', `governor', `servant', `love', `God', have a strange effect on your nerves as well as on your mind. The word which denotes a particular function evokes the feeling of status; so the first thing is to be free of this unconscious habit of associating certain feelings with certain words, is it not? Your mind has been conditioned to think that the term `selfish' represents something very wrong, unspiritual, and the moment you apply that term to anything your mind condemns it. So when you ask this question, "Why are we fundamentally selfish?" It has already a condemnatory significance.
It is very important to be aware that certain words cause in you a nervous, emotional, or intellectual response of approval or condemnation. When you call yourself a jealous person, for example, immediately you have blocked further inquiry, you have stopped penetrating into the whole problem of jealousy. Similarly, there are many people who say they are working for brotherhood, yet everything they do is against brotherhood; but they don't see this fact because the word `brotherhood' means something to them and they are already persuaded by it; they don't inquire any further and so they never find out what are the facts irrespective of the neurological or emotional response which that word evokes.
So this is the first thing: to experiment and find out if you can look at facts without the condemnatory or laudatory implications associated with certain words. If you can look at the facts without feelings of condemnation or approval, you will find that in the very process of looking there is a dissolution of all the barriers which the mind has erected between itself and the facts.
Just observe how you approach a person whom people call a great man. The words `great man' have influenced you; the newspapers, the books, the followers all say he is a great man, and your mind has accepted it. Or else you take the opposite view and say, "How stupid, he is not a great man". Whereas, if you can dissociate your mind from all influence and simply look at the facts, then you will find that your approach is entirely different. In the same way, the word "villager', with its associations of poverty, dirt, squalor, or whatever it is, influences your thinking. But when the mind is free of influence, when it neither condemns nor approves but merely looks, observes, then it is not self-absorbed and there is no longer the problem of selfishness trying to be unselfish.
Questioner: Why is it that, from birth to death, the individual always wants to be loved, and that if he doesn't get this love he is not as composed and full of confidence as his fellow beings?
Krishnamurti: Do you think that his fellow beings are full of confidence? They may strut about, they may put on airs, but you will find that behind the show of confidence most people are empty, dull, mediocre, they have no real confidence at all. And why do we want to be loved? Don't you want to be loved by your parents, by your teachers, by your friends? And, if you are a grown-up, you want to be loved by your wife, by your husband, by your children - or by your guru. Why is there this everlasting craving to be loved? Listen carefully. You want to be loved because you do not love; but the moment you love, it is finished, you are no longer inquiring whether or not somebody loves you. As long as you demand to be loved, there is no love in you; and if you feel no love, you are ugly, brutish, so why should you be loved? Without love you are a dead thing; and when the dead thing asks for love, it is still dead. Whereas, if your heart is full of love, then you never ask to be loved, you never put out your begging bowl for someone to fill it. It is only the empty who ask to be filled, and an empty heart can never be filled by running after gurus or seeking love in a hundred other ways.
Questioner: Why do grown-up people steal?
Krishnamurti: Don't you sometimes steal? Haven't you known of a little boy stealing something he wants from another boy? It is exactly the same throughout life, whether we are young or old, only the older people do it more cunningly, with a lot of fine-sounding words; they want wealth, power, position, and they connive, contrive, philosophize to get it. They steal, but it is not called stealing, it is called by some respectable word. And why do we steal? First of all, because, as society is now constituted, it deprives many people of the necessities of life; certain sections of the populace have insufficient food, clothing and shelter, therefore they do something about it. There are also those who steal, not because they have insufficient food, but because they are what is called antisocial. For them stealing has become a game, a form of excitement - which means that they have had no real education. Real education is understanding the significance of life, not just cramming to pass examinations. There is also stealing at a higher level the stealing of other people's ideas, the stealing of knowledge. When we are after the `more' in any form, we are obviously stealing.
Why is it that we are always asking, begging, wanting, stealing? Because in ourselves there is nothing; inwardly, psychologically we are like an empty drum. Being empty, we try to fill ourselves not only by stealing things, but by imitating others. Imitation is a form of stealing: you are nothing but he is somebody, so you are going to get some of his glory by copying him. This corruption runs right through human life, and very few are free of it. So what is important is to find out whether the inward emptiness can ever be filled. As long as the mind is seeking to fill itself it will always be empty. When the mind is no longer concerned with filling its own emptiness, then only does that emptiness cease to be.
You know it is so nice just to be very quiet, to sit up straight with dignity, with poise - and that is as important as it is to look at those leafless trees. Have you noticed how lovely those trees are against the pale blue of the morning sky? The naked branches of a tree reveal its beauty; and trees also have an extraordinary beauty about them in the spring, in the summer and in the autumn. Their beauty changes with the seasons, and to notice this is as important as it is to consider the ways of our own life.
Whether we live in Russia, in America, or in India, we are all human beings; as human beings we have common problems, and it is absurd to think of ourselves as Hindus, Americans, Russians, Chinese, and so on. There are political, geographic, racial and economic divisions, but to emphasize the divisions only breeds antagonism and hatred. Americans may be for the moment far more prosperous, which means that they have more gadgets, more radios, more television sets, more of everything including a surplus of food, while in this country there is so much starvation, squalor overpopulation and unemployment. But wherever we live we are all human beings, and as human beings we create our own human problems; and it is very important to understand that in thinking of ourselves as Hindus, Americans, or Englishmen, or as white, brown, black, or yellow, we are creating needless barriers between ourselves.
One of our main difficulties is that modern education all over the world is chiefly concerned with making us mere technicians. We learn how to design jet planes, how to construct paved roads, how to build cars or run the latest nuclear submarines, and in the midst of all this technology we forget that we are human beings - which means that we are filling our hearts with the things of the mind. In America, automation is releasing more and people from long hours of labour, as it will presently be doing in this country, and then we shall have the immense problem of how to utilize our time. Huge factories now employing many thousands will probably be run by a few technicians; and what is to become of all the other human beings who used to work there and who will have so much time on their hands?
Until education begins to take this and other human problems into account, our lives will be very empty.
Our lives are very empty now, are they not? You may have a college degree, you may get married and be well off, you may be very clever, have a great deal of information, know the latest books; but as long as you fill your heart with the things of the mind, your life is bound to be empty, ugly, and it will have very little meaning. There is beauty and meaning in life only when the heart is cleansed of the things of the mind.
You see, all this is our own individual problem; it is not some speculative problem that doesn't concern us. If as human beings we don't know how to care for the earth and the things of the earth, if we don't know how to love our children and are merely concerned with ourselves, with our personal or national advancement and success, we shall make our world hideous - which is what we are already doing. One country may become very rich, but its riches are a poison as long as there is another country which is starving. We are one humanity, the earth is ours to share, and with loving care it will produce food, clothing and shelter for us all.
So, the function of education is not merely to prepare you to pass a few examinations, but to help you understand this whole problem of living - in which is included sex, earning a livelihood, laughter, having initiative, being earnest and knowing how to think deeply. It is also our problem to find out what God is, because that is the very foundation of our life. A house cannot stand for long without a proper foundation, and all the cunning inventions of man will be meaningless if we are not seeking out what is God or truth.
The educator must be capable of helping you to understand this, for you have to begin in childhood, not when you are sixty. You will never find God at sixty, for at that age most people are worn out, finished. You must begin when you are very young because then you can lay the right foundation so that your house will stand through all the storms that human beings create for themselves. Then you can live happily because your happiness is not dependent on anything, it is not dependent on saris and jewels, on cars and radios, on whether somebody loves or rejects you. You are happy not because you possess something, not because you have position, wealth, or learning, but because your life has meaning in itself. But that meaning is discovered only when you are seeking out reality from moment to moment - and reality is in everything, it is not to be found in the church, in the temple, in the mosque, or in some ritual.
To seek out reality we must know how to go about removing the dust of centuries that has settled upon it; and please believe me, that search for reality is true education. Any clever man can read books and accumulate information, achieve a position and exploit others, but that is not education. The study of certain subjects is merely a very small part of education; but there is a vast area of our life for which we are not educated at all, and to which we have no right approach.
To find out how to approach life so that our daily living, our radios, cars and airplanes have a meaning in relationship to something else which includes and transcends them all - that is education. In other words, education must begin with religion. But religion has nothing to do with the priest, with the church, with any dogma or belief. Religion is to love without motive, to be generous, to be good, for only then are we real human beings; but goodness, generosity, or love does not come into being save through the search for reality.
Unfortunately, this whole vast field of life is ignored by the so-called education of today. You are constantly occupied with books which have very little meaning, and with passing examinations which have still less meaning. They may get you a job, and that does have some meaning. But presently many factories will be run almost entirely by machines, and that is why we must begin now to be educated to use our leisure rightly - not in the pursuit of ideals, but to discover and understand the vast areas of our existence of which we are now unconscious and know nothing. The mind, with its cunning arguments, is not everything. There is something vast and immeasurable beyond the mind, a loveliness which the mind cannot understand. In that immensity there is an ecstasy, a glory; and the living in that, the experiencing of that is the way of education. Unless you have that kind of education, when you go out into the world you will perpetuate this hideous mess which past generations have created.
So, teachers and students, do think about all this. Don't complain, but put your shoulder to the wheel and help to create an institution where religion, in the right sense, is investigated, loved, worked out and lived. Then you will find that life becomes astonishingly rich - far richer than all the bank accounts in the world.
Questioner: How did man come to have so much knowledge? How did he evolve materially? Whence does he draw such vast energies?
Krishnamurti: "How did man come to have so much knowledge?" That is fairly simple. You know something and pass it on to your children; they add a little more and pass it on to their children, and so on down through the ages. We gather knowledge little by little. Our great grandfathers did not know a thing about jet planes and the electronic marvels of today; but curiosity, necessity, war, fear and greed have brought about all this knowledge by degrees.
Now, there is a peculiar thing about knowledge. You may know a great deal, gather vast stores of information; but a mind that is clouded by knowledge, burdened with information, is incapable of discovery. It may use a discovery through knowledge and technique, but the discovery itself is something original which suddenly bursts upon the mind irrespective of knowledge; and it is this explosion of discovery that is essential. Most people, especially in this country, are so smothered by knowledge, by tradition by opinion, by fear of what their parents or neighbours will say, that they have no confidence. They are like dead people - and that is what the burden of knowledge does to the mind. Knowledge is useful, but without something else it is also most destructive, and this is being shown by world events at the present time.
Look at what is happening in the world. There are all these marvellous inventions: radar which detects the approach of an airplane while still many miles away; submarines which can go submerged right around the world without once coming up; the miracle of being able to talk from Bombay to Benaras or New York, and so on. All this is the outcome of knowledge. But something else is missing, and therefore knowledge is misused; there is war, destruction, misery, and countless millions of people go hungry. They have only one meal a day, or even less - and you know nothing about all this. You only know your books and your own petty problems and pleasures in a particular corner of Benaras, Delhi, or Bombay. You see, we may have a great deal of knowledge, but without that something else by which man lives and in which there is joy, glory, ecstasy, we are going to destroy ourselves.
Materially it is the same thing: man has evolved materially through a gradual process. And whence does he draw such vast energies? The great inventors, the explorers and discoverers in every field must have had enormous energy, but most of us have very little energy, have we not? While we are young we play games we have fun, we dance and sing; but when we grow up that energy is soon destroyed. Have you not noticed it? We become weary housewives, or we go to an office for endless hours day after day, month in and month out, merely to earn a livelihood; so naturally we have little or no energy. If we had energy we might destroy this rotten society, we might do the most disturbing things; therefore society sees to it that we don't have energy, it gradually smothers us through `education', through tradition, through so-called religion and culture. You see, the function of real education is to awaken our energy and make it explode, make it continuous, strong, passionate, and yet have spontaneous restraint and employ itself in the discovery of reality. Then that energy becomes immense, boundless, and it does not cause further misery but is in itself creator of a new society.
Do listen to what I am saying, don't brush it aside, because it is really important. Don't just agree or disagree, but find out for yourself if there is truth in what is being said. Don't be indifferent: be either hot or cold. If you see the truth of all this and are really hot about it, that heat, that energy will grow and bring about a new society. It will not dissipate itself by merely revolting within the present society, which is like decorating the walls of a prison.
So our problem, especially in education, is how to maintain whatever energy we have and give it more vitality, a greater exploding force. This is going to require a great deal of understanding, because the teachers themselves generally have very little energy; they are smothered with mere information, all but drowned in their own problems, therefore they cannot help the student to awaken this creative energy. That is why the understanding of these things is as much the teacher's concern as it is the student's.
Questioner: Why do my parents get angry when I say that I want to follow another religion?
Krishnamurti: First of all, they are attached to their own religion, they think it is the best if not the only religion in the world, so naturally they want you also to follow it. Furthermore, they want you to adhere to their particular manner of thinking, to their group, their race, their class. These are some of the reasons; and also, you see, if you follow other religion you would become a nuisance, a trouble to the family.
But what has happened even when you do leave one organized religion to follow another? Have you not merely moved to another prison? You see, as long as the mind clings to a belief, it is held in a prison. If you are born a Hindu and become a Christian your parents may get angry, but that is a minor point. What is important is to see that when you join another religion you have merely taken on a new set of dogmas in place of the old. You may be a little more active, a little more this or that, but you are still within the prison of belief and dogma.
So don't exchange religions, which is merely to revolt within the prison, but break through the prison walls and find out for yourself what is God, what is truth. That has meaning, and it will give you enormous vitality, energy. But merely to go from one prison to another and quarrel about which prison is better - this is a child's game.
To break out of the prison of belief requires a mature mind, a thoughtful mind, a mind that perceives the nature of the prison itself and does not compare one prison with another. To understand something you cannot compare it with something else. Understanding does not come through comparison, it comes only when you examine the thing itself. If you examine the nature of organized religion you will see that all religions are essentially alike, whether Hinduism, Buddhism, Mohammedanism, Christianity - or communism, which is another form of religion, the very latest. The moment you understand the prison, which is to perceive all the implications of belief, of rituals and priests, you will never again belong to any religion; because only the man who is free of belief can discover that which lies beyond all belief, that which is immeasurable.
Questioner: What is the real way to build up character?
Krishnamurti: To have character means, surely, to be able to withstand the false and hold on to the true; but to build character is difficult, because for most of us what is said by the book, by the teacher, by the parent, by the government is more important than to find out what we ourselves think. To think for oneself, to find out what is true and stand by it, without being influenced, whatever life may bring of misery or happiness - that is what builds character.