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Jiddhu Krishnamurti (1895 - 1986)

3rd Public Question And Answer Meeting
Responsibility, Respectability, and Self-Knowing

There are many questions that have been put; some rather extravagant and others, if I may point out, rather absurd. Like, why don't I grow a beard? Those we have set aside and taken some of the more serious questions. It's quite funny, isn't it, all this.

May I again remind you, if I may, you are putting these questions to yourself, and trying to find an answer, or to see the implications of the questions. As we also pointed out, it is important how you approach these questions; any question, any problem of life, whether we approach it personally or with some definite or unconscious motive, or with a desire only to find an answer, thereby we never understand the problem itself. As we said the other day, problem means something thrown at you, something that you have to meet, a challenge that you have to respond. But if one responds to it obliquely or in a certain direction, then one is not meeting that challenge completely. So it matters very much, if I may point out, we are not instructing you, we are not teaching you, just pointing out, how important it is how you approach a question, a problem. And one has to learn the approach, rather than the solution of the problem.

1st QUESTION: How do you feel about one million dollars going to educate a small, somewhat select group of children that do not appear to be from the suffering or destitute?

What do you think? This school, Oak Grove School, as far as I understand, has a scholarship fund for poorer people, for the so-called destitute, for children who are not from the well-to-do class. I wonder why there is a general antagonism or feeling against a group of people who are elite? And why do we object to a school of this kind, which has really a scholarship; why do you object to it - not knowing all the intricacies of the school, problems of the school, and so on? And why don't you, if I may point out, object to the enormous sums of money being spent on war? Why don't you object to that? War, not any particular war, nuclear war, but the whole idea of killing people for one's country, isn't that much more important to object to that than to this?

This is also important, we are replying to it. That is, this school, Oak Grove School, they are spending about a million dollars, if they can get it; I think they will get at least half of it; having a secondary school. And there is a scholarship fund for those who cannot possibly afford the full pay. If you feel this strongly, then what will you do about it? Burn up the place? Or, go into the question, why, in an affluent society as in America, as in this country, as in this part of the world, why there are people who are starving, who have very little, who are uneducated, who are submitting to all kinds of horrors? Why this country is spending millions and millions and millions on armament and so on. Why? Do we object merely verbally or do we take action about all this? And what can one do when a country, like all over the world, even the most primitive societies in the world are accumulating materials for war. Each country, like France, England, America, and other countries, are selling armaments to other countries, poorer countries, who are also spending millions on all kinds of horrible means of destruction of humanity. What do we feel about all this? And what can one do about all this?

It seems almost impossible to stop this destruction of man. So do we go to the root of all this or merely consider not to have a certain type of nuclear bombs and so on, superficially, Or, do we go into all these matters deeply? That is, what is the cause of all this? What is the cause of poverty, not only in this country, which is so affluent compared to the rest of the world? What do we do about it? When we go to the Asiatic world, India and so on, the population is increasing every year. In India, 15 or 13 million people are added every year. And, a very, very poor country like that is spending billions on armaments, buying Mirage from France, to oppose another country, a neighbour. We are all doing this. What shall we do? What is the cause of all this destitution, poverty, orphans; in the Asiatic world, people have starved, are starving. The speaker was part of it; not enough food, and so on, as a boy, as a child. So we all know what poverty is. Perhaps not you. I am glad you don't know it. And what is the root of all this?

Is it national pride? Is it some kind of peculiar honour, to fight for one's own country and kill millions of people in that for that honour? What is the cause of this destitution, the increasing poverty in the world? Is it that the nationalism has divided people and therefore one country is enormously well-to-do, and the other countries are not? Is it possible to have a global relationship, interrelationship, so that economically, socially, as politics, everything, it is a global problem, not American problem or Asiatic problem. Can we consider that to stop wars, which is part of destitution, part of this enormous destruction of another human being, who is like you. He may call himself a Turk or an Argentine or a British or Russian, but that human being is like you and me. Going through all kinds of misery; hoping for security in nationalism, which is isolation, and in that isolation there is no security. So could we or some group of people be free of all nationalism, who are absolutely, totally against war, killing other human beings? I am not telling you to do it, please. There were in ancient societies a group of people who refused to kill under all circumstances; it was their religious deep conviction that to kill was an evil, and if you kill you'd pay for it next life; therefore don't kill - reward and punishment, maybe but the idea of killing something, because life is sacred. So if one feels that deeply, one puts aside all tribalism, and can governments in the world not accumulate armaments? It seems almost impossible. The world has gone insane. If you don't pay tax, you are sent to prison because you are an objector to all this. And if you buy a stamp you are sustaining war. If you pay for petrol, or gas as it's called in this country, part of it goes to war.

So, seeing all this, what is a human being to do? Not only in the school, that's a small affair. What is a human being, confronted with all these problems, what is he to do? Who is responsible for all this? Governments? Politicians? The group of terribly rich people who are controlling governments, big corporations? Who is responsible for all this horror? Please answer these questions. Isn't each one of us responsible? Because we dislike a foreigner; hate people who are not of the same colour as we are, and so on. Isn't each one of us responsible for all this? So, if we are responsible, it's our duty, our intense feeling that we bring about a new society; a new group of people. That's the function of education. At least we are trying in this school to bring about good human beings, whether they are rich or poor, children are children. Good, integrated, honest human beings. They may fail, but it is good to attempt to do something of that kind. So it's our responsibility, it seems to us; that each one of us deeply understands this enormous problem for which each one of us is responsible.

You have heard the speaker saying all this. He has said it all over India, Europe and this country, in Australia and so on. You listen to all this, and apparently we don't seem to apply it. And that is really the most terrible thing to do. If you hear something that is true and not apply it, it acts as a poison. Do you understand? It's a very destructive thing to hear something true, natural, healthy, and not profoundly apply it. Then what you have heard and what you are brings about a contradiction and then there is conflict, perpetual conflict. Far better not to hear any of this, and not apply.

The speaker has a passport, an Indian passport, diplomatic passport. But that paper does not identify himself with the country. That paper is merely for the convenience of travelling.

2nd QUESTION: Why do we confuse function with role? For instance, we may teach or do some work, but why do we make personal these functions, claiming them as attributes of ourselves, thereby introducing will, position, power, and consequently tremendous harm?

The question is fairly clear. Why are we always so personal about almost everything? Please answer this question to yourself. Why is it that we cannot look at the world impersonally, dispassionately? Why do we through function, use that function for status? Please. Why can we not keep function as, say for instance, the speaker has something to say, but why does he - if he does, which he doesn't - why does he through this function want a status, a position, power, all that business, why? Is it that power is worshipped by human beings; status is far more important than function; a prime minister far more important than the cook; a professor is far more important than a man who is learning something or other; master carpenter and so on? You follow? We don't apparently see that function has its own importance, but if you are using function for a status, your function becomes brittle, it has,lost its energy. You know, nowadays - it's an old problem - functions, as that of a teacher or a great scientist or great statesman, a teacher throughout the world is considered rather 'not quite, quite'. Whereas a scientist, a doctor, we all kind of look up to. But the teacher is far more important than any other profession, because a teacher is bringing about a new generation of people. He should be paid the highest; but we don't do that. For us in - in this peculiar society that we have created - the teacher is the least respected, least considered important. Haven't you noticed this, all this? The teacher can't have a Cadillac, or a Lincoln or a Rolls-Royce, but big businessmen can have it, and you respect the Cadillacs, Lincolns and Rolls-Royces; which shows status is far more important than function.

Now, we all know this. Why? Why do we do this? That is the question. The questioner wants to know, why we human beings use function as a means to achieve a status; why? Is it not one of the reasons that we worship success? That goddess of success. We are all trained; every television and so on says you must succeed, succeed, succeed. Success means achieving a certain status. Not function, the honourable state of function in something for itself, but use the function to become something; which is, to be famous, to have a great, or whatever it is. Why do we do all this? You are doing it, sirs, we are all doing it; except perhaps a few. Why do we do this? Is it we all want power, domination over others; more comfort through money?

By the way, I don't know if you have noticed, the world is becoming more and more, if I may use that word, materialistic. They all want to be more comfortable, more clothes, more houses, more money, do the same thing over and over again, the more of it, and that is called culture. You follow all this, I wonder? So it is all becoming so terribly tragic. And why do we do all these things? Why do we want power? Because we see people in great power, what they are doing, influencing people, their name in the papers every morning; and we'd like to have our names in the paper every morning. Is it a form of deep frustrated urge to have a position, a status of respect, of looking up to authority? We all want that. So we use everything as a stepping stone to something else. You know, it is one of the most difficult things to be nothing. Because to be a successful person is the most respectable person. He is respected. But a human being who says, I don't want any of these things, I'll just live. I'll be nothing in this world. That requires a great deal of inward stability; a light to oneself; capacity to stand completely alone.

3rd QUESTION: Is it not political action necessary to bring about total change?

Lots of things are implied in this question, as in every question. What are politics, what does the word mean? The art of government, science of government; that is, to govern people; because people are so dishonest, so wanting to do their own thing; each one wanting his own desires fulfilled, he wants to compete with others. You follow? All that. So people, ordinary human beings like all of us, are striving to express our own personal individual desires, which go against other people's desires, ambitions, and so on. So each one of us is in opposition to another. And so the art of government is to rule the people, because the people are corrupt, people left to themselves are dangerous animals, therefore they must be controlled, they must be ruled, there must be law, and so on. This is what is happening in the world. Please see it for yourself. More laws, more policemen; greater armies, greater materials of war. So what does government mean? What is the art of government?

You know the meaning of the word 'art'? Not the writing of poems, painting pictures, writing novels; art, the word, not the expression of that word. Art means to put everything in its right place; you understand? To put everything - every action, every thought, every human being has its own place. So, when we human beings have not this art in ourselves - you understand? No, sir, I don't know if you do, please don't agree. Art in this sense, to put my house, my house which is me, in order. Then somebody else has to put that house in order. We have created this society, and we leave it to politicians to alter the society. We have created the monster called society, and to control that society we have to have politicians. Politicians may be either good or supported by the very, very rich people, of a small group of rich people supporting; you know all the game that goes on in the world among politicians. The speaker knows a considerable lot of them. And this is going on right throughout the world; that is, we want political leaders. This leader during this period is not good, but when this election is over, we'll have a new president - a new leader, I won't call them presidents, sorry - new leader; and he too or she too might fail, but we wait another election. You follow? We have done this throughout the world, waiting for new leaders. The present leader is no good, but we hope the next leader will be better, and so on and on and on. This has been the game in all political world. Our desires are that. That is, we are always wanting somebody else to lead us; to tell us what to do. And there is no leader, no saviour no guru, no book is going to help us. I think if one really deeply realizes this; no outside agency, no change of environment, changing of certain structure of society is not going to change the human condition. The human condition is what we are, and if we don't apply ourselves to bring about a radical mutation in ourselves, no leader, nobody in the world is going to do it. And we may search in vain for a new political leader, new statesman, new world leader; we're waiting, creating a world still most chaotic more than it is now. It is so terribly obvious to anybody who looks, thinks about all this, looks at all this. But apparently we are always wanting somebody to do something for us, psychologically, which is far more important. Because what the psychological state is, the outward state is.

So, having heard that, what are you going to do about it? Just listen? And say, very good; good idea. But it's terribly difficult for me to change. Because I have not the energy, the whatever is demanded, I haven't got it. So each one of us is so negligent, indifferent, accepting things as they are, and carrying on. So if we realize the world, the society, the wars, the nuclear bomb, all the horrible threats of the destructive thing called war, and if we realize that we are responsible for this, each one of us; a burning responsibility, not a verbal idealistic responsibility, a burning responsibility, a responsibility that demands an intense action in ourselves, not over somebody. Then perhaps there will be a possibility of a new society; a new group of human beings might bring about a different world.

4th QUESTION: Won't we find the truth you speak of through loving service to humanity, through acts of love and compassion?

Oh, this is a lovely question! The do-gooders are always helping society, the poor, devoting their life to poverty and helping others to accept the poverty or to move out of that poverty. This is going on; recognized by religious people as a great act, making them into saints, you know all this, you read about it almost every day in the papers; the missionaries that go out. It's all so ridiculous!

Now, the questioner says, through acts of love, compassion, service, do we find that truth which is not yours or mine or doesn't belong to any religion? Now, do you love? Do you have compassion? Do you want to help or serve another? When you set out to serve another, to help another, it means you know much better than the other fellow does. I think there is a great deal of vanity in all this, in the name of service, in the name of love; don't you think so? A great deal of self-expression. I want to fulfil myself through various activities, maybe service, maybe that which is called love, or through what we call love or compassion. Isn't it natural and a healthy indication to help another? That's natural. Why do we make a dance and a song about it?

And compassion, what is it, what does that mean? The meaning of that word; passion for all; feeling deep passion for all. That means that feeling of great intensity not to kill another human being, not to kill a living thing. Then you will say, when you kill a cabbage, that's to kill something. So, where do you draw the line? To kill a human being? To kill a baby seal? To kill your enemy, who is aggressive, as you yourself have been aggressive last year?

So, can compassion exist, love exist when there is there is antagonism, when there is competition, when each one of us is seeking success? Go into all this, sirs.

So, in having self-knowing - let's put it this way - in knowing myself, which is knowing the content of my consciousness, which is myself, the content, the beliefs, the antagonisms, the agony, the loneliness, the suffering, the pain, desire to be secure, all that, and more is my consciousness. Without knowing that, understanding the whole conflicting, destructive combination which is my consciousness, how can I love? How can I have that thing called compassion? So to know, the understanding of oneself, not the improvement of the self, which is merely the improvement of my selfishness, which can be marvellous if you want that kind of thing; the understanding of myself, the understanding of my reactions, the way I think, why I do - you know, the whole movement of this. The Greeks, the ancient Greeks, and the ancient Hindus, talked about 'know thyself'. But very few people have really studied themselves. They have studied the animals: rats, guinea pigs, dogs, monkeys, vivisection, you know all that, what is happening. And through them they hope to understand themselves. They talk about behaviour, but they never study themselves. We are the greatest experimenters, if we are, in ourselves.

And to know oneself is to understand, look in the mirror of our relationship. I can't know myself just by thinking about myself, whether I am this, whether I am that. But I can understand myself, it's revealed in my relationship to my wife, to my children, to my neighbour, to governments, to everything. I see myself as I am, not as I would like to be, but actually as I am. Then, there is a possibility of seeing what actually is, there is a possibility of changing that, of bringing about transformation in that. But we never study ourselves. We are always studying books, and the books tell us what we are, and trying to adjust ourselves to what others have told us. What others have told us is what we are, so why do we have to be told by others what we are? Do you understand all this? Because we want to be quite certain that what we study is accurate. So we turn to others. We make mistakes, we say, this is right, this is wrong, I did this, but there is this constant awareness of one's reaction in one's relationship. That requires attention, a great deal of sensitivity. And to be physically sensitive, not be drugged, not take alcohol, smoke; how can you be sensitive?

So, compassion, love can only exist when the self is not. As we said the other day, when you are not, that which is immense is.

Do you want to go on? I can go on, but can you?

5th QUESTION: Do levels of spiritual - I haven't seen this question, so I must read it - do levels of spirituality or consciousness exist? What part do psychic healing, astral projection, the ability to see auras, and the entities, etcetera, and so on play in all this? And can these interfere with relationship and our abilities to see clearly? Good god!

I don't know quite how to answer this. First of all, the first question in this is, do levels of spirituality or levels in consciousness exist? That is, is one more spiritual than the other? You understand? The more. That is, is one nearer truth than the other fellow? Now, what is the meaning of the word 'more'? 'The more' is a measurement, isn't it? I am this, I will be more rich tomorrow. Or I am violent now, but I will not be violent in another week's time. So the mind is always measuring; I am tall, you are short, you are fair, somebody is black, somebody is yellow, somebody is pink; measurement. That is measurement is comparison. And the word 'measure' also plays part in meditation. Measurement and meditation are related. Please, this is very important if you want to understand this. Why do human beings measure? Not for clothes, I'm not talking about that. Psychologically, inwardly, why do we want to measure ourselves with somebody? That is, the measurement of 'what is' towards 'what should be'. You follow this? I am not good today, but give me time, I will be good; which is, the allowing of a time interval is the measure. You follow this?

Are we together in this? When I have the concept of psychological time, that time implies measurement. You get this? So, the questioner says, is there in spirituality - whatever that word may mean, for the moment we are using the ordinary sense of that word; the accepted sense of that word - is there in spirituality a measurement? Where there is measurement, there is no spirituality. Right? A guru, a bishop and so on and so on and so on and so on, there is this concept, this idea that someone is nearer god, nearer truth - god, I don't mean god, nearer truth. And he has achieved something, and I have to achieve that, and to achieve that I must have time and I must measure myself every day. Right? And this is obviously so utterly mundane, utterly physical; that is, I am a clerk in an office, and perhaps next year I'll be a superior clerk and ten years later I will be executive. It is the same movement carried over into the psychological area. And so there is the nearest disciple and the novitiate right there. There is a monastery in Italy, the speaker used to go and visit it, where the novitiate waited for nine years. You understand? After nine years he was allowed to go into the inner sanctuary. There is a perfect measurement. And that is called spiritual growth.

And the questioner asks also, are there levels in consciousness? That is, there is unconscious and the conscious. Right? This is how we have divided consciousness: the hidden and the obvious; the thing that is dark and the thing that is light. We have divided consciousness that way. And in that consciousness there are several divisions. Now, to the speaker, consciousness is whole. It cannot be divided. Please see why. If there is consciousness, which is to be fully awake, then there is nothing hidden. You understand? I wonder if - no please, don't agree to this so quickly! Go into it gradually. Freud and all those gentlemen, professionals, have divided it, our consciousness, into various categories. And we poor laymen, not knowing, we accept all this. But as the speaker, and many people, do not read all this, perhaps they have studied their own states; one can see very clearly, when one is conscious of something, either you are conscious fully or very, very partially, as most of us are. When you look at this marvellous country - the hills, the trees, the light and the shadows - when you are completely aware of all this, there is no hidden shadows in your own mind. So if one is completely aware of oneself, there is no division between higher consciousness and lower consciousness. It is consciousness with all its content.

One can divide: belief in some sacred thing is higher than my sexual or sensory responses, but it's part of my consciousness; which I have divided for some pleasurable reasons or for some desire to achieve something, or it's a pattern which I have accepted as measurement, and I measure myself. This is better than this; this is nobler than this. But it is part of this consciousness. Now, can my unconscious, that is the deep - please listen to this - the deep undiscovered places of fear exist when I have gone into the whole movement of fear? You understand my question? I have examined fear, and the causes of fear, because the mind has realized that any form of fear, hidden, secret, personal or physical and so on, any form of fear is destructive. The mind has realized this, not verbally, but actually. So, it is concerned completely with the freedom of fear, freedom from total fear, not partial fear. So, it's willing, it is open to all the hidden movements of fear to reveal itself, through dreams, through acts, through various forms of - you know, when you are walking by yourself in a wood or on the road, suddenly you realize there is a movement of fear, unconscious, which you have not realized before; which means, your mind is open to the revelation of your own fears. That requires a great deal of enquiry into the nature of fear, which we did last few days ago. So the hidden dark fears that are in the deep recesses of one's consciousness, in the mind, can come out, expose naturally if one is insistent, urgent, that there must be freedom from total fear. You are following all this? The very necessity of being free of fear brings about the total exposure of all fear.

That reply demands watchfulness; sensitivity to be alert to every kind of feeling, nuances of feeling, the subtleties of reactions.

So, as long as there is measurement, there must be division, both in consciousness and in so-called spirituality.

What part do psychic healing, astral projection, the ability to see, blah, blah, blah, play in all this and can these interfere with relationship and our abilities to see clearly?

How does one answer this question? What prevents a human being from seeing clearly? Seeing not optically, inwardly; seeing things as they are, very clearly, without any distortion. Outside agency, astral projections, imagination, prejudice, bias, conclusions which you hold on to, experiences which you think are important, aren't these obvious facts that prevent clarity of perception? Why don't we go into those rather than into astral projection?

You know that word, astral projection is - -I won't go into that, sorry.

Psychic healing. One can heal only when there is no self. You understand this? But self is so deceptive, so cunning, that it hides behind all kinds of manner. Suppose I am a devout religious person attached to some form of symbol or idea, a projection; and that projection is me, greater, nobler, is the highest form, I am still selfish. I am still me, only glorified. As long as there is any sense of the self, healing becomes rather tawdry. But when there is no self at all, there is a possibility of healing.

It's an hour and a quarter we have talked. Is that enough?

Audience: No.

K: One more question, that'll be enough, I think.

6th QUESTION: What is it in humanity that has always moved towards something called religion or god? Is it only a projection as a result of fear and suffering, a seeking for help, or is it something deeply real, necessary, intelligent?

As the questioner points out, historically and actually man has always sought something beyond himself. Man has always said, this is not enough; I have my food, clothes, shelter, I live in this world, I die, but there must be something more. I am sure every human being, at least who is alert, who is fairly intelligent, must have asked this question. Even the committed Communists must have asked, is this all? Is this suffering, pain, and nothing more? And as the questioner says, does fear make us invent something, an outside agency that will protect us, guard us.

So we want to go into this question very deeply.

When there is no fear whatsoever psychologically, whatsoever, what is the state of your mind - please enquire together - what is the state of mind that is totally, completely free from all fear? Will it have any desire to protect itself? Will it have any need or necessity to seek something to which it can pray, worship, or ask help? You understand? When you are perfectly healthy, physically, would you go near a doctor? Would you study all the diet books? See every morning the expert doing exercises on the television? Similarly, a very, tremendously healthy mind - healthy in the sense, having no fear, completely no fear, end to sorrow. The understanding of the whole movement of pleasure, you follow? Healthy, sane, rational mind. Will it need to go to any church? Go on, sir, answer for yourself. It's only the mind that is crippled, conditioned, unhealthy, fearful, aching, lonely, deeply sorrowful, wants naturally some help. And so it projects gods, saviours, the whole religious circle. But that suffering, that loneliness, that fear, he has not been able to solve, he hasn't gone into it. And we have had saviours who have had leaders, we have had every kind of help in the world; all the evangelists, all the preachers, all the - you know what goes on. They have not freed man from this ache.

So, the question is really, can we be a light to ourselves, not depend psychologically on anyone; action that will not breed conflict, regret, sorrow, pain, inwardly? You understand? Can we understand ourselves so completely, or is that not possible? We have never tried. We have tried everything else, we have gone to the moon, invented most marvellous machines, extraordinary surgical instruments. The brain has got extraordinary capacity, but that capacity we have never applied to ourselves. Because we have always asked for someone else to help us; that's what you are doing here, now. The speaker is not helping you, he is not teaching you; we are saying, look at yourself.

We have got the capacity, the energy, sufficient intelligence to go into ourselves, look at ourselves, face ourselves; never escaping from ourselves. We have got all the energy to do that. Think what energy is needed to go to the moon; you understand, sir? Enormous co-operative energy, drive. But apparently when it comes to us, the mind becomes slack; we wither, and we hope somebody will give us water that will bring us again to health. Nobody is going to give it to you. That's one absolute fact, irrefutable fact. Because we have had leaders, teachers, we have had saviours, we have had every kind of outside agency, infinite information about ourselves from others. And all that has not freed us from fear. And so, out of our laziness, out of our indifference, out of our callousness, we invent gods and all the rest of it.

And the misfortune is, because we don't know ourselves, we are destroying other human beings. We're destroying this marvellous earth.

Right, sir? May I get up now?

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