What Is Right Action?
10th Public Talk 29th June, 1934
To me there is a reality, an immense living truth; and to comprehend that, there must be utter simplicity of thought. What is simple is infinitely subtle, what is simple is greatly delicate. There is a great subtlety, an infinite subtlety and delicacy, and if you use words merely as a means of getting to that delicacy, to that simplicity of thought, then I am afraid you will not comprehend what I want to convey. But if you would use the significance of words as a bridge to cross, then words will not become an illusion in which the mind is lost.
I say there is this living reality, call it God, truth, or what you like, and it cannot be found or realized through search. Where there is the implication of search, there must be contrast and duality; whenever mind is seeking, it must inevitably imply a division, a distinction, a contrast, which does not mean that mind must be contented, mind must be stagnant. There is that delicate poise, which is neither contentment, nor this ceaseless effort born of search, of this desire to attain, to achieve; and in that delicacy of poise lies simplicity, not the simplicity of having but few clothes or few possessions. I am not talking of such simplicity, which is merely a crude form, but of simplicity born of this delicacy of thought, in which there is neither search nor contentment.
As I said, search implies duality, contrast. Now where there is contrast, duality, there must be identification with one of the opposites, and from this there arises compulsion. When we say we search, our mind is rejecting something and seeking a substitute that will satisfy it, and thereby it creates duality, and from this there arises compulsion. That is, the choice of the one is the overcoming of the other, isn't it?
When we say we seek out or cultivate a new value, it is but the overcoming of that in which the mind is already caught up, which is its opposite. This choice is based on attraction to one or fear of the other, and this clinging through attraction, or rejection through fear, creates influence over the mind. Influence then is the negation of understanding, and can exist only where there is division, the psychological division from which there arise distinctions such as class, national, religious, sex. That is, when the mind is trying to overcome, it must create duality, and that very duality negates understanding, and creates the distinctions which we call class, religion, sex. That duality influences the mind, and hence a mind influenced by duality cannot understand the significance of environment or the significance of the cause of conflict. These psychological influences are merely reactions to environment from that centre of "I" consciousness, of like and dislike, of antitheses, and naturally where there are antitheses, opposites, there can be no comprehension. From this distinction there arises the classification of influences as beneficial and evil. So as long as mind is influenced - and influence is born of attraction, opposites, antitheses - there must be the domination or compulsion of love, of intellect, of society, and this influence must be a hindrance to that understanding which is beauty, truth and love itself.
Now if you can become aware of this influence, then you can discern its cause. Most people seem to be aware superficially, not at the greatest depth. It is only when there is awareness at the greatest depth of consciousness, of thought and emotion, that you can discern the division that is created through influence, which negates understanding.
Question: After listening to your talk about memory, I have completely lost mine, and I find I cannot remember my huge debts. I feel blissful. Is this liberation?
Krishnamurti: Ask the person to whom you owe the money. I am afraid that there is some confusion with regard to what I have been trying to say concerning memory. If you rely on memory as a guide to conduct, as a means of activity in life, then that memory must impede your action, your conduct, because then that action or conduct is merely the result of calculation, and therefore it has no spontaneity, no richness, no fullness of life. It does not mean that you must forget your debts. You cannot forget the past. You cannot blot it out of your mind. That is an impossibility. Subconsciously it will exist, but if that subconscious, dormant memory is influencing you unconsciously, is moulding your action, your conduct, your whole outlook on life, then that influence must ever be creating further limitations, imposing further burdens on the functioning of intelligence.
For example, I have recently come from India; I have been to Australia and New Zealand where I met various people, had many ideas and saw many sights. I can't forget these, though the memory of them may fade. But the reaction to the past may impede my full comprehension in the present, it may hinder the intelligent functioning of my mind. That is, if my experiences and remembrances of the past are becoming hindrances in the present through their reaction, then I cannot comprehend or live fully, intensely, in the present.
You react to the past because the present has lost its significance, or because you want to avoid the present; so you go back to the past and live in that emotional thrill, in that reaction of surging memory, because the present has little value. So when you say, "I have completely lost my memory", I am afraid you are fit for only one place. You cannot lose memory, but by living completely in the present, in the fullness of the moment, you become conscious of all the subconscious entanglements of memory, the dormant hopes and longings which surge forward and prevent you from functioning intelligently in the present. If you are aware of that, if you are aware of that hindrance, aware of it at its depth, not superficially, then the dormant subconscious memory, which is but the lack of understanding and incompleteness of living, disappears, and therefore you meet each movement of environment, each swiftness of thought anew.
Question: You say that the complete understanding of the outer and inner environment of the individual releases him from bondage and sorrow. Now, even in that state, how can one free himself from the indescribable sorrow which in the nature of things is caused by the death of someone he really loves?
Krishnamurti: What is the cause of suffering in this case? And what is it that we call suffering? Isn't suffering merely a shock to the mind to awaken it to its own insufficiency? The recogni- tion of that insufficiency creates what we call sorrow. Suppose that you have been relying on your son or your husband or your wife to satisfy that insufficiency, that incompleteness; by the loss of that person whom you love, there is created the full consciousness of that emptiness, of that void, and out of that consciousness comes sorrow, and you say, "I have lost somebody."
So through death there is, first of all, the full consciousness of emptiness, which you have been carefully evading. Hence where there is dependence there must be emptiness, shallowness, insufficiency, and therefore sorrow and pain. We don't want to recognize that; we don't see that that is the fundamental cause. So we begin to say, "I miss my friend, my husband, my wife, my child. How am I to overcome this loss? How am I to overcome this sorrow?"
Now all overcoming is but substitution. In that there is no understanding and therefore there can only be further sorrow, though momentarily you may find a substitution that will completely put the mind to sleep. If you don't seek an overcoming, then you turn to seances, mediums, or take shelter in the scientific proof that life continues after death. So you begin to discover various means of escape and substitution, which momentarily relieve you from suffering. Whereas, if there were the cessation of this desire to overcome and if there were really the desire to understand, to find out, fundamentally, what causes pain and sorrow, then you would discover that so long as there is loneliness, shallowness, emptiness, insufficiency, which in its outer expression is dependence, there must be pain. And you cannot fill that insufficiency by overcoming obstacles, by substitutions, by escaping or by accumulating, which is merely the cunning of the mind lost in the pursuit of gain.
Suffering is merely that high, intense clarity of thought and emotion which forces you to recognize things as they are. But this does not mean acceptance, resignation. When you see things as they are in the mirror of truth, which is intelligence, then there is a joy, an ecstasy; in that there is no duality, no sense of loss, no division. I assure you this is not theoretical. If you consider what I am now saying, with my answer to the first question about memory, you will see how memory creates greater and greater dependence, the continual looking back to an event emotionally, to get a reaction from it, which prevents the full expression of intelligence in the present. Question: What suggestion or advice would you give to one who is hindered by strong sexual desire?
Krishnamurti: After all, where there is no creative expression of life, we give undue importance to sex, which becomes an acute problem. So the question is not what advice or suggestion I would give, or how one can overcome passion, sexual desire, but how to release that creative living, and not merely tackle one part of it, which is sex; that is, how to understand the wholeness, the completeness of life.
Now, through modern education, through circumstances and environment, you are driven to do something which you hate. You are repelled, but you are forced to do it because of your lack of proper equipment, proper training. In your work you are being prevented by circumstances, by conditions, from expressing yourself fundamentally, creatively, and so there must be an outlet; and this outlet becomes the sex problem or the drink problem or some idiotic, inane problem. All these outlets become problems.
Or you are artistically inclined. There are very few artists, but you may be inclined, and that inclination is continually being perverted, twisted, thwarted, so that you have no means of real self-expression, and thus undue importance comes to be given either to sex or to some religious mania. Or your ambitions are thwarted, curtailed, hindered, and so again undue importance is given to those things that should be normal. So, until you understand comprehensively your religious, political, economic and social desires, and their hindrances, the natural functions of life will take an immense importance, and the first place in your life. Hence all the innumerable problems of greed, of possessiveness, of sex, of social and racial distinctions have their false measure and false value. But if you were to deal with life, not in parts but as a whole, comprehensively, creatively, with intelligence, then you would see that these problems, which are enervating the mind and destroying creative living, disappear, and then intelligence functions normally, and in that there is an ecstasy.
Question: I have been under the impression that I have been putting your ideas into action; but I have no joy in life, no enthusiasm for any pursuit. My attempts at awareness have not cleared my confusion, nor have they brought any change or vitality into my life. My living has no more meaning for me now than it had when I started to listen to you seven years ago. What is wrong with me?
Krishnamurti: I wonder if the questioner has, first of all, understood what I have been saying before trying to put my ideas into action. And why should he put my ideas into action? And what are my ideas? And why are they my ideas? I am not giving you a mould or a code by which you can live, or a system which you can follow. All that I am saying is, that to live creatively, enthusiastically, intelligently, vitally, intelligence must function. That intelligence is perverted, hindered, by what one calls memory, and I have explained what I mean by that, so I won't go into it again. So long as there is this constant battle to achieve, so long as mind is influenced, there must be duality, and hence pain, struggle; and our search for truth or for reality is but an escape from that pain.
And so I say, become aware that your effort, your struggle, your impinging memories are destroying your intelligence. To become aware is not to be superficially conscious, but to go into the full depth of consciousness so as not to leave undiscovered one unconscious reaction. All this demands thought; all this demands an alertness of mind and heart, not a mind that is cluttered up with beliefs, creeds and ideals. Most minds are burdened with these and with the desire to follow. As you become conscious of your burden, don't say you mustn't have ideals, you mustn't have creeds, and repeat all the rest of the jargon. The very"must" creates another doctrine, another creed; merely become conscious, and in the intensity of that consciousness, in the intensity of awareness, in that flame you will create such crisis, such conflict, that that very conflict itself will dissolve the hindrance.
I know some people come here year after year, and I try to explain these ideas in different ways each year, but I am afraid there is very little thought among the people who say, "We have been listening to you for seven years." I mean by thought, not mere intellectual reasoning, which is but ashes, but that poise between emotion and reason, between affection and thought; and that poise is not influenced, is not affected by the conflict of the opposites. But if there is neither the capacity to think clearly, nor the intensity of feeling, how can you awaken, how can there be poise, how can there be this alertness, awareness? So life becomes futile, inane, worthless.
Hence the very first thing to do, if I may suggest it, is to find out why you are thinking in a certain way, and why you are feeling in a certain manner. Don't try to alter it, don't try to analyze your thoughts and your emotions; but become conscious of why you are thinking in a particular groove and from what motive you act. Although you can discover the motive through analysis, although you may find out something through analysis, it will not be real; it will be real only when you are intensely aware at the moment of the functioning of your thought and emotion; then you will see their extraordinary subtlety, their fine delicacy. So long as you have a "must" and a "must not", in this compulsion you will never discover that swift wandering of thought and emotion. And I am sure you have been brought up in the school of "must" and "must not" and hence you have destroyed thought and feeling. You have been bound and crippled by systems, methods, by your teachers. So leave all those "must" and "must nots". This does not mean that there shall be licentiousness, but become aware of a mind that is ever saying, "I must", and "I must not." Then as a flower blossoms forth of a morning, so intelligence happens, is there, functioning, creating comprehension.
Question: The artist is sometimes mentioned as one who has this understanding of which you speak, at least while working creatively. But if someone disturbs or crosses him, he may react violently, excusing his reaction as a manifestation of temperament. Obviously he is not living completely at the moment. Does he really understand if he so easily slips back into self-consciousness?
Krishnamurti: Who is the person that you call an artist? A man who is momentarily creative? To me he is not an artist. The man who merely at rare moments has this creative impulse and expresses that creativeness through perfection of technique, surely you would not call him an artist. To me, the true artist is one who lives completely, harmoniously, who does not divide his art from living, whose very life is that expression, whether it be a picture, music, or his behaviour; who has not divorced his expression on a canvas or in music or in stone from his daily conduct, daily living. That demands the highest intelligence, highest harmony. To me the true artist is the man who has that harmony. He may express it on canvas, or he may talk, or he may paint; or he may not express it at all, he may feel it. But all this demands that exquisite poise, that intensity of awareness, and therefore his expression is not divorced from the daily continuity of living.