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Jiddhu Krishnamurti (1895 - 1986)

What Is Right Action?

Valparaiso, Chile
Public Talk 4th September, 1935

Friends, before I enter into the subject of my talk, I should like to say that I belong to no organization, and that I have come to Chile at the invitation of some kind friends. To belong to any particular organization is not very helpful to clear thinking; and as in the newspapers and elsewhere it has been said that I am a Theosophist, and as I have also been called by other labels, I think it would be well to state that I do not belong to any sect or society. and that I hold it is detrimental to force thought into a particular groove.

Thought does not belong to any nationality; it is neither of the orient nor of the occident. What is true does not exclusively belong to any particular type or race. Please do not brush aside what I say as being communistic or anarchistic, or by saying that it has no particular significance for present-day problems. What I say has to be understood for its own intrinsic value, and not regarded as a new system. Also, please do not think that I am merely destructive. What one generally calls constructive is the offer of a system, so that you can follow it mechanically, without much thought.

We all say that there must be a complete change in the world. We see so much exploitation of one race by another, of one class by another, of followers by their religions; so much poverty, misery, and at the same time abundance. We see the disease of nationalism, imperialism, spreading everywhere with its wars, destroying human life, your life, life which should be sacred.

So we see all about us utter chaos and intense suffering. There must be a dynamic, universal change in human thought and feeling. Some say, "Leave it to the experts, let them think out a suitable system, and we will follow." Others say that there must be a mass movement to change the environment completely.

Now if you merely leave the whole of the human problem to the expert. then you, the individual. will become a machine, shallow. empty.

When you speak of a mass movement, what is meant by the mass? How can there be a mass movement miraculously born? It can come only through careful understanding and action on the part of the individual. To grasp this human problem, without superficial reactions, we must think directly and simply. In understanding truth, our problems will be solved. Individuals must fundamentally change. To bring about a true mass movement, which does not exploit the individual, each one of you must be responsible for your actions. You cannot be thoughtless and machine-like. Most of us are afraid to think deeply, because it involves a great effort, and also we sense in it a vague danger. But we must understand the limitations in which our minds are held, and in liberating ourselves from them. there will be true fulfilment.

Each individual, subtly or grossly, is seeking constantly his own security. Where there is the objective or subjective search for security, there must be fear. Through fear he has developed objectively one kind of system, and through fear, objectively, he has submitted himself to another. So let us understand the significance of the systems which he has created.

This objective system is based essentially on exploitation. As the individual is seeking his own security. family, becomes the very beginning and centre of exploitation. Family has come to mean self-perpetuation. Though we may say that we love our family, that word is misused, for such love is but the expression of possessiveness. From that possessive attachment are developed class distinctions, and the means of acquiring wealth is protected in the minds of the few. From that there arise different nationalities, again dividing people. Think how absurd it is to divide the world into classes, nationalities, religions and sects. The love of country is turned into a means of exploitation leading to imperialism; and the next step is war, killing man. Objectively. the individual's mind is held in a system of exploitation. which creates constant conflict, suffering and war. This objective expression is but the outcome of the desire and search for one's own security.

Subjectively, man has created a system which he calls religion. Now religions, though they profess love, are fundamentally based on fear. Where there is fear, there must be authority. Authority creates dogmas, creeds, and ideals. Religions are but crystallized, dead forms of belief. To administer these there exist priests, who become your exploiters. (Applause)

I fear you agree too easily, but you are the creators of exploiters; you crave to be secure and cling to the assurance of your own continuance. Merely escaping from this desire into some activity does not mean that you are liberated from this subtle, egotistic longing.

So you have, in the objective world, a system which is ruthlessly preventing the fulfilment of each individual, and in the subjective world, an organized system which, through authority, dogmas, belief and fear, is destroying the individual discernment of reality, truth. Action born of this subjective and objective search for security is continually creating limitation, bringing about frustration. There is no completeness, fulfilment.

There can be the welfare of mankind only when each individual truly fulfils. To realize individual fulfilment, you who are now but so many repetitive reactions, cogs in a social and religious machine, have to become individuals by questioning all the values, moral, social, religious, and discover for yourselves, without following any particular person or system, their true significance. Then you will discern that these values are fundamentally based on egotism, selfishness. The mere imitation of values, whose deep significance you have not understood, must lead to frustration. Instead of waiting for a miraculous change, a mass movement, you the individual must awaken; you have to come into conflict with those values which you have established through your craving for security.

You do this only when there is suffering. Now most of you desire to avoid conflict, suffering; so you would rather examine values intellectually, sitting at ease. You say there must be a mass awakening, a mass movement in order to change the environment. So you throw the responsibility of action on this vague thing called the mass, and man goes on suffering. You secure for yourself a safe corner, deceitfully, cunningly call it moral, and thus add to the chaos and suffering. In this there is no happiness, intelligence or fulfilment, but only fear and sorrow. Awaken to all this, each one of you, and change the course of your thought and action.

Question: Do you think the League of Nations will succeed in preventing a new world war?

Krishnamurti: How can there be the cessation of war so long as there are the divisions of nationalities and sovereign governments? How can war be prevented when there are class divisions, when there is exploitation, when each one is seeking his own individual security and creating fear? There cannot be peace in the world if subjectively each one of you is at war. To bring about true peace in the world so that man is not slaughtered for an ideal called national prestige, honour, which is nothing but vested interest, you the individual must liberate yourself from acquisitiveness. As long as this exists, there must be conflict and misery. So do not merely look to a system to solve human sorrow, but become intelligent. Throw away all the stupidities that now crush the mind, and think anew, simply and directly, about war, exploitation and acquisitiveness. Then you do not have to wait for governments which at present are but the expressions of vested interest, to alter the absurd, cruel conditions in the world.

Question: May divorce be a solution for the sex problem?

Krishnamurti: To understand this problem, we must not deal with it by itself. If we desire to understand any problem, we must consider it comprehensively, as a whole, not apart, exclusively.

Why should there be this problem at all? If you deeply examine it, you will see that your creative energy, through fear, is frustrated, limited by authority, compulsion. The mind and heart are hindered from living deeply, through fear, through what one calls morality, which is based on egotistic security. So sex has become a consuming problem, because it is only sensation, without love. If you would release the creative energy of thought and emotion and so solve this problem of sex, then the mind must disentangle itself from self. imposed hindrances and illusions. To live happily, intelligently, mind must be free of fear. Out of this awakening there comes the bliss of love, in which there is no possessiveness. This problem of sex comes into being when love is destroyed through fear, jealousy, possessiveness.

Question: Are not churches useful for the moral uplift of man?

Krishnamurti: Now what is the present-day morality? When you deeply understand the significance of existing morality and liberate yourself from its selfish, egotistic limitations, then there is intelligence which is truly moral. True morality is not based on fear, and so is free of compulsion. Existing morality, though it professes love and noble sentiment, is based on selfish security and acquisitiveness. Do you want that morality to be maintained? Churches are built through your own fear, through the desire for your own egotistic continuance. The morality of religion and of business is born out of deep egotistic security and so it is not moral. You must radically change your own attitude towards morality. Churches and other organizations can not help you, for they themselves are founded on man's stupidity and acquisitiveness.

How can there be true morality if the governments throughout the world, and also the churches, honour those people who are the supreme expressions of acquisitiveness? This whole structure of morality is supported by you, and so by your own thought and action you alone can radically alter it and bring about true morality, true intelligence.

Question: Is there life beyond the grave? What significance has death for you?

Krishnamurti: Why are you concerned about the hereafter? Because living here has lost its deep significance; there is no fulfilment in this world, no lasting love, but only conflict and sorrow. So you hope for a world, the hereafter, in which to live happily, fully. Because you have not had an opportunity of fulfilment here, you hope that in another life you can realize. Or you want to meet again those whom you have lost by death, which but indicates your own emptiness. If I say there is life in the hereafter, and another says there is not, you will choose the one that gives you the greater satisfaction, and thus become a slave to authority. So the problem is not whether there is an hereafter, but to understand here the fullness of life which is eternal, to liberate action from creating limitation.

For the man who fulfils, who has not separated himself from the movement of reality, for him there is no death.

How can one live so that action is fulfilment? How can one be in love with life? To be in love with life, to fulfil, mind must be free, through deep understanding, from those limitations that thwart and frustrate it; you must become aware, conscious of all the impediments that dwell in the background of the mind. There is within each one the unconscious, which is continually hindering, perverting intelligence; that unconscious is making life incomplete. Through action, through living, through suffering, you must drag out all those things that are hidden, concealed. When the mind is not occupied, through fear, with the hereafter, but is fully conscious, aware of the present with its deep significance, then there is the movement of reality, of life which is not yours or mine. Question: What you say may be useful for the educated man, but will it not lead the uneducated to chaos?

Krishnamurti: Now it is very difficult to decide who is the educated and who is the uneducated. (Laughter) You may read many books, have many companions, belong to different clubs, have plenty of money, and yet be the most ignorant.

When you are concerned about the uneducated, it usually indicates that there is fear, that you do not wish to be disturbed or dislodged from your achievements. So you say there will be disorder and chaos. As though there were not chaos and suffering in the world now. Do not concern yourself about the uneducated, but see whether your actions are intelligent and fearless, which alone will create right environment. But if, without understanding, you merely concern yourself about the uneducated, you become a priest and an exploiter. If you who are supposed to be educated, who have leisure, do not take the full responsibility of your actions, then there will be greater chaos, misery and suffering.

Question: In moments of great emptiness, when one thinks of the uselessness of one's own existence, one looks for the opposite, that is, being serviceable to others. Isn't that an escape from conflict? What must I do in such moments? They generally occur after hearing your talks, and come as a feeling of remorse. What do you think of all this?

Krishnamurti: If you merely react to my talk and do not deeply understand what I say through action, through life, then you are conscious only of your own emptiness, shallowness, and so you think that you ought to develop the opposite, which is but an escape. Through action, which is not escape through activity, this emptiness gives way to fulfilment. Do not be concerned about this unhappiness, shallowness, but when the mind liberates itself from its self-imposed limitations, then there is rich completeness.