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Jiddhu Krishnamurti (1895 - 1986)

IT WOULD BE rather interesting and worth while if we could share together a mind that is not tortured, that is fundamentally free, that has no barriers, that sees things as they are, that sees that an interval of time separates man from nature and from other human beings, that sees the meaning of dreadful, frightening time and space, that knows what is really the quality of love. If we could share this - not intellectually, not in a most cunning, elaborate, philosophical, metaphysical way, but actually partake of it, if we could do that I think all our problems would end. But this sharing is not with another, one must have it first. Then when you have it you have it in abundance. And when there is this abundance the one and the many are the same, like a tree that is full of leaves of which one leaf is perfect and is part of the whole tree.

If we could, this evening, share this quality, not with the speaker, but by having it and then sharing it. Then the question of sharing it would no longer arise. It is like a flower full of scent which doesn't share, but is always there for any passer-by to delight in. And whether anyone is very near in the garden, or very far away, it is all the same to the flower, because it is full of that perfume, and so it is sharing with everything. If one could come upon this, it is really a mysterious flower. It only seems mysterious because we are so full of emotion and sentiment, and sentiment, in that emotional sense, has very little meaning; one can have sympathy, be generous, be very kind, gentle and extremely polite but the quality of which I have been speaking is entirely different from all this. And don't you wonder (not in abstract terms, nor according to something to be gained by a system, by a philosophy or by following some guru), don't you wonder why it is that human beings lack this thing? They beget children, they enjoy sex, tenderness, a quality of sharing something together in companionship, in friendship, in fellowship, but this thing - why is it that we haven't got it? For, when it is, then all problems whatever they may be, come to an end. And haven't you wondered lazily, on occasion, when you were walking by yourself in a filthy street, or sitting in a bus, or when you were on a holiday by the seaside, or in a wood with a lot of birds, trees, streams and wild animals, hasn't it ever come upon you to ask - why is it that man, who has lived for millions of years, why is it that he hasn't got this thing, this extraordinarily unfading flower?

If you have asked this question, even out of casual curiosity, you must have had an inkling, an intimation, a hint. But, probably, you have not asked it. We live such a monotonous, dull, sloppy life within the field of our own problems and anxieties that we have never even asked this question. And if we were to ask this question of ourselves (as we are going to do now, sitting under this tree on a quiet evening, with the noise of the crows), I wonder what would be our reply. What would each one of us honestly give as a direct answer, without equivocation or cunning, what would be the answer if you put this question to yourself? Why do we go through all this excruciating torture, with so many problems, with multitudinous fears piling up, yet this one thing seems to go by, seems to have no place at all. And if you were to ask why, why one has not found this quality, I wonder what would be your answer? Your answer would be according to your own intensity in asking that question, and its urgency. But we are neither intense nor urgent and we are not urgent or intense because we haven't got the energy. To look at anything, a bird, a crow sitting on a branch preening itself, to look at it with all your being, with all your eyes, ears, nerves, mind and heart, to look at it completely, requires energy, but not the shoddy energy of a dissipated mind that has struggled, that has tortured itself, that is full of innumerable burdens. And most minds, ninety-nine point nine per cent recurring of minds have this terrible burden, this tortured existence. And so they have no energy, energy being passion. And you can't find any truth without passion. That word "passion" is derived from the Latin word for suffering which again derives from Greek and so on; from this "suffering" the whole of Christendom worships sorrow, not passion. And they have given "passion" a special significance. I don't know what significance you give to it, the feeling of complete passion, with a fury behind it, with total energy, that passion in which there is no hidden want.

And if we were to ask, not just with curiosity but with all the passion we have, then what would be the answer? But probably you are afraid of passion, because for most people passion is lust, passion that is derived from sex and all that. Or it may come from the passion that is felt through identification with the country to which we belong, or passion for some mean little god, made by the hand or by the mind; and so to us, passion is rather a frightening thing because if we have such a passion, we do not know where it will take us. And so we are very careful to canalise it, to build a hedge around it through philosophical concepts, ideals, so that energy, which is demanded in order to solve this extraordinary question (and it is quite extraordinary if you put it to yourself honestly, directly), why we human beings, who live in families with children, surrounded by all the turmoil and violence of the world, why, when there is one thing that could cover all this, why it is that we haven't got it? I wonder, is it because we really don't want to find out? Because to find out anything there must be freedom, to find out what I think, what I feel, what are my motives, to find out, not merely to analyse intellectually, but to find out, there must be freedom to look. To look at that tree you must be free from worry, from anxiety, from guilt. To look you must be free from knowledge; freedom is a quality of mind that cannot be got through renunciation nor sacrifice. Are you following all this, or am I talking to the winds and the trees? Freedom is a quality of mind that is essential for seeing. It is not freedom from something. If you are free from something that is not freedom, it is only a reaction. If you smoke and you give up smoking, and you say,"I am free", you are really not free although you may be free from that particular habit. Freedom concerns the whole habit-forming machinery, and to understand this whole problem of habit-forming one must be free to look at its mechanism. Perhaps we are afraid of that freedom too; and therefore we put freedom far away from us, in some heaven.

So fear is perhaps the reason why we have not the energy of that passion to find out for ourselves why that quality of love is lacking in us. We have everything else, greed, envy, superstition, fear, the ugliness of a shoddy little life, the routine of going to an office every day for the next forty, fifty years - not that one shouldn't go to an office, one has to, unfortunately, but it becomes a routine, and that routine, that going to the office, doing the same thing day after day, day after day, for forty years, shapes the mind, makes it dull, stupid, or clever in only one direction.

It may be, probably it is, that each one of us is so frightened of life, because without understanding this whole process of living, we can never possibly understand what it is not to live. You understand? What we call living, the daily boredom, the daily struggle, the daily conflict within oneself and outside of oneself, the hidden demands, the hidden wants, the ambitions, the cruelties, and the enormous burden of conscious or unconscious sorrow - that is what we call living - don't we? We may try to escape from it, go to the temple, or the club, follow a new guru, or become a hippy or take to drink, or join some society which promises us something - anything to escape. In fear lies the major problem of what we call living (fear of not being, fear of being attached, with all the great pain it brings - how to be detached - whether there is physical, emotional, psychological, security - the fear of that - the fear of the unknown, fear of tomorrow, the fear of your wife leaving you, the fear of having no belief and being isolated, lonely, in despair at every moment, deep down), this is what we call living, a battle, a tortured existence with barren thoughts. We live like this because that is our life, with occasional moments of sanity, occasional moments of clarity to which we cling furiously.

Please, Sirs, don't merely listen to words and don't be carried away by them; explanations, definitions, descriptions, are not the fact. The fact is your life, the fact is whether you are aware of it, and you cannot be aware of it through the speaker's words, which merely describe your condition and if you are caught up in the description, in the words, then you are certainly lost forever. And that is what we are - we are lost, we are forlorn because we have accepted words, words, words. So don't please, I beg of you, be caught in words, but watch yourself, watch your life, your daily life which you call living, which consists of going to the office, passing examinations, getting a job, not having a job, fear, family and social pressure, tradition, the torture of not arriving, the uncertainty of life, the utter deep boredom of life that has no meaning whatsoever. You may give significance to life, you can invent as philosophers and theoreticians do, as religious people do - invent the significance of life, that is their job. But this is feeding on words when you need substance; you are fed with words, and you are satisfied with words. So to understand this living we have to look at it: to come intimately into contact with it, not have the space and time interval between yourself and it. You don't have this time-space interval when you have deep physical pain, you act, you don't theorize, you don't quarrel about whether there is Atman or no Atman, soul or no soul, you don't begin to quote the Gita, the Upanishads, the Koran, or the Bible or some saint. Then you are face to face with actual life. Life is that movement which is active, the doing, the thinking, the feeling, the fears, the guilt, the despair - that is life. And one has to be intimately in contact with it. And one cannot be intensely, passionately, vitally, in contact, if there is fear.

Fear is what makes us believe, whether our belief is in the ideological community of the Communist, or the theocratical idea of a clergyman or a priest. All these things are born out of fear; obviously all gods, all, are the outcome of our agony; and when we worship them we are worshipping our agony, our loneliness, despair, misery and sorrow. Do please listen to all this - it is your life, not my life. You have to face this and so you have to understand fear. And you cannot understand fear if you don't understand life. You have to understand the jealousy that you have, the envy - envy and jealousy which are merely the indications of fear. And you can understand totally (not intellectually, there is no such thing as understanding intellectually, there is only understanding totally), you can understand totally and it is like looking at that sunset with your mind, with your heart, with your eyes, with your nerves; it is then you understand. And to understand jealousy, envy, ambition, cruelty, violence (to understand them and give your complete attention at the moment anything happens, at the moment you feel envious, angry, jealous or full of hate, or feel dishonest in yourself), then, if you understand that, you will understand fear. But you can't take fear as an abstraction. After all fear exists in relation to something. Are you not afraid of your neighbour, of the government, of your wife, or your husband, afraid of death, and so on? You have to observe, not fear, but enquire as to what has brought this about.

Now we are going to examine what living is, to which we cling so desperately, the living of our daily, monotonous, tragic life - the life of the bourgeois, the mediocre, the down-trodden - because we are all downtrodden by society, by culture, by religions, by priests, by leaders, by saints, and unless you understand this you will never understand fear; so we are going to understand this living and also that enormous source of fear, which is called death. And to understand it you have to have tremendous energy, passion. You know how we waste our energy (I don't mean through sex, that is a very small affair, don't make that into something unnecessarily tremendous), but one must enquire directly, not according to Shankara or any of those people, who have invented their own particular form of escape from life.

To find out what living is, we must not only have energy but also the quality of passion that is sustained, and intellect cannot possibly sustain passion. And to have that passion one has to enquire into the wastage of energy. One can see that it is a waste of energy to follow anybody - you understand? - to have a leader, to have a guru, because when you follow you are imitating, you are copying, you are obeying, you are establishing authority and your energy is therefore diffused. Do observe this; please do so. Don't go back to your gurus, to your societies, to your authorities, drop them like hot potatoes. You can also see how you waste your energy when there is compromise. You know what compromise is? There is compromise only when there is comparison. And we, from childhood, are trained to compare between what we are and what the head of the class in our school is; compare ourselves with what we were yesterday, noble or ignoble, with the happiness that we felt yesterday, that came upon us without warning, suddenly it came, the delight of looking at a tree, at flowers, at the face of a lovely woman, a child or a man, and then we compare what is today with what was yesterday. This comparison, this measurement, is the beginning of compromise. Do please look at this for yourself. Find out the truth of it, that the moment you have a measure, which is comparison, you are already compromising with what is. When you say that man is an I.C.S., he earns so much, he is the head of this or that, you are comparing, judging, placing people as important, not as human beings, but according to their degrees, their qualities, their earning capacity, their job, their Ph.D.s and the whole lot of alphabets after their names; and so you are comparing, comparing yourself with another, whether "the other" is a saint, a hero, a god, an idea, or an ideology - comparing, measuring - and all this breeds compromise which is a tremendous wastage of energy. This is not a question of when you are sexual and the tradition behind that. So, one sees how this is a waste of energy and the energy is wasted when you indulge in ideation, in theories: whether there is a soul or no soul, whether there is an Atman, or no Atman - isn't it a waste of time, a waste of energy? When you read or listen to some saint endlessly, or some sannyasi, making commentaries on the Gita, or the Upanishadsjust think of it! - the absurdity of it! - the childishness of it! Somebody explains some book which in itself is dead, written by some dead poet, giving to it a tremendous significance. All this shows that immaturity is essentially a waste of energy.

The immature mind compares itself with what is and what should be, but it is only the immature mind that compares. The mature mind has no comparison, the mature mind has no measure. I don't know if you have ever looked into yourself and watched how you compare yourself with another, saying, "He is so beautiful, so intelligent, so clever, so prominent; and I am nobody, I would like to be like him." Or, "She is so beautiful, has a good figure, has a nice mind, intelligent, bright, better." We think and function in this comparative, measuring world. And if you have ever questioned and observed maybe you have said, "No more comparison, no more comparison with anybody, not with the most beautiful actress." You know that beauty is not in the actress, beauty is something total, not in the face, in the figure, in the smile, but where there is a quality of total comprehension, the totality of one's being; when that is what looks, there is beauty. Do watch it in yourself, please, try it, or rather do it - when you use the word "try", you know how such a mind is the most deplorable, foolish mind; when it says, "I am doing my best, I am trying", this indicates a mind that is essentially bourgeois, capable of measuring, which is doing better every day; so, find out for yourself whether you can live, not theoretically but actually, without comparison, measure, never using the words "better" or "more". See what happens. It is only such a mature mind that is not wasting energy, only such a mind can live a very simple life, I mean a life of real simplicity, not the so-called simplicity of the man who has one meal, or one loincloth - that's exhibitionism - but the mind that has no measure and is therefore not wasting energy.

So to come to the point. We are wasting energy and you need this energy to understand this monstrous way of living. And we must understand it, that is the only thing we have, not gods, Bibles, Gitas, or ideals; what you have is this thing - the daily torture, the daily anxiety. And to understand it, be in contact with it, is to have no space between yourself as the observer and the thing as despair, and for this you must have tremendous, driving energy. To have that energy, it cannot be dissipated - when this occurs you will understand what living is. Then there is no fear of life, of the movement of life. You know what a movement is? A movement has no end and no beginning, and therefore the movement in itself is the beauty, the glory. Are you following this?

So life is this movement and to understand it there must be freedom, there must be energy. And to understand death is to understand something which is closely related to life. You know, beauty (not in pictures, not in a person, not in the tree or in the cloud or in the sunset) beauty cannot be divorced from love. And where there is love and beauty there is life and also there is death. You cannot separate one from the other. The moment you separate there is conflict, there is no relationship. So we have looked, not in great detail or widely, perhaps, but we have looked at life.

Now let us consider, go into, this question of death. Have you asked why you are frightened of death? Apparently most people are. Some don't want even to know about it, or if they do, they want to glorify it. Or some invent a theory, a belief, an escape - an escape such as resurrection, or reincarnation. The majority of the people who live in the East believe in reincarnation - you all do, probably. That is, a permanent entity, or a collective memory, is reborn again in the next life - isn't it? That is what you all believe; to have a better opportunity, to live more fully, to perfect yourself, because this life is so short, this life can't give you all the experience, all the joy, all the knowledge, therefore - let's have a next life! You want a next life where you will have time and space to perfect yourself, so you have that belief. This is escape from the fact - we are not concerned with whether there is or there is not reincarnation, or whether there is continuity or no continuity. That requires quite a different analysis. We can see briefly how that which has continuity is that which has been, that which has been yesterday will continue today, through today to tomorrow. And such a continuity is within time and space. This is not intellectual, you can observe it very simply for yourself. And we are frightened of this thing called death. We are not only frightened of living but we are also frightened of this unknown thing. Are we frightened of the unknown, or frightened of the known, of losing the known? That is, the family, your experiences, your daily monotonous existence - the known - the house, the garden, the smile to which you are accustomed, the food which you have eaten for thirty years, the same food, the same climate, the same books, the same tradition - you are frightened of losing that, aren't you? How can you be frightened of something you don't know?

So thought is frightened not only of losing the known but also thought is frightened of something which it calls death, unknown. As we said, fear cannot be got rid of, but it can be understood only when the things that produce the fear, like death, are understood. Now man throughout time has pushed death far away; the ancient Egyptians for instance lived to die. Death is something in the distance, that time-space interval between life and that which we call death. Thought, which has divided this, divided the living from the dying, thought keeps it apart. Do go into it, Sirs, it is very simple if you do so. Thought keeps it separate because thought has said, "I don't know what the future is; I can have a lot of theories if I believe in reincarnation, it means I must behave, work, act, now - if I believe that. What you do now matters when you die - but you don't believe that way. You believe in reincarnation as an idea, a comforting idea, but rather vague, so you don't care what you do now. You really don't believe in karma although you talk a great deal about it. If you really, actually, vitally, believed in it, as you believe in earning money, in sexual experience, then every word, every gesture, every movement of your being would matter, because you are going to pay for it in the next life. So that belief would bring tremendous discipline - but you don't believe, it is an escape, you are frightened because you don't want to let go.

And what are you letting go? Look at it. When you say, "I am afraid to let go" - what are you afraid of? Letting go what? Do look at it very closely. Your family, your mother, your wife, your child? Were you ever in relation with them? Or were you related to an idea, to an image? And when you say, "I am afraid to let go, to be detached" - what are you thinking of being detached from? Memories? Surely memories, memories of sexual pleasure, memories of your becoming a big man, or a little man climbing up the ladder, memories of your character, memories of your friendship - just memories. And you are afraid to let those memories go. However pleasant or unpleasant they may be, what are memories? They have no substance whatsoever. So you are frightened of letting go something which has no value at all, memory being that which has continuity, the bundle of memories, a unit, a centre.

So when one understands living, that is, when one understands jealousy, anxiety, guilt and despair and when one is beyond and above them, then life and death are very close together. Then living is dying. You know if you live according to memories, traditions, and what you "should be", you are not living. But if you put away all that, which means dying to all that you know - freedom from the known - this is death, and then you are living. You are living, not in some fantastic world of concepts but actually living, not according to the Vedas, the Upanishads which have no validity; what has validity is the life that you lead every day, that is the only life you have, and without understanding it, you will never understand either love, beauty, or death.

We come back to that original thing, which is: why there is not this flame in our heart. Because if you have examined very closely what has been said (not verbally, intellectually, but examined it in your own mind, in your own heart), then you will know why you haven't got it. If you know why you haven't got it, if you feel it and live with it, if you are passionate in your search for why you haven't got it, then you will find that you have it. Through complete negation, that thing which alone is the positive, which is love, comes into being. Like humility, you cannot cultivate love. Humility comes into being when there is total ending of conceit, vanity, but then you will never know what it is to be humble. For a man who knows what it is to have humility is a vain man. In the same way when you give your mind and your heart, your nerves, your eyes, your whole being to find out the way of life, to see what actually "is" and go beyond it, and deny completely, totally, the life that is lived now, in that very denial of the ugly, brutal, in its complete denial, the other comes into being. But you will never know it either. A man who knows that he is silent, or knows that he loves, doesn't know what love is, nor what silence is.

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