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Jiddhu Krishnamurti (1895 - 1986)


IT WAS EARLY in the morning and the cheerful birds were making an awful lot of noise. The sun was just touching the tree tops, and in the deep shade there were still no patches of light A snake must recently have crossed the lawn, for there was a long, narrow clearing of the dew. The sky had not yet lost its colour, and great white clouds were gathering. Suddenly the noise of the birds stopped, then increased with warning, scolding cries as a cat came and lay down under a bush. A big hawk had caught a white-and-black bird, and was tearing at it with its sharp, curving beak. It held its prey with eager ferocity, and became threatening as two or three crows came near. The hawk's eyes were yellow with narrow black slits and they were watching the crows and us without blinking.

"Why shouldn't I be exploited? I don't mind being used for the cause, which has great significance, and I want to be completely identified with it. What they do with me is of little importance. You see, I am of no account. I can't do much in this world, and so I am helping those who can. But I have a problem of personal attachment which distracts me from the work. It is this attachment I want to understand."

But why should you be exploited? Are you not as important as the individual or the group that is exploiting you?

"I don't mind being exploited for the cause, which I consider has great beauty and worth in the world. Those with whom I work are spiritual people with high ideals, and they know better than I do what should be done."

Why do you think they are more capable of doing good than you are? How do you know they are "spiritual," to use your own word, and have wider vision? After all, when you offered your services, you must have considered this matter; or were you attracted, emotionally stirred, and so gave yourself to the work? "It is a beautiful cause, and I offered my services because I felt that I must help it."

You are like those men who join the army to kill or to be killed for a noble cause. Do they know what they are doing? Do you know what you are doing? How do you know that the cause you are serving is "spiritual"?

"Of course you are right. I was in the army for four years during the last war; I joined it, like many other men, out of a feeling of patriotism. I don't think I considered then the significance of killing; it was the thing to do, we just joined. But the people I am helping now are spiritual."

Do you know what it means to be spiritual? For one thing, to be ambitious is obviously not spiritual. And are they not ambitious?

"I am afraid they are. I had never thought about these things, I only wanted to help something beautiful."

Is it beautiful to be ambitious and cover it up with a lot of high-sounding words about Masters, humanity, art, brotherhood? Is it spiritual to be burdened with self-centredness which is extended to include the neighbour and the man across the waters? You are helping those who are supposed to be spiritual, not knowing what it is all about and willing to be exploited.

"Yes, it is quite immature, isn't it? I don't want to be disturbed in what I am doing, and yet I have a problem; and what you are saying is even more disturbing."

Shouldn't you be disturbed? After all, it is only when we are disturbed, awakened, that we begin to observe and find out. We are exploited because of our own stupidity, which the clever ones use in the name of the country, of God, of some ideology. How can stupidity do good in the world even though the crafty make use of it? When the cunning exploit stupidity, they also are stupid, for they too do not know where their activities are leading. The action of the stupid, of those who are unaware of the ways of their own thought, leads inevitably to conflict confusion and misery.

Your problem may not necessarily be a distraction. Since it is there, how can it be? "It is disturbing my dedicated work."

Your dedication is not complete since you have a problem which you find distracting. Your dedication may be a thoughtless action, and the problem may be an indication, a warning not to get caught up in your present activities

"But I like what I am doing."

And that may be the whole trouble. We want to get lost in some form of activity; the more satisfying the activity, the more we cling to it. The desire to be gratified makes us stupid, and gratification at all levels is the same; there is no higher and lower gratification. Though we may consciously or unconsciously disguise our gratification in noble words, the very desire to be gratified makes us dull, insensitive. We get satisfaction, comfort psychological security through some kind of activity; and gaining it, or imagining that we have gained it, we do not desire to be disturbed. But there is always disturbance - unless we are dead, or understand the whole process of conflict, struggle. Most of us want to be dead, to be insensitive, for living is painful; and against that pain we build walls of resistance, the walls of conditioning. These seemingly protecting walls only breed further conflict and misery. Is it not important to understand the problem rather than to find a way out of it? Your problem may be the real, and your work may be an escape without much significance.

"This is all very disturbing, and I shall have to think about it very carefully."

It was getting warm under the trees and we left. But how can a shallow mind ever do good? Is not the doing of "good" the indication of a shallow mind? Is not the mind, however cunning, subtle, learned, always shallow? The shallow mind can never become the unfathomable; the very becoming is the way of shallowness. Becoming is the pursuit of the self-projected. The projection may be verbally of the highest, it may be an extensive vision, scheme or plan; yet it is ever the child of the shallow. Do what it will, the shallow can never become the deep; any action on its part, any movement of the mind at any level, is still of the shallow. It is very hard for the shallow mind to see that its activities are vain, useless. It is the shallow mind that is active, and this very activity keeps it in that state. Its activity is its own conditioning. The conditioning, conscious or hidden, is the desire to be free from conflict, from struggle, and this desire builds walls against the movement of life, against unknown breezes; and within these walls of conclusions, beliefs, explanations, ideologies, the mind stagnates. Only the shallow stagnate, die.

The very desire to take shelter through conditioning breeds more strife, more problems; for conditioning is separating, and the separate, the isolated cannot live. The separate, by joining itself to other separates, does not become the whole. The separate is always the isolated, though it may accumulate and gather, expand, include and identify. Conditioning is destructive, disintegrating; but the shallow mind cannot see the truth of this, for it is active in search of truth. This very activity hinders the receiving of truth. Truth is action, not the activity of the shallow, of the seeker, of the ambitious. Truth is the good, the beautiful, not the activity of the dancer, of the planner, of the spinner of words. It is truth that liberates the shallow, not his scheme to be free. The shallow, the mind can never make itself free; it can only move from one conditioning to another, thinking the other is more free. The more is never free, it is conditioning, an extension of the less. The movement of becoming, of the man who wants to become the Buddha or the manager, is the activity of the shallow. The shallow are ever afraid of what they are; but what they are is the truth. Truth is in the silent observation of what is, and it is truth that transforms what is.