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Jiddhu Krishnamurti (1895 - 1986)


It had been raining quite a bit during the night, and now, early in the morning as you were getting up, there was the strong smell of sumac, sage, and damp earth. It was red earth, and red earth seems to give a stronger smell than brown earth. Now the sun was on the hills with that extraordinary colour of burnt-sienna, and every tree and every bush was sparkling washed clean by last night's rain, and everything was bursting with joy. It hadn't rained for six or eight months, and you can imagine how the earth was rejoicing, and not only the earth but everything on it - the huge trees, the tall eucalyptus, the pepper trees and the live-oaks. The birds seemed to have a different song that morning, and as you watched the hills and the distant blue mountains, you were somehow lost in them. You didn't exist, neither did those around you. There was only this beauty, this immensity, only the spreading, widening earth. That morning, out of those hills that went on for miles and miles, came a tranquillity which met your own quietness. It was like the earth and the heavens meeting, and the ecstasy was a benediction. The same evening, as you walked up the canyon into the hills, the red earth was damp under your feet, soft, yielding, and full of promise. You went up the steep incline for many miles, and then came down suddenly. As you turned the corner you came upon that complete silence which was already descending on you, and as you entered the deep valley it became more penetrating, more urgent, more insistent. There was no thought, only that silence. As you walked down, it seemed to cover the whole earth, and it was astonishing how every bird and tree became still. There was no breeze among the trees and with the darkness they were withdrawing into their solitude. It is strange how during the day they would welcome you, and now, with their fantastic shapes, they were distant, aloof and withdrawn. Three hunters went by with their powerful bows and arrows, electric torches strapped to their foreheads. They were out to kill the night birds and seemed to be utterly impervious to the beauty and the silence about them. They were intent only on the kill, and it seemed as though everything was watching them, horrified, and full of pity.

That morning a group of young people had come to the house. There were about thirty of them, students from various universities. They had grown up in this climate, and were strong, well fed, tall, and enthusiastic. Only one or two of them sat on chairs, most of us were on the floor, and the girls in their mini-skirts sat uncomfortably. One of the boys spoke, with quivering lips, and with his head down.

"I want to live a different kind of life. I don't want to be caught in sex and drugs and the rat race. I want to live out of this world, and yet I am caught in it. I have sex, and the next day I am utterly depressed. I know I want to live peacefully, with love in my heart, but I am torn by my urges, by the pull of the society in which I live. I want to obey these urges, yet I rebel against them. I want to live at the mountain top yet I am always descending into the valley, for my life is there. I don't know what to do. I'm getting bored with everything. My parents can't help me, nor can the professors with whom I sometimes try to discuss these matters. They are as confused and miserable as I am, more so in fact, because they are much older."

What is important is not to come to any conclusion, or any decision for or against sex, not to get caught in conceptual ideologies. Let us look at the whole picture of our existence. The monk has taken a vow of celibacy because he thinks that to gain his heaven he has to shun contact with a woman; but for the rest of his life is struggling against his own physical demands: he is in conflict with heaven and with earth, and spends the rest of his days in darkness, seeking light. Each one of us is caught in this ideological battle, just like the monk, burning with desire and trying to suppress it for the promise of heaven. We have a physical body and it has its demands. They are encouraged and influenced by the society in which we live, by the advertisements, by the half-naked girls, by the insistence on fun, amusement, entertainment, and by the morality of society, the morality of the social order, which is disorder and immorality. We are physically stimulated - more and tastier food, drink, television. The whole of modern existence focuses your attention on sex. You are stimulated in every way - by books, by talk, and by an utterly permissive society. All this surrounds you; it's no good merely shutting your eyes to it. You have to see this whole way of life with its absurd beliefs and divisions, and the utter meaninglessness of a life spent in an office or a factory. And at the end of it all there is death. You have to see all this confusion very clearly.

Now look out of that window and see those marvellous mountains, freshly washed by last night's rain, and that extraordinary light of California which exists nowhere else. See the beauty of the light on those hills. You can smell the clean air and the newness of the earth. The more alive you are to it, the more sensitive you are to all this immense, incredible light and beauty, the more you are with it - the more your perception is heightened. That is also sensuous, just like seeing a girl. You can't respond with your senses to this mountain and then cut them off when you see the girl; in this way you divide life, and in this division there is sorrow and conflict. When you divide the mountaintop from the valley, you are in conflict. This doesn't mean that you avoid conflict or escape from it, or get so lost in sex or some other appetite that you cut yourself off from conflict. The understanding of conflict doesn't mean that you vegetate or become like a cow.

To understand all this is not to be caught in it, not to depend on it. It means never to deny anything, never to come to any conclusion or to reach any ideological, verbal state, or principle, according to which you try to live. The very perception of this whole map which is being unfolded is already intelligence. It is this intelligence that will act and not a conclusion, a decision or an ideological principle.

Our bodies have been made dull, just as our minds and hearts have been dulled, by our education, by our conformity to the pattern which society has set and which denies the sensitivity of the heart. It sends us to war, destroying all our beauty, tenderness and joy. The observation of all this, not verbally or intellectually but actually, makes our body and mind highly sensitive. The body will then demand the right kind of food; then the mind will not be caught in words, in symbols, in platitudes of thought. Then we shall know how to live both in the valley and on the mountaintop; then there will be no division or contradiction between the two.