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Jiddhu Krishnamurti (1895 - 1986)


PERHAPS SOME of you do not wholly understand all that I have been saying about freedom; but, as I have pointed out, it is very important to be exposed to new ideas, to something to which you may not be accustomed. It is good to see what is beautiful, but you must also observe the ugly things of life, you must be awake to everything. Similarly, you must be exposed to things which you perhaps don't quite understand, for the more you think and ponder over these matters which may be somewhat difficult for you, the greater will be your capacity to live richly.

I don't know if any of you have noticed, early in the morning, the sunlight on the waters. How extraordinarily soft is the light, and how the dark waters dance, with the morning star over the trees, the only star in the sky. Do you ever notice any of that? Or are you so busy, so occupied with the daily routine, that you forget or have never known the rich beauty of this earth - this earth on which all of us have to live? Whether we call ourselves communists or capitalists, Hindus or Buddhists, Moslems or Christians, whether we are blind, lame, or well and happy, this earth is ours. Do you understand? It is our earth, not somebody else's; it is not only the rich man's earth, it does not belong exclusively to the powerful rulers, to the nobles of the land, but it is our earth, yours and mine. We are nobodies, yet we also live on this earth, and we all have to live together. It is the world of the poor as well as of the rich, of the unlettered as well as of the learned; it is our world, and I think it is very important to feel this and to love the earth, not just occasionally on a peaceful morning, but all the time. We can feel that it is our world and love it only when we understand what freedom is.

There is no such thing as freedom at the present time, we don't know what it means. We would like to be free but, if you notice, everybody - the teacher, the parent, the lawyer, the policeman, the soldier, the politician, the business man - is doing something in his own little corner to prevent that freedom. To be free is not merely to do what you like, or to break away from outward circumstances which bind you, but to understand the whole problem of dependence. Do you know what dependence is? You depend on your parent, don't you? You depend on your teachers, you depend on the cook, on the postman, on the man who brings you milk, and so on. That kind of dependence one can understand fairly easily. But there is a far deeper kind of dependence which one must understand before one can be free: the dependence on another for one's happiness. do you know what it means to depend on somebody for your happiness? It is not the mere physical dependence on another which is so binding, but the inward, psychological dependence from which you derive so-called happiness; for when you depend on somebody in that way, you become a slave. If, as you grow older, you depend emotionally on your parents, on your wife or husband, on a guru, or on some idea, there is already the beginning of bondage. We don't understand this - although most of us, especially when we are young, want to be free.

To be free we have to revolt against all inward dependence, and we cannot revolt if we don't understand why we are dependent. Until we understand and really break away from all inward dependence we can never be free, for only in that understanding can there be freedom. But freedom is not a mere reaction. Do you know what a reaction is? If I say something that hurts you, if I call you an ugly name and you get angry with me, that is a reaction - a reaction born of dependence; and independence is a further reaction. But freedom is not a reaction, and until we understand reaction and go beyond it, we are never free.

Do you know what it means to love somebody? Do you know what it means to love a tree, or a bird, or a pet animal, so that you take care of it, feed it, cherish it, though it may give you nothing in return though it may not offer you shade, or follow you, or depend on you? Most of us don't love in that way, we don't know what that means at all because our love is always hedged about with anxiety, jealousy, fear - which implies that we depend inwardly on another, we want to be loved. We don't just love and leave it there, but we ask something in return; and in that very asking we become dependent.

So freedom and love go together. Love is not a reaction. If I love you because you love me, that is mere trade, a thing to be bought in the market; it is not love. To love is not to ask anything in return, not even to feel that you are giving something - and it is only such love that can know freedom. But, you see, you are not educated for this. You are educated in mathematics, in chemistry, geography, history, and there it ends, because your parents' only concern is to help you get a good job and be successful in life. If they have money they may send you abroad, but like the rest of the world their whole purpose is that you should be rich and have a respectable position in society; and the higher you climb the more misery you cause for others, because to get there you have to compete, be ruthless. So parents send their children to schools where there is ambition, competition, where there is no love at all, and that is why a society such as ours is continually decaying, in constant strife; and though the politicians, the judges, the so-called nobles of the land talk about peace, it does not mean a thing.

Now, you and I have to understand this whole problem of freedom. We must find out for ourselves what it means to love; because if we don't love we can never be thoughtful, attentive; we can never be considerate. Do you know what it means to be considerate? When you see a sharp stone on a path trodden by many bare feet, you remove it, not because you have been asked, but because you feel for another - it does not matter who he is, and you may never meet him. To plant a tree and cherish it, to look at the river and enjoy the fullness of the earth, to observe a bird on the wing and see the beauty of its flight, to have sensitivity and be open to this extraordinary movement called life - for all this there must be freedom; and to be free you must love. Without love there is no freedom; without love, freedom is merely an idea which has no value at all. So it is only for those who understand and break away from inner dependence, and who therefore know what love is, that there can be freedom; and it is they alone who will bring about a new civilization, a different world.

Questioner: What is the origin of desire, and how can I get rid of it?

Krishnamurti: It is a young man who is asking this question; and why should he get rid of desire? Do you understand? He is a young man, full of life, vitality; why should he get rid of desire? He has been told that to be free of desire is one of the greatest virtues, and that through freedom from desire he will realize God, or whatever that ultimate something may be called; so he asks, "What is the origin of desire, and how can I get rid of it?" But the very urge to get rid of desire is still part of desire, is it not? It is really prompted by fear.

What is the origin, the source, the beginning of desire? You see something attractive, and you want it. You see a car, or a boat, and you want to possess it; or you want to achieve the position of a rich man, or become a sannyasi. This is the origin of desire: seeing, contacting, from which there is sensation, and from sensation there is desire. Now, recognizing that desire brings conflict, you ask, "How can I be free of desire?" So what you really want is not freedom from desire, but freedom from the worry, the anxiety, the pain which desire causes. You want freedom from the bitter fruits of desire, not from desire itself, and this is a very important thing to understand. If you could strip desire of pain, of suffering, of struggle, of all the anxieties and fears that go with it, so that only the pleasure remained, would you then want to be free of desire?

As long as there is the desire to gain, to achieve, to become, at whatever level, there is inevitably anxiety, sorrow, fear. The ambition to be rich, to be this or that, drops away only when we see the rottenness, the corruptive nature of ambition itself. The moment we see that the desire for power in any form - for the power of a prime minister, of a judge, of a priest, of a guru - is fundamentally evil, we no longer have the desire to be powerful. But we don't see that ambition is corrupting, that the desire for power is evil; on the contrary, we say that we shall use power for good - which is all nonsense. A wrong means can never be used towards a right end. If the means is evil, the end will also be evil. Good is not the opposite of evil; it comes into being only when that which is evil has utterly ceased.

So, if we don't understand the whole significance of desire, with its results, its by-products, merely to try to get rid of desire has no meaning.

Questioner: How can we be free of dependence as long as we are living in society?

Krishnamurti: Do you know what society is? Society is the relationship between man and man, is it not? Don't complicate it, don't quote a lot of books; think very simply about it and you will see that society is the relationship between you and me and others. Human relationship makes society; and our present society is built upon a relationship of acquisitiveness, is it not? Most of us want money, power, property, authority; at one level or another we want position, prestige, and so we have built an acquisitive society. As long as we are acquisitive, as long as we want position prestige, power and all the rest of it, we belong to this society and are therefore dependent on it. But if one does not want any of these things and remains simply what one is with great humility, then one is out of it; one revolts against it and breaks with this society.

Unfortunately, education at present is aimed at making you conform, fit into and adjust yourself to this acquisitive society. That is all your parents, your teachers and your books are concerned with. As long as you conform, as long as you are ambitious, acquisitive, corrupting and destroying others in the pursuit of position and power, you are considered a respectable citizen. You are educated to fit into society; but that is not education, it is merely a process which conditions you to conform to a pattern. The real function of education is not to turn you out to be a clerk, or a judge, or a prime minister, but to help you understand the whole structure of this rotten society and allow you to grow in freedom, so that you will break away and create a different society, a new world. There must be those who are in revolt, not partially but totally in revolt against the old, for it is only such people who can create a new world - a world not based on acquisitiveness, on power and prestige.

I can hear the older people saying, "It can never be done. Human nature is what it is, and you are talking nonsense". But we have never thought about unconditioning the adult mind, and not conditioning the child. Surely, education is both curative and preventive. You older students are already shaped, already conditioned, already ambitious; you want to be successful like your father, like the governor, or somebody else. So the real function of education is not only to help you uncondition yourself, but also to understand this whole process of living from day to day so that you can grow in freedom and create a new world - a world that must be totally different from the present one. Unfortunately, neither your parents, nor your teachers, nor the public in general are interested in this. That is why education must be a process of educating the educator as well as the student.

Questioner: Why do men fight?

Krishnamurti: Why do young boys fight? You sometimes fight with your brother, or with the other boys here, don't you? Why? You fight over a toy. Perhaps another boy has taken your ball, or your book, and therefore you fight. Grown-up people fight for exactly the same reason, only their toys are position, wealth and power. If you want power and I also want power, we fight, and that is why nations go to war. It is as simple as that, only philosophers, politicians and the so-called religious people complicate it. You know, it is a great art to have an abundance of knowledge and experience - to know the richness of life, the beauty of existence, the struggles, the miseries, the laughter, the tears - and yet keep your mind very simple; and you can have a simple mind only when you know how to love.

Questioner: What is jealousy?

Krishnamurti: Jealousy implies dissatisfaction with what you are and envy of others, does it not? To be discontented with what you are is the very beginning of envy. You want to be like somebody else who has more knowledge, or is more beautiful, or who has a bigger house, more power, a better position than you have. You want to be more virtuous, you want to know how to meditate better, you want to reach God, you want to be something different from what you are; therefore you are envious, jealous. To understand what you are is immensely difficult, because it requires complete freedom from all desire to change what you are into something else. The desire to change yourself breeds envy, jealousy; whereas, in the understanding of what you are, there is a transformation of what you are. But, you see, your whole education urges you to try to be different from what you are. When you are jealous you are told, "Now, don't be jealous, it is a terrible thing". So you strive not to be jealous; but that very striving is part of jealousy, because you want to be different.

You know, a lovely rose is a lovely rose; but we human beings have been given the capacity to think, and we think wrongly. To know how to think requires a great deal of penetration, understanding, but to know what to think is comparatively easy. Our present education consists in telling us what to think, it does not teach us how to think, how to penetrate, explore; and it is only when the teacher as well as the student knows how to think that the school is worthy of its name.

Questioner: Why am I never satisfied with anything?

Krishnamurti: A little girl is asking this question, and I am sure she has not been prompted. At her tender age she wants to know why she is never satisfied. What do you grown-up people say? It is your doing; you have brought into existence this world in which a little girl asks why she is never satisfied with anything. You are supposed to be educators, but you don't see the tragedy of this. You meditate, but you are dull, weary, inwardly dead.

Why are human beings never satisfied? Is it not because they are seeking happiness, and they think that through constant change they will be happy? They move from one job to another, from one relationship to another, from one religion or ideology to another, thinking that through this constant movement of change they will find happiness; or else they choose some backwater of life and stagnate there. Surely, contentment is something entirely different. It comes into being only when you see yourself as you are without any desire to change, without any condemnation or comparison - which does not mean that you merely accept what you see and go to sleep. But when the mind is no longer comparing, judging, evaluating, and is therefore capable of seeing what is from moment to moment without wanting to change it - in that very perception is the eternal.

Questioner: Why must we read?

Krishnamurti: Why must you read? Just listen quietly. You never ask why you must play, why you must eat, why you must look at the river, why you are cruel - do you? You rebel and ask why you must do something only when you don't like to do it. But reading, playing, laughing, being cruel, being good, seeing the river, the clouds - all this is part of life; and if you don't know how to read, if you don't know how to walk, if you are unable to appreciate the beauty of a leaf, you are not living. You must understand the whole of life, not just one little part of it. That is why you must read, that is why you must look at the skies, that is why you must sing, and dance, and write poems, and suffer, and understand; for all that is life.

Questioner: What is shyness?

Krishnamurti: Don't you feel shy when you meet a stranger? Didn't you feel shy when you asked that question? Wouldn't you feel shy if you had to be on this platform, as I am, and sit here talking? Don't you feel shy, don't you feel a bit awkward and want to stand still when you suddenly come upon a lovely tree, or a delicate flower, or a bird sitting on its nest? You see, it is good to be shy. But for most of us shyness implies self-consciousness. When we meet a big man, if there is such a person, we become conscious of ourselves. We think, "How important he is, so well known, and I am nobody; so we feel shy, which is to be conscious of oneself. But there is a different kind of shyness, which is really to be tender, and in that there is no self-consciousness.