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Jiddhu Krishnamurti (1895 - 1986)


The last two times, we have been talking about fear and how to be free from it, how fear perverts the free mind which is creative and which has the enormous quality of initiative. I think we should also consider the question of authority. You know what authority is; but do you know how authority comes into being? The Government has authority, has it not? - the State, the police, the law, the soldier. Your teachers have authority over you, have they not? Your parents have authority over you, making you do what they think you ought to do - to go to bed at certain times, to eat certain right kinds of food, to meet the right kind of people. They discipline you, don't they? Why? They say it is for your good. Is it for your good? We will go into that. But before we go into it, we must understand how authority, the power over another, the coercion, the compulsion of a few over the many or of the many over the few, comes into being.

We have to go into it; but before we can understand the process of authority, we have to find out how authority comes into being. Because you are the father or the mother, the parent, what right have you over me? What right has somebody over me, to treat me like dirt, as if they were superior? What makes for authority? What do you think makes for authority? First, obviously, the desire on the part of each one of us to find a way of conduct, the desire to find what to do. I do not know what to do, I am confused, I am worried; so I go to you, to the priest, to the teacher, to the parent, to somebody. I am seeking a way of conduct, so I go to you, and you tell me what to do. Because I think you know better than I do, I go to you. I go to the guru, to the teacher, to some priest, to some so-called learned man, and I ask him to tell me what to do. So, the desire in me, the desire to find a way of life, a way of conduct, a way of behaviour, the very desire in me creates the authority. Does it not? Say, for instance, I go to a guru: I think he is a great man, he gives me peace, he knows the truth, he knows God. I do not know anything about all this, but I go to him, I prostrate myself, I put flowers before him, I pour milk into his throat, I give him devotion. I have the desire to seek comfort, to seek knowledge, so I create an authority. Authority does not exist outside of me.

While you are young, the teacher says that you do not know. But if the teacher is at all intelligent, he will help you to grow to be intelligent, to be without authority. He will help you to understand your confusion and, therefore, not to seek an authority outside.

Then there is the authority of the State, the police, the law. I create this authority outwardly, because I have a piece of property which I want to protect. The property is mine, and I do not want you to have it. So I create the Government, a government which protects what is mine! So, the Government becomes my authority; it is my invention to protect me, to protect my idea, my system of thought. So, I establish gradually through cen- turies a system of law, of authority, the police, the State, the Government, the army, to protect me and mine!

Then, there is the authority of the ideal which is not outward, but which is inward. In my mind, I create the authority of an ideal. I say, `I must be good', `I must not be envious', `I must feel brotherly to everybody'. So, I create the authority of an ideal, don't I? I am intriguing, I am stupid, I am cruel, I want everything for myself, I want power. That is what I am; and because religious people have said so, because it is convenient to say so, because it is profitable to say so, I think I must be brotherly. I create that as an ideal. I am not that; I want to be the ideal; and so the ideal becomes the authority.

So, there is the authority which is compulsion outside. There is also the authority which is compulsion, coercion, inside - which we call an ideal. Now, in order to live according to that ideal, I discipline myself. I say, `I must be good' I feel very envious of your having a better coat or a better sari or more titles; so I say, `I must not have envious feelings, I must be brotherly'. The ideal becomes my authority, and according to that ideal, I live. So, what is happening in my life? I am greedy, I am envious; I have an ideal according to which I am living; I discipline myself according to that ideal; and my life becomes a constant battle between what I am and what I should be. So, I invent discipline, don't I? The discipline to live according to the ideal. So I discipline myself, and the State disciplines me. The State, whether it is a communist State or a capitalist State or a socialist State, has ideas as to how I should behave. They say the State is all-important. I am simplifying it to make you understand. If I, living in that State, do anything contrary to the State, I am coerced by the State - the State being the few controlling the State.

There are two parts of us, the conscious part and the unconscious part. You understand what that means? You are walking along the road and you are talking to a friend; your conscious mind, the mind that is talking, continues when you are talking. But there is another part of you which is absorbing unconsciously the trees, the leaves, the sunlight on the water, the birds. There is the impact going on from the outside on the unconscious all the time, though your conscious mind is occu- pied; and what the unconscious absorbs is much more important than what the conscious absorbs. The conscious mind can absorb very little. You can only absorb what has been taught in the school; that is not very much. But the unconscious is also being treated in the school, the interactions between you and the teacher, between you and your friends; all that is going on underground. That matters much more than the mere absorption of facts on the surface.

Similarly, this talk every morning is important in that the unconscious is absorbing. Later on, during the day or week, you will constantly remember what has been spoken about. That will have a greater effect on you than merely listening actually or consciously.

You see we create authority - the State, the Police. Similarly, we create the authority of the ideal, the authority of tradition. My father says, `Do not do this'. I have to obey him because he gets angry, because I am dependent on him for my food. He controls me through my emotions. Doesn't he? So, he becomes my authority. Similarly, there are traditions - you must do this or that, you must wear your sari this way, you must look that way, you must not look at boys, or at girls. There is the tradition which tells you what to do. And tradition is after all knowledge, is it not? There are books which tell you what to do, the State tells you what to do, parents tell you what to do, tradition tells you what to do; society, the church, the temple, religions, all these tell you what to do. So, what happens to you? You are just crushed, you are just broken. You are never thinking, acting, living vitally; for you are afraid of all these things. You have traditions, authority, parents; and you say that you must obey, otherwise you will be helpless.

So you create the authority, because you are seeking a way of conduct, a way of living. The very desire, the very pursuit of a way of conduct creates authority; and so you become merely a slave, a cog in a machine, living without any capacity to think, without any capacity to create. I do not know if you paint. If you paint, generally the art teacher tells you what to paint. You see a tree and you copy it. But to paint is to see the tree and to express what you feel about the tree and what the tree signifies, the movement of the leaf, the whisper of the wind in the trees; and to do that, you must be very sensitive to catch the movements of light and shade. How can you catch anything of the swift wind if you are all the time afraid saying, `I must do this', `I must do that', `What will people say'? So, gradually, any feeling of sensitiveness, of seeing something beautiful, is destroyed by authority.

So, the problem arises whether a school of this kind should discipline you. See the difficulties which the teachers, if they are true teachers, have to face. You are a naughty child, girl or boy; should I discipline you? If I discipline you, what happens? Because I am bigger, have more authority and all the rest of it, because I am paid to do certain things, I force you to do them. Then, you obey. Have I not crippled your mind? Am I not beginning to destroy your mind, to destroy your intelligence? If I force you to do a thing because I think it is right, am I not making you stupid? You like to be disciplined, to be forced. I know you do; because if you are not forced, you think you would be naughty, you would be bad, you would do things which are not right. Therefore, you say, `Please help me to behave rightly'. First, should I force you, or should I help you to understand why you are naughty, why you are this or that? This means what? It means that I must have no sense of authority, as a teacher or as a parent. I want you to understand; I want to help you to understand your difficulties, why you are this, why you are bad, why you want to run away; I want you to understand yourself. If I force you, I do not help you. So, if I am a teacher, I must help you to understand yourself - which means, I can only look after a few boys and girls. I cannot have fifty boys or fifty girls; I must have only a few, so that I can pay individual attention to every child, so that as a teacher I do not create authority which coerces you to do something which you will probably do yourself if you understand.

So, I see, and I hope you see, that authority destroys intelligence. After all, intelligence can only come when there is freedom, freedom to think, to feel, to observe, to question. But if I compel you, I make you as stupid as I am; generally, this is what happens in a school; the teacher thinks he knows everything, and you do not know. What does the teacher know? Nothing more than mathematics or geography. He has not solved any problems, he has not questioned the enormously important things of life, he thunders like Jupiter or like a sergeant major.

So, what is important in a school of this kind is that, instead of merely being disciplined to do what you are told, you are helped to understand, to be intelligent and free, so that you can meet all the difficulties of life. That requires a competent teacher, a teacher who is really interested in you, who is not worried about money, about his wife and children; and it is the responsibility of the students as well as of the teachers to create such a state of affairs. Do not obey; just find out for yourself how to think about a problem. Do not say you are doing a thing because your father says so, but find out what he is trying to say, why he thinks it is bad or good. Question him, so that you not only become intelligent, but you help him to be intelligent. Generally what happens is, if you begin to question him, he will discipline you; he has not the patience, he is occupied with his own work, he has not the love of sitting with you and talking over with you the enormous difficulties of existence, of earning a livelihood, of having a wife. a husband. He has not the time to go into all this; so, he pushes you away or sends you to a school. And the teachers are like everybody else.

It is the responsibility of the teachers, of the parents and of you all to help to bring about this intelligence.

Question: How to be intelligent?

Krishnamurti: You ask, `How to be intelligent'. Look at what is implied in that question. You want a method, which means that you know what intelligence is. That is, when you want to go to Benares and you ask the way to Benares, you know already the destination and you only want to know the way. Similarly, when you say, `How can one be intelligent', you know what intelligence is; at least, you think you know what intelligence is, and you want a system by which you can be intelligent. Intelligence is the very questioning of the method. Fear destroys intelligence, does it not? Fear prevents you from examining, from questioning, from enquiring, from finding out what is true. If there is no fear, probably you will be intelligent. So, you have to enquire into the whole question of fear, and be free from fear; and then there is the possibility of your being intelligent. But, if you say, `How am I to be intelligent?' You are merely cultivating a method, and so you become stupid.

Question: Everybody knows we die. Why are we afraid of death?

Krishnamurti: You are saying you are afraid of death. Why are you afraid of death? Because you do not know how to live? If you knew how to live fully, you wouldn't be afraid of death. If you love the trees, the sunset, the birds, the leaf, if you see women and men in tears, poor people, and really feel love, would you be afraid of death? Would you? Do not be persuaded by me. Let us think about it together. Because you do not live, you do not enjoy life, you are not happy, you are not seeing things vitally, you ask what is going to happen when you die? Life is sorrow and you are much more interested in death. You feel that perhaps there will be happiness after death. But that is a tremendous problem. I do not know if you want to go into that. After all, fear is at the bottom of it. Fear of dying, fear of living, fear of suffering, fear is at the root of it. So, if you cannot understand what it is that creates fear and you are not free from that, then it does not matter whether you are living or dying.

Question: How can we live happily?

Krishnamurti: Are you not living happily? You say you do not know if you are living happily. Don't you know when you are suffering, when you have pain, when you have physical pain, when somebody hits you? You know when somebody is angry with you. You know suffering. Do you know when you are happy? Do you know when you are healthy? Happiness is the state of which you are unconscious, of which you are not aware. The moment you are aware that you are happy, you are not happy, are you? But most of you suffer; and being conscious of that, you want to escape from that suffering into what you call happiness. Therefore you want to be happy consciously; and the moment you are consciously happy, it is gone. Can you ever say that you are joyous? It is only a moment afterwards that you say, `How happy I am, how joyous I have been'. It becomes a memory. In the moment of actual happiness you are unconscious of it and that is the beauty of it.

December 12, 1952