BENARES STAR CAMP 1929
Benares, India, 1929
This evening I want to make it perfectly clear that it is the individual that matters and not groups; also that it is in the highest intelligence that truth lies, and that truth cannot in any manner be "stepped down", reduced, translated or made acceptable to men who are weak. Intelligence is the capacity to discern the essential and to reject everything that is unessential. The establishing of that essential which is the quality of the highest mind is the purpose of man. I would like to suggest that, while I am speaking, you should experiment with what I am saying; that is, not merely accept it all but, if you find what I say is reasonable, well-balanced, thoughtful, then after examination, take it to your heart and alter yourself.
I do not want this to be a lecture to which you merely listen and then go home with a superficial judgment which has no value; because you are not here to judge me nor am I here to judge you. I maintain that no one can judge another, especially if his mind is prejudiced. If you take certain things for granted, if you have not carefully examined and suffered in the process of experimentation and analysis, your judgment will have no value. I am not saying this in any conceited spirit. If you take what I say with clarity, with sane balanced judgment, with an open mind which is capable of judging impersonally, impartially, you can establish for yourself a disinterested standard -these are not words that merely flow- so that while I am talking you can alter yourself. Because, after all, the only thing which matters in life is to change, to change radically, so that you will through your experiences discover for yourself what is truth. Do not accept anything, it does not matter who says it -whether it be the sages of the past, the literatures of the past, or of the present- but establish for yourself by clear thought and reason what is the true meaning of life, what is the true significance of every little incident of every day. Otherwise, you will desire all the time to escape from this world of turmoil, of phenomena, and thereby seek shelter from this strife -which means stagnation.
Now naturally, in a talk like this, you must try to get at the significance of the words I use and not be content with the literal meaning. That is, you must gather the full meaning, the full understanding of what I am saying -the implications not expressed in words, feelings and thoughts- and not merely judge by the expressions which I shall employ, because if you do, we shall misunderstand each other completely. I am going to use words which have no traditional meaning, which have the ordinary meaning of daily life, which you would employ at every moment of the day.
Let me say here that I am not preaching to you as a propagandist, to make you join any society. There is no society in spirituality. There cannot be a system for the individual attainment of truth, nor a religious body that shall enforce upon man certain undertakings. This is not a talk in order to convert any one of you, because life converts life, makes you straight if you are crooked. If you are not suffering, life makes you suffer; if you are not thoughtful, life makes you thoughtful; and if you have no emotions that stir and nourish you, life will awake your emotions, your affections, your love.
I am going to concern myself with the individual, because it is the individual that composes the world, and as long as that individual is held in the wheel of sorrow, strife, chaos, whatever he does will add further to that chaos, to that strife, to that unending misunderstanding which brings about a constant variation of struggle. The individual -that is, yourself- cannot grow or develop through conformity. That is, you cannot submit yourself to any system of thought, you cannot depend for your inward growth -which is, after all, spirituality- on another or on the scriptural sayings of any religion. I know you will all disagree. I do not mind, but you must disagree with reason. If your experience proves to be contrary to what I am saying, you are right, because it is your development that I am concerned with and not my particular sayings. If you think that your growth depends on reliance upon another, you can experiment with it, give your whole body, will, energy, enthusiasm to it, struggle with it. You will find then that it is not of much value. You exist, therefore, in order that, as an individual, you may develop. That is the only reason for which life exists, for which you as an individual are in this world. That is, the individual -you- must grow from corruption to corruption till you as an individual are absolutely perfect.
I am going to explain to you what I mean by perfection, I am not using words merely for the fun of using them. It is from corruption to corruption, from narrowness to narrowness, from limitation to limitation, that you grow until you are free, until you are absolutely perfect, undisturbed in your mind, incorruptible in your love. Now, you will agree more or less with that statement. You will wisely shake your head and go home and say it is perfectly true. Shaking of heads is of no value, neither is mere agreement. If you think I am right in this, which is essential -I am not preaching revolution or anything like that- then all the unessential things of religion must disappear, because you, in yourself, are strong enough to withstand the pressure of external circumstances. But if you think I am wrong in this, then you must fight, you must not let me speak. You cannot be indifferent, because indifference will lead to greater sorrow, greater calamities. You must be active in what you think is right and work for it with your full enthusiasm, with conviction, without compromise. That is the way to become great, either in spirituality or in the world: to have great ambitions, and be ready with your enthusiasm, with your understanding, to sacrifice all that ambition; not to be merely growing in indifference, which is limited. Conformity kills initiative. You must learn to think independently and to stand alone, though the world may judge you to be wrong. If you conform, then your initiative will be killed out. Desire is constantly seeking an outlet. Desire is continually striving against limitation. Desire can only fulfil itself in experience, can only grow through experience, can only be made vast, immense, unlimited, immeasurable, through experience. Now, if you conform to anyone or to any tradition of thought and of emotion, then such conformity to tradition instead of developing you, the individual, will stultify you. Therefore, in order to grow, you must have experience. That is the only law -if there is a law- and life has no law, no philosophy.
Experience is the only thing that will make you, the individual, grow to great heights. Therefore, you must be discontented, discontented with every flicker of thought, with every flutter of emotion, with every tradition which has been laid down. You must have the capacity to doubt, so that you will discover through that doubt what is truth, what is the essential and the lasting. But to doubt everything requires strength of intelligence, of thought, because from morning till night you have to be ceaselessly questioning, demanding, urging. What is life but a mere existence -earning money, gathering and rejecting experience, with all its sorrows- what is its value unless you live like a tremendous volcano that is a danger to everything?
To discover the true purpose of life, you must be free of all traditions of thought, whether ancient or modern, laid down by another, even if he has achieved. It is, after all, the individual who is hungry that must concern himself with his hunger. Of what value is it to know that someone else is replete with satisfaction if you yourself are hungry? The essential thing for the discovery of truth is discontentment and the absolute lack of tradition, the constant renewing of the mind from day to day, never accepting anything that has been established, but always rejecting, always eager, fresh in the demand to know. You must be free of entanglements, creeds, religions, gods and all those superfluous things, in order to find yourself, in order to find for yourself that truth -which is the truth for everyone- which is life. Because perfection lies through your own development, truth lies in the incorruptibility which is produced through corruption. You have to realise therefore that man, as an individual, is absolutely free, that the greatness of man consists in this: that no one can save him, no one can help him in spirituality, no one can make him pure when he is impure, no one can lead him to perfection when he is in himself corruptible.
Man is absolutely, wholly and entirely free. When he realises that, he will no longer have fear of the mysterious or of the known. He will be all the time eager to experiment, to gather to himself that richness of life which is the fulfilment of truth. Now you, because you are free, are thereby placing a limitation on yourself and, through this limitation, you are struggling to break down the barriers between yourself and that ultimate goal which is perfection. If you once realise this, if you really understand the significance of it, you will be tremendous tomorrow, because you will be free from the clutches of fear. After all, all your gods, your Masters, your gurus, exist because you do not know. You are relying on someone to help you, to give you guidance; but the moment you do not rely on anyone, the moment you know that you are absolutely free, you will develop yourself without the aid of another. Then you will be like a tree in a pleasant land, strong, enjoying the breezes of strife, standing clear against the skies. Don't you see that the moment you are afraid, all the confusion of life grows around you, all the paraphernalia of religion accumulate and that confusion is ever growing more and more? The moment you are free, you invite experience, because through experience alone you can grow -experience in the phenomenal world.
Without phenomena, life cannot exist. You cannot divide life into spirit and matter, it is the whole, and to understand it you must grow through the objective, with the understanding of what is the subjective.
This is not a metaphysical lecture to stimulate your intellects. Experience is the only method by which man can grow, and there is no other soil to give strength to the roots except experience. What, therefore, is the purpose of experience? Without a purpose, experience becomes chaotic. When you do not know where you are going, you are lost, you are enquiring, you are doubtful, fear comes in; but the moment you are certain, positive in your assertion of discovery, then you invite every experience to make of you a wonderful dwelling that shall have its foundation in immortality. What, then, is the purpose of life? What is all this experience, which knocks at your desire, continually working for? What is it that you are continually seeking through this experience? Desire is seeking freedom from limitation, seeking freedom with a purpose; not just licentiousness, which is as a weed thrown into the water and that is buffeted about. To break down limitation, desire is fulfilling itself in every experience. Desire is life, and that life which is in you as the individual is struggling to break down barriers, so that it shall be all-inclusive instead of exclusive, because in exclusiveness lies corruption. If you include everything in that life, which is yourself, there will be no superstition and hence no strife.
Through ceaseless effort comes the cessation of all effort -not stagnation, which is quite a different thing. That is, you, as the individual, are continually seeking to escape from the limitation which life, which is yourself, places around you, and thereby to find happiness and liberation. That is what every individual is seeking. The self, the you, the I, through experience, is seeking incorruption and to arrive at incorruption it must pass through corruption with a purpose. Because corruption only exists when the self -when you- are poor in experience. When the self is rich in experience, all-inclusive, there is incorruptibility which is perfection. Therefore incorruptibility is the poise between reason and love. Perfect balance, the harmony which knows no disturbance: this is truth.
I do not want you to accept what I say because I assert that I have found and attained to that harmony. I assert it only as I assert that it is a lovely day, and because it is within the reach of every individual and every individual must attain to that fulfilment. You will see that to such truth, which is the love of life, which is life itself, there can be no path, because that truth is inclusive of all experience. The fulfilment of every individual, whether he is the most cultured or the least cultured, the most intelligent or the most degraded and barbarous, is the inevitable goal of man.
As such a goal is not the unique possession of anyone, so it is not under the guidance of any person that you will find it. This land more than any other is riddled with the worship of gurus. You think that salvation lies through another, that perfection is only to be attained by the adoration of another, whereas truth is only discoverable and attainable through one's own perfection and, to arrive at that perfection, you must be rich in experience. For that end, you need no guide, you need no religion, you need no priests. Put them all away and you will realise the truth of what I say. You need not withdraw into seclusion to discover that which lies around you in every grain of dust, under every stone, which is in every one of you, which is life itself.
If that is the end, then you will naturally say: "How am I to achieve it? What is the means of attainment?" There is no means, because it is in developing your uniqueness, your particular greatness, that you arrive at your goal. That is, you make the end the means. What are you doing -what is every individual doing at the present time? He does not know, so he plunges into darkness and creates greater havoc, greater superstition, more dogmas, and adds to the pantheon of innumerable gods. But if you know for yourself assuredly, certainly, without the least shade of doubt, then you are beginning to realise that the end creates the means of attaining it. If you are in a dark place and you see a distant light, you make your way to it; though you may suffer, you may bleed, you may cut your feet, you are going towards that one light which will give you eternal sustenance and certainty of purpose.
Experience then becomes the only teacher. Then you do not want mediators, because you are establishing within yourself that mirror of truth which cannot be darkened by a cloud, which is absolutely impersonal, which is of no individual but is eternal. By that standard alone you can judge your actions. No one can judge, no one can place you in positions of sorrow except yourself. Then life, which is in every incident, becomes your teacher, every man becomes your guide, which is much greater and more magnificent than having a guide in some mysterious place. A living guide, which is man himself, is of greater importance than the dead teachers of the past.
The purpose of that life which shall fulfill itself in perfection, in liberation from the yoke of experience, being known, every incident, every movement of thought, every flutter of man becomes a stepping-stone to truth. Then you are aware, constantly watchful; then you compare that which is fleeting with that which is eternal, you become your own judge, your own saviour; life becomes infinitely simple. Then instead of adding to the already-existing chaos, you bring about order, assurance. Then the strong will not be on the top of the weak. The whole world will change if you live from the world of the eternal; from that world you must work in the objective world -not from the objective to the subjective, not from the phenomenal to that which is lasting. Knowing what is the eternal, what is the purpose of life, you must live in this world of phenomena; you cannot escape it. It is here that you must bring about order, it is here that you must establish the truth which is eternal, not away from this phenomenal world.
Take one example: in the heart of every human being, however weak, barbarous, civilised or intellectual he may be, there is affection; it is the perfume in the heart of every man. If you follow the process of the fulfilment of the incorruptibility of love, what does it lead to? To become like the sun, or like the perfume of a flower, that gives to all irrespective of difference. That is the fulfilment of love. If you know that, even while you are in the clutches of limited and corruptible love, then you can struggle to break them. That means that you must begin to love in that eternal way now and not in the distant future. Again, for the man who is in sorrow, there is no future, no past; he wants his sorrow quelled now. When you know that which is lasting, which has no variance, which is not relative, which has no superstition, which is truth, the harmony between reason and love, then from that eternity you must work. Every little incident will strengthen you, will be as a stepping stone to greater truth, to that happiness which is lasting.
THERE is nothing new under the sun. Everything has been thought out, every manner of expression has been given to thought, every point of view has been shown. What has been said will always be said and therefore there can never be anything new from the ordinary point of view -you can only vary the expressions, using different words, different connotations, and so on. But to a man who desires to test anything, any idea, for himself everything becomes new. If there is a desire to get beyond the mere illusion of words, beyond the expressions of thought, beyond all philosophies and all sacred books, then, in that experiment, everything becomes new, clear, vital.
This morning I would suggest, if I may, that in order to understand -it does not matter what it is- you must be wholly free from the small understandings, the selfishness, of duty, of sin, of evil, of good, of everything. Then only will you be able to understand, to appreciate and gather the full significance of what is put before you. This does not mean that you should have your minds absolutely in a negative condition, a vacuum -quite the contrary; but you must have a mind that is willing to examine, that is free of repression. I have repeated this for the last two or three years, but apparently the idea of tradition is only applied to certain forms of ceremony, to certain forms of ritual. I do not mean that at all. I mean by tradition a set habit of thought, a point of view which has been established through thousands of years, or newly, and hence cannot be yours.
To understand the full significance of life, you cannot approach it with a traditional mind, with traditional ideas, however well-grounded you may be in ancient literature and in all those sweet coatings which mean nothing. Because you are all uncertain, because you are perplexed, you add greater confusion to that which already exists. I am talking quite seriously, because this is to me very serious. It is only waste of time for you to come and examine someone else's thought if your mind is full of prejudices and traditional, narrow ways of looking at life, whether they are modern or ancient.
You will discover, as life expresses itself, that every time it changes. Though its expressions may be the same, the experience must vary constantly. If you would understand life, you must not come to it with a mind already made up with traditional thought, with traditional ideas, with those certainties which you take for granted because you have read innumerable sacred books. I would like you to free yourself from all these established laws and think for yourself. When you are in sorrow, does it matter what another thinks? You want to be free of that sorrow; and you may read all the sacred books, you may follow certain religious ideas, but they will not take away that sting of sorrow, they will not give you certainty of purpose, except by and through the putting aside of all those things and examining for yourself every question, every thought, every point of view that is put before you, for its own intrinsic value. When you have discovered for yourself what is certain, then you need have no beliefs, no religions, no dogmas, no gods, no masters, no gurus. Because what you are trying to do is to develop that self which is within each one to its highest form of incorruptibility. I know you will all say: "This has been said in every scripture before" -but the difficulty is that there are very few who practise it.
To have that absolute certainty of purpose, you must put aside all the uncertainties and begin anew. That is the only thing that matters. Uncertainty of life, of one's ideas, of one's conduct, of one's integrity, breeds fear; through fear you are made weak; and through weakness you create beliefs, dogmas, religions, gods and all the innumerable paraphernalia of crutches and props. So my first intention is to make you certain of yourselves, of your own ideas; not that you should accept my ideas, but rather make your own conceptions of life absolute, certain, positive. Otherwise you are like a weather-cock which is turned by every wind that comes along.
A man who is well-established in his own knowledge, born out of experience, has no fear; he establishes a standard which is eternal. Man -that is, the individual- is constantly seeking, through all variations, a standard which is absolutely impersonal, disinterested; a standard which shall be a guide, which is of no person, a standard which shall be constantly with him so that he need not rely on any person, any tradition, any gods, any beliefs, any gurus. You want to establish a mirror that shall reflect all that you think good, all that you feel, in its true colours, that shall not be warped according to your prejudices, according to your whims; a standard that shall be constant and eternal. You have to search to find out such a standard, which is both the standard of the individual and the standard of the universal. I say that there is such a standard, which is applicable to the individual as well as to life as a whole. When you once establish such a standard, you realise that you are your own master, that you are wholly and entirely responsible to yourself, that no one can help you from outside. Such a standard, when once realised, sets a man on the path of freedom.
What, therefore, is the standard, what is this goal, what is this fulfilment of life, individual and universal? The moment you know that, you can work from that realisation; that is, you can make the end the means. The moment you know where you have to go, the means of attainment is of very little importance.
A river is constantly, sedulously seeking the shortest way to the sea; that is its aim. But to arrive at the sea, it must have great volume of water -otherwise it disappears in the sand. So the life of man is constantly seeking experience, to give it great strength which shall guide it, which shall urge it towards that which is free, which is eternal, which I call liberation or any other word which you like to use. If you have that purpose which is liberation, which is the poise between reason and love, which is the incorruptibility of the self, of the mind and heart out of which are the issues of life, that, to me, is the standard which is eternal.
I want you to be certain as I am certain. I want you to be as peaceful, serene, established in certainty as I am. It is for no other reason that you come to listen to me or that I talk to you. If that is the goal, then experience, which knocks at your door every moment of the day, has value. Desire is all the time seeking experience because that is its way of fulfilment, so you cannot kill desire. If you have a purpose -the goal, the standard, the truth which is life itself- then every experience will be like the drops of water which give great volume to the river and urge it towards its fulfilment. It is not a question of external aid or of looking for salvation -a terrible word- to another, nor of relying on another for your satisfaction, for your happiness.
I say that I have attained to that truth which is liberation, which is the poise between reason and love, the incorruptibility of the self. I say this not that you should follow me or as an enticement, but impersonally, as I say that the sun is shining. Because one man has attained, it is possible for everyone to attain. The moment you realise that you are a prisoner -and that is difficult to realise- that you are enclosed within the walls of the limitations of life, then at the moment of such realisation you are beginning to be free. You are constantly seeking a way out through these barriers; you are breaking down the walls.
Experience is all the time waiting, anxious that you shall utilise it and thereby destroy your limitations and be free. Because if you are not free there is no bliss, no serenity, but constant strife, and whatever you do only adds to the confusion, to the chaos which exists in the world.
To arrive at that truth which is liberation, you must begin to set everything aside; then you must be absolutely alone, alone in thought, and from that point of view find out the means of attainment. You must have courage, you must have determination. You will have to do it sometime or other, tomorrow or in ten thousand years; because sorrow is all the time gnawing at the heart of him who has limitation, and the greater the sorrow you have, the greater the certainty of attainment. Sorrow and pleasure are the same, like light and shade. Do not avoid either but utilise the experience of both, as the soil out of which the fulfilment of the flower comes into being, and so you will gain the certainty, the integrity of heart and of mind.
You have come here to discover if I have anything new to say. But, in order to discover, you must come with freshness, with an enquiring mind, with eagerness and enthusiasm to find out -not bringing innumerable quotations from your sacred books, from your traditions, that have no value because they are not yours. Wherever I have been, in Europe or here or in America, they always say, "We have been told", "Our sacred books say this", "The Buddha said that", "Our Masters have said this". Put aside all these things and think for yourselves. That is what matters; it is your sorrow that you are confronting, not someone else's. It is by solving your own problems that you solve the problem of the world, and by no other means. By your own attainment, by your own purification of the self, you will bring peace, harmony, order, tranquillity to the world. Do not be content merely to listen, but resolve to free yourselves wholly, to be a danger to everything that is unessential, everything traditional; and thereby you shall establish certainty, not only for yourselves, but for everyone that comes into contact with you.
I WOULD like to point out that, to receive a right answer, you must put a right question. Right questions come if you are really puzzled, if you are really enquiring, really anxious to discover. Mere superficial, intellectual, argumentative questions have no value. You are here to discover if what I say has any value, and if it has, then it has purpose, then it is essential to the life of everyone. That is why you are putting questions to me and I will answer in that spirit alone. I am not here to discuss symptoms, but the cause of all sorrow which, when examined, will give the right cure for all symptoms. When you go to a doctor, he enquires about the symptoms, but if he is a wise doctor he does not cure the symptoms but the cause of the disease. Likewise, in trying to understand truth, we must deal with the essential, and from that work out a cure for the symptoms. You cannot cure any ailment, especially the ailment of unhappiness and sorrow, merely by dealing with the symptoms. To understand the cause, you must go through the symptoms, removing what is unessential, and all the time with great awareness, with constant persistency, stick to that essential which will cure. The difficulty with most people is that there are so many unessential things around them that they are caught up in these, and it requires great intelligence to abide by the essential and to discover what is essential.
QUESTION: Cannot one really help others unless one has attained liberation oneself?
KRISHNAMURTI: It is like asking, "Cannot one love and suffer while in the process of attainment?
You are making attainment, liberation, something far away, something to be gained in the future. Now, to the true seeker there is no future. If you are hungry, you do not say "I am going to eat the day after tomorrow." Liberation is not a thing to be attained in the distant future, it is where you are now. It is yourself. In the process of attainment lies the truth, not in finality. In the process you come into contact with everyone -which is life- and in assimilating, in discarding, in understanding this life around you, you find liberation. The idea of helping others is innate. If you are nice, you help others; if you are not, you do not help others. You make the helping of others a condition. If you are right, you help automatically. When the rose blossoms, it does not say, "I am going to give beauty." It cannot help it. With a rose it is an unconscious process, with us it has to become conscious. The moment you are beautiful, you automatically help, and in the search for beauty you cannot but give aid to others. The essential point is that you should be beautiful in everything, in your outlook, in your hope, in your beliefs, and in everything you do. In that attempt, you automatically give aid. But that should not be the reason why you seek beauty. You must seek beauty because of its own intrinsic value. Otherwise you make beauty a conditional thing, to be attained through the helping of another.
QUESTION: Is not the helping of others a condition precedent to the attainment of truth?
KRISHNAMURTI: That is a question which is liable to be misunderstood if I answer it, but I can only answer it in this way. If you are bringing about incorruption within yourself, you cannot but help another. There is no other way.
QUESTION: Can I attain at any moment without any help from without, if I so desire?
KRISHNAMURTI: Naturally. Are you not all hungry? Don't you all suffer? Don't you all have worries, disturbances, envy, jealousies? The moment you bring about calmness and tranquillity, you have established truth for yourself, but you must have the necessary impetus, the enthusiasm, the interest, the awareness to examine everything. Spirituality, the realisation of harmony, is for everyone. It is like the sunshine for everyone; but it depends on the individual how he utilises it. When the sun is shining, the lotus breeds its lovely bud and the weed breeds its thorn. It is not the fault of the sunshine. Likewise, liberation, truth is for everyone, but it depends on the individual and how enthusiastic, how eager, how anxious, how burning he is within to discover it.
QUESTION: You say that man is absolutely and unconditionally free and, because he is free, he is limited. Will you please explain how his limitation is the result of his freedom?
KRISHNAMURTI: I said that because man is free, he is limited. If you were not free, you would not create this chaos in the world, you would not create chaos within yourself. Suffering, sorrow, strife come about through limitation. The process of attainment is to destroy barriers. Because you are free, you are breaking down, you are expanding, growing; but, if you were not free, if there were some superhuman being guiding you, if the life of every individual was looked after, there would be no chaos in the world, no limitation, no strife. You would be led like children across the abyss without the least trouble, everything planned, controlled, dominated; but you are not like that, you have your desires and those desires are constantly coming up against limitation, and desire struggles and tries to break down the walls of limitation which desire has placed upon itself. If the prisoner realises that he is not a prisoner, he is breaking down the prison walls. Because you do not realise that you are free, you are afraid. You have all this gamut of religions, superstitions, beliefs, dogmas and all the rest to uphold you in your fearfulness. Whereas, if you realise that you, as an individual, are absolutely, entirely free, then you are not afraid, everything is clear. You begin to grow and purposeful and you do not invent shelters, comforts, gods. You do not look to salvation from outside.
You may have got rid of certain traditions, such as bathing in the Ganges, which you leave to those who love it, but you have your own particular tradition hanging round your neck because you are afraid, you are uncertain. If you are certain, if you are free, you must carve out your own path, which is unique and therefore cannot be trodden by anyone else. There is no common path to truth. So it is necessary for the seeker, for man, to create his own path. Even though you do not seek it, it does not matter; it comes and knocks at your door, through sorrow, through suffering. Do not bother about seeking and thereby put yourself apart from humanity, from life. The moment you realise that sorrow lies in limitation and that, because you are free, you can destroy that limitation, you are beginning to grow strong, fair, purposeful. Then you are not entangled in the limitations of creeds, of superstition, of beliefs.
You are listening to me as you have been doing for three years now, and you will go on doing it for the next ten years, but you are not really interested in all this, it is not serious to you. It is just a phantasy which you think you had better be in or otherwise you may miss something. Please believe me, you will never miss anything. What is the good of listening every day if you do not put one thing into practice? It does not matter what it is. What I am saying is easy and understandable to the savage or to the man highly evolved. The highly evolved understands simplicity and simplicity is inexhaustible; and so does the savage, because he is not complicated, he has just begun to learn. But to the man who is between these two, life is difficult, because he is not willing to go to the extremes; and therein lies mediocrity, pettiness of thought, pettiness of life, indifference. I do not know why you come and listen to me every year or what value it has. I tell you honestly that if there were two or even one really anxious to learn, to understand, burning with it, it would be much better than thousands who are indifferent.
If you, the individual, do not realise that you are free, absolutely and unconditionally, then you are bound to create complexities, and in those complexities, which are unessential, you are caught. The function of a person like me is to point out that you are caught and thereby enable you to destroy for yourself the barriers. I cannot break down the barriers, because you are free. That is where the strength, the potential greatness of man lies. He is not like an animal to be led, to be trained, to be told what to do, to rely on powers exterior to himself. You will say at once: Do not Masters exist? Is there not a plan for humanity? and all the rest of it. What I say is: Gods, Masters, gurus, are of no use for liberation. If you have suffered, if you are really hungry, burning, anxious, then what I am saying has value; if you are seeking comfort, there is an end of it. Instead of having old gods, you will have new gods, instead of having old gurus, you will have new gurus, instead of having old traditions, you will have new traditions.
QUESTION: Is it a fact that human evolution is guided and helped by a Hierarchy of adepts, and that some of them take pupils who could be trained to take their place in the Hierarchy? If so, is not that a way towards spiritual perfection?
KRISHNAMURTI: I say that gods, adepts, all these are of no use for the spiritual growth of the individual towards his freedom. Life is everywhere, and in every little instance there is a potentiality of experience. You want to neglect all that and seek somewhere else, because to be aware, to be positive, to examine and analyse every question, is difficult; it needs concentration, it needs ecstasy of purpose, and so you seek aid from outside to make you jump over the abyss of corruption to perfection. To understand truth, you must look to the essential and these are all unessential things. I do not want you to agree with me, that would be a calamity, but I want you to understand because agreement or being carried away by personalities has no value. If you understood the truth of what I am saying, understood the real significance of it, then you would be bound to live, and to live is far greater than to be in agreement with anyone.
QUESTION: Do adepts exist?
KRISHNAMURTI: It is unessential to me. I am not concerned with it. I am concerned with whether you are in sorrow, whether you are hungry, whether you are a prisoner to strife, not with whether someone exists. What value has it? I am not trying to evade the question. All I say is that I am not concerned with it. I do not deny that they exist. In evolution there must be a difference, as there is a difference between the savage and the most cultured. But what value has it to a man who is held in the walls of a prison? All that I say is that though there may be adepts, there may be gods, they will be of no assistance to you unless you yourself break down the walls of limitation. I should be foolish to deny the gamut of experience which is what you call evolution. You care more about the man who is ahead of you than about yourself. You are willing to worship someone far away, not yourself or your neighbour.
QUESTION: In At the Feet of the Master you received instruction from one of the adepts. What of it? Is it not attaining perfection, happiness?
KRISHNAMURTI: Instruction exists in everything, but if you have not the capacity to assimilate, to understand, to struggle with experience, no one can teach you. You are again mixing the essential and the unessential. The essential is that man should be free. He is intrinsically free and he should by his very freedom destroy those limitations which desire in its search for experience has placed around him. There may be Masters, adepts, I do not deny it, but I cannot understand what value it has to you as an individual.
A VOICE: Sets us on the right track.
KRISHNAMURTI: No one will set you on the right track except yourself. What is the ideal except your own perfection?
A VOICE: The perfection of another man.
KRISHNAMURTI: No. A starving man wants his own food, he is not satisfied by the fullness of another. Life is not a process of reliance on another. Life must be developed by the individual in his own uniqueness. The individual must rely on himself, must develop that disinterested standard by which he shall judge his own actions, and that standard can never be given by another, it does not matter how high or how evolved he may be. You may have Masters, adepts, but because you are corruptible, you are unhappy, you create chaos. So I say that if you, as an individual, because you are suffering, can bring about that state of calmness and serenity, and utter lack of disturbance, then you are in the process of attainment.
QUESTION: Are we right in understanding that by incorruptibility you mean an entire eradication of the sense of possession, physical, emotional, mental, or does it mean more than that?
KRISHNAMURTI: It means that and more. You may have no sense of possession, physical, emotional or otherwise; but, if you have not harmony which is, as I have explained, the poise of reason and of love, the true creation, you are not beyond the clutches of corruption. You cannot kill selfishness, you can kill unselfishness. You will see the difference. Try to be really selfish, then you become a god. After all, you cannot kill the "I", which is the self. But you can develop the self to such a condition -I am using condition without limitation- that it includes everything. You cannot kill the self -the self is in its very essence assertion and, in the process of climbing towards perfection, the echoes of that assertion come back to you as sorrow. If you know the purpose of life, then your assertion begins to be tinctured by the ultimate thing which is liberation. When I say "if you are truly selfish", please do not misunderstand me or you will say that I am preaching selfishness. I am not preaching selfishness nor am I preaching unselfishness. I am saying that the development of the self is neither selfishness nor unselfishness, so put both aside. If you are concerned with the life which is not only your self but my self, in developing that life you will naturally help consciously or unconsciously. The principal thing is to concern yourself with the purity of the self. You are all self-centred, all men are self-centred; but be self-centred in the extreme way, so that you transform, renew the self. Do not be self-centred at the expense of someone else.
QUESTION: Is it possible to become impersonal without undergoing painful experiences, by sustained right thinking and constant watchfulness?
KRISHNAMURTI: You want a spiritual pill that will clear your path and make you perfect. Pleasure is bound by tears, and you must cry, you must laugh, to attain. There is no other way. You are afraid of crying, you want to laugh all the time; but, if you look at it, laughter and crying are the same, the extremes of the same thing. But if through laughter you understand sorrow, and through sorrow you understand laughter, there is neither this nor the other. A really great painter, a master painter, is all the time watching for every movement of the leaf, for every shade of colour, for every form, so that out of that constant watching he may produce on his canvas that which shall live through eternity. So must you have the same interest to watch, to observe, to be keen on everything, and thereby paint eternity on yourself.
QUESTION: What do you mean by saying that truth is pathless? How can we go there if there is no path? Shall I be right in saying that that path is the path of understanding?
KRISHNAMURTI: Truth is the harmony of that self which is life. Now to that there can be no path. How can there be? To the development of the self, there can be no path. Everything, every experience, every feeling, every movement that exists within the self, every shadow, every sorrow, every pleasure, gives growth to the soul. There can be no path. Again, you will ask me: "But, what about the path of which we have been told?" I am not concerned with that. Man is free -please start from that basis- and he must develop his freedom in his own unique manner, so he cannot tread the path of anyone else. I do not expect you to agree with me but, without being prejudiced, examine what I say: that for the development of the soul there can be no path. If that is the truth, which I maintain it is, which is freedom, which is poise and reason, then truth is a pathless land, and if you approach it on any path, it is not truth. It defies all paths because you approach it through limitation.
A VOICE: It becomes pathless after realisation, not before that.
KRISHNAMURTI: It does not become pathless after realisation; it is because you are in limitation that you create a path.
A VOICE: Should it be the consummation of all paths?
KRISHNAMURTI: No, I am not going to be caught in your paths. It is not the consummation of all paths; all paths are limitations, so I do not want to use that word. In your mind, everything has a limitation and, if you approach through limitation, you will not understand the limitless; but by developing your own uniqueness, your own understanding -the understanding of everyone must be the same eventually because the self of everyone is the same- you will attain.
A VOICE: Each one has his own path then?
KRISHNAMURTI: Each one must develop his own path, his own uniqueness. I cannot say there is a path laid down for each one. It would mean you would be a prisoner on that path.
A VOICE: Cannot he have some vicarious experience?
KRISHNAMURTI: You can, if you are spiritually developed in emotion and greatly intelligent, but you will have to be careful that you do not deceive yourself. You will have to break down that limitation to find truth.
AS this is my last talk in this camp, I want to summarise what I have been saying, and it will be a question for you of concentrated thought. In the process of thought there must be change, there must be a constant renewal of the mind. As every day is fresh and new, so to understand the process of life -in which truth lies and nowhere else- you must have a mind that is constantly changing, constantly seeking, continually on the alert, never letting an incident go by without its giving you its full richness.
That of which I speak is, I maintain, the desire of everyone. I am not talking about some mysterious thing or giving you a revelation, because a revelation becomes a religion. The moment there is a mystery involved without real understanding, fear arises. If you examine life in its purity it will answer to every call, it will reply to every need and will give you the full meaning of every struggle.
To arrive at such a position, you must be certain for yourself, whatever may happen, under all circumstances. What I put before you must be your own, so that that assurance can never be shaken. No one can gainsay the fact that your face, your nose and eyes are of a particular kind. You know them too well. You watch them every day when you comb your hair. You see them constantly and catch their reflection and no one can shake your confidence in that which you know. Likewise you must know, be certain, without a shadow of doubt, that what I am saying is your own. Otherwise, anyone can come and upset you. The moment you are certain -not merely intellectually, which has no value, but certain with that certainty which produces a result in the expressions of daily life- then that certainty has a value. That certainty is your own. No one can take it away. It is your own experience, the result of your own sorrow, of your own seeking. I am not inventing anything. I am expressing in words what lies hidden in the heart of every one of you. It must be connected with life, not away, separate from life, for I maintain that in the harmony of that life -which is yourself- and in the attainment of that harmony lies the process of truth. In the acquisition of that harmony, of that poise, of that realisation of the incorruptibility of the self, lies the truth that every man, every one of you is seeking constantly, whether consciously or unconsciously. In this there can be no revelation. Please understand this, because the moment you create an element of mystery, of something secret being exposed, there arises the whole gamut of misunderstanding, of superstition, something extraneous to yourself on which you depend. What I say has nothing to do with that. I am explaining the process of life, which every one of you is struggling to express and to understand. If that understanding is your own, if you intuitively feel it as part of your life, then you are certain, then a thousand people cannot shake you, nor can scriptures or sacred books ever alter your perception.
You, the individual, are all the time surrounding yourself with unrealities. You live in the unreality and, because that unreality is darkness, ignorance, you invent lights to illumine that darkness. The purpose of the intelligent man is to point out the various illusions which surround men and help men to destroy them. That is my purpose. As civilisation which I define as the expression of culture, and culture as the unique beauty of the self grows more and more complex, the unreality increases. In that unreality man is caught and in that darkness he wants light. He wants to find truth; he cannot, because truth repels anything that is not of its own character.
Do not, please, shake your heads. I do not want agreement, I want understanding. The moment you understand, you are beginning to live, which is infinitely greater than agreement. That is why I want you to grasp the significance of what I am saying. My purpose is to point out the unrealities which have become real to you, and make you understand. Not that I am going to force you, but rather try to make you realise for yourself the unrealities so that you may develop your own capacity to discern that which is fleeting and that which is real. When you are so assured, when you are so certain, then you will no longer invent unrealities for yourself. You may come across many unrealities, many fleeting things, but if you have certainty, you will always be able to discern and to reject, to accept and to deny. When you are certain, then is the time to sow; when you are assured, positive, then is the life to build; because then you will build in your own understanding of the truth, and develop in your own uniqueness and not through the uniqueness of another. But that capacity to understand life can only come when you are certain. I am telling you all this because I have attained it myself. It is not a mysterious force which enters a human being and alters his whole attitude of mind and heart; it is a constant struggle to readjust oneself, a constant effort to distinguish the fleeting and the unreal from the lasting and the real, to discover the truth in falsehood and the beauty in ugliness.
Bearing in mind that you must be assured, certain for yourself beyond the shadow of doubt, as to what is the purpose of life, from that point of view examine the individual. I am only concerned with the individual, though in the present civilisation the group is striving to dominate the individual, irrespective of his growth. It is the individual that matters, because if the individual is clear in his purpose, is assured, certain, then the struggle against society will cease. Then he will not be dominated by society; he will be free and independent of society, of the morality, of the narrowness, of the conventions of societies and groups. The individual is the whole universe, the individual is the whole world, not part of the world. The individual is the all-inclusive, not the all-exclusive, because the self in each one is constantly making efforts, experimenting in different directions; but the self in you and in me and in hundreds of others is the same, though the expressions may vary and should vary.
The individual is the focus of the universe. So long as you do not understand yourself, so long as you do not fathom the fullness of yourself, you can be dominated, controlled, guided, helped, urged, caught up in the wheel of continual strife. So you must concern yourself with the individual, that is, with yourself. I am not preaching a selfish point of view at all. Experiment with what you yourself think is right and not with what another says.
In the individual -that is, in yourself- there are two elements: the progressive and the eternal. The eternal is the accumulation of your experiences, which is the accumulation of the experience of everyone. For though experiences may vary in expression, the result of experience is the same in its essence. For instance, there is the experience of anger: one man may have the experience in one way, another in another way, but the result of the experience in growth is the same. To this eternal self you are constantly adding, through the incidental experiences of the progressive self and the results of those experiences. That is, you are bringing the progressive self, which depends on the incidents of every day, into union with the eternal, which is the result of your experiences and which, again, is the eternal of everyone.
It is not very complicated, or difficult to understand. I repeat: there is in each one of you that element which is the result of the accumulation of experience, which is eternal. Then there is the other element which is progressive, which is seeking all the time to make everything around it, every incident, every accident, every thought, into the eternal. The progressive, through experience, is trying to gather reality in the fleeting, is seeking beauty in ugliness, truth in the false. The eternal is what I call liberation, that part of you which is absolutely liberated. This is an analogy, do not run it to death. There is the residue of experience which gives you a certain freedom, which does not demand further experience of the same kind, and hence that part of you is liberated and belongs to the eternal, the eternal of everything and everyone. If your progressive self is not in union with the eternal, there is sorrow, there is strife, constant readjustment, constant struggle, constant searching after what is real. As a bird makes its way through the valley, over a noisy city, and always returns to its home, so, if your progressive self knows the eternal, it can wander through all the accidents and incidents of life and gather the result of every experience and return to that which is eternal. That is what you are trying to do in life. There is nothing mysterious about it, no metaphysical through is needed. Through the phenomena, through the expression, the progressive self is trying to find out what it can accumulate and thereby make itself eternal. As long as there is this gap -if I may use such a simile- between the eternal and the progressive, naturally that gap creates a continual demand to be filled, and the filling process is strife, search, experimenting, all the hundred and one things of life, because by life alone can you fill that gap, enrich that gap, make the progressive self as the eternal, so that all strife ceases.
Through strife alone comes the cessation of strife. It is not away from this world, which is the expression of the self, that you find the progress and the growth of the self. But if the progressive self does not know what is eternal, then you are like a boat without a rudder, like a bird without a nest, like an eagle that has not its abiding place on the mountain top away from the turmoil, away from the constant strife. That is why you must find out for yourself assuredly, certainly, without a shadow of doubt, what is the lasting. I say that the eternal is life; by that I mean the life of thought which is reason and the affection which is poise. As long as your individual life is held in the bondage of experience, there can be no attainment of truth, but the moment you have attained the harmony of the self, there is truth and liberation and eternity.
While you are in the process of attaining, you assert, and in the assertion you create sorrow. You must assert, you cannot escape it. It it the very essence of the self to assert, and you cannot escape that assertion by withdrawing from the world. So long as you are uncertain of that reality, of that eternity, the progressive self has nothing by which to guide itself. Then you, as an individual, are homeless, wandering hither and thither, buffeted about by every experience without gathering to yourself the essence of every experience to lead you to a definite goal. So you must find out for yourself this constant being, in whom there is neither strife nor stagnation; and that, I say, can only be done by the liberation of the life which is in prison, a prison in which every individual lives.
You can only make that which is progressive into the eternal by being master of every daily incident. The moment you understand that, you are beginning to be assured. No one else can guide you to this certainty, no one can give you assistance in extracting the essence from every experience except yourself. The self cannot arrive at the eternal, so long as it is in the clutches of every incident, which is the case with every one of you. There never can be tranquillity or full knowledge without the understanding of the self, for the understanding of the self is knowledge. When you understand that through every incident of life the progressive self is gathering every iota of experience, from that alone true self-discipline is born. In the majority of cases fear stimulates self-discipline -fear of sin, fear of convention, fear of what friends, societies, communities will say. Or through religion, which is also a cause of fear, you begin to discipline yourself; which again is wrong because, the moment there is an element of fear, it cannot lead to true self-discipline. Discipline imposed from without has no value and is not eternal; by understanding alone can you have true self-discipline. Self-discipline must be born out of the love of life, for that love assures incorruptibility. From such an understanding, you begin to impose discipline upon yourself in the light of the eternal. Such a discipline has value because there is no element of fear in it. Liberation, the perfection of life, cannot be arrived at except through self-discipline imposed upon yourself with understanding.
Instead of discussing so many vain, useless things which have no value, instead of fighting about gurus, ceremonies, religions, which are vague theories, I wish you would do one thing that you understand; and from that understanding, your whole vision of life would change. The discipline imposed upon yourself is your own unique development: you are developing your mind and your life quite differently from me, and yet the result will be the same and your self-expression cannot conflict with mine.
Most of you agree intellectually that it is a possibility; but there is no change of heart. Are you not all in sorrow, in misery, in strife, consciously or unconsciously prisoners to unrealities? You do not know your own sorrow. You do not know how much a prisoner you are in your own prison house, and so long as you do not realise it, it is useless for me to talk to you of truth and liberation. A change of heart is needed, and the change of heart must give a new expression to life -not a purely intellectual theory. There must be a complete cleavage, you must become a danger to all things that narrow, to all things that create prisons.
What are you doing at present? You are only gilding the bars of your prison and thinking that you are thereby setting men free.
Your inspiration, if you want inspiration, should be the impetus, the enthusiasm to change yourself. If you do not change yourself, your enthusiasm will be valueless, it cannot have the strength of persistency. When there is such a change of heart, there is expansion -expansion through understanding, not through fear- and as you expand, you are constantly seeking beauty, beauty in form as well as in truth, beauty in phenomena as well as in that which creates all phenomena. You change your homes, your dresses, the whole of life.
I am not speaking to you from a superior standpoint or from a different attitude of thought. I am not preaching anything which I have not thought out, and struggled, fought, sacrificed to attain. I am telling you of that which I have tried; it is not a revelation. I say that what I have attained, every one of you must attain; it is not my unique privilege, because everyone is in sorrow, everyone is struggling, everyone is seeking inspiration, everyone tries this and that, sacrifices, renounces uselessly, vainly, without understanding. There is self-discipline without understanding, meditation, concentration -all these things, without understanding the significance of life; and without that, whatever you do will only add to the already existing chaos, to the existing struggles.
First you must understand what is the significance, the purpose of life, and from that understanding will come the harmony of reason and love. From that understanding, everything will become clear, and you will have immense enthusiasm. I do not care if you do not come to any of my meetings. I shall go on talking to one person who is really interested in this. Do you think that if I wanted popularity or money or worship I would come here? Those things do not exist for me. I want understanding, because out of understanding the whole vision of life changes. I do not want you to agree, because in agreement there is no liberation; but in understanding there is life, there is a continual change, and from that arises the ecstasy, the enthusiasm, the desire to alter and not merely to decorate, to release people from prison because you yourself are free. What else is life except this? Why do you waste all your energies in discussing useless, vain things, when this will solve all your difficulties as an ointment that heals all wounds? It means that you are more interested in the dead than in the living.
Do you remember the story of a man who was shot by a poisoned arrow, and who wanted to know who shot the arrow, by whom it was made, what kind of poison was used; and while asking all these questions, he died. That is exactly what you are doing. You do not want to live, you are more interested in death and in what lies on the other side. But if you live, the other side does not exist, because the other side is only life continued.
So, friends, I know that you will all come back next year, or the year after, in the same manner of thought, and you will still be in sorrow. If two people out of this gathering understood this, they would, wherever they might go, change, fully alter the whole of life and circumstances, and would become a nuisance, a danger to everything unreal about them. They would be battling constantly against those things which are unreal, because they are certain, assured: they have confidence in that which they are saying, because they have experimented and attained to that particular understanding. Truth has no disciples, no beliefs of its own, and you must not become the disciple of truth, but truth itself. That is the love of life. From that comes reason, intelligence which is the residue of all experience, simplicity which is incorruptible. When you understand the meaning, the significance, the purpose of life, then all these complicated unrealities that exist around you will disappear, and with that disappearance you will be living a new life, a life that is of reality, a life that has ecstasy, a continual delight in all its expressions, because you are the source of all expressions and you are no longer caught up in the unrealities of life.
BENARES STAR CAMP 1929
Benares, India, 1929
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