Life in Freedom
Happiness and Desire
Because man has forgotten that the true purpose of his being is to cultivate happiness within himself and in those around him, there is confusion and chaos, and his actions but add to that chaos.
What is it for which everyone in the world is craving and longing? To find happiness. True happiness is neither selfish, nor negative. It is intelligence, the accumulation of all experience; it is Truth which is eternal. No cloud can hide it nor can any sorrow lessen it. It is such happiness that every one desires. It is such happiness that I have always desired. I have seen people weighed down with labor, performing great works, accumulating knowledge, struggling to be spiritual and yet they had forgotten the one thing -happiness- which alone gives life to the mind and nourishment to the heart. There can be no health except in happiness. He who has not found it will never find Truth, will never bring life to its fulfillment, will never have tranquillity in this world of travail.
If you desire to establish that happiness within yourself, you must make it your goal and then your life will be as the flame which soars heavenwards.
People in search of happiness resort to many things -they will worship at temples and churches, they will gather from books the knowledge of others, they will perform religious rites in the hope of establishing in their minds peace and tranquillity. The desire for happiness is ever gnawing at their hearts.
In the great continent of America they are making the physical predominant in search for happiness. They say that without physical comfort, without a body that is strong and healthy, there cannot be a right development of the emotions. But in trying to establish perfect physical conditions they are losing sight of other essential things. In India, they go to the opposite extreme and in search for happiness they neglect altogether the physical.
Look where you will, every human being is seeking happiness. He begins his search in the mere pleasures which come from physical excitement. Then discovering that this excitement does not satisfy his craving for the lasting happiness, he experiments with other experiences, mental and emotional.
Life is a process of accumulating and discarding, of gathering and setting aside. What you gather you reject, and the more you reject the nearer you are to liberation. By setting aside what you have gained, you acquire the knowledge which will give you strength to shape your purpose, which will give you power ultimately to reach the Kingdom of Happiness which each one of you seeks.
As there is sap in the tree which brings forth foliage for the glory of its being, so in each man there is the spark of divinity which through sorrow, through ecstasy, through struggle, through all the processes of life, grows to perfection, to that state of eternal happiness which is the goal for all, which is the truest spirituality -the greatest gift that anyone can give to another.
You will find this undying, unalterable happiness when you are liberated from the tyrannies of the self -its desires and longings. This is not a goal imposed upon you by another. It is the longing of every human soul, of every individual who is striving, who is in sorrow, who is seeking. It is the spark of this desire which grows into a flame and becomes part of the Eternal Flame, and when you are able to lose yourself in that Flame, then you are in the Kingdom of Happiness.
Each must discover his own way of attainment. There is no other truth or other god but that goal which each one has established for himself, which cannot be destroyed by the breath of man or by the passing whims of any god.
In what way can you attain this goal and hold this happiness eternally in your heart? If you are a thoughtful person, you will recognize that in every one there are three different beings: the mind, the emotions and the body. And if you observe you will find that each of these beings has a separate existence of its own and tries to create and to act independently of the others, thus causing disharmony. Absolute happiness comes from the establishment of harmony between these three. If you are driving three horses -each desiring to run independently of the other two- unless you are able to control them and drive them all together, you will not reach your destination.
The mind must have a goal of its own, but it must be a goal created by you yourself; otherwise it will lead to superstition.
What is the ultimate goal for the mind?
It is the purification of the self, which means the development of individual uniqueness.
As the seed is forced by the life within it to break through the heavy earth and come into light, so if you are urged by the desire to find freedom, you will break through all limitations which bind you. To gain freedom, great desire is needed. People are afraid of desire, thinking that it is something evil which must be destroyed. But this is a mistaken attitude. Desire is the motive power behind all action. If you would light a great fire to warm and comfort you, you must give fuel to it, feed it with great logs of wood. So if you would fulfill life you must have great desires, for desire brings experience and experience leads to knowledge. If a man knows how to use desire it will bring him to the freedom for which he longs. If desire is killed or suppressed, there is no possibility of freedom. Most people in the world have intense, burning, vital desires but instead of utilizing them and training them, they either suppress them or are controlled by them. Without desire there can be no creative work. If you kill desire you become like a piece of dead wood, or else you become an automaton, a machine. Machines have been invented to minimize human labor. Physical problems perhaps may be solved in this way, but mental and emotional problems are more difficult to solve, and because the way to solve these problems is so little understood, religions, creeds, and dogmas have been invented.
If desire gives life it should be encouraged. If desire creates sorrow, through understanding that sorrow must be overcome. Because man does not want to be free, he kills his desires; because he does not want to attain true liberation, he is making of himself a machine. Use desire as a stepping-stone to kindle greater desires, to awaken greater delight and longing.
But intelligence is necessary in order to develop your individual uniqueness, to purify your desires, to realize that self which is the self of all -that absolute union with all things which brings to an end the sense of separation. It is necessary for the mind to be simple, but simplicity does not mean crudeness. We should not turn our back upon the results of progress and evolution, but on the contrary we should utilize them.
A mind that is simple will understand perfection because it is part of perfection itself. A mind that is crooked cannot understand the Truth. A mind that is complicated, that is full of the knowledge of books -though they have their value- is apt to become crystallized. In all great architecture, painting and sculpture, in all the greatest forms of beauty, there is simplicity and there is restraint. Simplicity of the mind is the greatest and most difficult thing to acquire, but in order to be simple you must have had great experience. Simplicity of the truest kind is the highest form of spirituality.
What is the ultimate goal for the emotions?
It is affectionate detachment. To be able to love and yet not be attached to anyone or anything is the absolute perfection of emotion.
As a barren tree in winter without leaf or flower to give scent to the morning air, so is a man without love. Those who would attain to Truth must cultivate -as the gardener cultivates his garden- this flower of affection, which is to give delight, which is to be a source of comfort in disappointment and sorrow. Love -however envious, jealous, tyrannical, selfish it may be at first- is a bud that will grow into great glory and give the scent of its perfection to every passer-by. Without love man is as a desert of dry sand, as the river in the summer time, without water to nourish its banks. Those who would attain the perfection of happiness, the beauty that is hidden from the human eye, must cultivate this quality of love. You must love all and yet be detached from all, for love is necessary to the unfoldment of life. To cultivate it you must learn to observe, you must gather experience -vicariously, or through your own treading of the sorrowful paths of experience. It is through experience that you know sympathy, that you are able to give affection to those who desire it, for if you have never experienced sorrow then your heart is incapable of sympathy and understanding.
This does not mean that you should taste of everything. There are many ways of acquiring experience -one is by living in the life of everyone, looking through the eyes of every passer-by and experiencing in imagination his sorrow, his transient pleasures. When you see a drunken man in the street, it should be sufficient to give you the experience of drunkenness; if you see a man in tears, that should give you the experience of grief; if you see a man in joy and ecstasy, that should give you the experience of joy. We need not all follow one road of knowledge. We give and take from each other. We can gather knowledge from the experience of the whole world and that is sufficient for progress, for culture and refinement. If you would attain to the fulfillment of life, you must have this accumulation of experience, for without experience you cannot arrive at the goal, you cannot unite the beginning and the end. While there is separation, there is pain, and it is only in the union with the goal that there is happiness, that you establish lasting Truth within yourself. To do that, you must from the very beginning gather experience as a man gathers the grain of the field.
If you have no sympathy, no affection, you can never achieve, you can never identify yourself with the goal. A mind that is contented and satisfied will never acquire sympathy or affection or give understanding to others. I have watched people who have greatly desired to help others but they do not know how to help. They are incapable of putting themselves into the place of another and so envisaging his point of view.
Those who would understand the life around them, who would see the goal and thereby establish the Beloved in their hearts, must develop great love and yet be detached from the bondage of that love. They must have great sympathy and yet not be bound by that sympathy. They must have great desires and yet not be slaves of those desires.
What is the ultimate goal for the body? Everyone in the world is seeking for beauty but they seek without understanding. It is essential for the body to be beautiful, but it must not be a mere shell of beauty without beautiful thought and feeling. Restraint is necessary for the body -control without suppression.
These are the essentials for the absolute harmony of the three beings in each of us.
The desire for freedom, the desire to escape from all things, or rather to transcend all things, is necessary for the attainment of perfection. You can only free yourself if your mind and heart have determined their purpose in life and are continually struggling towards it, never yielding to those things which create barriers between yourself and your goal.
To attain perfection, to walk towards the goal of Truth which is eternal happiness for all, at whatever stage of evolution you may be, it is necessary to be rid of the binding narrow traditions that are born out of blind belief and have no touch with life.
As, when the rains come, only those who have prepared their fields and removed the weeds will have the full produce of their labor, the full benefit of the rain, so, if you would have the Beloved always with you, you must remove from your mind and heart the complicated ideas, traditions, and narrow points of view, which are as weeds that kill true understanding. For without understanding there can be no cooperation with life.
Life in Freedom
Happiness and Desire
Jiddu Krishnamurti, Life in Freedom. Talks in Benares, Ojai and Ommen, 1928.