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1934, 1935, What Is Right Action?

Auckland, New Zealand
2nd Vasanta School Gardens Talk 31st March, 1934

Friends, Most people who are at least thoughtful desire to find out if there is something which is more lasting, in which life is more full, complete, and they describe that reality as God, truth, or life itself. Now, to me, there is such a thing as reality; something that is enduring, complete, eternal, but as I have been saying in my last two talks, the very search for truth is to deny it, because that reality is to be a discovery, not to be followed. I hope you see the difference. If we go after truth, that reality, you must know what it is, you must have a preconception, but if you begin to discover it, then that discovery is real and not the search for truth, so I want in my brief talk this morning to help you rather to discover it, and not to follow it. First of all truth, or that reality, is not to be found by running after it, because when we seek something, it indicates that our mind, our whole being is trying to escape from that conflict in which mind and heart are caught up. Whereas, if we can become conscious, aware of the many hindrances which we create through fear, and then free the mind from that fear, from those hindrances, we shall discover what that eternal life is. That is, instead of trying to find out what truth is, let us discover what are the hindrances which we have created through fear, and in understanding the cause of fear and its many hindrances then we shall find out what that thing is which is indescribable. It is no good talking to a prisoner about freedom, to a man who is in prison; he will know what freedom is the moment he is out of prison. But most of us are desirous of finding out what freedom is before we are conscious of what prisons are; and as long as we are merely seeking freedom, reality, richness of life, we cannot understand, it must be imaginative, unreal, shaped out of a limited, conscious mind. Whereas, if we can find out what are the prison walls that enclose the mind and heart, and then free the mind from its hindrances, surely, then, we shall be able to find out that which is. So what are the hindrances that we have created? Is it not first of all authority, born of fear? Mind is caught up by some authority; driven, shaped, moulded by some external authority; either religious authority or social, or you have developed an inner authority. You know, one first of all accepts external authority, because we are incapable of acting, thinking and feeling for ourselves, so we set up an outside authority, that of religion, that of a teacher, that of a social system; and then we think we reject that external authority, and develop an inner authority, an inner law, which is only the reaction from the external. That is, instead of finding out what is this external authority which we have set up to be our guide, we reject that and we think we have to find out a law for ourselves, individually, and thereby live according to that law. That is what most people do. There is an external, objective authority which they reject or understand, and develop an inner authority, a subjective authority. Now, to me, authority, whether objective or subjective, is the same, because authority implies shaping, an imitation, a control, a conditioning, whether imposed externally or by inward effort and exertion. So, that, to me, is the first hindrance. A man that understands does not need authority. There is only perception, and that perception does not demand the imitation of authority. I hope you see all this. First of all, one is a slave to social authority, religious authority, and you gradually develop by conflict, by trouble, what you call a subjective authority, and you say, "It is my understanding. I must obey that law which I have found out for myself." While the mind is merely the instrument of obedience, surely such a mind cannot understand. Understanding is perception, not an imposition, either externally or inwardly. Again, to repeat the same thing put differently, we have external ideals imposed on us through education, through politics, through social influence, environment. Then we feel they are confining, limiting, controlling, dominating, usurping our individual thought, so we develop our own ideals - we think we develop our own ideals, beliefs, to which we try to conform. That is what we have done; we have rejected the external and are obeying the inward ideal which we have established for ourselves, and we think we have made tremendous progress. What we have done is merely rejected the external, and established our own beliefs, and we are trying to imitate, to follow those beliefs. Now this idea of following, imitating, being guided, controlled, dominated, is, to me, the very first hindrance which prevents the clear perception of any experience, or that fulfillment in perfect understanding, because our whole mind, when it is obeying, being controlled, is dominated by this idea of gain. We think of wisdom, understanding, completeness, in terms of accumulation, not as infinite pliability, therefore eternal. That thing which is pliable is lasting, but that which is burdened, the result of many, many accumulations, therefore capable of resistance, is transient and cannot understand. I am afraid I see by the faces there is very little understanding of what I am saying. Wait a minute, sirs; I am afraid by listening to one or two talks you are not going to understand what I am saying. What brings about understanding is not listening, merely listening, but rather trying to fulfil in action. So to put it differently, mind and heart are the result of environment, and then your environment controls the way you think and the way you feel. Do not say: "Is that all - mind? There must be something more, something which is more lasting.'` I said to discover that, let us begin from things we know, and from that start - not from a mysterious thing which we do not know, about which we can but romance. So mind and heart, thought and feeling, are the result of environment, and so long as you are a slave to that environment, there cannot be understanding; you cannot then master environment, and to master environment is to understand it. That is, environment is after all, the social system and that system which we call religion, made up of many doctrines, beliefs, dogmas, innumerable prejudices, and the mind is a slave to this environment. Take for instance, if you depend on mind for your livelihood, as most people do, as everyone must, you are controlled to a great extent by the beliefs that you hold. Suppose that you are a Roman Catholic, and you want to find a job in a Protestant place, or if Protestant, you want to find a job in a Roman Catholic institution or office; if they discover your beliefs, it might not be so easy to find a job, so you put away your beliefs or accept what the other says momentarily, because you desire to earn money, because you must have money. Through external environment, mentally, you are under control, so your beliefs are merely the result of environment, conditioned by the environment; and as long as you do not break down the false environment of society and religion, your beliefs and ideals are worth- less, because they are but the result of environment born of fear. So to understand that which is lasting, eternal, there must be conflict between the individual and the environment, and only in that conflict can you pierce through the walls of limitation. We accept thoughtlessly or unconsciously so many conditions imposed by society or by religion, accept them as being true. Traditionally, our mind is driven into a mould, and we unconsciously accept these things, and therefore we are slaves to these things; and it is only by continually questioning, by constant awareness, that we can free the mind from the environment, and therefore be master of the environment. Question: Virtue does not appear to be a very prominent feature in your teachings. Why is this? Has the virtuous life so small a part to play in the realization of truth? Krishnamurti: What do you mean by virtue? Do you mean by virtue, a contrast to vice? That is, do you call courage, bravery, a virtue in contrast to fear? First of all, one is afraid, and you think you must develop the idea of courage, so you pursue courage; that is, you are running away from fear, and this process of running away from fear you call braveness, courage, which becomes virtue. To me, a man that pursues a virtue is no longer virtuous; whereas, if you begin to find out what causes fear, not cover up fear by the idea of what you think is brave, but try to find out what is the fundamental cause of fear, then in the discovery of the cause you are neither courageous nor fearful, you are free of both these opposites. After all, virtue is merely the result of a false environment, isn't it? To resist the environment, you must have great character nowadays. At least that is what is called character. That is, society has created, or rather we have helped to create a society in which to be non-possessive is considered a great virtue. Isn't it? We have established a society where possessiveness indicates constant fight with your neighbour, consciously or unconsciously, constant battle, self-assertion, continual cutting out of others; and a man who does not want to do that, you call a virtuous man, a noble man. To me it has nothing to do with nobility or virtue. If the environment is changed, if the social conditions are changed, then to be possessive or non-possessive is the same thing, then you call possessiveness neither virtue nor an evil thing. Whereas now, as society is constituted, to break away from these false standards is considered either a virtue or a sin. But if we begin to alter the environment in which the mind and heart are held, then this whole idea of virtue and sin have a different meaning altogether; because, to me, virtue is not to be sought after, to be gained, to be possessed, or sin to be abhorred or run away from - whatever is meant by sin. So to me, to live naturally, that demands a great deal of intelligence, not brutal, savage, unthinking life, primitive life - I do not mean that when I use the word "naturally." To live a natural life, full, spontaneous life, creative, intelligent life, you can only do that when you understand the false standards and the true standards of society, and have broken away from it because you understand their significance; therefore, you are no longer bound by this pursuit of the opposite which we call virtue. To put it very briefly, when you are afraid you are seeking courage, and we call that courage a virtue; whereas, really, what are you doing? You are running away from fear. You are trying to cover up fear by an idea, what you call courage. So momentarily you may cover up fear by an idea of what you call courage, but fear will continue to exist and show itself in different forms; whereas, if you try to find out what is the fundamental cause of fear, then mind is not caught up in the conflict of opposites. Question: Do you think that the method of psychoanalysis, the bringing of the motives of the unconscious mind into a knowledge of the conscious, will assist the individual to free his mind from the primitive and egotistical complexes and cravings, and will thereby allow his thought to carry him on to that happiness of which you speak? Krishnamurti: That is, the mind has many complexes, and the question is whether you can free the mind of these by self-analysis. Is that not the question? The mind and heart have many hindrances, impediments which we call complexes - unconscious, hidden. Can we free them; can we uproot them through the processes of self-analysis, and thereby free the mind from the egotistical and limited point of view? I am afraid you will have to follow this a little bit carefully, because it may be the first time you have heard it, and you may find it rather complicated, but it is not. To me, the mind can be free of those impediments only in full consciousness, when your whole being is active, aware. Now, in the process of self-analysis, your whole being is not functioning; only that part of you which you call mind, thought, intellect. With that one part of the mind you are trying to discover the hidden complexes; whereas, I say, you can bring all these hidden hindrances into full conscious action, only when you are fully aware in the present. I will put it differently. Now suppose you have the complex of snobbishness. Most people have it. How are you going to find out? To find out, to me, does not lie through this process of self-analysis; that is, intellectually to look into the actions that have taken place, and so discover this idea of snobbishness. First of all, you want to discover if you are a snob or not. You don't want to alter it, but to discover it, isn't it so? Wait a minute, please. Just follow this. When you discover it, then you will act one way or the other. First of all, you have to find out if you are a snob, so how are we going to discover it? Only when you are fully conscious, fully aware of that which you are saying and feeling at the moment of saying and feeling - not after you have said and felt. Is that not so? That is, if you are fully conscious of what you are saying and what you are thinking, then in that full awareness you will discover for yourself if you are a snob or not; not by sitting down and intellectually analyzing an event. I know there are innumerable questions arising out of this, but I cannot answer all those. But if you think of it, you will see that by this way of being continually alert, fully conscious in that which you are doing, you will bring the unconscious, hidden, into full consciousness, and thereby you will create the disturbance which is necessary, and by that disturbance you will free the mind of that complex, of that hindrance. Question: You seem to regard the pursuit of ideals as an escape from life. Is there no substance of truth in the highest ideals? Krishnamurti: Why do we want ideals? I do not say they are not truths; but why do we want them? We say we need them because we cannot, without a standard, a measure, an ideal, guide our lives through the constant battles and struggles of life. Is that not it? So we want a standard, a continual measurement by which to judge our actions in daily life. What does that indicate? That we are more interested in the ideal, in the measurement, than in the conflicts, the struggles, the sorrows which confront us. So, as they are so large, so conflicting, so immense, these struggles, we establish ideals as a means of escape from them. Whereas, to me, to understand the conflict, the troubles, the sufferings, mind must be free to understand them as they are, not by a measure, not by a standard. Surely, when you are really in great conflict, great suffering, at that moment you are not thinking of the ideal, of what you should do and what you should not do. You are so consumed by the suffering, you want to find out. Then you are not looking for an ideal to lead you out of that. It is only when suffering diminishes, quietens down, that you turn to an ideal to help you out of that suffering. To me, all ideals must be the means of alleviation of suffering, and, therefore, cannot possibly explain to you the reason of suffering. Take the average person, and you will see that he has innumerable ideals, many ideals, beliefs, and according to those he is trying to live all day long, if he at all thinks about it: so he makes of life a continual battle between what are facts and what he wants to be. Now, if he realizes, fundamentally, what are facts, and what are real, and recognizes their significance, then he will find out the very root of comfort, and therefore free himself from these false standards, false measurements, which are continually trying to shape his mind to a particular pattern. Question: Do you believe in Communism, as understood by the masses? Krishnamurti: I don't know what is understood by the masses, so I cannot explain that. So what is it, now? Let us look at it, not from the point of view of any "ism", but from the point of view of the ordinary human state. How can there be real understanding of peoples when you are considering yourself as a New Zealander, and I am considering myself as a Hindu? How can we contact each other? How can there be a vital relationship between us, a human understanding between us? Or if we divide ourselves by certain labels, you calling yourselves Christians and I calling myself Hindu, with certain prejudices, dogmas, creeds, how can there be real brotherhood? We can talk about tolerance, which is an intellectual invention to keep you where you are and to keep me where I am, and try to be friendly. This does not mean I am talking of uniformity; now there is uniformity. You are all of one belief, one ideal, one dogma, though you may vary in that prison, painting each bar differently; but it is a prison, and you want to retain your prison with its decorations, and the Hindu wants to keep his prison with its decorations, and they try to be brotherly, and this brotherhood is called tolerance. Whereas, to me, the whole idea is the very negation of real understanding, human unity. So through the process of time, you may be driven as so many slaves to accept Communism, as now you accept Capitalism; and in that force of being driven, there cannot be voluntary action, as now there cannot be voluntary action. So if you merely accept either, and live in either, surely you are not being creatively individual. You are merely like so many sheep, either capitalistic sheep or communistic sheep, driven by environment, condition, forced to accept. Surely such a thing is not moral; such a thing is not rich or spiritual, true, And I say the true human state can only come about when you, as individuals, voluntarily do these things, because you see the necessity, the immense profundity in this - not merely superficial excitation. Then there is the possibility of individuals living creatively, fully; not when you are driven. Question: What do you consider is the cause of unemployment? Krishnamurti: You know we have built up a structure for many centuries, for many generations, a structure based on individual competitiveness, ruthless self-security, where the most clever, cunning, gets to the top, and gets the whole directive means into his hands. It is obvious. We see this everywhere, and naturally, when the world is divided up into nationalities, which are the culmination of that possessiveness and the greed of individuals, naturally there must be unequal distribution, therefore naturally, unemployment. You know, to me, it is very simple to see this. Perhaps for you it is very complicated, though you may be more educated than I am, though you may have read a great deal. The cause, to me, is very simple. So what are we going to do? That is, you will tell me; "Why don't you talk about the common conditions of labour, work for the change of economic conditions, then everything will be all right; so why not concentrate your whole mind on that particular subject, and then alter it?" How can I alter the whole of society of which you and I are a part? How can we alter it? By first of all having an intelligent attitude, and therefore action, towards the whole of life. That is, you cannot take up the economic problem by itself and say, "Solve that, and everything else is solved." The economic problem is merely the symptom of the whole human problem, so if we can create an intelligent opinion and therefore intelligent action as a whole, concerning all human beings, then we shall act definitely with regard to the economic conditions. So I feel that what I have to do is to create an opinion, not merely an intellectual opinion, but an opinion born of action; and then, when there is such an opinion, then, being intelligent, you will use any system, any intelligent system to bring about a complete change in the economic system. Question: You do not believe in possession or exploitation; but without one or the other how could you travel or lecture to the world? Krishnamurti: I will tell you very simply. To live in the world without exploitation, you must withdraw completely to a desert island. As the system is - as it is now - to live at all, if you live in that system, you must exploit it. Let us understand what I mean by exploitation. Now, to me, if you do not discover for yourself intelligently what are your needs, then you become an exploiter. If you discover for yourselves, intelligently, what are your needs, then you are not an exploiter; but that demands a great deal of intelligence. We have, first of all, many things because we think by the possession of many things we shall be happy. So in order to possess those many things we must exploit; whereas, if you really thought out what are your essential needs, in that there is no exploitation, really, if you come to think of it. And I have found out for myself what are my needs. With regard to my travel, friends ask me to go to different places, and I go. If they don't ask me, I don't travel; and even if I don't talk or teach, well I can do something else. Now, if I wanted to convert you all to a particular form of thought, and force you, and collect funds to alter it - that I would call exploitation. That which I am talking about is the inevitable, whether you like it or not, and the intelligent man intelligently accepts the inevitable. So I do not feel that I am exploiting, and I know I am not, nor am I possessive. Again, that sense of possessiveness - to be really free of all that, one has to be so very alert, aware, so as not to deceive oneself, because in the thought that one is free of possessiveness may lie a great deal of self-deception. One so often thinks that one is free, but lives really in the cloak of self-deception. The moment your need is satisfied, you do not cling to it; you do not feel proprietorial rights over it. Question: Would it give you any surprise if the Christ of the Gospels were suddenly to appear, so every eye should see him? Krishnamurti: You know, mind wants miracles, romantic ideas, extraordinary supernatural phenomena. Not that there are not miracles, not that there are not supernatural phenomena; but we seek them because our minds and hearts are so poor, so empty, so wretched, so ugly, and we think we can overcome that poverty of mind and heart by seeking those miracles, running and chasing after phenomena. And the more you pursue phenomena and miracles, the less you are rich, the less plenitude of mind and heart, the less affection. When there is the plenitude of heart and mind, then whether there are miracles or superphysical phenomena will have very little significance. Now, we create such divisions, such distinctions between the physical and superphysical, because the physical is so intolerable, so ugly. We want to run away, and anyone that can lead you to the superphysical, you follow, and you call that spiritual; but it is nothing else but another form of real, gross materialism. Whereas, true spirituality consists in living harmoniously, with perfect unity in your heart and mind, because there is understanding, and in that understanding there is the delight of living.

1934, 1935, What Is Right Action?

Auckland, New Zealand
2nd Vasanta School Gardens Talk 31st March, 1934

Jiddu Krishnamurti. What Is Right Action? The collected works of J.Krishnamurti, 1934..1935.

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